so, since i promised, here is the first half of my non-arbitrary list of songs that meant a lot to me over the past year.
The Juan MacLean – The Station
the future will come was my favourite album of the year, and for a time tonight was my favourite track thereon. the station edged forward for a number of reasons. its lyrics, all about the lack of communication between a man and woman, resonated with personal fears about my own perceived lack of communcation skills and the way i approach my own relationship. unlike some reviewers, i thought the dynamic between juan‘s cold, robotic utterings and nancy whang’s passionate, driven vocals lent the album, and this song in particular, a pathos so often lacking in modern music. this song also holds a special place in my heart as it was the first track i ever played at transmission back in august, something which has come to define the year for me.
Stevie Nicks – Stand Back (Eli Escobar Disco Mix)
the next song i played in that first set back in august was this delightful re-edit of a stevie nicks song done for money lotion by one eli escobar. the isolated strands of guitar licks, the fuzzy synths, the completeness of it all – it’s one of few songs out there that you can listen to, on repeat, for a whole seven minutes and never get bored – everything about this track is respectful to its forebear without being stuck in the past. of course, it is an 80s song, but it fits in perfectly with that resurgent strand of, for want of a better genre-title, nu-disco. but we must bear in mind that it wasn’t just re-edits that eli did this year…
Eli Escobar – Glass House
yes, i’m talking about him yet again. more than anyone else, his work has had a profound effect on me this year. his remixes have been wowing be for a few years, but finally he came out with some original tracks – the dark, relentless groove of glass house contrasted greatly with the euphoric party vibes of good time – both are superb but it’s the title track that edges it for me. the 80s percussion, the heavily-reverbed claps, the brooding bassline, it sounds like a nightmare but it’s more like a dream. compounded with this insane video, it was no doubt one of the most epic releases of 2009.
Joe and Will Ask? – Fabric of Win (ft SaintSaviour)
having met these guys in preston back in may, i’ve been keen to promote and celebrate their work. their latest effort, dewdrops with kris menace, calls to mind binary finary – and joe knows that i only mean that in a good way – but it was fabric of win, with the vocals of saintsaviour, that helped define the latter half of my year. for four months in a row at transmission it found its way into my sets. as joe said of saintsaviour before the track’s release, “she’s an awesome dance music writer, she does it in a kind of cool, edgy way, it’s not bland or boring, like ‘let’s just stick a blonde babe singing something about the weekend’.” this track had the signature beats of a joe and will ask? tune, but bypassed their harder techno sound for a more approachable, housey sound. either way, the boys look like they’ll be around for some time if this is anything to go by.
Curses! – The Deep End (Holy Ghost! Day School Dub ft Nancy Whang)
to be honest, i know i first heard this in early december 2008. that doesn’t matter – it was released in 09. win! it’s kind of hard to be objective on this one. there’s something so deeply moving about all of the different elements of this track – the whining synth, the pummelling bassline, the evocative piano chords, that theme which is essentially just a distorted bass riff – it’s the saddest club track ever written. probably why i’ve never played it out. i remember hearing it played between bands at now wave in manchester when i was waiting for the juan maclean, and i texted a friend saying “have you heard this track? because if you haven’t you should”. i was listening to andrew weatherall’s 6 mix back in may and, as usual, looked at the tracklisting to see if i recognised anything – i didn’t. so it was to my great delight to hear this familiar beat kick in half-way through the mix. of course, “Deep End – Unknown” hadn’t caught my attention 😉 wevvers used all eight minutes of this beautiful track in his half-hour mix, a fitting tribute to a song that requires attention from the first second to the last.