From mixtapes handed to crushes to bootleg CDs burned for car journeys to landmark official releases, the compilation is an intimate musical format. They’re an absorbing insight into the tastes of the curator, and when that’s someone whose palate you trust, they can open up new worlds of listening pleasure.
And then there’s the mix CD. Even in 2017, when mixes surface on the internet with more regularity than Ls on a Welsh singpost, the format remains steadfast against relegation to an anachronism. That people are still willing to part with hard-earned cash to pay for mix CDs is a testament to our appreciation for the form, and the exhilaration a finely-crafted DJ mix can bring.
See our picks for the top 20 compilations of 2017 below.
Here, Ron Trent and Chez Damier’s Prescription label is surveyed across a whopping six 12”s, with, as the title suggests, an emphasis on Trent’s productions. It’s a throwback to the golden days of house and a very welcome one at that.
What to expect from a mix by an act very much on their own plane? Plus one that’s released via the most esoteric mix series going? A selection that spans Boards Of Canada, Kiki Gyan, Thundercat, The Beach Boys and Lydia Lunch. Fair fuckin’ play.
Here’s another weighty six-disc comp surveying a crucial dance music label. ‘Klockworks 20’ is a 10 ton drop from Ben’s imprint, featuring fellow techno crusaders DVS1, Haiko Laux and the sadly departed Trevino, among many others.
A celebratory compilation, ‘Reworked by Detroiters’ features contemporary icons such as Underground Resistance, Moodymann and Amp Fiddler reimagining tracks from legendary collective Parliament-Funkadelic. With a plethora of distinctive edits weaving through funk, disco, techno, rock and more, this release is pure Motor City Magic.
This is the deep dive into Kerri Chandler's music catalogue you've always wanted. The house master travels through his influences, mixing crooning soul, b-boy jams, sizzling jazz, dub and anything else that's seeped into his irresistible productions over the years. Love, respect and admiration to you, King Kerri.
You won't be getting the kind of party-starting sets Young Marco delivers at Dekmantel Festival, but you will find a peak into his record collection. One that's filled with cosmic disco, bizarre flute tracks and '80s sci-fi zingers. It's a compilation series for the heads and the Safe Trip boss really knows how to pick 'em.
A thumping, thundering slice of sub-bass heat, Paul Woolford’s first commercial mix under his Special Request alias is certainly something special, with tracks from the likes of Caustic Window, Plastician, DJ Stingray and Dillinja.
Gerd Janson’s evergreen imprint Running Back celebrated its 15th birthday in style this year with a mix compilation from the legendary Tony Humphries. An essential figure on the New Jersey and New York house scene, Humphries laid down a high-energy mix that saw modern tunes combine with his own old-skool DJing experience to create a booty-shaking workout of disco and house flavours.
Tresor’s ‘Kern’ mixes don’t arrive often, but when they do they always delivering blistering brilliance. Detroit electro titan DJ Stingray helmed the sole 2017 instalment, ‘Kern Vol. 4’, and did what he does best: traverse through a rocky landscape of high octane, jagged selections with a potent sense of flow. Drawing on a healthy dose of fresh material alongside the raw older cuts, ‘Kern Vol. 4’ asserted that while electro continues its surge in popularity and prominence, DJ Stingray is still at the top.
DJ Harvey had a renaissance year in 2017 as already pointed out by his inclusion in our DJs of the year list. With his fame for selecting at an all-time high, we’re delighted he put his talents on record via Pikes, where he holds an infamous residency. From Idjut Boys to Gatto Fritto to Tore, ‘The Sound Of Mercury Rising’ is bursting with tunes that’ll make you want to slip into your smallest bathing suit and go bronze by the pool.
DJ Haus is an, erm, true old-skool house head so this whopping double-disc mix comp (and accompanying double vinyl pack) on one of the genre’s biggest labels makes total sense. Haus serves up his signature spank throughout a tour de force that’s fit for any four-to-the-floor fiend.
As the first official mix Matthew Dear has released in eight years, there was a lot riding on this ‘DJ Kicks’ compilation. But thanks to a rock solid track listing that features Pearson Sound, Simian Mobile Disco, Matrixxmann, ItaloJohnson and three of his own exclusive cuts, it ended up being one of the best mixes this year.
By now, we’ve come to expect no less than experimental excellence from Berlin-based imprint PAN – and ‘Mono No Aware’ certainly delivers. Reactive and reflective, the 16-tracker sees the label’s friends and fam come together for an 80-minute journey through truly transcendent ambient tunes.
Italian. Dream. House. Three words we doubt took Young Marco too long to come up with when deciding part of the title for his 'Welcome To Paradise' compilation. That's just what it is; lush, dreamy house music by Italian producers from back in the day. Tracks like Last Rhythm's self-titled swirler and Dreamatic's 'Audio Trip' will take you to a happy place and you'll wanna stay there, trust us.
Oh Erol, for years you’ve been supplying us with some of the best edits ever made. It’s quite an achievement when a DJ is universally known for taking pivotal, well-loved tracks and making them even better every time, and Alkan wears that honour with pride. His decade-spanning ‘Reworks Vol 1’ collects his best re-imaginings and presents them in a beautiful vinyl box set. If you’re after an instant nostalgia hit and a wholly-gratifying listening experience, Erol’s got you covered.
Got bass? Zora Jones, Sinjin Hawke and their frontier-exploring friends Jlin, Scratcha DVA, Murlo, v1984, Swing Ting, Martyn Bootyspoon and L-Vis 1990 (among many more) sure do. The second Visceral Minds compilation serves up 20 backflipped club bangers that’ll twist yr mind, body and soul inside out quicker than you can call for the rewind.
That late-hour vibe in a club where an indiscernible energy permeates the room and the possibilities seem endless is a special time. This is the mood Call Super aimed to capture on his debut mix CD, crafting a vortex of a musical journey that submerges listeners in that transcendent dancefloor fog. Moving through disparate styles with the wilful abandon of a DJ hitting a set sweetspot where the crowd allows themselves to be pulled in any direction, fully trusting the artist in front of them, it’s a perfect snapshot of what makes Call Super such an exciting DJ to behold.
Whether Dan Snaith adopts his Caribou alias or indeed his Daphni moniker, the Canadian artist never misses and his FabricLive 93 mix is one of his most accomplished works as Daphni. It came out just before his new album ‘Joli Mai’ and it featured only his own productions. 23 unreleased tracks made up a beautifully varied and eloquent session, one that we’ve revisited several times since it dropped.
What a year it’s been for Lone. His ‘Ambivert Tools’ via R&S did the business on the dancefloor but when it came to home listening, he also provided one of our favourite compilations of the year. The DJ Kicks series has always been one that’s held a spotlight towards electronic music’s most established artists and Lone took the opportunity with his entry to splice together hip hop, house, electro and Radiohead.
Fabric’s acclaimed mix series was firing on all cylinders this year, but no one impressed more than Harry Agius, aka Midland. The accolades keep on piling up for the Graded/ReGraded boss; he scooped our Track Of The Year gong and was voted winner of the year’s finest Essential Mix in 2016. Both prizes were richly deserved, and the same goes now for his table-topping finish in our 2017 compilations of the year rundown. ‘FABRICLIVE 94’ is the sound of a DJ at the top of his game, transporting listeners to a hot and sweaty dancefloor at some unknown hour and locking them into a sublime groove, that spans styles and tempos with masterful precision.