12 Tracks you Missed in 2012

So, instead of jerking around with the words best or top, I’ve decided to collect 12 pretty excellent tracks that meant something to me in 2012. Quality tunes I’m not sure got out into the greater internets but definitely deserved to, and Soundcloud gave me access to all of them. So, here they are, in no particular order.

Pacific Air – Float (TheFatRat Remix)

This is what I hope all pop music sounds like eventually. I’ll just leave it at that. TheFatRat is what I hope all of Z100 sounds like by 2014.

Flux Pavilion feat. Example – Daydreamer

Example is one of the artists that my general adoration for all things Flux Pavillion has led me to. A fantastic vocalist that links up with all of the right bass-related minds across the pond, this collab with Flux is a cadanced march of awesome. The triumphant wobble of Flux with the strongly accented & attituded vocals makes for a righteously good time,  amplified by the excellent drum work throughout, especially two minutes in when it explodes into further sweetness.

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Music I’ve Forgotten About – Gouryella’s Walhalla (Hybrid’s Echoplex Remix)

Every once and a while, I remember a track, an artist or an album that I’d totally forgotten about. While it’s probably an indication of my advanced age/geezer quality, it always makes my day. Some amazing track that completely exited my head and then pops back up years later. A particularly compelling new friend of mine reminded me that a progressive trance group named Hybrid existed and I couldn’t figure out why that name sounded familiar. I brooded on it until it hit me, I’d had a track of theirs on my mp3 player when I backpacked across Europe in 2005. Racing to my computer, I punched Hybrid into my media library. Lo and behold, only one track came up, and it was absolutely critical to my roaming dozens of cities across a healthy portion of the continent.

The track clocks in at 8 minutes, which more than twice as long as your standard dubstep or poplectro tune, something the younglings haven’t really ever seen. This is old school trance. As in, it came out in Nineteen Ninety Fucking Nine. That’s right, 1999, before Y2K and all the other crazy bullshit the oughts wrought. The original track was done by a collaboration between Ferry Corsten & DJ Tiesto, which lasted for a grand total of 6 tracks. Walhalla was the first single of the group and it came with a remix by Armin van Buuren and an “Echoplex” remix by Hybrid.

This Echoplex remix is exceptional, both by trance & general EDM standards. The echo’ing of the original beat, spread over minutes, slowly builds the track to a hushed but fevered pitch. The track maintains the build for easily 3 minutes without getting stilted, boring or annoying. Par for the course when it comes to old school trance I know, but these days, guidos start shouting if there isn’t a breakdown every 120 seconds. Six minutes in, the track peals into the 4/4 beat without thunder or applause, but just gallops along. Keeping pace with your expectations and (hopeful) dancing pace. There’s not a sound out of place, and Hybrid made sure that everything they wanted from the original was there, with them enough to give it their own distinctive feel. Check it out, you might like it.

This is Terry Gotham, see you on the dance floor.

Shiny Silent Disco Balls, Gratitude & Balancing Acts.

image_1356408818741589Sitting at the diner on Lorimer & Metropolitan, I watched the scores of people lamenting the dysfunctional G train with a quiet smirk. After finishing up the burger & red bull I’d ordered when we were forced out of the station like confused cattle, I made my way to the Electric Warehouse just as cold drops began to fall. Tonight, the unofficial Burning Man Decompression event for NYC was going down and a little rain wasn’t going to stop it.

I shook hands with my friend Drew, the producer of the event and congratulated him while he processed my entry/ticket rapidly. There were dozens of burners in stilts, top hats, fur coats, el-wire tuxedos and all manner of costuming that were aching to get into the space and I didn’t want to get in their way. After checking my coat I received what I have come to cherish at Drew’s annual event, my hug to enter. Every attendee is given an honest-to-goodness hug. Not a patdown, not a security check and not a grope. A straight up “thanks for coming, you’re cool, gimmie a hug” hug. Which feels great, and there’s a person of each gender so it doesn’t get weird of course. I get hugs from both people (because I like to live on the wild side) then head in to check out the Silent Disco. Two DJs I am totes crushing on right now were rocking out.

The Silent Disco, run by a clever fellow by the name of Michael White, provides each of the listeners in a space with can-style headphones, with a button to press to switch between two DJs spinning in the room. This solves two problems. First, you can have two DJs playing violently different music standing next to each other with no problems, and secondly, if you want to have a conversation with someone, you take off the headphones & the room is splendidly quiet. The consummate professional DJ Pony & the gorgeously talented DJ Orange Krush were opening the night there, generating the dance floor from thin air yet again, like two beat-matching magicians. Slowly but surely, burners, ravers, club kids, hipsters, girls in slinky dresses & heels, guys in camouflage pants & hoodies, all manner of person came in, put their headphones on and got down. By the time the duo were halfway through their sets, the tent outside the party was packed warm, with projection work on the ceilings and two simultaneous dance floors intermingling I went back inside to grab a bottle of water, suddenly being reminded how big the old trolley repair station actually was. 10,000 sq feet, high ceilings and places to hang lights & equipment galore. A friend was delighted to find his pictures were playing off of a projector, and a stream of amazing HD photographs lit up the bar. As I chatted with DJ Resy, who was taking the night off behind the decks to help out at the bar, I remembered what Gratitude was all about. Many of the people at this event haven’t seen each other since Burning Man, while others see each other daily/weekly.

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Mix of the Week – A State of Trance 592 – Top 20 of 2012

This is more of a public service announcement than anything else. This week, Armin’s ASOT podcast counted down the top 20 trance (progressive, epic & uplifting) tracks for the year. This 2 hour compilation is a round up of the favorites that were voted on. And because it’s Armin, the votes number in the 5-6 digits from people around the world. I still cannot imagine that this guy has been putting out 120 minutes of Trance weekly for the last…592 weeks. I’m a huge fan of Armin, here’s a track you probably haven’t heard by him:

10 years of trance. And people still assume that the genre is encapsulated by Sandstorm, Children and that one time they saw/heard Oakenfold back in the late 90’s. Armin’s track recommendations have become a staple of the trance community, influencing dozens of weekly/monthly podcasts by other EDM artists, from Ferry Corsten (Corsten’s Countdown) to Tiesto (Club Life) to Paul Oakenfold’s wonderful Fluoro series. The proliferation of regular music/mixes being put out by the best (and the newest) artists regularly is something that we would have killed for back in the days of sharing music over AIM, Napster, NewsGroups and trading beats/midis with floppy disks.

The track selection is definitely a great representation of trance in 2012, with huge favorites like “I’ll Listen” by AvB & Ana Criado, multiple tracks by Andrew Rayel, who almost seems genetically engineered to produce tracks for ASOT. W&W, Markus Schultz, Solarstone and Aly & Fila also made the list with some stunning tracks, plus a new favorite for me, Giuseppie Ottaviani, an Italian trance producer I’d just never heard of before. Definitely someone I’ll have to keep my eye on.

Great mix of tracks for traveling, cleaning up the house before relatives arrive or just celebrating the season.

This is Terry Gotham.
Peace on Earth & Good Will Towards Men.

Party of the Month – End of the World by Digital Native & Entwined

While there are dozens of parties every weekend here in Gotham, every once and a while, a special one happens that just may be different than its competition. Tonight, at an abandoned church in Brooklyn, I believe one of those will be happening. The Mayan Apocalypse is upon us, and as long as the music is good in the handbasket, come what may. And that’s why I’m naming this End of the World party, Terry Gotham’s Party of the Month.

The reasons are multitudinous & compelling. The two room venue will have plenty of art and of course the body painting that events of this caliber usually come with. The music in the cathedral starts out with DJ B3ar, a house DJ with a penchant for electro-swing, Alex Funk, discussed here previously for his dirty electro funk, Barney Iller, the impresario of bass and beats, and EZ, the king of the big room. In the mausoleum, the music is even more impressive, with two of my favorite locals, DK, of Toad and Kostume Kult fame, and DJ Pony, the consummate professional and Duke of Deep House. And of course, the door will be manicured by the only man that would still be fabulous while the world ends, Guncle himself.

If you remember Limelight, then there’s no reason to not want to come on out, listen to some great music and perhaps even close your eyes and pretend you’re back there one last time. If you have no idea what Limelight is, you owe it to yourself to party in a church at least once in your life. Considering the world’s gonna end today, what are you waiting for?

EP of the Week – Burial’s Truant & Rough Sleeper Joint

Burial is one of those artists that finds you at a certain point in your listening history and shakes up your worldview. The ethereal, melancholy beats, haunting melodies and astonishing compositions first showed up in 2006, when his debut album off Hyperdub records completely shook up what 2-step, future garage & dubstep could sound like. The sounds just weren’t comparable to what others were sounding like at the time. A personal favorite of mine, Archangel off of his second album released in 2007 is a track that everyone needs to hear before they die:

However, this post isn’t about Burial’s previous (mind-blowing) work. Burial released a two single EP this week, to the glee and adulation of anyone who listens to UK garage, chillstep or downtempo. Whenever Burial puts something out, it gets swarmed immediately. People might’ve been disappointed that it was only a 2 track EP, but the two tracks total over 25min of sound. This is a treat in time for the holidays, almost perfectly timed to totally fuck with everyone’s “Best of 2012” lists. Truant continues the storied tradition of Burial tracks approximating a stylized walk through the rain wearing a hoodie. This quiet backbeat melts into the frayed vocals and silky samples. As always, the production value is through the roof. The track, 11:45 in length, feels like the first half of an EP, especially with the oscillating beats, the melodic progressions and the continued focus on inducing dreamlike states.

Rough Sleeper definitely breaks past that melodic quiet chillstep and pushes some more uptempo beats and jarring sounds into your awareness. Nothing abrasive, buzz-sawy or brosteppy, but there is a strength behind the bluesy & ethereal track that Truant just didn’t have. It provides an excellent compliment to the previous feel. Almost a wake up call from a dream. The speed kicks up, and while still scratchy and ethereal, there’s a groove to them that you can really get into, especially if you’re into where he’s going with it.

I mean, there’s really not that much that needs to or even should be said about the work. This is one of the artists that changed a sound a lot of us take for granted now, doing what he does best. I’ve gotta say I like the long-form track format, as it makes it a lot easier to get in deep with a track, and not have to keep switching up basslines 10 times in 5 minutes.  Great stuff, but, of course, it couldn’t have been anything else.



Mix of the Week – November Psy by Theta Waves

This week, I was delighted that a very old friend of mine who DJs under the moniker Theta Waves has started mixing again. A friend who was in the theme camp I stayed at when I made it out to Burning Man in 2006, he’s been a source of quality ever since. Psychedelic trance is definitely a very finicky beast when it comes to mixing, producing and of course just simply keeping the dance floor happy. The plethora of sub-genres, high standards of the listeners, and the general clusterfuck that comes with any psy-trance party of a decent size means that it’s difficult to keep things straight, especially when the best parties have music that changes not just per DJ, but per hour.

Theta Waves brings us some great early morning progressive psy. This focus on beats, progressions, trancey chords and a distinct lack of eery, scary samples separates it from the psy you’d hear before midnight or when the DJ is attempting to scare tripping people off the dance floor. This not only enhances sober listenability, but also makes it more generally enjoyable for people who don’t have a good handle on what a psy-trance party may actually be like. Accessibility is big in dance music, especially stuff that never even approaches radio play.

One highlight on the mix that I particularly enjoyed was the seventh track mixed into the set, called “Crack Case” by Reactant.

This track is a personal favorite, as I definitely will applaud any use of poorly-conceived anti-drug marketing in EDM. This track in particular samples the after-school special from the mid-90’s, featuring Alf, Bugs Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a whole host of other cartoon characters. They all combine forces to keep kids off of drugs, weed and crack specifically. While the entire idea of Michaelangelo telling kids not to get high is bafflingly hilarious, the track maintains a driving beat along with the humor of it all. It’s important to ensure kids make the right decisions, and if they’re not taking their social cues from cartoon characters, then their parents have clearly failed.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable mix that won’t scare away anyone who’s not too familiar with the genre, and will definitely stoke the “Damn it’s been a while since I went to a psy-trance” party sensibilities in anyone who knows what they’re listening to. Put it in your face.

Big Booty Breaks at Vitamin B

I finished my beer by the 8ft tall Christmas Tree at the bar down the street from the L train and ducked back into the chilly air, pushing past a few yupsters smoking American Spirits below the ironic red, neon sign that says BAR above the door to a place that sells artisanal cheeses and microbrews. It was that time of the month again, Vitamin B was back, and it was time for my fix of epic breaks.

I arrived on the early side because the guest opener, DJ Orange Krush was someone I definitely did not want to miss. A dj, designer & all around excellent human being, I first encountered her particular flavor of shake your booty, funky house & breaks on the Boom Boat, the Disorient day boat party, a day that is not to be missed if you are down with sick music with a cool mix of burners (just try to ignore the volume of bad “I’m on a boat” jokes made). She was rocking out the dance floor early on in the day and the crowd was eating it up. Tonight was no different. I arrived to see the sparsely populated dance floor swell. I give far more credit to DJs that make dance floors happen as opposed to just maintaining them. To get people out of their shells is much more difficult when they think they’re alone, so the music has to be that much better. And it was. The influences ran the gamut from Latin, to hip hop, tinges of chip, dashes of tech and this underlying bassline that just could not be ignored.

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