LWE’s Top 25 Tracks of 2013 (15–11)

15. ItaloJohnson, “Untitled A1”
[ItaloJohnson] (buy)

For all the generic breakbeat permutations to emerge from underground dance music this year, its return to rude form in certain cases turned out to be quite refreshing. The untitled A-side of ItaloJohnson’s seventh release is certainly one of them, booming at the low end while adding crisp layers of breaks, militantly demanding your attention. With small rhythmic gestures that merely drop in and out at regular 4/4 intervals, and spicing them up with a loosely introduced vocal loop, the Berlin-based three-piece quickly establishes a sense of never-ending pendulum movement with no sign of, or even need for, a destination. But things take a turn for the unexpected after the two minute mark, when the omnipresent bass line drops and washes all over the percussive elements, leaving a sweet, but intoxicating afterglow which persists until the bass line returns. With a confident nod to house music’s early breakbeat facet and a glimpse into the recent hardcore fascination connecting both past and present, this cut presents one of the most sublime DJ tools in recent memory and a definite highlight of ItaloJohnson’s successful vinyl-only series. (Dino Lalic)

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14. MMM, “Casio Dub”
[MMM] (buy)

As MMM, Fiedel and Errorsmith are best known for exploring rave tropes with an avid, surgical sampling style. “Que Barbaro” applied that aesthetic to sounds ripped from African guitar records with their usual alacrity, but the record’s laid-back “Casio Dub” B-side came across even more strongly. MMM is more floor-friendly than Errorsmith’s solo work, but it retains a sharp, glassy precision in collaboration — the fingerprints of the software and hardware used to make the music are inescapable, and that lends “Casio Dub”‘s central riff a bristly intensity. Yet it would be wrong to think of this as a sanitary dub. The hi-hats do have a real surgical edge to them, but the dialogue between the warm gurgle of its guitar loop and the lofty Casio means “Casio Dub” works equally well as a nuanced concentration piece and a vibed-out tool. (Brandon Bussolini)

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13. Pev & Hodge, “Bells” (Dream Sequence)
[Punch Drunk] (buy)

“Bells” (System Mix) was a nigh on perfect meeting of bare-bones dub sensibilities: earth moving subs, queasy reverb laden samples coming in and out of the mix at unexpected junctures, and a sense of cavernous space in the mix that readies it for serious impact — a slugging piece of rollage you could get easily lost in and return to time and again. The Dream Sequence mix on the flipside offered a 4/4 take on proceedings that was equally enticing and showed the influence of Hodge to best effect with its velvety kicks, submerged washes of synth and, of course, those ethereal bells samples ducking up and under the mix. Visceral, romantic, and timeless music that represents the very best of cross pollination. (Harry Sword)

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12. Osborne, “Hold Up (Feat. Joe Goddard)”
[Spectral Sound] (buy)

Joe Goddard knows his range. Whether he’s acting as part of Hot Chip, the 2 Bears, or guesting on this, Todd Osborn’s return to Spectral Sound after a few quiet years, he gets an improbable amount of mileage from that cottony man-mewl. His voice is perfectly chosen as a foil for “Hold Up”‘s immediately memorizable acid line, and it’s perfectly twinned with the purple gush of Rhodes, pushing forward in slow swells — an umami combo of prickly longing and faint resignation, despite Goddard’s refrain, “I wanna do work with you.” We’d like to aver that there was no more affecting, or compulsively listenable, dance-pop moment in 2013, but that’s unquantifiable. The particular quality this collaboration teased out of familiar materials is what made it an unsurpassable tune, all without ever changing lanes. (Brandon Bussolini)

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11. John Barera & Will Martin, “Reality”
[Dolly] (buy)

It almost feels pointless to write about the charms of Will Martin & John Barera’s “Reality.” There’s nothing to “get”; no history or context to explain. Simply put, the Boston-based duo’s first track together was one of the year’s most energetic and infectious cuts. A jumping party incarnate. That it appeared at such a key moment in Steffi’s popular Panorama Bar mix can only have boosted its popularity, but it seems obvious that even without that leg-up, it would still have made serious waves. As Steve Mizek pointed out in our October charts, it’s a track which leans heavily on samples, but which doesn’t feel at all reliant on them. The meat is all in the composition. From its cobra-like bass line, to its sharp piano stabs and cascading peals of flute, “Reality” was a triumph of many appealing elements packed very, very densely into one space. That none of these sounds stole each others’ thunder — and indeed, added enormously to the playful ruckus — is what makes it worthy of our Top Tracks list.
(Nick Connellan)

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Tracks 1–5
Tracks 6–10
Tracks 11–15
Tracks 16–20
Tracks 21–25

Si  on December 18, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Reality and ITJ are definitely favourites here too, looking forward to seeing the top 10.

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