Input/Output DJ gives us his top 21 electronic songs of 2011.
Top 21 Tracks of 2011:
We’ve had a great year in electronic music, some were very hard to choose, others just would make an incomplete list if left off. Here are my choices:
21) Too Much to Lose – Sun Glitters
A heavy, fuzzed over jam, from Sun Glitters’ EP “Everything Could Be Fine”, The perfect song to come on midsummer when you first start a car filled with with the hot sun.
20)Fireworks (Deadboy Slo Mo House Remix) – Drake
For months I denied it. I heard it, forgot about it, and then out of nowhere, it would come back. Perhaps it was my initial hesitation that Drake was such a Fratparty superstar, but I’m glad I wised up to realize what a delicate, pretty song this was. Play it loudly, get absorbed.
19)Where The Sun Beats – Blue Sky Black Death
Following the post-rock handbook of Bigger = better, BSBD creates a vast, spawling soundscape, like moving through a serene countryside in fast motion. Or maybe I’m just thinking of that Mogwai video…
18)Cover Your Tracks – Young Galaxy
Or second place finisher for “Best use of island drums” on this list (see #1). Young Galaxy’s Debut album Shapeshifting is full of spacey tunes just like this one, but if one song seemed like what they were going for overall, it was Cover Your Tracks.
17)Soft – Washed Out
A very solid track from a very solid album. Washed Out’s LP debut is a intimate, beautiful album. Rhythmic enough to never lose its flow, varied enough to keep your interest. A great listen by yourself on headphones, or to fill a room with closeness.
16)NYC – Burial
Burial’s Street Halo EP pretty much picked up where Untrue left off. Which, in this case, I would call a good thing. A very good thing. Burial is the resident king of the seedy, nighttime underground trance. What’s different in this track, to me is the chosen vocal sample. While it seems that most of Untrue’s vocal samples were pulled from soul tracks, the short sample in NYC is meager, drowning. It works very well for Burial.
Bonus: Space pictures!
15)Drone – Panda Bear
Panda Bear has been all over. His 2007 Person Pitch remains one of my favorite albums, he makes shoes, mixtapes, the works, and of course, is the #1 indie darling of #1 indie darlings Animal Collective. This year, the busy bear released Tomboy. Which, if you were expecting another Person Pitch through you for a loop, a darker loop than might have been expected. With Sonic Boom (of Spacemen 3) on production, Drone stands out on the album as the most original thing Panda Bear has done since the early days of Animal Collective.
14)Ritual Union – Little Dragon
From the album of the same name, Ritual Union is the kinda music you always wanted Little Dragon to make. It moves along at just the perfect pace, metallic synths enter and exit as they please, making for a dreamy ride, set deep in a nice groove.
13)Quitters Raga – Gold Panda
A lot of people know about Gold Panda, which is good, but not a lot of people know of the digital release-Companion- he put out this year, which is weird. Because it’s really good. Quitters Raga cuts up traditional Indian melodies in ways that seem very natural. What I like most about the track is how it shows that cutting up, stuttering, and general remixing can be more of an additive process than a destructive one, and when done with care, works with the sample, rather than forcing it to submit.
12)They Like It Slow (H-town refix) – Star Slinger
Q: Whats the best thing to come out of 90’s R&B?
A: R-Kelly Jokes.
2nd place – this song. British producer Star-Slinger has been a busy man this year. Remixing, and refixing everything he can get his hands on. Some are hit, some are miss, this one is out of the fucking ballpark.
11)Hanging on To Every Heartbeat – Cut Copy
This year, the Ausie Electro-pop pros returned with their third album Zonoscope. It took me a few listens for me to get used to their freshly augmented sound, but after I did, it became my favorite album in their (already excellent) discography. Hanging On to Every Heartbeat caught my attention immediately, and just never got old.
The title of this album/track says it all. Loops! a lot of them, for a long time. It’s glorious. Need to focus? put this album on, watch your productivity go through the roof.
9)Adrift – Tycho
What would happen if Boards of Canada decided to be more post-rock? Probably something a bit like this cut from Tycho’s new album Dive. Not to discredit Tycho by any means. Dive has been on constant rotation with me since it’s release, and is an excellent song to show off how good your new headphones sound. The guy (Scott Hansen) also has a really cool design blog (www.iso50.com)
8)Apart – Balam Acab
Balam Acab is the only artist that appears more than once on this list (on his own, from the same album). There is a good reason for this…he is fucking awesome. Ithaca college student Alec Koone’s LP Wander/Wonder was one of the defining electronic albums of 2011 for me. This heavy, watery cut is the first time you get a sense of what Koone is capable of. (super cool video too)
7)Pyramid – Four Tet
The odds of Four Tet releasing anything and it not showing up on a “Top electronic tracks” list are pretty much null. The man deserves it though. This house-y cut from his Locked/Pyramid single shows incredible touch with vocal samples. Listen to a master at work.
6)Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene Remix) – Radiohead
This choice was kind of a two-in-one to be honest. I loved The King of Limbs (haters gonna hate) but debated if it was “electronic” enough. To be sure, I chose this killer remix on TKOL1234567 by Jacques Greene.
5) I Never Learnt to Share – James Blake
Whats that rumbling through my speakers?…is it?…noo, it can’t be…it is! Its REAL DUBSTEP, ITS ALIVE! Seriously. whatever crap your fratty friends call dubstep doesn’t hold a candle. I suppose it’s called “post-dubstep” which is a pretty good description, cause to me, it sounds like someone dropped a nuclear bomb on the genre, and these sounds emerged from the fallout.
4)Anything New – Bibio
It’s a magical thing when electronics get organic (see: Boards of Canada) Bibio is one of those artists that has just seemed to have a knack for it from the beginning. Anything New from Bibio’s Mind Bokeh sounds like he cut up 70’s news broadcast soundtracks in absolutely the best way possible. This track is nothing short of incredible from back to front.
3)Keep Me There – Nicolas Jaar
If this were “Marc’s top albums of 2011” Nicolas Jaar’s Space is Only Noise would be at the very top. This album is genius. Not to use the term lightly. I am very careful in saying, It’s Kid A -esqe. A comprehensive, mind-bending trip through a sonic universe, dripping in originality. Headphones recommended! Very hard to pick a track, but I think Keep Me There gets the genius-ness across in a lot of ways.
2)Oh, Why? – Balam Acab
The absolute high point of Balam Acab’s Wander/Wonder. Oh, Why? is unrelentingly gorgeous. Like an out-of-body experience in sonic form. Wait till the ending of the track. You’ll know when it hits…
1)Ego – Burial, Four Tet, and Thom Yorke
It had to be this one. I started this list with this track in mind. There is no doubting that a collaboration single from the likes of these heavy hitters would be good, but this is beyond that. These three are a perfect combination. There is so much skill, and tallent in this song that remains under the surface. The brillance is brought out in its subtleties. The whole song is a mastercrafted, stylish bubble of contained energy. From the effortless swing of Burial’s (I assume) drum loop, to Thom’s slick-as-hell vocals, this is as good as it gets folks.
So, thats it. Looking forward to more in 2012. Cheers.
by marc schroeder tune in to Input/Output every Thursday night from midnight to 2 a.m. for the best in electronic music.