10. Bbbbbb – “Prins Polo Caramel Milkshake” [Trip]
Bbbbbb aka Bjarki surprises the listener with this laidback, tonal track. The track sounds as weird as the title and album cover appear. “Prins Polo Caramel Milkshake” draws you into an atmosphere of synths, extreme kicks, and a vocal sample that is oddly satisfying. The track itself is dissonant and yet, it all works. Trip Records has had one great year.
9. Lucy and Rrose – “Chloroform” [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
A track that has risen out of vapor, like a techno phoenix of sorts. Lucy and Rrose have composed a track that would make Schoenberg envious of its nebulous rhythm and sounds that brink on insanity. The techno/ambient track has obstructed highs and bizarre lows as it dwells deeper and deeper into the vapor of weirdness for nine entire minutes. Lucy and Rrose pair better than peas and carrots.
8. Abbo – “Drug Free” (James Dexter Remix) [Amplified Records]
While at times sounding more like a PSA with a pulse than a full blown tech-house track, “Drug Free” brings a charming irony to the dance floor. It’s no wonder Marco Carola has been dropping this track. “Drug Free” offers seismic slick clicks and kicks. Just say “yes” to this track.
7. Dense & Pika – “Drag N’ Drop” [Drumcode]
The duo from England debuted their first Drumcode EP, Calf, in 2016. Drag & Drop offers a cacophony of distorted background noise, a mischievous voice that looms over the entirety of the track, and the status quo sounds of Dense & Pika. They have something that I have dubbed “whiplash kicks.” A hard hitting kick drum that borders on industrial. You may need physical therapy after hearing this one.
6. And.ID – “Lovin You” [Mobilee]
And.ID created a track that is perfect for a euphoric break during a dark techno set. It lets the light creak through the beams, but just enough. The almost gospel like vocal loop of a singer chanting “And I’m loving you” will make the listener feel all balmy inside while a hard bass-line continues to swipe the dancer off his or her feet.
5. Jack Master – “Bang The Box” (Slam Remix) [Soma]
Bang. Just bang. When first composed in the ’90s, Jack Master aka Richie Hawtin wasn’t trying to be delicate or minimal with this track. The duo Slam decided to finish it off in a woodchipper. Albeit the midsection does offer a few seconds of melodic clarity, the bass is still enough to concuss the listener. This remix was played in the clubs from the moment it was released. The audience just wants to go bang, who can blame them?
4. Moby – “Go” (Bart Skils remix) [Drumcode]
Putting Moby’s creative genius into words is no easy task. The man is an inspiration to anyone who appreciates electronic music even in the slightest. Drumcode, a pioneer platform in its own right, decided that they would remix a few Moby songs in 2016. Bart Skils remixed the track “Go,” giving it a darker pretense and adding a more techno dimension to it, but also keeping the fundamentals Moby laid down in the original version. Bart Skils respected Moby’s genius enough to remix it but to not turn it in to something bombastic and indifferent.
3. Luca Bortolo – “Sunset In Hell” [Sabotage DGTL]
I first heard this track in a Stacey Pullen set and have been in love ever since. You are seduced by the hi-hats, Gary Beck-ish clashes, and a vivacious rhythm that just makes you feel esprit. The track is paradise condensed into seven minutes. The name is fitting, although the track is cooler than hell, or even purgatory. It is encapsulating. It is a sunset appearing over the horizon, while you and your mates are dancing without a care in the world.
2. Traumprinz – “2Bad” (DJ Metatron ‘What If Madness Is The Only Relief’ Rework) [Giegling]
Traumprinz aka Prince of Denmark aka DJ Metatron has a way of not only hitting our ears, but also, our heart. His EP 2 The Sky and track “2Bad” are more like an auditory baptism than just a standard EP. “2Bad” progresses with synth lines and an overzealous drum pattern. However, what makes this track so refined is the soul singer (Mary J. Blige). She is singing so gently; you could almost picture her chanting the words “too bad, baby” in an abandoned and unplumbed church in Detroit. Imagine seeing and hearing DJ Metatron (which is highly unlikely, as the man isn’t keen on performing) drop this at the end of a lengthy side, a tender shade of blue lighting is shooting down, you would walk out a new person, baptized by rhythm.
1. Traumprinz – “2 The Sky” (Metatron’s ‘What If There’s No End And No Beginning’ Mix) [Giegling]
While some DJs flirt with the idea of incorporating a religious aspect to their music, Justice has the illuminated cross, Tchami wears a cassock and collar, and we joke of a “techno church,” but it is usually never acted upon. However, it is clear that Traumprinz (DJ Metatron) wanted some sort of divinity in his 2 the Sky EP that wasn’t just a couple of crosses on the EP cover. In Judaism, Metatron is known as the Recording Angel: “One who metes out or marks off a place, a divider and fixer of boundaries.”
The track begins with synths gingerly entering the headphones followed by a lubricious kick and bass. Out of the distant echoes, a singer appears and she repeats “to the sky, back into the sky” throughout the song. She sounds confident in her singing, but not by much. Shortly thereafter, you have a haunting piano melody floating in the background. The piano tune sounds comforting but seems fragile, as if it witnessed something atrocious and is too horrified to speak a word of it. Mesmerizing hi-hats take effect and the bass fades for a few moments. But then, out of nowhere, you hear a new voice, a soul singer who shouts “Woo! Alright!” with aplomb and then, the bass comes back! It is such a minute sample, but reassures the listener that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The sample is never heard again.
If there was a mass ordinary for electronic music, 2 the Sky would be the kyrie. The track warms you from the inside out and Traumprinz should be damn proud of this EP. While the man may be the Thomas Pynchon of electronic music, 2 the Sky was heard and felt from all over the world.
The track is fitted for a night club or festival but also brings an eerie symbolism for all the tragedies that were felt this year. The final moments of the song are left with a lonesome bongo and the melancholy piano melody drifting slower and slower back into the sky.
Honorable Mention: Convextion – “New Horizon” [A.R.T.LESS]
The track begins with the melody, which is a bubbly constant sound that will be entrapped in your mind for days to come. The listener is then led on a 16-minute space odyssey of a melody that never fades and a primitive, yet subtle, drum line all while a synthesizer whispers in your ear.
Honorable Mention: Mathis Ruffing – “U3000”
How can something so new sound so vintage? I suppose it doesn’t matter. “U3000″ sounds like something taken straight from a warehouse in New York City during the late ’90s. Greasy pizza would follow soon after as you came to terms with the violent tinnitus and insomnia that ensued.