Dialogue Incorporated | Year in Music 2009
Dialogue Incorporated Radio #16
Compiled, mixed and hosted by Mister Joshua
Letter from the Editor
THE THRILL OF THE RIDE
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Trend \ trend \
- Noun: the general course or prevailing tendency; style, vogue.
- Verb: to tend to take a particular direction; extend in some direction indicated.
Ev•o•lu•tion \ ev-õ-lü-shen \
- Noun: a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.
- Noun: a motion incomplete in itself, but combining with coordinated motions to produce a single action, as in a machine.
Being the end of the decade, the ritual of the year-end round up takes on an added complexity. Beyond the usual reflection of the last 12 months, we’re also thinking back on the last ten years. I was doing exactly that while flying back in to Chicago from my annual trip home to Minnesota to visit my family. Staring out the airplane window at the impenetrable cloud cover below and blocking out the raucous antics of a gang of drunken Vikings fans—it was 10am—I recalled my New Year’s Eve 2000.
Days before—possibly even today, just ten years ago—I was rip roaring down to New Orleans with buddies from high school who were attending college there. While they were taking turns cycling Lucinda Williams, Old 97s and Mississippi John Hurt discs through the stereo, I was struggling to get my turn at the volume wheel. More interested in hearing Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides or Kruder & Dorfmeister, I entertained myself by flirting with the girls in a car near us, scribbling “show us your boobs” onto a brown paper bag carrying new records. The fruits of my maiden voyage to Gramaphone Records, If I’d known how much I would come to value these slabs of black plastic—or the digital versions that have succeeded them—I would never have been using them as the writing surface for my inane pranks.
So thinking about it on the plane, it dawned on me that not only was 2000 the dawn of a new millennium and the start of a new decade, it was also the year that my interest in music evolved, culminating in Dialogue Incorporated. Upon my return from the Big Easy, I hunkered down with a good friend to create the Beat Conundrum, a college radio show that should be credited with forming most of the reasons Dialogue exists. If not for this show and my co-host Greg Dalziel, I wouldn’t be writing this now.
I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Beat Conundrum is still one of the only Wisconsin radio shows that broadcast four hours of forward-thinking dance music to the university masses on a weekly basis. We prided ourselves as being the Gilles Petersons of the U.S.A. playing broken beat, downtempo, 2-step, drum ‘n’ bass, house, hip-hop, dusties, you name it. We had guest DJs, ran interviews, produced drops from artists bigging up the show. The Beat Conundrum ran for three years, even after we’d left the university and moved to Chicago.
It was while here, back in 2004, that I began working with Groove Distribution and XLR8R magazine. I bought, imported, sold, played and wrote about electronic music all day everyday. During my time at Groove I serviced labels ranging from Innervisions to Italians Do It Better and artists ranging from Holy Ghost! to Henrik Schwarz. And all the while I contributed articles on many of these same artists to XLR8R. It was at the end of 2007 that I decided to combine my writing, my knowledge of the underground dance music world and my radio work into one cohesive entity: Dialogue Incorporated. Our first show was a best of 2007.
So it is here, on the eve of 2010 and two years from our start, that Dialogue Inc’s best of 2009 is set down for the record. But gone are the Beat Conundrum days when Greg and I would meet up with a bag full of records and lay out our top 50 in a record chain that resembled an oversize game of dominos. Not a strict top 30, this year’s mix is an evolved one. For 2009, we honor scenes, genres, albums, singles and their remixes spanning dubstep, downtempo, house, hip-hop, soul, indie and oldies. It’s representative of the most boundary pushing and the most retro, from styles that are still bubbling in the underground to the best of genres that have long since established themselves.
It’s been a long road from New Orleans at the start of this decade to here and now, at the end of it. But it’s been a fun one to travel. While my musical journey started prior to 2000, it was this decade where it evolved into more of a vocation; something I know will be with me for many years to come.
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Dialogue Incorporated Radio Show #16
YEAR IN MUSIC | 2009
Hosted by Mister Joshua
New trends come into being so often most don’t even stop to pay attention anymore. Born out of existing styles taken into a new light—reworked and added to—this next generation perpetual evolution fuels us at Dialogue Incorporated. From our early days collecting house and hip-hop to our present days collecting, well, house and hip-hop we’ve become much more aware of the influences, movements and fads that contribute to the ebb and flow of things. Since we’re coming up on the closing of a year and a decade, the reflective mood has us framing things by what came before it; evaluating work on its ability to bring these existing styles into the future or on its ability to stand the test of time. With that in mind, we present Dialogue Incorporated’s Year in Music | 2009.
In the downtempo world, Yukimi Nagano—who we’ve watched since the early days of 2001 when she popped up on Compost, singing for Koop—conjured Machine Dreams with her band Little Dragon. On their second outing, Nagano and company finely tuned their mix of downtempo, jazz, indie rock and folk into something thoughtfully organic, electronic and thoroughly enjoyable.
When a DJ from Michigan, who goes by the handle DJ Haircut, decides to record a vintage quality soul record from scratch, get signed to the funkiest hip-hop label in the country and take an ace live show on a coast-to-coast tour, he’s bound to make a lasting impression on someone. We were that someone in 2009 and we weren’t alone.
While we have to admit that Jay-Z might be as bad as Brett Favre with regard to his retirement-meets-re-emergence PR strategy, this song proved beyond a doubt that it is leagues above the competition in the club game that is mass appeal. For once we could say we liked a song getting played every ten minutes on the radio without having to call it a “guilty pleasure.” Remember when hip-hop sounded new and different and guys could actually rap?
Speaking of different, Fever Ray’s record was like nothing we heard this year. It was eerie, abstract, dark, sometimes, downright strange. And fantastic. It’s a challenging listen, which makes its popularity all the more interesting. The live show was definitely the best thing we saw all year. And it was sold out. Crazy.
Four Tet and Burial create music so deconstructed that when the two combine its some next level shit. Their work defies genre tags. Sure “Moth” moves with a house thump, but house heads aren’t getting down to this. “Moth” is post modern dubstep, IDM and minimal tech all swirled into one. This song was on repeat for at least an hour the day we first heard it.
House of House “Rushing to Paradise” (DJ Harvey remix) – House of House
House of House “Rushing to Paradise” (radio edit) – House of House
After years of buying house record after house record, you reach a point—a sort of critical mass—where only the cream of the crop makes it into the permanent collection. It just needs to have something extra; like when you discover a song while trolling vinyl webstores and listen to the minute long clip over and over (and over) again. For those who can relate to this when they first discovered “Rushing to Paradise,” we threw in the Harvey mix because it’s nice to hear something new, but also the original so you get that brilliant vocal.
Sister Sledge “Lost in Music” (The Revenge rework) – CD-R
Again this year, the edit world gave new life to another handful of previously unknown gems for our deejaying pleasure. Chief among them was the Revenge, whose re-edits reach new heights of disco hypnotism. Slicing and dicing with samurai-like precision, he pieces his loops, echoes, ebbs and flows back together as a completely new creation.
Florence and the Machine “Rabbit Heart” (Leo Zero remix) – Universal
One of the strongest indie voices we discovered in 2009, Florence and the Machine has been described as baroque pop, one of the most interesting signifiers we’ve heard all year. Evidently this term has been around since the ‘60s and is seeing a resurgence of late. Regardless, Leo Zero—of A Mountain of One fame—twisted this one up into a proper piano driven, indie disco onslaught.
Hamilton Bohannon “My Name is Bohannon” Shoes edit – Shoes
Friends of ours from the Groove Dis days, the Shoes crew even put out our one and only attempt at a mash-up back in ’05. Since, the label has continued to pepper the dance floor with edits of the dirtiest variety, giving Theo Parrish and his ugly edits a run for their money. This cut here was a staple at our All Systems Go! parties at Smart Bar throughout 2009.
Horse Meat Disco. Where to begin with these dudes? We had the pleasure of getting down with Jim Stanton and Severino on the smallest dance floor of the Big Chill festival, namely the broadcast caravan of Big Chill Radio. While our cohorts poured shots of sambuca straight into the mouths of late-night hold-outs surrounding the trailor, we got down to polysexual disco jams until the sun came up. This was a truly special night in 2009.
We said this when describing Joakim’s latest full-length effort: “Rock, techno, acid, disco, pop, downbeat and psychedelia collide in one big bang that leaves in its wake a beauteous aural universe where conformity in dance music is irrelevant—even passé— and complexity becomes infinitely listenable.” That’s sort of the theme of this whole year. Joakim nailed it, and Ewan Pearson’s mix—just out—refreshed it for us as we say goodbye to the year.
Classixx “I’ll Get You” Cassian remix – Kitsuné
Classixx kicked our ass in 2009. Not only did they get their hands on two of our top artists of the year for remixes—Phoenix and Mayer Hawthorne—they also hit dance-floor gold with “I’ll Get You.” Yes we like bass! Was that meant to be a rhetorical question? If anyone has the potential to bring indie disco broader appeal, Classixx are it. See you in 2010.
While the Trentemøller remix of this song probably got the most traction this year, Henrik’s remix is no slouch. But beyond that, it serves as an opportunity to praise him, Dixon and the whole Innervisions crew for their unflinching dedication to cerebral deep house. As grinding electro takes over dance floors everywhere, theirs is a refreshing change of pace. And, as always, we love Eskimo Records.
Across it’s career, SMD has established that it can churn out burners like no other. This year’s album may not have been as potent as the last, but “Audacity of Huge” with support from Yeasayer’s Chris Keating certainly is. “Double dutch dinosaur duplex in Dubai, I’ll be there with my friend, the Sultan of Brunei.” Nuff said. Nobody’s taken dance music here.
As if Modeselektor wasn’t groundbreaking enough, it added a whole new dimension to its output by teaming with Apparat for this project. A 180 in terms of attitude, Moderat took the maximal techno approach and turned it on its head, incorporating muted drum hits, melodic vocals and a heavy dubstep nod. The live show was also a force to be reckoned with. This was massive for 2009.
This is an instance where the remixer takes center stage. We honestly didn’t listen to the Detachments that much. But Martyn, on the other hand, couldn’t be ignored. His singles from 2008 landed in many a top five as a sort of precursor to the moves he made in ‘09. Though his full length wasn’t as great as the hype might have implied, he was a major player in refining dubstep’s sound, giving it something that the indie kids and the techno heads could relate to.
Another example of the new directions dubstep is taking. More so than any year since it came on to our radar, dubstep took on a musical maturity over the course of the last 12 months that officially hooked us. This bit of halftime chill out is not only uncharacteristic of its producers, it’s also uncharacteristic of the genre. We’re looking forward to that changing in the next decade.
The anthem, this instantly shot to the top five songs of this year. As soon as that beat drops, it’s all over for us. And then that drum ‘n’ bass kicks in, in the last minute… Man. This remix rattled out from speakers across the Big Chill no less than five times a day for four days straight. It deserved every spin.
Pinch & Yolanda “Get Up” (Jack Sparrow remix) – Tectonic
After hearing this, we had to include it. A late entry that hasn’t come fully into its own, this is yet another example of dubstep’s versatility. Resident Advisor put Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo” at the top of the best of list this year in order to praise dubstep and the all-inclusive nature it’s taken on. This track serves the same purpose for us. It’s potent, hard, soulful and light years past the generic-break-meets-wonky-bassline bull shit that dubstep can be in the wrong hands. This cut takes us straight back to our days throwing 2-Step parties.
Home to Burial, Kode9 and numerous other dubstep heavyweights; Hyperdub is a guiding light on the electronic music landscape. It has released downtempo ambience, weeded and cloudy half-time steppers, bass-pumping stonkers and this, which somehow does it all. Another anthem from Big Chill, the humor here added yet another dimension to our favorite new genre.
Once again, the Hood Internet has provided us with the perfect segue to bridge the gaps between musical movements. Giving a new face to one of our singles of the year, we’re able to simultaneously praise Phoenix—whose album was probably one of the most acclaimed releases of 2009—and the Hood, because it’s guest mix for our show back in the spring contributed the highest levels of web traffic Dialogue Inc has ever seen. Kudos.
What can we say? We love the Bird and the Bee. From its music to its style, BatB hits us in all the right spots. Its lush electronic pop harkens back to the golden age of the ‘60s and early ‘70s but references things only our generation can appreciate (like David Lee Roth and Dance Dance Revolution). The Bee, Greg Kurstin, produced Lily Allen’s latest—which we also dug—and the band’s documentarian, Autumn De Wilde, provided us with “Catch a Tuesday,” a short for Oliver Peoples and our favorite ad campaign this year.
Bat for Lashes “Daniel” – Parlophone
When Bat for Lashes first surfaced, we were selling her CD ten at a time to indie stores around the country while working for Groove Dis. She’s gone on to become the next big thing. In the same way that Bird and the Bee has taken past styles and updated them for the new Millennium, so has Natasha Khan, she’s just taking her cues from a different era of music.
Doves “Lifelines” – Heavenly
If there’s one thing that our faithful listeners no doubt noticed this year, it was the incursion of rock music into a show usually dedicated to everything but. These days though, the lines become harder to define. While the Doves are clearly a rock act, remixes from the Glimmers, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas introduced them to a whole new audience. We’re thankful to have been a part of it.
The Temper Trap “Love Lost” – Infectious
Our favorite discovery this year, the Temper Trap brought us back to a time when we would buy a new album and listen to it from start to finish, only to start it over again. No one album got more repeat play than the one from these upstart Aussies. From “Sweet Disposition,” included in the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack to Hervé’s insane remix of “Science of Fear,” to this, the album’s lead song, we couldn’t get enough. And listening to it while we write this, we’re tempted to hit rewind.
A close second in terms of listenability, Miike Snow’s debut served as our catalyst for where the indie and electronic worlds met. Over a backdrop of synths and driving dance beats, vocalist Andrew Wyatt pined over love, loss and the pressures of society. The band’s poetics made you want to stop and twist your beard and it’s rhythms made you want to jump out of your seat. Truly forward thinking stuff.
Delorean “Seasun” – Fool House
Our musical confidante and compatriot at Samura.fm, Popstatic, had a big influence on what we heard this year and chief among his recommendations was “Seasun.” Embodying everything we love about Balearic, this was the feel good dance song of the year. Regardless of color, creed or musical inclinations, this song never failed to get people lining up at the DJ booth, wondering how they could get a copy.
A very personal entry, our infatuation with this song began in 2007 when we first heard DJ Language’s Editions Disco edit. It took us over a year to get our hands on a copy and thanks to our other close musical confidante Roy Shay, we finally got a copy this year. Then, as if the stars were aligned for Roy and I—in a sea of thousands of other drug-addled party stragglers—Mr. Scruff played this original as a send off for the entire Big Chill festival. The musical gods were smiling down upon us.
The first “country” artist to make it onto Dialogue Inc, M. Ward’s project with Zooey Deschanel, She & Him, only furthered out membership in the cult of Zooey. She can sing too? Wow. But the real hero of the project is Ward whose folksy alt-country rock opened our eyes to a whole new world of music, while, in a weird way, giving a nod to our home turf with his encouragement to Rave On. We plan to do exactly that in 2010.
2009 Top’s lists:
Top 10 songs of 2009
10. Moderat “Rusty Nails”
9. Florence & the Machine “Rabbit Heart” (Leo Zero remix)
8. Jay-Z “Empire State of Mind”
7. Fever Ray “When I Grow Up”
6. Simian Mobile Disco “Audacity of Huge”
5. La Roux “In for the Kill” (Skream remix)
4. Miike Snow “Cult Logic”
3. Temper Trap “Love Lost”
2. Delorean “Seasun”
1. Burial & Four Tet “Moth”
Top 5 albums of 2009
5. Mayer Hawthorne Strange Arrangement
4. Moderat Moderat
3. Fever Ray Fever Ray
2. Miike Snow Miike Snow
1. Temper Trap Conditions
Top 5 Club tunes/Guilty Pleasures of 2009
5. All American Rejects “Gives You Hell”
4. Kid Sister “Right Hand Hi”
3. Keri Hilson “Turnin’ Me On” remix
2. Jamie Foxx “Blame It”
1. Jay-Z “Empire State of Mind”