LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2009 (25-21)

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As the Internet allows for the fragmentation of tastes and musical scenes to increase with each passing year, critical attempts to address an overarching annual narrative seem as if they’re becoming a thing of the past. Instead we get something closer to an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” with several intricate sub-plots coexisting and influencing each other to enjoyable, unpredictable ends. 2009 found house developing still deeper on one hand and running at surface level on the other, some of its adherents picked away by a Latin strain which grew rather unwieldy. UK bass music of all sorts reached further afield for its influences, adding boogie, house and freestyle into its repertoire while dubstep proper refined its sound as the wobble variety began to grate. Techno grew harder, weirder, and more fiercely independent than most had seen in years, and many of its talents continued their courtship with stepping musics. And by the end of the year, there were more than enough excellent tracks to declare 2009’s yield both fruitful and memorable. After looking back, we’ve chosen these 25 tracks as the best this year had to offer.


25. Isolée, “A Nightingale” [Diynamic Music] (buy)
After a silent 2007 and 2008 (save a handful of remixes), Rajko Müller was relatively prolific in 2009, releasing two EPs on two new-to-him labels. It was still only a grand total of four new tracks, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. Thankfully, “A Nightingale” reminds of all the reasons we fell in love with Müller in the first place, along with some beautiful new wrinkles: a dark, snapping collection of tight melodic bursts and ramdomized rhythms, overwhelmed at key moments by oceanic swells of mayhem. Keep making them, Rajko; we’ll be here waiting. (Todd Hutlock)


24. Omar-S, “Blown Valvetrane”
[Sound Signature] (buy)

Even though he probably doesn’t care what anyone thinks, which many feel is part of his charm, there is no doubt that 2009 was a banner year for Detroit producer Alex “Omar” Smith. In between conducting hilarious interviews and releasing a mix for Fabric, Smith also dropped “Blown Valvetrane” for Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature. Despite the misappropriation of the term “minimal house” in recent years, this is exactly what “Valvetrane” was: stripped back drum tracks, lo-fi sounding and almost facile, but delivered with enough energy and dynamism to be lethal DJ tools. The title track, with its panning riffs and repetitive drums, provided an unpleasant surprise for many when it ends prematurely before starting again only to run at half speed, but thankfully the jacking percussion, hypnotic, scarping drums and searing analogue riffs of “Busaru Beats” offered no such ambush, just jacking till the end. Finally, “Deep Valve Cover” was the release’s hidden gem, a tweaky techno jam with a focus on some of the most intense snares and hats since Dan Bell’s DBX work. That Smith managed to take inspiration from producers like Bell yet make “Cover” sound 100% his own speaks volumes about just how far Omar-S has come. (Richard Brophy)

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23. Wax, “Dub Shed” (STP Remix)
[Subsolo Records] (buy)

Now this is something I’d like to see more of: producers shelving their stack of remix requests to revisit and refresh bits from their own catalog. For centuries artists have insisted their work is never completely finished, and René Pawlowitz is one such musician who keeps the door permanently ajar. In remixing his Wax guise under the stepping STP banner, Pawlowitz dissolves genre boundaries between the two while embracing and nourishing the elegant melodies that made “No. 20002-B” such a delight. He works synth strains into a frothy batter that hangs in the air with blithe satisfaction, bountiful bass notes shrugging below to keep low end devotees smiling as well. “Dub Shed” (STP Remix) is one of those rare tunes whose forward-thinking thrust manages to feels familiar, as if we already know it as a classic. (Anton Kipfel)

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22. Moritz Von Oswald Trio, “Pattern 1”
[Honest Jon’s Records] (buy)

While many artists spent 2009 in veritable coal mines of deepness in search of techno soul, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio found it in the power of their own musicianship. The heavily experimental Vertical Ascent, a masterpiece from a couple of guys who’ve had their hands in a lot of them over the years, didn’t immediately reveal itself as a possessor of club destroyers, but album opener “Pattern 1” quickly became an adventurous jock’s best friend this year. Much has been made of Vladislav Delay’s show-stealing custom percussion antics, and the album offers no better display of his talents (or the sonic possibilities of his custom-built kit). But 14 minutes of eighth-notes, albeit one of the more personality-imbued simple riddims you’re ever likely to hear on a techno record, might never lift off the ground without Max Loderbauer’s and Moritz Von Oswald’s golden web of analog synth haze, murky mixing, and halftime bass stomp. More than any individual contribution, though, it’s the genuine chemistry of these three techno veterans that takes “Pattern 1” from abstract dub chin-scratcher to ultra-deep, floor-ready freakout. A soul revival from three actual souls — who saw that one coming? (Jordan Rothlein)

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21. Kassem Mosse, “Workshop008B1”
[Workshop] (buy)

You’re unlikely to find a tune moving slower than the B1 of Kassem Mosse’s mighty Workshop 08 on these year end charts, especially when considering that most DJs have to hit the 45 button to fit it into their sets at all. Its deliberate 95 beats per minute, however, are one of its defining, and best, features. The woozy, unstable atmosphere set up by the time-stretched darkness of Dettmann and wobbly analog jabs is heightened by the heady, narcotic thud the Workshop collective have made their own. Slowly gaining momentum over the past couple of years, 2009 was the year Kassem Mosse truly made his mark, exhibiting how the simple sounds coaxed from his analog machines could permanently attach themselves to audiences’ brains. Those looking for “hands in the air” moments steer clear; this one’s for the heads. (Chris Miller)

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harpomarx42  on December 14, 2009 at 12:15 AM

I wanna see the Moritz Von Oswald Trio soundtrack a movie!

Jordan Rothlein  on December 14, 2009 at 12:06 PM

I’d see that movie.

flinz  on December 15, 2009 at 7:52 AM

can’t wait for 15-10

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