a-void.ca’s best albums of 2014

Click here to listen to the Soundcloud playlist, featuring tracks from each album

WHERE IS T-SWIFT?

Ok, I admit it, I didn’t listen to it. Nor did I get through albums by Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Keyshia Cole, Calvin Harris, et al and sundry. I also didn’t hear all of Ariel Pink, Foxygen, Swans, TV on the Radio, Leonard Cohen, Julian Casablancas and too many others to count. Don’t even talk to me about jazz or country. (I wouldn’t have much of interest to say.) So WTF *did* I listen to? I’m not even sure how to describe it. Dave-core? Morris-dance? …maybe it’s better if I don’t.

This is the odd post-poptimist desert I feel like I’ve been sent to, via my escape pod hurtling from the full time music-crit grind. The barriers have all fallen – like a lot of right-thinking people, I’m perfectly happy to flip flop from Nicki Minaj to Neil Young to Young Thug in the space of an hour, but what happens when you don’t have time to devote to what might properly be called truly Catholic tastes? Does my embracing of a specialty – electronic music, not even really including the hip-hop that used to be part of my professional bag – mean I’ve re-embraced some of the biases I spent the early 2000s working to shed, like an earnest young Chinese party bureaucrat devouring Marx and Mao, and then giving it up in favour of Day Trading For Dummies?

It’s not a question of openness, I’ve realized, but a question of how you apportion your listening time. For better or for worse, I shoved the stuff that seemed like a long shot into a hard drive folder marked ‘Later’ and threw on another platter of grime, and this is the list that came out.. There was certainly no kind of shortage of amazing electronics to digest; the volume of almost-worthy discs attests to that. (Sorry Tre Mission, SBTRKT, DMX Krew, Shi Wisdom, Mark McGuire, Run The Jewels, Pop Ambient 2015, I could go on.) The LPs that did make the cut seemed not quite dancefloor friendly, except in an abstract sense. Bits and pieces of LV and Joshua Idehen, Caribou, Distal et al slipped into my mixes with scant friction. But the inventiveness I loved often didn’t fit in the space between floor-filling singles, not that I mind. Still, this is a list borne of someone who experienced dance music in 2014 mostly in a bedroom or between headphones. Simon Reynolds’ inveighing against IDM-like anti-dancefloorism aside, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

The startling truth is that being kind of lazy, in terms of challenging your sense of what you like, can still be an astonishingly rich listening experience. There was enough originality and delight in my year in albums to make the absence of all that pop and hip-hop I missed feel about as painful as the knowledge that I didn’t eat nearly enough artisanal cheese in the last twelve months – not quite the sting of regret as much as the vague acknowledgement that I may have missed something good, possibly, but it’s not keeping me up at night.

If I had one thing I would ask of dance music in 2015, it would be for the most hypnotic, challenging, arresting, electrifying albums to be a little more melodic. I love the discs I chose, but as a whole I felt like my diet was a smidge on the grey side. Producers like Mumdance and Logos, Peverelist, Objekt and others put out single after single of holy-shit-guys-listen-to-this-ism, but when I put them all in a mix, I ended up taking a bunch out and replacing them with some chooons to break up the monotony. And the grab-bag of albums felt roughly the same, though I didn’t curate this list in a similar way. You can’t turn down a slamming, mesmerizing beat like the ones all over the Next Life comp or the Clap! Clap! record, melody or no. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.

Mix: Left and Right

leftright

So many total face-melters here. Both tracks with Riko make the case that he might be the U.K.’s most ruffneck MC. Repping the local scene with Shi Wisdom, who really ought to have been on the Polaris long list (apparently the album was like two minutes too short). Stray, who I didn’t know previously, was a nice surprise – Exit Records holding it down. And the footwork flip of “Luck of Luchini” was urgent and necessary. RIP DJ Rashad, gone too soon.

Click here to download from Mediafire

Deemo – Left and Right by Deemo on Mixcloud

  1. Loops Haunt  – IIVA – Exits (Black Acre)
  2. Bok Bok – Howard  – Your Charizmatic Self EP (Night Slugs)
  3. Kowton – Jam01 (Beneath Remix) – Livity (Ghost-202 Remix) / Jam01 (Beneath Remix) (Livity Sound)
  4. Jacques Greene – No Excuse (Yung Gud Remix) – Phantom Vibrate Remixes (LuckyMe)
  5. Martyn – Forgiveness Step 3 – Forgiveness EP (Ninja Tune)
  6. Wen – Play Your Corner (feat. Riko) – Signals (Keysound)
  7. Durban – Chimes  – Chimes (Lit City Trax)
  8. Footsie – Tekky – King Original Vol 3 (Braindead Ent)
  9. Shi Wisdom – Fly Too – Stranger Things Have Happened (bandcamp)
  10. Heterotic – Boxes – Weird Drift (Planet Mu)
  11. VesperTown – Tuff Luv – Kaleidoscope (Donky Pitch)
  12. Jailo x Ganz – Casino Royale – Turquoise (Terrorhythm)
  13. Visionist – First Love – I’m Fine (Part II) (Lit City Trax)
  14. Stray – Fragile – Chatterbox EP (Exit)
  15. Nomine – Zen Circle – Enma (Tempa)
  16. Terror Danjah feat. Riko – Dark Crawler – Hyperdub 10.1 (Hyperdub)
  17. Ital Tek – Control – Control (Planet Mu)
  18. Traxman – Your Just Movin – Da Mind Of Traxman Vol 2 (Planet Mu)
  19. DJ Rashad x DJ Spinn x Taso – Luchini VIP – Teklife Till Tha Next Life Vol. 1 (Teklife)
  20. Dibia$e – Hold It Down – Schematiks (10thirty Records)
  21. DAMH – Black Night (DJ Koze Remix) – Black Night (Kompakt)
  22. J Dilla – Here We Go Again – Lost Tapes Reels + More (Mahogani)

Mixed June 7 2014 for a-void.ca by Deemo a.k.a. Dave Morris