Top 35 Tracks of 2016
Capturing the year 0f 2016 we’ve put together our traditional end of year list documenting our favourite tracks of the year. In contrast to other publications the list is not beholden to just digital or physical releases, it’s inclusive of any track we’ve come across, whether it be sourced from Soundcloud, picking a track from an LP or plucking a track from a mix we’ve heard.
Taking inspiration from a variety of influences, the list is defined by a diverse spectrum of sounds, with a selection of genres and cross-genre music, spanning hip hop, house, techno, drum n bass, soul, rnb, jazz and broken beat. It’s always difficult putting together these types of lists and pitting someone like a Solange against an Omar S, or a drum and bass track against a house track, so this list is mainly to highlight our top picks from the year.
35) Henry Wu & Tito Wun – Don Müller
34) Slim feat. Ella Mae – Stop Rewind
Banoffee Pies Records
33) Andres – Mighty Tribe
32) Archy Marshall – Ammi Ammi
31) Jay Daniel – Knowledge Of Selfie
30) Smerz – Because
29) Fold – Mills Theme
28) SpectraSoul – Glimpse (ft. dBridge) (Ivy Lab Remix)
27) Blood Orange – Desiree
26) De La Soul – Pain
25) eu-IV – IVyouPT2
24) Childish Gambino – Terrified (Zikomo Remix)
23) J Cole – Change
Dreamville Records, Roc Nation and Interscope Records
22) Youandewan feat. Huerta – Left On Lucy
21) Radiohead – Identikit
20) KA-YU – Shola Ama Flip (Yung Kayubesi)
19) Rimbaudian – Let Me Beat U
18) Omar S – Take Ya Pik, Nik!!!!!
17) Jael – RockTheFloat
16) A Tribe Called Quest – A Space Programme
15) Ross From Friends – Talk To Me You’ll Understand
14) NxWorries – Suede
Stones Throw Records
13) Miyagi x Akay – Your Love
12) Bonobo – Kerela
11) Sada – Tamia Flip
10 ) Room 667 w/ Skeptical
Serious heavyweight roller from Alix Perez and Skeptical. Track Room 667 was taken from Perez’ own 1985 label, from the labels debut EP, Elephant Dreams. Heavy hitting drums, skittering percussion, spooky vocals and a ruthless bassline form the core ingredients of the track, pieced together to create a dnb roller.
9) DJ Kush Boogie – Orchid
We don’t know too much about DJ Kush Boogie, but we came across a few of his tracks on Soundcloud and were instantly hooked on the freshness of his sound. He released a brilliant EP on London label Lobster Theremin earlier this month, with Orchid one of 4 great pieces of work. The ‘lo-fi’ house aesthetic is a strong characteristic of his output, pertinently apparent on this track, which is crafted against a backdrop of driving drums, marching hand-claps and analogue fused house melodies.
8) k2k – We Down For
We Down For comes courtesy of Red Bull Music Academy graduate Katherine Anderson AKA k2k, the first taste from her debut EP Sugar which was released on label MARGINS earlier this year. Surging cosmic chords, a warm bassline and melodic percussive arrangements are moulded seamlessly around the infectious lyrics of Brandy.
7) Willow – A2
The sultry, moody sounds of Willow’s ‘Feel Me’ was a standout track from last year, and the Manchester-based producer followed the hype impressively with Workshop 23. Having formed a distinguishable sound, Willow utilises the elements that worked well on Feel Me into Untitled A2. The dark, burial-esque vocal of the track grabs you straight away, giving the track an immediately moody feel. Building around the vocal, the heavy bassline and skirting percussion give the track a slinky, dub aesthetic.
6) Illum Sphere – Red Glass
Illum Sphere is a highly dynamic producer, with his latest album Glass an excellent showcase of his expansive palette of sounds. The composition of delicate sounds against the tough techno kick and sharp strings give the track a powerful rhythm and emotive feel.
5) DVSN – Too Deep
Signed to Drake’s OVO Sound, DVSN are two more artists emerging out of Canada’s burgeoning scene. Sept 5th was their first album, and track Too Deep was our pick off the record. The thudding bassline forms the fore of the track, in contrast to the soulful vocals of DVSN and a female choir.
4) Mala – Kotos
Mala returned this year with his second album, Mirrors, with Kotos the first track off an LP that takes the listener on a journey through peruvian rhythms. One of the most influential and underrated producers of electronic music, Mala shows once again his creative intuition as an artist, digging deep into the roots and rhythms of Peruvian culture, with track Kotos personifying the expansive sound of the album.
3) Solange – Cranes In The Sky
Solange’s A Seat at the Table is undoubtedly one of the strongest soul/RnB albums we’ve ever heard. It’s a formidable musical achievement, and not just for the way she encapsulates her views on black cultural history. Cranes In The Sky is one of a number of standout moments from the album. With Raphael Saadiq conjuring a deep bassline, the harmonic strings, pure drum kicks and melodic keyboard flourishes mesh perfectly around Solange’s soulful vocals, creating a masterful piece of music.
2) Chaos In The CBD – Background Explorer
New Zealand brothers Ben and Louis Helliker-Hales aka Chaos In the CBD have enjoyed a standout year with numerous high grade releases throughout 2016, none more impressive than their Global Erosion EP. Global Erosion sees long time collaborator Isaac Aesili contribute horn hooks and live percussion against warm deep pads, creating a truly emotive 8 minutes of dance music.
1) Omar S – Seen Was Set
In truth we could have featured about 6 or 7 of Omar S’ releases from this year. His The Best album was unquestionably the best ‘dance’ album we heard this year, with each a track a fine demonstration of his effortless prowess as a producer, while his Dessert Eagle EP from earlier in the year was equally impressive. Highlights are plentiful across The Best, but we’ve decided to include Norm Talley’s Seen Was Set mix, a groove-laden, disco-house roller the flows effortlessly throughout it’s entirety.