Here are the 10 greatest EPs of 2016, according to Crack Magazine.
Visit 2016.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage over the coming weeks.
Lorenzo SenniPersona Warp
Milan-based producer Lorenzo Senni has been crafting a distinctive sound often referred to as “pointilist trance” for some time now. His drum-less formula features garishly euphoric synth arpeggios which often tease a drop which never happens. It’s an intensely emotional style of music, and Senni’s Persona EP saw him flesh it out with melodic chords while exploring the sad and relatable concept of “rave voyeurism”.
DJ MarfoxChapa Quente Principe
The batida OG returned to the Príncipe shelves this year for a typically savage outing of industrial clomp and genre-spinning dynamism. Framed as a “return to his roots”, the EP ranges from the frenetic panpipe pandemonium of 2685 to the mellow pulse of Tarraxo Everyday. Symbolic of Marfox’s commitment to finding new shapes and contor- tions from the styles and methods he finds, Chapa Quente is an irresistible victory lap from a modern godfather.
Aphex TwinCheetah Warp
Cheetah alludes to a discontinued synth from the early 90s. The MS800 instalment of the Cheetah has been dubbed one of the most difficult, most bizarre, and most technically combative to ever appear on the market. And while Aphex Twin’s Cheetah was more of a tamed and endearing beast than the machinery it references, there’s something distinctly lo-fi and challenging about its direction. Cheetah was notably decelerated in pace; meditating around the practically sluggish realm of 100 BPM. It’s down pitched techno in a state of dulcet R.E.M. It’s groove friendly with an abrasive air of unfamiliarity, deconstructing the fundamentals of acid and muffling them. Another satisfying glimpse into the brain of RDJ.
GAIKA’s music is a combative dismantling of industrial dancehall; a sickly narcotic of mesmeric, vocoder manipulated riddims. It’s not exactly RnB. Not exactly grime. Not exactly reggae or rock. But it somehow captures the fibres of these forms and finds continuity in their disjointed narratives. He refers to it under the umbrella of ‘ghetto futurism,’ and on Spaghetto his adventurous mapping of dystopian themes was fully felt.
G.L.O.S.STrans Days Of Revenge Total Negativity / Nervous Nelly
On 12 June, a gunman entered Orlando LGBT nightclub Pulse and opened fire. He killed 49 people and injured 53 others. A day later, trans/genderqueer/femme punks G.L.O.S.S (or Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit) dropped this seven minute-long hardcore smash to the jaw. Advocating for total violence in the face of bigotry and fronted by the charismatic Sadie Switchblade, it felt like a message of hope and energy in spite of hate. Now split, G.L.O.S.S. may have been short-lived, but their message has been indelibly branded on hearts worldwide.
Manchester’s Sophie Wilson cut through the noise this year with this collection of moody, fluttering nocturnes. Following last year’s sultry Feel Me, Willow returned to the Workshop label with this mixture of dream-like sounds and dark forces. Soft, dimly lit house mingled with slinking basslines and bluesy vocals; synth melodies that flicker like a candle were underpinned by the murky bassweight of dubstep. An enchanting and beguiling introduction to a singular new producer.
AbraPrincess True Panther
Awful Records’ self-appointed Darkwave Duchess used skitters of electro-funk and shimmies of synth- pop to conjure her third release, PRINCESS. Still preferring to keep her artistic process DIY, despite her unprecedented commercial ascent this year, the majority of its six songs were written, recorded, and produced in the singer/producer’s bedroom. From the statement of intent that was magnetic first single Come 4 Me, to the unbearable vulnerability of Crybaby, PRINCESS was more of what the world sounds like to one of 2016’s most promising stars.
Amnesia ScannerAS Young Turks
With Amnesia Scanner, Renaissance Man’s Ville Haimala and Martti Kalliala cleaved away their techno meandering and left their compositions to bleed out. AS sprawled like the mushrooming of gas clouds. It possessed what so many similar acts fail to create; a foreboding sense of space and sparseness. It was a cranked up splurge of chaotic drumwork, tweaked vocal cuts and digital disturbance. There was a real grasping of horror as an emotive tool in these six demented club tracks, as if the Berlin duo have travelled through one of rave’s many wormholes and brought back some of the most unnerving sonic specimens they could find.
SerpentwithfeetBlisters Tri Angle
If New York’s Tri Angle label is, as their bio says, “haunted by the need to find things that will haunt us,” then signing Josiah Wise, aka serpentwithfeet, must have provided them with a great sense of satisfaction. The Harlem-based artist effortlessly blends slinky RnB with neo-soul and gospel elements to create an emotional impact that lingers. Thematically, blisters reflects on feelings of love, loneliness, identity and spirituality, and Wise’s goth-gospel approach is refreshingly honest. “I am constantly looking for ways to make my music extra gay and extra black,” Wise said in an interview last year. Through blisters, Wise breaks down the conventional boundaries of blackness, queerness and otherness, and the beauty of the results is accessible by all.
Kelsey LuChurch True Panther
Kelsey Lu makes music to still the mind. Her contemporary take on folk, coaxed into life by an ethereal partnership of her cello and voice, creates a sanctuary that encourages contemplation and much-needed room to breathe. This six-song EP, her first release, was recorded in a Brooklyn church in one take with the help of a loop pedal and co- producer Patrick Wimberly. It’s so intimate it could mist glass. Lu’s vocals are spectral, and her cello manages to embody both feathers and knives. Using her Church, Kelsey Lu provides the heart with a haven.