Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Percy Thrower

20. KiNK - Existence

Combining deep house with the spirit of early '90s rave, this was both a euphoric, point-your-fingers-to-the-sky banger and a considered slow-burner in equal measure. After a steady, tightly produced intro, the acid rain clouds that are gathering overhead suddenly burst, unleashing a downpour of old-skool piano riffs to leave you with a big grin on your sopping wet face.

19. Zola Jesus - Night

A leading figure in the rising gothic ambient movement that's reared it's mascaraed head in 2010, Zola Jesus released an experimental collaborative EP with LA Vampires as well as solo album 'Stridulum II' this year, and it's from the latter that this towering, atmospheric number comes from. Starting as it means to go on - i.e. ominously - a scattering of whispered voices pave the way for Zola's majestic, Siouxsie Sioux-esque voice to tread alongside the unforgiving and powerful beating of the drum that drives the track, creating a strong contender for 'anti-anthem of the year'.

18. Pantha du Prince - Stick To My Side (Four Tet version)

Reading like a list of the most highly talented but potentially conversationally awkward dinner guests that one could invite round for some Christmas turkey, Pantha du Prince, Noah Lennox (aka Animal Collective's Panda Bear) and Four Tet combine to make a track that easily lives up to its production credits. Taking the already excellent original from the heart of Pantha du Prince's 'Black Noise' album, Four Tet leaves the vocals more or less in tact but injects some of his trademark warm, chiming techno to give the song a bit of a mood lift, and to my mind pushing the song to an even higher level.

17. Girl Unit - Wut

'Wut' is like a more brazen, in-your-face version of Joy Orbison's 'Hyph Mngo', which I can assure you is in no way an insult. Featuring the same sense of wistful euphoria as Joy Orbison's masterpiece, this became a staple of many-a DJ set across the land, often serving well as an end-of-night closer. The Night Slugs label released a bountiful amount of quality material this year, and Girl Unit's seven-minute epic is a fine pinnacle of their 2010 catalogue.

16. Darkstar - Gold

As has become the norm amongst heralded dubstep producers recently, here was Darkstar's turn to cover one of The Human League's obscure early '80s B-sides. Er wait, what? In fact, 2010 was a year in which Darkstar did very little by the book, switching from the beat-driven dubstep style of early tracks such as 'Need You' to, well, mellow synth-pop. After a bit of confusion it became obvious that it worked, as this exquisite cover of 'You Remind Me Of Gold' proved.

15. Deadboy - If U Want Me

Deadboy strode on to the scene in impressive fashion towards the end of 2009 with his 'U Cheated' EP, and his love for a R&B vocal and a funky bassline showed no sign of dwindling as we moved in to a fresh decade. This lusciously captivating delight filled mixes and sets for months, and further fuelled Numbers' ability to consider themselves as one of the year's top labels.

14. Fritz Kalkbrenner - Facing The Sun

Brother of legendary German techno producer Paul Kalkbrenner (of, amongst a wealth of other things, 'Berlin Calling' fame), Fritz took further steps towards his own solo career this year with the release of his début LP, which was led by this blissful brain-warmer. While the guitar is an often overlooked instrument in the worlds of house and techno, the delicate riff on 'Facing The Sun' is really rather gorgeous, especially when layered with the poignant beauty of the vocals. The production on the track is deep and organic, resulting in one of the most enchanting treats that you could bestow upon your ears this year.

13. D Double E - Street Fighter Riddim

To my thoroughly unqualified and amateur grime mind, this was this year's 'Next Hype'. I think by that I mean 'Street Fighter Riddim' was one of those tunes that transcended the confines of the grime community, and made a name for itself in the wider world. A bit like P Money's brilliant '1 Up' last year, the lyrical theme here is retro console games, but the real appeal of this tune is in the production, namely the brutal bass stabs that pepper the track behind D Double E's snarled spitting.

12. Débruit - Nigeria What?

Let's face it, an EP that comes complete with 3D specs to observe the cover art properly is either gonna be brilliant, or shit. Delightfully, the entirety of Débruit's internationally-flavoured 'Spatio Temporel EP' was great, but the particular highlight was the disarming closer, 'Nigeria What?', which expertly fused squelching bass bubbles with a sub-Saharan riff and hot vocal snaps. 3D glasses may have been required for the artwork, but the music itself belonged to a whole other dimension.

11. Flying Lotus - Do The Astral Plane

I don't think I'll ever find an intro to a song that makes me as happy as the gentle, abstract scatting that ushers in 'Do The Astral Plane'. The most danceable track on his latest 'Cosmogramma' album, and possibly the most danceable of his career to date, Flying Lotus deploys a joyfully simplistic tune which has become perfect 'call and response' fodder for the close of his live shows. Featuring his typically micro-managed production, 'Do The Astral Plane' is like it's own little world, where hip-hop, jazz and string samples coexist happily together in permanently sun-soaked fields. This song is probably what would emit from your computer speakers if you typed 'bliss' in to that programme that speaks what you write.

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