Music is easily consumed these days with its quick creation via musical software and easy accessibility via the internet, so I think the appeal of something like The Minimal Wave Tapes: Vol. 1
is that it's handmade, very DIY, and brings the listener back to a time when music was more personal. Most of these artists recorded on 4-track tape recorders because they had no choice, yet they created beautiful, sophisticated music. The compilation is somewhat like a label sampler, most of the tracks were pulled from full length albums I had put together and already released so licensing wasn't difficult. But it's interesting: Some of these artists actually contacted me because of my radio show
, they've googled themselves; completely surprised to find that I'm playing their old records and tapes.
– Veronica Vasicka, compiler
I started compiling my wishlist of tracks in January of 2009. I was in Australia at the time. There is a studio upstairs from a venue in Melbourne called Miss Libertines and the guys there were good enough to lock me in overnight a few times. The key parts of the mix came together during those night sessions. Give me a collection of tunes that heavy, a bottle of nice red wine and some good speakers or headphones, and I'll happily ponder my navel till kingdom come. Apparently the mix has inspired some other people to do some first class navel gazing as well which I couldn't be happier about.
I found Pond's Planetenwind
as a decoration in the shop of a big furniture chain, and it made me keen on more electronic music from the GDR. So I scanned flea markets in Berlin. There are only about 12 albums in this canon, and it was very interesting to interview all the people who recorded them. That this music was being made in the former East Germany was a huge surprise, of course: fantastic, dreamy, spacious music from a super realistic, small, narrow country.
– Florian Severs, compiler
As it turned out, the mix had a bit more melodic stuff than I sometimes play. But that was just the new tracks that I was enjoying at the time. Quite recently I listened to the mix again, and it was fun because it felt like such a time capsule of that month—March 2010. There was brand new stuff, some things that had been around for a while. I was definitely conscious of the fact that people were going to hear it that weren't that familiar with my sets, so I wanted to represent some newer artists that I'd been enjoying and putting them alongside more famous producers.
The guys and girls at Defected did an amazing job. The entire process only took about four weeks from the rough idea of the tracklist to the finished mixdown. But, you know, the tracklist was packed with disco and soul stuff, which is hard to license in every way: Either it was impossible to find out who owned the rights or it was too expensive. One of the most important tracks for me, though, was Mount Kimbie's "Carbonated." It's one of the most played tracks on my iPod this year. And even better: It's also on the ITH
vinyl double release, coming with a good selection of "not so easy to get on vinyl" tracks.
I had played fabric quite a lot on the Friday and on the Saturday. The Friday, obviously, is more associated with the Fabric.Live CDs and the Saturday the Fabric CDs. But I think I would have made the same mix no matter which series they had asked me to make the mix for. People might call it dubstep, but honestly there are only one or two tracks that you could really call that. The mix is a reflection of my favourite tracks I had been playing last summer while touring.
Apparat is most assuredly not a DJ, but he has enough experience with music to know how to properly fake it. What made his entry into K7's DJ-Kicks series so compelling, however, was how easily he seemed to present tracks that felt
like Apparat. Ripperton's warm pads, Ramadanman's shifty riddims, Oval's glitch experiments: Despite not being a DJ, Apparat achieved in his first try what others work years to cultivate. His DJ-Kicks was a mix that could have only come from one single artist, a superb encapsulation of his sound world.
– Todd L. Burns
Witnessing your own imprint's absorption into the major label hit machine would break the spirit of any staunch indie champion. Thankfully, Coldcut persevered, enlisting the ninja for round two and succeeded where their first try, Ahead Of Our Time, failed. Twenty years on, then, and you'd think Ninja Tune would be forgiven for getting a little self-congratulatory. But for their anniversary they didn't bother with anything like that. Instead they sourced a vast amount of new and unreleased music, and masterminded a collection of "who and who
?" remixes to remind us that they're still ahead of the times, and the game.
– Christine Kakaire
Had it been released in the middle of the year we'd like to think that Shackleton's fabric 55
would be pushing for top honours in this list. The "piece" was arguably his most complete body of work to date. Mix decisions felt animalistic in the way he weaved unreleased material through mainstays such as "Death is Not Final" and "(No More) Negative Thoughts." Shackleton expressed reservations
to us over having his "livelihood" floating around in the public domain, although we'd assert that hearing fabric 55
begs the listener to experience the thing firsthand—which can only be a good thing.
– Ryan Keeling
When Osgut Ton label manager, Nick Höppner, states that 50% of the releases he bought in 2010 were dubstep
, it seems unsurprising that a mix such as Sub:stance
would come to pass. In fact there seems to have been a widespread fascination among the Ostgut family over the party Paul Rose (Scuba) and Paul Fowler have crafted at Berghain since 2008. Scuba's CD representation of the night masterfully reflected the space in which it's hosted: A cloak of darkness enveloped the mix, although just the right amount of light was bled in, imbuing Sub:stance
with a marked sense of celebration.
– Ryan Keeling
Todd L. Burns: So why in 2010 a mix CD?
Gerd Janson: You mean after RA killed it off?
TLB: Last year you were on the label poll, where can we expect to see you in 2011?
GJ: I hope to make it into the live act poll.
TLB: What does the live set look like?
GJ: A speak & spell and an acoustic guitar.
TLB: Gerd Janson, the next Dylan?
GJ: Knock, knock, knocking on the live poll's door.
"It's about tight jeans, black shirts, walking around Mitte and Prenzlauerberg with nothing to do and loving it." The opening monologue of Seth Troxler's Boogybytes Vol. 5
, aside from sounding like a rave kid's take on beat poetry, perfectly sets the stage for what's to come: a breezy, carefree stroll through the world of a Berlin clubbing icon. Rich with color, melodies and a youthful sense of awe (e.g. Birds and Souls - "Birds and Souls"), Troxler's first commercial mix makes others feel drab by comparison. It teaches a valuable lesson too: don't come to the party and try to act smart.
– Will Lynch
Border Community's dedication to the dreamier side of dance music isn't that far off from the Kosmische strains of Can and Neu!, and so it came as no small surprise when label boss embraced the sound wholly on his DJ-Kicks
mix. What was surprising, however, was how well it all sounded when mixed up by his expert hand. Hard techno vet James Ruskin melted into the off-kilter electro of Legowelt; Caribou slid gently into BC's Luke Abbott; the weirdo electronica of Ursula Bogner sounded right at home next to avant drone builder Eric Copeland. It might not have been trance, but it'd still put you in one.
– Todd L. Burns
Berghain and Ostgut Ton are so well-loved these days that it's hard to praise them without stating the obvious. They got there mostly thanks to each other; aside from the simple fact that Berghain's residents are Ostgut Ton's artists, there's a creative interplay between the two that makes them so irresistible. With more than two dozen tracks by all members of the extended family, Fünf documents this symbiosis more thoroughly than ever before. By relying on field recordings from inside the club itself, it also takes it to a new level: this is the sound of Berghain—literally.
– Will Lynch
"A good song is what trumps it all," Anthony "Shake" Shakir told us earlier this year
. 35 of his best—songs that steered through electro, hip-hop, techno, house and disco—highlighted the Detroit DJ/producer's flair for experimentation and confirmed his influence on Rush Hour's career-spanning retrospective, Frictionalism
. Given electronic music's intense fetishism of the 313, it's surprising that Shake has remained on the periphery of widespread recognition for so long. The scarcity of Shake's Frictional releases have a lot to do with that. So does his wide-spanning taste. Credit Rush Hour for redressing the former and paying tribute to the latter. – Christine Kakaire
The fabric mix was the only one we've ever managed to deliver on deadline. The other ones have always been licensing nightmares. But this time, it was amazingly easy. One of the people at fabric even tracked down one of the tracks to someone who was in prison in Colombia. We made the mix with the idea that we were playing room two at the club in mind—it was perhaps way more floor-driven than our previous mixes—but I do think it kind of veered away from that by the end of the mix...as we tend to do.
– JD Twitch
Doing a mix CD for Kompakt was great on two counts; they've inspired me directly as a producer and as a label they pioneered the mix as "art form" too. I did the first 40 minutes in a kind of fever-dream early one morning in a hotel room in Jakarta, but finishing it took weeks. The final track only arrived the night before my deadline. Michael Mayer called and said, "Have you heard the new Bo'tox single by any chance?" with a smile in his voice. I had seen the promo email, but hadn't listened yet. Of course, it fitted perfectly. Make that three counts.
– Ewan Pearson
was as much about what wasn't there as what was. "There was no space in drum & bass," said Instra:mental at the end of 2009, "it was just running twenty breaks on top of each other, so we thought about what we could do... we decided to not fill the gaps." The hundredth release in fabric's combined compilation series arrived just as the trio were beginning to truly gain traction with their reduced and melodically rich "Autonomic sound." By the end of the year their labels, podcasts and productions had completely revolutionised the notion of drum & bass.
– Ryan Keeling
To say that expectations are high when Michael Mayer sits down to mix another installment of the Immer series would probably be underselling it. Named our favorite mix of the past decade
, the debut Immer
is a touchstone for dance music enthusiasts. Mayer didn't equal it with Immer 3
, but he came about as close as you could expect, once again imbuing a simple mix CD with the sort of drama that you more often find in the theater than the dance floor. Mayer once again told a coherent story from beginning to end, one with highs, lows and everything in between. – Todd L. Burns
I started collecting the first exclusive tracks more than half a year before I mixed Berghain 04. I wanted to include as much exclusive or unreleased material as possible to make it different from a free download podcast. But I came across the opening track, 154's "Apricot," at the last minute. I missed it when it came out. This was actually the final piece of the puzzle, and it changed my idea for the mix.
I had always wanted to start with DVS1's "Pressure" so that the first thing you would hear on the mix was the bass drum. I didn't want to have an "intro" that puts you slowly into a certain vibe, which is so common for mix compilations. I just wanted to start directly and get straight into it. But when I listened to "Apricot," I was really touched by its beautiful ambience. I still think it was the best decision of the whole project. It starts out with a nice kind of sunrise.
I also always wanted to put an old personal classic in the mix to show where I'm coming from. Tyree's "Nuthin' Wrong" was one of the first house or techno records I ever bought and it has almost never left my bag since. That's what makes a DJ mix interesting for me: When you hear brand new stuff that you've never heard before mixed together with some old secret pearls. In the end, it's always about timeless music. It doesn't matter if the tracks are new or old.
– Ben Klock