Justin Martin-Chaos Restored 2 (Buzzin' Fly)(UK)
Well other then the glaring bio error where Buzzin' Fly tries to trump OM Records and gets the facts laughably wrong on just how many mix disks San Francisco's Justin Martin has actually released (BTW-that's THREE mixes not two) this is probably one of this year's best mixes. On Martin's first mix he captured and codified the whole Dirtybird farting bass noise that everyone in Northern California has since completely run into the crowd. Martin's first installment of Chaos Restored for Buzzin' Fly found Martin somewhere in the middle of his latest phase which is much deeper and fully represented on this installment. Here he finally shows the maturity he's always flirted with on novelty tracks like "Stoopid" and "Ghetto Train" especially on his new remixes of Radiohead's "Nude" and the seminal Marshall Jefferson classic "Mushrooms" which straddle the increasingly blurred lines between pop, deep techno, and more "urban" (white kids w dreads you can read this to mean dubstep if you so desire) sounds. There were few dynamite tracks this year but on Chaos Restored 2 Martin manages to drop some of the best of them (e.g. Stimming's "Kleine Nacht Musik") -and like any good DJ- champion some future classics (his own "My Angelic Demons" and the Per Eckbo Orchestra's "Kodo Verano" from the red hot Oslo imprint) which with the bar set so low these days qualifies this one for album of the year.
Metro Area-Fabric 43 (Fabric)(UK)
I like Metro Area and sure a lot of other people like them too but a I do believe a good chunk of that like has had to do with the commercial success of DFA to which the Brooklyn duo of Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani owe more than just a passing kinship. What excites me personally about Metro Area is what this Fabric chapter is all about, digging in the crates for the obscure genius sh*t that was dismissed as too forward thinking in its own time and playing them out with pride in 2008 and making it work. These old records were hard to mix, trust me I know, blending Ministry's "Work For Love" dub with ANYTHING else and all you got was clackty -clack but it still to this day has the sickest bass line from a record made in Chicago that wasn't even technically an acid house track. I respect that kind of courage as these guys take the best elements of real 80s electrofunk and give a history lesson on the origins of today's electro house, minimal, and techno sounds much like the tracks of the decade past were built on a foundation of 70s disco and funk. Oh yeah, did I mention these guys are loaded up with plug-ins and utilities galore and they actually play and mix these old tracks in ways that the old masters like Larry Levan and Tony Humphries were never able setting the old electrofunk style in a whole new context? It's easy to dismiss this one as trend humping retro fetishism but if you give this one a close listen you'll discover some re-conceptionalization going on and while Andy Warhol ain't nothing new there's still a ton of folks who consider that guy revolutionary and that kind of art is what is going on Fabric 43 so give the boys some love.
Jason Short-Falling In Proton Radio Show 11/24/08(US)
Jason Short gave me this mix when I asked for something new from him that was also representative of the wide spectrum that his Auralism imprint is covering. Falling In really dissects the core workings of the label's growing mystique from spacy IDM to clankin' mnml. I haven't felt this entranced by sounds since the heyday of MDMA and Spacemen 3, and that's been awhile folks. Tracks from in-house producers like Roman Stange and Eutactic are true to form while Billy Dalessando's remix of "Ef" by Limacon, as well as the Robert Babicz track "Purple Dance", and the sublime "Therim" by Rift take this mix to another dimension. And while there many nice sounds there is still something lacking in the musicality department but when found will assuredly usher in the next era of the label.
Kate Lawler-Leaders Of The New School 011 (LONS/Toolroom)(UK)
I have to admit the rolling psy-trance bass line attached to an otherwise tough peak hour techno track found on Kate Lawler's debut single "Screw You" was one of the more solid cuts this year. Surprising if you consider the up & down nature of the Leaders Of The New School imprint thus far-a point I keep hammering home in every singles round-up I wrote this year. This mix for the label has some nice moments as Lawler definitely knows how to program a compelling mix even when far too many of the peak hour cuts sound big room cheesy and tired. But when she hits the right groove like on the opener by Mecanique "We're All Freaks", Chris Special's "Go Deep", and especially the aforementioned "Screw You" she is as good as it gets.
Agent 86-Balance pres Electric 04 (EQ)
DJ Agent 86 is a talented young buck from Down Unda but I'm not sure how much attention this cat will get in America because the latest from this locals-only offshoot of the legendary Balance series is an urban (FYI-Dread heads-this does not mean dubstep) turntablist affair but in lieu of the more American hip-hop or mash-up DJ/dance genres Agent 86 plays an interesting and tasty mix of electro house, UK funky, and straight up disco house done in that quick mix style ala Jazzy Jeff. At best this is interesting but a little out of step with American listening tastes.