TBC Review – BBC Essential Mix of the Year 2014

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Pete Tong announced the shortlist for the Essential Mix of the year 2014 last weekend (6th December) and TBC thought it best that we had our own review of the shortlist and select our favourite.

The shortlist:

  1. Bicep
  2. Caribou
  3. Jon Hopkins
  4. Joy Orbison
  5. Ten Walls

Over the last week at TBC we have been re-listening to the Essential Mix of the year shortlist and boy have we had a good time. Boogying at lunch time at work, while driving in the car, walking to the shops and, of course, loudly at TBC HQ, basically whenever we got a spare second we have had the essential mixes on. It has been incredibly enjoyable to review some mixes which we hadn’t given too much time to when they were aired; Caribou and Joy Orbison, as well as reviewing the other mixes which we had thoroughly enjoyed on multiple occasions this year. It has to be said that 2014 was a great year for the essential mix and some great mixes didn’t quite make it into the shortlist. Amine Edge and Dance introduced us to G-House. Marcel Dettmann delivered a monstrous techno mix for the Easter holidays while we were away in NYC and Green Velvet blended his signature techno and electro sounds during the Summer which got us very excited at TBC. We were also throughly entertained by a multitude of music genres and diversity from the likes of Finnebassen, Bonobo, Anja Schneider, Gaiser, Matador, Jimmy Edgar, Kink, Steffi, Subb-an, Heidi and Huxley to name a few. We must all say thanks to Pete Tong and his team at the BBC for again curating an amazing year of Essential Mixes. Roll on 2015!

We have reviewed each mix individually, reduced the list to a top 3 and then selected our favourite, so here it goes.

-Bicep – Deep house’s representation in this years essential mix of the year shortlist. A great party vibe from the Northern Irish due Bicep with the odd harder edged electro or techno track thrown in for good measure, especially nearer the end. Highlights in the mix are; Agoria la Onzieme Marche and Ferrer & Sydenham Timbuktu (Jerome’s Afro Tonic Dub). There is also a superb sample courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger in reference to his body building days in Ireland which Bicep have found to introduce their mix and, we assume, hint at the basis for their DJ name. This mix is not quite a TBC favourite but is a great mix to have on at a party whether its pre/post clubbing.
-Caribou – A mix of two halves, one half by Caribou and one half by Daphni, who are the multiple personalities of the Canadian Daniel Snaith. The former is more eclectic, disco, alternative and the latter more dance floor and club focused. Unfortunately the mix doesn’t really take off at any stage and is mainly focused around the representation of the diverse musical knowledge of Caribou, which while providing a great opportunity to appreciate his musical talent does mean that there are less opportunities to get dancing and party hard. It is well mixed, the tune selection is excellent and it has a great structure but it doesn’t make it into the top 3 for TBC.
-Joy Orbison – This mix is raw, filled with amazing eclectic electronica with an urban feel that builds from slow, reggae style tracks at the start to banging techno towards the end. Turn the bass up, treasure the tracklist, find the artists and tracks who feature and track down a Joy Orbison live performance. This mix is so entertaining it had us listening to it back to back for 4 hours! That’s a rare occurrence at TBC, especially when considering we had missed this mix earlier in the 2014 Essential Mix calendar. The highlights of the mix; Lady Blacktronika Getting Heavy, Bruce Technostatic, Kowton Glock & Roll, Barnt’s double selection of Under his Own Name But Also as Sir and Chappell (one of TBC’s current big tunes), Fourtet Buchla and the tracks from Joy Orbison (solo and with Boddika).
-Jon Hopkins – the perfectionist live  show performance feel is what sets this mix apart. The progression and structure of the mix is excellent and is testament to Jon Hopkins skill as a live performer and composer. The mix is delivered via Logic, Ableton and various samples and tools which show off a more technical offering. A particular highlight is one of the best mixes and tune selections we have ever heard from I Breathe ak Horses called Faith (Field Remix) to Gary Beck’s Algoreal, this mix literally leaves you with goosebumps! The musical landscape created by Jon Hopkins is an aural pleasure! Also featuring are great tracks from Daniel Avery, Boddika and Joy Orbison, Clark and Mux Mool to name but a few.
-Ten Walls – This is the most club ready of the mixes and is brought to you by Mario Basanov in his live, progressive techno/electro guise Ten Walls, who produced one of the tracks of 2013; Gotham. This set is the tracklist of Summer 2014 for any one who ventured to dance music festivals at home or abroad, for TBC it was a perfect accompaniment to Melt Festival in Leipzig. The mix has the perfect balance; a great intro track from the Mass Effect Videograme Soundtrack (which is epic), then it builds through eclectic tracks such as Atom TM Ich Bin Meine Maschine to Helium Robots Jarza (Theo Parrish Translation 2). It then progresses with fan favourites such as &Me After Dark, Moderat Bad Kingdom (Dj Koze remix), his own Walking with Elephants. Ten Walls then shows off some of his favourites and less well known producers; a few tracks from Few Nolder (upcoming artist from Lithuania), an Eastern European sounding electro stormer from C.A.R. called Angelina, a beautiful moody track from Robinn called The Game is Now Over and ends with Plastikmans dark and haunting Consumer plus a final outro from the Mass Effect soundtrack.
The Top 3
  1. Ten Walls
  2. Jon Hopkins
  3. Joy Orbison

The top 3 is summarised by Club vs Perfection vs Raw, respectively. Ten Walls provides the mix most representative of TBC clubbing in 2014 and in particular Melt Festival which was one our highlights of the year, Jon Hopkins delivers a perfectionist live performance that you would expect from a live performer (similar to John Talabot currently, Paul Kalkbrenner a few years ago or, for the older ones, Junkie XL) and Joy Orbison hits you with a devastating raw mix of techno and dub that makes selecting one of the three as a favourite very difficult. The decision was difficult and the countless hours spent listening to the mixes, some a multiple of times for the full 120 minutes and others in segments to identify those key tracks, mixes and transitions that make a mix excel. However, finally after a lot of consideration, we made our call and gave Essential Mix of the year 2014 to Joy Orbison. It wouldn’t have been our selection when we first saw the list announced and choosing this mix over Ten Walls and Jon Hopkins was difficult when there were so many good things to say about these mixes but Joy Orbison literally blew us away. The style of the mix, the fact that he rarely performs live or records mixes, the severity of some of the tracks on the scale of heavy techno and the fact that we had rarely heard a mix from this DJ/producer before created a package that is hard not to love.

We look forward to hearing from the Essential Mix team and Pete Tong himself on who they will vote for the Essential Mix of the year 2014.

Looking forward to next year when we hope the level of the mixes remains of this calibre. The artists we would like to see next year are listed below, we hope that some feature.

Ellen Allien, Helena Hauf, Ben Klock, John Talabot, Modeselektor, Acid Pauli, Mister Saturday Night, Robert Hood, Pan Pot, Gary Beck, Shed, Oliver Koletzki, The Hacker, Oliver Schories, Objekt, Model 500, Tube & Berger, Spektre.
Thanks for reading and check out the mixes for yourself below. Tell us what you think.
TBC
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