Mixes of the Year 2017
Presenting the Top 20 Mixes of 2017, according to Crack Magazine.
Visit 2017.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage.
Following the release of his phenomenal debut album, Príncipe’s France-Portugal transplant DJ Lycox delivered this ultra-tight half-hour contribution to our mix series. Capturing the full spectrum of sounds which informed his LP, poppy Afro-house syncopations are woven in with metallic grime-leaning synths and the kind of clomping drums and clipped vocal samples which are more typically associated with the Príncipe stable. Bursting with character and imagination, we’ll be replaying it long in to 2018.
Objekt’s mind-bending dexterity as a DJ doesn’t need reiterating, but it can never be overstated. Spanning 100 minutes, this podcast for Dekmantel exemplifies his knack for crafting thundering dancefloor moments out of abstract textures and contorted rhythmic shapes. Moving from sparse electro into bone-rattling jungle with the kind of meticulous, exacting execution that’s come to define his method. Deep, unpredictable and utterly addictive after one listen, the mix works as a handy companion to the productions he’s slipped out over the last 12 months.
There’s something special about Mafalda. What she does is deceptively simple – stringing together eras of jazz, soul, disco and various dusty rarities – but there’s a class and elegance to her selection that’s made her one of our favourite breakthrough DJs this year. The London-based Portuguese DJ, who runs Melodies International alongside Floating Points, really treated us with this one. Hazy, gorgeous selections and otherworldly curiosities, each with a timeless beauty.
Pavel Milyakov aka Buttechno is immersed in the disparate sounds heard rattling around the art schools and suburbs of Moscow. He’s super trendy, and at times the high-art element of what he plays can make the whole thing feel quite remote. Though this one-hour slot on NTS does quite the opposite – it’s an immersive mystery tour through lo-fi house and techno sounds which at once feel antique and blazingly futuristic.
As part of the collective Regelbau, DJ Sports has been responsible for bringing his home city of Århus into the collective consciousness of the global dance community. His hazy, dreamy aesthetic was fully realised on this year’s Modern Species LP for Firecracker Recordings – perhaps one of the most underrated long-players of the year. For his Crack Mix, Sports offers a polished example of that same aesthetic. Jungle breaks, acid warbles and straight euphoric piano all make their way on to one of our all-time favourite mixes in the series.
Berlin-based producer JASSS was brought up on a diverse diet of jazz, African and South American rhythms popular in the region of northern Spain she hails from. She created an eclectic mix exclusively for Crack Magazine, drawing on wiggy electro, growling halfstep, breaksy IDM and boom-bap house. A mixed bag that showcases her myriad of influences, 175 is full of surprises, veering and stomping its way into a different direction at a moment’s notice with JASSS masterfully at the helm.
Sapphire Slows – Beat Bouquet
Tokyo DJ and producer Sapphire Slows likened the construction of this mix to “choosing fresh flowers in a local cozy florist.” It’s a fitting ananlogy, this one-hour trip for Radio Cómeme is a shapeshifting collage of glassy ambience, squelchy techno and whispered beats all mixed with precision and attention. It’s the kind of mix that grows and blooms out of earshot, magically dissolving into ambience seemingly before it’s even begun.
In Focus: Susumu Yakota
NTS Radio’s In Focus series is a handy microcosm for the entire station’s philosophy. Providing specialist deep dives into the work of specific artists, labels and scenes, the two-hour shows let the music do the talking and offer a genuine opportunity to get lost in back catalogues which you might not otherwise investigate. In June, the show turned their gaze on to Japanese ambient and techno producer Susumu Yokota who passed away in 2015. Covering all corners and shades of his beguiling sound, noodling blissful ambient cuts at the start blossom into downtempo house and lo-fi acid. Then San kicks in at the finale – a glistening techno cut released in 1994 under his Ebi moniker – a bewitching headrush.
Whipping listeners into a Shazaam frenzy, track IDs have been desperately hunted for on this outstanding mix from the Whities affiliate. Racing through chugging 4/4 basslines, jungle, hardcore, exclusive unreleased goodies from friends and hammering tribal textures, there’s a lot to take in on Emerson’s soaring two-hour performance. Opening with The Magnetic Fields’ I Shatter, she splices anime soundtracks with vocals from Björk and there’s the inclusion of Shamir’s On The Regular mixed with An-i’s Gutz.
Phase Fatale is at the gritty intersection where older, colder industrial textures rub up against the current penchant for EBM and tougher techno. This mix for RA is an incredible marrying of these strands. Atmospheric without the scathing brutalism of other artist affiliates, the energy throughout was constantly morphing within these aforementioned worlds but never stayed totally true to any of them making for a insatiably interesting listen.
Through her work as part of Janus and as a producer, Kajsa Blom has always managed to bring evocative sounds to the dancefloor and permeate a personal voice through electronic sounds. This hour-long excursion for Resident Advisor might not be optimum main-room listening but it carries a through-line of abrasive emotional intensity which can’t be missed. The inclusion of The Steve Miller Band’s Serenade at the end feels like ironic final credits music at the end of a gruesome opera. One for the headphones.
Sir Spyro – The Finale
Rounding off 12 groundbreaking years of service, Sir Spyro ended his residency on Rinse FM in November with a herculean 2-hour spectacular on the community station. With Maximum next to him at the tables, he started off with a quickfire showcase of high-impact dubplates before welcoming a slew of MCs to jump on and celebrate the essence of what makes his place in the scene so important and historic. By the time Flowdan grabs the mic with only 10 seconds left of airtime, it’s a miracle anyone in the room has anything left in the tank.
Mixmag Cover Mix
Björk’s DJ sets are like impulsive tours through the disparate sounds that inspire a true genius. Mixmag’s Björk cover story focused on her longstanding passion for dance music, and for the accompanying mix she included tracks from adventurously-minded producers – Lanark Artefax, SD Laika and Manchester newcomer LOFT – alongside today’s most compelling voices (Arca, serpentwithfeet, Kelela) while also channeling the pastoral beauty of her new album Utopia with fragments of flute music. It was a great morning when this one dropped.
As DJs fought hard to out-weird each other this year, few explored the outer limits of hypnotic, drag-you-through-a-wormhole obscurity as Vladimir Ivkovic did. The pulsing intensity of his sound – which has been honed through years of DJing at Dusseldorf’s wiggy dancefloor palace Salon des Amateurs – was pushed to magnificent extremes during his set on the Dekmantel Selectors stage. We can only imagine what it would have been like to be there, but we’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it.
Joe’s sound is wonderfully deranged. The shadowy producer, who made a name for himself with his lopsided productions on Hessle Audio and Hemlock without ever showing his face, ended a long silence this year with his Tail Lift release. It was followed by this – a mix for the tireless Truancy Volume series. Across a glorious 90 minutes, Joe dips into sumptuous boogie, hands in the air disco and head spinning house and techno. It’s deeply satisfying and, most importantly, fun, and we’ve gone back to it again and again.
Mixmag Impact Mix
This year we’ve been thankful for Jana Rush: the producer who debuted on seminal Chicago label Dance Mania at 15 before disappearing for 13 years. Now she’s back in full force, and her sleek, exhilarating album Pariah was one of the best of 2017. Her turn for Mixmag’s Impact series is delightfully unpredictable, glimpses of luxurious vocal samples providing welcome breathers in the midst of a powerful frenzy. For fans of dizzying, escalating BPMs, this one contains untempered thrills.
This year has seen an outpouring of healing sounds and a resurgence of ambient chill rooms implemented as physical spaces in clubs. One particularly impressive example is the immersive light installation Monolithic, designed by squidsoup and debuted at Bristol’s Motion this summer. Soundtracked by hour-long mixes from a plethora of DJs and producers, Octo Octa’s ambient discourse stood out as a highlight. She deftly constructs a dense universe of soothing, foggy textures interjected with minimalist synth notes in continuous loops. The result? A future-primed ambient mix that phases out with a slow-rising ascension of bells and searing electro.
Terraforma festival takes place at the Villa Arconati, a picturesque Baroque estate built in the 17th and 18th centuries, tucked away in the forests of Bollate just outside of Milan. Italian techno master Donato Dozzy has become a regular at the small festival, where his daytime sets are always hotly anticipated. This abstract, eery and completely captivating set was performed to a mostly silent, mostly horizontal crowd who gathered at 10am to sprawl across the festival site’s lush greenery. Ambient sets were certainly en vogue this year, but when it comes to mind-expanding beatless excursions, there are very few as truly spellbinding as Donato Dozzy’s.
When Crack Magazine spoke to Bristol’s Batu earlier in the year, talked about the enduring gaze-widening potential of dancefloors. “Dance music is where you’re touching people the most.” he said, “Those times on a dancefloor where you hear something new, captivating, and imaginative – and you lose your mind.” If we’re to take that as the manifesto which he’s imbued into the output of his label Timedance and the cursive percussive sounds of his own production – then it’s a vision reflected in his expertly delivered Crack Mix. Finding airy pockets of space between broken beats and smoky dub textures, Batu’s densely woven tapestry is brimming with innovation and creativity. 80 minutes of listening which are as hypnotic as they are totally energising.
Volvox b2b UMFANG
In 2017, Discwoman reigned supreme – and our fave DJ collective’s push for dancefloor domination came to a roaring climax at Dekmantel in August. In the red corner: São Paulo-born Volvox, noted acid fanatic and resident at Brooklyn’s Bossa Nova Civic Club. In the blue corner: NYC techno supremo and Discwoman co-founder UMFANG. Going back-to-back in Amsterdam, they jacked up the pressure by digging deep into the crates marked “freaky electro”, throwing down a spontaneous, sweat-soaked set that had the crowd practically levitating – just hear them scream for Ellen Allien’s booty-shaker Astral a few minutes in. Make no mistake: the year belonged to the Discwomen.