After the standard office to-ing and fro-ing, argy bargy and general smackdowns (no news editor, Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t is in no way top 20 material) we’ve arrived at what we feel is a wholly representative conclusion to an incredibly diverse year in music.
The breadth of musical range present in this list is emblematic of a music scene Crack is proud to be pushing with every sinew of our worn out little brains. In a year where you digest that much music, there are going to be victims who didn’t make the cut (give Lana Del Rey another listen, go on). However, after that much democratic debate, we can only have the utmost most confidence in a list we’ve poured the whole of our 2012s in to. Here’s 25-11.
Spaceghostpurrp developed his aesthetic on self-releases like Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6 (1991) and the God of Black EP by vampirically draining the vibe of classic RZA beats, Memphis’s gothic 90s underground and then defacing his tracks with porn samples and Nintendo sound FX. But by scrubbing up a bunch of his lo-fi hits, Purrp proved with Mysterious Phonk that he’s a creative force who deserves to be taken seriously. Tuning into this album offers a glimpse of Miami’s underworld through Purrp’s intoxicated vision, and it’s a hallucinatory trip that’s dark, sleazy and totally absorbing. David Reed.
SPACEGHOSTPURRP – BRINGING THE PHONK
(Honest Jon’s Records)
In many ways, R.I.P. is a record that seemingly evades close study – it throbs, sputters, collapses in on itself, shimmers abstractedly, denying the listener a sense of clarity. When the picture comes into focus, as it does on The Lord’s Graffiti, a chunk of super-futurist house music, the result shocks and reinforces the previously felt sense of dislocation. It’s arguable that R.I.P. makes more ‘sense’ when considered in conjunction with the work Cunningham did with dot-obsessed artist Yayoi Kusuma, with it’s pointillist sound-repetitions amassing into something monolithic, something content with exploration for explorations sake. Josh Baines
ACTRESS – ASCENDING
23. AUNTIE FLO
FUTURE RHYTHM MACHINE
(Huntleys and Palmers)
Glaswegian Brian d’Souza stunned us with his brand of African-influenced electronica, drawing together a range of insanely percussive sounds such as Afrobeat and kuduro to reinvigorate the dancefloor. Somewhere between Matias Aguayo, Villalobos and a Four Tet DJ set, he broke fresh ground with an extraordinarily assured debut selection which realigned a range of electronic expectations. A deeply refreshing, exotic and daring release. Thomas Frost.
AUNTIE FLO – LA SAMARIA
22. DJ RASHAD
TEKLIFE VOL. 1
(Lity City Trax)
While Traxman had already provided 2012 with one solid slice of fried footwork gold, Rashad came rapidly in his wake with an even more impressive full-length offering: 20 blasts of juddering, hypnotic energy, at times joyously mental, yet frequently marked by a real intelligence and lightness of touch. With the increasingly well-travelled figurehead drawing extensive influence into what was once an insular sound, this is musical evolution in action. Geraint Davies
DJ RASHAD – KUSH AIN’T LOUD
21. PATRICK WATSON
ADVENTURES IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
Bursting at the seams with the same sublime songwriting and musicianship that made his first three albums such essential listening, Adventures In Your Own Backyard marked a career turning point for Patrick Watson. Backed by a string of critically-lauded live shows, this tender tour-de-force reached further than any of his previous efforts, both in its sound and its success. Truly a talent to be treaured. Bear Gwills.
PATRICK WATSON – STEP OUT FOR A WHILE
20. MICHAEL MAYER
It was fitting that the centrepiece of the esteemed label’s return to form – via a slew of fantastic 12”s and some excellent LPs – came from one of its owners. Giving us a record that’s as fluent in deep-kosmiche (Sully) as it is in acid-tinged techno (Neue Furche) and equally as happy to lollop (Wrong Move) as to wallop (Voigt Kampf Test). He even chucks in some Immer referencing birdsong infused microhouse for good measure. Josh Baines
MICHAEL MAYER – GOOD TIMES
19. ROBERT GLASPER
On paper it sounds like a bit of a mess. Enlisting a wealth of celeb mates from the worlds of hip-hop and neo-soul, Glasper sets out to make a jazz crossover album that climaxes with a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit. But Black Radio is a record thats both diverse and coherent. Fiasco, Badu, Bilal and Yasiin (formerly Mos Def) are just a few guest stars and, unlike many feature-heavy records, Glasper’s arrangements and musicianship tie it together with ease. Jack Dolan
ROBERT GLASPER ft. ERYKAH BADU – AFRO BLUE
18. DAM MANTLE
With a series of unique singles and EPs in the bank, Crack was eagerly anticipating Glasgow-based producer Dam Mantle’s first full length. We weren’t disappointed. It’s a record teeming with ideas that are all executed masterfully, from familiar abstract jams to some more surprising house-influenced grooves. Brothers Fowl is a statement of purpose, the first chance to get the full picture of a producer with countless strings to his bow. Jack Dolan
DAM MANTLE – BLUEBERRY
17. BENJAMIN DAMAGE & DOC DANEEKA
A couple of lads from Swansea might not have been the obvious likely contenders to conjure one of 2012’s most memorable electronic albums. While tracks such as Battleships, Juggernaut and the epic Creeper were popping up on mixes across the board, only when experienced in its entirety can the emotive, linear qualities of They!Live be fully appreciated in all their sombre, dewy-eyed glory. Almost 12 months after its release, it continues to impress. GHD
BENJAMIN DAMAGE AND DOC DANEEKA – DEAF SIREN
16. RICARDO VILLALOBOS
DEPENDENT AND HAPPY
This is the avant garde with one eye rolled back in its skull and the other on the dancefloor. Villalobos’ nominal-techno inhabits a space where the essences of sound, texture and atmospherics are foregrounded, creating a record that luxuriates in its twin manipulation of temporality and techno signifiers. A deep, demanding, fully rewarding listen. Josh Baines
RICARDO VILLALOBOS – GRUMAX
15. GUY GERBER
Let’s get this out the way. When a mix CD – that traditionally features tracks from various artists – actually consists 16 original productions from the artist crafting the mix, it counts as an album. OK. Step-up Israeli producer/DJ Guy Gerber, who created an exceptionally cohesive and free-flowing electronic album, the kind of which are in frustratingly short supply. A hypnotic, trippy house flow builds and collapses, yet in the ethereal quality never lapses. An emotively charged and exhilaratingly mixed ride. Thomas Frost
GUY GERBER – THE GOLDEN SUN AND THE SILVER MOON
Not so much an album as a creative force of nature, Grimes’ meteoric domination of 2012 is at odds with the introverted, homemade, resolutely anti-populist nature of Claire Boucher herself. At odds, yet oddly refreshing. Perhaps it’s the character, the aesthetic and the sheer ‘2012-ness’ of it which struck a universal chord, more so than the album which led to this whirlwind, third full-length Visions. There are sparks of brilliance: Genesis, Oblivion and Vowels = Space and Time became slippery, ethereal anthems, even if you do have to affect a certain whispy falsetto in order to sing along to them. But while hers was undoubtedly the definitive sound of the year, whether Grimes can continue to grow and stand the stern tests of time remains to be seen. Geraint Davies
GRIMES – GENESIS
One of the most unlikely stories to emerge this year, Goat are a long-running, loose collective hailing from a tiny village in Northwest Sweden, who’re overtly influenced by voodoo culture and psychedelia. But as the title suggests, World Music is not about drawing a collection on sounds from one place, it’s a kaleidoscopic barrage of twisted mutant disco, unchained garage freak-outs, and odd-ball pop moments that slide together into a sonic melange of twisted genius. Alex Hall.
GOAT – GOATHEAD
12. GRAHAM COXON
This year saw Mr. Coxon escaping the Blur merry-go-round to quietly release his eighth solo album. For many, it’s his best. From the opening guitar clang of Advice, A+E was unrecognisable from the introverted folk of 2009’s The Spinning Top. And via the mechanical plod of City Hall and the dense blues shuffle of Ooh Ye Ye, a step out of the spotlight revealed a Coxon as bold and idiosyncratic as ever. Geraint Davies
GRAHAM COXON – CITY HALL
TENDER NEW SIGNS
Singlehandedly proving that shoegaze isn’t dead (it was just staring at the floor for a bit), Tamaryn’s Tender New Signs, is a shimmering, pulsating firewall of a record. Heavily sedated but overflowing with churning melodies, and blistering in it’s intensity while soothing the senses, this is an album of stark contrasts. Bonus points are due for final track Violet’s in a Pool, a genuinely scary piece of music that provides a decadent death waltz for 2012. Adam Corner.
TAMARYN – HEAVENLY BODIES