The Darkfloor 2011 review, part 1.

As we come to the end of 2011 those end of year reviews seem to rear their heads. This year, I thought with the readership growth as we have had on Darkfloor it would be nice to do a piece on some of our favourite music released in the past year.

Some might say we have questionable taste, nevertheless in the past year we played host to 21 Mantis Radio shows not including our 4th anniversary show with those shows seeing thousands of downloads. Some of you out there like how we approach things. Thank you.

What are your favourite tracks from this year, let us know in the comments.

This year has been so strong for stunning, impressive, excellent releases. Great music, week, after week.

Techno most notably stepped away from minimal and went harder and industrial. It also had a shift into more broken rhythms which we’ve been loving at Darkfloor for years. Glad to see people are catching up…

Electro has seen quite the resurgence this year, no doubt in part thanks to hyped and followed bass music producers and labels embracing and promoting it. From labels Swamp81 and NAKEDLUNCH to a more established and supported Sherard Ingram (DJ Stingray) laying waste with his hi-tek electro sets and tracks. This is just the tip of the iceberg and the stuff that pops into my head as I write this. And of course the Drexciya re-issues… And I’m not even mentioning Dave Paton’s alias the wee djs releasing some sterling machine birthed electro.

One last thing I’ll briefly mention is that crossover and multi-genre/niche thing has gone into overdrive this year. Juke/footwork possibly being the flagship example of this. Yea I know it’s been in Chicago for ages but this year that niche went global with seemingly everyone (myself included) finding a lot of love for fast 808 simplistic raw looping dancefloor hooks. Perhaps the pinnacle of the footwork style as it meets the ever burgeoning bass music scene is that of machinedrum and his universally loved and praised room(s) on the ever on point Planet µ.

OK, so tracks this year. Where to start. I mean. Wow. Over. Loaded. A great year for electronic music this year. Here’s the first 10, in no particular order.

10 of our faves from 2011
Croms – Invisible Cities [Exit Records]
Instra:mental – Sun Rec [Semantica]
Dead Sound vs Videohead – Pench EP [Acroplane]
AAIMON – Amen [Tundra]
RadioNasty – Radio 3 [EPM]
Kangding Ray – OR [Raster-Noton]
Lucy – Lav [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
Hoth System – Foreign Object [Audioexit]
Objekt – The Goose that Got Away [Objekt]
Surgeon – Those Who Do Not [Dynamic Tension]

Croms – Invisible Cities [Exit Records]
Right, so one of the earliest tracks I loved this year was from Croms and his Invisible Cities on Exit. Resplendent with its 80s nighttime drive approved synth work. A lush deep track to fall in love with. Beautiful.

Instra:mental – Sun Rec [Semantica]
Arguably the light force for the electro resurgence this year, Instra:mental really took over. From the anthemic When I Dip and User to Voyeur and Grand Prix to the deep Vicodin. And that’s not taking into account the duo’s Boddika and Jon Convex’s solo work. Originally only available as a limited vinyl run with Semantica, Sun Rec eventually saw digital release on Instra:mental’s Resolution 663 LP. Another deep, bass heavy, electro love affair of mine.

Dead Sound vs Videohead – Pench EP [Acroplane]
There is not a better example of techno’s shift to more broken rhythms than the work of Dead Sound and Videohead as DVF. We’ve been loving their sound at Darkfloor for a few years but 2011 saw them really pick up speed, with fresh work on Perc Trax, Electrax and original home Acroplane. Raw, machine powered thunder. Their Pench EP is a brutal example of just what they are capable of.

AAIMON – Amen [Tundra]
Witchhouse seemed to lose a lot of the hype this year. Good. It allowed some other artists experimenting within the wide style to come forth. One such example: AAIMON. The San Diego duo really impressed me this year, both with their own productions and their taste (their session for Mantis Radio really bringing something new to the show). Amen was the first track I heard from them and together with their remix of FUNERALS one of my favourite. And others agreed as an Amen Remixes EP came out soon after. Their label Tundra Dubs and fellow witchhouse/drag merchants; the Manchester based Aural Sects have been intriguingly interesting sonically these past 12 months.

RadioNasty – Radio 3 [EPM]
2011 seemed to be the year for collaborative partnerships, one such example Radionasty: Radioactive Man and Billy Nasty. Their track Radio 3 a razor sharp deep electro bass warbler. An out and out dancefloor slammer. Radioactive Man’s Keith Tenniswood is on target to launch a load of fresh new material early next year, together with a very promising hookup with Bass Junkie as The Brink.

Kangding Ray – OR [Raster-Noton]
Raster-Noton had another strong year. A year that saw their some of their releases shift from largely abstract focused minimal glitch intricate electronics to something more, with bass and electro stylings. Essentially stuff you could dance to rather than just stroke your chin to. Whilst Senking’s Pong from late 2010 got and still gets quite a slamming in my sets and on my iPod, Kangding Ray’s OR became a truly awesome listen from opener Athem through to the closing La Belle. One of the stand out cuts for me was title track OR. If you listen to one album from Noton this year, make it this one.

Lucy – Lav [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
Stroboscopic Artefacts label boss Luca Mortellaro (Lucy) released his debut LP Wordplay For Working Bees and it is a brilliant piece of work. Part techno, part sound design. Uncompromising, at points abstract but wonderfully textured, focused and seriously heavyweight. An album I’ve come back to many times this year. Standout cut: Lav.

Hoth System – Foreign Object [Audioexit]
We finally got Belfast’s Tony McMurray on Mantis’s showcase session and this year saw him continue to release his particular brand of dark and hard techno like few others. I’ve chosen one of his recent tracks, Foreign Object released on Hungarian netlabel Audioexit who have also had a solid year as far as we’re concerned. Sure they won’t be on many peoples end of year lists as being a netlabel they’ll be ignored by much of the techno scene and its writers, but that hasn’t stopped them releasing proper dancefloor dark, meaty tracks.

Objekt – The Goose that Got Away [Objekt]
You’ve probably seen that name being hyped to high heaven on influential blogs like FACT, and deservedly so. TJ Hertz really found his feet this year under his Objekt alias. He hasn’t released much, but when you’re as good as he is you don’t need to. Being a software designer for Native Instruments means his technical knowledge is verging on the obscene and whilst his work is extremely intricate and well produced it still nails and demolishes the dancefloor.

I’ve chosen The Goose that Got Away, A1 from the first Objekt EP. An amazing techno/dubtech/bass piece of work. His remix for Radiohead’s Bloom (part of a huge remix project under the Ticker Tape label, Radiohead’s own imprint) really stood out amongst the many great remixes turned in. It’s abstract and going somewhere new but it’s taking you along for the ride with it. Quite possibly my favourite remix of the year.

Surgeon – Those Who Do Not [Dynamic Tension]
In the earlier introduction paragraphs I mentioned that techno saw a really focused return to form, part of that involves the work of Anthony Child: the mighty Surgeon, who released a follow up to his 2000 longplayer Body Request. Yup. Eleven years. And whilst he’s not been quiet on the release front, we were long overdue a new album. And he did not disappoint. Surgeon sums up his work better than anyone else could:

This album isn’t about entertainment, it’s about transformation, and transformation requires effort on behalf of the aspirant.

My initial idea for this album project was to explore ideas of science fiction, but when I started the groundwork, it soon became obvious to me that my journey was one to inner rather than outer space.

I studied the music of La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Eliane Radigue, and Alice Coltrane, all of whom made deeply spiritual, abstract music. I was searching for the deep spiritual essence that lay behind the surface structures of their individual music.

This album is the closest I have been to reaching that point.

Friend of Darkfloor Olaf Quintessa wrote a great article on just this very album. Well worth a read.

So that’s it for part 1. Some 10 tracks from a long list of many. Part 2 with a further 10 tracks will be published next week.

Original photograph by Amir Kuckovic.

Dec 24, 2011