Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review | Top Singles 20 – 16

Year in Review | Top Singles of 2011
20 to 16

by Joshua P. Ferguson

The countdown continues...

20) Katy B "Lights On" – Columbia/Rinse
It's a headline straight out of TMZ and I've been beating it to death, but 2011 was the year that teenie bop nightmare Justin Beiber announced he'd be incorporating dubstep into his future "musical" endeavors. So yes, dubstep has gone pop. But not like Katy B. The British ingenue is the only authentic dubstep pop star and this end-of-the-night anthem shows Ms. B at her best.


19) Burial "NYC" – Hyperdub
This whole post-dubstep brouhaha wouldn't exist without the cloudy concoctions of minimal dubstep mystery man Burial. His murky music has reached such heights that his spacious sounds have even come wafting down from our upstairs neighbor's flat. There was no full length from this master of spare soul—which gives us something to look forward to in 2012—but "NYC"'s static gallop and R'n'B wail was more than enough to tide us over.

18) Bryan Farry "Alphaville" (Todd Terje remix) – Vinyl Factory
We only discovered Vinyl Factory this year, and while pricey, the UK pressing plant/imprint has breathed new life into the world of wax. With gorgeous artwork that is stripped away to reveal even more stunning music, this is the place to go for the collector. And while we were thoroughly impressed with releases by Massive Attack and Florence and the Machine, it's this remix from Mr. Roxy Music and Nordic remix master Todd Terje that gets our heartbeat up every time we work its poppy parlor piano into our DJ sets.


17) araabMUZIK "Streetz Tonight" – Duke Productions
If only all hip-hop beats could sound like those on MPC whiz araabMUZIK's debut Electronic Dream. But then again, these dance-music-sampling head nodders sound better without the MC. Case in point: "Streetz Tonight," a banger that bounces from half time to double time and back. All it needed was a Kaskade sample to be one of the most infectious things we discovered this year.


16) Virgo Four "It's a Crime" (Caribou remix) – Rush Hour
Leave it to Rush Hour to cultivate and rerelease some of the best that Chicago house has to offer. And leave it to Caribou to take this long lost gem from duo Virgo Four and turn it into a sprawling acid-laden workout. Classic dance tracks are finally getting their due some 20 years later, and when they get updated like "It's a Crime" was, it only adds to the awe.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Year in Review | 2011 Top Singles 25 – 21

Year in Review | Top Singles of 2011
25 to 21

by Joshua P. Ferguson

The food coma from yesterday's Christmas day feast may still be weighing some of us down, but Dialogue Inc. is ready to serve up some more meat—at least in terms of our 2011 year in review round-ups. We've nailed down our top albums and our favorite DJ mixes, so without further ado, we give you the first batch of our top singles of the year.

25) Midland "Bring Joy" – Aus Music
One of the best things to happen to bass music over the course of the last 12 months was its move to embrace varied tempos. This movement didn't necessarily start this year, but it certainly excelled and this one from the U.K. newcomer Midland was amongst our favorites.

24) Maceo Plex "Can't Leave You"  – Crosstown Rebels
The label that led Resident Advisor's best of the year had a big impact on the Dialogue Inc world as well. From Art Department's stunning debut to the slew of singles from artists like Maceo Plex, Crosstown Rebels dominated the world of house music. The sense of infatuation that "Can't Leave You" embodies is one that we shared for the label itself, and for this song in particular. 

23) Jacques Greene "Another Girl" – Lucky Me
To combat the massive uptick in aggressive, mosh-worthy dubstep with the sexy slo-mo shuffle of "Another Girl" was a masterstroke. Like spotting the one person at the bar you've been looking for all night, this song established Greene as a one to watch.


22) Austra "Beat and the Pulse" – Domino Recordings
Given dance's permeation into all facets of music, a credible indie-act that dabbles with beats is far preferable to anything is doing. While the Rapture and Cut Copy dominated this year, synthy Toronto quintet Austra deserves the award for best newcomer, fueled in part, by this single.

21) Mosca " Done Me Wrong" – Numbers
"Future bass" as a new genre tag is one that we're having trouble stomaching. But whatever the preferred nomenclature becomes, Mosca's 2-step revival "Done Me Wrong" for the Numbers label whisks us back to the days of MJ Cole, Artful Dodger and Craig David without sounding like a nostalgic rehash itself. The track comes complete with a rewind, but it may still be worth adding one of your own.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Year in Review | Top DJ Mixes of 2011

Year in Review | Top DJ Mixes of 2011

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Doing this same post last year, we made a comment about how for certain DJ types out there, the mix may hold more significance than an artist full length. We felt it was true then and we haven't change our views this year. The five mixes below, representing our favorite listens of 2011, all fared as well in the heavy rotation as the albums we charted in our Top Electronic Albums post. Here they are in all their hand-crafted, expertly-mixed glory.

5) Visionquest Fabric 61 (Fabric London)
For a group of artists as prolific as Visionquest was this year, no format served them better than the mix. Sure, they all produce on their own and more than one of the tracks from their fledgling label sent dance floors into a frenzy in 201, but the best way to distill Visionquest's year into a single entity is to put a spin on theirs, the 61st installment of Fabric's mix series. Deep, dark and steeped in the quartet's Detroit roots, it also playfully exudes their eccentric personalities and ability to think outside the box—just as the releases on their label and their live sets do.

4) Four Tet Fabriclive 59 (Fabric London)
Snatching up two out of five of our top DJ mixes of the year, clearly the storied London club had a good year across its Fabric and Fabriclive mixes. Flipping to the more progressively, leftfield-oriented side of the coin, Four Tet delivered a monster of a mix across the 26 tracks of his Fabriclive mix—many of which are kept short and sweet at under two minutes. Ebbing and flowing through apocalyptic 2-step, distant broken beats, minimally shuffling soundscapes and any other burgeoning electronic genre you're tempted to put a 'post' in front of, Four Tet defies all notions of what's current. Instead, he gives a glimpse into the future of this music, as only visionary tastemaker can. 

3) Robag Wruhme Wuppdeckmischmampflow (Kompakt)
As he did on his artist album this year, the nature-loving, salt and pepper-haired microhouse savant Robag Wruhme perfectly captured his aesthetic on this beautiful mix. Dubbed 'home-listening techno' in Pitchfork's review, this timeless collection of 14 tracks is clearly dance music for twilights, dawns, nature walks and snowy days (like today actually). The tracks aren't all new, but it doesn't matter. They're not even all techno, strictly speaking; the beefed-up, Burial-like chug of Moderat's "Rusty Nails" sits snuggly next to tracks by Chateau Flight, Ricardo Villalobos and WhoMadeWho. Songs flow in and out, disappearing for minutes at a time, only to resurface tracks later. This is a mix by a master collagist, and one that you don't find everyday. With Wruhme at the controls, the mix takes on new forms: here it is not only linear, but circular. And that is the brilliant bottom line.

2) Wolf + Lamb vs Soul Clap DJ-KiCKS (!K7)
Another crew of visionary selectors who don't take themselves too seriously, the Boston-meets-New-York-dueling-duo's duo of Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb came close to having our mix of the year with this defiantly slo-mo batch of boogie, upbeat R&B and midtempo house. During Detroit's Movement festival this year, a friend asked, if I were to live my life at one tempo what would it be? I said 110bpm.  My answer was largely fueled by having this mix on repeat. Sexy, pitched down and ripe for dancing, this contribution to the masterful DJ-KiCKS series helped usher in a new era of deep house and it's obvious how much fun this pair of twosomes had while doing it.

1) Dixon Live at Robert Johnson (Live at Robert Johnson)
The grand finale of this live mix series ends on a soaringly high note. Only Innervision's head honcho can make a mix this potent and begin it with 20 minutes of ambient dreamscapes. It's worth the wait. When that first beat drops and rolls into  40 minutes of the deepest house around, it proves why Dixon is one of the only artists on the scene who can be prolific without doing any of his own original productions. The man gives honor to the artform here. While the rest of the world catches on to deejaying and thinks an iTunes folder and autosync means they can get a club night, Dixon proves that only years of experience playing the best clubs of the world leads to a finished product this stunning and impeccable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Year in Review | Top Electronic Albums 2011

Year in Review | Top Electronic Albums of 2011

by Joshua P. Ferguson

It's upon us yet again. The end of the year. Which means every blog on the World Wide Web sets out to rank and file its top insert-category-here and compile them in an endless succession of lists. It's still one of my favorite times of the year. I always look forward to the overwhelming onslaught of confirmations and discoveries as I compare and contrast what others knew and loved with my own year-end best. 

This year, charting my course through albums proved more difficult than usual. While my headphones were perpetually glued to my ears, DJ mixes and individual tracks ruled. That said, here are the top ten exceptions.

10) Washed Out Within and Without (Sub Pop) 
2011 dedicated too much talk to chillwave. It seemed to rise in favor and fall back out of it just as fast. And yet, Washed Out's indie-chill debut stood out in the conversation as infinitely listenable, breezy and without pretense.

9) Kuedo Severant (Planet Mu) 
As the year saw the rise of dubstep's aggressive, populist side, it also saw many of its one-time supporters venture into new, challenging, weird and artsy territory. Kuedo, who as part of Vex'd has always dwelled in the genre's nether regions, achieved something truly special with this solo debut: He fine-tuned it for the space age, ditching all remnants of dubstep in favor of bass music with a sci-fi sheen.

8) SBTRKT SBTRKT (Young Turk) 
The mysterious, soulful, masked bass-music craftsman SBTRKT's debut was yet another example of what bass music can do when it's not getting frat boys to mosh. In this U.K. producer's hands, it flutters, twinkles and bumps with a lot of class.

7) Cut Copy Zonoscope (Modular) 
The dons of indie-disco from Down Under, Cut Copy won me over with "Take Me Over." Then the rest of this latest studio LP revealed the emotive "Need You Now" and slow-burning acid masterpiece "Sun God." This record absolutely deserved the Grammy nod it garnered.

6) Robag Wruhme Thora Vukk (Pampa)
This year, I came around to the nuance and potential beauty of techno. German maverick Wruhme is a master of the form, skirting the line between machine music's minimalism and microhouse's obsession with chopping and screwing found sounds. Like Matthew Herbert before him, Wruhme works vibrating cell phones, rain and a knock at the door into a sublime musical tapestry.

5) Art Department The Drawing Board (Crosstown Rebels) 
Leaders in another trend I couldn't get enough of this year—the resurgence of quality, deep house—Art Department released a debut that took a while to grow on me. The Toronto duo's big hit "Without You" just doesn't do it. But the slo-mo gothic groover "Vampire Nightclub" and the beautifully melancholy set closer "I C U" make up for that in spades.

4) Nicolas Jaar Space is Only Noise (Circus Company) 
While journalists like me split hairs about what electronic music takes to be deemed this or that genre, young gun Nic Jaar quietly released an understated arsenal of incategorizable awesomeness. Glitchy, spacey, soulful, Jaar worked it all in, and yet descriptors fail to fully capture his intricate soundscapes.

3) Apparat The Devil's Walk (Mute Records) 
Speaking of genre defiance, Apparat is one of those producers who prides himself in versatility, and yet his catalog is all pointing in one direction—toward capturing the essence of pop music in moody electronics. With his latest, he achieved that.

2) The Rapture In the Grace of Your Love (DFA Records) 
This group of dance rockers has had serious ups and downs. 2011 was a definite up. With infectious hits like the critically adored "How Deep is Your Love" and my personal fave "Sail Away," this record served as a spiritual awakening and proves that The Rapture are here to stay.

1) James Blake James Blake (Universal) 
An early entry into this year's best-of list, Blake has basically had the entirety of 2011 to rise to the top. Of course this means that some are probably sick of hearing about him already. Press fatigue aside, the virtuoso introduced the world to bass music's possibilities with his achey soul and captivating live performances. If nothing else, he served as the antithesis to Skrillex, and people should thank him for that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dialogue Incorporated | Radio Show #24

Dialogue Incorporated | It's Our Party

Dialogue Incorporated Radio #24

Compiled and mixed by Mister Joshua

Letter from the editor

Constantly fighting for unique content on a blog can seem a bit of a fool's errand after a while. That coveted PR e-mail with an "exclusive download" lands in your inbox and before you can refresh twitter, all the major online music outlets have created identical posts in a race to be the first one to market. Forget having something meaningful to say, just get it up, get it out, tweet, tweet, tweet.

We have no delusions of grandeur here at Dialogue Inc. Until we get a staff of 20—that'll happen, we swear!—there will be no competing with the Stereogums and Pitchforks of this World Wide Web. Where we hope to differentiate ourselves is by writing something worthy of reading (no, we're not saying these other sites don't have posts worthy of reading. Don't even go there). In our ideal www, we'd be doing both—quick posts with fresh content in real time and insightful editorials—but given our man power, we focus on the latter. We're called Dialogue Incorporated after all, to be at a loss for words would be pretty lame.

Since our last post round-up we've added a lot of great content: interviews with larger than life DJs like deadmau5, new music from Escort and Nicolas Jaar and reviews of admired efforts from acts like the Field and Visionquest. Adding even more dynamics to our content we like to include our Dialogue Inc "Radio Show" podcasts that set our content to music, because, after all that's the main focus of our site. Sometimes this can prove to be tricky because we inevitably fall to DJ mode when we set out to make these mixes—Friendly Fires and Four Tet don't always play nice when seated side by side on a mix.

So this time, while we did strive to tie our latest podcast picks to our written content, we let the mix prevail. And we couldn't be happier with results. We managed to squeeze in hip-hop, leftfield beats, moombahton, indie rock, soul, house, techno and dubstep, and it all gelled really nicely. Where the audio and visual (i.e. blog post) content overlap, we've laid that out for you below. Otherwise, click on the link to stream (or head to our Mixcloud page), download, share and listen to the fullest. We're really proud of this one.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

MUSIC | Dialogue Incorporated #24 - It's Our Party

Amon Tobin “Wooden Toy” – Ninja Tune 
Kuedo “Salt Lake Cuts” – Planet Mu 
Toddla T “Streets So Warm” – Ninja Tune 
Jay-Z and Kanye West “No Church in the Wild” – Roc-A-Fella 
Shoes “Warp Afrobeat remix #1” – CD-R 
The Field “Looping State of Mind” – Kompakt 
Digitalism “Miami Showdown” – V2 
Florence and the Machine “Shake it Off” – Island Universal 
Paul Weller “ Starlite” (D-Pulse remix) – Island 
Dillon Francis “Beautician 2.0” – Mad Decent 
Bryan Ferry “Alphaville” (Todd Terje remix) – The Vinyl Factory 
Austra “Beat and Pulse” (Still Going remix) – Domino 
Peter and the Magician “Twist” – Kitsuné 
Agoria “Panta Rei” (Balearic remix) – Infiné 
Lucky Paul “Thought We Were Alone” (Gadi Mizrahi and Eli Gold remix) – Wolf + Lamb 
Mark E “Call Me” (Dixon edit) – Merk 
Maceo Plex “Can’t Leave You” – Crosstown Rebels 
Benoit + Sergio “Let Me Count the Ways” – Spectral Sounds 
Gui Boratto “This is Not the End” – Kompakt 
The Rapture “Sail Away” – DFA 
Mayer Hawthorne “A Long Time” – Universal 
Glass Candy “Warm in the Winter” – Italians Do It Better 
Midnight Magic “Drop Me a Line” (Holy Ghost! remix) – Permanent Vacation 
Lord Skywave + Nautiluss “Blue Monday” – Hemlock 
Dinky “Time to Lose It” – Visionquest 
Virgo Four “It’s a Crime” (Caribou remix) – Rush Hour 
Four Tet “Locked” – Text 
Modeselektor “Green Light Go” – Monkeytown 
SBTRKT “Hold On” – Young Turks 
Kahn “Illy” – Sucker Punch 
Active Child “Playing House” – Vagrant 
Apparat “Song of Los” – Mute
WORDS | Dialogue Incorporated #24 - It's Our Party

"As an artist, you don’t take credit for the raw materials, it’s just the way you build it and reposition it and form it into something that’s of your own mind. I’m just trying to make a synthetic version of the world that I can manipulate more freely.” — Amon Tobin

"Kuedo takes a page from the Vangelis songbook for his solo debut, Severant. Heading into Blade Runner territory, his experimental dubstep pairs eerie, celestial synthesizers with a Moroder-style bass line and skittish beats on “Salt Lake Cuts.” It’s bass music gone sci-fi, a snapshot of a promising future."— Joshua P. Ferguson on Kuedo's "Salt Lake Cuts"

"Toddla feels destined to break free of the underground—and his backbeat trappings—and these opening tracks give him the right momentum. Ultimately, though, he settles back into what he knows best and gets carried away with the pipe cleaner while he’s at it." — Joshua P. Ferguson on Toddla T's Watch Me Dance

"Willner’s looping bliss burns long and slow across all seven tracks on Looping State of Mind. Muted-beat pistons still chug inside a musical frame airbrushed with a synth-based pop sheen. On his previous output, this gave his tracks a vaguely trance-like drive... Willner has traded in on this latest. Now he’s cruising along with the top back, opting for breezy Balearic textures and more leisurely tempos..." — Joshua P. Ferguson on the Field's Looping State of Mind

“We love to do stuff that is unexpected or surprising for people, breaking with clichés. People expect certain things from us and when we do stuff like this on the new album people might be surprised from it, but that’s exactly how we want it.” — Digitalism's Jence Moelle

"A bit like a more electronic Florence and the Machine, Austra mixes '80s moodiness, potent indie-dance beats and swelling, emotional and yet danceable melodies into a soothing brew that'll get you drunk and moving like too much 18-year-old scotch." — Joshua P. Ferguson on Austra

"I couldn't help but wonder if frontman Luke Jenner—or lost member Matt Safer—lies in bed at night asking himself if the Rapture might have been LCD Soundsystem had things worked out differently... But, if it took all of their ups and downs for the Rapture to turn out sounding this good, than these boys should rest assured that things worked out for the best in the end." — Joshua P. Ferguson reviewing the Rapture live

“It’s not strictly following a certain genre or sound or trying to carve a whole new niche in dance music where a lot of it’s been done already,” — Ryan Crossom on the Visionquest label

"I remember when Marshall made ‘Move Your Body.' My producer at the time, when he heard it, he said, ‘That record really sucks. Everything in the world is wrong with that record.’ ” —Screamin' Rachael Cain of Trax Records

"It’s not stated explicitly, but the monkey is Modeselektor’s spirit animal. Its mischievousness pervades just about everything the duo does. Self-described maximalists, Berliners Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary are keen to play around with sound. Monkeytown, their third LP, switches gears like a high-performance racer blazing down the Autobahn." — Joshua P. Ferguson on Modeselektor's Monkeytown

“Electronic music is about creating make-believe worlds with all these crazy synths, weird switches and everything else. It’s not really about the reality of sitting in front of an acoustic instrument and playing it with emotion and soul.” — SBTRKT

"His early work clicked, rattled and hissed a lot. Over the years, and especially here, he’s filed down glitch’s harsher edges, softening things with guitars, strings, marimbas and thoughtful lyrics. The common thread is Apparat’s ability to combine lush textures and complex melodies to produce richly emotional music that transcends any genre tag." 
Joshua P. Ferguson on Apparat's The Devil's Walk

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