Here are the 100 greatest LPs of 2016, according to Crack Magazine. Visit 2016.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage over the coming weeks.
DJ EARLOpen Your Eyes Teklife
Back in February, DJ Earl revealed he was working on a project with contributions from high profile experimentalist Oneohtrix Point Never. While the news came as a pleasant surprise, the collaboration made total sense. Open Your Eyes was an adventure in sonics, melody and rhythm for which Earl moved away from footwork’s traditionally masculine spirit towards jazzier and more ambient moods. Once you pressed play, it felt like anything was possible.
NXWORRIESYes Lawd! Stones Throw
The union of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge as NxWorries followed Stones Throw’s fine tradition of officiating mind-blowing duos – also see Madvillain, Jaylib and 7 Days of Funk. With the 19 songs of Yes Lawd! rarely extending beyond the three minute mark, it was as if .Paak was so excited by Knx’s golden soul collages that he could barely sit still. Destined to become a cult classic.
KORNEL KOVACSThe Bells Studio Barnhus
In a scene ruled by stone-faced producers, Kornel Kovacs’ cheerful charisma shines. As one third of the team behind Stockholm’s Studio Barnhus label, Kovacs’ freewheeling sound has been at its most popular when shot through with mischief. The Bells spread Kovacs’ quirky aesthetic across a varied selection of off-centre dance music to cinematic effect. As one of the key characters bringing fun back to the dancefloor, Kovacs’ debut album was refreshingly grounded yet suitably smirky.
Thee Oh SeesA Weird Exists Castle Face Records
Here, garage rock powerhouse John Dwyer further pursued the tangent he took since dissolving Thee Oh Sees’ ‘classic’ line-up in 2013. The first album to showcase this setup within the now permanent line-up, it made for a twitching rhythmic backdrop for Dwyer to Jackson Pollock over with vocals, guitar and synths, creating swirling licks, muscular pulses and the fidgety groove of Barrett-era Pink Floyd that eventually doused itself in glitchy, fuzzed-out guitar before imploding on itself completely.
STEVEN JULIENFallen Apron Records
Fallen was the most frank, auto-biographical work from Steven Julien, fka Funkineven, to date. Each of its 12 tracks advertised a different aspect of his varied production style, with jazzy piano loops, spiralling acid house and twisted breakbeat. With the fallen angel concept giving Julien a chance to explore two contrasting emotional states, and two contradictory elements of his own personality, Fallen was, at its core, a collection of superb tracks bouncing with an idiosyncratic energy.
VARIOUS ARTISTSMambos Levis D’Outro Mundo Príncipe
For the debut Príncipe compilation, founders of the scene presented their work alongside newer figures like Safari and Dadifox. The tightly locked grooves, clipped Afrobeat syncopations and raw cut-and-paste sampling were all emblematic of “the Príncipe sound”, but the stylistic range on display here painted a more rounded picture – an ensemble cast of outsiders no longer defined by hallmark idiosyncrasies, growing into their own ever-evolving method and dismantling influences to form a culture which is theirs.
CHANCE THE RAPPERColoring Book Self-released
With brags about his artistic independence and loving references to his baby daughter and her mother, Coloring Book was a calendar of growth for Chance The Rapper, who shared the memories from the past that shaped the man he is now. Sonically, the project gathered the warmth of a Sunday choir at a Baptist church into forward-thinking hip-hop production, making the record feel like the gospel for the non-domination: come as you are, leave your burdens at the altar, and be thankful to witness another day.
RAIMETooth Blackest Ever Black
With their debut full length Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, Raime dove deep into post-rock, placing preference on distorted guitar drones and sparse, syncopated drums over electronics. With their sophomore Raime album Tooth, they stripped it right down to bone marrow. There was a suggestive restraint in each track, which wanted to explode but never did, and Raime’s prolonged tease only enriched its appeal.
KAMAIYAHA Good Night in the Ghetto Self-released
With a commanding assertiveness, rising Oakland rapper Kamaiyah provided this irresistable summer soundtrack with her debut mixtape. Embracing the Bay Area’s traditional hyphy sound with a luxurious-sounding twist, A Good Night in the Ghetto reflected on drinking out of the bottle and being too high to drive, alongside assured reflections on living your best life while you’re still young. Someday Kamaiyah’s “Woopty Woos!” will be iconic.
DJ RASHADAfterlife Teklife
Afterlife wasn’t the first record to celebrate DJ Rashad’s achievements. Machinedrum paid tribute with Movin’ Forward, and Hyperdub’s Next Life compilation acknowledged the style’s potential for fierce futurism. This diverse posthumous album took a more direct approach, unearthing 14 unreleased Rashad tracks created with collaborators from both Teklife’s young and elder generation. It seems that the polished, high-energy formula of the late Rashad Harden will serve as a benchmark for the many footwork producers who continue to take inspiration from his work.