Year in Review | Top DJ Sets of 2015

Year in Review

Top DJ Sets of 2015

by Joshua P. Ferguson

We're early into our survey of the best of 2015 and already there's trouble brewing as we attempt to narrow down the best DJ sets we glimpsed from around the Web. Sadly, none of these were glimpsed in person, but each embodies a distinct space within our musical atmosphere this year regardless. Which is why we had trouble narrowing it down to a tidy top five. Rather than announce a tie for fifth place or some such similar ranking designation, we're just laying them out with our out-and-out favorite sitting at the top. Scroll on and press play along the way to get a taste for each (with downloads for the ones you think belong in the permanent collection).

Tycho "Elsewhere" — Sunrise Set from Dusty Rhino at Burning Man 2015

He entered in the fourth position of this same list last year, and for 2015 Tycho maintains his hold on our ears with his amazingly diverse sunrise set from the deserts of Burning Man. There are a lot of DJs out there, and Soundcloud is—was?—the great democratizer of the DJ set, and yet few display the range that Tycho does here. All the while, he maintains the saturated colorfulness of his musical vision as he glides from Photek to Jon Hopkins to Daniel Avery to Jamie xx to Tame Impala with the delicacy of a breeze flitting along through Nevada's Black Rock Desert.


Special Request "Essential Mix 14.11.15" — BBC Radio 1

Ever since he landed at No. 12 in our Top Songs of 2013, Paul Woolford's Special Request project has remained one we watch closely. His original productions are a potent mix of sturdy breaks, rave nostalgia, moving atmospherics and unrivaled sub rumbles, and we recently got a fresh dose of them on his "Modern Warfare" EP series for XL Recordings. To usher in the release, he joined Pete Tong last month for a white hot edition of the Essential Mix, where he leaned heavily on his own material—new, old and unreleased. Interspersed are gems from an exclusive list of peers that includes Aphex Twin, Burial and DJ Pierre. Throughout, Woolford lays down what is one of the most singular, UK-centric sessions we heard this year.


Axel Boman "#788" — Beats In Space

Pampa Records and Studio Barnhus occupied a sizable portion of our listening sessions this year, and that's in large part thanks to the deep and eclectic selections of Axel Boman. This particular mix became the de facto soundtrack to a silly number of moments, from lounging lakeside to impromptu dinner parties to morning commutes, and it always fit the mood. Described by Boman during his chat with Beats in Space's Tim Sweeney as "more space than beats," the mix is a mellow outing that highlights house music's lighter side with prime cuts from Boman's Studio Barnhus label as well as Pampa Records brother-in-musical-arms DJ Koze and the just released John Talabot remix of Jamie xx's "Loud Places."


DJ Tennis "Mix of Sonar [Psychedelic]" — Sonar Festival 2015

Alongside Innervisions, DJ Tennis' Life and Death imprint sets the high water mark for deep house at Dialogue Inc. And if we had to sum up what that high water mark would sound like, this mix Tennis made for Sonar in Barcelona is it. Tennis turns out a set that's almost too comfortable in the space between dark and dreamlike, full of as many techno and acid flourishes as it is bright house moments. The cast of tracks reads like a who's who for the vibe he creates, featuring material from John Talabot, Trentemøller, Roman Flügel and the Junior Boys.


DJ Harvey "Ray-Ban x Boiler Room 007 Milan" — Boiler Room

It's obvious why industry veteran DJ Harvey is held up as the selector he is. But it's not often we can get our hands on a set from him that sums it up so succinctly. Short of seeing the legend live there aren't a ton of his recorded mixes floating around, so everyone knew that Boiler Room landing him for a session was a big deal. And talk about rising to the occasion. Harvey lays down a stomping cosmic-funk-disco-rock set—heavy on the cosmic—that's infinitely weird, infectious and, without a doubt, a trainspotter's dream.


Mind Against "RA 482" — Resident Advisor

With Axel Boman and DJ Tennis in our top picks and Tennis cohorts Mind Against taking the top slot, you might be sensing a trend here. But really it's no secret: at Dialogue Inc, the deeper the better. And that seemed to be the Mind Against ethos going into this impeccable hour for Resident Advisor. A truly celestial outing, this mix is pure cosmic space techno and a truly impressive example of the pair's ability to cultivate a hyper specific sound and somehow manage to find a cross-section of artists (other than themselves) who exemplify it. Where Special Request turned mostly to his own catalog to create the unified sound of his Essential Mix, Mind Against turned outward, culling sounds from Recondite, Cobblestone Jazz and Benjamin Damage among others to create a listening experience that fully immerses you in their world. This mix amounts to 60 minutes of floating through space for us, and it's a trip we took more often than any other this year.



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