Best music of 2011 part 1.
Julio Bashmore - Battle for Middle You
In a very strong year for albums, there hasn't really been a track that's truly crossed over in the way Wut by Girl Unit did last year. One positive is that despite Blackdown's wondering about how much mileage there was left in "dark 140bpm halfstep beats", the end of this year has shown there's still plenty of life in that formula. J:Kenzo on his own made a mockery of the notion, releasing a series of fantastic 12"s, with The Roteks / Protected followed this month by Ruffhouse / Therapy. Along with fellow Youngsta favourites such as Compa, TMSV, Benton, Commodo and Killawatt, as well as SP:MC and LX One, whose endlessly thrilling Hunted was definitely one of the tracks of the year, there's still plenty to look forward to. Joker's My Trance Girl from his otherwise disappointing album was also a highlight, as have been all of Kahn's releases, especially Way Mi Defend, praised by Boomkat as being up there with the classics from 2006. Oh, and there was also a new release from Burial.
From the post-dubstep side of things, Joy O(rbison)'s tracks for Swamp 81 have been delighting all year. Sicko Cell, with its "I'm the information" sample was one of the surprise smashes, while the still to be released "Swims" with Boddika from Instra:mental is if anything even better. Almost all of Rustie's debut album could feature on a list of the best individual tracks of the year, Ultra Thizz and All Nite especially, while Mosca's Bax / Done Me Wrong release on Numbers took us back to the good days of garage, complete with rewinds. The stand out grime track of the year was easily Cherryade by Darq E Freaker, the kind of wonky rhythm that any DJ ought to be able to find room for in their set, while Trim added layers to instrumentals by both Last Japan and TRC.
Best of all was Julio Bashmore's magisterial Battle for Middle You, combining the low-end of UK bass with all that's still good about house, without heading off in the direction Swamp 81 has taken. A great vocal sample, the stomp of the bassline and the wobbling mids made the track of the summer, and indeed the year.
Pearson Sound - Deep Inside / Working With
In what seemed to be a generally poor year for officially sanctioned remixes, the whole Radiohead TKOL project aside, the best came in the shape of bootlegs from some of the scene's brightest stars. The newly emerged Jacques Greene served up a 10" white label which included his take on Kelly Rowland's Motivation, while Blawan has received track of the year accolades for his superb mashing of Brandy's I Wanna Be Down. Unbeatable for me at least were Pearson Sound's cheeky re-edits, coming on a white label from Night Slugs. Kudos must also go to Jamie XX, both for his Adele remix mentioned yesterday, and his work on the Gil Scott-Heron album, with I'll Take Care of U since being sadly abused by Drake and Rihanna.
Pink Floyd - Why Pink Floyd?
The one area the record companies seem to have identified as being profitable other than dross aimed at the kids is in reissuing classic albums in ever more lavish editions. Quite why anyone would ever buy any album by U2, even Achtung Baby, in an edition costing £75 is unclear, but there must be some daft enough out there. Pink Floyd also brought out "immersion" editions for both Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, yet it's the simple album reissues which we're celebrating here. All are packaged lovingly, sound fantastic and are available at a sensible price. On similar grounds, The Smiths - Complete, while not being quite as complete as claimed was also great value, while for completists the Joy Division singles box set is also worth the price. Also worth a mention is the reissue from Beggars Banquet of the Fall's This Nation's Saving Grace, which like last year's Weird and Wonderful was both cheap and had everything you would ever need or want. Unless you're the type who really needs 40 different versions of the same song.