Saturday, February 20, 2010

Revelations from the RA top 100 of the 00's

Track-by-track, with my iPod on the commute to and from work, I made my way through Resident Advisor's Top 100 tracks of the 00's (nearly 13 hours of music!). I can't remember ever having so much fun while commuting -- I literally couldn't wait to get on the train! It's a tremendous collection of music, including these tracks that I'd never heard before and made particularly strong impressions on me. Thanks to Hypnotic Breaks (RIP) for the tracks ...

#35: Larry Heard presents Mr. White, "The Sun Can't Compare". It's pretty cool that Larry Heard has been making music for 25 years, but virtually everything he's done could have been recorded between 1986-1988. Talk about sticking to a "classic" sound ... this minimal acid track keeps it simple both musically and lyrically. I'm not looking for philosophy in my house music, I'm looking for mantras that could have been written by a ten-year old.

#47: Radio Slave, "Grindhouse Tool (Dubfire Planet Terror remix)". I have no idea how I missed out on this one in '08 (or maybe I did, I should really review those podcast playlists from the past two years because there are a bunch of Radio Slave tracks there) because if dubbed out, spooked out, slamming horror techno isn't my ideal subgenre of techno, I don't know what is. Having now heard the other remixes of this track, I can safely say that this version belonged in my discussion of the best remixes of the 00's, and would have fit beautifully on the my mix after Marcel Dettmann's "Go" remix.

#80: Cobblestone Jazz, "India In Me". This gently flowing, proggy track reminds me of a lot of mid-90's techno that R&S used to liscence -- the excellent "Apollo 2" compilation (one of my favourite techno compilations of the 90's) certainly comes to mind, particularly the LA Synthesis track.

#90: Junkie XL feat. Saffron, "Beauty Never Fades". Dutch prog-rave goes goth -- brilliant! The gold standard for collaborations of this sort is still probably Leftfield's "Original" featuring Toni Halladay. Saffron, Shirley Manson, and all the other 90's goth electronica wannabes can't touch Toni Halladay when it comes to sultry electronic doom, and hearing a track like "Beauty Never Fades" makes me think that Leftfield probably didn't know what they had in Ms. Halladay. After all, they put her on one of the album's more downtempo tracks -- perhaps they didn't trust her to carry a full-on banger? Or maybe at the time, Halladay didn't trust herself on a proper dancefloor track (that would change a few years later, when Curve released "Come Clean"). Brilliant stuff from Junkie XL, and even at eleven minutes long, "Beauty Never Fades" almost feels too short.

#26: St Germain, "Rose Rouge". OK, I'm cheating here, I've heard this track many, many times before, but not at all in the past several years. I was shocked to see this track on the list, not because it isn't great, but because St. Germain's heyday already feels like a lifetime ago. I had completely forgotten that this track was released in the 00's.

Suddenly I recalled St. Germain's astounding crossover success, something I hadn't thought about at all for ages. "Time Tourist" could be heard everywhere: in college dorms, coffee shops, music shops, house parties after most of the guests had gone home, it was the leftfield chillout album of choice for a boatload of people who had probably never bought a house album before in their lives. Remember, this wasn't a phenomenon based on a track showing up on a TV show, followed by people flocking to Youtube to hear the song one time. It was a word of mouth phenomenon in which people who never went to clubs were actually walking into a music stores and buying this stuff. So naturally, I was totally sick of St. Germain by around 2001. When "Time Tourist" was released, I borrowed it from a friend, but never got around to buying it, and I heard it so often when out and about that there never seemed to be a need to buy it.

With the benefit of a nine-year break from hearing "Rose Rouge", I was floored at how fresh and energetic it sounds today. Jazzy French house -- still a good idea in practice, and there's no faulting the taste of the masses as far as St. Germain's music is concerned.

No comments: