Episode 001: Top 10 of 2009

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The Top 10 of ‘09

Who made the list and why…

We’ve reached the last top 10 list of an entire decade – I blinked and it all went by. I’m not even sure what to call these past 10 years, the 1000’s, the O’s…? Regardless, it’s been 10 years that has seen some incredible music, and 2009 was certainly no exception. So without further deliberation, here are the few and the proud:

(in order of appearance)

1. DIMITRY LISS – SUBACID KITCHEN [FRISKY]

I guarantee you that before this year you’d never heard of this guy. I hadn’t. You probably still haven’t. Dimitry Liss popped up, as “unknowns” inevitably must, suddenly out of the blue and whose shit was so immediately legit, I was scrambling to make sure I hadn’t just missed him before. Subacid Kitchen is an impeccably crafted piece of tech house. It throbs and pushes, the melody is funky and smoky, and it has mood and sex like Tricia Helfer (I said it). Of course I signed it, so I’m biased…but I’m also right.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/01_subacid_kitchen.mp3]

2. BEHROUZ & ANDY CHATTERLY – LOST IN TRANSLATION (TIMO MAAS MAD DAY REMIX) [AUDIO THERAPY]

Those of you who do your homework out there are already crying foul – this crackerjack was released late 2008, but unless you were playing it for Christmas, ’09 was when it was popping dancefloors and headphones. Of course credit goes the way of the composers (American Behrouz and Brit pop-tech boy Andy Chatterly have been on the progressive side of techno for the better part of these 10 years), but it’s Timo Maas who really shines through here. Nobody was bigger seven/eight years ago than Timo Maas. From his breaks to his 4/4, his shit was envy of every forward-thinking producer of the day. And then he fell off the face of the planet. Well Timo is back, and he’s leaner with just as much attitude. Lost in Translation is stunning, both in his re-work of the hooking vocal and with his impeccable percussion. Hands down the best drum work of the year and an absolute monster from a luminary producer set to return in a big way.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/02_lost_in_translation.mp3]

3. GLENN MORRISON – ORANGE GLOW (CHARLIE MAY REMIX) [AUDIO THERAPY]

I’m not the only one spouting the emergence of Charlie May – and for obvious reasons. Everyone loves the man behind the curtain, and May has been behind some of majorest of major acts our neck of the woods has seen (Sasha and Spooky to name two). Thus far, however, he’s withheld the solo ticket. 2009 has changed a lot of that with 12 remixes and originals in as many months, and more buzz than a beehive. His collab with the always-on Glenn Morrison is the best example of his deft ear for intrinsically delicate melodies and skill with bassline pressure. His tracks have always had *mass* and Orange Glow is among the heaviest.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/03_orange_glow.mp3]

4. FERGIE – ANON (KING UNIQUE ONANONANON REMIX) [EXCENTRIC MUSIC]

Head and shoulders, this track wins for the Anthem of 2009. I played this track constantly. It’s among those tracks that speak your language so naturally and fluently, it fits anywhere you put it. Hybrid actually first intro’d this track to me, but I’d have to say Anon‘s impact moment would have been in the ever-incredible Shine basement. It was WMC ‘09 and Nick Warren dropped this at their annual Hope v Audio Therapy bash. In the midst of one of the soaring breakdowns, a friend turned and said “it’s like being high without the drugs!” I’d have to agree. After all, when was the last time anything using a flanger was cool?

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/04_anon.mp3]

5. GUY J – LAMUR (HENRY SAIZ REMIX) [BEDROCK]

If ‘08 was the year of Guy J, 2009 has been the year of Henry Saiz. The Digweed imprint has taught a class on hand picking the next wave of talent and Mr. Saiz is undeniably the new Teacher’s Pet. Henry Saiz intrigues me for two reasons: One, his arrangements never seem traditional in their space. Many sounds are wider than we’re used to, which makes certain elements stand out when you’d expect others to. The cumulative effect is a rough edge that makes one sit forward and listen. Two, nobody uses whitenoise better than Henry Saiz. Nobody. And far from fellow-charter Marcus Schossow, who uses the same gimmick time and again, Saiz’s noise is truly an instrument. Lamur pairs him with Guy J’s impeccable dancefloor sensibilities to which Saiz brings some stunning arrangements, especially in the mid breakdown.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/05_lamur.mp3]

6. WOLFGANG GARTNER – WOLFGANG’S 5TH SYMPHONY / FIRE POWER [KINDERGARTEN]

Really? After all this talk of “prog sophisticate”, you’re going to put a drag-em-out electro head like Gartner on your top 10? Abso-fuckin-lutely. 5th Symphony may not have a subtle bone in its body, but have you *listened* to it? It’s sick, there’s no other way to say it. I’m the first to roll my eyes about the pop-electro invasion that is marching out like the Western Front, but Wolfgang Gartner is in a class of his own. The shit he pulls in his studio is undeniable, which is why it’s no surprise that the a fore-mentioned was Beatport’s #1 best-selling track of 2009. Gartner is at his best here on his own label, and if there was any doubt that 5th Symphony was a fluke or a gimmick of the source material, he dispelled that in a second with the release of Fire Power. It might be the most face-melting electro track ever made, and he *shreads* the Daft Punk/Vitalic inspiration with a changing of the guard irreverence. Deadmau5 eat your fucking heart out, Gartner’s got more balls than you’ve got foam heads.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/06_5th_fire_power.mp3]

7. NIKO FANTIN – THE BAD SHEPARD (FACUNDO MOHRR REMIX) [FRISKY]

Another pair of homegrown talents here, I’ve followed and signed both these gentlemen for the past couple years and always been impressed both with their results and potential. Facundo really steps up his game on this redux, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Fellow charters King Unique had this written up and compared to the likes of Henry Saiz or Guy J, and Hernan Cattaneo opened his Monster Massive in Los Angeles by debuting this stormer. Facundo’s melody addition is nothing short of stunning, and it’s another example of one of those tracks that manages to fit *anywhere* you put it. Again, I’m certainly biased. But I’m still right.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/07_the_bad_shepard.mp3]

8. JEROME ISMA-AE – SMILE WHEN YOU KILL ME [JEE PRODUCTIONS]

Another commercial giant that deserves to be on this list; Jerome has catapulted into the stratosphere in the past two years, and all on the strength of his productions which are *redefining* the cross section between Trance and Progressive. Of all his contemporaries in this movement, and it most certainly is a movement, EDX, Daniel Portman, Sultan & Ned Shepard, Martin Roth…Jerome has proven to be the most talented and the most consistent. His ability to blend the soaring cheesiness of the trance lead with the stripped down and tightly wound techno bassline is always on and always in. While a semi-representative pick, Smile when you kill me was probably his biggest track of the year, which is fitting considering it’s on his own label and one original against dozens of remixes. It also happens to be my favorite, with its explosive oft-repeating breakdowns, and that relentless pitch-bending tempo melody.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/08_smile_when_you_kill_me.mp3]

9. MARCUS SCHOSSOW & BREAKFAST – THEY CAME FOR US [MOODY MOON RECORDINGS]

One of the first massive tracks for me from this year, They Came For Us was instantly in my playlist and hasn’t left since. It’s rare for a track to have a crescendo as effective as the one found here…it’s simply beautiful. And in a rarity for Schossow, the track isn’t overdone – the layers add to the depth of the melody and stand-out bassline, and the whitenoise filters actually do what they’re supposed to with an urgency and elevation. It’s a very personal pick, and a surprisingly successful pairing between two producers with very different skill-sets.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/09_they_came_for_us.mp3]

10. MODERAT – RUSTY NAILS [BPITCH CONTROL]

Moderat was probably the trendiest group to be a fan of this year, and certainly one of the trendiest album launches I’ve seen from an electronic label, with the photos and the logos and the videos and the reviews…But it all doesn’t add up to much unless the music is there. And lucky for Bpitch, any time you have Sascha Ring (aka Apparat) on board, the odds are in your favor. How that German manages to be part of the biggest album releases every year, for at least the past five, literally blows my mind. Not to diminish Modeselektor in any way, the other half of the duo, but Ring is truly operating at a level so few ever do. Everything he touches is gold, and I’m a fan. Rusty Nails is my track of the year, and there was never any doubt. The production is mind-bending and in an absolute coup, Ring does the truly fantastic vocals himself. All the hype and flashy-ness aside, including a genuinely good music video, Rusty Nails moves me. Every. Time. It takes me places, loses track of time, and stands up on repeat…which is all I can really ask of brilliance.

[audio:http://freshproduceonline.com/audio/FP001/10_rusty_nails.mp3]

Thank you folks for reading. It’s been a pleasure to have you – look for Fresh Produce to start weekly on our parent station, Frisky Radio in the coming weeks. As always, think outside the genre box, pay your artists,  and play it loud. That’s all for now. Keep it Fresh.