Another year has concluded, along with another year of tunes. It seemed that 2015 made up for the deficit that was 2014, and a lot of major artists showed up in the limelight to grace the populous with excellent music. Electronic-specific artists continue to blur the lines between what is alternative, what is dance music, what is pop, and we welcome that. The streamlining of what once was considered odd and niche into hybridized artistry is a great thing and as more music entertainers embrace it the better and more distinct it becomes as a whole. Just to highlight this very fact, I present to you the 20th edition of An Electronic Sampling, a large, labor of love and critical issue that supplies not only some newly found gems of the lesser known artists of electronica, but also a selection of Best Tracks and videos from up-and-coming to already beaming artists released in 2015.
New Release: Phil Gerus – Nothing Twice EP
Phil Gerus has had a busy year. A year since 2014’s Opposites Left Together EP and only 2 months since his Now Is Gone EP, the latest of the Muscovite producer’s repertoire has you dancing a little harder.
There is a subtle familiarity in tone comparing Phil Gerus from 2014 to present, and at the same time, an obvious distinction which is more accurate to what is occurring in popular electronic currently. The role of producer often means DJ, and as a DJ they have to bring the rhythm and they have to bring the vibe. Nothing Twice EP does just that, a four-to-the-floor selection of dank tracks that evolve and bend to a thick dub that modulates in style between tracks. It’s impressive to see such a shift from an artist that at one point might have been considered ‘chillwave,’ but pleasing to see and experience the progressive nature of his music in what now is the year-end leg of tunes. Of the 4 songs presented, “Better Think Twice” stands out as an excellent opener and suaver club track avoiding typical formulas. The other 3 follow suit, in funk-tastic manner, making the selection more unique of a set and fit for the Bastard Jazz release. Almost comparable to french house, Nothing Twice reminisces on recent and old dance-club essence, but very different than the usual Phil Gerus old fans might have been use to. Worth a listen either way taken.
Recommended Tracks: “Better Think Twice,” “I Need You More Than He”
News and Anticipation
- Towards the end of November, Nils Frahm revealed a double whammy. An already announced new album was well in the works, but another of the German artist’s releases, Screws (2012), will get a remix album release as well, titled Screws Reworked. The album was built by patrons of Nils Frahm and selected, compiling 9 of his favorite and curated to match as a concise track list as well. The tracks are ready to stream via soundcloud.
- Multiple sources were on top of the recent banning of popular Youtube music channel Majestic Casual, which was taken down the last week of November for “multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement.” The channel was reinstated on December 1st with a video post of Esta’s recent track “Feathers,” with no view of another shutdown. On top of this, BBC Beats 1 has offered Majestic Casual a Residency this month of December. Whether the two facts are related is unsure, but this prompts the question: how will other, lesser viewed channels fare in the coming weeks and months as the hold of larger labels, music legislation and politics tighten?
- Nina Kraviz’ debut album Nina Kraviz sees a second light-of-day with a vinyl repress through the ReKids label.♥ The album will come as a double LP feature as well as a 7″ of two DJ Slugo remixes of the famed “Ghetto Kraviz.” With this kind of news, it sparks interest in the already smoking Kraviz, and what more will be conjured behind the curtain of her трип (Trip) label.
- Ghostly Intl’s Beacon with sophomore album Escapements is scheduled to release Feb 6. The album’s statement on the site was noted to “(thrive) on an amorphous, free-flowing nature” contrasting the streamlined debut from the Ghostly duo.
- Back in October, Junior Boys released the first single to their upcoming album Big Black Coat to be released Feb. 5, 2016.
- A development on old news, Antony Hegarty of the group Antony and the Johnsons is to release his new album HOPELESSNESS, out Spring 2016, in collaborative effort with producers Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never. The latest track “4 Degrees” offers a chilling experience that is seemingly a projection of the album in a snippet.
Artist Feature: Vanilla
Soul sampling and vinyl chopping has never been so warming. Even as artists progress further into more abstract and unique styles of music, the nostalgia of older music still sings true and in fact breathes a new life in one form or another. A stellar example of this is the creative work of Vanilla, a producer from London who has to this date conjured only sample-based beats in the form of methodically thought out, thorough and extensive albums. The origins and current whereabouts of Vanilla are undisclosed, or even the individual’s name who owns the moniker. They are as recluse as they are talented, which only adds to the appeal of musician that truly focuses on the music. All of this most likely preferred by the artist, as they seem music solely as a hobby and doesn’t wish to pursue as a main occupation. It’s a damn shame though.
Warm sounds of that familiar vinyl-to-needle contact iridescently crackle throughout all of his works; maybe it’s this quality that gives the subtle appeal of timeless tunes. Around that though is beautifully craft ideas that are derived from premeditated collections of style, purposefully encompassing a common theme, per album, and generated with an introspective album cover. A rare interview with the artist stated that they prefer the building of long track lists to fully ride out these themes as opposed to singles or shorter EPs. With this the extrapolation the ideas are fully expressed and the full album is more satisfying as a whole. The consistency between each album is also remarkable. Take for instance the 3-part beattape series of Chrometrails, Soft Focus, and Sweet Talk; each is sculpted around 1970s samples – whether they be vocals, instrumentations or noises in general – and fully fledged out to the tee including a complimentary artwork inspired by the decade and vibe in collaboration with a fellow graphic artist. Perhaps the best way to describe Vanilla is as a vibe artist, a composer for scores and themes variated between moods. Each album is different, but evocative each in its own way. Check out each album on his bandcamp and experience the Vanilla flavor. Their latest Origin, released September 2015, simply put, was exquisite.
║ Best Tracks of 2015 ║
Any “Best of” list is excruciatingly difficult to build. Who’s to say what really should and shouldn’t be cut, but it somehow has to be done. Criteria must be built; standards must be set; innovation must be considered; consistency must not be abandoned. Overall, this makes for a tough call, and after all of that, some tracks may very well be overlooked due to sheer volume overload, thanks to the internet. At the same time, we’re fortunate that we have so much to consider in the first place so we can narrow it down to our favorites. Those favorites are here in the Best Tracks of 2015 for electronic music and production, brought to you in embedded audio or video form.
The xx’s own Jamie Smith made his official debut album release this year, and its hype was arresting. The teaser track “Gosh” presented before you is a brilliant progressive as is beautiful dance track with a comparable video to pair. It was an easy decision to make the list, really.
Shy Luv is the collaborative project between boy-wonder Karma Kid and Armeria, both from Matlock, Derbyshire of the UK. A third member and vocalist Ryan Ashley was added for fullness and relevance, adding a dreamy take to already blissful dance production. After only a year of announcing the project, their four-track EP released and has made the rounds as a massive up-and-coming act. “Where You At” is probably the most underrated of the releases, but a great pop song at that.
If you aren’t familiar with Cosmo’s Midnight, get acquainted. The Australian twin producer duo are quickly climbing the status ladder of ever-increasing roster of Aussie talent within electronic music. Their latest Moments EP features the track and even spawned a Remix EP for the single above, “Walk With Me”. The video came out several months later and still has people jigging, somewhat like the dance number at the end of the video.
Drake might very well be on top of the music food chain, across all boards. He receives acclaim and respect from hip-hop critics, electronic producers, R&B singers alike, rightfully, but we also owe a large amount of thanks to his producers, notably Noah Shebib AKA 40 for fantastic beats. “Hotline Bling” not only imploded the internet, but also sparked one of the largest surges of memes to date. It’s a shame it was forgotten to be a Grammy nomination.
George Clanton’s 100% Electronica became one of 2015’s more surprising releases, showing that chillwave isn’t entirely out of season and is still riding along. Of course, it’s all about approach and Clanton took a nice angle, placing himself nicely among the underground lineup. “It Makes the Babies Want to Cry” not only is reminiscent of the late 2000s, but bumps exceptionally so.
UK producer Lxury as made his moves between the festivals, BBC spotlights and artist remix sessions, but the divine collaboration with rising LA Priest makes for something special. A palatable track “Show” surprised many people, but actually shows a distinct hybridization of both artists styles making it fit as a favorite.
The newest king of electronic music SOPHIE finished off his year with the official release of his collection of singles, The Product, an EP comprising of all previously released tracks from “Lemonade” to “MSMSMSM” to the above and highly anticipated “Vyzee.” Once this was mixed in his recent sets at shows and festivals, it had to see the light of day. Now that it has it continues to impress and absolutely bangs.
Grimes’ 4th studio album Art Angels dropped this past November, but months prior was the single release of “REALiTi” as a salvaged demo for new Grimes material. The studio edit is a bit different but the same idea comes across, however, older atmospheric tone and vibe resonate in the older version displayed in the above video.
Sorrow’s reputation precedes him. The relaxing track above was release way early in the year and was warmly welcomed into 2015. Popular Youtube channel TheSoundYouNeed stated “This is the kind of song that was missing in 2014. Something between Burial, Volor Flex, Bear//Face, Village.. while being clearly unique.” Couldn’t agree more. As we usher in a new era of tunes, styles like this will fade, but it was nice to witness one last take.
If you managed to read up to this point, I applaud you. Thanks for your interest and exploration, and see to it to check back next month for another issue. ♥