80: KODE9 & SPACEAPE
MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE
Without sacrificing any of Kode9’s trademark starkness, Memories of the Future turns out to be remarkably varied in tone. ‘Glass’ is an eerily jaunty synthetic sea shanty for an abandoned spaceship locked into a fixed orbit. The instrumental ‘Lime’ is as limpid and dank as Delia Derbyshire at her most extra-terrestrial. Spaceape’s vocals range from in-your-face to insinuating, from rabble-rousing clamour to rasping whisper…the simmering, febrile atmosphere recalling not so much Tricky’s Maxinquaye as its criminally underrated sequel, Pre-Millennium Tension. [K-punk]
79: DJ HARVEY
SARCASTIC DISCO VOL. 2
(SARCASTIC CLOTHING, 2001)
Who would’ve thought that a determinedly retro mix CD by a California-residing East Anglian hippie, given away with free at a Japanese clothing store, would change the course of dance music? Not us. But it did.
Recorded live with two turntables, mixer and FX, Harvey’s Sarcastic Disco Vol. 2 brought the genre-hopping, anything-goes DJing approach of Larry Levan and David Mancuso bang up to date. He included a false tracklist with the CD to throw spotters off the scent, but after much speculation, the tracks were ID’d – rare or little-known tunes from the likes of Claudja Barry, Logic System, Holger Czukay, even The Beach Boys (‘Our Prayer’). Suddenly the whole western world was reminded that you didn’t just have to play straight disco cuts to get the party grooving, and an extended era of post-Balearic, recklessly eclectic digging and re-edit culture was underway. [Daniel Feeld]
78: THE BUG
(NINJA TUNE, 2008)
Pressure, Kevin Martin’s second album as The Bug had its plaudits, but you felt that some people missed the point: all eyes were on the heavyweight ragga of tracks like ‘Gun Machine’, when Pressure was also an album that contained real beauty. But combining these opposing forces has long been Martin’s deal: he’s twice spoken to FACT about living for extremes (“I love really beautiful music or I love really ugly music”), and third Bug album London Zoo saw the heavy tracks get heavier, and the ballads become more unsettlingly serene.
Not just a career best – for both Martin and his array of vocalists – but a cathartic record: Martin spent his time making the album contemplating leaving London for the first time, and came out the other end feeling that the capital was “his only home.” [Tom Lea]
77: LIL WAYNE
THE CARTER II
(CASH MONEY, 2005)
Whether The Carter II is Wayne’s best album of this decade or not is up for debate – you could easily make a case for, let’s see, three mixtapes as being better? What The Carter II does represent though, is the point where Wayne officially graduated: the moment where the kid rapper we first heard on ’97’s ‘We On Fire’ fulfilled his promise of becoming the best MC alive, and reached the stature where he could do ridiculous shit like ‘Prom Night’ and still have the world behind him. Or, as one of his countless tattoos indicates, in the palm of his hand. [Chris Campbell]
76: THE KNIFE
Perhaps the most uncanny pop album of the decade. Crystalline synths warble and chatter, whisper and scream, creating a beguiling electronic backdrop for the stunning processed voice of Karin Dreijer Andersson. More Brothers Grimm than T-Pain, misery never sounded so glorious – or so groovy. [Justin Toland]
75: QUIET VILLAGE
(STUDIO !K7, 2008)
The work of Matt ‘Radio Slave’ Edwards and esteemed digger and disco fiend Joel Martin, Quiet Village’s Silent Movie rounded up most of the tracks from the duo’s stunning, limited edition releases on New York’s Whatever We Want Records, and added a clutch more.
The creative apogee of the neo-Balearic craze which blew up in 2005-2008, Silent Movie found Martin and Edwards gathering obscure psych, soundtrack, prog and exotica nuggets and splicing, augmenting, re-editing and arranging them into dazzling new configurations. ‘Too High To Move’, ‘Pacific Rhythm’, ‘Pillow Talk’ and ‘Can’t Be Beat’ – these were some of the most beautiful, most captivating tunes of the decade, and their uncertain origins in 1970s private presses, sound-libraries and second-hand stores only added to their dusty mystique. [Trilby Foxx]
START BREAKING MY HEART
Dan Snaith’s debut album as Manitoba was also his best, eclipsing both the follow-up Up In Flames and the subsequent music he’s recorded as Caribou. The moody, broken un-techno of opener ‘Dundas, Ontario’ sets the album on an intriguing path, and it climaxes with the driving, twinkling ‘Brandon’ and ‘Lemon Yoghourt’, which sounds like a Steve Reich CD skipping in the player – in a good way. Snaith might not be anywhere near as accomplished as Four Tet – the artist with whom he is most commonly and understandably compared – but the naïve emotional intensity he generates on Start Breaking My Heart just about gives him the edge. [Daniel Feeld]
(FAT CITY, 2007)
To call Working Night$ the Endtroducing… of house music would be a gross exaggeration, but first exposure to its sampladelic chutzpah undoubtedly reminded us of DJ Shadow in his pomp. Loosely styled as a nocturnal hop around different Detroit radio frequencies, snatches of hip-hop, funk and soul mingle gloriously with hypnotic techno cuts like the modern-classic ‘W.A.R.’. It’s still hard to fathom how this young Mancunian produced a debut album of such conceptual and musical maturity, but he did it, and we’re all the richer for it. Essential for fans of Moodymann and Theo Parrish. [Trilby Foxx]
(MONOLAKE / IMBALANCE COMPUTER MUSIC, 2005)
Produced by Monolake mainstay Robert Henke in partnership with Torsten ‘T++’ Profrock, Polygon Cities effortlessly combined the linear attack of techno with the spatial ambition of sound-art, with a liberal dash of jungle rollage thrown in for good measure. You need only listen to ‘Digitalis’ or the heavy-stepping ‘Invisible’ to understand why Monolake remain very much the producers’ producers, unconstrained by convention and always forging forward. [Kiran Sande]
71: THE SOFT PINK TRUTH
DO YOU WANT NEW WAVE OR DO YOU WANT THE SOFT PINK TRUTH?
A potty-mouthed, club-savvy side-project of Matmos’s Drew Daniel, The Soft Pink Truth released a number of diverting records on Matthew Herbert’s Soundslike label before striking gold with this inspired covers album. Rendering classic 80s punk and hardcore tunes in synthed-out, sub-heavy dancefloor style – we’re talking Crass’s ‘Do They Owe Us Living’ re-imagined as speaker-whumping 2-step, Minor Threat’s ‘Out of Step’ as broken electro-disco – Do You Want New Wave knows not of sacred cows. It’s testament to Daniel’s talents that what might’ve been just another electroclash-era art-prank ended up being among the most scintillating dance music LPs of the decade. [Kiran Sande]