LWE’s Top 30 Tracks of 2011 (20-16)

20. Levon Vincent, “Man Or Mistress”
[Novel Sound] (buy)

Levon Vincent has made plenty of gritty house rollers, but some of his biggest tracks (“Solemn Days,” “Double Jointed Sex Freak Part 1”) make Sunday mornings at Berghain look like child’s play. Those epics, however, didn’t even hint at the mammoth-sized “Man Or Mistress” that functioned as Novel Sound’s triumphant 2011 return. My introduction to the track was way back in January when I was told (following a routinely mindblowing set from the New York native) that the rave-lead maelstrom I had lost my shit to just an hour ago would be how Levon would break his silence. Cut to its release over the summer and I heard the track most often outside (apparently it’s hard to contain this one in an enclosed space) and more than once with rain coming down. Each time it seemed as if Zeus himself was approving of Levon’s snaking synth lines and pummeling percussion, which is more than fitting, since if any track this year were to awaken the Gods, surely it was this one. (Chris Miller)

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19. Storm Queen, “It Goes On”
[Environ] (buy)

What I love most about Morgan Geist’s Storm Queen project is that it yields full-fledged songs, not just DJ fodder. This is something many producers struggle with — something that’s become plainly obvious in a year obsessed with adding vocals anywhere they might fit in a house track, mostly without much success. “It Goes On,” the highly anticipated follow up to last year’s “Look Right Through,” nails this by tightly integrating Damon C. Scott’s vocals throughout the track. It helps that the lyrics — an emotionally charged tale of post-break up heartache — are personal enough to engage with but also help further the song’s development (repeating “day after day after day/it goes on” in the lead up to the chorus is genius). Geist’s retro palette retains the gloss of “Look Right Through” but gets tougher, absorbing Chicago house influences in its thrusting bass line and the winding synth lines of the bridge. And as every review and testimonial will note, “It Goes On” is all about the chorus — a burst of multi-tracked vocals and reflected stabs that give Inner City a run for its money. Taken together it can be a bit much for listeners weaned on tiny vocal snippets and demure melodies, but no other 2011 song managed to straddle pop and house more effectively. (Steve Mizek)

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18. Kahn, “Like We Used To”
[Punch Drunk] (buy)

The first time I heard Kahn’s “Like We Used To” was smack in the middle of a mix by Salva for XLR8R. It was love at first listen. There’s been a movement towards R&B influenced rhythms and vocals over the past year in the wake of Night Slugs’ domination in 2010. It’s been interesting to hear how far those tentacles would reach. Kahn’s particular rise from the Sureskank collective from Bristol has been marked by a unique melding of garage, dubstep, house, grime, and a fondness for twisted vocals and melodies. The way that “Like We Used To” combines this all into a positive roller with more than a little R&B swagger is striking and instantly repeatable. The waves of synth usher in the garage-like beat are amazingly heightened by the bass hitting heavy one third of the way in. One of the best details of the beat is clap echo every other bar, providing a little of implied space. The arpeggiated breakdown even folds in a bit of the feel of some hip-hop instrumentals from the past year. In a year full of warped and stretched female R&B vocals, “Like We Used To” stands out from the back by building a solid dance track that mixes perfectly with its vocal. (Keith Pishnery)

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17. Juju & Jordash, “Chelm Is Burning”
[Golf Channel Recordings] (buy)

Juju & Jordash’s work with Move D in 2010, soundtracking the silent film, “Der Golem,” became the inspiration for further questioning of Israel’s role in the Judaic existence and has resulted in one of the highest watermarks of their career, thus far. Using a striking cover photo of Nazi soldiers leading Jews out of a burning city and pre-Holocaust Hebrew newsprint clippings, the duo lead us through the appropriately tension-filled “Chelm Is Burning.” Bell-like echoes are formed from loud guitar strikes and pea soup synths create a foreboding atmosphere that is maintained throughout the multitude of jazz phrasings and dub effects. An analog bass churns and cymbals fly for the first section setting the mood before a live bass and drums ratchet up the energy while cryptic guitar figures and smoky keyboards play hide and seek. The duo pay great attention to the percussion, echoing and layering reverb to create uncertain shadows with capricious abandon. Over the course of a lofty 15-plus minutes, “Chelm Is Burning” leads us through an intense sonic undertaking that should be celebrated for its musical scope and political chutzpah. (Kuri Kondrak)

16. Peverelist, “Dance Til The Police Come”
[Hessle Audio] (buy)

Bristol bass hero Peverelist didn’t release on his own lauded Punch Drunk label this year, instead finding a new home on Leeds/London institution Hessle Audio. And why not? His work this year proved just as unclassifiable and restlessly experimental as anything from the Hessle crew, nowhere near the dubstep purist some might have made him out to be. Instead, “Dance Til The Police Come” is a twitchy, nervous skitter, hobbling on a broken beat like it’s running for dear life with a bum leg. Add frantic snares that bump into the kick drums and careening synths and you’ve got yourself a faux-junglist anthem for the post-dubstep masses, whatever that entails. You don’t need any of pretense or fake genre taxonomy to appreciate “Dance Til The Police Come,” however: the proof is all in the anticipatory shudder, the thundering low-frequencies, and fearlessly darting drums. (Andrew Ryce)

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Sibonelo Zulu  on December 13, 2011 at 4:17 AM

I have 3 of the above & they all amazing, especially the “Chelm Is Burning”……

ey  on December 13, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Dance Til The Police Come is incredible. both an amazing dance track and also hugely evocative / emotive.

rubin  on December 13, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Dance til the police come is in my top 5 for this year. It sounds like Carl Craig and Loefah getting into a scrap at a Bristol warehouse party.

Monstrous riddim

Joseph Hallam  on December 14, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Man Or Mistress for me. Killer track.

thetruth  on December 14, 2011 at 10:08 PM

that storm queen track makes me cringe. ick


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The Singer In the Subway: Damon C. Scott and Storm Queen « Viewpoint Magazine  on March 1, 2012 at 9:56 AM

[…] Goes On” appeared on 2011 year-end lists by prominent dance music websites Resident Advisor, Little White Earbuds and Infinite State Machine. But in spite of their accessibility, both tracks were generally […]

The Singer in the Subway: Damon C. Scott and Storm Queen  on September 17, 2016 at 5:07 PM

[…] on 2011 year-end lists by promi­nent dance music web­sites Res­i­dent Advi­sor, Lit­tle White Ear­buds and Infinite State Machine. But in spite of their acces­si­bil­ity, both tracks were […]

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