LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2010 (25-21)


With its many lists and retrospectives arriving from all corners of the Internet, the year’s end is a favorite period for many music fans and anxious artists. Others have proven decidedly less keen, wondering aloud why anyone would bother with ranking and reevaluating the records we spent the year covering. Yet as the music market grows ever more crowded and the genre boundaries once segregating listeners evaporate more with each year, it’s never seemed more important to look back at the year to celebrate its boldest accomplishments. As in past years, LWE’s reviewing staff has devoted a great deal of time and effort to sorting out what we believe are the year’s 25 best singles and 10 best albums. While your mileage may vary, for us these selections stood the test of time and defined our 2010 listening experiences. Staff lists to follow.


25. Oskar Offermann & Moomin, “Hardmood”
[Aim] (buy)

When considering “Hardmood” by Oskar Offermann & Moomin, my mind drifts to a derivation of its title — hard wood — to describe its sound. Much like wood grain, the subtle, undulating patterns give off an air of refinement and wonderment yet never come off as flashy. Opening on the tinkling sounds of a restaurant with slightly jazzy tones bleeding through, the muted strains coalesce with horn-led patterns bearing spectral features that provide a sublime, heard-through-the-wall vibe. By obscuring all but the biting percussion which locks the tune into reality, Offermann & Moomin manage to conjure the palette of yesteryear to score contemporary celebrations without fetishizing a retro sound. It’s a tricky balance they pull off with style to spare, as “Hardmood” sounds as enticing when purring through a home stereo on a candlelit night as growling from a PA surrounded by lighting rigs. (Anton Kipfel)

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24. Mount Kimbie, “Maybes” (James Blake Remix)
[Hotflush Recordings] (buy)

Given that Mount Kimbie and James Blake both had banner years in 2010, it might be surprising that the best out of either of them came from a remix of a 2009 track. But Blake’s remix of “Maybes” — perhaps the signature Kimbie track, considering it was the first that most heard — combined the essences of both perfectly. The remix stopped Scuba’s Sub:Stance compilation dead in its tracks, but as a singular piece it had the same effect on listeners. Kimbie’s rustic atmospheres sublimated into Blake’s gaseous backdrops as the track’s vocal gasps were twisted into the monstrous incantations so characteristic of early Blake productions. The drop was more like a vertical tunnelling, but nothing could prepare you for that second drop, where hoover-esque synths swelled up in splendid colour so bright it turned pure white. When Blake reorganized the vocal refrain into a brand new melody that audibly glistened at the corners, it was one of the most staggeringly beautiful moments of the entire year. Everything comes together to completely knock you over in a wave of dumbfounded stupefaction, and that’s not a bad way to describe the entire piece.
(Andrew Ryce)

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23. Hungry Ghost, “Illuminations” (Marcellus Pittman Remix) [International Feel Recordings] (buy)
3 Chairs alum Marcellus Pittman was on a tear this year, dropping veritable riddles of punchy drum programming and bent bass lines through Fit, Unirhythm, and Rush Hour. His remix of Ben Williams and Sam Weaver’s ethno-cosmic “Illuminations,” though, was on another plane entirely, sounding for all the world like it was recorded from within Pittman’s gut. If that description suggests the inner and earnest, that’s certainly appropriate, but I’m mostly referring to the squishes, sloshes, and groans that teeter through the track’s eight minutes. Its eerie wails, damp percussion effects, throbbing drones, errant rattles, and muffled bass-bin palpitations are rendered amorphous, primordial, and strange in this marvel of cavernous sound design. Really the only solid footing afforded is during the mad organ romp that makes up the track’s brooding emotional center. Up to and following that, we’re knee-deep in the muck of the wondrously unfamiliar. (Chris Burkhalter)

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22. Ramadanman, “Glut”
[Hemlock Recordings] (buy)

The appearance of “Glut” in April frankly stunned me. After a sterling 2009 and a solid double 12″ on Hessle I thought I had a good handle on what David Kennedy was up to, but this track proved otherwise. “Glut”‘s mixture of electro, house, and juke (to name but a few sources) was like nothing I had ever heard but soon went on the form the base of Ramadanman’s incredible 2010 run. I was soon hopelessly addicted to its treated vocals and rhythmic flourishes which, at the hands of any other producer, would sound cluttered and messy, but here breathe freely. For all of the elements at work there’s a huge amount of space here, occasionally filled up by crushing low-end and that organ sound that lends Ramadanman productions their signature melodic touch. This sound, a defining feature of bass music in 2010, may have appeared on plenty of quality 12″s this year but none as essential and none reaching the perfection of “Glut”‘s taut and potent five minutes. A veritable anthem, and one that still blows my mind each and every time. (Chris Miller)

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21. Girl Unit, “Wut”
[Night Slugs] (buy)

It’s safe to say the emergent Night Slugs label was already having a good year before their eighth released dropped; Londoner Girl Unit’s “Wut” was legendary while its release details were still uncertain. First surfacing in March, the track’s ubiquity rivaled that of Addison Groove’s “Footcrab” and tapped into the same vein of repetitive euphoria. “Wut” nicely embodies everything there is to embody about the distinctive label, funnily enough since it’s one of the few straightforward dubstep tracks the label has put out. In a year where chopped vocal samples quickly turned from novelty to bore, “Wut” did it differently, loosing a stampede of ecstatic voices that converged in a fearsome display of controlled destruction. But “Wut” was also about the hip-hop synths that coated the track’s frame in even more layers of melodic abandon, spreading like wildfire across its oil slick surface until the whole thing was alight in a glorious gaudy blaze.
(Andrew Ryce)

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>> 5-1
>> 10-6
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>> 20-16

Joseph Hallam  on December 13, 2010 at 1:04 PM

“Hardmood” is a luscious piece of deep house.

Chief Thomson  on December 13, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I just wanted to write down how great the track “hardmood” is ;o)) you’re so right @joseph hallam, great piece of deep house, stunning!

eric cloutier  on December 15, 2010 at 3:39 PM

really…”hardmood” over “joe macdaddy”? i absolutely love the latter…perfectly defined shuffling house. and its a dancefloor beast.

littlewhiteearbuds  on December 15, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Personally I think either track could have made the list; I’ve used both quite a bit in DJ sets and will being airing “Joe MacDaddy” tonight at Smart Bar.

Trackbacks

Best of 2010: Beatport Mike | dj-world blog  on December 20, 2010 at 1:26 PM

[…] Apparently it is: awash-in year-end reminiscences from everyone from Resident Advisor to FACT to Little White Earbuds we’ve clearly entered that time of year when we step back and take stock of the preceding 11 […]

Best of 2010: Beatport Mike | breakandenter  on December 23, 2010 at 9:53 PM

[…] Apparently it is: awash-in year-end reminiscences from everyone from Resident Advisor to FACT to Little White Earbuds we’ve clearly entered that time of year when we step back and take stock of the preceding 11 […]

LWE Podcast 98: Oskar Offermann | Little White Earbuds  on September 1, 2012 at 9:43 AM

[…] our attention: Hardmood/Joe MacDaddy launched the Aim imprint in spectacular fashion and landed in our top 25 tracks of 2010. Its follow-up, “Nasty Nate,” further refined their restrained, sample-led sound to […]

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