S2D2 Top 100 Tracks of 2016

It’s always a bit weird compiling a “best of” list, because there is so much music out there that there’s no way to listen to all of it, let alone judge it objectively.

2016 was a special year for music. When the world trembles and quakes, we turn to music to say the things we cannot say, and feel the things we so desperately need to feel. Music is an escape, but for me at least, it’s more than that. Music is the ultimate form of expression. This year, I’ve felt so inundated with words, and media, and social media, and felt like I’ve been drowning in all of the terrible things that have happened to humans all over the world. Music has been, as always, my salvation from that. There is magic in a song that hits you just right, in the moment that you need it most. Music makes us transcendental. In those moments we are lost in the music, we cease to be, the world melts away, and we dance, and we come away refreshed and strong.

In a year that was mostly shit, most of my highlights had to do with that magic: Eric Prydz dropping “The Matrix” at the Armory in San Francisco; DJ Shadow playing the old and new seamlessly, casual scratch wizardry on display; losing my shit to new tunes, always, whether I’m at my desk or in my car or at the club; Scuba getting dark in the rave cave at Monarch, praying to Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book after dosing in Golden Gate Park; taking a time machine to my teenage emo years and seeing Brand New at the Greek; and even still, I spent most of the year listening to A Moon Shaped Pool over and over.


Trends: techno, deep tech, disco/tech, lo-fi house, acid house, wave, future funk

It seems like everyone hopped on the techno bandwagon this year, whether it was straight up banging tech, deep tech house, or this kind of disco/tech hybrid that’s been taking off in the underground. Disco is bigger than ever, and that’s saying something. House was pulled in one direction to become very, very techy, getting deep af along the way, and in another direction towards to the lo-fi house realm, a la Mall Grab, Seb Wildblood, and the Church records crew. Future bass is alive and well, and wave has split off out of that, essentially trap without the beats — luscious and atmospheric. Future funk, the jazzy, funky, and banging sound out of the West Coast and Colorado, is also huge out here, thanks to Griz’s domination.

I had a lot of fun making the top 100 this year. There was so much great music! The whole point of S2D2 is to highlight music that you might not otherwise hear about, so while there’s some overlap with other lists like Thump’s or Mixmag’s, there’s also a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t get talked about in the “underground electronic media” or whatever. So hopefully you will find lots of new tunes and artists from all over the map, literally and musically 🙂

I made a Spotify playlist, but there are a few songs that aren’t on Spotify, so I’ll be releasing a SoundCloud playlist as well. Enjoy!

Edit: Real quick, I want to call out the tracks that aren’t available on Spotify, because they are VERY IMPORTANT, and are all in my top 10 for the year:

 

S2D2 Vol 83

1. Dusky – Songs of Phase
Some pulsing techno from Dusky. These guys can seemingly do no wrong, and they are still so young. The amount of exploration they do across all genres of electronic is consistently astounding. Few people are on their level, production-wise, in 2016.

2. NineFive – The Curve
Classic breakbeats over a tech-house bassline, this shit is primed for the dancefloor.

3. Second Storey & Appleblim – Levying Rooks
A super fun, wacky collab from UK producers Second Storey and Appleblim, off R&S Records (always a good time). That’s some refreshing techno.

4. Boddika & Joy Orbison – Severed Seven
When these two collaborate you know it’s gonna be good. They go full industrial on this one, with acid-style synths, an unforgiving beat, and a massive, hollow sound that’ll fit in perfect in some grungy warehouse party.

5. Reinier Zonneveld – Things We Might Have Said (feat. Cari Golden)
HUGE.

6. Sailor & I + Eekkoo – Letters (Lower Case) (Noir Remix)
Noir is making some of the best deep tech house. Beautiful + heavy, great rework of the original.

7. Charlotte Cardin – Faufile (CRi Remix)
CRi is my breakout artist of the year, just gorgeous shit from them all summer long.

8. Recondite – Capable
It’s pretty astounding how he can achieve so much with so little. Massive song (turn up the bass), yet minimal to the extreme.

9. Theo Kottis – Running Nowhere
Another artist who has gained a lot of respect from me this year, Theo Kottis delivers again with this deeeeeeeep groove.

10. RÜFÜS – Innerbloom (Lane 8 Remix)
I had a panic attack when I saw this today. My favorite producer remixing my favorite track? YES PLEASE 😍

Deadmau5 – Strobe Remixes

One of the most popular electronic songs of all time gets the remix treatment, and all I have to say is yassssssssssss. “Strobe” is considered by many to be the pinnacle of electronic music, and certainly the pinnacle of deadmau5’s production. The song is just perfect, a 10 minute journey to progressive wonderland.

Feed Me, Com Truise, Dimension, Lane 8, and ATTLAS offer up remixes for the 100th release of deadmau5’s label mau5trap. Each one of them extremely talented producers, representing vastly different swaths of electronic music. Each remix is distinct, each producer crafting their own homage to “Strobe,” a track that lit up a generation of producers and music fans.

Feed Me‘s take starts off with the beat in place and a speedy buildup in contrast to the sloooowww buildup in the original. The drop is dope, and I’d expect nothing less from Feed Me. He plays with some truly heavy shit, gorgeous big-room weirdness, and then drops out everything else for a sonic exploration of those original, haunting synths, nursing the slowness, replicating the original and letting it shine for a few minutes, then brings it back up and in and fuckin bangs. There’s so much energy in this, it feels live, like he’s editing it on the fly in front of a crowd, fiddling with the knobs. A wonderful take on Strobe.

Com Truise takes it in a entirely different direction — a distorted, bass-driven beat resting at 88 beats per minute, futuristic and stylized almost beyond recognition until he brings in the original synths as a substitute for vocals. He’s created a completely different song, worked around remnants of the original, but still totally in keeping with the tone, that kind of dark beauty that “Strobe” captures so well.

Dimension is one of the best drum n bass artists right now, and at least partly responsible for bringing dnb back to the masses and out of the shadows where it was for quite a while. This is everything you want in a dnb remix of Strobe: bursting at the seams with energy, heavy-hitting, generous with the drops, complex percussion, layers upon layers of pristine production.

Lane 8 delivers a deep, seductive take on the original, preserving so much of it, subtly making it his own, but making it beat-driven right from the start. With just a fabulous (second) drop at around the 4:40 mark that brings it allllll home. The composition of the track as a whole is playful, and you can feel the joy of playing around with this track, one of the greatest ever.

ATTLAS is signed to mau5trap records and has been producing killer stuff so consistently. This track starts off pretty, all sparkly and shit, and rolls into a just stunningly beautiful take on Strobe. It’s atmospheric, with saturated, vibrating synths draped all around like sonic Christmas lights. It’s progressive, patiently introducing new elements so that each variation sends a shiver down your spine. When they make you wait for it, it feels so much better. Ok basically, this song is sex. <3

 

Links to various music services here

S2D2 Vol 74

1. Fatboy Slim – Praise You Right Now (Dunisco Remix)
A mashup of two great Fatboy Slim songs to get this week started off on some hype!

2. Andrew Luce – Babygirl
Heavy, bass-driven remix of a classic. Turn the volume up on this one.

3. Rihanna – Bitch Better Have My Money (Claude VonStroke Remix)
If you’re sick of this song, feel free skip it. But if you aren’t, this is a great remix with the classic CVS West Coast acid-house sound. A harken back to the old days of Dirtybird.

4. Doc Daneeka – Never Wanna Lose You
A disco + breakbeat hybrid, this is fabulous.

5. Mount Liberation Unlimited – Maiden Voyage
Wait until the real groove gets started around 3 minutes in. For some reason, this track makes me feel so hopeful, like anything is possible.

6. Lane 8 – Crush
You all know how much I looooooove Lane 8. So I’ll spare you the gushing. Safe to say, this kid is gonna be HUGE.

7. Bruce Trail – Bridgework
Reminds me of Nicolas Jaar a bit, with the patience in the build up, and the way everything weaves back together at the end.

8. Sandboards – Duneboys Theme
Just a chill deep house track that’ll make you wanna move.

9. N.Y.T.A – Two Know
Entrancing, beautiful.

10. Bob Moses – Like It Or Not (Joris Voorn Remix)
The best for last! One of my favorite songs from last year gets remixed by one of my all-time favorite remixers. Voorn gives an emotional, deep treatment to an already stellar track.

S2D2 Vol 62

1. Dhillon — Intro
Jeremy Olander just released an EP under his Dhillon moniker and I am in looooove. The bassline on this song is tremendous.

2. Wuki — Make It Clap
Wuki has been on a roll lately and this is his best yet. This. slaps. so. hard. Make that booty clap y’all.

3. RL Grime — Aurora
Can’t even remember the last time RL Grime made a track that was not stellar.

4. Lane 8 — Fingerprint
One of my favorite deep house producers out there right now, Lane 8 can do no wrong. Fingerprint is another epic journey to Wonderland. When he posted this song he announced a record label and a no-phone tour called This Never Happened, and the first show is in San Francisco at the Mezzanine in June. See you there!

5. Metroplane — Mr. E
The payoff starts 4 minutes in wooooo boiiiiiiii

6. Midland — Blush
I was really into Midland a few years back but then he just kinda fell off the face of the year and didn’t release any new music for a while. It’s been pretty sporadic the past few years. So I was stoked to see this new release, and I love it so.

7. Jamie Prado — New Era
That sample from Kendrick is well-used. A dreamy, head-in-the-clouds tune.

8. Rob Me — Friedlich (420 Mix)
DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

9. Musumeci — VI
Just some fresh tech house right here yum.

10. Beranek — Dra Te Hælvete (Todd Terje Remix)
Wow, what an interesting track. This is like DEVO-influenced acid disco. Wait until the last third. Of fucking course Terje would make this hahaaaa.