artists of the year 2012
Of all the notable things to have occurred in Blawan’s 2012, perhaps the most noteworthy was finding the next step in music’s never-ending genre rat-race by initiating his own brand of serial killer techno with the worryingly titled ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’ and some particularly portentous artwork to boot. Still, Blawan has never been one to sit on the fence and that’s exactly why we love him. 2012 saw him turn ever more outlandish, manipulating his signature kick drum into accelerated sequences....from the fiendish screams and rippling industrial stabs of ‘His, He, She & She’ to the relatively more sober, though no less impressive ‘Long Distance Open Water Worker’. He also continued to consolidate his working relationship alongside The Analogue Cops and Pariah as Karenn, dropping the first edition of our very own Bleep ‘Green Series’ - a pummelling slice of acid techno mechanics.
When the music of days-gone-by gets endlessly recycled until it resembles nothing more than a Z-grade duplicate, we can only be thankful for people like Ross Birchard. His technicolour dreamworld looks towards the future, and only the future, pitting frightening levels of creativity up against sheer, unbridled audacity and aplomb – no more apparent than on his bombastic ‘TNGHT’ collaboration alongside LuckyMe’s Lunice.
Throughout his long and varied career Dan Snaith has moved with seemingly effortless ease through many a genre and style, from his psychedelic pop moments as Caribou, to his more recent embrace of the more edgier-side of the dance floor as Daphni. With the latter his skills for tension-building and rhythmic cohesion are rarely paralleled, and this came gloriously acknowledged on his 2012 album proper – a long player that towed the line between club functionality and that signature brand of Daphni psychedelia.
When Mark Fell anonymously unveiled his Sensate Focus project early on in 2012 it divulged a side of the venerable South Yorkshire producer that had always been hinted at, but never truly realised. His fascination with the optimised flow of the old-school NY-house greats became ever more apparent as he took the blueprints of early house and rolled them up into a series of tantric, future-facing garage grooves, that nevertheless, were still skewed and pressurised enough to appeal to even the most diehard SND fans out there. A collaboration with house music’s spiritual sage DJ Sprinkles capped off a year of destiny and pure excellence.
By themselves, both Daniel McCormick’s Ital project and Damon Palermo’s Magic Touch moniker have been unequivocally pivotal in pushing 100% Silk’s plush brand of DIY house. Yet together as Mi Ami they manage to cipher all the propulsive, outside aesthetics of their solo work into a whole new dimension. 2012 saw their finest collaboration yet, wielding their post-punk angst alongside a jump-up celebration of disco, house and rippling Balearic vistas.
The year in which Kieran Hebden took full grasp of his role as purveyor of straight-up dance floor assaults, in place of his more woozy electronic oddities, and tackled his new function with aplomb.... With ‘Pink’ he collected together the much sought after, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, vinyl-only singles released on his own Text Records imprint. In typical Four Tet fashion he broke down elements of jazz, techno, house, dubstep and eletronica and distilled them into a musically-minded, sensuous collection of playful tunes, and one of the road-block events of the year.
Although 2011 was the year that Julio Bashmore really broke forth into our consciousness with the deliriously infectious ‘Everyone Needs a Theme Tune’, 2012 was the year that proved he was worth so much more. ‘Au Seve’ set dance floors alight, making up for a relatively quiet period for the young producer in terms of material, with the opulent dance floor jacking of the title track and some seriously decadent disco slow jams on the flip.
2012 bore witness to Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai seamlessly channelling the signature attributes of their respective Byetone and Ava Noto solo projects into a propulsive explosion of scrupulous sound design. The metallic swing and funk of Byetone’s ‘Symeta’ album and the avant-garde digital-minimalism of Alva Noto’s extensive body of work readjusted themselves, with a thunderous sense of immediacy, into a series of precision-cut EPs and an unmissable live show that tested even the strongest of sound systems.
As far as prolificacy goes Dominic Fernow’s 2012 has surpassed all expectations. Initiating himself into the bloody war-on-terror, Fernow blasted us with stark imagery and even starker electronic processing, delivering track-after-track of civil unrest and bludgeoning heretic sounds. The Vatican Shadow vision...a searing blend of brutalist rage and militarised noise that never fails to probe our curious, or better, our satanic side. Perhaps his most comprehensive, and even ferocious, work to date arrived in the form of ‘Ornamented Walls’, inspired by a tape cassette of Jordanian military music.
With his ‘Classical Curves’ album debut, Jam City surpassed the excellence previously heard on various 12”s for the Night Slugs stable by proving his maturity as a producer and the notoriously hard long playing format. With an audacious nerve he condensed his love for US dance music – Chicago house, Detroit techno and New York’s Dance Mania – and London’s grime scene into a deconstructed club throwdown. No mean feat.