The 20 Best Free Mixes of 2015
Every week this year, FACT has sailed the endless sea of free mixes, looking for beacons of light.
SoundCloud might be dishing out more strikes than a French truckers’ union, but that hasn’t stopped the goods from coming. Mixcloud and other platforms have stepped in to pick up the slack, and with Radar Radio and NTS Manchester joining the internet radio circuit, there’s more quality mixes online than ever. Here’s an alphabetical list of our 20 favorites.
Note: every week, we run an episode of our own mix series. We didn’t include those for obvious reasons.
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Dekmantel Podcast 035
Autechre don’t often do free mixes, but when they do you know it’s going to be special. This Dekmantel mix finds the Warp duo heading back to their roots with a sequence of dusty electro records, a reminder that even at its most pensive their music is forever tethered to the club.
Mix For Radar Radio
Out of more-or-less nowhere this year, dJJ appeared with a ridiculous tumblr and a way with loops and vocal samples that drew lines between West Wales, Ibiza and Paris that you never even knew existed. ‘Just a Lil’ was, obviously, his big moment but this all-originals-and-edits session for Crazylegs’ Radar Radio show wasn’t far behind – we called it “outsider Ibiza” when it first dropped, and we regret nothing.
Mixpak FM 082
Some of the coolest mixes we heard all year were those where, like Endgame’s session for Mixpak, you felt like the selector was drawing “a triangle from London to Latin America to Lisbon”. As a resident at London’s Endless party and host of NTS Radio’s Precious Metals, Endgame has refined that concept into a sound that’s as refreshing as it is logical, making connections between dancehall and reggaeton, Lisbon’s kuduro-influenced underground, and the grot and grime of London. Also recommended: Kamixlo’s Dazed mix.
The Great British Trance Off Mix
Trance is back, get over it. Maybe it’s the inevitably cyclical nature of these things, but those rushing synths and giddy risers have been worming their way into even “serious” producers’ toolbags this year, and no one has flown the flag higher than Evian Christ, self-styled captain of the Trance Army. His Great British Trance-Off mix was a sideways update on a now-vintage sound, splicing Ultra Nate a cappellas, piano melodrama and fuckloads of hoovers with the kind of bone-crunching FX and jackhammer rhythms trademarked by Trance Party affiliates like Kablam and Total Freedom. You’re allowed to laugh!
Manchester DJ/producer Finn gets loosely grouped in with the grime world – making MC anthems with Jammz will do that, we guess – but as a DJ he’s got a knowledge of US club music, house, garage and pop way behind his years. His session for Solid Steel features all of the above and more: if you catch DJs opening their sets with New Edition’s ‘Count Me Out’ next year then remember who they nicked it off.
John Barera & Will Martin
Boston DJs John Barera and Will Martin cheered us right up with their XLR8R podcast, a masterclass in deep house that should be prescribed to all the deep-V pretenders as a matter of urgency. Far from monotonous, the duo make nimble leaps between sultry cuts by Delano Smith, Nina Kraviz and K15 and funky curveballs from Talking Heads and Wally Badarou, leaving you with a renewed love for the classics.
Music To… send late night drunk text messages that you will later regret to
Two months before Erykah Badu dedicated a whole mixtape to the concept, Jubilee assembled a mix of music to “send late night drunk text messages that you will later regret to” – namely body-wining tracks with phone themes.
Weird Magic Mix: The Awakening
New York scene leader Juliana Huxtable presents a dark-n-stormy club epic where nu-metal remixes, Slugs-Fade club constructions and Star Wars / Dragon Ball nostalgia fight claustrophobia.
Truancy Volume 117
Kuedo’s mixes are always a delight – see his Severant-era session for FACT, for one – and this year’s Truants mix sees the ex-Vex’d producer extend his hand to a younger generation (Sharp Veins, v1984, Silk Road Assassins) while asserting his influence: when contextualised in a Kuedo mix, you realise just how many artists sound like him.
Cassette Mixtape From 93
Yeah, it’s an easy pick, we know. An Omar-S mixtape from 1993, dubbed to tape? Shout “obvious” as much as you like – this bangs, pure and simple.
My Body Full of Stars: An Afrofuturism Mixtape
Ian McQuaid, aka Oyinboy, gave us one of the year’s most essential mixes in My Body Full of Stars, an ingenious exploration of Afrofuturism with an accompanying essay by Irish-Nigerian writer and sociologist Emma Dabiri. Tracks from Sun Ra, Drexciya, Missy Elliott, LTJ Bukem, Nigga Fox, Jimi Hendrix and Deltron 3030 appear alongside snippets from speeches and interviews, all blended with skill and a thoughtful, open-minded ear for what a timeless Afrofuturist aesthetic might sound like.
The Waiting Room in DJ Hell Live
Physical Therapy recorded this mix live at the Perez Art Museum Miami, delivering two hours of brain-melting Muzak – “Basically DJs Complaining manifested as eternal damnation.”
Powell’s mixes are never anything but a total riot, but this mix for The Fader is even more wavy than usual. Combining everything from no wave and industrial classics to a spoken word passage from Lou Reed into an anarchic, muscular package it shows why the Diagonal founder continues to be one of our favourite DJs.
Rabit & Chino Amobi
The Great Game…
Rabit teams with Chino Amobi for a violent, hypnotic mix of deconstructed club music that lays the conceptual groundwork for Halcyon Veil, which is starting to feel more like a hypothetical world than “just” a label.
100BPM Ballroom Beats
Screwed and Chopped ballroom? We weren’t sure either, but with Rushmore at the controls we’re in safe hands. The Trax Couture co-founder pulls a suite of ballroom bangers down to a crawl, accenting the music’s menace.
Scottish producer Samoyed swooped in at the 11th hour to deliver what might be the best mix of piano, ambient music and Japanese oddities this year. It also finishes with a full five-minute field recording of some blackbirds, leading to of the year’s most perfect flotation tank experiences.
The Earth Splashed
In which Sharp Veins took distorted kick drums, duck noises and some of the lushest loops this side of Basinski, flattened them beyond the point of recognition and made it work. More disintegrated than #deconstructed, The Earth Splashed is an example of how to distort recognisable quasi-club tropes and create a whole new world – other experimental producers, take note.
Boxed Classics Mix
Boxed’s residents and affiliates have been responsible for breaking some of the best grime producers of the last few years, and this Slackk mix to celebrate the night’s second birthday – featuring ‘Keep Calling’, ‘New Cross Gate’, ‘Kung Fu Kick’ and a ton more of the anthems cultivated by the night – celebrates that at breakneck speed.
Juno Plus Podcast 126
For a mix of pure, unadulterated deep house, nothing came close to Leif and Joe Ellis’s Juno Plus session. It’s dusky and hypnotic, yes, but it’s also the sort of mix that proves flawless blends don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with a lack of drama.
The Creep Side of Dance Mania
Dance Mania didn’t just do raunch: the legendary Chicago label also was also home to electro-tinged house and techno. Soo Wavey’s Vin Sol mines the label’s depths in this 50-minute workout.