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BRING THE DANCE: 2018’s Top 10 DJ Mixes

WORDS BY JACK MCKEEVER      PHOTO BY JACK KIRWIN

2018 has seen club culture experience both fantastic highs and some distressing lows. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is the passion, euphoria and boundary pushing that exists in modern electronic music. The art of the DJ mix is as powerful and necessary as ever, and this year saw many new faces, as well as some legends of the dance landscape, twist it into new dimensions.

Below are ten mixes that have made me grin, cry, clench my fists and punch the air and lose myself in deep thought consistently throughout 2018. Whether you’re into vast, eclectic house and techno experiments, silky and heavenly ambient or delirious drum’n’bass, there’ll be something for you to wrap your ears around here. As always, here’s to hoping you find something you love!

TRUANTS – Truancy Mix 228: Or:la

Hailing from Derry, Northern Ireland, Or:La has enjoyed a rightful boon over the last 18 months. She won hearts with her Boiler Room-documented set from Belfast’s AVA Festival last summer, and in September of this year she stepped into the hallowed Truancy booth and delivered what is, for this writer, the most sublime hour of music of the year. There’s an otherworldly flow to the mix, which reflects her narrative of ‘order into disorder’ as though it were broadcast from an alternate reality where life is blissfully blurry. No matter what stride or tone she settles upon (and there are a few here), her touch is mercurial, gracefully welding righteous humour into hypnotic techno contortions at the mid-way point and gliding through a finale of face-melting breaks, wonky EBM and star-gazing hardcore. Truly unique, truly un-fuckwithable.

Midland – As The City Sleeps

Midland’s ‘As the City Sleeps’ mix is one of 2018’s finest contributions to the ongoing ambient resurgence. He pulls at the tear ducts early via Bruised Skies’ ‘Low’ and Benoit Pioulard’s ‘An Image apart from Ourselves’. If there are any bleary-eyed cobwebs remaining halfway through then an excerpt from Jennie Livingston’s 1990 movie ‘Paris Is Burning’ meshed with Arthur Russell’s ‘Answers Me’ clears them completely. Conceived as a sort of companion piece to his 2017 ‘Fabric:Live’ mix, rounding off on Mark Hollis’ beautifully fragile ‘The Colour of Spring’ will fit perfectly against the backdrop of sunrise and the lo-fi thunder of the first train home.

Courtesy – Dekmantel Podcast 166

For what is, in my mind, the best Dekmantel podcast of the year, Danish techno heroine Courtesy turns in an hour of pounding hypnotism. Though she keeps the BPM rate bubbling at relatively similar levels throughout, it’s her versatility within that framework which makes the mix so captivating. Beautiful, dark, sometimes dystopian and always atmospheric, it pulls together a groove that seamlessly draws from different sectors and rejects tribalism. In essence, it does everything that is necessary for a properly communal listening experience.

SHYBOI – Resident Advisor Podcast 615

Discwoman member SHYBOI decimated Resident Advisor’s podcast series this year with an hour of visceral, warehouse-ready techno that oozes confidence and, crucially, wears a sense of fun on its sleeve throughout its intensity. It’s vital listening for both preparation for big nights out or just kicking away any start-of-week/day blues, especially it’s final fifteen minutes.

Hojo Clan – Clan Wars Podcast 004

March saw the enigmatic Hojo Clan collective deliver 40 minutes of searing, fist-clenching drum’n’bass experimentalism that feels like a pensive analogy for our nail-biting times. The narrative woven throughout of the mysterious warrior Kenshiro via the SoundCloud link is also to die for.

Call Super Essential Mix – 9/6/2018

One of the things that makes Joe Seaton, aka Call Super, such a special DJ is the fact that he almost always does the last thing one expects him too. One thing some of his mixes do have in common is a deeply personal element, and his Essential Mix from June of this year is founded on that same premise. It finds him in a deliriously joyous, party-starting mode as he rolls through an individualistic wealth of glorious house and techno, cheeky garage, and in the second half off-kilter selections, each of which’s atmospheres is allowed to be held strikingly on their own merits. And there’s THAT astonishing fusion of Donato Dozzy’s ‘Cleo’ and Shackleton’s ‘Blood On My Hands’ (both vital tunes in shaping and continuing my interest in dance music respectively) at the hour mark. All of it is overseen by his inimitable, unpredictable virtuosity that although deliberately choppy, never loses its sense of grace.

Breakwave NTS Jungle Set – 5/5/2018

Rising Liverpool DJ Breakwave turned to glorious, feel good jungle for the second episode of her NTS residency in May. Like all classic jungle sets, there’s a healthy, warm soulfulness emanating from the pours of the mix, and as the heatwave struck the UK this summer, listening to this felt like sheer transcendence. There’s the rumbling push-and-pull between light and dark at play too, before Orca’s ‘Alive & Kickin’ hits at the half-hour mark and the mood stays locked at Jubilation.

Mumdance – Shared Meanings

The now legendary Mumdance’s ‘Shared Meanings’ (available as a free download in mix form, a cassette, a 12” AND a DJ-friendly compilation) makes concrete his reputation as one of those rare DJs who basically never put a foot wrong. It’s an hour and a half of previously unreleased music from some of modern electronic music’s most forward-thinking names (Chevel, Bambounou, JK Flesh, Homemade Weapons, Isabella, Nkisi) that clings closest to Mumdance’s rawest, darkest roots whilst being constantly buoyant. It’s essentially the best of 2018’s outliers, presented in poetic form by someone who understands modern dance expressionism better than most others.

Facta – Crack Mix 236

For Crack Magazine’s 236th mix, Oscar Henson aka Facta draws on a wealth of unreleased and forthcoming material from the likes of Lurka, Duckett, and Hodge, and his opting to fuse the futuristic with the club-focussed works an absolute treat over these 50 minutes. It’s one of the year’s most trance-inducing and alluring examples of deep-set, wiggling diversity, stretching to include a cavernous slow-burner from Iglew, a tension-ridden dub of Tirzah’s ‘Reach Hi’, twinkling half-step vibes, Gqom! And some of the year’s smoothest low-end techno.

Electronic Explorations 501 – Imogen

2018 saw Rob Booth’s legendary Electronic Explorations series reach its milestone 500 episode mark. Rising London DJ/Producer Imogen carried listeners into the new century in no-holds-barred, grinding fashion, taking the zeitgeist of techno-fused-with-electro to unique and idiosyncratic places. The mark of a great mix is often heralded by standout tunes that sound remarkable in their given context and create entire new contexts in doing so. The muscular assault of RXDX’s ‘Accredition Disk’ in the mix’s final throes is one such moment, but when she wields Ron Morelli’s ‘Laugh Taker’ it genuinely feels as though she’s transcended and left humanity to its fate, giggling with glee in the process. She’ll be a dominant force in 2019.

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All Points East

PREVIEW: All Points East & Top 5 Picks

The Uk’s Biggest New Festival Option is Brining an Insane Lineup to London this May

All Points East is the brand new festival coming to Victoria Park in London and it’s made a huge statement with its line-up. In its inaugural year, it will be showcasing some of the sickest acts around including LCD Soundsystem, Bjork, Lorde, The Black Madonna and more. Because the lineup has made who to go see such a hard decision, I’ve given you my top 5 picks of who you need to catch this year.  

Rex Orange County

One of the coolest artists around at the minute. The multi-instrumentalist’s DIY-ethos has earned him rave reviews and having seen him support BADBADNOTGOOD on their recent tour. Take it from me you do not want to miss this guy. With fans in high places such as Tyler, The Creator, who featured him on his Flower Boy. He mixes instantly memorable poetic lyrics with catchy melodies. He owes just as much to artists like the Beatles and Sonic Youth as he does classical music, jazz, and contemporary pop and it creates something truly special. Catch him now because he’s on the cusp of greatness and a chance to see him in such an intimate setting will be gone soon.

Call Super

London-born and bred Call Super is my DJ pick of the weekend. He absolutely smashed it when he headlined the Dekmantel Selectors stage last year when he went b2b with Objekt. He’s quietly carved out his own place within electronic music and his sets are usually hypnotic and intense. Here’s his three hour set with the Boiler Room London so you can get acquainted with his vibe. 

 

LCD Soundsystem

Obviously I was going to pick these. One of the best live acts you’re ever likely to see and one of the bigger comebacks of 2017. James Murphy’s outfit are back at Victoria Park to headline the Friday night of the festival. Armed with a whole bag of new songs from their Billboard-topping latest album American Dream expect lots of cowbells, dancing, emotion and a huge disco ball. Recent sets have been peppered with oldie but goodies, so longtime fans may get a special experience.

Father John Misty
The often polarising Father John Misty will take to the All Points East main stage on Sunday. He just recently announced his fourth album ‘God’s Favorite Customer’ to be released on June 1st. A mesmerizing stage presence, Father John Misty is one of the most accomplished live performers at the festival. It can easily be argued that he’s one of the greatest lyricists of the past two decades. Considering the album is to be released less than a week after the festival, we’re likely to be treated to some new tracks. 
Björk

Bjork is an artist who’s impossible to ignore. The Icelandic siren has been at the forefront of creating some of the most interesting music for four decades. Always independent and uncompromising, some artists barely conquer one genre but Bjork has mastered numerous ones. Not only is she one of the best musicians of her generation but she’s an enduring cultural icon and Icelandic national treasure. The legendary sound manipulator is known for her stunning live shows, featuring full orchestras, guest DJ’s, light shows, costumes, and pyrotechnics. Her new album is arguably her most abstract, but she mixes in some of her more radio-friendly classics in.  Enigmatic, Unpredictable and insanely talented the godmother of alt-pop is not to be missed.

 

Grab your tickets now!

With a lineup like this, you won’t have much time left to grab tickets to the UK’s hottest new festival. Other standout artists to watch out for are, star DJ of 2017 the black Madonna and indy legends the XX. You can grab your tickets here.

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