Sunday, December 12, 2010

Top ten mixes/podcasts of 2010

Everything I wrote in this post from last year is still true, but I only realized just how true that post was (and is) when I started going through all of my music from 2010 in order to prepare for these lists. I was somewhat surprised to discover that I've collected stacks of techno mixes, but very few individual releases. It seems that I was so busy listening to podcasts all year that I didn't get around to listening to, uh, actual techno.

Nevertheless, here are my favourite mixes and podcasts of the year, listed chronologically. I didn't restrict myself only to "unofficial" releases, it just happened to turn out that way. In most instances, I've linked to the sites where the mixes were originally posted and although some of them aren't available for download from those sites anymore, it isn't too difficult to track them down elsewhere on the internet.

Shed, FACT Mix 116, January 18 (link).

This mix for FACT is a better introduction to Shed than either of his albums because neither of them manages to encompass the full palate of sounds he incorporates into his own tracks quite like this. It comes off like a preview of the smorgasbord approach he took with "The Traveller", except more energetic and unpredictable. And if we're voting for "transition of the year", I'm probably voting for "Shiner" --> "Digeridoo" (Live in Cornwall). (start listening around the 25-minute mark)

Autechre, 12 hour radio broadcast, March 2 (link)

Autechre painstakingly curated their love for techno and hip-hop and managed to join them at the hip with one jaw-dropping transition after another. If you don't have time to hear the whole thing then just listen to an hour -- virtually any one hour section from anywhere in the mix -- to understand why this broadcast was legendary upon arrival for good reason. This mix arguably could have been made ten years ago because most of these tracks aren't new. I'd like to think that it drew rave reviews not just because people enjoyed the trip down memory lane (although old tracks can still sound fresh if you haven't heard them in a while), but because the track selection and mixing were more adventurous than anything else out there right now.

Donnacha Costello, Little White Earbuds Podcast 46, March 15 (link)

In addition to the release of his new album "Before We Say Goodbye", Costello had an outstanding year behind the decks. His contribution to LWE was more or less an "Influences" mix that showcases Detroit techno and minimal while staying clear of the more obvious classics. Stylistically, the mix as a whole feels comfortable and familiar, even though the individual tracks are relatively obscure. If anything, it's a testament to the depth and overall excellence of these record labels.

JPLS, Plastikman mix for URB, April 6 (link)

To celebrate the return of Plastikman to the live arena, Jeremy Jacobs aka JPLS put together a mix of Plastikman classics for URB. In the first half of the mix, he breaks the tracks into micro-excerpts and re-assembles them into an entirely new whole, not unlike Richie Hawtin's "Decks EFX & 909" and "DE9: Transitions" mixes (more so the first ... the second was an altogether different level of complexity). In the second half, which is dominated by material from "Consumed", he lets the tracks play out like one long, extended coda. Once again, the source material isn't new, but the track selection and creative mixing make everything sound fresh, and of course it doesn't hurt that 90's Plastikman tracks never seem to age.

George Issakidis, Electric Deluxe Episode 021, July 12 (link)

The Electric Deluxe podcast was the most essential podcast of the year, hands down. I think most websites and podcasts would claim that they're not trying to follow the trends and don't want to be burdened by genre labels, rather, they just want to find the best music and feature groundbreaking artists who aren't afraid to leave their comfort zones and take a few risks. Many sites aspire to realize that vision for themselves, but Electric Deluxe succeeded at it better than anyone else. And among the best of the lot was George Issakidis' blissful, mesmerizing mix of ambient experimental weirdness (with occasional breaks for the likes of the Cocteau Twins).

MSF aka Donnacha Costello, Electric Deluxe Episode 025, August 23 (link)

Another mix from the incendiary Costello, this one a grandiose trip through minimal and dub techno, taking in a mixture of old (Dot Wiggin? Dot Wiggin!! First time I've ever heard Sandro Perri's pre-Polmo Polpo material in a DJ mix) and new tracks to create arguably the year's most infectiously danceable mix.

Gabriele Mancino, Modyfier Process 230, August 28 (link)

An uplifting mix that straddles the boundaries of house and techno, it starts out cheery, detours through dark periods of dub techno, and gets happy again by the end. Normally I retch at the sound of anything this summer-y, but for some reason this mix really got to me.

Silent Servant Radio MIX 2, Sept 23 (link)

And suddenly, I can hear the connection between modern day dub techno and late 70's/early 80's industrial and electronic pop. It all makes sense!

Terence Fixmer, Whatpeopleplay Podcast 35, October 3 (link)

Easily the best contemporary club techno mix I've heard this year, one hour of peak time, speaker-rattling, devastatingly heavy techno goodness.

Petar Dundov, Resident Advisor Podcast 236, December 6 ( link)

The quality and consistency of the Resident Advisor podcasts dipped in 2010 (after a fantastic 2009) but they saved their best for last (week), with Petar Dundov's sensational mix of "emotive" techno. Not only is Dundov's "Distant Shores" the year's most perfect techno track, but, as shown with this mix, it makes for a brilliant set closer.

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