2017 has been a great year for us: from our parties at the Tasty Bakery to our mix series, we’ve been privileged to meet and work with some fantastic people. So before we get in to our own personal highlights we’d just like to throw several shout outs into the mix. Firstly, thank you to everyone who has supported us by coming to our parties, listening to our mixes, reading our blogs or for giving emotional support or advice as time dictated.
For helping to make our parties as special as they were we’d like to say a big thank you to our guests Thru Colours and Katiusha & ROAR, as well as to Christian Eede and his ever dependable USB for stepping in last minute when technology failed us. Also a shout out to Irina Prikhodko for providing the artwork for our events.
We have continued to revel in the growth of our mix series, having had the privilege to invite a wide selection of talented DJs to contribute. Therefore we’d like to say special thank yous to Miki Miyoshi, Thelonious Funk, Steve Allman, The Duchess, Rodney Galereux & Lady In Bed, Merrin and Will Hunter, as well as Thru Colours and Katiusha & ROAR, for blessing us with their abilities. All their mixes can be found in the playlist below:
In terms of the wider realm of music in 2017 there has also been much to smile about. As well as a host of exceptional live experiences, blessed have we been in terms of new releases and reissues over the last twelve months. Therefore, alongside our ’12 Days Of Christmas’ feature, we’d also like to highlight our own personal favourite mixes, records, labels and moments of the past twelve months; both as a collective and as individuals.
The Family Album
For the past three years Meadows In The Mountains, a festival nestled amongst Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountain range, has been an integral part of our lives – for the music, the setting and the people. 2017 proved no different, with exceptional sets from Shanti Celeste, Brian Not Brian and Saoirse amongst others serenading us from dusk till dawn. Indeed the latter of these DJs is one who, for us, will always be linked to the Meadows, having first seen her shelling it out at sunrise back in 2016. This year Saoirse has come into her own and is one of the most exciting DJs around, as exemplified by her RA podcast earlier in the year.
Whilst we were also present for incredible events such as the inaugural Houghton Festival, brainchild of UK club legend Craig Richards, the crux of our collective musical experience came through appreciation of the work put in by an array of artists, labels and crews. As talented as they are in the recording studio as they are in the DJ booth, it feels only right for us to kick things off with that magnificent duo of Call Super and Objekt.
Regularly sharing club and festival billings (including an exceptional 3-hour festival closer at Dekmantel) the pair have without doubt been two of the most impressive DJs of the past year, backed up by an exceptional fabric mix and Dekmantel podcast respectively. To this we can add Call Super’s beautiful LP Arpo released on Houndstooth and Objekt #4, featuring one of the year’s undoubted club anthems in ‘Theme From Q’.
Often operating in similar circuits to these two artists was Timedance label-head Batu, who’s Marius EP on Hessle Audio was one of the year’s best. Another label who brought exceptional club-oriented releases to our ears this year was Nic Tasker’s Whities imprint. Minor Science and Lanark Artefax both produced exceptional EPs on the label and would regularly find their music in the cannons of many DJs and collectors, including ourselves. Danish label Regelbau brought us one of the EPs of the year, featuring three mixes of DJ Central and Erika De Casier’s gorgeous UKG-oriented ‘Drive’. However, whilst we can all get excited by the latest club banger, perhaps the most impressive feat for a label is to consistently release LPs of startling originality and enjoyment.
Bill Kouligas’ P-A-N imprint have been putting in work since 2008, but really came to their own in 2017 with a string of exceptional releases. Coupling the ambient-tinged compilation Mono No Aware with LP’s such as Lack and I by Pan Daijing and STILL respectively, Kouligas and his crew were already circling higher and higher in our estimations when out of nowhere came Errorsmith’s Superlative Fatigue to steal the show, as Wane shall explain…
Errorsmith aka Erik Weigand, lucky for some, dropped his second LP this year: Superlative Fatigue. Thirteen years on from his first, his tracks dawn on dancefloors with devastating effect. Following developing a synth called Razor, he spoke of how he’d become more familiar with audio-visual spectrums. Of ‘Retired Low-Level Internal Server’, he exuded that, “I know every atom of this track”. Whatever he means, I believe it.
It’s patterns strike with the timing of a well-known tale. Yet also, toned like a branding stick, its production chimes with a brutal beauty between rhythm and voice; both stripped back, and drawing out its instrumentation—casting crucial tension. Track’s of the year have to be personal in such a sea of music. This one sounds like a table I’ve been cleaning, made from arching steel rods. Moreover, I was put well onto it following Jon K and Elenor Colombi playing the album’s title track at Rye Wax in London. I’ll take this one to bed.
In a year full of fantastic new productions, there was also a slew of reissues to contend with that we’ve enjoyed thoroughly. One fledgling label that has impressed us particularly on this front is Kevin Griffith’s Isle Of Jura, who gave new life to excellent records such as Anambra’s Ozo and Brian Bennett’s Voyage (A Journey Into Discoid Funk) amongst others. We’d also like to highlight two more records: World Sprituality Classics 1 by Alice Coltrane and Gloria Jay’s Know What You Want. The former, a lengthy collection of stunning, meditative music inspired by an artist held in the depths of spirituality, is complimented by the latter: a short and sweet disco-oriented pop vocal to stir the soul to it’s deepest depths. Both have held us captive in their beauty during 2017 and will stay with us for a long time to come.
Whilst we are strongest as a collective, what makes the best teams work are the individual traits of it’s members. Therefore it’s no surprise that our personal highlights of the year often differ vastly, and those differences you can now check out below.
An Eve w/ Marge
It’s definitely been an odd year for myself in terms of my musical consumption. Quite rapidly after the start of 2017, my habits shifted away from finding ‘new’ music and found myself instead looking back at old. This in part was due to the decreased time I had available simply to consume. Instead of my normal commute to-and-from work on the train, I bought a car and cut my journey and listening time drastically down. This used to give me a couple of hours each day to find, review and write about up-coming releases but as time would tell this luxury was no longer afforded. This turned the smaller time I had to listen to music towards things I actually wanted to listen to. Not that I never wanted to listen to the ‘new’ up-coming releases, but in my eyes it was often the thought that a lot of time was wasted on melodies better left un-played. Whilst regrettably I missed a lot of extraordinary releases, it also gave me time to hone my tastes and focus on music I actually wanted to both listen to and play out whilst djing.
In terms of labels the ones that have stood tall for me in 2017 are those with real personality and style, timeless without actually having to be old. Jerome Hill’s Super Rhythm Trax has put out some great releases this year: keeping true to the sounds of the 80’s but still fresh and kicking on dance floors today. Never failing to bring high calibre talent to the roster, 2017 saw DMX Krew, John Heckle, Jared Wilson, Pendle Watkins and Jerome himself present heated, emotional and grooving releases to the labels 3rd year in business. A favourite for me being of course the DMX Krew addition and this beauty from John Heckle:
Another label that has impressed me and made me as happy as the other 302 people who are lucky enough to secure their copies is I Love Acid – the limited edition, no repress imprint ran by Posthuman. The way the label is ran really gives it a special feel, each release only getting 303 copies and inviting only artists who fit the bill impeccably to take a seat. It’s become a no brainier for me to buy without even listening as soon as I see the email come in that the latest release is available. My point quite exemplified by the mind-bending acid-trip undertaken below:
As cliche as it sounds, I had almost gone off the sounds of minimal until I visited Houghton festival in the summer this year and it’s fair to say they were reasonably re-born. As mentioned above it had a big impact not just on myself but our collective as a whole and seemingly everyone else who were lucky enough to attend. From this as with many thing like this, my listening habits again saw minimal creeping in more forcefully at the sides. Having been a big fan of the Sylphe imprint for many years now, it was unfortunate to see they didn’t see a release this year. However, after recently coming across the work of Uchitoshi, it left the gap fulfilled. Wiggly basslines and off kilter rhythms really just do it for me:
Just quickly on this note as well, I’d like to tip my hat to All Inn Records and Premiesku. Whilst they only put out two releases this year, the below has been a mainstay in my bag since I received it in October.
Whilst relatively close to the end of the year, it’d be hard for me not to mention one of mine – and I can only imagine many others – favourite artists: Fantastic Man. Only releasing one EP in 2017 in the form of P.M.T.C., the producer stepped away from the warm acid-y, disco infused house we’ve became accustom to and nods toward Detroit influences instead. The A side ‘Reality Change’ providing us with a bustling techno-orientated groove which meanders through wonderful dream sequences. On the other hand ‘Cool Waters’ heats things up a touch: a brilliantly heavy acid roller with irresistible cut-up vocal samples.
This one is just sillyness for me. Everything I want in a track and more and a sure way to put a smile on my face. As equally as silly name as is the song, it combines bouncing rhythms and fast but hard hitting when they need to kicks – all rounded off my a middle section of pure fist-pumping euphoria. The rest of the EP is just as good and the perfect addition to the wonderful label Klasse Wrecks has turned out to be. There’s really not much more I actually want to say on this, I’d rather you just enjoy it.
I’m bringing in a similar kind of release as the above in the sense of wonderful dancefloor euphoria it has the ability to create. It’s like synth pop and rave had a weird love-child and this is was what came out. It’s just so stupidly good. If you need any more proof just watch this spine-tingling video of Hunee playing it at Dekmantel Selectors here.
…With just enough time to squeeze in some other choice mentions, I’d like to tip my hat to Chase Smith’s latest EP on Apartment Records in a similar vein to the above. The title track an alluring, almost trancey, polyrythym led dance floor ‘classic’ with brilliant synth pop vocals. Admittedly the instrumental may be a bit easier to play in the club but the original by far does it for me. The other two of the EP fill nearly every other gap in the house and techno sub-genres.
Last but not in any way least, this year I’ve seen myself enjoy the production and releases of Avalon Emerson more perhaps than any other. Whilst acknowledging the brilliance of her latest release on Whities which seemed to see the most air-time in clubs, it was two remixes she did this year that stood tall for me. Firstly her ‘Furiously Awake’ version of Octa Octa’s ‘Adrift’ which sweeps up until a wonderful crescendo of breaks, raw metallic noise, and thundering bass. But also a remix on an EP of the same nature, shared by a Lena Wilikins flip and of Lena Platonos’ ‘Lego’. It’s very off-kilter, off-beat in places, and would make mince meat of a dancefloor. The bright but stripped vocals and piano arpeggios still apparent flaunt beautifully over the pumped out, persistent bassline giving a magnetic glamour to the whole experience.
It’s safe to say it’s been a busy year for all of us here at Come Up Records. We have grown a lot this past year both musically and in the quality of our output and we couldn’t have done that without the support of all of our friends and extended family, so firstly I would like to say thank you to everyone that has helped us along this year! In terms of my own year, I feel like I’ve digested more music than ever before and learnt a lot of tricks along the way; I’ve also changed jobs recently which is great however it has restricted my time that I am able to put into CUR, so i would also like to say thank you to James who is now pretty much the sole creator and editor of the weekly roundup.
In contrast to last year, where I was listening to a lot of heavy techno and electro, this years habits have drifted to the more spacious sounds. The more prominent of which has been that of the likes of Derek Carr and B12 (an honourable mention going to the reissue of Electro-Soma) whose music has a resurgence this year. My first pick is a shout-out to Firescope Records and John Shima’s Elements Unknown EP, ‘Implant’ being the embodiment of everything that’s great about this sound.
Neil Landstrumm has, as ever been once of the most exciting producers going – both for his technical skill and the sense of fun that all his tracks hold. My second pick is the second cut from his latest offering on CPU:
On the note of fun and the downright silly, Samuel Kerridge produced one of the most nuts EPs this year with The Silence Between Us, a refreshing take on modern dance music and one that I hope I can somehow wangle into a set one day.
PAN has heavily featured in our weekly roundups this year and whilst not being the best output of theirs in whole, Ayya’s ‘Second Mistake’ featured on Mono No Aware made such an impact on me when it came out with its haunting beauty and thus has to be one of my picks of the year.
And finally, in terms of releases, one of my favourite records purchased this year, even going to the man himself to buy it as the formal release date was shrouded in mystery, Japan Blues’ Sells His Record Collection really shows the passion and dedication that Howard Williams has for his craft and subject matter.
As highlighted above Houghton was a definite high point of the year and I was extremely happy to witness it’s birth. Not just for the quality of the music, but for the atmosphere and what it meant for UK festivals. The festival was the first time I had the honour of listening to Vladimir Ivkovic play live: unfortunately the set was not recorded but his mix for Strange Sounds From Beyond truly is something to behold.
2017 has been a great year for us as a collective and firstly I’d like to send massive love to all of the people we’ve been so fortunate to meet. Whether front left at the Cellar (may its license never be under threat again), front right at the Bullingdon, the aforementioned festivals and Field Maneuvers its been an absolute pleasure.
For me personally I think it would only be fair to begin by mentioning labels with consistent output this year. Athens of the North have had anther sterling year, following on from the widely praised “The Power Of Love” single last year with more gospel goodness in the form of Twinkie Clarks Awake O Zion, Latin grooves ahead of a forthcoming LP from Group Magnético Vamprias, and closing off the year with a personal favourite Christmas present – Star Quake “Don’t You Know I Love You Parts 1 and 2” yet another disco gem which AOTN have managed to make available to the masses.
I know Timedance have already been mentioned but seriously Batu’s label have been superb this year. Tribal bangers from Ploy with the huge Intrigued By The Drum EP and both the remix EPs featuring work from scene staples Stenny, Asusu, Mosca, Beatrice Dillion and Peder Manerfelt. The difference between these tracks is startling from borderline discomfort to dark high quality head nodding rollers Timedance have had all bases covered very nicely.
Sticking with Bristol quickly I’d like to give a quick mention to one of the staple labels for the last few years. Livity Sound have once again blown me away this year. With fantastic releases from Hodge in the form of tribal No Single Thing, Moscas’s chaotic club banger Don’t Take This the Wrong Way and of course Simo Cell’s Stop The Killing a driving poly-rhythmic tune with a great growling bassline which really encapsulates the tribal sound system music ethos I associate with the label.
This year has also been fantastic for garage reissues. With Dr. Banana’s Mike Millrain collection Dr. Bargain being issued, Noodles (Groove Chronicles) reissuing two classic darker rollers 1999/Black Puppet and the garage house anthem from The Groove Relation “Mellow Mellow” finally getting digitally released, a serious groove with proper summertime fun. And lets not forget the outstanding Smith & Mighty “B-line Fi Blow” getting a repress on Pev’s Punch Drunk label accompanied by the superb Living In Unity.
Ilian Tape really need a mention. Skee Masks’ “ISSS02” EP being a personal favourite a fantastic super crafted record with Routine being a real highlight of the year beautiful breaks and synths create a perfect sunrise atmosphere. Stenny has once again come through with some pure fire in the hectic club orientated “Old Bad Habits” EP once again showing his ability to blend many styles and influences into really modern forward thinking dance music. Ilian affiliate Djrum’s latest release on R&S Showreel Pt. 2 also deserves a mention, really showcasing the producers talent for creating atmosphere and moods within his productions.
To finally wrap things up I think I should mention some of my favourite events over the past year. 10 years of Hessle at the Bussey Building needs to be up there. It was so nice to see some many regular faces from different nights all together in one room. Huge love to Objekt and Call Super going straight in as always, and to Ben UFO and the sound guys for entertaining me outside after I’d lost all of my pals and ensuring I could meet up with them again despite having no phone battery.
Simple deserve a couple of mentions Call Supers Mayday night was extremely fun, again great to see so many faces over one evening. Helena Hauff also deserves a mention as I went in with some reservations yet left a converted fan.
Finally Auntie Flo needs a shout for the set at Field Maneuvers. One of those moments I don’t think I’ll ever forget is discussing Skull Disco releases only to hear “Blood On My Hands” pitched to 130ish. It was a truly magical moment that caused a call for set of the festival on the Friday evening.
When trawling the internet for the best latest music becomes a weekly habit, deciphering what comes out on top after a year of such activity can often be a difficult task. Therefore, whilst I would never consider any list I create to be reflective of the year’s best music, I wouldn’t necessarily consider this list either to be an exhaustive account of my own favourites. However, along with the records highlighted in the collective section, the following have all stuck out for me in some respect over the last twelve months.
For years now Kendrick Lamar has been an artist who’s work I always find myself coming back to, and his latest album DAMN has been no exception. Little more needs to be said about this already much-talked about record, but I will say Kendrick’s ability to speak to vast swathes of people, transcending taste and background, is certainly one the most notable features of his music (alongside excellent songwriting, performance and production, of course).
From the dizzying heights of superstardom to the somewhat more humble world of 1980s Brazil, let us return to one of my favourite labels of 2016: the Dutch masters of reissue, Music From Memory. An imprint devoted to ‘giving overlooked and unreleased music that we love a second chance’, in Outro Tempo they have created a compilation that, whilst focusing on a singular period in musical history (1978-92), offers a diverse overview of one nation’s modern musical cannon. From electro-oriented experimentations to melancholic ballads of gorgeous ambience, the record’s seventeen tracks are as enjoyable as they are wide ranging.
Featuring sounds that wouldn’t feel out of place on Outro Tempo comes a record of quite different proportions. Dominick Fernow’s Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement project was completely new to me when first I was directed to Ambient Black Magic back in October – yet it was a sound that quickly held sway over me. As a big fan of artists such as Tetsu Inoue and K. Leimer, vast soundscapes of dizzying height and fathomless depth, Fernow’s penchant for dark, loop-driven music instantly sturck a chord with me.
In my mind one of the most exciting bands of the last few years, it was a delight to find a new Golden Teacher record sat in my lap last month. No Luscious Life encapsulates everything that is great about the Glaswegian sextet: fantastic song writing, a wonderful understanding of instrumentation and a perfect balance between fun and feeling. Let’s not get bogged down in classifications, but instead get lost in this band’s absolutely undeniable groove and talent.
Here I’d also like to give a nod to some of the exceptional moments in the world of DJing in 2017. Coming back once again to Objekt and Call Super, I can say without hesitation that their closing set of Dekmantel back in August was one of the best sets I have ever witnessed live (if not the best), nestling bonafide classics such as ‘Gypsy Woman’ and ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ amongst their usual fare of techno, hardcore and jungle.
Moving aside from live DJ moments, there have also been several pre-recorded mixes that have hit home for me. Firstly, a mix which I keep on returning to, Sold’s contribution to the excellent Blowing Up The Workshop series has provided me with infinite warmth and serenity. From the fireside to the dancefloor comes a mix released mere days ago – smartbar resident Eris Drew’s podcast for Resident Advisor. With her decades of DJing experience evident, Drew takes us for a spin through a wide range of club-oriented music one could expect to hear from her live. Finally, it wouldn’t be right not to give a shout to the wonderful ‘Live At 25’ mix Katiusha and ROAR recorded for us prior to decimating the Tasty Bakery back in September – serving as a taster for the kind of prodigous skill we got to witness live.