LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2010 (10-6)


10. Ramadanman, “Don’t Change For Me”
[Hessle Audio] (buy)

“Don’t Change For Me” came at the end of Ramadanman’s eponymous Hessle Audio EP, where it was an uncharacteristically straightforward reward after five tracks of unforgiving insularity. It certainly wasn’t any simpler, but it was sure as hell a wake-up call. Where so much of David Kennedy’s 2010 work was characterized by excessively dry rhythmic experimentation, “Don’t Change For Me” gleefully sent junglist breaks flying every which way across the track, skidding to a halt with dramatic sub-bass rumblings before beginning anew in a different direction. A little cartoonish, yes, and it was only exaggerated when typical Kennedy organs slammed into the track, weighing it down at the sides so heavily that the breaks shot down steep inclines. A blissful mess overflowing with percussion (check the bongos that appear halfway through), Kennedy’s boundless energies were finally released through his own guiltless take on tradition. None of these genres are usually this unashamedly happy — jungle, dubstep, grime, whatever, they all equal paranoia — but when Kennedy rolls the vocal sample in the palm of his hand only to send it flinging out into the center, his grin is palpable. I’m smiling right along with him. (Andrew Ryce)

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09. Fred P., “On This Vibe”
[Esperanza] (buy)

The very term deep house implies there is a certain profundity to the music it describes, a lushness that doesn’t always exist in its prefix-absent cousin. Fred Peterkin is a demonstrative proponent of deep house, whether under the Black Jazz Consortium handle or as Fred P., and in 2010 he was responsible for some of the most conclusive moments in the genre. “On This Vibe” found the New York producer decamping to Spain for a jaunt on the Esperanza label with a track that couldn’t have been better matched to its name. When the only discernible melody is a one-fingered piano key that appears every two bars you better hope the rest of your track has an abundance of feeling to carry it. Fred matches pads that shimmer with the intensity of solar flares and a vocal wail that melts into your brain like pitch on a desert highway. It’s the deep throb of a bass line and shuffling, tracky percussion that keep these flighty, etheric elements moored and add further gravitas to one of this years most sublime moments in house music. (Per Bojsen-Moller)

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08. Steffi ft. Elif Biçer, “Kill Me” (Instrumental Dub)
[Ostgut Ton] (buy)

It is far worse to be ignored than hated because at least hatred means someone feels something for you. For her first solo EP, Steffi ably channeled this singeing feeling of indifference into the powerful and compact tune, “Kill Me,” with help from Ostgut Ton’s resident chanteuse, Elif Biçer, and longtime confidante, Dexter. This single was too catchy and effective to ignore, confidently improving on the retro-tinged sound first debuted on “24 Hours” by smoothing out the edges, allowing her drum programming room to flirt with complexity, and tailoring the intensity of her pitches to perfection. Although the original vocal version is a masterful example of integrating narrative lyrics into house music, “Instrumental Dub” version gets our nod for maintaining the original’s charm while being utilitarian enough for use by a wide variety of DJs. With all this arriving so early in her career, it’s likely her forthcoming debut album will be just as difficult to overlook. (Anton Kipfel)

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07. Oni Ayhun, “OAR004-A”
[Oni Ayhun Records] (buy)

In his review of Oni Ayhun’s OAR004 earlier this year, Chris Miller wrote that “sometimes you just need to let shit get out of hand,” and there’s hardly a better way of describing how the producer’s sole 2010 release sounds on first listen. Initially the A-side seems in disarray, like a jam-out that hasn’t found its groove, all glassy wobbling lines and bursts of screeching white noise atop anemic, metallic 4/4 rhythms. Midway through, though, that shell of chaos cracks and a jacking sub-bass-inflected groove worms its way out, those earlier elements all reigned in, orbiting around it. It’s a perfect bait-and-release; when he pulls back, you’re left lusting after that rhythm, hoping that somehow that tense mess of elements will magically realign itself. Relentlessly teetering on the edge, “OAR004-A” is a compositional tour de force, reaffirming that Oni Ayhun plays only by his own rules. (Steve Kerr)

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06. Morphosis, “Musafir”
[M>O>S Recordings] (buy)

The word “Musafir” translates from Arabic as “traveler” and indeed, Morphosis sometimes seems like a traveler from a distant land where techno doesn’t adhere to any rules and is not afraid to not make sense. You could say that it’s this unorthodoxy, this complexity that makes “Musafir” one of the best tracks of the year, but that might mask the fact that it also simply steamrolls over everything in its path. It kicks off with a contorted, resonating saxophone that stumbles over a kick drum. But it’s soon joined by the main attraction, the titan-sized synth line that never seems to repeat itself the same way twice. At times it’s muted and subdued, other times Morphosis cranks up the resolution and the tune singes the hairs on the back of your neck. Hi-hats slice the air in irregular intervals. Snare hits feel like crack of Hephaestus’ hammer against the forge. Indeed, everything about “Musafir” feels epic, like the soundtrack to a storm the strength of which only Poseidon could conjure. Techno doesn’t get much more mental, powerful or extraordinary than this. (Chris Miller)

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Keep-It-Deep  on December 16, 2010 at 2:37 AM

even if i don’t care about charts // best-of lists, i’m glad to see fred p AND steffi in your today’s list.

struggle  on December 16, 2010 at 5:15 AM

wow! I own 3 of these..I am cool!

Joseph Hallam  on December 16, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Glad to see “On This Vibe” included in your chart, it totally deserves a high place, which it has been given. Quite a slept on record this year I found.

tibal  on December 16, 2010 at 3:54 PM

it’s great to see 2 Fred P tracks in your charts.I love them both.I think “it is what itis” is better than “on “this vibe” It ‘s really not important.I am just curious to know why you think “on this vibe” deserves a better rank?

littlewhiteearbuds  on December 16, 2010 at 4:03 PM

As is the familiar refrain with these sorts of things, “On This Vibe” just received more votes.

Chris Burkhalter  on December 16, 2010 at 6:01 PM

To me, “Vibe” sounded more like Fred P forging new ground, building on the woozy sound of some of his earlier records with confidence and ability that just staggered. To me, it *had* to be his 2010 highlight.

But I mean no disrespect to “It Is What It Is,” a moody piece that I also love.

And don’t forget about “Applied Vibes” either….

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