40: OLD APPARATUS
SIDE A PART 1
Old Apparatus’s mysterious debut – 20 minutes of music spread across two untitled sides of vinyl – is something we recommend enjoying as a whole, but there’s no doubt that the first distinct movement of the A-side packs the fiercest punch. It sounds like UK garage gone industrial, its perfectly swung rhythm riven by distortion and an overloaded darkside bassline. The end, it suggests, is very much nigh.
Smoked-out drum machine pop from Helsinki’s TEETH that suited 502′s darkroom aesthetic (see also: Jay Weed, Fis-T) to a tee.
38: SOFT METALS
On ‘Psychic Driving’, American synth duo Soft Metals stopped trying to so hard to pastiche John Foxx et al and followed their instincts instead. The result was one of this year’s most perfect, stand-alone pop songs.
37: DARQ E FREAKER
The producer behind Tempa T’s classic ‘Next Hype’ delivered an almost as catchy instrumental single this year, pairing one of the biggest, best riffs grime’s heard for years with Hammond organ bridges and the cheekiest flutes this side of Toto.
‘BODY WORK & FUCK MY BRAINS OUT’
(RADIO KILLA / DEF JAM)
The first solo material from The-Dream to emerge since last year’s occasionally incredible, but ultimately patchy Love King, and evidence that when it does finally come out, the r’n'b mogul’s fourth album might end up his best yet. Now he just needs to stop upsetting Def Jam and make sure it actually gets released.
35: BOK BOK
(from SOUTHSIDE, NIGHT SLUGS)
‘Silo Pass’ took most of the props, but for us this propulsive, rain-coated bullet was the highlight of Southside, an EP from Night Slugs co-owner Bok Bok that reimagined classic grime as techno.
34: CHAMPION feat. RUBY LEE RYDER
Formula Sound rolled back the years with this one, a vocal UK Funky cut that stands up to all of 2008 and 2009′s classics (‘Do You Mind’, ‘Frontline’ et al), Ruby Lee Ryder’s hushed vocals falling unforgettably into Champion’s trademark hollow bassline.
33: JAMIE XX
Being Jamie xx’s debut solo single on Numbers, ‘Far Nearer’ – a soft-hued, steeldrum-driven stepper – had a lot of hype to live up to, and managed to do so without really breaking a sweat.
32: VATICAN SHADOW
‘WHITEWASHED COMPOUND STEALTH HELICOPTER CRASH’
(from PAKISTAN MILITARY ACADEMY, HOSPITAL PRODUCTIONS)
Not content merely to release one of the year’s very best albums, Bermuda Drain, under his Prurient guise, Dominick Fernow also impressed with his work as Vatican Shadow. A minimal synth project inspired by cloak-and-dagger US military activity in the Middle East, Vatican’s finest moment of 2011 was ‘Whitewashed Compound Stealth Helicopter Crash’, a work of expansive, undulating ambient techno that still managed to sound pained and paranoid.
‘LONDON, WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED)
(from WICKER & STEEL, PERC TRAX)
The brutal, broken techno highlight of Perc’s fine Wicker & Steel album. Even if it wasn’t called ‘London, We Have You Surrounded’, listening to this number would be sure to conjure images of the English capital under siege.