LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2010 (15-11)


15. STL, “Vintage Hunter”
[Something] (buy)

You’d think that with such an abundance of releases, Stephan Laubner’s sound would start to feel watered-down. Instead, we find in Laubner a level of dependability more or less unmatched within the genre. From his healthy collection of lovingly crafted productions, there often emerges a dreamy track or two made to stick in your ear for years. For 2010, “Vintage Hunter” takes the prize. Here Laubner’s steady, dubby loops are offset by bright, punchy melodies and bubbling ticks and taps. His signature stumbling drums and the warm, lumbering bass line give the track a momentum that makes nine minutes seem almost too short. The mood is a sort of seductive hopefulness, something hard to come by in a style that’s usually reserved for sadder sounds. It’s not made for the club, but Things From the Basement is a record that you’ll find yourself flipping again and again as it plays out in your bedroom. From the man who produces locked-groove loops with more personality than most musicians can manage in 12 inches, “Vintage Hunter” is an extra-special piece, constructed with the care and color only Laubner can seem to muster. (Sarah Joy Murray)

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14. KiNK, “Kiss The Sky”
[Boe Recordings] (buy)

Written by a producer whose tracks often sound like classic house pastiches, “Kiss The Sky” found KiNK shelving his touchstones and creating something utterly beautiful and his own. Although held together by characteristically tight drum programming, the tune feels weightless and luxuriant as its chords stretch outward in balmy waves. It seems another gorgeous sound is around every corner, from wordless coos and stuttering syllables to sweeping harp runs and tremolo progressions, leaving the listener dazzled at the many splendors KiNK packs into six minutes. Boe Recordings were wise to snap up this summery jam and potential underground classic in its own right for their Halal Prepared Vol.1 EP. (Steve Mizek)

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13. James Blake, “I Only Know (What I Know Now)”
[R&S Records] (buy)

Appearing suddenly half way through last year with the Air & Lack Thereof twelve inch, the superbly unique James Blake has gone from hotly tipped wunderkind to full blown auteur with each of his five releases in 2010 seeming to outdo the last. Firmly entrenched in the post-dubstep camp with his first few releases, his more recent work shows he looks set to crossover — if not to the mainstream, then definitely to his own unexampled position within music. The hints are in the genre tags on the Klavierwerke release in its Discogs entry: modern classical, dubstep. From that EP comes one his most intimate moments of the year, the achingly beautiful “I Only Know (What I Know Now).” Comprised of Blake’s voice and a melancholic piano bursting through packets of tape noise, all wrapped up in a woolly blanket of bass, it was the downbeat highlight of the year and a prescient taste of what’s to come on Blake’s debut album, slated for a February 2011 release. (Per Bojsen-Moller)

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12. Axel Boman, “Purple Drank”
[Pampa Records] (buy)

Despite or perhaps even because of the increasingly frantic pace at which life flies at us, music saw the opportunity to slow down in 2010 and grabbed it. Whether it was a new crop of languid house and disco producers imagining DJ sets never reaching 120 BPM, the advent of a new, buzzed over scene heavily indebted to chopped and screwed hip-hop a la DJ Screw (let’s call it drag), the preponderance of UK bass music artists whose best work ambled by at house friendly tempos (or below, eg. “Wut,” “Blue” or “I Only Know (What I Know Now)”), or Justin Bieber slowed to a Sigur Ros-styled pace, musicians of all stripes enjoyed their chance to pull back on the throttle. Count newcomer Axel Boman among the slow burners, largely thanks to his codeine-dazed hit single, “Purple Drank.” From the heavy-lidded vocals to the gut-punch bass line, Boman’s signature tune felt pleased with its own heaviness and drowsy pace without burdening dancers. But was the quivering organ line — soaring at a moments notice but quick to subside — and brilliant details like cola bottle percussion that kept the track afloat and glued to my turntable. Who knew such sleepy inspiration could generate such compelling tunes? (Anton Kipfel)

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11. NDF, “Since We Last Met”
[DFA] (buy)

If ever there were two genres us music snobs are supposed to be pretty well over by this point, minimal and indie rock are those genres. How peculiar, then, that one of the year’s best tracks spends an all-too-brief ten and a half minutes toeing the line between the two and makes exquisite work of the combination. “Since We Last Met” works (and makes weirdly perfect sense on DFA) because Bruno Pronsato understands tech-house better than practically anyone else still playing by its rules: rather than an invitation to turn down the thermostat, it’s an opportunity to crank up the resolution. And what high-definition heartache Pronsato and his NDF cohort Sergio Giorgini have unleashed here. Every bit of the arrangement — from those subtly swelling bass hits to Giorgini’s exhausted croak — exudes nuance both sonic and emotional. What results is a track as likely to resonate with your audiophile side as that part of you that’s wrestled with the peaks and troughs of love. “Since We Last Met” is that rare anthem as at home on the dance floor as between the sheets. Pigeonhole it however you like, just so long as you also call it excellent. (Jordan Rothlein)

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Tom  on December 15, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Yes! NDF! Pronsato needs more exposure. Thanks for not choosing the Villalobos remix. It’s good, but the original mix is so much better.

Tom  on December 15, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Something so ‘anthemic’ about Vintage Hunter, makes you pump the fists like f**k.

lipps  on December 15, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Glad to see Purple Drank get some love. Boman is always solid.

boe  on December 15, 2010 at 1:46 PM

wow thank you guys, it’s a real honour to be in this list

nunhgrader  on December 15, 2010 at 2:44 PM

The Axel Bowman track is awesome! Working my way through your list and new introductions – thanks!

nunhgrader  on December 15, 2010 at 3:02 PM

KiNK’s “Kiss The Sky” is pretty awesome as well.

Keep-It-Deep  on December 16, 2010 at 2:39 AM

“since we last met” by ndf is a heavy hitter in its original version. totally agree with you.

Trackbacks

TipTops TwentyTen « persuasion  on December 31, 2010 at 1:22 PM

[…] end of 2009) 3    STL  —   Vintage Hunter    (Something) (Read my commentary on LWE) 4    Public Lover  –  I Try   (thesongsays) 5    Shed  –  44A (Hardwax […]

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