LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2012 (11-15)

15. Joy Orbison & Boddika, “Mercy”
[SunkLo] (buy)

Boddika and Joy O have been responsible for some of the years most bracing — although to be frank, unlikely — anthemic material. “Mercy” was the first release on their boutique Sunklown label and, somewhat disconcertingly, ended up sounding not much like either Joy O or indeed Boddika. Gone was the lovingly crafted UK garage/U.S. house derived uplifting human warmth of the former and twisted Drexiyan bounce of the latter. Together on this 12″ they rather made a move on pounding and twisted techno that careered through the night like an out of control freight train. “Froth” was a slow building and sci-fi referencing roller that called to mind Juan Atkins at his most venomous, but it was “Mercy” that really hit home, finding favor with everyone from Skream to Ben Klock. Based around an audible descent, the track didn’t so much peak as cascade down to the abyss, riding a beautifully engineered groove to a very dark place. The vinyl inevitably sold out within days and is now commanding high prices on Discogs, testament to the cult appeal of two artists who have, perhaps above and beyond any of their peers, come to define the august spirit of bold cross pollination that we’re experiencing right now. (Harry Sword)

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14. Unknown artist, “Echo Drugs”
[Long Island Electrical Systems] (buy)

If the inscription on the run out groove (“DAWSON, HALAL, LETKIEWICZ, PALERMO. FIRST AID: GREEN”) is anything to go by then this B-side cut’s hallucination inducing house grooves is the work of a spontaneous Brooklyn jam session by some heavy hitters. Regardless of who did what on this record, the resulting “Echo Drugs,” no doubt a nod to a local pharmacy in Williamsburg, is confoundingly strong. Stretching out over a flailing jack groove, its lead synth and bass melodies are contorted and modulated while delayed hi-hats and snares make shadow puppets on the walls. The whole affair has an eerily capricious feel that even after continued listens keeps you guessing. (Kuri Kondrak)

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13. Objekt, “Cactus”
[Hessle Audio] (buy)

Hessle Audio had a rather curious 2012; wholly revelatory, but not really in the same ‘banner-year’ sense of those outlined on our top labels list. Instead of simply leaning on their releases to dictate the direction of the brand, the labelheads took much of the brunt upon their own shoulders, altering the game and our perception of its limits in the process. Largely letting their DJ sets do the doctoring, Pearson Sound, Pangaea, and Ben UFO all underwent a brash upheaval from mere post-dubstep purveyors into a collective of genre-shunning Jedis. That “”Cactus” arrived at the dawn of this evolution is more than mere coincidence. It’s almost as if Objekt knew what he was doing in turning to Hessle with this catalytic bomb — equipped with enough serrated warble as to uphold their roots, but so disarmingly propulsive as to ensure they’’d never look back. During a year in which the barrier defending the purity of techno from dubstep’’s invasive aura was blown to smithereens, Objekt served as its Oppenheimer. (Michael C. Walsh)

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12. Pépé Bradock, “12Turn13”
[Atavisme] (buy)

As Pépé Bradock, Julien Auger has made a career out of left turns. From bizarre filmic jazz to sunny peaktime house, his releases run the stylistic gamut, and the Imbroglios series (ostensibly the soundtrack to a film called “Operation Veaux Carnivores”) he launched this year follows suit. Part I’s clear standout is “12turn13,” perhaps a tribute to the New York loft space of the same name. The track has a bumpy house shuffle worthy of Theo Parrish or Kassem Mosse, but the way it dissolves into liquid psychedelia is pure Auger. The initially straightforward groove is drowned in all manner of squeaks and squeals, and a piercing foghorn reappears through a blur of midnight hues in attempt to keep some order. Fortunately for us, it doesn’t work, and the piece’s wonderfully disorienting jolt to the senses is preserved to the end. (Steve Kerr)

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11. Maxmillion Dunbar, “Polo” (Extended Version)
[Live At Robert Johnson] (buy)

“Polo” was released somewhat quietly in 2011 on Future Times, but even if you had been familiar with the track then, this year’s “Extended Version” on Live At Robert Johnson would still warrant a space as one of the year’s best. Coalescing around verdant atmospheres and bird calls, “Polo’s” shifting, non-4/4 kicks and endlessly propulsive analog drum programming (those snare hits!) drew dancers into its meticulous web of rhythms with little hope of leaving. But it was that plucked bass line, along with the almost choral, elegiac melody placed on top that kept the dancers gobbling the track up like lotus, content to occupy the lush sonic forest of “Polo” for eternity. It’s precisely the reason this extended version is so essential — the original’s five and a half minute running time left us wanting more — the extended’s nine and half left us full-bellied and grinning in a narcotic stupor. Backed with an excellent Lauer remix, Live At Robert Johnson’s issue of Polo was essential, making sure no one missed out on one of the very finest slices of springtime house in recent memory. (Chris Miller)

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Guillaume  on December 19, 2012 at 11:52 AM

ah! so happy you mentionned Polo by Max Dunbar. It seems everyone else forgot this track, but it’s dope. thanks!

WLT  on December 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Polo all the way. It always sounds so full and alleviates itself from anything you play it with.

Same could be said for Echo Drugs but in a totally different way.

Both great tracks

Mitchell  on December 20, 2012 at 12:18 AM

Manifesto Acid is such a moving tune. Nice to see it included and looking forward to the rest of the list!

yoyo  on December 20, 2012 at 7:56 AM

lovely list with many of my personal favorites of the year (Pepe Bradock, Objekt, B+J). Plus some tunes that I missed like “Polo”. I actually prefer this list to RA’s.

Darren Cutlip  on December 24, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Am I hearing the Yamaha VSS-30 galaxy preset on this track?!!?!?

pöttpourri / 颇特普理  on December 27, 2012 at 9:37 AM

“polo” reminds me of those releases from the now defunct needs label. had to think of passion dance orchestra’s “worlds” especially, blame the melody:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4PmIhqyjyY

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