Best of 2016: Techno/House/Bass

This is actually a really interesting list and not one that is very well organized in terms of genre. I had this section built out for things that are 1) not too extreme (those would be in the industrial/noise one), 2) Not Outsider House (that'll be later), and 3) that have beats in them (as opposed to ambient/abstract). Half of the list, as a result, are the best techno releases, and half are the schizophrenic house/bass/techno hybrids that are still carrying well these days. Oh, and there's Leon Vynehall too, cause he's cool.

10> Skee Mask - Shred

I was curious to hear if Skee Mask could follow the footsteps of the Zenker Brothers awesome Immersion LP from last year. For the most part, yes!  This is another great Ilian Tape Release in a year that is very short on high quality techno. Skee Mask succeeds at doing the improbable: an engaging techno full length that spans a diverse sound palette, while at times, well, Shredding. 

9> Leon Vynehall - Rojus (Designed to Dance)

It seems ballsy to make a big, beautiful, house record in 2016. It feels retro now in a weird way, and in a way that makes it necessary to listen to this with different ears. You know, I don’t go out dancing, why would I listen to something that was designed to dance? Cause it’s the best Deep House around.

8> Abdullah Rashim - Of Water and The Spirit

One of the few non-ilian Tape purely techno artists that I really like. Rashim’s music is as intense and throbbing as techno always is but has a certain satisfaction to it that the genre usually lacks. The sound design here is top notch and better than he’s ever been

7> Lee Gamble - Chain Kinematics

I’m so glad Lee Gamble is a techno producer now; he’s amazing at it. I liked his random noodlings in jungle and deconstructed beats, but he’s really finding his calling with brain melting glitchy banger techno. Thanks for keeping my brain, at least, in motion, Lee.

6> Andy Stott - Too Many Voices

After so many universally acclaimed records, this one stands apart as being a bit divisive. It feels a lot like Stott is trying to be a songwriter more than ever before and exploring the space of what that could possibly mean for him. In this sense, I think this is his biggest accomplishment and it plays very well as an album. At first it may appear as though there aren't as many exciting moments as there have been, and perhaps it is true, but the trade has been for an even more consistent set of disparate sounds because of Stott's songwriting fingerprints.

5> Twwth - Dislocation

The best interpolation of trap and bass this year, Dislocation was an immediate classic for me and stands up over the past few months just on its first impact. The range of styles and the skill with which Teeth (Twwth) yields them makes the cloud rap work against the post modern UK club tropes in a way that shouldn't be taken for granted. I don't think I've ever liked any of the styles represented here as much as I do on this record.

4> Personable - Oyster

I’ve never been an M. Geddes Gengras fan, and maybe that's what allows me to fully appreciate his Black Opal release as Personable. This falls somewhere between electro and techno, with fun synth arpeggios trading with subtle and varied percussion that fits really nicely on headphones in almost a classic IDM fashion. The title track has the unique honor of being my best strutting song of the year as it took me all around Cambridge this past summer.

3> Barker and Baumecker - Turns

I’m not sure why I decided to tune in to an Ostgut Ton record this month when I had a lot of stuff going on, but I’m really happy about this late in the year minimal techno addition to my life. This album succeeds because of the variety of ideas, the shortish length, and the two professional Germans at the helm. The last track seals the deal and might be the best techno track of the year.

2> Vakula - Cyclicality Between Procyon and Gomeisa

The most epic album in any genre this year, this would basically be my soundtrack to a modern day remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I usually make a mental image of an album pretty quickly, but after many listens, this one remains a little loose in my mind. Coupled with that, which I do like, is the fact that it plays through really well.

1> Demdike Stare - Wonderland

The boys are back! The test pressings held me over for the last couple years, but it’s good to see them back in album form. This is a logical step from the test pressings and sounds strangely unlike the Tryptch Demdike that I fell in love with. I’m with them every step of the way here though: I think the stylistic choices and the twists and turns of the album are interesting, smart, and great fun to listen to.