Saturday 31 December 2022

Wrapping Up 2022

Left it a little late to do a year's end roundup, but I'm going to return to a tried and tested tradition: the good old fashioned track dump. I never really felt comfortable posting a sea of players with no commentary, so this one is going to be broken up a little with thoughts in-between, so apologies in advance if it gets a little long.

First things first, if you're after a real Nostalgia-fest, BBC Radio 6 has you covered. That right there is a playlist straight out of the 2010s featuring many of the Ed Banger crew and other indie darlings of the time. It's available here for about a month if you're interested, tho with some limitations if you're not in Europe but I can't confirm that
Michel Majerus - Untitled (2000)

Now with that out of the way, let's take a look at what I've got. I've made no secret of my love of Eurobeat over the last few years - the sugared up evolution of Italo Disco colliding with J-Pop. I had a fair few lined up, but on listening to them back I whittled it down to just a couple - it's pretty hard to find legal streams of a lot of them anyway and in hindsight some of them were a little bit OTT. Which is an absolutely stupid thing to say I now realise, as the whole point of Eurobeat IS that it's over the top! Keeping it low key to start with, Switch really highlights those latent disco traces inherent in the genre, which makes it a good dipping in point for the curious.

I've managed to skirt one of the more silly parts of Eurobeat with these two selections, being mostly written by Italians, you do get some... interesting lyrical choices that don't quite make a whole lot of sense. On that note though, Eurobeat does a fairly decent job of maintaining a good ratio of Male to Female vocalists, it'd be very easy for the genre to fall into the latter much like the Vocal side of trance did way back when. That said, there are definitely tracks that evoke that same kind of euphoric vibe - enter So Fragile

Some Tofubeats next, I picked up some of the man's soundtrack work a while back and had been meaning to check out his works ever since. His Bandcamp is weirdly bare with releases there but not for sale (that clearly used to be as well), and releases like this one here that don't appear on Discogs or anywhere else really. Synthesizer is a prime example of why I felt the need to check his work out, a real head bopper of a slow jam, topped with liberal use of Vocoder to make the whole package complete for me.

Going total nostalgia bomb for this next one, it comes back out to play every so often, and rightfully so as it's damn good. Potentially one of the finest remixes ever from the era - Thomas Bangalter (1/2 of Daft Punk for those not in the know) spins out what was a ~1 minute interlude from DJ Mehdi's Lucky Boy into one of - if not the - electro house anthem. It hurts a little knowing that we won't hear any more Mehdi productions, I always liked the man's style and was excited to see where he'd take it, but what better way to celebrate the man than belting this one out.

Let's go a little deeper next with some Soichi Terada. Terada's return under his own name was a release I was extremely looking forward to, I first got turned his way off the heels of the (legitimately fantastic) Ape Escape soundtrack, and was pleased to find even more Drum & Bass on waiting for me. But the man actually got his start making (equally brilliant) House tracks - and that's what Asakusa Light is all about - paraphrasing Terada's own words: he's trying to capture that same feeling from those days. And on tracks like Double Spire, he really does. It helps I'm a real sucker for pitch bends though!

Speaking of capturing the spirit of yore, we have DMX Krew, who has been dwelling in that space for a long long time now. Now with DMX, you often will get some cheeky playful self aware elements in the mix, evoking old school electro of the early breakin'/electropop era, it's a genre than can be quite funny after all so why not embrace it? (see also: Chromeo). Party Life doesn't really do that, at least on the title track. The thing comes out a little more like an electroclash record, lamenting the shallow nature of the said Party Life. But you don't have to delve that deep into the analysis if you don't want, the Dub mix has an excellent groove on it and is as relentlessly catchy as the original.

Couple more to round us out, starting with what is one of the oldest digital files in my collection - Misstress Barbara's Never Could Have Your Heart. A relic of my first serious forays into the world of electronic music circa the early 00's, the first version I had of this was a naff one I pirated at like 96kbps or something like that! But even then, I was totally entranced with it. That melody (which I would later learn is pretty much a cover/sample of Move D's In/Out) is just gorgeous, and the beat work is surprisingly frantic for a House record, with machine gun hi-hats and flurries of handclaps. I reckon it'll be about 20 years I've had it in my collection next year, and I'm still as in love with it as I ever was.

And finally, the one track I post every year without fail, The Knife's New Year's Eve. Taken from the soundtrack to the film Hannah Med H, it's from around the Deep Cuts era so is very much in that extremely electropop style - the one with super sweet synths and the steel pan work as heard on tracks like Pass This On. Does the track have anything to do with NYE? Not really, it plays in a scene in the film that takes place on the night which is the reason for the title. Still, it's become a bit of a tradition, there was many a year where we'd play this while getting ready to head out for the night. And now it's a tradition here too!

And that'll about do it for now, it did end up getting a little long but nothing too ridiculous! That'll be all for this year, but rest assured I'll be back soon enough in '23 with more. Thank you for sticking with us this year, we've had a couple hiccups along the way but I don't know anyone who hasn't. I hope you've found some tracks here to enjoy and will continue to do so in future - and of course, as always: Stay safe and enjoy the music.


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