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Friday, January 07, 2011

Best music of 2010


2010 and the first decade of the XXI century are gone. There was footwork, juke, witch house, drag and darkwave. It is unlikely that any of these genres will be as influential as 2step and dubstep which emerged in the early 00s.
Dubstep legends Digital Mystikz released two albums in 2010 and they did it in a Speakerboxxx/The Love Below fashion - Mala is responsible for "Return II Space" and Coki is behind "Urban Ethics", both make a pleasant listening experience even if they sound like nothing happened between 2005 and 2009. But not everyone was as orthodox as Mala and Coki. Dubstep continued to move in 2010 and has come closer than ever to pop music. "Katy on a Mission" and Magnetic Men were on the charts. This left people wondering if dubstep was dead. It probably is, but that does not seem to be a bad thing given the amount of interesting music growing from its ashes. Guido, Mount Kimbie, Darkstar, James Blake and Fantastic Mr Fox released pleasing music with a high level of pop sensibility. By now, their music is connected to dubstep only remotely. Bass music in general was fertile ground, funky delivered through names like Cooly G, Joe, Girl Unit and there was plenty of psychedelic almost unclassifiable stuff like Rustie, 8bitch and Ikonika, all owing to rave, dubstep and idm in equal amounts.
High expectations were laid on the return of To Rococo Rot and Autechre. The German group recorded "Speculation" in FaustĀ“s studio and got remixed by Shackleton. The British duo released "Oversteps" and "Move of Ten", the former being one of the best albums of the year, while the later is still growing on us. Two provinces of the IMF Republic supplied the world with interesting offers. Solar Bears (IE) and Gala Drop (PT) both owe not to the creditors in the financial market but to prog and kraut-rock, which anyway are also mostly German. Highlights in guitar based noise included Pete Swanson and the Yellow Swans. There was a weird, claustrophobic and very minimal release by Denseland and drone music became highly psychedelic (see High Wolf), whereas psychedelia turned to dub (Sun Araw) and hindi mysticism (Prince Rama). For a trippy vibe see also Brainfeeder, Flying Lotus et co.
Madlib released one installment of his "Medicine Show" per month and still had time to produce Guilty Simpson and Strong Arm Steady. 2010 seems to have also been the year of geeky people named "James" (see Ferraro and Pants). Along with Ferraro, LA Vampires, Hype Williams and Rangers are worth mentioning in the hypnagogic pop field. Retailers should be prepared for an increase on their scented candles sales if Dolphins Into The Future continue to expand their reach in 2011.
All this kept us entertained, renewed our interest in the left side of popular music and satisfied our addiction to new sound. But if our brain was a hard drive and if we had to delete stuff to make free space available for 2011, three names would be worth keeping in our memory: Daniel Lopatin, Actress and Demdike Stare. They were the creators of the best music of the year! Now, welcome to 2011. text by Filipe Oliveira

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