2022 was the year when parties started to be regular again, with no more lockdowns or pandemics in the way. We were able to plan ahead and host monthly Beauty & the Beat, bi-monthly All Our Friends, go to festivals and even to carnival, which hadn’t happened since 2019.
So many highlights to recall, from waving The Yard goodbye (mahalo for the good times!) and calling The Baths our new permanent home for BATB, with both the space and freedom to refine the sound and listening experience, to hosting a legendary double NYE/NYD party with Electric Jalaba playing an extended cosmic gnawa set on the system on NYD, to finding a great new spot for AOF and having fantastic guests at every party, to some incredible times at Gala, Houghton, We Out Here and carnival!
A rather intense year on the party front, but perhaps the memories that that will linger on the longest will once again be those from Jaminaround, our now traditional pilgrimage to that Earthouse in Dorset. Special place, special people and oh so treasurable moments. There’s simply nothing like dancing around the fire, in such an awe inspiring space and with the most amazing people around. Mystical, magical times, and easily the most important date in the calendar. Let’s just hope we can carry on doing this for many years to come.
View this post on Instagram
On the live music front, we were graced by the Sélène Saint-Aimé trio in the intimate settings of brilliant corners, a gig I’d be working hard behind the scenes to make happen for over a year. From the very first hit of the bélè drum (played by Boris Reine-Adélaïde) there was an air of awe and reverence in the room which lingered on until the very last note. Such a magical evening – don’t miss her if she comes in a venue near you! Gilles P. was in the room and instantly booked the band for Worldwide Festival Sète. Whoop whoop!
On a glorious early summer excursion to Peckham, Joe Armon-Jones inna dub jazz stylee, Nu Genea at sunset and Sons of Kemet made for the perfect day at Gala festival, with the latter stealing the show on the Giant Steps stage. Witnessing live their fiery brand of militant jazz is truly an incredible experience to be part of, their most unique line up (two drummers, one tuba, one saxophone) allowing both Shabaka Hutchins and Theon Cross for spectacular fireworks throughout their set, just unlike anything I’ve seen or heard before. Sadly the band has declared they were calling it quits after ten years together, which made that gig even more special.
The return to Houghton after three years of no show fell on the hottest weekend of the year, the land as dry as the Nevada desert, dust a plenty and water a rarity. Extreme conditions which didn’t encourage us from straying far from the Giant Steps oasis, not that this changed much compare to previous years. Outside of a much welcome new chill out live stage at the back of the woods, I wish there were much more live action to see, and a proper main stage to speak of with proper acts and music. As it stood the GS yurt was still the main and almost unique attraction for our tribe. I had the immense pleasure to play a sunrise set on the Saturday from 6:00 to 7:30am, a truly special moment which I’ll often refer to in my below list of highlights of the year.
View this post on Instagram
It was my first time at We Out Here and what a great surprise that was. The vibe, the people, the cross generational melting pot, the incredible energy in the Lemon Lounge and Love Dancin’ tents, the eclecticism on display… The programming of the live acts especially was right on point, with a bijou Danley sound system on the main stage and memorable performances from BCUC and UR (more on that in the ‘Revival’ section below). Full points to the organisers for putting on such a spectacular event, oozing with love and passion and zero BS to be heard anywhere.
View this post on Instagram
On a personal note it was also the year which saw not one but two releases of projects dear to my heart and which I’d been deeply involved in: Lèspri Ka and Excursions In Gwoka Vol. 1, both of which I’ve written at length about already (follow the links), and both of which received a lot of love (the 12″ is long sold out and Lèspri Ka even made it to the best reissues of 2022 chart in Pan African Music). Given how difficult it has become to produce a small run of records, this is a small win in itself! Incidentally I was invited to speak about the comp live on air on Bintou Simpore‘s legendary Neo Geo show on Radio Nova, which is also pretty cool!
Which leads me to my favourite music podcast of 2022, La Danse du Zèbre, a retrospective on 40 years of Radio Nova, one podcast for each year between 1981 and 2021. The station wasn’t influential for me growing up (I wasn’t in Paris), but having spent a few formative years in a radio associative myself, and with personalities as unique and bonkers as Jean François Bizot, Rémy Kolpa-Kopoul, Jamel Debouzze, Rachid Taha or Edouard Baer mixing it up with just about every important artist and musician of the day who popped up on the airwaves at some point or another, this makes for equally fun and fascinating listening. The station was really at the heart of everything, defining trends and anticipating the global eclecticism of later years with their groundbreaking sono mondiale. The incredible freestyle between NTM and Assassin during Dee Nasty’s show is the stuff of legends (that’s year 1989), which you can also watch as part of the great mini series about the birth of hip hop in France, Le Monde de Demain (available on Netflix under the name Reign Supreme).
Add to this the ever insightful and often hilarious podcast Love is the Message: Music, the Dance Floor and Counterculture ran by Tim Lawrence and Jeremy Gilbert (which I raved about last year and continue to do so) and my commutes to work were never ever dull!
☆:**:. ♪ .:**:.☆
Last but not least, cookies and berries: I seem to have spent even more time than before digging for music, old and new, often within my own crates (!), and I’m uploading many of these finds on my YT channel. Mostly Caribbean stuff but not only, though 90% of the material falls under the la dance cosmique bracket. Look up for the #ladansecosmique, as well as the playlist to which I add tracks daily (1432 songs so far).
☆:**:. ♪ .:**:.☆
And finally… onto the m.u.s.i.c with my favourite tunes of the year (albums and reissue will follow in a later post).
✿.｡.:* ☆:**:. ♪ .:**:.☆*.:｡.✿
Favourite tunes of ’22 (7”s, 12”s, album cuts, reissues – strangely no 10”s this year)
As per tradition, rather than a regular chart I’m listing these tunes in an order that should make sense if playing these back to back in a party situation, from first record to last, loosely following the three bardos.
- Chip Wickham – ‘Sais’ (Gondwana Records)
Flautist and saxophonist Chip Wickman, whose 2020 Blue to Red cosmic jazz LP for Lovemonk was one my favourite of that year, has now moved to Gondwana and released covers of three seminal Lonnie Liston Smith cuts, ‘Astral Travelling,’ ‘Sais,’ and ‘Peaceful Ones’. Adhering to both LLS and Matthew Halsall’s ethos, the vibe is full on cosmico spiritual, life energy channelling through music. All cuts are great but ‘Sais’ is my favourite one, oozing with spiralling synth and psychedelic warmth.
As a bonus, this 12” had the added merit of making me revisit LL Smith’s original, which was itself already a cover of a Mtume’s song – two masterpieces in their own way. While James Mtume sadly passed away in 2022, Lonnie Liston Smith is still well alive and saw his first two albums, Astral Travelling and Cosmic Funk, get a much needed proper reissue treatment in 2022.
- Carlos Niño & Friends – ‘Actually’ (International Anthem)
A cosmic bubbly head nodder from the Carlos Niño camp, featuring Jamael Dean on synths, Deantoni Parks on drums and Nate Mercereau on bass, taking us on a subaquatic odyssey to the island of dreams. As featured on Extra Presence, one of 2022’s very best album release.
- Shaka Man – Chain Reaction (Part 1 & 2) (Bless You)
Deep and haunting atmospheric dub, which makes you feel like floating in space through sound wave levitation. It sounds like it could have come out of the early 90s UK from the likes of Alpha & Omega, but apparently this is previously unreleased material from LA based reggae drummer Shakaman. One for the floaters out there.
- Double Geography – ‘Dance Survey (Ruf Dug Remix)’ (Is It Balearic? Recordings)
Haunting melo-metalic 𝘥𝘶𝘣–𝘧𝘶𝘯𝘬 from the Ruf camp on a great little 7”. Somehow seems to have gone below the radar but in my book that’s a total keeper – just wait for the second half. Top year for the Dug, what with that other 12” and his NTS show winning some radio award. Respect sir!
- Carlinhos Cardozo – ‘Salve O Morro Dub’ (Local Dish)
Brazil meets Jamaica outta Canada in a dubbed out 𝘕𝘺𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘩𝘪 mystical style. Recorded and pressed on a super limited lathe 7” by the great Toronto label Local Dish records. Heavy! Alongside Turning Point these two labels have been putting out some incredible music over the past couple years. The whole catalogue is worth checking, starting with Debbie Gaskin’s fiery disco cut “Feel the Fire“, also from 2022.
- Ruf Dug feat. Private Joy – ‘Don’t Give In’ (International Feel)
Big tune alert! A 90s UK street soul throwback which was unsurprisingly massive with all the Balearic heads, aperol spritz sippers and DJH forum members alike (glad to see this resurrected by the way, even if I haven’t managed to engage yet, let alone – and most importantly – to find my avatar), but not only. Ruffy’s silky slick production coupled with Private Joy’s timeless delivery give the track the “instant classic” stamp, in both its streetsoul and reggae versions.
Double A side winner from Philophon, the always impeccable German/Ghana label which I’ve been following since day one (2014), already with Alogte Oho Jonas and his Sounds Of Joy and the song Zota Yinne, which remains a huge favourite to this day. Both tracks are amazing on this latest 7”, though it’s the reggae stepper meets frafra gospel ‘Gure Yose Me’ which I’ve played the most – sounded incredible when dropped right after a cavernous Tubby dub at a pre carnival special set in brilliant corners last August. Tip!
- Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek – ‘Hastane Önü’ & ‘Haydar Haydar’ (Bongo Joe Records)
This trans-continental band became a BATB favourite following the release of their first EP, Nem Kaldı back in 2017. The new EP DOST 1 followed up on those pre(o)mises, with references to The Doors (‘The Trip’), west coast US psych, and Anatolian folk heroes, offering us a rich mix of global funk led by Yıldırım’shaunting vocal melodies and hypnotic bağlama (a long-necked lute used in traditional Turkish folk music), on a bedrock of cosmic synths.
So far so very good, until you get flipped over by the poignant, goosebumps-inducing ballad Haydar Haydar, with its lysergic noir atmosphere a la Mazzy Star, and by the stupendous Hastane Önü, a modern psychedelic soul beauty of a tune which was clearly designed for BATB’s dance-floor. I certainly couldn’t get enough of it and played it everywhere I could. Sounded like heaven at Jaminaround. Add to this the infectious Deniz Dalgasız Olmaz, and a cosmic sunrise closer, and surely we have the EP of the year!
- Capinera – ‘Il Volo’ / ‘Suonno’ (Periodica Records)
Double A side 7” of summery goodness from the Periodica team, flipping from Sting circa ‘Englishman…’- influenced Italo-reggae-pop to the typical laid back funk that’d become associated with the Napoli sound. Borderline cheese, but the very good (Balearic) kind.
- Cheb Tahar – ‘Zina Zina’ (Bongo Joe/Sofa Records)
More Algerian raï greatness from the 1980s unearthed from cassettes by Sofa Records and Bongo Joe. With killer synths and a hypnotic digi reggae groove, the hit ‘Zina Zina’ is an absolute delight to dance to, while the 12” also features Rachid Baba’s ‘Racine’, an unlikely instrumental cosmic disco nugget which would have surely pleased Baldelli and the likes.
- Wau Wau Collectif – ‘Xale (Toubab Dialaw Kids Rhyme)’ (Sahel Sounds)
Children rhymes, acoustic guitar, hip hop beat and changing tempo – what’s not to like! A super cool tune which caught Silvia’s ear on first listen and was subsequently played to wild acclaim at brilliant corners, BATB and AOF. Part of yet another fantastic album by the Wau Wau Collectif, an intercontinental project between musicians in Senegal and Sweden, also included in my 2022 charts.
- Rebecca Vasmant – ‘Dance Yourself Free’ (Tru Thoughts)
One of the most ubiquitous tunes of the year, a killer broken beat/jazz dance party starter which celebrates the freedom of letting go and being in the moment. As the lyrics go, “just get up and dance.”
- The Electrified A.G.B. (All Girls Band) – ‘Fly Away! (Disco Version)’ (Dome City)
Irresistible jazz-funk stepper, produced circa 1975 by Lloyd L Harris Jr and featuring a cast of obscure female musicians and performers from the New Orleans area. Hypnotic groove, Rhodes, clavinet, shimmering horns, talking congas, psyched electronics and lyrics about flying away, all the ingredients of an instant (lost) classic, as certified on AOF’s dance-floor.
- Cruisic – ‘Pacific-707′ (Flower Records)
Another year another killer Japanese cover of a presumably untouchable classic (remember Whistle Song by Reggae Disco Rockers in 2021), this time by Cruisic, a duo which, judging from a quick glimpse at their discography, seems to specialise in these. Here they turn the 808 State trans-generational anthem into a cosmic-space-age-jazz-fusion nugget, complete with everyone’s favourite loon birds and tropical wildlife samples. As cool as and as balearic as it sounds, a summer ’89 anthem brilliantly turned into a summer ’22 anthem.
Played circa 7am during an unforgettable sunrise set at Houghton last year, the sun peeping through the yurt filled with dancing cosmonauts. Big memories! On the flip the 4Beat Club version is perhaps even more impressive as it reworks and reinvents the track for the jazz dance massive. Huge 7”!
- Alex Figueira – ‘Juicy’ / Aprende (Music with Soul)
Killer double A side 7” from Alex “one-man funk band” Figueira, a Portuguese-Venezuelan percussionist, producer and DJ living in Amsterdam and self dubbed “hardest working man in the tropical music biz”. Acoustic piano, steel drums, conga solos, melodica are all in there, mixing flavours in an addictive fusion of Caribbean styles: calypso jazz, forró, guaguancó, reggae,… ‘Aprende’ sounded so good around the fire at Jaminaround!
- Gigi Testa – ‘Blue Ocean’ (Rush Hour)
Superb EP from one of Naples’ unheralded heroes, who’s been quietly releasing dope electronic music in various shades and colours over the years, often on his own World Peace Music label. I loved his Rio Grande 12” (both versions) from 2010 and I love even more this new EP, especially ‘Blue Ocean’, a laid back tropical jazz funk beauty which sounds like a cross between Sun Palace and K&TG’s ’Summer Madness’. Pure tropical cosmic bliss, perfect for sunrise, sunset, and all the hours in between. The calypso tinged Neopolitan funk Guayaba on the flip is also splendido, as is the dreamy Balearic cut ‘Moments in Time’, making the release a fantastic addition to the trusted Rush Hour Jam series.
- Frantz Tuernal – ‘Koultans’ (Melodies International)
Extra special release for many reasons. First of all it features ‘Koultans’, the unlikely zouk/flamenco cut unearthed by master digger Niko Skliris and which Hunee had been susbsequently rinsing ever since he got hold of a copy. I was there on both occasions in the summer 2017 when he played the track three times at Giant Steps and then again in Houghton at sunrise in the middle of a techno set. It’s quite simply one of the most stunning pieces of music I know, song, groove, production, pressing, everything is just perfect. Hello Mr John! I had my copy already from Niko, but at least this masterpiece is now available for everyone. Furthermore, what an honour to be featured in the liner notes by Hunee himself as an inspiration which “re-calibrated my sense of experiencing and dancing to music” after being in the room at brilliant corners during my Freedom Suite in the summer of 2019. One to treasure for my mum and my grandchildren.
View this post on Instagram
- Joyce – ‘Feminina’ (Produced Arranged And Conducted By Claus Ogerman) (Far Out Recordings)
Massive 12” alert! The eleven minute version of ‘Feminina’, produced and arranged by Claus Ogerman in 1977 for the album Natureza which for some reason was never released (and is now forthcoming on Far Out). We all know and love the short version from the 1980 album of the same name, but frankly this is quite something, a full dose of psychedelic sunshine soul medicine!
- Guinu – ‘Palagô (Jose Marquez remix)’ (Razor-N-Tape)
Jose Marquez, the producer already responsible for a pair of bona fide BATB classics with his remixes of (Afro-Colombian) La Mezcla and (North African) Gnawa, has now turned his attention to Brazil and more specifically Guinu, reworking the slick Brazilian jazz-funk of the original track into a percussion-heavy, nicely cosmic Afro-Latin house burner. This came late in the year and I haven’t had the chance to test it in situ yet, but I have no doubt this will become a future classic.
- Gaoulé Mizik – A Ka Titine (Kay Suzuki Gwoka Dub) (Beauty & the Beat)
Kay Suzuki’s monster remix of ‘A Ka Titine’, inna sound-system stylee, was finally released this year, rightly becoming ubiquitous across discerning dance-floors and festivals everywhere. I’ve written at length about the genesis of this 12” already, so I’ll just add that with the track being praised by the likes of François K and becoming a staple at the Loft in both NYC and London, the circle (of my journey through dance music) somewhat feels completed. All hail to Kay-san on this one, and very much looking forward to the next chapter.
- Esnard Boisdur – ‘Défencè (COEO edit)’ (Resista)
More classic gwoka (from one of Guadeloupe’certified maîtres ka and one of its most instantly recogonisable voice, Esnard Boisdur) given a modern re-rub, this time on a more conventional cosmic deep house tip. It’s a banger nonetheless, really well done and respectful to the original. I played it a lot last year, it’s one of those records you always need in your bag, as you can either play it within a house section or you can use it as a transition between genres. Probably not legit but a banger anyways, which makes it the second Boisdur remix to become a classic, after Africaine 808‘s killer update of ‘Mizik Bel‘ from a few years back.
- Hamed Farras – ‘Chef, C’est Pas Moi (Lipelis Remix)’ (Sentinel Island Disco)
Alpha Blondy vibes all this way on this golden Ivorian reggae nugget from 1991, unearthed by Sentinel Island Disco out of the Netherlands. The original track is fantastic to start with but the remix by revered producer Lipelis takes it to a whole other level. Deep, groovy, melodic, dreamy – tailor made for the BATB dance-floor.
- Benden – Montbui (Tropical Grails)
A flat house beat, an acoustic kora and a Fela sample are all you need to create some serious euphoria on the floor. Apparently this had been rinsed for years by Acid Pauli before it finally received an official release. Such a perfectly executed, universally loved feel good anthem; not quite the same heights as Joe Claussell’s seminal remix of Amadou & Mariam’s Bara, but on a very similar tip.
“Let’s start what we have come into the room to do
- Peven Everett – ‘Heat Up’ (Groovin Recording)
When on form the ultra prolific Chicago producer Peven Everett is at the very top of my list of favourite purveyors of deep, funky, soulful house music. There’s the all time classic ‘Gabriel’ of course, there’s ‘I Can’t Believe I Loved Her’ but there’s especially ‘Easy Livin’ (Lava mix)’, a tune I’ve been rinsin’ at BATB since day one (2005!). ‘Heat Up’ is on a very similar tip, an irresistible uptempo soul banger that is, originally released in 2010 but almost impossible to find until this timely reissue. So so good.
- The Maghreban feat. Omar – Waiting (Zoot Records)
Always such a treat to hear Omar, and furthermore with an absolute banger of a tune! A sound that never gets old, like a long lost Chicago house classic, with an insanely good production by The Maghreban, whose Connection LP (from which ‘Waiting’ is taken from) also features at the top of my ’22 charts. One to look out for for real.
- Mike Huckaby – ‘The Jazz Republic’ (Back to Life)
Classic deep house groove from Detroit, with this 1997 cut from one of the unheralded masters of the genre who sadly departed in 2020. Pure rhythm and soul, pure vibes, pure house music, Moodymann, roller rinks and all that.
- Omar S ♥ Desire – ‘54321 (vocal mix)’ (FXHE Records)
Heavy Detroit underground soul from one of the city’s most prolific and consistent producers, here teaming up with Italian Do It Better’s Desire to create a nine minute, take no prisoner, raw underground banger. Play at your own risk!
“When The Lights Go Down
We Go Underground
Meet Me There
You Know Where
It’s A New Number
- Richard Sen – ‘My Definition Of Funk’ (Public Release)
Big room, peak time business from my old buddy Rich, a (sigh) veteran on the scene still at the very top of the game. Some must remember Padded Cell and their mighty remix of LCD Soundsystem’s 45:33 which did some serious damage at the Loft, alongside their remix of Sly Mongoose’s Bad Pulse which I remember giving to David Mancuso when it came out (2007) – David loved it so much he ended up playing it every time. Back to‘My Definition of Funk’ and I can’t believe how good it is, raw electronic machine funk restrained to its bear bones, inna UR stylee. A very good definition indeed, which comes with a great cosmic funk variant on the flip (Social Science), alongside a floaty mid tempo breakbeat thingy which is equally dope. Full points Mr Sen.
- Onegram – ‘Trans Europe Express (Masanori Ikeda remix)’ (Flower Records)
And make it two in the killer-cheeky-Japanese-cover-of-a-classic section, with yet another ace 7” hitting all the right buttons and managing to give new life and perspectives to a well loved classic – a classic amongst classics no less. Both versions are equally great, the original cover a super slick and floaty jazz funk rendition complete with wah wah and scorching saxophone that suddenly shifts gear halfway through, while on the flip Masanori Ikeda’s kills it on the remix with a vintage TR-808 house beat and the most unexpected free jazz interlude on the break. Sounded every bit as bonkers as it should in the wee hours of Jaminaround.
- Stimela – ‘I Love You’ (Mr Bongo)
A rather irresistible cosmic boogie beauty from South Africa, first discovered thanks to Jeremy Spellacey via his awesome Crown Ruler Sound comp from a few years back, and now lovingly reissued on a loud 12” by Mr Bongo. Hypnotic mid tempo groove and bubbly synth a gogo, a sound and vibe I absolutely adore and a tune which has grown into one of my favourite instrumental boogie ever. Played both at Houghton and on NYE, this one will never stray far from the bag.
- Akio Nagase – ‘Morisyen Acid’ / ‘Jua’ (Emotional Response)
Two of my favourite and most played tracks of the year came from the same 12”, released by the inevitable Chuggy on Emotional Response. Nagase is a producer from Japan who seems to have made his own the African Acid is the Future motto. Both tracks feature sampled African chants mixed with acid b lines and a cosmic chug of a groove, a formula which is usually risky at best, but which when crafted to perfection like here has proven irresistible on the floor. Two modern balearic bangers, both Silvia Gin certified which have given us so much joy already and become staples in the magic hours on BATB and AOF’s dance-floors.
- Sefi Zisling – ‘The Sky Sings (Obar Nenor‘s Extended Dub)’ (Tru Thoughts)
Originally released in 2019 on Zisling’s Expanse album, The Sky Sings has been turned into a dance floor winner by Obas Nenor, who transformed the beautiful but relatively laid back jazz-funk original into an extended disco dub beauty, rightly bringing the infectious vocals upfront in the mix. Played at the right time (circa 3am) this is real Balearic communion-on-the-dance-floor type of track. If you’re after the vinyl, this is hidden on a True Thoughts comp (Shapes: Spectrum) which contains some other worthy bits.
- Eira Haul – ‘Oak (Tornado Wallace Lights Off Mix)’ (Edition Akasha)
Super cool remix by Tornado Wallace, a smooth breakbeat balearic rendition of a techno stomper by Germany’s Eira Haul. Deep and floaty, organic and groovy, the tune has all the trademarks of the Australian producer, very much a specialist in the realm of outdoor ravey dance music. I would have loved to hear that blasted from the forest stages of both Houghton and WOH, which would no doubt have gone down well alongside this other outdoor breakbeaty ravey beauty also released by Wallace this year, Sea Translation. Just saying.
- DJ Python – ‘Club Sentimientos Vol 2′ (Incensio)
Deep reggaeton anyone? Two words one would never have thought to associate, until DJ Python came along with his introspective take on the ubiquitous dance music genre. With his idiosyncratic way of blending ambient soundscapes with breakbeats, IDM and, yep, reggaeton (or rather the dembow rhythm associated with the genre), the genius of DJ Python lies in translating that relentless thump into something altogether heady and ethereal. On both TMMD (IMMMD) and Club Sentimiental Vol Three for instance, the space and textures that hover between the rhythms are brought to the fore, as important as the beats themselves.
Angel on the flip is a gentle swell of a tune which grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go for nearly 11 minutes of airy, floaty dance music which should delight all the dreamers out there. It should come as no surprise to hear – all time hero – Plaid being evoked on all three tracks, an act whose influence on the younger generation of electronic music producers continues to spread every year. An unlikely fusion of genres which I absolutely adore.
- Alien Mutation – ‘Starship Heart Of Gold’ (Transmigration)
Space is definitely the place on these two slices of psychedelic ambient produced through a Goa trance filter by Jake Stephenson and originally released in 1994 on his own Ambient Space Acid (!) label. A scene I know virtually nothing about and of which I am so grateful for the current revival trend led by Berlin’s Transmigration and the likes. Both sides are equally good. One for the early-morning-after-the-night-before shenanigans.
- Earth Leakage Trip – ‘No Idea’ / ‘Over 92′ / (Blank Mind)
Timely reissue of the infamous Psychotronic EP, the first release on the legendary hardcore and jungle label Moving Shadow in 1991, and arguably the finest example of the bleep & breaks sound that combined the weighty bass and bleeps of turn-of-the-90s Yorkshire techno with the crunchy breakbeats associated with early London breakbeat hardcore. Just like Goa trance it’s a scene I was nowhere near at the time (except for seeing Orbital live at Borealis circa 1997) and it’s fantastic to discover decades later that some of these jewels’ aesthetic fits perfectly with BATB’s deep dance music with a psychedelic soul ethos. Shades of Orbital are evoked on “Over 92”, a sub heavy yet deliciously lysergic shuffler, while the alien-sounding electro-bleep creepiness “No Idea” is one for the head strong only! Lovely piece off history right there!
“The doors are where the windows should be, and the windows are where the doors should be”
- Ugné & Maria – ‘Into Orbit’ (Gems Under The Horizon)
Gritty broken techno beats and spaced-out atmospherics on this cool, late night gem from the Lithuanian duo. Unearthed by the aptly titled Gems Under the Horizon label and part of a faultless 12” which also features the ethereal beauties ‘Vigo’ by &apos and ‘No Vacation’ by Salamanda. One for the all round morning troopers, head nodders and floaters alike.
- Ron Trent presents WARM – ‘Melt Into You’ (Night Time Stories)
Relance/re-entry time with possibly my favourite tune of 2022, nicely nested within my favourite album of 2022. Yep the new Ron Trent LP was a modern masterpiece, which I’m getting deeper into in my Albums review, and I already know that when I listen back to that album in 10 years the memories will evoke a time capsule from 2022.
‘Melt Into You’ is a collab with Azymuth’s Alex Malheiros, a magic hour tune with a groove and sensuality to die for. A tune which I simply couldn’t get enough of, played at Houghton during sunrise, in the magic hour of NYE, and at pretty much every party in between, sometimes alternated with Flos Potentia (Sugar, Cotton, Tabacco), a mesmerising late night psychedelic disco tune made in collaboration with Khruangbin which reminded me of Tiago’s unheralded remix of Isle of Tears from nearby a decade ago.
- Vusinator – ‘It’s Never Too Late’ and King Jazz – ‘Lockdown’ (NTS)
Both tracks were featured on the Amapiano Now comp released by NTS which focused on the defining sound of the South African underground scene of today. Lots to love in there, but the pick of the crop for me were the deepest (aforementioned) cuts, both instrumentals and on a rather mellow and introspective mood, away from the big room. Built around a trademark log-drum groove, the deep house influence and jazz-inflected keys take these two tracks apart, equally at home within a 6 hr + cosmic ambient mix for my folks as on BATB’s dance floor on NYD.
- Alex Kassian – ‘Strings Of Eden (Garden mix)’ (Pinchy & Friends)
Following his release of Spirit of Eden in 2021, Kassian followed up with a superb update, pitched down to a more Balearic-friendly pace, with – as hinted by the title update – the strings coming to the fore to be glued in your mind even more. A most inspired and welcome rework which was incredibly bettered by LA based arranger, composer and string wizard (and oft Carlos Nino associate, check 2020’s sublime Chicago Waves LP) Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, who managed to steal the show with his Garden mix on the B side. Truly magnificent stuff, to the point that nothing can be played after that. Funeral song material.
✿.｡.:* ☆:**:. ♪ .:**:.☆*.:｡.✿
An integral part of the music year, as always: tunes and artists that were revived and paid tribute to in 2022.
- PHAROAH SANDERS
The prince of peace passed away in 2022, leaving us with an incomparable legacy of love and beauty through music. Sadly I missed his (last ever) set at WOH as I had to dash back to London for a pre carnival gig at bc, but the man had already left an indelible trace on me and pretty much all the music heads I know around me.
Starting from the Origin… Pharoah to me will forever be associated with Plastic People. I’ve written at length already about the seminal ‘Balance’ nights, which we religiously attended every Saturday between 2000 and 2007. Amongst all the classics (‘Life on Mars’, ‘Umi Says’, ‘Cascavel’, ‘Eu Sou Como Você É’, …), the one that best embodies what the night was about is undoubtedly Pharoah’s ‘Got to have Freedom’. Week in week out, without fail, we learned inside out what is possibly THE best jazz dance tune of all time, a unique combination of a relentless groove laid out by Joe Hicks (piano) and Idris Muhammad (drums), Pharoah’s life-affirming saxophone wail (such a singular moment of emotional intensity) and timeless positive lyrics. Pure exhilarating joy which works its magic on the floor every single time. We even had the blessing of being there on during that legendary NYE 2001, when Pharaoh played ‘WGTHF’ live at midnight, a once in a lifetime moment that will be forever cherished (as is his performance at the Jazz Cafe a few years later for what possibly remains the best live gig I’ve ever witnessed).
Where do you go from that?!
Soon I found out that this Everest was only one summit within a stellar discography, one to revisit and rediscover time and time again. Whether on a spiritual tip (‘The Creator has a master plan’, ‘Let us go into The House Of The Lord, ‘Love is Everywhere’), cosmic flight (‘Astral Traveling’, ‘Journey In Satchidananda’), ‘Kazuko’, tribal (‘Our roots began in Africa’, ‘La Allah Dayim Moulenah’) or in full overblowing, primal scream, wall of sound mode (‘Kulu Sé Mama’), the music always retains this pure timeless quality that makes one’s spirits rejoice.
On a side personal note, I will forever remember one of the very first times I did the warm up at Balance (early 2001), when I decided it was a good idea to play some Pharoah early doors… turned out Ade was not impressed, telling me something along the lines of “I don’t invite you to play what I could better play myself”. A very important lesson that stayed with me and helped me grow as a DJ and (don’t try to please or copy anyone, be yourself!). Flash forward to BATB October 2022, barely a week after Pharoah’s passing, not trying to please anyone but myself, and I played not one but seven Pharoah songs at BATB, including four at peak time, three in a row (‘Nigerian Juju Higlife’, ‘Bailophone Dance’ and ‘Pharomba’), ‘WGTHF’ a bit later, with Cyril having played ‘Tomoki’ as well. I joked afterwards that we could easily have played Pharoah all night, but I wasn’t far off!
For NYE 2022, Jeremy played the 14 min live version of ‘You’ve Got to Have Freedom’ all through the midnight gong, as a tribute to one of the party’s hero. The music lives on.
- GAL COSTA
The queen of tropicalia also departed in 2022, an absolute legend who left us with a discography overflowing with treasures across the MPB (Música popular brasileira) spectrum. Her passing roughly coincided with me finishing the (fascinating) Caetano Veloso’s autobiography’ Tropical Truth – A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil, in which he describes Gal as the embodiment of the movement’s adoption of personal freedom in politics, music, and lifestyle. A must watch also is the Tropicalia doc (available on YT), starting with Gal Costa’s dramatic performance of ‘Divino, maravilhoso’ at the peak of the tropicalia movement (1968): that fierce delivery was a revelation and a pivotal moment in Costa’s career.
A song I’ve rediscovered and subsequently played a lot was Bahia De Todas As Contas, a lesser known MPB winner from 1983, alongside perennial favourites ‘Milho Verde’ and ‘Relance’, the latter a totally bonkers and relentless cosmic funk groove (complete with bonkers TV performance to boot) which goes perfectly (in a twisted, lysergic mind) with Tom Ze’s equally bonkers ‘Xique Xique‘.
And let us not forget of course, ‘Baby’, one of the most beautiful love songs ever, which sounded like heaven as the penultimate song at All Our Friends in November.
- UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE
A gig I didn’t miss at WOH is Underground Resistance, the highlight of a festival that featured so many. Led by Jon Dixon on synths, the latest iteration of UR also featured a turntablist and a saxophone player and literally floored everyone. Motor City sounds through and through, sounding fatter than ever on the bijou Danley rig (never heard a sound system sounding so huge and so clean on such a scale before). Techno-jazz a la Galaxy 2 Galaxy vs machine-soul-funk a la UR for a total rampage of a set, no prisoners taken whatsoever. The only downer being that the rest of the night felt – somewhat unavoidably – flat afterwards.
Only a month earlier, our good friend Henry Keen (aka The Room Below, one half of Soundspecies) had played Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s ‘Journey of the Dragons’ to rapturous applause at Jaminaround, reminding everyone how deep and funky those Detroit cats are. This in turn led me to pull out that double 12” and subsequently play ‘Rhythm Of Infinity’ at BATB, albeit at 33 instead of 45, which I’m only finding out now. I’m usually not one to enjoy records played at the wrong speed, but in this case, just wow! This reminds me of that other record which sounds (much much) better at 33 than 45, the entire side C and side D of Charanjit Singh‘s groundbreaking Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, of which I recently uploaded Raga Bairagi on my YT channel. (#ladansecosmique ☺️)
- Sun Palace – ‘Rude Movements (Moodymann remix)’ (bbe)
The original version of ‘Rude Movements’ is invariably up there in the top 3 of my favourite tracks of all time. It was played during my first – life changing – acid trip at a party thrown by Loft members in a Chelsea bunker in NYC at the turn of the century, and 1000 listens later I am still in awe of what this song does to me. Words are meaningless when trying to express the unparalleled beauty of this song, except for saying that this is my definition of nirvana in music.
With that in mind I was never even interested in listening to the bunch of remixes put out by bbe a couple years ago, and despite the hype around it I simply ignored it. Then I eventually stumbled upon the Moodymann remix when played by Zakia on her NTS show, and I was instantly converted. Moodymann, being the don that he is, gave the song a new life I never believed was needed, making it a KDJ tune while fully respecting the depth and flow of the original. That break just kills me every time. A boss of a remix, which I’ve ended up playing a few times this year, including on NYE.
- Sophie Lloyd feat. Dames Brown – ‘Calling Out’ (Classic)
There is only a limited amount of recent vocal house tunes that can claim “classic” status, but if the floor reactions circa 3am at BATB’s NYE party are anything to go by, 2018’s ‘Calling Out’ most definitely belongs to that category. There are a few remixes floating around but it’s all about the original really, uplifting gospel house at its very best and a bona fide crossover anthem from the basement to the main room. To file next to “Stand on the Word”, The Clark Sisters’ “Ha-Ya (Eternal Life)”, Karizma’s “Work It Out” or Robin S’ “I Want to Thank You”.
- TSHALA MUANA
View this post on Instagram
The acclaimed Queen of mutuashi (a sensual dance native to her Luba tribe in Congo) also passed away in 2022. She was a legendary figure In Congo, where she was affectionately called Mamu (Mother) National. There, she was mostly known for the song ‘Karibu Yangu’ as well as for her feminist stance and her commitment to the national and African cause. She spent her career carrying ancestral cultural values and mixing them with styles like rumba, soukous and even western influences when she lived in Paris during the bubbling melting pot that were the 80s and 90s.
In the rest of the world she is mostly known for ‘Lekela Muadi’, an irresistible Afro-Cuban beauty of a tune from 1996 (produced by no less than Boncana Maïga) on which she connects the mutuashi rhythm with the Cuban son, and which became an international hit. That’s how I discovered her (this song will forever have a special place for me), and over the years I made sure I bought her LPs every time I came across one. They are not especially rare and there are always some incredible tunes to be found. ‘Amina’, ‘Mbombo’, ‘Tshebele’, ‘Tshibola’, ‘Biduaya’ are some of the favourites I’ve played regularly over the years, not forgetting the irresistible ‘Dezo Dezo’, an Afro zouk banger which I’ve played at peak time on NYE.
Rest in power and big 🙏🏽 for the music.
- Meredith Monk – ‘Do You Be’ (ECM)
Houghton festival circa 7am on the hottest weekend of the year, the sun already pretty high in the sky and peeping in the Giant Steps oasis. Meredith “the bird woman” Monk is coming to the party. I had always dreamed about finding the right time and setting to play this, and that moment finally came to me, right after FK’s remix of Nina Simone’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’. Memories for life.
- Olivia Newton-John – ‘Jolene’ (Tom Bullock edit)
Cheeky edit from Mr Bullock, who added snippets from The Blues Brothers and turned everyone’s favourite country song into an ultimate energy raiser. As played at Houghton during the very last hour of the festival on Sunday morning – grown men crying and all that. Rest in power Olivia.
- Souls of Mischief – ’93 ’Til Infinity’ (Jive)
Everyone loves that trans-generational golden age hip hop anthem to bits. Instant goosebump inducing stuff (which might be one of the very few hip hop tunes with that rare quality), which sounded right on point at Silvia’s 30th b’day (yep, 1993 baby) on NYD.
- Ti L’Afrique – ‘Soul Sock Séga’ (Soundway)
Twisted, wobbly funk banger with haunting vocals, aka the bonkers sound of Ti L’Afrique, founder of the 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘭 𝘴𝘦𝘨𝘢 musical genre from Mauritius. The tune was reissued by both Strut and Bongo Joe a few years ago, and somehow found its way on many a dance-floor in 2022. Psychedelic funk madness ensuing every time. Anyone with a clue about what that spooky instrument is, please reach out 😳
- Jocelyn Moka & Kassav – ‘Mizik Maladi’ (Debs)
Another year another new old Kassav favourite, this time in the form of a Caribbean cosmic disco banger. A groove to die for, haunting vocals (and a rap verse!) from my favourite Kassav singer Jocelyn Moka, and lyrics about being addicted to music. So deep, so emotional, so pure – I live for this.
- Le Mistral – La Police, l’ambulance et pompié dérôe
THE gwoka tune of the year for me, a straight-up tumblak from Sartana’s Le Mistral. A rhythm as hypnotic and driving as they come, which destroyed many a dance floor last year, and quite particularly brilliant corners’ on a pre carnival set.
“Allez vous coucher les enfants”
- KLAUS SCHULZE / MANUEL GÖTTSCHING
The two kraut rock titans both departed this planet only a few months apart in 2022, leaving us with a legacy of seminal, timeless cosmic explorations which still sound ahead of their time 40+ year after their initial releases. Tracks like Transfer Blue Station, Druck and of course ‘E2 E4’ are ultimate masterpieces of what can be achieved when technology, talent, musicianship and visionary minds collide at a moment i time. Landmark tunes which sonically are like the finest caviar for an audiophile sound system. The first two were played at BATB, alongside Joe Claussell’s remix of Ashra’s ‘Ain’t no Time for Tears’ (an all time BATB classic which Jem played just after Pharoah on NYE), ‘Tango-Saty’, and Baldelli’s rework of Ashra’s ‘Shuttlecock’.
- Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
At BATB in February ’22, we somehow mixed up the numbers at the door and let way too many people in. At some point the room was way too packed that you could barely move on the floor, let alone have a dance. Russia had just declared war on Ukraine and the mood was electric. I was on last and thought I’d seize the opportunity to play a few anti war anthems. Digital Mystic‘s ‘Anti-War dub‘ and Zao‘s ‘Ancien Combattant‘ went down a treat, but the real moment was when I dropped ‘For What It’s Worth.’ It seemed like the whole room started to sing along and hug each other in a rare moment of unisson that night. Phew. Music is love.
Last but not least, Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, aka Vangelis, yet another genius cosmonaut who also decided to depart in 2022. ‘Multi-Track Suggestion’, ‘Who’ ‘State of Independance’ are all part of the BATB/AOF repertoire (the latter being played as the last song at BATB’s May party).
And there is ‘Let It Happen’, one of the most beautiful cosmic love songs ever recorded.
“Baby all you got to do
Is let the rhythm get to you
Let it happen
All you need is love on the wheel of life”