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Recap: Karl D’s Favorite Tracks/Mixes of 2014

Another year is over, and it’s time again to celebrate my favorite tunes of the year.  This is the 5th annual Recap, following the 4 years past:

I didn’t think I would do a Top 5 list this year, but I always like taking the time to think about the music that has excited me over the last year.

Like all of the previous posts, I’m using this space to highlight some of my own influences – which have come in the form of individual tracks as well as mixes from standout DJs on podcasts and promotional mixes around the web that I’ve listened to through the year.

Please enjoy this selection of mixes and tracks from these hardworking artists, and if possible, support them any way you can.  These lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Kiesza – Hideaway – I think the best house songs of the last 10 years or so are not the ones with the big breakdowns and the excessive flair of “EDM”, but those that break it down to the basics.  “Hideaway” works because of it’s laid back yet complex production value combined with Kiesza’s raw talent.   I was introduced to the tune with the fantastical video – recorded in one single camera shot.
  2. Sohn – Artifice – Sohn is an artist that popped up this year, seemingly out of nowhere, but left a strong impression on me.  He’s an artist who is gifted with both singing ability and technical production skills, which “Artifice” showcased well.  This song lacks classification only because it’s unlike anything I’ve heard in the last several years.
  3. Disclosure – LatchTechnically a “leftover” from 2012, this didn’t get major airplay (and subsequently chart) in the States until this year.  When I first heard about Disclosure I wasn’t sure if I understood the hype, until I heard this track.
  4. Triceracorn – Porcalain(Recue mix) – Another one that came out near the end of last year, I didn’t catch it until early 2014.  I learned about this from another introduction to Recue, but this track was most certainly his standout work.  I’m still waiting for the “formal” release on this one.
  5. Above and Beyond – A Thing Called Love (Acoustic, Live from Porchester Hall) – Above and Beyond’s acoustic shows and subsequent live release were such a surprise move, but a unique pleasure.  To have all of the fancy production stripped away and rely on the singers, the musicians, and the music, really shows how well A&B’s music stands on it’s own (as they discussed in the DVD).  I liked all of these acoustic renditions, but I liked “A Thing Called Love” the best.

Top 5 Mixes:

  1. ME003 – Richie Kaboogie X mynameisjOhn –  The “Mix Exchange” is a new series, but one I’m quickly becoming fond of.  2 DJs square off for each episode, and each one interviews the other in an article which accompanies the mix.  There’s a stark contrast between these two artists, with Richie Kaboogie sligning some dark techno and mynameisjOhn delivering a diverse hip hop mix with different styles.  I look forward to more Mix Exchanges from Rudimentary Records.
  2. Krafty Kuts – Golden Era of Hip Hop Part 1Although more known now for his breaks work, Krafty Kuts is an excellent hip-hop DJ and turntablist.  The track selection really did showcase the “Golden Era”, and Krafty Kuts’ skills give the listener a great deal to get excited about.
  3. Electronic Explorations 325 – MonoakRecorded live from two MPC‘s, and “there is no compression, external FX or mastering. ”  An impressive set, based on these constraints.  It’s nice to find an artist that still finds a way to be innovative.
  4. Lady Waks – In Da Mix 270 – Lady Waks is my new favorite DJ!  Since the first one of her mixes I heard, I could tell she’s giving the breaks world a big wakeup call.
  5. Technikal – History of Hard Trance – Some of my favorite tunes of all time are showcased in this mix.  Truly, a classic set of euphoric hardtrance.

 

Recap: Karl D’s Favorite Tracks/Mixes of 2013

Another year, and time again to celebrate my favorite tunes of the year.  This is the 4th annual Recap, having done the first one in 2010, followed by another in 2011, and most recently in 2012.  It seems there may be less of my own content on this site between this and the last recap, but I still like to take the opportunity to wrap the year up to collect my own thoughts.

Like all of the previous posts, I’m using this space to highlight some of my own influences – which have come in the form of individual tracks as well as mixes from standout DJs on podcasts and promotional mixes around the web that I’ve listened to through the year.

Please enjoy this selection of mixes and tracks from these hardworking artists, and if possible, support them any way you can.  These lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Ellie Goulding – Holding On(Feat. Tinie Tempah) – Come for the dramatic production and vocals, stay for the grime breakdown courtesy of Tinie Tempah.  There’s another version without the rap, but I like the contrast better.
  2. Kevin Drew – Summer Ashes(feat. Taryn Manning) – It’s easy for Taryn Manning’s accomplishments as a singer to be overshadowed (especially this year) by her performance as Pennsatucky, but Summer Ashes in particular was a release worth noticing.  This remix, in my mind, had a much headier groove than the trance original.
  3. Sub Focus-  Turn Back Time(Metrik mix) – Not having heard the latest Sub Focus record before hearing this tune, I was surprised that the original wasn’t more drum & bass oriented.  Metrik has made quite a splash in the last couple of years, putting out high-quality, consistent music – evidenced by this thrilling mix.
  4. Stanton Warriors – Cut Me Up (Cause & Affect Remix) – Straightforward old-school ravey fun.
  5. A Tribe Called Quest – 1nce Again(Bit Funk mix) – To be honest, the first time I heard this I wasn’t entirely sure I liked it, but when something sticks in your head like this did for me, it usually means it had an impact.  Bit Funk is a unique artist that does not seem to care too much for making sure his music fits in to one bucket or another.

Top 5 Mixes:

  1. Bad Boy Bill and Richard Humpty Vission – House Connection 3 – It’s hard to express exactly how important this release was to me.  House Connection 2(and to only a slightly lesser extent, HC1) is such a special part of my personal musical journey; before hearing of either one of these talented individuals I didn’t appreciate how house music could be presented in so many different and exciting ways.
    Because of this, the release of House Connection 3 feels a lot like coming home again.  It’s different than the last 2 more than it’s the same, but in a way it feels like the mix the fans needed after 15 long years since the last entry.  It was such a surprise this year when HC3 showed up, but I’m glad it did.
  2. Alix Perez – Essential Mix – Few artists are capable of making such a unique imprint on drum & bass.  In this mix, Alix brings together d&b, trip-hop, grime and trap(among others) to create an especially diverse mix.  Only an artist like Alix can really bring all these things together and present them as part of the same spectrum.
  3. Loadstar – Essential Mix – It’s my belief that the three artists mentioned in this post(Metrik, Alix Perez, and Loadstar) are 3 of the standouts of the most recent new wave of drum and bass, and are the forerunners that are taking the genre forward right now.  Loadstar’s Essential mix is similar to Alix Perez’ in the diversity of styles; but with a harder, techier edge and more dancefloor-oriented vibe.  It’s apparent from these two mixes the impact that trap music and grime have had on drum & bass in the last couple of years.
  4. Peter Serafinowicz – Solid Steel Radio 07/06/13Known to most primarily(at least to me) as an all-around funny guy and actor, Peter Serafinowicz put together this downtempo mix at the same time that Boards of Canada released Tomorrow’s Harvest.  Plenty of Aphex Twin, Eno, Boards of Canada, and other things in that vein for an engaging mix.
  5. James Warren – Gui Boratto Remix and Original Production Part III – James Warren, although relatively unknown, is an incredibly consistent DJ.  I’m a fan of many of these single-artist mixes that he puts out.  Along that line, I appreciated this mix which highlighted a producer of some very deep and complex progressive sounds – Gui Boratto.

Recap: Karl D’s Favorite Tracks/Mixes of 2012

Another year, and time again to celebrate my favorite tunes of the year.  This is the 3nd annual Recap, having done the first one in 2010, followed by another in 2011.

Like all of the previous posts, I’m using this space to highlight some of my own influences – which have come in the form of individual tracks as well as mixes from standout DJs on podcasts and promotional mixes around the web that I’ve listened to through the year.

Please enjoy this selection of mixes and tracks from these hardworking artists, and if possible, support them any way you can.  These lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Eric Prydz – Every Day – Without a doubt, my most favorite release of the year.  I could write several pages about why I think it’s the best house track to be released in years, but let me leave it at this:  House works best when it’s kept simple.
  2. Masamune – Knockin – I believe this just showed up in my Soundcloud feed one day, as part of a greater compilation called Heavy Electronic Music vol. 1.  Although not a major release, I liked the subtlety of this track and found “Knockin” to be a profound dubstep release this year.
  3. Wideboys – Addicted to the Bass(Tantrum Desire mix) – This track was my first exposure to Tantrum Desire, although I was surprised to find out this artist had been around for a while.  Along with other releases, this track put him in good standing to replace the Pendulum-sized hole in my heart.
  4. Doctor P & Elite Force – Watch Out(Revamp) – Elite Force released a great follow up to his novel RVMPD albums this year, called RVMPD2.  The whole album had several songs I liked, but “Watch Out” stood out for me.  The original lacked a sense of pace that Elite Force managed to really nail down in this version.
  5. Alex Clare – Too Close (Theory’s Room To Breathe Dub) – The original was a big hit that many people might be familiar with; frankly I didn’t care for it.  However, this, like most any musical problem, was fixed with an injection of laid-back dub reggae.

Top 5 Mixes:

  1. Autechre – Live at Flex 1996 – Obviously, this was not a mix released this year.  However, I found it notable for two reasons:  One, I have been exposed to very little Autechre over the years and found it to be a good introduction to their body of work; and two, I was able to give this mix my full attention for the duration of the  set, and I can describe it only as hallucinogenic.
  2. Super 8 and Tab – Data Transmission Podcast 208 – These two represent a new wave of big-room trance.  Joining Above and Beyond’s Anjunabeats label surely gave these guys the recognition they deserve.  I’m a big fan of their “SuperTab Radio” podcast, but the mix they did for Data Transmission early this year was what caught my attention.
  3. Bad Boy Bill – Behind The Decks Radio Show 12 – As one of Bad Boy Bill’s biggest fans, I was so happy when he started this new podcast series.  Podcast mixes like these are such a great way for artists to modernize and connect more directly with fans.  There’s not a single one of this series that I haven’t liked – but this one sounded the most like a “classic Bad Boy Bill” mix with a fast pace, tight scratching, and a mix of old and new sounds.
  4. Resident Advisor RA.326 – Apparat – Sounds like lo-fi electro and 80’s pop without the vocals.  Incredibly dreamy, laid-back, and pleasant.
  5. UFO! – Radio UFO! Momba Mix – UFO! has always been one of my favorite drum and bass artists for the diverse perspective he brought to the table.  He’s been a major player in the “Moombahton” scene for a while now, and this mix brought forth some of the elements that are familiar to the D&B UFO! fan, like his signature use of film samples.

Recap: Karl D’s Favorite Tracks/Mixes of 2011

Well, it’s the end of the year again, meaning it’s time for me to link-dump my favorite tunes and mixes of the year for you.  This is the 2nd annual Recap, having done the first one last year in 2010.

Like last year’s post, I’m using this space to highlight some of my own influences – which have come in the form of individual tracks as well as mixes from standout DJs on podcasts and promotional mixes around the web.

Please enjoy this selection of mixes and tracks from these hardworking artists, and if possible, support them any way you can.  These lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. DJ Fresh – Louder(Doctor P & Flux Pavillion remix) – I’m not normally into the super-heavy dubs like this, but with people making videos like this with this track, how could you not fall in love?  The original mix is a killer as well.  Respect is due to Sian from Kosheen providing the vocals on this one.

  2. Run DMT – Baraka’s Theme – Anybody who knows me knows I’m a HUGE Mortal Kombat nut.  So when I found out there was an electronica album coming out inspired by Mortal Kombat(curated by JFK of MSTRKRFT), I was all ears.  “Baraka’s Theme” was my favorite cut from this album, due mostly to the slow, deliberate pace and thunderous sounds.
  3. Trent Reznor and Karen O. – Immigrant Song(Led Zeppelin Cover) – This cover has a nice big sound, and definitely made me sit up straight in my chair when I heard it the first time in the trailer for “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“.  Like many NIN/Trent productions, this sneaks up on you in the most delightful way.
  4. Magnetic Man – The Bug  – British readers may note that this technically came out last year, but we here in the States didn’t get the message about this one until the spring of 2011.  I really liked this moody cut from the first and only(so far) dubstep super-group.
  5. Katy B – Katy on a Mission – I picked up Katy B’s album late this year, and was very glad I did.  The album was produced mostly by DJ Zinc, which gives the young Katy some serious credibility.  This particular track was produced by Benga and quickly found a place as my favorite from this disc.

Top 5 Mixes:

  1. XLR8R Podcast 200 – Richie Hawtin vs. Plastikman – How precisely does one get in a DJ battle with themselves?  And how does one go about remixing a live DJ set?  These seem to be the questions that Richie Hawtin is providing the answer to in the form of this XLR8R podcast.  Apparently, this is “Plastikman remix” of a Hawtin live set(and yes, they are the same guy).  At a minimum, this is a challenging mix that seems to gravitate even more toward the chilled-out spectrum than most of this minimal master’s work.
  2. Resident Advisor RA.270 – Tokimonsta – I had been a little familiar with the artist’s body of work, but when I first learned Tokimonsta’s identity, it was much like when Neo met Trinity in the first Matrix film:  I always thought she was a guy.  Rather, she is a very female L.A. based DJ with a demonstrated understanding of hip hop.  Moody underground beats, Toki’s own tracks, and a whirlpool of dubby effects make this mix a very notable contribution to trip-hop this year.
  3. Stereo MC’s – Spring Selection Mixtape – I love a mix that won’t commit to one genre or another.  Few DJs can reliably pull this off, but the Stereo MC’s have successfully made a true “mixtape” out of this mix:  Its diverse selection includes hip hop, dubstep, old-school electro, rare groove, post-punk, house, and classic rock…and yet nothing seems out of place.  This is a great mix to start your day with, or provide the perfect soundtrack to a late-night party.
  4. Barcode Recordings Filthcast 033 featuring Eye-D and Hidden – Like your drum and bass hard, techy, and fast, a la Dieselboy or Counterstrike?  This mix is for you.  Only Eye-D and Hidden’s own tracks are on display here, and they represent some of the best that hardcore drum and bass has to offer this year.
  5. Knife Party – Live at Space in Ibiza – Knife Party is Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen(both of Pendulum fame)’s side project, demonstrating some tech-house and dubstep chops.  This mix showcases many of their own tunes, and their remixes of other big house tunes.  Echoes of Pendulum-esque sounds can be heard throughout many of the selections in this mix.

 

Recap: Karl D’s Favorite Tracks/Mixes of 2010

I thought I would do something a little out of the ordinary to close up the year.  As you know, most of the content on this site comes from me and me alone, and I don’t “report” much on others’ work(maybe not quite as much as I should).  I wanted to take some time to recognize some of my favorite tracks and mixes I’ve heard over the last year.  Certainly many of these releases have influenced me and some of the work I’ve published.

Please enjoy this selection of mixes and tracks from these hardworking artists, and if possible, support them any way you can.  These lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over(Breakage Mix) – There were several standout mixes for Florence and the Machine this year, but this one really did it for me.
  2. Gaslamp Killer – Anything Worse – Nice, diverse mix of styles on this tense production.
  3. BRIGHT PRIMATE – Oh Well – I’m proud to say that BRIGHT PRIMATE is the project of a good friend of mine, who has(along with his bandmate/girlfriend) revolutionized 8-bit music as a whole as well as making it incredibly relevant in Boston, MA.  I really enjoyed this track from their latest EP for its excellent production values and entrancing vibe.  I love the 2nd half of the song.
  4. Pretty Lights – Still Rockin’ – Pretty much any Pretty Lights could make this list.  All their tracks have a great mix of glitch, hip hop, and electronica that never goes overboard  – it’s always super-smooth.
  5. Pendulum – Watercolour(Deadmau5 mix) – I’m not afraid at all to say I’m a huge Deadmau5 and Pendulum fan!  Since Deadmau5 and Rob from Pendulum worked together on “Ghosts n Stuff“, it’s great to see their working relationship continue and and put out this quality mix.  I’m hoping to see more collaboration between these two big-shots soon.

Top 5 Mixes:

  1. XLR8R Podcast 170 – DJ Food & DK vs. Coldcut – Crazy, epic mix.  This was released for Ninja Tune’s 20th anniversary and it does not disappoint.  This is an incredibly eclectic mix that spans the whole 20 years of the label’s rich history.
  2. DJ Steve Hill – Masif Podcast 11 – Truthfully, I have a hard time picking a favorite one of Steve Hill’s podcasts.  The King of Hard Dance showcases a lot of great material on this one, including Masif DJ’s – “Attention”, a track that certainly earned my attention this year.  Lucky for you Steve’s got lots of material for download.
  3. Electronic Explorations 133 – Shackleton – You can hardly call this dubstep – more like super-chilled future dub.  The first track, “Stripped III (version)” by Shackleton & Vengeance Tenfold, floored me.
  4. Elite Force – Revamped(Continuous Mix) – OK, so this list features one paid mix.  Big deal!  Elite Force has been releasing lots for free and also not for free in the “Revamped” collection, so a buck is not a huge price to pay for an awesome mix from his latest compilation. Also look for the”Smack The Force Up” revamp on his website.  There’s also a remix of Benga’s “26 Basslines” floating around somewhere…
  5. Major Lazer and La Roux – Lazerproof – I’m pretty pleased with all the work Diplo’s done this year, but this mixtape was a shocker when it came out.  Wild yet approachable, and contains several great La Roux remixes.

By the numbers

Yes, it’s been a while since the last update here.  That dosen’t mean I’m not working hard on bringing you some more fresh new music!

In the meantime, I thought I’d sum up our journey together so far.   It’s pretty amazing to me what has happened with this site; it’s been through a total of 3 iterations over the years, including a music-news centric site, to a dj-mix focused site, to this.  This current version of the site, focusing on production, has been the most comfortable for me.

So far, I have published 61 individual random beats spread among 5 volumes.  This alone counts for about 2 and a half hours of free music.  When you count all the EPs that have been released(both as standalones, like Red Time, as well as the 2 remix EPs for Existential Funk), the total amount of music on this site is over 4 hours. That’s not even counting the Old Tracks or any of the other material.

I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the content so far.  It is my intention to broadcast as much free material as I can for as long as possible, so be on the lookout for some new audio soon!

P.S. Got something you’re looking forward to hearing more of?  Remixes, random beats, specific genres?  Let me know in the comments!

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