The best music of 2021, according to 50+ global DJs
More than 50 artists from around the world share their musical highlights from 2021
Last year in our end of year coverage, we reached out to various artists, platforms and collectives from around the world to share their tracks of the year, albums of the year and mixes of the year. Surveying the year which had mostly been spent in lockdown seemed in possible, with so much more isolation between scenes and fewer access points for discovery, so reaching out to people involved in all corners of the world felt like a good way to catch up. While lockdown has been largely lifted this year, we really enjoyed last year's lists helping us discover plenty of music we missed, so we've reached out to more than 50 artists and platforms hailing from across the globe to share their musical highlights of the year, be that tracks, albums, mixes, or a selection of all three. Check out their picks below.
1 Andrea Oliva
I’ve worked with Jimi many times and always loved his unique approach when it comes to creating music. Especially in times where there’s a lot of techno sounds around, Jimi comes up with a ‘everything has to be a vibe’ philosophy. ‘My City’s On Fire’ is a classy house track with a catchy leading synth melody, a sublime rhythm and the vocal is a constant hook which is hard to get out of your head. It’s a club weapon that puts literally every city on fire. My favourite record of the year.
2 Andrea Paz
The year 2021 has been something strange, especially in Latin America, a transition to something new but full of ghosts of the past, the new rules of the system, the collapse of the economy, the social boom, the versatility of the system to disarticulate our communities and a strong repression on all channels of expression and cultural and artistic expansion, all this in the context of the not yet overcome pandemic.
I begin with this introduction because somehow the music that I listen to and that moves me in these moments of my life, inhabits these peripheral places, is nurtured and gains experience in the marginality to then shape a sound identity, which is global in terms of its sound and complexity of influences.
Panama Papers ‘John Doe`s Manifesto’ (BODY MUSICK)
Panama Papers debut LP ‘John Doe's Manifesto’. This Colombian lo-fi electronics duo is formed by Pildoras Tapes label owners: Invalid User and GAËL. Fed by their social context and a controversial political concept, this album is a frenetic ride through wicked synth sequences and funky electropunk percussions layered on industrial atmospheres. On essence Panama Papers work sums to the revival of subversive electronics on this era with a solid output for avant-garde & rhythmic noise cassette culture.
The Mugris / Dimensión11 ‘Split’ (Traición73 Records)
‘Campaña por la destrucción del capitalismo’ corresponds to side A of the Split and we observe the no/musician deploying his particular repetitive, atmospheric dancefloor music made by instruments such as: Korg Electribe SX1 and SX2 - Line6 DL4, Delay Modeler - Boss Metalzone - Microkorg - Sonny Recorder (Cassette) - Allen and Heath zed10fx.
On the other side, Dimensión11, the personal project of Chilean musician Álvaro Daguer, who has played in bands such as A Full Cosmic Sound, Glorias Navales (GxNx) and La Banda's, participates. ‘El Colapso’ is a sound exercise made through a synthesizer and a looper where the sounds are mixed together and generate volatile, somniferous, harmonic and repetitive melodies that were being recorded in real time on a "Type I" cassette tape, a tape that was cut and assembled for the first time in Chile by the nascent Crono Cassette. In addition to the above, this single gives name to the first official album of the project, which was released through Traición 73 Records in 2020.
Both singles that were mixed by Eduardo "Toto" Friedlaender in the city of Concepción (Chile) in 2020 and cut by Nes at BYM Records one by one, lathe cut 7", correspond to sound exercises of rage, protest and support for the social explosion of October 2019 and also the result of the negative charge absorbed by COVID-19 in 2020.
V/A ‘Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989’ (Dark Entries Records)
10 divergent tracks of Mexican electronics from 1980-1989, full of skittering analog drum boxes and saucy synthesizer hooks. 8 of these songs were culled from the 2005 CD-only compilation ‘Backup: Expediente Tecno Pop’ on AT-AT records. Also included are two previously unreleased cuts. This release marks the first time many of these songs will have appeared on vinyl; it is also the first ever vinyl compilation of Mexican New Wave and post-punk.
While synth pop and obscure electronics from Europe and the United States have been extensively documented, much less attention has been paid to such offerings from the periphery. Back Up serves as a vital document of Mexico’s flourishing DIY scene in the 1980’s, surveying a wide range of styles and moods. By using home recording techniques, the bands featured here were able to circumvent relying on the expensive studios of the era. Tracks by Avant Garde, Vandana, and Silueta Pálida mine the kind of dreary-but-infectious wave that long-time Dark Entries fans will celebrate. Meanwhile, Volti and Artefacto offer a floor-ready pop sound that has echoes of NY freestyle, with Latin percussion and boxy beats. But darker turns are present as well, with Década 2’s New Beat-inflections and electro experiments of Syntoma and their side project Escuadrón Del Ritmo.
Diegors ‘El Propio Loco (Demos y Pistas Inéditas 2008-2011)’
"Street and festive sound. Music from this side of the world. From the periphery and for the periphery".
Under the name "El Propio Loco" (a tribute in instrumental version to one of the great exponents of Champeta: Elio Boom) Diegors presents a new compendium of rhythmic explorations, unreleased tracks and demos made between 2008 and 2011.
In this compilation you will find tracks inspired by Champeta, Kwaito or Dembow, but keeping primitive house music as the axis. Six tracks that represent a specific moment in the productions of Diego Morales and that show the musicality he creates with few elements, such as a microphone, an electric guitar, a small Casio sampler keyboard, a delay pedal and a computer.
Unraveling something hidden, going through infinite layers to achieve something that as soon as you hold it in your hands it disappears.
Andrea Paz ‘Cruz Dimensional Remixes’ ft. Happy 707, Roberta Von, Diegors, Al Qaedans (Discos Pato Carlos)
“The clash between the ritual sounds of tribes that resist industrial development finds in Andrea's delivery an urgent call to understand our own annihilation. Today the annihilation is not only represented by the nuclear disasters that hit the 20th century, but diluted between our sensory spaces, each sound of the album evokes this condition in a critical way, and could be played in a museum room or in the darkness of a club, turning it into an elegant and versatile piece of sound art”.
Cruz dimensional Remixes; Reinterpretation of the tracks Puerta, Bali and Verticales; that in their original version were released in 2019 and that in this opportunity revive in the hands of: Happy 707 (May McLaren & Palmeriello), Roberta Von, Diegors and Al Qaedans, who deepen and accentuate the dark, metallic, industrial and experimental character without moving away from the club atmosphere that evoke their rhythms and drums.
A dialogue between the dimensions proposed by Andrea and the feedback of artists who intertwine their sonorities, generating moments, effervescent, corrosive and of deep intensity.
LVZ & SETE ‘Pillage and Pleasure’
Hard and constant beats that move forward with no option to go backwards. Action and reaction, precise attitude for any battle.
Roberta Von 'Goth I'
In front of a club sound system, closed eyes, accelerated pulse and reminiscences of a gothic past.
No Lux 'Lenard Ahmad'
Environments of a primitive-industrial future, prepared strings, springs and recycled metals, experimentation to remind us of the future.
Selection mainly of Latin American musical projects, some current and others from the 80's, with songs full of pandemic emotions, oriented to new wave, synth pop and post punk.
Delia @ AMEBA, WNW Radio
Mix of Latin American punk/post-punk / female, trans and queer bands.
Macarena Marius aka SALÓ @sal0666 is a young DJ and recently producer from Lima, Perú. Co-founder and curator of the darkest nightlife projects in the city such as ‘Pistas Plásticas’ (2018), ‘Sadisco’ (2019) and ‘Troca’ (2019). They have developed through different movements in the capital, aiming for decentralization and making a bet on self-management, always with the purpose of protesting though the creation of safe spaces for their community. Their style incorporates a musical selection based on the search of melancholic, hard, experimental sounds from avant-garde electronic music; taking over emblematic, mechanic, sensual and enraged genres such as ebm, post punk electro, synth, industrial, new beat & noise. Through these tunes they emphasize the claustrophobic and paranoid aspects of contemporary life in the third world.
Andrea Paz BURKA KLUB Episodio V presenta RPM87 b2b HUMUS
RPM87 b2b HUMUS; Always united by the corroded sounds, worn synthesizers and repetitive sequences. They rumble in a constant pulse evoking aromas of the Middle East always from the heart and the veins, transmuting themselves, shifting the beginning and the end, distorting their structure. BURKA KLUB; monthly radio program of Al qaedans, broadcasted by Radio Tsonami. DJ and producer Andrea Paz and the experimental musician Nawito Morales mix tribal rhythms to noise and industrial sounds always intervening with terrorist intention the dancefloor. Burka Klub is broadcasted the first Friday of every month on www.radiotsonami.org
La Eminencia de una Montaña - Sintética Sesiones
LEDUM is a spoken word project that takes as main element the poems written by Fernanda Ivanna, musicalised under the production of Plinio for this session. In a performance divided into three acts, they deepen the hero's journey, the displacement of the word and the balance of the arc and the lyre, sound dramaturgy in the midst of sequences and programming.
3 Aneesha Kotwani
I always had a very clear vision, one where I wanted to see myself as a global music professional and making WAVLNGTH one of the most sought after music initiatives to work with. To work with people purely based on the foundation of trust and to push talent from our country across the world. Hence my selections are of course going to include artists from home turf as there is no other way. The time has arrived for to get opportunities at par with those in the developed music scenes even if there are geographical barriers. It’s time to build the bridge.
KAVYA ‘Lay Your Head Down’
This track talks about what are the ingredients required for a friendship to stand the test of time. It is also from KAVYA’s debut EP titled ‘Know Me Better’ where he opens up her world to fellow music lovers to get to know her better. Kavya and I have been working together since June 2020 and most of our relationship has been online over multiple zoom calls. But the outcome has been a beautiful friendship born out of the shared love for music and achieving greatness! I see a lot of myself in her and love how we motivate each other to grow and achieve our collective and individual goals.
I supported this track by the Delhi-San Francisco duo on my BBC Asian Network Residency. And just recently met them in Goa where they performed the same night as my mate, Jay Carder. Absolutely love the pace and groove of this track, I can see it going off in the wee hours of the morning!
SickJam ‘HEREKO HEREI’
I am sucker for deep basslines, a deep and earthy baseline evokes an emotion like no other. Of course the genre the baseline caters to evokes a different mood and this Nephop trio have absolutely nailed it for me with a slow jam with a deep subtle undertone to the rapping as well.
James Blake ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’
Heard this album three times on repeat after smoking a THC vape.
Ox7gen 'Moon Module' EP
I started paying a lot more attention to Aditya’s music after I caught his set at an NYE party in Goa. I think he is one of the most talented and diverse artists to come out from the country and you need to keep a watch on this one!
4 Apichat Pakwan
Here is our top 10 records of 2021 list. Greetings from Thailand!
Sarathy Korwar & Upaj Collective ‘Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions’
Important album that pushes Indian, electronic & jazz music forward
Bex Burch & Leafcutter John ‘Boing!’
Refreshing and inspirational new electroacoustic music
Jurango ‘Retreat Ites’ EP
Big contemporary soundsystem riddims
Ambient Warrior ‘Dub Journey's’
A true outernational classic reissued this year
Apichat Pakwan ‘Nam Ton Tad’ EP
Our new 12" showing our love for molam (Lao folkmusic) and dub on one side and electroacoustic music on the other
Hodge & Simo Cell ‘Drums From The West’
Progressive club music we feel
Jungle By Night ‘Spending Week’ (Oceanic 'Cornucopia' Remix)
Great remix of Dutch live band we save for postpandemic festival times
Rasmee ‘Thonglor Cowboy’
New album from Northeast-Thai singer & US producer blends molam, jazz & electronics
J.Sparrow feat. Sun of Selah ‘Behold b/w Paradise Bird’
Massive UK soundsystem banger on one of our favorite labels, ZamZam
Rap Against Dictatorship ‘Reform’
An undeniable force from Thailand, with interesting beats and flows
5 Arabs Do It Better
The Rootsman ‘Essentials 1996-1998’
Though this new release by the great Akuphone label is all about some old stuff but damn it, it’s about really great all stuff being collected for the first time together to celebrate the brilliant musician John Bolloten aka The Rootsman and his dubby exploration of the MENA. It’s mind blowing to listen to this after all these years and realise how fresh it still sounds.
Quite a new and late addition to this year's extraordinary music outcome but since it came out it’s playing in loops in our house and in my heart. So gentle, so emotional and so beautifully made.
One of those mind blowing tunes that make you want to dance and think at the same time. WatchIng a huge crowd banging their heads to the tune while you remenecing something not quite clear but obviously makes you happy from within.
LYTH ‘Space Tribe’ [DJ Set]
I listened to this so many times I can’t even count. Like the perfect downtempo soundtrack of that movie that was never filmed. It’s dark but also full of light, melancholic and yet so hopeful with Rabea Sliman’s (AKA LYTH) very cinematic approach. I wish more people would listen to It.
[Photo: Ramez Melhem]
6 Arjun Vagale
One of the highlights of 2021 - musically and emotionally, for me was putting together the ‘SOS’ compilation, in aid of COVID-19 relief work done by an NGO in India. Not only did we manage to raise over $5000, but the music contributed by Indian artists really set the benchmark for all future compilations that followed, once again showing the diversity & strength within the Indian electronic music community.
WhoMadeWho ‘Abu Simbel’
One of our favourite starting tracks, it brings such positive vibes and creates a perfect friendly atmosphere. A real gem for any set.
Camelphat x ARTBAT ‘For A Feeling (feat. Rhodes)’
Beautiful vocals from Rhodes tracks always, and this brings melancholy and dancing rhythm to everywhere this one is played. We loved working on this one together with Camelphat. There is also a full unplugged orchestra version you should check out. It's really something special.
Joris Voorn ‘The Navigator’
A great, powerful peak time banging techno track that doesn’t mess about. Fantastic energy and whenever we play this out, everyones hands are in the air!! Joris is an absolute genius. We love his productions.
Our first release on our new Upperground label that came out in August. A real proud moment when this came out and the label was launched, super happy!
it's a mixture of techno and trance, with unusual interesting moves and deep breakdown. The track is about love, feelings, therefore it’s called ‘Flame’. The name of the track carries the symbolism of fire that flares up inside of everyone with feelings of love, passion, carrying the meaning of explosive experiences. For us music and love are very close, and often the feelings that we want to convey in music are very close to love.
We played ‘Flame’ the very first time just before the pandemic started, that was in Thessaloniki at the birthday of Reworks, an incredible show to debut this emotional and big track. So it’s a very important track to us, and also very important moments it resembles.
Shall Ocin ‘Boreal’
‘Boreal’ is a very interesting and special track to us! An awesome melody and a powerful drop combine to make a real impact on any dancefloor! Shall Ocin is definitely someone to look out for. A real outstanding and talented producer of modern melodic techno / techno.
Faithless ‘Insomnia (Maceo Plex Epic Remix)’
An obviously iconic track, remixed by Maceo Plex to awesome effect! He returned these classic vocals to the modern dance floors and the result is of epic proportions. Sometimes it can be very tricky when remixing such a known track but Maceo Plex really delivered here.
A deep, melodic techno track that makes you feel like you are on a short space travel hyper flight. Our second release on our new label and one we are again super proud of. A track we actually produced and played since 2019. Always a very exciting moment when the melody drops. The reaction is always very special.
Röyksopp ‘What Else Is There? (ARTBAT Remix)’
Remix from us of one of the greatest tracks from the middle of 2000s. Special vocals that touch people's souls. We loved being given this opportunity and we hope we did the original proud :)
Stephan Bodzin ‘Boavista’
New gem from the supremely talented Stephan Bodzin from his brand new LP of the same name. A track full of deep and dramatic emotions, and great signature rhythm from Stephan.
ARTBAT, Sailor & I ‘Best Of Me’
One of our lovely tracks :) Epic track, with big connecting meaning vocals from Sailor & I, powerful drops and melodies. This was a massive success in the charts too, and our fans love it when we drop this at a gig!
RÜFÜS DU SOL ‘Surrender feat. Curtis Harding’
‘Surrender’, is, at least in our opinion, the perfect definition of what ‘alternative dance music’ is. While it’s quite hard to describe the word alternative, RÜFÜS DU SOL has once again, through a masterpiece, taken a picture of the heart and soul of dance and music, and redecorated it with their very unique, own, and alternative touch. An absolute fulfilling album for everyone.
Worldwide there is only a few artists circling in the dance music scene whose releases are so beautiful and perfect, the whole world just stops and watches every time they release a new glimpse of their outstanding talent into the world. RÜFÜS DU SOL’s ‘Surrender’ is one of them. Their club-ready anthems are perfect for filling dancefloors and playlists, but also work side-by-side in a field with your friends. That sense of connection defines their bliss-inducing live show. We can’t wait to listen to album #5 and hopefully working with the band soon.
The openness that I find in the world of electronic music is what attracts me the most to it – it provides me with a space to escape into a world of freedom, my safe haven. It’s like entering a vacuum of sound where time and space don’t exist.
This is in fact what I intended to deliver in my latest EP ‘NXT CHPTR’ - AYN Feat. Yasmine D. I'm proud of this EP which we released in September 2021, as it truly expresses our thoughts about the world, the darkness we felt throughout the pandemic, and the light that keeps us going. The balance of two worlds regardless of how opposite they are.
“We are Ravers, the bearers of light at the end of the darkest tunnel. We enter the NXT CHPTR - an empowering journey of realizations, broken perceptions and hopeful dreams, a progressively mixed synergy of freedom and love" - AYN Feat. Yasmine D.
'The Next Chapter' - AYN Feat. Yasmine D. — the fouth track of our EP as the name suggests, is a chance to transport listeners to a new chapter of hope, synergy and love. Accompanied by hypnotic visuals sure to transcend viewers into an aural and visual trance - 'The Next Chapter is all about believing in the ethereal power of music, music being the light connecting us all.
As for choosing my favorite tracks of the year, to be honest this is something I find rather difficult, as there's a whole list of artists and tracks that I've come across this year that I would love to share. The ones I've highlighted below are tracks that have moved my soul, stimulated my emotions, and triggered my musical curiosity in some way or another, regardless of how heavy or light they are. I've actually played every single one of these tracks in my recent sets. They're tracks that perfectly expressed how I felt at each moment in time, throughout the past year. I hope they lift you up, or help you heal, just like they did to me.
Valentina Goncharova ‘Recordings 1987-1991 Vol. 2’
Great LP from Ukrainian label Shukai, who dig the unknown gems of the past and release them. This time is a stunning record of Valentina Goncharova unheard recordings.
Powell ‘Piano Music 1-7’
Powell always delivers top notch and fresh sounding experimental pieces, this one is no exception.
Досада ‘Чудес нет’
Debut album from Moscow based band Dosada.
/f ‘5 bull bside’
One of the highlights of the year for me is the discovery of a super talented artist /f.
Great release from one of my fave artists.
Hugo Esquinca and Russell Haswell ‘Cadáver Exquisito Caleidoscópico en Cuatro Ejes’
New work by artists Hugo Esquinca and Russell Haswell. The work incorporates the game of ‘exquisite corpse’ – a technique of collective assembly in which they took turns contributing to the piece after receiving only a portion of what the other had previously contributed. Listen here.
Another powerful record from prolific Perila.
claire rousay ‘17 roles (all mapped out)’
Great release by Claire Rousay
Interesting and fresh sounding album from Ukrainian artist Triš.
BAHK ‘Alternatives to Identity for a Future Society beyond Head Infected Bodies’
The interdisciplinary duo consisting Elvin Brandhi and Daniel Blumberg created 15-minute work acts as a sort of manifesto providing an entry point into a bizarre ‘BAHKtian’ world of experimental sound, drawing, poetry and physical movement all undercut with surrealist humour.
[Photo: Olexandra Trishyna]
QUANZA ‘Neon Noir’ (United Identities)
Beautiful cinematic vibes from outta my hometown Utrecht by multi instrumentalist QUANZA.
Jarren ‘Whittier Blvd.’ (Apron Records)
The perfect track for those long and far roadtrips. It has been on repeat since it came out. Excellent EP too.
ANZ ‘Unravel In Designated Zone’ (OTMI)
The unstoppable ANZ really made some incredible waves this year and this particular track is super catchy with the synth that makes everyone sing-a-long for days!
Thrills in +41 ‘Mind Express’ EP (United Identities)
Utrecht based DJ/Producer Thrills in +41 aka Lucas Tromer made an instant banger of an EP made for any type of party. Expect more from him in the new year!
Bambounou ‘Cascade' (Bambe)
This whole EP is one trip through Bambounou's mind which I'd love to look into someday.
Mary Lake ‘Askim’ (Nous'Klaer)
Mary Lake always knows how to make super interesting tracks that are full of energy and driven by percussion heavy riddims. Very inspiring to hear and see and I can't wait to see her blow up in 2022.
Athletic Progression ‘cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air’ (Touching Bass)
One of the many outings that London based collective Touching Bass has done this year and are steadily growing. This album from this trio from Denmark really put in the work and it is worth listening to from beginning to end.
Senga Ferreira ‘Take The Evil Spirit Away’ (Trading Places Records)
Big Detroit / West London influenced cuts that I love a lot. These guys absolutely blew me away with their first offering on Trading Places Records.
Dean Blunt ‘Black Metal 2’ (Rough Trade Records)
Unconventional and deep. I'm a big fan of Dean Blunt as his voice and productions are truly out of this world.
11 Casa Voyager
Madlib ‘Road of the Lonely Ones’
Ténéré ‘Gone Away’ (ft. Sabrina Bellaouel) (Mad Rey remix)
Emotive Response ‘Emotions '97’
‘Road of the Lonely Ones’ is the perfect recipe for a song that you play over and over again. a lost-love lament, a great and simple drum break, and Madlib's subtle sampling.
Mad Rey, who has recently signed to iconic Ed Banger records, but it's his remix of Ténéré's ‘Gone Away’ that really caught my ear. The beatmaker's skills and Sabrina Bellaouel's magical voice are perfectly standing between feeling and funk.
Last one is from Belgian producer Innershades, some people would say it's cheesy but i think it's a great hommage to Belgian 90's trance with a great touch of club melancholy
Nala Sinephro ‘Space 1.8’
GЯEG ‘Eau Coulée Smart City’
Ceephax Acid Krew ‘Box Steady’
Debut Album from producer and instrumentalist Nala Sinephro is a true jazz masterpiece, it's deep, moving and extremely warm. 20-year-old GЯEG has also made a great debut EP this year with a really interesting sound, as it melts kuduro and shatta with a true understanding of Detroit techno and UK club music.
I would say any mix from Belgian DJ AliA, Hamish Cole who runs Butter Side Up and French DJ Carin Kelly. They have a radio show respectively on Kiosk Radio, Rinse FM and Rinse France
A lot of good stuff has come out this year; it feels like a lot of the artists who were holding material back in 2020 to try and wait out COVID finally opened the floodgates. I also put out my new album ‘Physical Release’ on Hooversound (SHERELLE & NAINA's label), which was kind of my way of processing COVID and the state of the dance music scene as a whole. I could give you a list of 100 things I've really loved this year, but instead I'll stick to the 10 I've been playing the most.
Shaun J. Wright ‘I Pray How My Ancestors Prayed’ (TRAX ONLY)
Shaun is one of the most amazing DJs & musicians & people, and this tune on the new label Trax Only got a LOT of play from me this year. Chuggy, drummy, Chicago classic vibes.
Chrissy ‘Physical Release’ (Hooversound Recordings)
Is it weird to include my own album in a list like this? It's all about the physical spaces where dance music culture happens, and I think it's really good but I'm probably slightly biased...
Pascale Project ‘Where’s The Party?’ (La Rama Records)
I don't really know much about this group other than I *think* they're Canadian (and they don't respond to Bandcamp messages lol), but their EP on La Rama is REALLY GOOD, and their track ‘Fly Zone’ on Planet Euphorique is great as well. Vocal driven tunes reminiscent of that 1989 window where house & techno were evolving into UK rave.
Time Cow & RTKal ‘Elephant Man; (Equiknoxx Musiq)
It's not often when you hear a record that sounds like some weird, off the wall experiment that time traveled back from the future. It's even rarer when one of those records is ALSO incredibly catchy. This one has been stuck in my head since it came out.
I've been a big fan of this amazing UKG / Bassline producer for about 15 years at this point, but she recently sent me a big pack of new remixes and they are all AMAZING. Some of them are up on her website and her Bandcamp, but hopefully the rest of them will be coming soon!
EMZ & Sam Binga ‘Happily Ever After’ (Pineapple Records)
Speaking of UKG, longtime Bristol bass music mainstay Sam Binga has been putting out some very good MC-driven garage tunes as of late. This is my fave of the bunch, and I've been rinsing it in a ton of sets.
Local Group ‘Big Beats Are The Best’ (1Ø Pills Mate)
I love Local Group. ‘Watch This Beat’ is an absolute anthem, and the Angel D'Lite remix on here is killer too (every Angel D'Lite remix is fantastic, tbh...)
WTCHCRFT ‘All Di Time On Mi Mind’ (I Love Acid)
Absolute killer electro cut from one of my fave new young US artists. The label REALLY ought to release this digitally...
Wilfy D ‘Make Up Your Mind’ (Dansu Discs)
While we're on the subject of fave new young artists, Wilfy D has been putting out an impressive series of throwbacky UKG tunes and bootleg remixes over the last couple years. This one on Dansu Discs (one of the best labels of the last few years) is particularly good.
Black Cadmium ‘Our Legacy’ EP (Vault Wax)
I loved their EP on Violet's Naive label last year, and this new one on Vault Wax is phenomenal as well. These guys are able to effortlessly bounce from jackin house & techno to electro to ravey breaks, and every track works.
Paul & Shark ‘T-800 Type Beat’ (Free Time Discs)
I'm a huge fan of this label, and this latest one is one of my faves. A chuggy, hands in the air, uplifting rave heater with a great intro (perfect for starting a set, or resetting a room).
I feel like 2021 was such a year of growth and resilience for me coming out of the pandemic where there was so much uncertainty for the future. I never slowed down on releasing mixes and making radio shows and then really went for it over the summer with the reopening of clubs and then the awaited release of my debut EP extraneous on Mella Dee’s Warehouse Music records and also remix alongside one of my musical hero’s Roman Flügel.
It felt incredible to be able to play to a dancefloor again and have some great highlights I think back on with a smile, including fabric twice - once supporting Nina Kraviz In Room 1 and also closing the new room 2 after Man Power on the Me Me Me label's 5th birthday! (Expect a new EP from me to drop on the label early next year), Printworks, Junction 2 and Warehouse Project. Even though most of the year was still spent under restrictions I’m glad I managed to make the most of the moments of freedom.
Italojoshson 'ITJ14 A1’ is the 14th release on the mysterious trio’s label and to no surprise my all-time favourite DJs never disappoint, this track has such a deep infectious rolling groove. It's a total dance floor weapon that I also included in my RA mix this year.
Sally C ‘Let’s Get This’ from her debut EP ‘Big Saldo’s Chunker EP 001’ is such a bomb, like the whole EP which got a serious amount of plays from me over the year. I absolutely love her jacking and groovy classic house style that turns dancefloors upside down.
Freakenstein ‘Panty Expansion’ from his ‘Freak U’ EP on UTTU is for sure one of my favourite electro bangers of the year. Tristan Da Cuhna’s productions are second to none for me. Sleazy electro hotter than the halls of hell!
Lex Wolf ‘Cosmix 32’
Fellow Cosmic Pineapple resident Lex Wolf made this ‘Cosmix’ at the start of summer and I can safely say it’s my most listened to mix of the year, it’s the most perfect Balearic soundtrack with amazing track selection that will make you want to listen time and time again. It also features a Spanish version of Charlie’s ‘Spacer Woman’ and you really can’t get any more cosmic than that!
Also Luke Unabomber on Worldwide FM 5 hour plus musical journeys definitely kept me company over the lockdown with his incredible music taste and witty anecdotes!
14 Dar Disku
Here is a list of things that really moved us this year. We were fortunate enough to have had the chance to start playing out more and more throughout the year and the theme behind this list is one of 'togetherness' . A feeling that we missed so dearly. Each record, mix or track in this list has made us feel closer to something, whether it is someone or some place...
Some personal highlights from this list include new releases from our friend on the other side of the earth 'Moktar' (based in Australia) - a debut record full of energy, culture and emotion. We played these tracks out at the likes of Lost Village, Wide Awake Festival, Corsica Studios and at our debut Boiler Room show at Motion and they have each guided us through some special memories.
Aside from the usual tracks we listen to for the club, it was equally enticing to explore more of the music we listen to at home. This includes our dear friends Badbadnotgood's new album, which is a journey in itself and the new Vince Staples record. Compilations such as 'Foule Contact' and the track 'Mirage - Glass Beams' were great ways of escaping the high energy and fast pace of club sets and allow us to sink into something that you could take your time with.
15 Didi Han
This year is a meaningful year in many ways! Before I mention the things of this year, I released my first EP ‘Wake Up’ and had my first vinyl pressed. And it’s my first year living outside of my country. Everything was new and thrilling for me so I had an interesting year. Although Covid-19 came back to us again, we had a great time in this summer and I’m sure we will have a great time in winter with this Mixmag playlist! I really hope to meet you guys next year on the dancefloor.
Here is my best album and compilation of this year, and some tracks I played a lot in front of people or in front of myself!
One of my favorite radio stations! And one of my favorite mixes from the radio!
16 DJ DEA
Sintaksis ‘Aryo Adhianto’
8 tracks album by artist Aryo Adhianto. Grounded by a set of rudimentary rules and minimal orchestration, each composition stretches skeletal rhythmic clauses into free-flowing pulses and timbres
Germán Bringas ‘Tunel Hacia Tí’
Tunel Hacia Tí (Tunnel Toward You) is a collection of early compositions by Germán Bringas of Portales, Mexico City. This album features songs from his lost cassette ambient jazz opus
小薇 ‘Sunset Rollercoaster’
A cover of an old mandarin pop song with a better composition, listen to the the middle eight melody it will blow your mind
Roger Baudet ‘Musique Électronique Pour La Scène Et L'image 1976 - 1992’
Awesome compilation from this swiss producer - very versatile stylewise - going from cosmic rock to new age, proto techno, avant-garde, & musique concrète
Pretty Sneaky ‘6’
On the quest for non linear grooves - pure, explorative, outsider rhythm jams.
17 DJ IC
Well.. What a year it has been for music this year, 2021 has been nothing short of fantastic!
From high energy deep sounds, ancestral to spiritual emotional moving tracks I think we've literally had it all.. I'm grateful and would like to thank all the artists all over the world who continue to make and share good music.
Here is my list which contains a handful of the tracks I have enjoyed playing in 2021!
Chelsea Como & Jacko ‘Until Tomorrow’ includes remixes by DJEFF, Dorian Craft & Da Africa Deep
This track is full of vibes and there are some great remixes included in this release. The original edit is one I love to play most in my sets as it sits so perfectly encompassing on that gritty deep side of Afro House. The sounds and vocals take this track to another dimension and takes me on a real journey.
Kasango has released some great music this year and all of which I would most definitely recommend you go and check out, but this track here 'Closer' is one of my personal favorites. The song builds nicely before ending on a real high note of beats and bass ready to rock the dancefloor.
DJ IC feat. Tabia ‘Awakening’ includes remixes by Jim Mastershine, Team Distant, Mixed Message Music, KlevaKeys, Native Tribe & Da Q-Bic, Echo Deep, DJ Nastor, Mr Norble Guy & Torque Music
With so many different remixes, the song takes you to a different place and a different journey depending on what edit you listen to. The original version is a bouncy electronic Afro-infused sound, with a dirty bassline and vocals laid down by Sama Nominee Tabia that definitely bring it to life. I would thoroughly recommend checking out the other remixes as I'm sure you add some if not all to your playlists.
Shimza ‘Fight For This Love’ Feat. Maleh
Ahh man I love this track!! It strikes the perfect balance of dancefloor ready and easy listening and a feeling that makes me resonate with nothing but love and appreciation for music. Maleh delivers a well-rounded vocal which comes in at timely moments, so you also get to enjoy the track itself produced fantastically by the man himself Shimza.
Vida Soul & Soulic M Feat. Twin Beats ‘Closer’
This is a song that I have played on most of my compiled mixes and live DJ sets this year. Vida Soul & Soulic M deliver an Afro House bomb and adding Twin Beats to the mix guarantees a song that will be timeless in my opinion. I will always play this song. Great vocals and catchy hooks, you will definitely be singing along to this one! A must on your playlist.
Thakzin, Sun-El Musician & Thandazo ‘I.C.U’
This late entry has definitely made it on my list. As soon as I heard it I fell in love with the song. Emotion, spiritual, uplifting and another timeless anthem. This track has only recently been released by Thakzin, Sun-El Musician & Thandazo and I salute them for giving us this masterpiece. The vocals again take you on a spiritual journey and leave you smiling and wanting to hear more! Well done guys.. and thank you!
DJ IC & Jim Mastershine ‘Exodus’
This song starts as it means to go on! Infusing with deep electronic sounds and a hard-hitting bassline. It's a nice roller that you can play on mix sets and in the clubs, whatever your choice it's guaranteed to get you in a dancing mood! This track is nothing but pure energy.
KiingPraiise & DJ IC ‘The Voyage’ EP
Diversity & house progresses and Afro house is one of the strongest genres of electronic dance music evolving globally. ‘The Voyage’ EP highlights that very fact, this three-track EP is an Afro enthusiast’s dream! One hour into the Traxsource chart it was selected out of 20,000 songs and entered the Traxsource Afro House Featured Chart, Weekend Weapons, Hype Chart and the Afro House Essentials Chart! If you're looking for a high-energy EP full of deep cuts, sounds, FX, deep basslines, then this one is most definitely for you. It's out now on all leading digital download stores.
The mixes I have enjoyed come from the KUYNE LIVE PERFORMANCES:
Sun-El Musician ‘African Electronic Dance Music Mix 002’
If you want to listen to a mix that delivers soulful, uplifting spiritual sounds then this is the mix for you. It took me on a real musical journey and I actually played it twice. I love hearing great new music and I think you'll love this mix too.
Sef Kombo & Kitty Amor ‘The Lab LDN’ (Mixmag)
The London duo have been growing and going from strength to strength and we love to see it! 2021 has been a great year for them and I actually watched this set live when it was being aired. For me it will be memorable in many ways but what strikes me is the way they compliment each other musically. The track selection on this mix is nothing short of amazing, delivering various selections to get your feet tapping and head rocking. Definitely worth taking a listen to this mix.
DJ IC ‘All Shades of the Drum Mix Series’ (Season 2 Episode 5)
I have also enjoyed compiling and mixing The All Shades of the Drum Amapiano Edition. There are some great songs on this mix. It starts off with some melodic soulful vocal tracks and then midway through it really starts to go off bringing the party vibes and some of the anthems in the clubs right now. This mix is definitely one for your playlist. It's currently available to listen to via Apple Music.
18 DJ Marky
Damn man, there have been so many special moments from 2021, of course including Innerground 100. Here are five tracks that spring to mind from this year:
Tyrone ‘Untitled Matrix’ (The North Quarter)
Proper roller! Reminds me of the old Matrix stuff. Absolutely killer. Tyrone has the ability to throw in an old-skool vibe but still keep it fresh — I love it
Breakage ‘Hollup’ (Index Records)
James’ (Breakage) EPs (At The Controls Vol I & II) are insane! I can’t imagine my sets without any of his tracks - ‘Hollup’ is a monster!
Submorphics Feat. Satl & Veda Black ‘Let It Shine’ (The North Quarter)
When I was in hospital, suffering very badly from COVID, I promised myself that if I survive that this will be the first track I’ll play on my live streams! Thank God, I left the hospital and I was literally in tears when I played this tune. Pure emotion!
Hugh Hardie ‘No Compromise’ (Hospital Records)
Another personal favourite from 2021! Hugh Hardie always makes such special tunes - he’s da man!
Visages ‘Egotrip’ (1985 Music)
What I love about Visages is that they never fail to surprise me. They have the ability to write tracks that encapsulate both the lighter and darker side of drum ‘n’ bass – so versatile. They’ve made so many killer tracks and I love it!
[Photo: Garry Jones]
Samuel Karugu's picks:
My faves of 2021 are all new albums, and a live hybrid music set by Brutalism 3000. For me this year had so much new interesting music in almost all the genres I listen to, especially all the crazy stuff I heard on tour as well.
Martin Kanja's picks:
Zvrra ‘Array of Light’
On ‘Array of Light’, Zvrra dives deep into the sound of techno creating masterful textures, beautiful overtones, hypnotic beats and pulsating melodies. This bass-heavy and intricately detailed album has been on repeat and is a standout album for me this year.
EL BLANCO NINO '34'
Juke Bounce Werk 'JBDUBZ Vol. 9'
JBDUBZ 9 is an enormous release comprising of 42 phenomenal tracks compiled and curated by the Juke Bounce Werk crew. Filled with instant classics in the styles of breaks, footwork, juke, house, jungle and more this massive compilation is a standout and a must hear for 2021!
DJ SWISHA & OSSX ‘Luvli Dae :)’
The highly anticipated ‘Luvli Dae :)’ has been released by DJ Swisha & OSSX. One of my favorite tunes of the year, dropped in early December, this Jersey club flip is going to be an essential track in my USB.
Anz ‘Unravel In The Designated Zone’
The highly addictive and funky lead line in ‘Unravel in The Designated Zone’ has been a favorite of mine this year. Everytime I have played this track out, the crowd has responded by losing themselves in the sound. A true instant classic!
MoMA Ready ‘We Love Music Dub’
One of my favorite songs to play towards the close out time in a mix or night, ‘We Move Music Dub’ is a beautiful minimal track with a strong message.
Octo Octa ‘Find Your Way Home’
This track by Octo Octa is filled with energy and a great way to kick it up a few notches. A journey the entire eight mins, ‘Find Your Way Home’ is another standout track for me from 2021.
DJ SWISHA & Kush Jones ‘LIVE @ Sustain-Release Year 7’
Having experienced this mix in person at Sustain-Release Year 7 was an amazing music highlight for me in Year 7. DJ SWISHA & Kush Jones closed out Saturday night with a perfect mix that was enjoyed by the entire room. I am so happy that they decided to archive this mix and share that special moment with the world.