1 Objekt ‘Theme From Q’
Sometimes a track gets released that is so good it ruins clubbing for me (for a time, anyway). It sounds counterintuitive, but club nights showcase diverse ranges of music, and the same tune being aired twice in an evening is a bit of a faux pas. And sometimes there’s a track that is so good that it’s all I want to hear. Objekt’s ‘Theme From Q’ is one of those records. Shortly after its release this year I found myself stood on the stage of Corisca Studios, while some DJ was playing some set, and loitering inattentively in the corner of Bloc’s Autumn Street Studios, while some DJ was playing some set, unable to focus on anything other than an overwhelming desire to hear ‘Theme From Q’.
I would worry it’s a sign of an obsessive personality, but really I feel safe in the knowledge that ‘Theme From Q’ really is that good. It demands listens. Not only is it fronted with a synth line that’s as catchy as the most infectious pop hook, the production constructed around that simple centrepiece rhythm is thrilling in its idiosyncrasy. Swampy bass textures swell and melt, bells chime then fade into the background, splutters of slap bass jolt in unexpectedly, the ‘Think’ break is deployed then warped into alien chipmunk territory. Objekt’s painstaking production process has been documented, with the artist commonly making around 100 versions of tracks before considering them finished. It’s a worthy process, when the results are this uniquely brilliant. Patrick Hinton
2 J Hus ‘Closed Doors’
You can tell a lot about a rapper from the way they deliver a love song. It’s a test of their emotional range and whether they actually have the prowess and sensuality to back up all of that sexual braggadocio. It’s the difference between Young Thug being so into his girl that he’d drink her bathtub water (pure romance) and J Cole comparing his dick to a foot (pure gross).
So if we’re judging on bedroom tunes then J Hus is ready for it: ‘Closed Doors’ lands early in his debut album, all humid summer jazz and a stonking stride-of-pride bassline. He delivers direct from the centre of this radiant setting, dedicating himself to his lover (“I’m a give it to you all, give you everythin’”) and expecting complete attention in return (“confiscate your phone, why you always on Insta?”) He reveals some of his special moves (“put my finger in your coochie, then I put it in ya mouth, that’s a taste of your own medicine”) but hottest of all is the chemistry between the couple (“but is it strange if I pree you? Just sit back and undress you with my naked eye?”)
‘Closed Doors’ captures the raw feeling and physicality of a hot, consensual fuck, one that leaves both parties basking in the glow of satisfaction. And while many of his peers refuse to open up – or are just plain penning love songs to their guns – J Hus shows he knows that romance ain’t dead. Seb Wheeler
3 Jlin ‘Black Origami’
Before we start, do you like drums? Are you a fan of wild, turbulent percussion? Do you like having your face melted by wholly original, slamming electronic music? Ok good, because alongside Arca's self-titled LP, Jlin's 'Black Origami' has to be a contender for the album of 2017 already. The halfway point of the year always reveals a good amount of bangers and Jlin has provided one of the largest portions we've heard so far. Her first album ‘Dark Energy’ dropped in 2015 and although we expected the follow up to be good, we didn’t realise just how beautifully intense it would be. Footwork has always been a genre that’s thrown caution to the wind. New styles, new takes and new approaches constantly flip the sound on its head but Jlin has perhaps offered the freshest take for over a decade. The title track of 'Black Origami' starts off almost jovial and video game-like before a flurry of stark beats zip around with a potent menace. A stand-out track from a stand-out album. Funster
4 Dinamarca ‘Resurrection’
In the grand scheme of things, I’m a relative newcomer to the club music cult. When I first moved to London, and began spending my weekends immersed in this whole new world of mind-expanding music and unconventional parties, it was a proper, “shit, this was what all the hype was about” kind of deal – an electronic epiphany, if you will.
So, when I first heard ‘Resurrection’ last year, as it began to trickle through mixes and radio sets from some of the club names I had grown to love, it haunted me for months on end. I still remember the moment I was scrolling down my SoundCloud, as you do, and saw it had finally been released (pretty sure my fellow passengers on the 19 to Finsbury Park do too, as I definitely yelped with excitement).
On it, Dinamarca delivers a great wall of annihilating sound. A heavenly dose of euphoria, flush with breathless weirdness, made to stick in your head in a way you never dreamed possible. The EP it's from, ‘Himnos’, combines all the playful nuances of his trance inspirations (the seven-tracker interprets a whole host of cult classics, including a futuristic flip of Robert Miles’ infamous ‘Children’) with a plethora of experimental loveliness. It valiantly pushed a new age of underground club kids, myself included, towards the transcendent capabilities of trance, and I’m so here for it. Jasmine Kent-Smith
5 DJ Ciderman ‘Summer Groove’
Sometimes a tune just comes along and perfectly sums up a time in your life. I’m not trying to place a Summer of ’67 or ’89 level of importance on this track here, but sometimes you just know, y’know? While we’re still in the midst of hot days punctuated by McDonalds toffee sundaes and there are many more tunes to be released, I can tell you now when I look back on the summer of ’17, DJ Ciderman’s ‘Summer Groove’ is the track that will soundtrack my memories. Maybe it’s because it’s been floating around as a free download since last summer, raising the anticipation for its vinyl release to boiling point. Or maybe it’s because said vinyl release seems to take the track to another level, the warm grooves of a record elevating from a sketch to a fully-formed painting. It feels like the latter because every element of this optimistically sunny track is now etched into my brain and a memory attached accordingly. The percussion reminds me of my first ever trip to Spain, the punchy bassline brings back memories of the best ever Glastonbury and the tune’s enduring danceability on the second, seventh, 12th and 26th play makes me feel the joy of walking out of a club in just a t-shirt and not having to put another layer on. Louis Anderson-Rich
6 Mall Grab 'Pool Party Music'
Mall Grab’s aptly-titled ‘Pool Party Music’ is the perfect summer vibe. I don’t own a pool, but I’ve definitely put this tune on repeat in the sun at a few BBQs already. The track was released on DJ Haus’ Hot Haus imprint and is an injection of jubilant trumpets and punchy basslines which make it a real earworm and one of my top tracks of this year. It lands as a milestone on the ascent of Australia’s fastest-rising electronic export, marking out 2017 as another rocket-fuelled year for the 23-year-old producer. Mall Grab is no stranger to Mixmag, laying down a wavy Impact mix in 2016 then hitting December as one of our stars of the year, before delivering a slick B2B with KGW in The Lab LDN in January, and now gracing the cover of our August 2017 issue. It’s great to see this dude taking over! Jaguar Bingham
7 Paul Woolford 'Meditate'
Here at Mixmag we constantly pass around new tracks, especially material that's up for premiere consideration. Back in April, Paul Woolford's 'Chaos' EP on Edible Records was making the rounds, but not for its title track. It was the bass-heavy B-side titled 'Meditate' that was stirring up chatter. Firstly, because we heard Eats Everything roll it out a month prior to devastating effect, and secondly because once it landed in our inbox we knew it was going to be played far and wide as the year progressed.
One of my fondest memories of 2017 occurred when I heard 'Meditate' being played by Kerri Chandler at Secret Solstice in Iceland. He was closing out the Circoloco showcase on the first day of the festival, following standout sets by The Black Madonna and Seth Troxler. Red light was radiating throughout the dark warehouse-style room as Kerri amped up the energy with each soulful house tune. Just over halfway into the set I could hear 'Meditate' creeping in with the distinct vocal hook and booming bass. The euphoric synth chords started to progressively become more prominent before leading into a crescendo of blissful house as the crowd reacted with vigorous energy. Even before this moment I knew the track was massive, but it provides solid proof that 'Meditate' is a standout tune of 2017 so far. Harrison Williams
8 Kendrick Lamar 'Humble'
A lot of incredible things have come out of Compton, California. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube - just give Straight Outta Compton a watch and you'll be up to snuff on an important chunk of hip hop history. But in modern days, the genre belongs to Kendrick Lamar, who dropped his fourth studio album 'DAMN.' in April of this year. Politically fired-up and with features from the likes of Rihanna, U2 and production work from James Blake, the album set its own high standards to live up to.
Names are one thing, but it's another kind of jaw-dropping chill to experience an entire arena of people singing along to the words of 'Humble' a capella for a minute straight. That's right, during a stop on his current HUMBLE. tour in Phoenix, Arizona, Lamar was filmed rapping the iconic anthem, spitting out the memorable line "my left stroke just went viral" before stopping and letting the audience to keep on rapping for him. They finished the chorus with such vigour, it was almost like Lamar had trained the thousand-something people to chant along with him. It left him speechless for three minutes straight, and maybe that's the full circle beauty of it all. A track that reminds a generation that so needs it to "sit down" and "be humble" every once in a while floored one of the best rappers of today's music into speechlessness. Talk about a once in a lifetime moment. Valerie Lee
9 Maceo Plex 'Polygon Pulse'
Maceo Plex’s ethereal, emotional ‘Polygon Pulse’ finally got its long-awaited release in 2017. After three years of playing the track countless times around the world, the maestro's official release was like a much needed gasp of air for armies of salivating fans.
I first heard the track live at a Verboten summer party in New York a handful of years ago. Maceo had arrived for the closing sunset slot following Sunday selections by DJ Tennis and DJ Koze, but what started as a harsh, breakbeat-laden set fluttering on the borderline of his darker Maetrik alias, quickly morphed into impassioned ballads with the introduction of ‘Polygon Pulse’.
As the sun melted into sorbet skies of orange and tawny rose, an echoing bassline weaved into the crowd, breathy longing vocals that leaked into the air like the slow motion smoke of an extinguished candle in film noir. It’s an immensely seductive track that somehow brings together devious allure and swelling eroticism together, leading the listener to supernatural enlightenment and glimmering consciousness . If a song could be the gleam in an estranged lover’s eye, twisting in profound anguish with a faded warmth just below the heartbeat, ‘Polygon Pulse’ would be it. Sydney Jow
10 Shanti Celeste ‘Selector’
It’s not just Shanti Celeste's affiliation with Bristol and Idle Hands, the city’s best record shop, that makes me reach for each and every 12” she drops. It’s not even the fact that every track she releases feels unique, whilst at the same time like part of a wider web of explorative productions. Basically, it’s because all her tracks are dancefloor weapons, and every one of them bangs. That might sound crude so let me set out exactly what I mean. Each and every one of her releases sounds like Shanti: crisp snares, a thudding kick and an evocative melody. There’s something that makes a track sound like Shanti that’s I find difficult to put my finger on, but it’s there, in its glorious idiosyncrasy.
‘Days Like This’ captured the essence of a day dancing in the sun, whilst ‘Make Time’ took cues from the dub sound of Bristol, adding a dose of two-step and a touch of ambience to great effect. Both had that ineffable spark. Shanti Celeste’s most recent release, ‘Selector’, is her finest record yet. I’ve heard it dancing outdoors, in dank basements and in cavernous warehouses, and it’s kicked off in every setting. A thundering kick contrasts with an almost-whimsical melody but somehow it works. ‘Selector’ sounds like another experiment gone right from an artist on the up. Alex Green
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11 Syd 'Got Her Own'
I'm a sucker for an r'n'b vocalist. As much as I love a stampede of aggression-fuelled grime lyrics, I'll always find myself going back for delicate, crooning harmonies to massage my mind. Syd, lead singer of Los Angeles group The Internet, is the r'n'b masseuse I've been visiting most for the last two years. Her silky smooth vocals are so delicate and warming, it feels like she’s sat right next to me whispering the lyrics in me ear.
'Got Her Own' from her debut solo album has her delivering more music for moments of intimacy or times of relaxation. The beats are sneering, but Syd's sweet, dulcet tones are fully calming – just the remedy for my at times anxious mind. My advice: if you're feeling agitated or your brain is doing somersaults, stick this on. My head's been cleansed plenty of times by this treat from one of the coolest in the game. Dave Turner
12 Octo Octa ‘Daylight’
If there’s one thing I’ve realised this year, it’s that I am eternally grateful for Octo Octa. It’s been a big couple months for the New York-based artist: she released her fourth album ‘Where Are We Going’ on Honey Soundsystem sublabel HNYTRAX, put out releases across the Argot, Skylax, Shewey Trax and Love Notes imprints, and helped kickstart the label arm of Brooklyn party Frendzone (where she has a residency) with a split EP alongside Ames Henry. Meanwhile, I have taken some daft photos with my work colleagues, watched the first season of Glow and messed around with the hot dog filter on Snapchat. But it’s not all bad because in my free time scouring the Internet for tunes I came across my new comedown track. And now you have too. Seriously, let those pads wash away the blues and tie your anxiety up in the raging breaks. Once you’ve got your energy back, the meaty sub bass and skittering garage percussion will have you pleasantly head-nodding your way through the Monday morning commute. Elegant, beautiful, effortless and understated. Louis Anderson-Rich
13 Lauren Lo Sung ‘Tresor’
‘Tresor’ is the title track off Lauren Lo Sung’s debut EP on House Puff which dropped back in April. The first time I heard it was in the Mixmag office and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. The track is a deep roller which captivates you with its hypnotic build and bouncy flair. Lauren’s career first started to take off with the launch of her LOLiFE club nights and crowning as Liverpool ECHO’s DJ of the Year in 2014. This year her star has risen with continued exponential trajectory. She has already achieved a string of monumental success including playing on the Mixmag-curated #SmirnoffHouse bill at Parklife, hosting a Rinse FM show and being picked up by Radio 1’s Monki who took her on tour, which have led her to establishing herself as a vibrant new name in the dance world. She’s a DJ and producer that I am – and you should be – really excited about! Jaguar Bingham
14 Robert Hood ‘Nephesh’
Oh Bobby Hood, what a guy. He’s the undisputed king of high octane, pulsating techno and an artist who has consistently managed to evolve and innovate over his career. On the surface, he’s a multi-faceted musician but delve deeper into the man himself and you realise just how intensely spiritual and enlightened he is. He channels the message of God through techno, and his DJ sets aren’t just DJ sets, they are sermons. His latest album on Dekmantel is the best session we’ve experienced in a while. ‘Paradygm Shift’ is a return to his minimal, stripped-back roots, and most importantly it’s a riot of sound and energy. The combinations of ferocious bass riffs and frenzied kicks leaves you breathless yet gasping for more. Basically it’s peak-time, dancefloor ammunition and ‘Nephesh’ is like a demented, haunting salsa. Almost like a snake-charmer’s call but in techno form and if the charmer was in fact a T-2000 robot sent back in time to wreak havoc and destruction. In Robert, we trust. Funster
15 Lanark Artefax ‘Touch Absence’
The art direction for ‘Whities 011’ tells the story of a youthful death cult of storm chasers, who literally throw caution to the wind and journey recklessly into the heart of hurricanes. The artwork depicts a tempestuous diagram and tableau, the video for ‘Touch Absence’ intersperses monochrome footage of natural catastrophes with technicolour weather maps. The decision was made after Whities designer Alex McCullough relayed to Tasker and Lanark Artefax that he couldn’t stop thinking about natural disasters and a kind of ‘youthful urgency’ when listening to the music.
Concepts attached to music can often come across as trite and contrived (Lanark himself candidly called most concept records “really lame and shit” in our Impact feature), but deployed as background lore in this instance it makes perfect sense. ‘Touch Absence’ is a breathtaking piece of music. It shimmers with airy ambience, and then punches you in the gut with sharp percussion, immersing listeners in texture upon texture of skewed, reverberating, otherworldly sounds. As McCullough’s response to the release indicates, it’s music that makes you feel, inspiring big, lofty thoughts, about things like mortality and cataclysms. Often while listening to it I catch myself in a state of glassy eyed introspection. And yet, it also impacts upon large-scale dancefloors, with Lanark’s hero Aphex Twin opting to play a version during his headline slot at Primavera Sound. From headphones to festival stages, ‘Touch Absence’ is intimately and outwardly compelling. Patrick Hinton
16 Mount Kimbie ‘We Go Home Together’ (ft. James Blake)
It’s only fair to suggest the past six months have been somewhat turbulent, so a surprise release from post-dubstep poster boys Mount Kimbie and James Blake was a right time, right place, right-in-the-feels release.
I’m not sure whether Discogs will allow sellers to file records under ‘Emotional bass bangers’ anytime soon but the woozy, weird and wonderful tunes that fall into the black hole of heart-felt heaters are my bread and butter, and ‘We Go Home Together’ is a welcome addition to the mix.
Now, the track might be marmite to some. At heart, it’s a coffee table tune, and some fans may not embrace the step away from their signature production styles as adoringly as me. In the tune, the human nuances of both beat and vocals are embraced, not concealed, with Blake’s blubbering bars cracking and breaking in places, as if succumbing to overwhelming feelings. It’s sparse, simple, yet abundantly confident – we know they can do power-house productions and tightly-helmed vocals, but that doesn’t mean they have to, right? Jasmine Kent-Smith
17 Johannes Albert 'All Around'
Sometimes all it takes is one, glorious sample as a track's foundation to produce an instant classic. It's a cheeky move, but one that has been at the core of house music since the birth of the genre back in the 1980s when DJs were beefing up disco tracks to ignite energy on the dancefloor. Today the practice is still widely used, with producers digging through the history of music to unearth captivating material.
This year a Berlin-based producer by the name of Johannes Albert sparked a strong buzz in the underground community with his track titled 'All Around', sampling an old-school gem from 1983. He brought the ridiculously catchy bass-line paired with an equally infectious synth melody into the future with a strong, driving house beat, brilliantly repurposing the classic track.
Back in March, Move D played 'All Around' during his all vinyl session in The Lab LDN which had the ID hounds chomping at the bit. Well, here it is, in all its sample glory. Harrison Williams
18 Maya Jane Coles 'Cherry Bomb'
What is it about producers that stay mum on the public front that have the seemingly god-given ability to absolutely shut it down with their productions? Leave it to Miss Maya Jane Coles to do just that with her anticipated return which we finally saw in 2017.
After three years of silence on the release front from the UK maven, Coles dropped a swift and silent four-track EP killer as a teaser to her upcoming sophomore album release that included a bubbly, melodic little tune called 'Cherry Bomb'. A cherry bomb, in a more literal description, is a spherical firework, and it's pretty much the perfect definition for Coles' subtle track. It's like nothing I've ever heard: a mix of mystical aquatics in its thoughtfully toned vocals and a wonky, breezy melody that makes you feel like driving down a fast freeway like the badass that you are only in your Hollywood dreams.
Coles' production abilities are effortless, and it shows. At a time when house and techno have risen to be one of the most popular, and thus oversaturated genres of the moment, Maya remains a breath of fresh air. Gulp it in and get ready: more is coming soon! Valerie Lee
19 Josh Wink 'Resist'
I love Josh Wink. Not only is he an undeniable underground legend and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but I’ve never left one of his sets without my head spinning completely off its axis. His new track ‘Resist’ has him reaching to those ear-splitting acid roots he’s so famous for, and I can’t help but be transported straight back to those gritty rave days when I hear it blaring out of a soundsystem.
Pre-Mixmag and long before I had stepped foot in my first club or festival, I was introduced to electronic music through scavenging dingy Brooklyn warehouse parties. Although it was the last place a 15-year-old suburban kid should have been venturing out to in the middle of the night, it was experiences like hearing acid house for the first time that changed everything.
Winky’s ‘Resist’ is the exact type of track that had a life-rerouting impact, with its erratic, slamming energy, that would have evoked a curious head-tilt and ear-to-ear smile in my teenage self, making it a production I absolutely love to hear on the dancefloor. 'Resist' is strobe lights and wide eyes, the dirt ground crumbling under your shuffling feet and the smell of a hundred ashed cigarettes packed into one song. It screams "RAVE! RAVE! RAVE!" so obviously you can’t help but dance, telepathically high fiving anyone else you see getting down to the tune. Acccciiiiiiiiid. Sydney Jow
20 Sinjin Hawke ‘By Any Means’
I’ve never attempted a backflip but Sinjin Hawke’s music makes me believe that I could do one. Right there, on the spot, over and over again. His tracks are so ultra ecstatic ‘n’ mind expanding that I genuinely get the feeling that I could defy gravity, physics – whatever it is that holds my body together and plants my feet to the ground.
Sinjin finally released his debut album earlier this year and it arrived at a good time for me: I’d started to listen to music properly again after dealing with hearing issues and was ready to get back on the good shit. I’ll forever be someone whose life was changed by ‘Glass Swords’ and alongside Rustie, Sinjin is one of the handful of producers who pioneered completely head-spinning, bass-heavy dance music at the start of this decade and continue to do so now. So an LP was a gift.
I could have picked any track from ‘First Opus’ because the record is ridiculously joyful and warped from start to finish but ‘By Any Means’ stands out because it’s got every Sinjin trademark: the crazy melodic vocal samples, great big dollops of low-end, juggernaut horns and song structure that peaks and troughs constantly, so your mind never knows where it’s at. This kind of thing makes me so ridiculously happy, it’s like he made this track and his whole entire album just for me. Thanks Sinjin. Seb Wheeler
21 Mostack 'Screw & Brew' featuring Mist
Every now and then, there's one album or mixtape that dominates my iPhone. Mostack's 'High Street Kid' landed not long after I'd been rinsing his features on J Hus's 'Common Sense', and it got the repeat, repeat, repeat treatment as well. You know the type. The one's that get cranked up for the Saturday morning shower, the Monday morning bus to work or whenever you feel like a bop around the house. The mixtape's only 32 minutes long, so it's no chore listening to it over and over again. 'Screw & Brew' is the standout for me, though, with Mist joining Mostack for a heavyweight bout of straight-to-the-bone lyrics and stories of beef. Admittedly, the subjects they rap about isn't a life I can resonate with, far from it, but it does bring back memories of intently listening to rap and grime in my young teens. And we all love nostalgia, right? I won't deny that the choppy, going-in-all-directions vocal samples have had me scrunching my face and miming, either. Dave Turner
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22 Joy Orbison ‘Fuerza’
Joy Orbison is now a household name among dance music fans. He’s certainly been on rotation at my place for the last half decade. His copious productions have snaked through genres, exploring UK funky, garage, house and IDM. In recent years a solo production from Peter O’Grady had become something of a rarity. It seemed his partnership with Boddika on SunkLo was yielding so much good material that the London producer had little time to release his solo music. This made me irrationally sad. All I wished for was a solo production that made me grit my teeth and feel like I was about to swallow my tongue. Was that just too much to ask? Apparently not so because ‘Fuerza’ is just that. Rejoice.
‘Off Season' / 'Fuerza’ was his first solo 12” since 2012. Yes, that’s five years since his last independently-produced record. Of course, the wait was worth it. Whilst ‘Off Season’ was the A-side, it was B-side ‘Fuerza’ that garnered the most acclaim. Check Discogs and you’ll find rabid vinyl-heads clamouring about the track’s textural subtlety, hard-as-nails kick and cascading melodies, and I concurred with every comment. More esoterically, one YouTube commenter labelled it as "exactly the right sweet spot between salmon lasagna and a prostate exa." It’s one of Joy O’s finest cuts yet. Minimal and straightforward, yet undeniably complex, ‘Fuerza’ is another stellar production from one the UK’s leading lights. Alex Green
23 Phil Kieran ‘No Life’ (Roman Flügel Remix)
‘No Life’ comes from Belfast-based producer Phil Kieran whose long-time experience in the game has lead him to create countless bangers, working with the likes of Green Velvet and releasing on Sven Väth's Cocoon label. This track is taken from Kieran’s ‘Blinded By The Sun’ LP, and is reimagined by Germany’s Roman Flügel into a big fat face-melter. The track was released on Hot Creations back in February as part of a remix package also featuring a version from Andrew Weatherall. Flugel’s remix is an absolute weapon and is a tune I constantly have on rotation and in my own DJ sets. Every time I hear it I can’t help but bass-face in anticipation of that naughty, wobbling drop. He takes Kieran’s ‘No Life’ to another level and this is a track I will rinse forever. Jaguar Bingham
24 Arca ‘Desafio’
Until this year, Arca's music always interested me but it never had a hold on me, it never completely resonated with me. It wasn't because I didn't like it, it was purely because I never immersed myself in it or fully gave it the time to let it ring through. Aesthetically, his art, music videos and concepts are out of this world and when I first listened to his latest, self-titled album, everything just slotted together for me. I'm proud to say that I'm completely obsessed with him now. His live show at London’s Roundhouse left me in an emotional state of euphoria. The man in front of me was performing with such fervour and passion, beautiful on both the eyes and ears and utterly compelling. The new LP is a challenging yet accessible entry from the Venezuelan producer and it's one of the best of the year so far, if not the best. 'Desafio' is the track that so skilfully demonstrates his frenetic production, gorgeous vocals and it's the one that gives me the feels every time I listen to it. It's a nice thing when music feels like your own and this album feels like mine, as it does for anyone who's submitted to its power. Arca, I love you, thank you. Funster
25 Kingdom ‘Down 4 Whatever’ (feat. SZA)
February feels like a lifetime ago, right? Way back when, in a simpler time, the unprecedented sunshine we’ve been seeing here in the UK was but a pipedream, and 2017 was going to be “our year!!” (Disclaimer: It isn’t. We’ve well and truly fucked it. A bunch of climate change denying, homophobic bigots are in government. Global politics is disintegrating. Memes may be our only saving grace.)
But alas, it’s not all doom and gloom! The beginning of the year saw the release of ‘Tears in the Club’, a weighty offering from Fade to Mind label head Kingdom. It stayed true to Kingdom’s fine-tuned formula for emotionally-charged club cuts, with killer features from the likes of Syd, as well as voice-of-the-moment SZA.
When I first heard the album, it was one of those glorious moments of music mimicking mood, a life/art kind of scenario. It had been a weird couple months, and the release fused together a sound that I’d been drawn to at the time - all icy instrumentals saturated with the warmth and vulnerability of r‘n’b. I could have picked any, but ‘Down 4 Whatever’ was an immediate choice, as SZA’s voice breathes new life into the beat, intertwined with Kingdom’s signature booming bass and spacey synths. It’s a tune for whining and weeping, in equal measures. A+ from me. Jasmine Kent-Smith
26 Fred 'Loverman'
One simple name, one belter of a tune. Fred, two guys rather than one as the alias suggests, debuted on Shanti Celeste's Peach Discs label with this blazing hot house jam. Any chance of keeping your cool in the dance when this rolls out are gone thanks to mischievous stabs that make you want to do a silly running-on-the-spot dance. And with every listen I feel like I'm gonna be lifted off my feet down to the euphoric, eyes-to-the-sky piano chords archetypal of vintage rave videos. I'm yet to hear it out, but when I do, and when the glorious female vocals float in, you'll see me on the dancefloor handing out hugs and smooches, no doubt. It just fills me with that much love. Dave Turner
27 Patrice Baumel ‘Glutes’
If there's one thing that pulls me into a track besides the emotion and soul of a melody, it’s textures and tension. I love when you can hear the wetness snapping in between each beat, small metallic objects bouncing off pressed metal walls and contorting notes that seem to pull back behind your eyes and rip at your fingertips.
Patrice Baumel’s ‘Glutes’ is just that: a weaving, rigid bellowing of sound that’s as hard hitting as it is beautifully weird. The menacing Afterlife release is one of my personal favourites for its guaranteed power to elicit a roar of wonder through a crowd and ability to showcase a soundsystem’s true scope of range. I’ve heard it amidst a 100-degree, sun-drenched festival, in the depths of a dripping, pitch-black warehouse, and blasting through the speakers of LED-beaming club speakers. During every single instance it shone as one of the standout moments of the set. Different from the typical blaring banger, its unique and curious profile always has people leaving the rave asking “what the hell was that one track...?” Sydney Jow
28 Lone ‘Crush Mood’
Fake news gets thrown around a lot these days and we apparently live in a post-truth world, but know when I say that Lone is fucking sick and all of his tunes are bangers, I am not telling a lie. Honestly, ever since hearing ‘Pineapple Crush’ on a dodgy music blog at uni, I haven’t been able to resist his raved-up, woozy tracks, all guaranteed to make a dancefloor lose its shit. When ‘Crush Mood’ came out it felt like it had been ages (it hadn’t) since we’d gotten turned inside out by new Lone material. Maybe that’s because it came bounding into view in March with the vengeful, making-up-for-lost-time fervour of a friend who has spent the last week in a camper van with their grandparents and just wants to get right-the-fuck-on-it. The track isn’t here to fuck about and is a proper weapon for the dancefloor, with a no fucks given structure of pure functionality, brutal kicks knocking the wind out of your chest, and a vocal so rhythmic it’ll jack your body back to Chicago. Louis Anderson-Rich
29 Adana Twins 'Uncompromising'
As you might be able to imagine, us Mixmaggers receive dozens and dozens of promos a day. It's hard to complain about listening to music as a job responsibility, but on some days, it can be a laborious "needle-in-the-haystack" kind of task. But one day, Adana Twins' 'Uncompromising' fluttered through the waves of the internet, through my headphone auxiliary cable, through my ear drums and straight into my soul. "What on EARTH is this?!" I thought to myself, bouncing in what I can only imagine was an absolute silly way on my office chair. We premiered the track on Mixmag shortly after.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I was smack dab in the middle of a wonderful Funktion-One soundsystem at Trade Miami, listening to Justin Martin throw down one massive hit after another with one hand on the decks and the other waving frantically to the audience in front of him, revving the energy higher and higher. Suddenly, the menacing swell of 'Uncompromising' began to seep into the system and hit us all on the dance floor, creeping into a sky-high crescendo before nosediving into an artillery of buzzing synth blasts.
It's no surprise that the one-of-a-kind dance floor weapon was released as part of Diynamic's 'Four to the Floor' compilation series, as it's a cinematic rollercoaster that'll leave you clamoring both for a safety belt and also for much, much more. At least you've been warned. Valerie Lee
30 v1984 ‘Too Much’ (vocal)
In 2014, two years before v1984’s debut release dropped, his music served as inspiration for Kuedo to link up with Joe Shakespeare and found the Knives imprint. "v1984 was the first artist we approached as a label. He's been a core part of Knives as an idea, since before our first record,” the seminal Planet Mu artist said. v1984 makes music so powerful that in raw demo form it germinated in the mind of one of the experimental club scene’s most heralded figures and developed into a fully-fledged project, then. Solid.
I can almost relate: Kuedo introducing v1984 to me via his Truants mix in May 2015 was definitely impactful. The mix was a transportative blend of experimental electronics, r’n’b and hip hop, all killer no filler, but a moment that particularly stood out was v1984’s then untitled edit of Que.’s ‘Too Much’. The vibrant production and hoarsely emotive Atlanta rap vocal wormed its way into my ears and got lodged in there for months, and I began rinsing the dodgy SoundCloud rips that emerged on the internet.
This May v1984 stepped up with an EP (‘Pansori’) on the Knives imprint he influenced the birth of, and the ‘Too Much’ instrumental was finally due a release. Even without Que., I was excited to own a proper copy of that irresistible, soaring soundscape. And then just before the full drop, Knives announced a free giveaway of the vocal version. I’m now primed for two years of rinsing this pristine mp3. Patrick Hinton
31 Brahma Kamal ‘Acid Baby’ (Marquis Hawkes Remix)
You know that one show on Netflix you always go back to when you’re in need of some TLC? The show that’s pure comfort and takes you straight to your happy place, where your woes are but a distant memory. For me, Marquis Hawkes is that show. He’s my cup of milky tea, my emotional blanket, my chinese takeaway on a dreary Sunday afternoon. This might sound strange given that Mark Hawkins speciality is rough, jacking, dancefloor jams. Not quite the tender embrace you were expecting? Not your idea of quiet night in?
Hawkins is a consistent, reliable producer who is a hell of a lot of fun to see live. He’s also prolific, which means I’m only ever a month away from that next juicy remix. That’s why this, his remix of Brahma Kamal’s ‘Acid Baby’ is one of my favourite tracks this year thus far - it’s another gem from a producer who just can’t stop pushing them out. I know that each and every one of Hawkin’s releases will satisfy my need for vintage Chicago house, and that’s not to say I think that his music is aping the sounds of The Windy City. In reality, his work as Marquis Hawkes adds a noticeably European edge to the music, as well as weighty baselines owing more to techno than house.
‘Acid Baby (Marquis Hawkes Remix)’ is no different. It’s booming, big room techno with an acid bassline that sounds like thick, raw sewage moving to a four-four beat. Often the artists you go back to are the ones who you know you can rely on. Hawkes is that artist. Long may he continue to thrill and surprise us. Alex Green
32 Sweely 'Around'
Released on the Lobster Theremin sub-label Distant Hawaii, Sweely's 'All The Reasons' EP hasn't left my record bag since I unboxed the vinyl back in February. I could rinse all four tracks on the release, but it's the dreamy and sophisticated house cut 'Around' that seems to always find its way into a mix.
The eight-minute ballad has a way with taking listeners on a journey, as it progresses from a soothing motif into a floor-filling bomb. Sometimes it might even seem like it's two different tracks, the way it moves and glides with the essence of deep house. I find that whenever I'm in need of a boost during a DJ set, this tune has the ability to get everything back on track, and when I hear it played out I'm immediately injected with energy. It's a secret weapon to whip out if ever in a jam behind the decks, and clearly a gem from the first half of 2017. Harrison Williams
33 Mist ‘Hot Property’
This is the only solo track that Mist has released this year, in which he ruminates on his current status in the UK rap scene – “I’m really on the way and it’s visible”.
The Birmingham artist blew up in ‘16 off the back of an EP and single, racking up seven figure plays on Spotify and YouTube with ease (“it’s mad how the money’s coming digital”). He entered ‘17 by selling out a UK tour and has made his mark on this summer but collabing with J Hus and MoStack.
His success is as much to do with his smoked-out style and use of Brummie slang as it is the gorgeous beats that he rides. These are provided by Steel Banglez, whose style is warm, spacious and incisive, somehow managing to blend the crunch of Timbaland with the flickering percussion and vocal chops of UK garage, the svelte vibe of Jeremih with the dank mood of current British street music.
It’s clear this is a stopgap between the madness that brought Mist to the top and the new music that he’ll release this winter. It’s a shame he hasn’t given us more, but that just makes ‘Hot Property’ all the sweeter. SW