2015 was a watershed for music in many ways. Everything we’ve known so far has definitively taken a new direction. Whether it is the creation of new genres and microgenres by combining existing ones, post-internet culture and its obsession with viral jokes or the lure of festival EDM as the centre of gravity for new sounds vibes and artists, all these things have definitively come to an end. Instead, a new solid movement is unfolding from the scratch, which combines the URL community spirit of early internet music forums and blogosphere, the close IRL underground scene vibe as well as the socio-political dimension of the original club culture. I am of course talking about the avant-garde club “trax” movement, the great excitement of 2015. I must agree that the focus is a bit narrow for that reason, having too little attention for all the great Middle Eastern music DJ UMB has pushed with persisting dedication. It’s hard to summarise a year, especially such an essential year, and I’m aware that many important things are missing out. Yet for me, the atmosphere of dystopian futurism and apocalyptic transformation, present as a common element, is what makes these 10 tracks the most defining productions of 2015!
DISCLAIMER: with pain in my heart, I chose to select no trap oriented tracks. This doesn’t do justice to some endlessly creative producers, GAMEFACE in particular, who have continued to do greatly innovative work this year. Alternative electronic trap, Chicago drill and (post-)hiphop have almost entirely merged now. All of these things are more than worth to be mentioned and I certainly don’t buy the claim that ‘trap died in 2015’ which is probably the consensus among most music hipsters. But simply for the lack of space I had to leave it out compared to the club music underground which was just a bit more in the forefront of the rebirth of music culture as a whole that has taken place this year.
In my review from September as well as in the comment section of Soundcloud, I called THE GREAT GAME one of the greatest pieces in the entire history of music. That conviction has only grown stronger. Also, with only 10 selections I had to make a choice which to pick from the NON label, all of which is equally essential. THE GREAT GAME can be seen as a condensation of what NON is about into one extended composition.
2. KAMIXLO – Lariat
The underground collective around the Endless party in London is the second movement next to NON (Nkisi is part of both), which has been most influential in shaping music this year. And from this collective KAMIXLO has received most spotlight. What personally makes KAMIXLO one of my favourite ever producers is the way his style builds a bridge between the club trax avant-garde on the one side and powerful electronic Latin beats with dark music in a way that continues the legacy of Munchi.
WWWINGS is a very exciting project from producers LID DAW, LIL INTERNET and LIT EYNE, which has not yet featured explicitly on Generation Bass unfortunately, unlike the duo Santa Muerte whom we’ve been passionately bigging up this year. This month they teamed up for a joint track which even when compared to all the magnificent stuff that has come out this year, was still an instant favourite that had to be included.
4. Elysia Crampton – Axacan
The entire American Drift EP was one of the most unique things to appear this year. Being very comparable conceptually and politically to the work of NON, yet arriving at a quite different type of sound. Most musical look backs of 2015 have include this album and in general the track ‘Petrichrist’ is chosen as the best and most characteristic track. I went instead for ‘Axacan’ because it manages in the most delicate way ever to transform the sound of cumbia into a recontextualised experience. In the avant-garde club scene this is done a lot with baile funk and dembow but rarely with cumbia and rarely as perfectly as here.
Lechuga Zafiro is both connected to the NAAFI label, the third major source of influence that cannot have be overlooked this year, and runs his own SALVIATEK label in Montevideo, Uruguay, also being in close connection with the underground in Brazil. This is very much a world in which the new avant-garde club movement and the original global bass scene are drawing closer together. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the time (yet) to blog the Aequs Nyama EP that came out last month but this gives a very good impression of the fantastic sound coming from Lechuga himself and the scene around his label!
6. Deena Abdelwahed – #7#7#7 — Lelliri Ya Momba —
Despite it falling a bit outside my own immediate blogging focus, 2015 was also the year of Arabic avant-garde music. Deena Abdelwahed is a particularly interesting name because she perfectly bridges Generation Bass’ two main focuses in 2015: Arabic electronic music and the avant-garde club movement which she is also active in.
7. Only Now – No Escape
The track No Escape was technically already in existence shortly before the beginning of 2015, but it was one of the leading tracks of the Only Now self titled EP, certainly one of best if not the single best releases of the year. A new EP is in the making right now so expect big things very soon..
8. Savana “OMEN” Painter – Project Chatter
Next to tangible scenes and movements, we were also closely involved in some more conceptual developments such as the comeback of bands in both the electronic underground. And of course the ‘dark turn’ in ‘urban’ styles like dancehall, hiphop, reggaeton or kuduro. Savana Painter’s #DANCEHALLEMO genre is bridging exactly these developments, combining dark and heavily band-oriented rock and metal influences with dancehall.
9. 2814 – 恢复
We’ve touched only on the post-internet music movement, vaporwave in particular, which is still continuously in development after the peak hype has faded a bit into the background this year. Especially the post-vaporwave sound, which has matured out of vaporwave into a sophisticated conceptual kind of sci-fi ambient. ‘2814’, a joint project of Dream Catalogue curator HKE (f.k.a. Hong Kong Express) and t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者, are the best example of this and their influential album 新しい日の誕生 was so mindblowing and unique that I had to include it. ‘恢复’ (Chinese for ‘restoration’), the lead track of the album, even opens ways to combine this kind of ambient with downtempo rhythmical sounds like future tarraxo or cumbia á la Elysia Crampton.
10. Masayoshi Limori – Doden
A spectacular skullbass stomper to close this list, from the Japanese breakcore oriented alrounder Masayoshi Limori, who is generally regarded as one of Munchi’s most important heirs. There were even rumours that Munchi ghost-produced this track, which appeared on the Generation Bass vs Monsters of Doomcore co-release DoomBahTon Vol.1 compilation. I heard from the most direct source that this is not the case but this track shows definitively that his legacy is more alive than ever.