Monday, January 07, 2008

Walter's Best of 2007

The best-of lists are still coming in. Today's list comes from journalist, observer, participant and documenter of it all Walter Wasacz.

Walter by Walter
Walter Wasacz

1. Untrue - Burial (Hyperdub). Pseudonymous South London bedroom producer, who refuses to be photographed and claims only five people outside his family know his real identity, transcends dubstep, UK garage, jungle, ambient and soul to create the deepest, loveliest 50 minutes of the year. Stunning.

2. The Coldest Season – Deepchord Presents: Echospace (Modern Love). Port Huron’s Rod Modell and Chicago’s Stephen Hitchell rise out of the ether to produce exactly what techno needed: a drifting, grooving, hissing masterwork made by using only vintage analog equipment and paranormal signals captured from the Blue Water Bridge. We think.

3. Steingarten and Steingarten Remixes - Pole (~scape). Stefan Betke is Pole, the Berlin engineer/producer who juggles dub (and dubstep), hip hop, _ techno and 1970s krautrock with the greatest of ease on these two separate full-length releases. Check the remixes for Detroiter Mike Huckaby’s pounding version of “Düsseldorf.” Hell yeah, that’s what we’re talkin’ about.

4. Dedications - Klimek (Anticipate). It was a good year for Anticipate, a classy New York City-based label that soared to the front of the pack with a series of releases, none better than the one containing nine slow-motion soundscapes by this Polish-born, Berlin-dwelling artist who began calling himself the “ambient pimp” (we’re loving that) after he performed at 2006’s Movement Festival.

5. Soundboy Punishments – Various (Skull Disco). This two-disc comp features the super-hot Shackleton, whose “Blood on My Hands” was remixed by Ricardo Villalobos into an 18-minute monster that wedded dubstep and minimal with a poetic reminiscence of 9/11 told from the POV of a suicide bomber. Chilling.

6. Asa Breed – Matthew Dear (Ghostly International). A record that brought dusty Texas chainsaw rock and Detroit techno together at last. Dear poured out his heart and soul with guitars, vocals and electronics then took it out on the road and did it all live.

7. Fabric 36 – Ricardo Villalobos (Fabric). A mix CD that boldly goes where few others have gone before: all the tracks that Villalobos the DJ selects belong to Villalobos the producer, who just happens to be making the most densely-layered and hypnotic tracks in any genre at the moment.

8. Underwater Dancehall – Pinch (Tectonic). Another crew to watch from Bristol, England, a key dubstep outpost where mysterious artists like 2562, DQ1 and Cyrus lurk in the shadows. Label boss Rob Ellis (aka Pinch) trumped them all with this long player that connects the dots between the city’s multi-racial Wild Bunch/Massive Attack scene of the ’80s, ’90s and now.

9. This Bliss – Pantha du Prince (Dial). From Hamburg’s consistently sweet Dial, a label founded by Carsten Jost and Peter Kersten (aka Lawrence, who dropped the gorgeous “Spark” EP for Ghostly in 2004), a record that alternates between long, grooving space jams and wintry ambient interludes.

10. I Put a Record On – Gudrun Gut (Monika Enterprise). She’s played with Einstüerzende Neubauten, formed the German post-punk band Malaria! in the early 1980s and has made music with partner Thomas Fehlmann (The Orb). Now it’s Gudrun Gut’s turn to show her versatility as a solo artist, and does she ever, by dedicating this quirky and elegant audio collage to her beloved Berlin.

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