Best of 2019 I by I 23.12.19

The best mixes of 2019

Every month in this column we put the spotlight on seven mixes we think deserve your attention – seven mixes that you might otherwise have missed, seven mixes that deserve to be written about as the cultural artifacts they truly are. Seven is a damn small number, though, in the face of literally thousands of new uploads every month and during what feels like a real purple patch for cutting-edge club music. But we soldier on! And now, to cap off a year of endless incredible mixes from much-loved stalwarts and game-changing newbies alike, we present our 25 favorite mixes, in no particular order.

It’d take you a full day of non-stop listening to get through it all but it still feels like this barely scratches the surface of the creativity and innovation we’ve enjoyed in 2019. We probably say this every year but dance music is as exciting, as revelatory, as adventurous and as essential as it has ever been.

Lee Gamble – Nowadays Live and Direct 006
High-concept bass straight from the booth
Lee Gamble celebrated Hyperdub’s 15th birthday with a set at Nowadays in Queens (surely one of the world’s best clubs right now) and our sources say he blew the roof off, selecting everything from dubstep and grime to TSVI’s freaky breaks and loopy SOPHIE edits. New York is having a bass moment and this was the 2019 highpoint.


Kampire – Dekmantel Podcast 228
Pan-African polyrhythms from the Nyege ambassador
Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes had a colossal impact on the global club underground in 2019, so naturally the crew pops up more than once in this list (see also: DJ Duke and MCZO). Kampire is a core part of the Nyege vision and this hour-long smackdown for Dekmantel captures the infectious energy and polyrhythmic futurism that’s been charming dancefloors from Kampala to Amsterdam.


Ploy – Cav Empt mix
Laser-sharp selections for a limited edition cassette
Japanese streetwear brand Cav Empt followed up last year’s excellent Joy O mix cassette by commissioning ‘Ramos’ architect Ploy for another round of limited edition hijinks. Thankfully they’ve whacked it on SoundCloud (11k plays and counting!) so that the fashion-fearing among us can appreciate Ploy’s laser-sharp selection of gnarly, disorienting bass and gravity-shifting rhythms.


Sherelle – Boiler Room
A victory lap for everyone’s favorite new superstar DJ
In a year of terrible events, one inarguable bright spot was the ascendance of London bass ‘n’ breaks boss Sherelle. The 6 Figure Gang figurehead broke through with a much-discussed Boiler Room set that reminded us what a rave should really look like while setting out her next-gen vision for footwork, breaks and grime.


DJ Duke and MCZO – No Visa Mix
The infectious energy of Tanzanian singeli
When DJ Duke and MCZO were denied US visas and forced to cancel their performance at Red Bull Music Festival, the Tanzanian duo consoled fans with this unbelievable mix of frenetic (approaching 200 BPM) singeli. It’s relentless and overwhelming but still fundamentally danceable, with Duke’s hyperactive productions spurring MCZO to ever-faster extremes on the mic.


CCL for Unsound
Shunted grooves celebrating year’s trip to Krakow
Seattle’s CCL provided some fittingly wiggy entrance music for this year’s Unsound festival in Krakow, wading through a muddy stack of hard-hitting, half-waterlogged material. A cheeky lack of tracklist left us pondering, but Forest Drive West and Lurka were identified among the shunted grooves.


Bored Lord live at Directory in LA on 4.20.19
Sweat-dripping drums and kicks from a Knightwerk talent
Memphis-born, LA-based Bored Lord makes vicious club bangers on the excellent Knightwerk label, exemplified by ‘Spit In Your Mouth’ – the killer track that opens this set recorded at Directory in LA. Hard drums, fat kicks and breakbeats from the grubbier end of the dancefloor flag up an exciting new talent.


Jasss – Dekmantel Podcast 217
Freaky body music for lights-out raving
Säule resident Jasss has the ability to drop just about anything in her sets and make it work, but for the Dekkers series the Spanish sound artist pulled for the thrusters – dirty, freaky, nasty electro, EBM and techno for lights-out raving.


Sim Hutchins – Love In The Club mix for Crack
An ode to the dancefloor wreckheads
Sim Hutchins’ Love In The Club EP was an enthusiastic celebration of dancefloor-based wreckheadism which even came with its own cute website. Alongside it came this mix, which opens with extracts of real-life rave tales and tear-jerking synths before going wonky and aggressive and eventually finding its way to Whigfield.


Ossia – 100% Production Mix for NTS Radio
Ominous dub spells from the Bristol producer
Bristol’s Ossia made use of his February slot on NTS Radio to dig into the vaults and present a deep, dubwise and really quite spooky mix of his own productions. Featuring unreleased gems and various collabs and remixes (Giant Swan, Logos) it’s an immersive journey into one artist’s vision, expanding on his thrillingly desolate 2019 album Devil’s Dance.


Ariel Zetina for Papi Juice
A ravey twist on Latinx roots
Chicago star-in-the-making Ariel Zetina put a ravey twist on her Latinx heritage in a mix for Brooklyn’s queer art collective Papi Juice. With a Belizean wedding band rubbing up against Tomás Urquieta’s club viscera, and Zetina’s own Ha!-laced edits making way for Erika Glück’s chugging techno, it’s full of left turns but slick as hell.


Major’s Leather Forever mix for Honey Soundsystem
Saucy, strapping house from SF
Every “potcast” from the Honey Soundsystem crew is a joy, but this one from San Francisco’s Major John felt like an extra-special treat. The Polyglamorous resident strapped on his harness for a “Leather Forever” mix (celebrating the fetish fair held annually on Folsom Street) and whipped out his sauciest chuggers from Front 242, Paula Temple and Autarkic.


Betty – Science Heavy mixtape
Cathartic bass from Rinse France’s finest
This mixtape by Betty, star DJ from the Rinse France crew, was her first standalone mix in nearly two years, in which time she’d faced down plenty of drama. Science Heavy demonstrates why she remains one of the most important figures on the Parisian club scene, effortlessly maneuvering through modern bass from Chevel and Giant Swan, shady electro from Aux 88 and ghetto house from Jammin Gerald.


DJ Plead for The Astral Plane
Hard drums and Middle Eastern roots
Australia’s DJ Plead had a breakout year with the release of his Pleats Plead EP, a frenzy of Middle Eastern hand drums that lit up dancefloors around the world. His mix for The Astral Plane showcased his deeply personal style, placing Syrian booty-shakers alongside DJ Python’s low-slung reggaeton, Arabic shuffles from Amar Du Désert and broken technoise from Szare.


ADAB – Neptunian Influence 26
Psychedelic Afrofuturism from a Cleveland selector
As flagged by Pitchfork’s Philip Sherburne earlier in the year, this fantastic voyage into Afrofuturism is the mindspawn of ADAB, a DJ affiliated with Cleveland parties Heaven Is In You and In Training. Don’t expect Sun Ra and spiritual jazz, though – this is a club vision through and through, with hypnotic drums and third-eye-opening synths giving way to ragged techno fury in the final quarter.


MssngNo – M2 Performance Enhancer
An all-production mix of emotional electronics
MssingNo’s first new material for a few years popped up in mix format – and this column does love an all-production mix. The XE2 maestro reaches new levels of emotional overload in just 20 minutes with a little help from Mariah Carey, Future and the spirit of musical theater (yes, really).


Finn – Tryin’ It!
A Manchester celebration from the 2 B Real chief
One of Manchester’s most talented DJs celebrated a great year for the city’s club underground with a special end-of-season mixtape. Moving between chunky ‘90s beats (Robert Miles, Satin Storm), peppy filter house (his own ‘Scandalous Little Number’) and a raft of jackin’, uptempo cuts – including several from his 2 Be Real label – it’s a calling card not just for Finn but a whole raving community.


Samuel Spaniel – BOO000
A mirage of Y2K nostalgia
The shortest mix in the list at just 15 minutes, BOO000 was the opening salvo from Boomerang, a new project from Brussels producer and sound artist Samuelspaniel. As flagged up by Tayyab Amin in the Guardian, it’s a cornucopia of stutter and glitch, seemingly celebrating the digital futurism of Y2K-era electronics (Kylie Minogue, UK garage) while bending history into some kind of delirious mirage of what-if bangers.


UNIIQU3 – An Afropunk Mix
Non-stop energy from a pro who keeps getting better
New Jersey’s UNIIQU3 isn’t resting on her laurels, as this mix for Afropunk proved. There’s no shortage of triplet kicks, raw R&B edits and Cardi B vocals – but the club queen’s global travels are increasingly audible in the gqom and Brazilian funk that she weaves into her non-stop assault.


Mr. Mitch – Techno Dancehall 2
Bumping beats from the Boxed creator
As if his series of color-themed mixes wasn’t enough (Orange, Pink and Green, so far), London’s Mr. Mitch capped the year with a redux of his “techno dancehall” concept, which does exactly what you’d want it to do. Featuring Logos, Shanti Celeste and Equiknoxx, the Boxed creator digs into a carefully curated crate of tracks to highlight this definite undercurrent of contemporary club music.


Jubilee for Honey Soundsystem
Booty-moving Pride bangers from Miami’s finest
Jubilee’s ravetastic 2019 album Call For Location confirmed the Miami export as one of the brightest club talents on the East Coast – but it was a visit to the West Coast that unleashed her best mix of the year, a ‘Pote De Mel’ set for Honey Soundsystem. Drawing for perverted electro, Baltimore breaks and vintage thrusters as well as some of her own remixes (Tommy Genesis, Lizzo), this was a Pride mix with a twist.


DJ Taye – Fader Mix
The future of footwork
Teklife alumni DJ Taye has probably done more to push footwork into the future than any other artist, having joined the crew as a teen and in recent years stretched the blueprint to include rap, techno, noise, R&B and more. His signature is on almost every track in this stunning mix (along with his talented co-conspirator DJ Paypal) which sounds notably evolved from any kind of “classic” footwork mix – no chance of stagnation here.


rRoxymore for Strange Sounds From Beyond
Stem-tickling curios for early summer evenings
The incredibly talented rRoxymore dug into the lesser-aired corners of her vast record collection on this listening mix for Strange Sounds From Beyond. One intrepid SC commenter laid the groundwork for us, identifying a twinkling fourth world groove from Carlos Maria Trindade & Nuno Canavarro and ‘80s London digidub from Selah Collins, but we had hours of fun trying to sleuth the rest. A stem-tickling mix that charmed our summer evenings.


L U C Y for SZNS7N
Eclectic bass maneuvers from Bristol’s rising star
Masked producer L U C Y kicked off a new mix series for her own SZNS7N label – home to MUHLA, Raheim and her own debut EP – with a fast and aggressive yet stylishly eclectic mix. Packed with dubs from rising producers, like her 6 Figure Gang cohort Yazzus, and featuring her own refix of Objekt’s now-classic ‘Theme From Q’, you can tell she’s got ideas to spare.


Conducta – The Kiwi Manifesto
UK garage lives!
And finally, an acknowledgement of the ceaseless charms of UK garage, a genre that’s made a comeback in recent years largely thanks to Bristolian producer and DJ Conducta, who launched his Kiwi Records outlet with an hour of brand new tracks from revivalists like Mind of a Dragon, Prescribe Da Vibe, Sharda and Sammy Virji.

Chal Ravens is a freelance journalist. Find her on Twitter.

Olivea Kelly is an independent artist and designer. Find her on Instagram or at opk.studio.

Find all of FACT’s year-end coverage here.

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