2016: Editors Picks

In true unconventional, Come Up Records fashion we have somewhat missed the boat for the glut of end-of-year surmises. Whilst others hail the end of this year of damning judgement with a spirited look to the future, we can’t help but crane our necks back and beat the gavel one last time. Sticking true to the course of history, the political and social turmoil of the past year has bread some truly fantastic music and, as something of a musical epitaph to 2016, we have individually picked out both our favourite 12”/EPs and LPs of the year in an attempt to divine some light from the darkness.

12”/EPs

Shinjuku One Night Stand – S.O.N.S [S.O.N.S]

Building on the success of the now hard to find Shibuya One Night Stand EP, S.O.N.S returns with another outstanding release. The highlight of this has got to be Acid Dreams (Jungle Trance Mix). Raw and dangerous this is EP will definitely stand the test of time! EP
Listen:

Polychange – Versalife [Brokntoys]

I first came across Versalife when they appeared on a VA on ‘Cultivated Electronics’ back in 2013. Ever since then it’s been a love affair. This latest EP does all the explaining as to why for me. Broken and brilliant electro crafted from true masters of the genre. It isn’t just the clear love and effort put into each and every one of their outputs it’s the variation and the sense of boundless possibility they purvey. FP
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Wintermay – Andrea [Ilian Tape]

What a tough decision this was. 2016 has been a great year for music, with so many labels and artists really stepping their game up. Whilst I can’t claim that this has been the best EP of the year, this has certainly been the short-play record that has given me the most personal enjoyment. One of the most consistently impressive techno producers in the game right now, Andrea has established his position as one of the most intelligent and forward thinking of recent years. 2016’s ‘Wintermay’ saw no deviation in style as his signature ice cold synth sounds fall gently over heavy, lo-fi breaks. Opening track ‘Floating’ is as ambient as they come – a sea of glistening chords awaiting the earthy hysteria to come. With our feet on the ground the following three tracks lift our hands to the heavens, as pounding, distorted bass sounds intermingle with snappy, complex percussion. Adding to Ilian Tape’s incredibly impressive back catalogue, this is not one to be missed, with the frenetic ‘22:22’ a particularly impressive feat. JK
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Missin’ U – Orson Wells [Sound Mirror]

Perhaps it is too early to give this a bump but Orson Wells’ EP, Missin’ U, is a gem that I imagine glinting from within a mound of 2016 lo-fi debates’ slag. But to be clear I plant no flag, mostly because I wouldn’t call the EP a lo-fi creation anyway. However the title track does tick the boxes, and moreover, nails to the board something that the scene’s talented turns seem to have reached toward—a most knowing relationship between signals and noise, with deft and crusty rhythms calling to the fore the false image of a smooth reality, and its traditionally clean and pricey soundtrack. It’s a cut above however, the truest of cries of personal loss; its sound a communication of excommunication and all it signifies, and so funnily enough, it might be the perfect tragedy of a lo-fi 2016. Its early breaks, hats and bass are so tastefully composed that before even the first gong of the tolling bell its expert composition begins to become clear. Then comes the ultimate sound of a cold winter mourning. In this EP’s passage through a most sincere sense of brooding and lonely ascension, its position is a forcibly energised plateau of broken dreams. Leading us up to it is G.I.T.S.’s early timed synth melody rise, holding a cunningly slight but clear power over the listener before Missin’ U’s reinforced rhythms, as a result, expire with a satisfying freedom of energy. The B-side finally sees the slow and weathered approach to a home away from home. The ominous remains in the Red planet that we are nonetheless drawn to, and despite the journey itself being long and exhausting, we must follow through when the composition feels true. AR
Listen:

The Farthest Reaches – ASC [Auxiliary]

James Clements has been producing music since 1999 and is prolific with hundreds of releases to his name, spanning an array of genres. Recently, he has become associated with the labels Auxiliary and Samurai that have, in effect, transcended Drum and Bass, making music that incorporates ambient and techno also. This year, he released possibly his magnum opus the Farthest Reaches under his Asc pseudonym. At nearly fifty minute of music and spread across two records it is no conventional EP. This extended running time proves beneficial, allowing him to explore the texture of space through the three aforementioned genres. The final product is absolutely stunning; the tracks switch between otherworldly ambient and beat-driven techno, which are accompanied with neat snippets of the percussion of Drum and Bass. GE
Listen:

Rare Jewels – K-Lone feat. Ill Chill [Wych]

Effortlessly drawing on a diverse palette of sounds K-Lone links up with LA based rapper Ill Chill for a simply beautiful EP. Existential and political, Ill Chill looks at the reality and monotony of the human condition in the modern world, while still making that existence seem like a wonderfully lucky gift. On production K-Lone showcases some of his most exquisite offerings oozing with groove and soulful emotion. Drawing influences from Hip-hop, Dubstep, Grime and Garage yet still keeping the productions smooth and packed full of sex appeal, this was really the only choice for me. GK
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LPs

Untitled – SW [SUED]

This was a very difficult choice, however never faster have I jumped to buy a record than i did after hearing this for the first time. Masterful in its ability to span genres and ideas, from house to techno to breakbeat to rain forest sounds this has got it all. An absolute delight to listen to, this comes with the utmost of recommendations from myself! EP
Listen:

The End Of Comedy – Drugdealer [Domino]

It’s often too easy to look over releases like this and that very nearly happened to me. I first caught ‘suddenly’ about three months before it was released and then completely forgot about it. Once it popped up on Juno the joy immediately came flooding back and it was a no-brainer putting it straight into the cart. Although quite short for an LP – coming in at just over 30 mins for 11 songs – Michael Collins (previously of RunDMT & Salvia Plath) never falters from a brilliantly absurd and imaginative theme. Executed as vignettes and with a plethora of guests and friends appearing, the album is a triumph of modern, fantastical, whimsy and fractured grandeur. FP
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2845 – Convextion [Artless]

Gerard Hanson had a fantastic 2016. Aside from two excellent releases under his prolific alias of E.R.P., he also produced one of the most indisputably stylish electronic LPs of the year under his Convextion alias: 2845. A distinct blend of electro and dub-infused techno, 2845 is an exhibition of experience and elegance in production, with tracks such as ‘Distant Transmission’ an absolute masterclass in this respect. With bountiful music and beautiful artwork, this LP just about pips Sam Kidel’s ‘Disruptive Muzak’ to the throne for myself. JK
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Escape Hatch – Seahawks [Ocean Moon]

Escape Hatch is an exquisite album, and in its curtailed LP edition, perfectly balances a six soothing tracks across two sides of wax. Back in 2009, Seahawks Jon Tye and Pete Fowler cast themselves adrift on a mission to weave the tides of free electronic noise and AOR softrock that brought them together. Here they’ve discovered a nirvana, ridden on a post-New Age fruition, to sweep me off my feet and into a wind and rain-swept seaside savannah in the sky. I can’t ignore the album art’s brilliant and apt window into the sound. A variegated escape hatch calved together from tropical textures; an opening for us like birds to shoegaze with; looking out and back at other flight-bound souls from within a creaking beauty-cobbled bow. Warmly rolling under and gently touching down, fretless and stringful, bass still sounds like home. Soft noise balances the sheet’s delicate scape, opening an ideal field for its distinctive minerals to play across: widescreen synths, seagoing sax, rippling and runaway percussion; charging the emotional nuances that emerge from the Seahawks limbo. “There are three sorts of people. Those who are alive. Those who are dead. And those who are at sea” (Anacharsis 6th Century B.C.). For fans: Escape Hatch washes over Iasos’s ecstasy with a Blade Runner Vangelis, delivered by Deuter’s Waves and Dolphins through the tropics of Finis Africae and William Aura’s Half Moon Bay, to a seaspray epic’s long-drawn finess. Glad I threw my line out to this whispering wind, it’s my catch of the season this well-kept secret. AR
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Strands – Steve Hauschildt [Kranky]

Steve Hauschildt took influence from his home city of Cleveland’s industrial past to produce his latest album Strands. The composer aims to represent the flows of oil and water in the Cuyahoga River that famously caught fire on multiple occasions in the mid-20th century. The best example of this is the track Same River Twice with its multiple arpeggios that one can easily imagine as flows insoluble liquids. Incidentally, the song’s ambient synth, used from the beginning, adds a warmth to track inasmuch as the synths do in Global Communication’s masterpiece 12:18. Listening to the album, it is easy to be moved by the touching synth patches, although some tracks do overwhelm such as A False Seeming. The highlight of the LP must be Transience of Earthly Joys with its haunting melody and chords interpenetrated with serene ambience. GE
Listen:

Black Focus – Yussef Kamaal [Brownswood]

2016 saw a lot of great albums, from Anohni, Hieroglyphic Being, DJ Earl, Jessy Lanza, Kowton, and Huerco S to name a few, but Yussef Kamaals Black Focus takes it for me. A Superb Jazz album that brings together the sounds of London’s thriving bass-driven musical heritage with US Jazz-funk. For fans of Thundercat, Herbie Hancock, Flying Lotus, Austin Peralta, Photek, DMZ, Swindle, and of course Henry WU, this album is a true master piece from a pair I cannot wait to hear more from. GK
Listen:

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