It feels like just yesterday that we were in the depths of 2018's end of year list season mulling over the tracks and albums that defined the completed calendar. But time's passage has roared on through 2019, and approaching the halfway mark we're ready to reflect and take stock of the tunes that are already making our years. What's dance-fuelled debauchery without a bit of organisational admin, after all? Those club nights and festivals don't organise themselves.
In no particular order, check out our choices below.
Nothing hits quite like UKG. Nothing. And while we’re no longer in the 90s heyday of the best genre ever, contemporary producers are still blessing our ears with slices of UKG perfection. Burnski is one. He’s been serving up serious heat under the moniker INSTINCT for a couple of years now. The latest instalment in the series ‘INSTINCT 05’, which landed near the start of 2019, is his finest work yet.
B-side track ‘Someone’ (note: the record seems to have been mislabelled across most of its online uploads and even on the vinyl but the video embedded above is ‘Someone’ and not the speedier garage leaning ‘Pistolwhip’ according to Burnski's SoundCloud) is a sublime cut of minimal-flecked UKG. The bassline slinks forward enticingly, primed to lock you into a blissful groove, while the sugary vocal hook dancing in a sea reverb and shuffling 2-step percussion serve up that unrivalled UKG flavour. A backing vocal yelping and springing forward like Scooby Doo taking flight also adds a fun production twist. It’s an addictive aural high that I can’t stop reloading, on and on. Patrick Hinton
I remember checking my email at the start of the year and noticing that LSDXOXO had added this total bastard of a track to his Bandcamp, a beat about as subtle as its title and all the better for it.
‘Rockstar69’, which is the second entry in his Floorgasm remix series, links together brutal breaks, bleepy synths, explosive drums and an unrelenting N*E*R*D sample, which translates the ‘manly man’ posturing of ‘Rockstar’s’ first verse (“You think the way you live's okay, you think posing will save your day”) through a tongue-in-cheek, queer lens.
The track, in true Floorgasm spirit, is steeped in a no holds barred sexuality: even a vocal sample (“Let her call your boys 'cause I'm coming”) descends into Pharrell glibly repeating “come” over and over again.
The way LSDXOXO playfully ties everything together reminds me of ‘Experience’-era Prodigy, particularly ‘Out of Space’ which also marries earworm vocal samples with a nuclear backdrop. Every LSDXOXO release is a buy on sight at this point. James Ball
Kornél Kovács ‘Marathon’ ‘Marathon’
For his second album ‘Stockholm Marathon’, Kornél Kovács teamed up with Swedish pop/EDM duo Rebecca & Fiona to add vocals to a bunch of tracks on the fully instrumental album he’d already completed. And the team up was something of a masterstroke. For first single ‘Marathon’ he took the vocals from their 2018 track ‘Falling in Love’ and combined them with a taut rhythmic melody that had a touch of post-dubstep about it and is more catching than influenza (but in a good way). Another jewel in the ridiculously consistent Barnhus catalogue and further proof that on one makes inescapable melodies quite like the Swedish. Sean Griffiths
If there’s a track likely to be heard soundtracking park BBQs this summer, Koffee’s ‘Toast’ is a favourite contender. The 19-year-old artist packs a whole summer’s worth of rum and coke-powered good vibes into just over three minutes, letting you know there’s a new reggae star in town to fly the Jamaican flag. Guitar strings click and synths whir beneath Koffee’s vocals giving thanks for all the success that’s come her way. With the capability of making sure-fire jams like this, they won’t be the last thankful words coming out of her mouth. For now, we’ll head to the park and make a toast for a sun-soaked anthem. Dave Turner
Marie Davidson ‘Work It’ (Soulwax Remix)
Soulwax’s re-edit of Marie Davidson is one of the most exciting remixes of 2019. Last year Québécois producer and DJ Marie Davidson dropped her fourth solo LP, ‘Working Class Woman’, which delves into the experience of musicianship and womanhood through dark, biting techno and sardonic lyrics. The commanding vocal hook and glitchy backdrop of ‘Work It’ makes it a standout track on the LP. Soulwax’s remix gives the track a new identity, with a metallic bassline that drills itself into your head like a catchy pop track, disguised as a club-ready weapon. The track has also evolved into an empowering anthem for its female-identifying listeners to shake off imposter syndrome and unapologetically embrace success earned from hard work. I’m pledging for the opening line – “you wanna know how I get away with everything? I work, all the fucking time” – to be a t shirt slogan who’s with me? Jaguar Bingham
KH 'Only Human'
Throughout my time in clubland I've heard numerous tracks creatively sample and reinterpret classic melodies or vocal hooks, many of which have never been released and likely won't be. I've been waiting for Bicep's edit of 'Let No Man Put Asunder' since I heard them play it at the now defunct Output in Brooklyn and Mala's Alicia Keys sampling 'Alicia' has been on my mind since Reconstrvct in 2011. These tracks may never be released due to issues with clearing the samples, but when KH, aka Four Tet's, highly sought after Nelly Furtado sampling 'Only Human' was given an official release via Ministry Of Sound, it was as if the entire community exploded with elation. It's a crowd pleasing track to the highest degree and one that's bee highly sought after following the likes of Ben UFO and Midland rinsing it in years past. In March 2019 it finally became available to all and it will undoubtedly continue to do the rounds throughout the year.Harrison Williams
KABLAM ‘The Carver’
I am not a DJ. I’m not a producer either. That means when it comes to describing music I like, I gravitate towards emotional, “feely” words that sum up my connection to a track – sans the technical discourse I definitely don’t understand well enough to use. (Music I don’t like however is a lot easier to describe, due to the vast number of swear words readily available in the English language.)
So, rambling aside, KABLAM’s ‘The Carver’ is my current favourite cut and a beautifully brutal banger from one of my favourite underground producers. It’s a very recent release (KABLAM, aka Kajsa Blom, dropped her fantastic new album ‘Confusía’ towards the end of May with ‘The Carver’ sneaking in towards the end of the release), but trust me, it’s immediately clear this track is worthy of all positive list inclusions. ‘The Carver’ is four minutes and thirty nine seconds of progressive madness from a Swedish producer known for her pummeling Janus excursions and her no-holds-barred, no-fucks-given approach to hard, furious dance music. Between the battling synths and pounding kick drums you’ll find yourself yearning for a dark, dingy basement to sweat out in as you bask in a beat that veers between noisy club and contemporary hardcore through reactive rave material. Jasmine Kent-Smith
M Huncho feat Yxng Bane ‘Rock Bottom’
‘Rock Bottom’ is the UK trap rap anthem of the year. You won’t hear anything smoother than M Huncho sing-spitting about moving from the gutter to the stars via the trap house kitchen. Its impact is instant – some might say it’s cold af but that’d be missing the point that the track’s production is as luxurious as the Chanel and Louis garms that the lyrics reference. This is fine silk, smooth velvet, marble surfaces – textures evoked by the production, which threads together a pastoral lead melody line, soft strings and opulent bass bumps. There’s even the faint sound of a choir at one point, more grand Neopolitan villa than fried chicken ‘n’ Mirinda-stained inner city London.
Languid beats and auto tune aren’t the only thing setting M Huncho apart: he displays an unusual amount of vulnerability, talking about all aspects of life on the road, including the emotional one. Here he opens up about the low times and frames them, in the long run, as a positive. “And I hit rock bottom / And it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he sings, before questioning some of his circle, “The level of affection I gave others / Got me thinking that there's no guarantee.” Rappers frequently talk about trust issues, but it’s rare that they admit to giving love. Yeah, Huncho brags about ice, but he also states “I promise life ain’t easy”, displaying the kind of honesty and emotional depth that rap needs more of. Seb Wheeler
Off The Meds 'Belter' (Joy O Belly Mix)
Off The Meds are a Swedish-South African group based in Stockholm that have been making a significant splash in clubland after pairing up with Studio Barnhus and appearing on the label's much-lauded label compilation 'Studio Barnhus Volym 1' last year. The group consists of producers Adrian Lux, Carli Löf and Måns Glaeser with vocalist and photographer Kamohelo Khoaripe delivering the group's signature bi-lingual vocal riffs.
For the group's second release on Studio Barnhus, Off The Meds tapped the elusive and talented Joy Orbison to remix the appropriately named single 'Belter'. An eight-minute excursion of spine-tingling ambiance, scrawling modulations and crass basslines, Joy O's "Belly Mix" of 'Belter' is an extended techno trip for the ages. Cameron Holbrook
Point G 'Nebula' (Leo Pol Remix)
There's something to be said about a good live show. Some performers are technicians behind their setups, barely moving while they tweak and tinker, some use a few Ableton controllers while others wire up a huge array of modular kit. We can safely say that there isn't anyone quite like Leo Pol. The Concrete Paris resident is constantly moving, pacing back and forth and bouncing in time with every groove behind his mixing desk. When he performed for us at the W Hotel Paris, his live set comprised of solely his own productions, mainly unreleased, so when we heard his remix of 'Nebula' by Point G six months later, we recognised it instantly. Listen to the heroic live set to see for yourself why we're such big fans of Leo Pol and this track. Funster
Fracture ‘Big Up The Ladies’
Fracture has had a seasoned career flying the drum ’n’ bass, 160 and footwork flag for the UK. From his early beginnings and collaborations with Neptune, Chimpo and Taso, to running his own label Astrophonica and showcasing the likes of Machinedrum, Om Unit and dBridge, there is nothing that Fracture can’t do.
This year, Fracture returned with his club stomping EP ‘Big Up The Ladies’. The title-track is one of the best tracks made this year, showing there is a fresh new take on 160 in the UK. From the opening synth hook which builds strongly to the nostalgic vocal that you could imagine on an old skool jungle track from 1993, this track shows the positive resurgence of rave music coming in 2019. The drop is everything in this track, arriving unexpectedly for fresh listeners and making them lose their shit. For long time fans, it showcases Fracture’s signature sound at its peak. Sherelle Thomas
Skee Mask ‘Trackheadz’
Skee Mask has a keen ear for the dramatic, the producer touching on everything from soaring beatless pieces (‘Everest’) to cinematic, overcast jungle (‘Soundboy Ext.’). However, ‘Trackheadz’ might be the most fun track the German producer has put out.
As per most Skee Mask productions, nothing feels out of place on the track, with his expertly programmed drums and gorgeous pads on show throughout. However in this case, a lot should feel out of place: moments of production malfunction appear throughout ‘Trackheadz’, as if the producer is giving his hardware a proper thud mid-recording. These glitchy bits actually end up tying the whole thing together, while also making you double take and wonder if you need new headphones. Cheers! James Ball
DAWN, aka Dawn Richard, has lived many a musical life. Through experiences like the major label politics or her past life as a girl group starlet, she’s seen it all and emerged out the other side knowing exactly how she wants her sound and message to resonate. In recent years, DAWN and London’s Local Action Records have cultivated a rather fruitful partnership. Between her 2016 ‘Redemption’ LP, her heavenly ‘Guardian Angel’ link-up with Mumdance and her recent ‘new breed’ LP (all notable listens), the New Orleans-born singer and producer brings a slice of confident, US, r’n’b maximalism to an imprint known for its headsy underground releases.
On ‘new breed’, DAWN is back in her hometown as she draws on the city's rich musical heritage and traditions. However, with the likes of Hudson Mohawke, Kaveh Rastegar and Cole M.G.N on board alongside DAWN for production duty, the 10-tracker’s undeniably electronic backbone allows her to shine above the beat in the same vein as Kelela and other cross-genre singers who utilise the power of intimate vocals over – sorry in advance – ‘futuristic’ beats. My pick of the bunch is anthemic cut ‘spaces’, which comes complete with an unexpected, but always appreciated, Lionel Richie-ish breakdown, self-assured lyrics (“I’ma go, I’ma do this without you”), a monologue and more. Jasmine Kent-Smith
Assembler Code & Jensen Interceptor ‘Upper Function’ (Roza Terenzi Remix)
Australian producers Assembler Code and Jensen Interceptor continue to solidify their reputation as the most formidable electro duo in the scene right now. They've released a myriad of EPs together on labels like Boysnoize Records, Mechatronica, Central Processing Unit, Private Persons and Cultivated Electronics. Their latest joint EP 'Upper Function' arrived on the Melbourne-based label LKR Records this past March, featuring three raw and charged electro tunes that are bound to do damage to any dancefloor they cross.
The EP features a surprise remix from fellow Australian producer Roza Terenzi who lightens the mood of the track with her unique tone while keeping the bulk of the original track's grit intact. The remix is an involved and organized blitz of scurrying synths and wired drums that is full of surprises. Cameron Holbrook
Shlohmo ‘The End’
I was that kid who was immersed in introverted post rock before becoming switched on to the communal joy of dance music. Body crushing, epiphany-inducing cacophonies? I was blissfully drowning myself in them. At one point I even made a pilgrimage to a village in Belgium for a festival headlined by Pelican and Crippled Black Pheonix. Then the bump, grind and perpetual high of nightclubs brought me in from the epic landscape forged by melancholy guitar riffs.
Recently I’ve been going back to those bands – Tortoise, Shipping News, Do Make Say Think – out of sentimentality to my salad days but also to explore the intricacies of the music itself, which at its best sounds utterly timeless. So it was a pleasant surprise when Shlohmo released ‘The End’, an album that filters the sonics of post rock (and alt rock in general, as this pastiche brilliantly implies) through the desk of a producer who’s always specialised in thoughtful, abstract beat music. He says it’s music to soundtrack the end of the world, while we’re all “smoking on the couch as the meteor hits”. The title-track’s melody is straight out of the Mogwai playbook: a glistening shard of optimism plunged into the depths of that cocooning Shlohmo sub-bass. It’s a pretty dirge, at once beautiful and heart-wrenching, like all good loud/quiet music. And that kind of thing still gets me after all these years. Seb Wheeler
Karima F ‘Random Loop From Doepfer Site’
We listen to a lot of great mixes at Mixmag HQ and I discover a lot of great music from them. Seeking out tracklists and loading up Shazam are daily staples for tracking down tracks, some of which I’ll promptly forget until next time it pops up and I angrily wrack my brains to find that buried memory, and some of which leave an unshakeable impression. On my very first day back in the office year after the Christmas break, January 3, we had a mix on featuring Karima F’s 'Random Loop From Doepfer Site' and straight away I was earmarking it for a surefire inclusion in my favourite tracks of 2019.
There was some pained pre-release weeks where all that existed online was 40 second clips, but soon enough my colleague locked in a premiere (s/o Cameron!) and the track dropped in all its breaks-laden, cowbell spiked, bass growling and wiggy synth filled glory. Karima F - press play and pay respects. Patrick Hinton
Calibre 'Break That’
Versatility is something Calibre has down to a tee. Although he’s known best as a drum ‘n’ bass producer, the unassuming Northern Irishman has strong ties with Craig Richards and the fabric DJ’s The Nothing Special, a label synonymous with house and techno. It’s here that Calibre released ‘Break That’ (which landed on vinyl in late 2018, but this year on digital so we’re claiming it for 2019 for this online feature), turning back the clock with a tidy garage cut. We’re not talking sugar-sweet garage, though. Instead it’s a beefed-out, heads-down UKG belter carried by a deep, swinging bassline. It’s just an absolute menace that I’ve been listening to on repeat and probably will be for the rest of 2019, tbh. Dave Turner
Teddy Pendergrass 'Life Is A Song Worth Singing' (Jamie Jones Remix)
I had been hearing about the Teddy Penergrass remix pack for months before the project came together, as my exuberant boss wouldn't stop chatting to me about it. Every day I'd come into the office to hear a new electrifying development. I was truly sucked into the story of Teddy Pendergrass as well, having heard about the artist's music from a friend years before. This year a feature-length documentary titled Teddy Pendergrass – If You Don’t Know Me – co produced by Mixmag's parent company Wasted Talent – was released, which told his story through interviews with family, friends and colleagues and even Teddy's own personal tape diary. The remix pack coincided with the documentary's release and featured a stacked crop of producers: Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus, Cassy, DJ Pierre and Francesca Lombardo. Each one is stellar, but Jamie's remix stood out as one that could be a dancefloor weapon this summer and for years to come. Jamie's been rinsing it in his sets throughout the year and it's making waves. Rolling synths, disco magic and a cheeky touch of acid, it's a big tune for sure. Harrison Williams
Nightwave ‘Psychic Tonic’ (Jerome Hill Remix)
This techno stomper from Nightwave and Jerome Hill is a monster. Nightwave always hits consistently, putting out amazing releases such as her remix of Wayward’s ‘Raval’ and latest effort ‘Psychic Tonic’ on Dext Recordings.
Featured on the EP is this remix coming from Jerome Hill aka Hornsey Hardcore, who brings the absolute acid fire you expect from him. This track was tailor-made for warehouse/industrial raves, featuring a breakdown and drop of earth-shatteringly brutal proportions. It almost feels like the world is ending but you are completely content with it. It’s safe to say Nightwave and Jerome Hill are a match made in heaven. Sherelle Thomas
Unknown 'Lovelee Dae' (DJ TABLEDANCE S3NS3TIVE 3DIT)
'Lovelee Dae' by Blaze is fucking anthem and there's absolutely no denying it. It's your end-of-set, hands-in-the-air banger and if the dancefloor isn't flailing around, or at the very least hugging the person nearest to them, then there's something wrong with your dancefloor. There have been loads of remixes over the years of course but now, 22 years since its original release, comes the best edit of them all. We're being serious, this has to be the best one. DJ TABLEDANCE's “S3NS3TIVE 3DIT” comes in just under four minutes but those four minutes are loaded with electro-inclined, breaks-ridden goodness. It's a real builder and it's bound to do the damage. This is your next undercover weapon. Thank us later when the club gets real naughty. Funster
Elliot Adamson ‘Victory Chop’
Elliot Adamson’s been knocking around a little while and has already had releases on Hot Creations, Edible Beats and Weapons. But this year he’s seriously stepped things up a gear, releasing a whopping three albums over the spring and summer months. And the first track taken from ‘TiHKAL’ - the first album in the run - is an absolute banger. Built around an irresistibly joyful disco sample, the track builds with a distant bassline and vocal stabs before revealing the epic disco breakdown tailor made for that moment when you want to win absolutely everybody on the dancefloor over. It was made Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World days after it was made and has been hammered by Mark Ronson and Patrick Topping. This one’s going to be unavoidable all summer. Sean Griffiths
Sasha & Kolsch 'The Lights'
Teeming with flair and charm, two redoubtable heavyweights of the scene - rave pioneer Sasha and house music star Kölsch - have come together to release a sun-drenched track titled 'The Lights'. The single is the third official release on Kölsch's IPSO imprint and follows two previous collaborative releases from the Danish producer with Michael Mayer and Tiga. 'The Lights' is an expertly crafted progressive track with fluttering synth delays, metronomic vocal quivers and sharp cuts to silence that gives its soaring melody a feeling of restraint and composure. All in all, each producer's signature style shines through with true majesty and delight. Cameron Holbrook
Jayda G ‘Move To The Front’ (Disco Mix)
The release of Jayda G’s album, ‘Significant Changes’, on Ninja Tune was a huge moment for the Canadian DJ and producer. It is a body of work that highlights her wealth of influences from soul to Chicago house, whilst establishing her as a key voice in the next generation of DJs breaking through. ‘Move To The Front (Disco Mix)’ is a piano and bass-led, wispy groove that enchants all limbs, leaving them no choice other than to move to the beat. Jayda lays down her own vocals on the track, like a mythological Siren luring her male prey to the rocks. Expect here Jayda entices her sisters to shake their hip bones, ‘hop’, ‘twerk’, ‘move it on in and work’ at the very front of the dance floor. Jaguar Bingham
Swindle feat Kojey Radical ‘Coming Home’
Swindle’s been fusing jazz and funk with soundsystem music since the turn of the decade, dropping fizzy hybrid bangers across a raft of EPs and three ambitious albums. Given that UK dancefloors are currently infatuated with contemporary jazz and neo soul, it feels like everyone’s finally caught up with the South London artist’s vision. It also helps that he’s chosen to drop his best album yet into this fertile landscape, seamlessly blending influences and collaborators on latest LP ‘No More Normal’ in a way that he hasn’t quite been able to achieve previously. Simply put, Swindle’s on the best form of his career.
At 32 minutes, ‘No More Normal’ is a succinct statement from Swindle and his assembled crew, which includes D Double E, Nubya Garcia, Ghetts and Andrew Ashong, among others. There are a number of high points but perhaps the most pertinent one is ‘Coming Home’, with its horn section that billows triumphantly and bassline that bubbles like bong water. Kojey Radical navigates the hype expertly, an icon in the making who evokes the spirit of Kendrick and Roots Manuva, and who sounds totally at ease here. “Many don’t make it where I come from / I think we should make a toast / Come a mighty long way from the road,” Kojey sings, raising a glass to himself, his peers and Swindle. It sounds like a victory lap but you get the feeling that things are only just getting started here. Seb Wheeler
Headie One feat Dave ‘18Hunna’
Headie One has been about since the early 2010s, when he released music as Headz with his Broadwater Farm contemporaries. He changed the moniker and began releasing several killer projects with long-time running mate RV and the pair hit a home run with last year’s ‘Know Better’, a fantastic track with an...interesting backstory.
If 2018 was Headie’s underground breakout, then this year has marked his exposure to a broader audience, landing at #1 on the Official Trending Chart with ‘18Hunna’ at the start of January. What sets the rapper apart from his drill contemporaries is his leisurely flow, which is matched by the soft-but-hard beat which ticks along with hi-hat rolls and bubbling bass, and the video, where he casually spits a verse with a snake wrapped around his hand.
Headie has since dropped ‘All Day’ but ‘18Hunna’ is the better of the two by an inch, mainly due to Dave’s prime verse, which references everything from Motorolas to Dele Alli. Four Tet also jumped on a remix which takes the original into sparser territory, while also confirming the cross-genre appeal that Headie boasts. Onwards and upwards. James Ball
James Blake feat Travis Scott & Metro Boomin ‘Mile High’
James Blake has become a somewhat marmite artist in recent years. Those who loved him in his introverted, post-dubstep ‘CMYK’ days like to ridicule him for his leap into mainstream pop success, aka his pivot from depressed bedroom producer to big-league Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar collaborator. Those who discovered him in the years since he debuted his voice love him as a vocalist, perhaps without knowledge of his bass-heavy production prowess.
‘Mile High’, taken from Blake’s lovestruck fourth record ‘Assume Form’, sees him back in the studio with Texan rapper Travis Scott. As a fan of Scott, and a longtime Blake stan, I was eager to hear more work from the duo, who worked together on Scott’s stellar 2018 album ‘ASTROWORLD’. ‘Mile High’ was one of the most anticipated tracks on Blake’s record and exists somewhere in the middle of the pair’s sonic universes. Scott transcends down from his rage-ready heights and offers up a softer side – even if his lyrical content still provides us with gems like “ass fatter than a peach”. Wild. Blake (and the talented Metro Boomin, who features on production) meet Scott with ease, as Blake’s dulcet Enfield tones provide a smooth back-and-forth for Scott’s sing-rapping flow. Tune into this with the windows rolled down (be it on bus, in the car or however you get around) and the sun shining on your face. Or, you know, on a plane I guess. Jasmine Kent-Smith
Alec Pace ‘Absolute Pressure’
Alec Pace’s debut release on DJ Pitch’s nascent All Centre label saw the Turin-based producer navigate his sound towards darker and more experimental territory to compelling effect. ‘Absolute Pressure’ is one of my favourite late-night club tunes to have dropped this year. It’s the kind of track that catches me between two minds when it starts powering from a system: half wanting to lose limb control and get lost in its swirling textures, and half inclined to push my knee muscles down and lift arms up in prayer to thank the god who’s a DJ for this divine drop. Opening somewhat sparse with skittering beats and distant bass resonance, the track then unfurls into a collapsing and billowing vortex of the exact sounds I want to hear in the bleary hours. Patrick Hinton
The Comet Is Coming ‘Summon The Fire’
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s been quite a jazz resurgence over the last 18 months. Sleazy saxophones and epic guitar riffs have been whetting the appetites of Nu-Jazz Lads from Peckham to Dalston in London, and The Comet Is Coming’s latest album ‘Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery’ is up there as the year’s best. ‘Summon The Fire’ from that is a full-force, space-age jazz trip. Saxes pump relentlessly, synths chug and percussion smashes all the way through, taking you on a turbo-charged, brass-powered ride. Anyone who says jazz has to be chin-stroking music has to have a listen to this. We’ve decided to start Monday mornings at work with it on a few occasions and it’s quite the way to blow away the weekend’s comedown. If only for five minutes anyway. Dave Turner
Terr 'Tale of Devotion'
Brazilian-born, Berlin-based DJ and producer Terr makes her debut on Erol Alkan's Phantasy with a superb new single titled 'Tale of Devotion'. The label was not shy in admitting that the track is "arguably one of the catchiest moments in Phantasy’s musical history."
The track is a wide-eyed exercise in pure synth-pop bliss that channels the spirit of Giorgio Moroder's early disco musings. Terr deliver a stupefying vocal performance over glitzy production in the contagious arrangement of cosmic electronics. This sparkling and retro single also comes paired with an extended "Diskomiks" remix from Prins Thomas that is also no joke. Strap in and blast off! Cameron Holbrook
UK producer Sully track shows that there is a huge amount of life in jungle. Alongside Tim Reaper, Dead Man’s Chest, Coco Bryce and Mani Festo, Sully is a part of the new wave of jungle producers with exceptional talent. With releases on Keysound, Rupture, Astrophonica and his own label Uncertain Hour, he is a force to be reckoned with.
Sully’s unique interpretation of drum programming makes each track sound like it’s been perfectly crafted to annihilate and duppy the rave. ‘Porcelain’ makes no exception. Nothing will prepare you for the complete snare and drum explosion of 3 minutes 14 seconds. The arrangement in ‘Porcelain’ shows how fearless Sully is as an artist, with risks rarely being taken by some producers today. If there is anything you should do today is check out Sully’s entire back catalogue. He is not an artist to be slept on. Sherelle Thomas
Tenderlonious ‘Casey Jr.’
Tenderlonious is one of the key players on London’s jazz scene with a couple of brilliant albums under his belt as Tenderlonious and also as part of quartet Ruby Rushton. But he’s also a dab hand at producing soulful jazz indebted house music, with forthcoming album ‘Hard Rain’ already a Mixmag office favourite. Opener ‘Casey Jr’ is our pick of the bunch, a down-tempo groover dripping in swagger with obvious nods to the likes of Theo Parrish and Omar S. Sean Griffiths
Although his tracks are global club fixtures, Drake tunes are lesser spotted in underground house spots. However, as 'Nice!' from the Shade imprint proves, it’s a combo that can work. Shade has put out two EPs now, loaded with 4/4 club edits of your favourite disco tracks, but this edit of 'Nice For What' by Drizzy is the label's best track yet. The artist is unknown, although if you look at the right DJ's instagram account you'll see videos of them playing it to rapturous applause. It's a bumping, kick-drum heavy edit that doesn't do much other than focus on that infectious hook while adding the pace and power you need to make a club go wild. It's vinyl-only so you'd best get on Discogs and get it while you can. Pretty sure if the OVO don heard this, it would be Drake-approved. Funster
Leeds duo Prospa have been having quite a year! The back end of 2018 saw them release their breaks-driven vocal banger ‘Prayer’ which propelled them from unknown house duo to the hottest new kids on the block, after being deemed Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1. ‘Intended’, released on Sub Soul, is the perfect follow-up track. The heavenly melody and distorted vocal evokes welled-up emotions that crescendo as the track rolls on. It’s the kind of euphoric rhythm that can accompany any sunrise or find itself being played at the end of the night. Prospa have proven that they are more than capable of creating a sonic masterpiece, as they continue to brandish their talent track by track. Jaguar Bingham
Viers 'By Your Side'
Let's Play House label bosses Nik Mercer and Jacques Renault have been generously sending us tracks to support for a while now and everything that comes through is pure quality. The label's releases by the likes of HNNY, Fantastic Man, COEO, Huerta and more have been on rotation for me for years, but when Viers' 'Lights Out' EP landed in my inbox I was completely blown away. I was instantly drawn to 'By Your Side', with its warm chords paired with sensual vocals and pumping house rhythm, I knew it was dancefloor magic. Each track off the 'Lights Out' EP has a bit of gold dust in it, a track for every occasion. Essential for 2019. Harrison Williams
WSTRN feat Unknown T ‘Medusa’
Thank god for Unknown T. ‘Homerton B’ is about as solid as a debut single can be and should now be played any time the weather gets hotter as an aggier accompaniment to the glut of sugary UK garage, funky house and afrobeats anthems that tend to soundtrack the British summertime.
This year, he’s linked up with West London group WSTRN to make another banger. While ‘Medusa’ is on the cheerier end of the ‘hot weather belter’ spectrum, it retains a slightly darker edge, largely thanks to the track’s thundering drums and Unknown T’s slick verse delivered in his trademark baritone. Haile's hook is also a thing of beauty that gets better throughout the song, commanding umpteen repeat listens. James Ball
Murlo ‘Let Me Feel’
At the time of writing, I’ve almost, almost finished telling everyone and anyone in Mixmag HQ how great Murlo’s AV show was the previous night. It took place in recently refurbished Dalston venue EartH, which was pretty much filled with London music industry professionals, stylish art students, label tee’d producers (and then some) by the time support acts Sega Bodega and Yamaneko set down their respective headphones. Without spoiling the show for those that may get the chance to see an iteration of it in the future, the whole thing demonstrates just how talented Manchester-based DJ, producer and designer Murlo is – his fully realised, illustrated, soundtracked and humorously storylined ‘Dolos’ fantasy is something I indulge in wholeheartedly. It featured a ton of tracks lifted from his debut album, however the one I was most excited to see brought to life is ‘Let Me Feel’.
The tune makes its appearance on the album about mid-way through, by which point you’ve been drawn in by Murlo’s sweet synths, Mixpak-approved melodies and his ability to emote such vivid emotions and soundscapes in a matter of minutes. You’re ready and waiting so to speak, and fully prepared for an onslaught of fizzing, effersevent feels. While tracks like ‘End Of The Road’ and ‘Evaporate’ exist in the same maximalist realm, I’m a sucker for pitch-shifted vocal samples (blame Burial) so ‘Let Me Feel’ is the tune I find myself drawn to again, and again, and again. Let Murlo feel! Please!! Jasmine Kent-Smith
Martina Lussi ‘Expectation Or Obsession’
Martina Lussi’s astonishing second album ‘Diffusion Is A Force’ explores the intersection between sound art and club music, using 21st century information overload and the lightspeed transfer of data across the globe as conceptual inspiration. She joins a movement of like minded artists, including Lee Gamble, Amnesia Scanner and Fatima Al Qadiri, who are joining the dots between gallery spaces, critical theory and the dancefloor.
While this kind of stuff can sometimes get lost in its own ideas – or worse, come across as vacuous neo IDM – Lussi’s work stands out because of its clarity. Her tracks are detailed sculptures, with no layer of sound out of place or left unaccounted for. The album is successful in its MO of fusing “together disparate sound sources with a disorienting quality that reflects the modern climate of dispersion and distraction”, just take ‘Expectation Or Obsession’ as an example: strings, chimes and electronics meet ecstatic stadium crowd noise and ethereal choral voices, all underpinned by hollow low-end and a steady cymbal brush stroke. It’s incredibly poignant, like a live band playing the results of late night YouTube deep dives, as well as being some of the most convincing output from this area of electronic music. Seb Wheeler
Lil Nas X feat Billy Ray Cyrus ‘Old Town Road’ (Remix)
ATL trap for the Red Dead Redemption generation has landed and I couldn’t be more gassed. Written down, the appeal of this song is hard to get your head around. A country-trap fusion with bars about horse riding and a beat sampling Nine Inch Nails, featuring Billy Ray Cyrus?! In practice, it’s undeniably the biggest track of 2019: breaking streaming records with its millions (or billions? I’ve lost count) of plays, and sending crowds crazy from elementary schools to rap’s biggest stages.
Although barely two-and-a-half minutes in length, it feels like a whole universe filled with storylines has been building around the seismic legacy of ‘Old Town Road’, which only adds to its appeal. Where to start? From taking off as a Tik Tok meme, to being rejected by the predominantly white country scene for sus reasons, to Miley Cyrus’ country icon father hopping on a remix to establish its legitimacy and elevate the song to record-breaking heights. From Lil Nas X’s endearingly goofy online persona, to the Dutch producer YoungKio who’d never set foot in America doing Skype interviews with the New York Times while wearing a dressing gown and talking about knuckling down with his university studies rather than getting caught up in the hype. From making children scream with glee to trolling Drake about album plans to the masterpiece “Official Movie” starring Chris Rock, Diplo, Rico Nasty and Vince Staples. From the horses in the back to the matte black hat. Everything about ‘Old Town Road’ is amazing, wholesome, positive. And, most importantly, at the origin of it all is a silly rap tune about cowboys that absolutely bangs. Yee-haw. Patrick Hinton
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