20 mixes that defined the past decade.
Picking a definitive list from thousands of mixes that appeared and disappeared throughout the last ten years was practically impossible, so instead, we've (roughly) chosen one "official mix"—meaning a mix CD or licensed mix—and one online mix for each year from 2010 to 2019. These are the mixes and live sets that stuck with us over the years, those moments in time we still can't stop reliving.
Some DJs can take you to church, or, as Joe Smooth once sang, to the promised land. Though Shackleton's music winks at the divine, its snaking conga slaps, immense bass pressure and doom-prophecy vocals—comparable to a kind of ritual dub music—seem less like the path to transcendence than a heretical shortcut. The music's unspoken appeal is the sense that, at its heart, it is dangerous and high-risk. If you wander Shackleton's rhythmic corridors for too long, who or what might you become, and how long will it take you to get out?
Try to loop fabric 55 so that it plays over and over. It is easy to lose track of "the beginning" and "the end" of the mix, and perhaps that's deliberate (halfway through, someone declares that "everything starts from point one"). The constant throb of menace means it often feels like a chase through a Mobius strip; the mix's genius is that it never feels like it's running in circles. If the vocal samples make the threat within fabric 55 palpable—you might relish the bit that goes, "cancel, cancel!" or the mindfuck speech that begins, "I am alpha and omega"—then the music's suggestive minimalism does just as much to keep a lid on anything resembling melodrama. This tension at the core of fabric 55, made up entirely of Shackleton's own music, represents a creative peak he's rarely surpassed.
- Ray Philp
Who knows how much a copy of Mkwaju Ensemble's Mkwaju, Geinoh Yamashirogumi's アフリカ幻唱 or Yasuaki Shimizu's Music For Commercials would have set you back in 2010: dozens, hundreds… were they even available on import? What's evident is the scarcity at the time of non-Japanese diggers who could hunt these records down. This made Portland's Spencer Doran—later half of Visible Cloaks—an important conduit for Japanese music of the 1970s and '80s. The title of Fairlights, Mallets And Bamboo signposts everything you need to know: Fairlights, the synthesisers that give this music its lush textures; Mallets, striking the percussion that rolls through the mix; and Bamboo, a precursor to the "Environmental" tag that would later describe this zen niche of music.
That this mix, originally recorded for a blog called Root Strata and once totalling over 50,000 plays, has since been yanked from Soundcloud speaks to the cottage industry that developed around Japanese music, and the restrictions that came with that. The tracklist now almost looks too obvious compared to the ultra-deep cuts you might get on a given Sanpo Disco mix (including Spencer's own, the 100th entry to that series). Mariah, for one, would not have registered to nearly anyone ten years ago; now, we consider them a group behind one of the most treasured reissues in recent memory. Prior to Light In The Attic compilations, NTS Radio throwing Hosono Days or Visible Cloaks' digital update of the form as artists in their own right, Fairlights, Mallets And Bamboo was the meticulous piece of archiving that opened a door to a greener, gentler world.
- Gabriel Szatan
For club music acolytes of a certain age and persuasion, scanning FabricLive.56's tracklist alone will be enough to fire up incredibly evocative memories. "Ah 'GR Etiquette'—I remember when… Oh shit, 'City Cycle' is such a tune… Man, this was an amazing time for dance music." To refine what our hypothetical raver said there, it was an amazing time for UK dance music. As one of the scene's leading DJs and producers, Pearson Sound, AKA Hessle Audio cofounder David Kennedy, was at the centre of it all.
This period will of course go down as the bass music or post-dubstep years. In 2011, the sound had reached a delicious peak. It was early enough in its life cycle to still maintain the original energy, but not so late that producers had lost sight of dance floor utility, attempting to write ever-crazier rhythms. FabricLive.56, then, is the eye of a storm. It smashed together some of the scene's boldest anthems, drew links back to bass music's roots in grime, garage and dubstep, and showed that the sound was malleable enough to take on techno and footwork. Kennedy stitched everything together with the sort of surprising juxtapositions that made him, Pangaea and Ben UFO so celebrated as DJs. This is a mix by a scene-leading DJ, made amidst a creative explosion, with the potential to inject narcotic doses of nostalgia in the listener. It rarely got better than this.
- Ryan Keeling
Nguzunguzu don't get enough credit for predicting the shape club music would take over the 2010s: multicultural and multi-genre, often rooted in the sounds of Baltimore club and reggaeton. Their early records were open-minded hybrids that helped pave the way for deconstructed club, but it was through DJing that the Los Angeles duo truly made their mark. Perfect Lullaby, originally released via DIS Magazine in 2011, was their defining moment.
The hour-long mix plays to all their strengths, including their own pop edits and their preternatural DJ skills. The mixing is unbelievably smooth as the duo ride a swinging groove that travels through a zouk edit of The-Dream and an obscure Nicki Minaj treasure, somehow making Amerie's "1 Thing" sound fresh again along the way. Perfect Lullaby also offered one of the earliest outside looks into the soon-to-thrive Lisbon ghetto scene, via tracks from DJ Nedwyt-Fox, DJ Fofuxo and a few other names lost to time, a reminder of the duo's habit of being ahead of trends.
You could listen to Perfect Lullaby now and have no idea it came from 2011. With everyone from Taylor Swift to Selena Gomez jumping on reggaeton-style beats, the genres Nguzunguzu showcased here are now some of the dominant sounds in pop culture, but they would never feel as perfectly slinky and open-ended as they did on Perfect Lullaby. From Fade To Mind through to Infinite Machine and NAAFI, contemporary club music wouldn't sound like it does without this mix.
- Andrew Ryce
It was the b-b-b-b-baby heard across the world. 14 minutes into his first appearance on Boiler Room, DJ EZ folds Wookie's "Battle" into a tiny loop. Then, defying all conventional laws of DJ physics, he spams the Cue button and rides the pitch on the opposing CDJ, creating a single-syllable conversation between the two decks, before a magician's sleight of hand reveals the incoming tune as Cleptomaniacs' "All I Do (Bump & Flex Mix)," sending the crowd doolally. It's like watching Edison switch on a light bulb for the first time, yet just one portion of a mix that is the epitome of chaotic good.
These 45 minutes made DJ EZ a reborn star, the arena-conquering face of British bass music in the 2010s. Who else on earth could drop "Go DJ," "Things We Do," "A Little Bit Of Luck," "Forward Riddim" and "Little Man" in the first ten minutes of a set? It's obscene. EZ's skill is fearsome, sometimes a split-second moment of trickery, other times pinpoint accuracy to thread Peven Everett through MJ Cole. Listening back, the recording is also surprisingly messy. Technicals occur, the crowd knocks him about, and the audio is so in the red it makes Metallica look like Erik Satie. But none of that matters. For anyone who grew up with UK garage and watched its reputation collapse in the early '00s, this was retribution in real time.
It's not hard to see Sherelle's coronating Boiler Room in 2019 as a case of lightning striking twice: daredevil blends, MCs howling with joy on the mic, energy surging from the speakers and the screen. Clips of DJ EZ and Sherelle go viral every time they're recycled onto the timeline, and it’s clear why. The collective joy on display makes for a genuinely organic buzz that's hard to manufacture, no matter how many attempts you make.
- Gabriel Szatan
Rustie's Essential Mix almost makes you wonder what a "mix" really is. It's two hours of blink-and-you'll-miss it dance music and hip-hop so fast-paced you hardly know what's hitting you before the next song comes in. It's a mix, but it was also an event, crystallizing for dance music fans the sound that would become known as trap and combining contemporary rap music with the maximalist sound of Rustie's home city, Glasgow. (The connection would later become a reality when Rustie's close friend Hudson Mohawke made beats for Drake, Pusha T and Kanye West.)
This was the first time anyone heard Baauer's "Harlem Shake." Diplo signed it after Rustie's mix caused a stir, releasing the single that would later rocket to number one on the US pop charts. It was also the official debut of TNGHT, HudMo and Lunice's Warp Records project that would give trap its definitive anthem in "Higher Ground." Throughout the mix, emotions soar. Rick Ross was sandwiched between HudMo and Rustie. It went higher still, culminating with Kanye West rapping over Rustie's euphoric "Hover Traps."
What's most striking about Rustie's Essential Mix is the feeling of excitement that remains eight years later. This was all brand new at the time, but even now it has a sheen and sparkle, the sound of unlimited potential. The Scottish artist all but retired before the decade was through, leaving some of that potential untapped. This mix captured him and his movement, captivating the electronic music world in a way that feels like it would be impossible today.
- Andrew Ryce
Something happened to minimal in the last decade. DJs, led by Nicolas Lutz, moved away from the loopy, ultra-reduced sound shaped by producers and labels like Ricardo Villalobos, Perlon and [a:rpia:r], refocussing on lean techno, electro and house from decades past. The rolling, endless grooves and precision mixing remained, but the music became more colourful, blending styles and eras in ways previously unheard. By leading this change, Lutz, along with contemporaries like Binh and Onur Özer, introduced the world to terms like "blind buys" (the act of buying a record that you can't hear), and ignited a new, global obsession with finding obscure vinyl. No set reflects this shift like Lutz's 2013 mix for Louche, the former Leeds party that published more than 150 podcasts between 2009 and 2017.
Louche 108 captured the beginnings of the sound we know today. The groove is steady and breakdowns are rare, each new selection introduced with a steady hand and well-timed transition. There are selections from Baby Ford, Robert Hood and James Stinson, along with a forgotten remix from Villalobos. The internet scrambled to put together a tracklist upon the set's release, but it remains conspicuously incomplete. At the time, Lutz was still a relatively unknown DJ with ties to Club Der Visionaere who would only occasionally travel beyond Berlin for gigs. Six years later, he's one of dance music's leading DJs, perhaps the rightful heir to Villalobos's throne of weird, wonderful house and techno.
- Matt Unicomb
RA's number one mix of 2013 was not your average mix. The impossibly silky 100% Galcher was spun from tracks that were original in every sense—unknown, unheard and unbelievably good. Who was this mysterious Galcher Lustwerk? Why did he sound like the proprietor of a Eurotrash-y discotheque? And who told him it was OK to rap over deep house? The enigma appeared on Blowing Up The Workshop in June; by autumn it was an underground hit. Lustwerk turned out to be a low-profile young man from Cleveland, now residing in Brooklyn, and he'd hit on an irresistible recipe: dreamy deep house that seemed to pulse with the city's nocturnal energy. The special ingredient was his own voice, a deadpan that could free-rhyme its way through the back rooms and side doors of any dimly lit establishment.
The two halves of 100% Galcher—there's a pause in the middle, as if a tape is being turned over—are based on a brief set of musical ideas: cloudy pads that warm you from the inside out, the tick-tock of a vintage drum machine, distant traffic noises, falling rain, the "Galcher Lustwerk" drop, chopped and repeated until it's a mixtape mantra. And Lustwerk himself, heavy-lidded and still rhyming, "you can't stop it, no, no, no." Lustwerk took the basic elements of hip-house, the short-lived '90s fusion most often remembered as a cheesy cash-in, and reframed them for a contemporary era, updating the "hip" element to reflect rap's millennial obsessions with clubs, drugs, sex and fame. Though 100% Galcher's influence can be heard in the dance-pop renovations of Yaeji and Channel Tres, it's proved impossible to jack his style.
- Chal Ravens
Ryan Elliott's instalment in what was then one of dance music's favourite mix CD series wasn't a CD, but a digital file. Released as a free, high-quality, fully mastered WAV complete with high-resolution artwork and a letter from the DJ, Panorama Bar 06 reflected one of last decade's key developments: the death of the CD. But, musically, that didn't mean much, as Elliott's set for his home club showed—if anything, it broadened the medium's possibilities. Ostgut Ton, the label behind Panorama Bar 06, developed a no-cost licensing scheme for this release, expanding the breadth of the artists featured, who ranged from US heroes (K-HAND, Elbee Bad) to newer names (Genius Of Time, Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie).
Musically, the set was a snapshot of the club it represented. There were excursions into classic house, techno and even hints of UK garage, all cloaked with the haze that many associate with nights at Panorama Bar. In crafting the mix, Elliott aimed to capture the sound of a space he's played more than any other these past ten years. If, upon hearing it, you're transported to that legendary Berlin dance floor, there's a good reason why: Elliott had played most of these tunes at Panorama Bar plenty of times before. It was the sound of one dance music's most important spaces, 90 minutes of world-class house and techno delivered by a master of the form.
- Matt Unicomb
Some will tell you 2014 was not a vintage year for No Way Back, the Detroit party by Interdimensional Transmissions and The Bunker New York whose annual edition during Movement Festival is easily one of the world's best raves. The venue was 1515 Broadway, formerly the site of the legendary Music Institute, but at that time just a small café. It was preposterously hot inside and outside, and no alcohol was sold all night. But this lack of creature comforts had one clear benefit. You only went if you knew No Way Back, then mostly un-hyped outside Detroit, and you only stayed if you were feeling it enough to suffer the rave.
This also made Mike Servito's style of DJing, once described by BMG as "a massive bitch slap," hit in a special way. Backdropped by purple light on camo netting, Servito was mysteriously sweatless and well-coifed, slinging out one jacking acid bomb after another, while on the cramped dance floor in front of him, people manically thrashed around, powering through the heat and ever-growing odor of BO. His balance of gnarliness and funk, rabbit-hole acid and thwacking grooves, made it impossible for many of us to leave the dance floor at any point. You have to marvel at the little flourishes: that edit of Talking Heads' "Girlfriend Is Better," the subtle mindfuck of his choice to play Matthew Styles' "Hot," essentially a rip-off of the party's namesake, the meta-relevance of "True Story Of A Detroit Groove," whose pitched-down monologue riffs on the '90s rave tradition this party brings into the present. The world outside New York and Detroit slept on Servito for way too long. This set fixed that.
- Will Lynch
We're so lucky to have Beautiful Swimmers. One of the most consistently positive forces of the decade, whether through their labels (Andrew Field-Pickering's Future Times, Ari Goldman's World Building), their position at the center of DC's expanding community of labels and artists (1432R, Peoples Potential Unlimited, Dreamcast, Soso Tharpa), or their contagious presence behind the decks, dancing and laughing as the other mixes in a tune. While being plenty busy solidifying their labels' stamps on the '10s, the Swimmers laid down their own legacy: their "joyride" of a debut album, a handful of quality singles, bonkers mixes official and unofficial. None left more of a mark than their mixtape for The Trilogy Tapes in 2015.
To say the limited-release two-sided mix, just under 90 minutes long, caused a stir would be an understatement. Heads tried their best to fill in the tracklist, though MixesDB still has a fair few question marks. Max D's edit of the 1991 Watt Noize track "It's My Life" inspired such a frenzy that it amassed a dedicated following and upwards of 70,000 streams on a YouTube rip before it finally got an official release by Warriors Dance in 2018. The Rebles' soca twist on "Sweetest Taboo" by Sade is another one that inevitably got reissued by Soundway Records last year after resale prices crept well past $300. Yohan Square's 1991 jam "Love Of Life (Genesis Mix)" is the peak, with an infectious wavy beat and lyrics that make you smile: "Two people, in love... how nice." But adding to the exclusionary culture of overly expensive rarities is the opposite of their agenda. "What I like so much about DJs like Beautiful Swimmers is they play killer house records, but they're often $2 house records," Tako Reyenga told RA in 2015. With the right headspace, maybe you, too, could affordably crate-dig your way to a gem-filled tracklist worthy of a Swimmers set, though their sound, flow and vibe will always be one of a kind.
- Marissa Cetin
In a 2014 RBMA Lecture, Ben UFO spoke about admiring Youngsta for a kind of extreme specialism, pacing sets using records from "only four or possibly five of the same artists." For Ben, perhaps the most widely admired DJ of his generation, the appeal is often the other way around. His most revelatory sets are the ones where you only recognise four or five of the same artists from the last time you saw him—or when you can only ID four or five tunes in total.
But if there's ever been a Best Of BUFO, it's this, a scintillating three and a half hours recorded in Osaka. The tracklist reveals a roll call of elite producers you might expect to find: Calibre, Sound Stream, DJ Deeon, and a bunch of Hessle-adjacent Brits. There's also Fanon Flowers, Mu's "Let's Get Sick," Toasty, the Owiny Sigoma Band, a Bmore edit of Art Of Noise and a patient piano interlude from Roman Flügel's Fatty Folders to cool everyone down at one stage. Ben's been booked over the years to play sets exclusively based around one thing, be it jungle or meditative music, but this recording is essentially his sweet spot, a fluid glide between divergent sounds that, in his hands, feel like natural bedfellows.
For a DJ not prone to showboating, there are even some rare displays of flexing. The way he teases the coos from Massimo Di Lena's remix of Salvatore Freda's "Irpinia" into KMA Productions' chasmic wobbler "Cape Fear" is one. Later on, Sizzla's "Run Out Pon Dem" meets Lil Silva's "Pulse vs Flex" for a screamingly good blend you can't help but rerun. It's not hard to imagine Ben hopping to-and-fo, elbows flying back like pivot hinges with every twist of the mixer, having the time of his life and making everyone have the time of theirs.
- Gabriel Szatan
Moodymann is not your usual club DJ. He rarely makes a seamless transition from one track to another. He switches the tempo unexpectedly. He grabs the mic and starts talking over songs. Sometimes he walks out of the DJ booth with a bottle of vodka and offers it to the crowd in front of him. His DJ sets can make you feel like you're hanging out with him at home listening to his favourite records. There's a special quality about his honesty and unpretentious invitation to simply "have a good time."
As one of the few touring DJs who never makes much effort to promote himself, Moodymann doesn't contribute mixes to podcasts or have any major presence on social media. This DJ-Kicks mix was not only his first official mix, but his first studio DJ mix (save the Moodymann Collection mix he made with his own music in 2006). This gave it tremendous value even before anyone heard it. Moodymann's approach here was far less casual than in his club sets. He edited around one third of the mix's 30 tracks, making it possible to flawlessly programme and blend a 75-minute odyssey into his universe.
- Yuko Asanuma
Helena Hauff's maverick style and nonconformist approach vaulted her from Hamburg's Golden Pudel to big festival stages. She stood out in the early days of her career because her taste for techno's grittier side and industrial roots, not to mention her commitment to vinyl and abstention from social media, felt fresh. Techno was backing itself into a corner of stoic, hypnotic introspection and pristine textures. In that context, she was downright rock & roll.
We could have chosen just about any Helena Hauff mix from the past decade to illustrate how and why she became one of the world's top DJs. Some have more historical significance, like her Essential Mix, which became 2017's Essential Mix Of The Year and made her the first woman to earn the title. Some better demonstrate the leftfield leanings that informed her maverick take on techno, like her 2015 set for Secret Thirteen. But Hauff's style is informed by techno's rough-and-ready side, so it feels right to choose a live recording. This three-hour set from Meat Free's 20 Years Of Blueprint party in Manchester was just about the most extensive one you can find, providing an expansive overview of Hauff's breadth and depth through sleazy electro, distorted industrial, Detroit techno, post-punk and EBM.
- Elissa Stolman
The first time I saw Call Super DJ was at Magnetic Fields Festival in India. I was in awe. His command of the mixer and CDJs. His relaxed flair. The way he waited until just the right moment, sunlight peeking through the palace turrets, to unleash "Wrong" by Everything But The Girl. The whole thing was joyful and effortless, the work of someone completely in love with their craft. I've seen a lot of DJs over the years, but rarely have I left the dance floor feeling so uplifted.
Two months later, Call Super released fabric 92. By that point, he had a reputation as a mix virtuoso, thanks to gilded entries for FACT, Resident Advisor and Blowing Up The Workshop. In different ways, those mixes presented a similar style of DJing: daring, fun, technically brilliant. fabric 92 expanded his repertoire. Deep and hazy, you could drop the needle anywhere and almost taste the laser-flecked smoke. Sonically, it was bold—sliding from 1940s blues into Yves Tumor has to be one of the transitions of the decade—but the real power was in the building of atmosphere, subtly luring the listener from one world and transporting them to another. It's a skill only the very best musical alchemists possess.
- Carlos Hawthorn
Laurel Halo's mix for Discwoman appeared in the same summer as her third album, Dust—a disorienting web of processed vocals, gongs and glockenspiels, and the occasional outcrop of breezy pop. DISCWOMAN 27 is a slippery fish too, reflecting Halo's roots as a freeform radio DJ in Ann Arbor. The Michigan native mixed fast on this one, allowing each track just a minute or two in the sun. Her transitions seem to move sideways rather than forward, like one of those 360° dance routines that ends with a twist and a clap. One moment we're lazing on the terrace with DJ NinOo's dreamy kuduro-house; hop to the right, now we're under the black cloud of Dominowe's menacing gqom; twist again, it's Monsieur Black's whacked-out take on a Prince classic. As well as taking in the breadth of her tastes—pneumatic club tools, elegant electro, beats from China and Mexico—there's a precision to the mix that indicates careful planning, despite the breezy mood. In that sense it's a closer cousin to Dust than it first appears; both reveal Halo's obsession with intricate percussion, as she pokes around in the breathable gaps between the joints.
- Chal Ravens
Yu Su's Truancy mix begins with a recording of her playing Lizst's "Liebestraum," a callback to her childhood when she studied classical piano in China. There's a delicacy and reverence in her performance that carries over to how she plays records: with care, space and a sense of unpredictability. Her sets can vary wildly, but her mix for Truants was one of her most tender, moving through experimental compositions from Ryuichi Sakamoto and Sugai Ken to the DX7 lullabies of Glenn Copeland, climaxing with a gorgeous Cantonese pop song and a Chic number that sounds like a gospel hymn.
The mix also highlights one the best mix platforms of the decade. Since emerging in 2010, the Truancy series has become an arbiter of quality in dance music, an incubator for up-and-coming artists and a place for established DJs to express themselves without the need to promote anything in particular. (Truants mixes are usually commissioned outside of PR cycles.) Yu Su's mix—personal, meandering and romantic, described by the DJ herself as "not curated by me, but for me"—is the series' epitome, a portrait of the artist being herself.
- Andrew Ryce
In 2018, one mix entered hearts and minds more than any other: CCL's Ode To The Queer Steppas. Taking dubstep, a genre largely resigned to the history books, and revisiting it with vivid musical inspiration and a powerful personal message, the mix resonated with tens of thousands of listeners. When released, it cascaded across social media channels and best mixes lists, as everyone who heard it was compelled to pass it on. It swiftly became a mix you knew blend-for-blend, putting it on again and again in the car, at work, hanging out with friends, everywhere.
On HNYPOT 291, CCL tessellates '90s techno and mid '00s dubstep with novel tracks from contemporary artists. Within the first ten minutes they slip from object blue, Laurel Halo and SUED into an eerie 1998 Urban Tribe record. In the next section the mood shifts: we're taken into the shadowy hush of two Shackleton tracks, then swept away in a warm rush by Robert Fleck's dubwise "Echo Chamber." It's around at this point we realise something quite special has been crafted here. In CCL's hands, bass-heavy beats become elastic rhythms, at once intriguing and joyous. In another definitive moment the unmistakable vocal of Marie Davidson's "Work It" is sliced in and out of a '90s Bandulu record, before both dissolve into a broken 2016 cut on Version. It's this kind of sonic collaging, joining up dots no one had thought to connect before, that marked CCL out as a distinctive selector.
The enduring magic of this mix goes beyond the music. Over the course of one hour and six minutes, CCL presented an alternate history for dubstep. A window into a parallel reality in which this freaky bass-weight music had always soundtracked the raucous queer parties they imagined while making the mix. By grounding the mix in a recontextualisation of their own experiences of this straight and male-dominated genre, CCL showed us the power that lies in spinning new stories out of the artefacts of our past. It's fitting that it came out on Honey Soundsystem's weekly mix series, which has become a vital platform for local underground queer DJs around the world. As an event organiser with Seattle's TUF collective and Vancouver's New Forms Festival, CCL had been a core member of the Pacific Northwest community for years. This mix for Honey was the moment the international scene recognised their unique voice and vision as a DJ.
- Sybil Gillespie
Conducta wants to take you on a ride through UK garage's new wave. Truly, there are few better for the job. Often spotted with a massive grin behind the decks, the Bristol artist makes for an enthusiastic, plugged-in guide. Conducta only launched Kiwi Rekords in 2019, and already it's racked up a number of garage hits and a growing circle of exciting DJs and producers (including Sharda, Prescribe Da Vibe, Sammy Virji and Mind Of A Dragon), pitting Kiwi at the center. If The Kiwi Manifesto, Conducta's introductory mix for label, was the low-down, Kiwi Krush is the thrown-down. Starting out the gate with AJ Tracey's smash "Ladbroke Grove," the first of seven of Conducta's own productions, is not a move for the mild. Kiwi Krush is a "state of play," as Andrew Ryce previously put it, for "NUKG," mixed from all unreleased goodies in Conducta's arsenal (some have since gotten an official release, the rest we must still patiently wait for). It's nostalgic for UK garage's heyday but far from retrograde, thick and heavy but not too serious, fresh and even sweet (check the label name) without being saccharine.
Throughout Kiwi Krush's 61 minutes, energies are through the roof but you never get worn out. Each track grabs you with a catchy melody (Yemi's "Back To You") or deep, wobbly bassline (Anz's "Open The Curtains Sis"), switching gears before overstaying its welcome in either mood, with some spin-backs and fader chops for good measure. And since it opened with a pop tune, why not bookend the mix with another? You'd never know Jorja Smith's "Goodbyes" was originally a heart-rending acoustic ballad from the optimistic spin Conducta puts on it, now standing in as a send-off. Maybe the mix's lowest point is when it begins to fade out here, a wink by a track about unexpected endings. More fitting still, one of the last clear lyrics you can hear on Kiwi Krush is Smith singing, "How do we grow, if you're not moving with us?" You'll want to keep moving with NUKG.
- Marissa Cetin
It's fitting that Josey Rebelle's Essential Mix (voted the best of 2019 by a panel of dance brainiacs, including one Paul Woolford) appeared at the very end of the decade. The Rinse FM stalwart has been DJing for far longer, but spent the 2010s working her way to the top of her field with all the urgency of a Tarkovsky movie about a three-toed sloth. But slow and steady really can win the race—even when that race involves blending the ear-splitting wallop of DVA's Sole Fusion remix into glowing chords from Martelo. Rebelle's Essential Mix knows its audience, focusing on belters for bigger rooms with a focus on house and techno alongside super-modern club rhythms. Notably, she uses the opportunity to place numerous black pioneers—Gerald Donald, Dave Angel, Jamal Moss—alongside some of the characters who are bringing new energy to the continuum: Afrodeutsche's raw acid grooves, Shy One's remix of South African star Sho Madjozi, and late-night heaviness from LSDXOXO. Her mixing is always in service to the track; Rebelle is the rare DJ who's happy to stand aside and let a track breathe, listening along with us. She'd been London's favourite underground selector for years already, so this Essential Mix—on-point yet totally accessible—was a deserved nudge into the mainstream.
- Chal Ravens
RA Sessions: Karenn
The much-loved UK techno duo perform a live hardware set.
Label Of The Month: SVBKVLT
Andrew Ryce profiles the Shanghai label leading the inspiring club music movement in China.
Between The Beats: Marie Davidson
The Canadian artist opens up about life on the road.
January's Best Music
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The year in review
2010-19: Reissues Of The Decade
Demand for old music boomed in the 2010s. Here we list our top 20 reissues of the past ten years.
2010-19: Tracks Of The Decade
100 tunes that defined the 2010s.
2010-19: Reflections Of A Black Woman In Dance Music
Ash Lauryn on women in dance music, then and now.
2010-19: Albums Of The Decade
RA staff look back on the definitive albums of the 2010s.