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1. Jon Hopkins – “Sun Harmonics”
This album’s one of my favorites of the year, and “Sun Harmonics” is a wonderfully textured, relaxing song, and the moment when the drums kick in around 1:54 is just masterful.
2. Mount Kimbie – “Blood and Form”
“Blood and Form” didn’t make any sense to me the first time I heard it: the bass is darkly warped, the drumbeat feels childishly simple, and the tonal shifts in the synth progression are off-putting. But if you have this tune cranked, I dare you not to at least nod your head during the triumphant outro, when everything clicks into place.
3. The Field – “I Have the Moon, You Have the Internet”
Ohhhh how I love The Field. I also really like long songs, so apologies if they aren’t really your thing. But The Field’s long-form manipulation of dynamics are really great, and every song plays, at least a little, with the tension of repetition. So don’t worry if you feel uncomfortable or antsy; revel in it.
4. Baths – “Miasma Sky”
Los Angeles artist Baths excels at writing emotive, electronic pop and his newest album, Obsidian, moves past some of the abstraction of his earlier work and becomes almost oppressively direct at times, but “Miasma Sky” is a crazy-catchy song that also has one of my favorite pre-chrouses ever: the crazy video game-esque synth bloops and chords from 1:45 -1:50 are so cool!
5. Flying Lotus – “me Yesterday//Corded”
So here we sort of begin a shift from electronic music to rap! Flying Lotus’s music frequently flirts with the line between them, often times jumping back and forth in a manner of seconds. “me Yesterday//Corded,” the finale of his most recent album, begins as a gentle, glitchy ballad and then flips a switch around 2:18, suddenly morphing into a perfect example of the overdriven synth and beat-manipulated madness of FlyLo’s louder work.
6. Quasimoto – “Basic Instinct”
Quasimoto is an alter ego of producer Madlib, a project in which he records his raps at a slower tempo then speeds them up to produce his high-pitched raps (he felt self-conscious about his deep voice). “Basic Instinct” is smooooooooth, displaying Madlib’s feel for subdued, warm instrumentals and rhythmic rapping.
7. J Dilla – “Dilla Says Go”
Come on, I couldn’t do a list and not include a Dilla song. This song is just perfect, from the little vocal samples to the warm percussion, and the moment at :49 when everything but the beat drops out is one of the best things in the world.
8. The Underachievers – “New New York”
Watch me use the lingo kids are using these days: this song goes hard. Produced by The Entreproducers, “New New York” hits on an overdriven guitar riff and runs wild with it. Oh, and the rapping’s pretty good too. Try not to nod your head when it all comes together around :22.
9. JJ DOOM – “Guv’nor”
All I need to do to sell this song is note that Doom ends every verse by saying “ello, guvenah” in a fake British accent. If that doesn’t appeal to you then I really don’t know what would. The beats on the JJ DOOM project are dark and repetitive, perfect for DOOM’s stream-of-consciousness rapping.
10. Aphex Twin – “Windowlicker”
I couldn’t really think of a better song to end this playlist with, so here we are. “Windowlicker” is an absolute masterpiece and it’s hard for me to say much about it. The vocal samples are all textured so differently that it’s amazing they come together so well. Okay, this song description isn’t great, whatever; just go listen to it, okay? That’s the point of all of this.
-DJ Night Ham