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Monday, December 30, 2013 

The best music of 2013 part 1.

Best Song/Track
Tessela - Hackney Parrot

It's been a strange year in a number of ways, not least in how what were already fragmented scenes seem to have atomised even further, the one exception perhaps being the continuing crossover between dubstep and drum and bass, further fuelled by the slow/fast footwork influenced sound that became prevalent over the past 12 months.

This isn't to say there haven't been some great tunes that have crossed over, but for the most part everyone seems to have kept themselves to themselves.  The best in dubstep this year once again came from those associated in one way or another with Youngsta's Rinse FM show, Seven's Walter White and various tracks by Amit lording it over much else.  We also saw the long awaited release of Kryptic Minds' Badman VIP, while Mala repeated the surprise of last year, this time round pressing 2 Much Chat to wax just in time for Christmas. VIVEK gave us first the Asteroids EP, featuring the most enveloping subbass of the year, and then the Mantra EP.  Also superb, and which might yet get a further mention, was Kahn's Kahn EP, the highlight being the Flowdan featuring Badman City.

Over to what was once the post-dubstep side of things and is now really the house side of things, the reliable Joy Orbison released Big Room Tech-House DJ Tool - TIP!, while Four Tet gave us both Kool FM, a tribute to the long-established jungle station, and That Track..., a tribal house number which shouldn't work but just does.  Best grime of the year arrived from Missingno, whose self-titled EP sampled both Rihanna and R Kelly, honourable mention going to Spooky for finally releasing Coolie Joyride, while DJ Rashad unleashed the outstanding footwork bombs Rollin and Let it Go on the same EP.  Machinedrum also mined the what the fuck do you describe it as genre covering footwork, drum and bass and dubstep with both Gunshotta and Eyesdontlie.

Best of the lot by my reckoning has to be Tessela's Hackney Parrot, the kind of track that is all the better for being deceptively simple.  Almost all it is is a vocal sample, breakbeats, rumbling subbass, and a drop, and yet it slays.

Best Remix / Bootleg
Digital and Spirit - Phantom Force (Fracture's Astrophonica Edit)

Each year I say there hasn't been much action on the remix front, and no exception again this time.  There were nonetheless some fine bootlegs, especially Walton's Brandy sampling Baby, or Kingdom's take on Ciara's Goodies.  Worthy mentions must go to Special Request's retoolings of, err, Hackney Parrot and Ghostpoet's Cold Win, Andy Stott's takes on Tricky's Valentine and Kowton's Shuffle Good, Distance's revamp of Tunnidge's Seven Breaths, Tessela's rework of Alex Dust's Smoke and the again late to the party remixes by Distance and Commodo of Mala's Changes and Miracles respectively.  Best of the lot though and in pretty much every drum and bass set of the year worth listening to was Fracture's superb slow/fast remake of Digital and Spirit's Phantom Force.

Best Reissue
Ruff Sqwad - White Label Classics

Absolutely no contest this year on the reissue front (although again technically it was out in December last year and I somehow managed to not pick a copy up until half way through this one), and if I hadn't included it here it would almost certainly place extremely highly on the albums list proper is the long awaited compilation of Ruff Sqwad's classic grime white labels.  If you haven't heard of Ruff Sqwad, and chances are you might not have done, you almost certainly will have heard tunes like Pied Piper and Functions on the Low in sets by the likes of Oneman, without necessarily having had any clue what they were.  Almost every track here is incredible, foundational music, made on bare bones software by people barely out of school.  If you listen to absolutely nothing else I've talked about over these three posts, I would say go for this.  Then buy it.  And copies for all your friends.

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