LWE 2Q Reports: Top 5 Underrated Singles


“Liberty Bell” by Jeff Koons

For our first report, LWE correspondent Nate DeYoung collates his top five underrated singles from the first half of 2008.

With a market flooded with singles week after week, it’s only natural that a few get lost along the way. After seeing more than a couple singles released with none of the acclaim I’d expect in 2008, I decided a list was necessary to correct these wrongs. Spanning Chilean-Minimal, Italo-Beardo, and Melodrama-House, these singles might not fit perfectly in a genre world but each is worth stretching for. On the other side of the coin, slotting a little too perfectly into vogue genres like dub-techno or minimal-house (like Delta Funktionen and Holger Zilske) might have let artists get lost in the shuffle.

Delta Funktionen, “Electromagnetic Radiation Part I”
[Ann Aimee] (buy)

If 2008 is the year where dub techno strikes back, with Berghain’s Klock and Dettman becoming defacto royalty, then there’s no reason why Delta Funktionen’s debut single, “Electromagnetic Radiation Part 1” hasn’t received more attention. The A-side, “Nebula” is all smooth edged synths boomeranging around a deliciously straightforward kick. Dub techno is all execution -– gradual builds done in granular time, and “Nebula” holds it together with oceanic depth. “Estuary” goes deeper, slower and ends up burning even cooler.

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Ernesto Ferreyra, “Epaminondas EP”
[Thema] (buy)

As the other of half of Chic Miniature (with workhorse Guillaume Coutu Dumont), Ernesto Ferreyra received due attention for the group’s recent release “Escandalo”. But I might prefer Ferreyra’s solo “Epaminondas”. Latin drums pop around with the intense sound design you’d expect from Ferrayra in “Face in All Faces,” but the track is also adorned with a series of games: builds drop out into nothing, climaxes appear out of nowhere, a game of catch-up on the razor’s edge. “Rimola” and “Lowproof” also take no small pleasure in little samples -– “Rimola” pits clipped violins against drunken horns and “Lowproof” tweaks instruments as far as recognition can hold.

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Tensnake, “Keep Believin'”
[Endless Flight] (buy)

Tensnake has kept a healthy streak of releases since his sublime “Around the House” a couple years ago and “Keep Believin'” is no exception. But I wonder if title track just sounds too easy, too perfectly manufactured to get more acclaim. Take Italo’s drums, a beardo-disco bass line and add a pinch of deep-house melody to sum up “Keep Believin'”s recipe. “Congolal” follows in the same vein, leaning hard on melancholic sighs. To these ears, both tracks sound fine-tuned to an end game of synthesizing vogue genres. And, yes, that’s a compliment.

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Holger Zilske, “From Birds and Bees”
[Playhouse] (buy)

A recent press release for Holger Zilske asserted that he “produced (Ellen Allien’s) best studio albums,” which would be a little presumptuous if I didn’t totally agree. Zilske’s single, “From Birds and Bees,” might not exactly be overlooked — it’s been charted pretty heavily — but there’s been few words written about how “The Birds” can side-step vogue trends while sounding perfectly current. The micro-house ticks, the Songs For the Gentle melody, the spin-cycle drums all add up to an instantly memorable track. “The Bees” is also the first time that Zilske has lived up to potential as a solo artist.

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Seth Troxler & Patrick Russell, “Valt Trax”
[Circus Company] (buy)

Sure, it’s probably common knowledge that Seth Troxler is getting better with each release, but his collaboration with long-time Detroit DJ Patrick Russell might be my favorite. The slow burn house of “Doctor of Romance,” is adorned with clipped vocals, grunts and a bass line that take little time to hypnotize. Each track on “Valt Trax” is doused in romantic synths -– melodramatic, overwrought and crackling from a different age. Going face-first into extreme art poses on “Last Date,” Troxler and Russell imbue break-up clichés like “It’s not you, it’s me” with existential crisis. Slow house jams have never sounded so haunted (or punningly named after herpes meds -nb).

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hutlock  on August 18, 2008 at 7:25 AM

Fun list, Nate — good call on the Delta Funktionen!

chrisdisco  on August 18, 2008 at 9:01 PM

agreed on delta funktionen being an excellent call, though i don’t agree on the troxler + russell ep. it probably hasn’t got that much press because, well, it isn’t that good (especially in comparison to troxler’s other stuff at least). then again, stuff like this is going to be reasonably subjective.

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 18, 2008 at 11:30 PM

I actually agree with Chris on the Seth Troxler, but I love the rest of this list.

Henry  on August 19, 2008 at 4:49 AM

Discovered Tensnake’s ‘Congolal’ through Phonique’s recent chart. Awesome track – loving it!

adamm  on August 20, 2008 at 1:18 PM

Seth Troxler Re: I noticed that it didn’t catch much press when it was released but I keep seeing Doctor of Romance pop up on many a mix, recently. IMO, Love Spray is the chart-worthy track from the EP. His new EP as Hot (partnering with someone I can’t remember at the moment) is fantastic as well, check Mr. Utalkin.

polygonp  on September 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM

re: Delta Funktionen
Can’t take off my headphones – it’s all about the swirling snyths and those random, delayed knocks – totally mesmerizing.

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