TBC Playlist 2017 Annual Review Part Two

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Part Two

It is now time to select our favourites from 2017 and write a short review of each explaining our selection process. The process of selecting our favourites at TBC is always challenging due to personal preference, musical taste, the context of the listening experience (where and when you listened to the album or mix) and whether the selection will stand the test of time and repeat listens. When looking back at previous favourites and our picks from years past we can safely say that we still listen to these mixes today and have done so recently. They have each stood the test of time and we would still recommend getting involved in these now classics.

2016 – RA Podcast #525 – Dr Rubenstein

2015 – Fabric 84 – Mathew Jonson

2014 – Defected Pres. Nic Fanciulli In The House – Various Artists

We have reviewed our playlist over and over again to whittle down to our favourites and this year we have picked out a short list of 10 from which we will select the top 3 and the winner for 2017.

  • Planetary Assault Systems – The Lights Years (reworks)
  • Ellen Allien – Nost
  • Balance Pres. Natura Sonoris mixed by Henry Saiz
  • Bicep – Bicep
  • Sasha – Refracted Live
  • Nic Fanciulli – My Heart
  • Adam Beyer live at Awakenings Festival 25th June 2017
  • RA #596 mixed by Oscar Mulero
  • Essential Mix by Helena Hauff
  • Essential Mix by Bicep

 

  • Planetary Assault Systems – The Lights Years (reworks)

Luke Slater is a legend within the techno community for quite simply destroying dance floors with his heavy acid tinged, full on techno. Whether his production comes via his actual name or one of his many aliases you are sure to be on to a winner with any of his production albums, compilation, EP’s or LP’s. Under his Planetary Assault system moniker he quite simply produces bonkers rave-like techno that you would expect to hear in the basement at Tresor, strobes going off, smoke machines on full, bass bins shaking the floor like an earthquake and 135BPM beats blaring from the speakers. This is two decades of classics remixed and edited for 2017 by some of the scenes hardest and heaviest producers; Fengler, Function, Steve Bicknell, Slam and Planetary Assault System special P.A.S. Live edits. If you want to be pulverised by some of the best heavy techno then step right up, turn up your speakers and get involved. If you want to scare someone during a mix then throw one of these beasts in and to be honest there aren’t really any bad tracks on this mix so you would be unlucky to select one that wouldn’t do the job.

Temporary Suspension remixed by Slam, Surface Noise by P.A.S. are the two stand out tracks if you had to choose and there is also a treat at the end of the release, having managed to survive the 13 selected monsters, with an hour long megamix of the Planetary Assault System gems, a nice little bonus.

Have a listen to some samples on the link below.

  • Ellen Allien – Nost

Many of our TBC followers wouldn’t be surprised to see an Ellen Allien album make the end of year playlist however considering the fact that we are super fans of the Bpitch label legend this album is not what you would expect having listened to previous production albums. The last few albums Lism , Dust and Sool were all experimental electronica ranging from house, techno, pop, chillout and dub. The albums before this with Apparat (Orchestra of Bubbles) and the solo albums Thrills, Berlinette and Stadtkind were all more electro influenced with Thrills being the stand out album with classics such as Brain is Lost – still a TBC favourite. Ellen’s eighth production album since 2001 has taken us on a journey and finally we have an album more similar to her single releases and live sets. It’s techno time!

The opening track sums up my previous words perfectly with Mind Journey which takes you on a bass heavy journey accompanied by an evil lyric “this is not a mind journey…”, with an epic bass line. The theme generally is a more stripped back, basic techno structure that sucks you in and you cannot help but be captivated by the albums transition from storming track to another storming track accompanied by a little dance and grin of satisfaction. 2018 already has a number of remixes from this album lined up and we are very excited at TBC to dance to and play these tracks out in a club.

Mind Journey, Innocence, Call Me, Mma and Physical are stand out tracks but each carries it own weight.

Enjoy the samples from the Bpitch Soundcloud page below.

  • Balance Pres. Natura Sonoris mixed by Henry Saiz

Since his big hit Balance series volume 19 in 2011 and one particular release in 2008 titles Hello, Infinite on his Artificial Paradises EP (Renaissance) Henry Saiz has been on the TBC radar and we have kept out eye out for new albums, events and singles. His Reality Addendum production album in 2014 followed by its numerous remix collections has been featured in our progressive DJ sets for some time and are still in fact being played today. In 2016 we met the 303 event organisers from Liverpool in Croatia and they are good buddies with Henry Saiz so we have been spoiled with a few epic nights at their club listening to his epic progressive, balearic, percussion infused disco and, in some instances, unique style music (that features heavily on his Natura Sonoris label).

The Balance Series has been enjoyed by TBC since 2003 with the legendary James Holden 005 edition and we have lost count of the instalments that we own in our mega CD collection, its worth checking the series out if you haven’t done so (but if this is the case where have you been?). Henry Saiz has brought his label to town on this special Balance presents edition of their mix series and it is like a match made in heaven. A legendary CD series asking a DJ who already has a critically acclaimed instalment in the series plus a label that we cannot talk highly enough for its originality, bizarre-ness and its high quality of artist selection and music production. The 2 disc mix is perfectly balanced (pardon the bad joke) with its dreamy, percussion lead, balearic/summery feel music that takes you into a progressive soundscape that you could quite easily meditate to, pre-party to or get your groove on, just alter the bass response on your speakers and the master volume. All we can say is that this mix is epic, a true classic style compilation CD that shows off good music, production skills, track selection and some great labels and artists.

Sonder by Joep Mencke, Goliath by Tentacle and Ventura by Hal Incandenza all feature on disc one with superb edits and mixes either by other producers or spliced with other tracks by Saiz himself.

Disc two is almost solely Henry Saiz production or remixes so the whole disc is excellent but our favourites are the soundtrack-esque Prophetess, the epic vocal lead, trancey Light, Woodhouse by NVSBL and Death Drive blended with The Pendulum.

Enjoy a sample below:

  • Bicep – Bicep

Since their Feel My Bicep podcast Bicep have come a long way, their 2012 Throne of Blood compilation mix, their 2014 BBC Essential Mix and a great number of superb production tracks such as Stripper and Just show their development in style, production quality and growth into all round electronic scene powerhouses. You can see them play disco on a boat in Croatia, a rave set in a warehouse, techno and house at a festival or bide their time until 2017 to produce and release a truly epic debut production album Bicep which they play at their Live shows. Their choice of label for the album . . . Ninja Tunes, was one which left a few people puzzled but when you hear their production sound and style this album harks back to an era of urban electronic production that Ninja Tunes are famous for and that in retrospect makes perfect sense to show off Bicep’s production skills and excellent to put out an album that can be enjoyed by such a diverse audience, old to young, urban scene to electronic scene.

The album itself needs a good few listens, one with headphones, another loud and in a party situation and the final one in a studio environment with a good balance of bass and treble. Once you have racked up a few listens through the album your appreciation to the 12 track album builds and builds, we even thought back to Orbital, Hybrid and Underworld production levels in the early naughties and nineties. This is a must have album from 2017 and one that will be around for many years to come.

Orca, Kites, Vale and Aura are stand out tracks.

Check out the link below to sample the tracks:

https://feelmybicep.bandcamp.com/album/bicep

  • Sasha – Refracted Live

If one of your first clubbing memories back when you were 18 was the Airdrawndagger album launch party at Heaven in London, you have listened to the original Renaissance Mix Collection from 1994 or seen this person DJ back to back with John Digweed for 4+ hours on two occasions you will get very excited when Sasha brings out a new song, mix, CD or is booked at a night or a festival. However somewhat amazingly we weren’t aware of the Sasha Refracted tour even though it is a continuation of the epic Scene Delete album on Late Night Tales released un 2016 and reviewed on the TBC website. What is happening to us, our finger is off the pulse! Well we need to make up for missing one of the most ridiculous live events ever where Sasha has reconstructed his tracks from Scene Delete and selected classics (yes Xpander is in there!) to be played with a full orchestra, Charlie May on keyboard and a whole host of synthesisers, drum machines and other classic and electronic instruments.  We purchased the full, all singing all dancing, Blu Ray and double disc set in its fancy textured boxset in order to revel in Sasha’s masterclass. This was Sasha’s first ever fully live performance and wow doesn’t do it justice.

It would be cheating to mention the Blu Ray video in this article as it isn’t fair against the other entries but it really is amazing, the high definition cameras and sound is simple unbelievable.

The album is made up of two discs, the first is Scene Delete reconstructed for the show with live vocals and of course live instruments and some crowd noises that, unlike other live albums don’t detract from the music itself. We won’t spend too long on this disc as we have already reviewed the album but this version is stunning, the orchestral strings and percussion add a new layer to the tracks and the live vocals are spot on.

Baracus with its bass breakdown around the 2 minute mark, Detour with it’s haunting vocals, Time After Times percussion and keyboard magic and Rooms featuring John Graham (A.K.A Quivver) on vocals stand out.

The second disc is classics from the Sasha era including one from Airdrawndagger all those years ago. Hearing the classics in this new way has that feel of nostalgia that many have tapped into with this new classical/orchestral take on classics but at the same time revitalise classics in their purest form.

Battleships, Belfunk, Burma (by Lostep is the original artist) and Xpander are stand out.

It is hard to sum the overall album up due to the nostalgic value this holds at TBC plus being swayed by the magic Blu Ray video but Sasha has really hit the mark and excelled himself, once again, with Refracted Live. Please enjoy the link below and go and get this album.

  • Nic Fanciulli – My Heart

Nic Fanciulli is one of Maidstone’s finest exports and being a Maidstonian myself it is great that he continues to build his brand and excel within a competitive electronic DJ environment. He hosts the Social event all over the world having started it in the humble Mote Park in Maidstone, is very good mates with Joris Voorn who often plays at small events in Maidstone bars and clubs and continues to loyally support Maidstone FC in the Conference Premier. Back in 2014 we selected Nic’s Defected in the House series as our favourite release and since he hasn’t released any full length mixes or major EP’s or singles, however in 2017 Nic finally graced us with his debut production album My Heart and you have to say patience is a virtue and this was worth waiting for.

In a career that has spanned around 20 years, since TBC first saw Nic playing funky house in River Bar for the Club Class warm up at Ikon, Nic has evidently honed and developed his sound and matured as a producer as My Heart oozes class and detail in the production work of each track. This is also a full length LP of 16 tracks that includes great interludes and flows nicely from deep house with superb vocals to dirtier, harder dance floor tech house tracks which is something that TBC greatly appreciated in an LP.

Imitations is a superb summers day time deep house track with a great male vocal, 100mph is a groovy deep house track with haunting keys and vocal, Twisted and The First Step are quality house tracks with catchy keys and groovy baselines that would be welcome at a house party, at a festival or in the club. Wrong picks things up a bit with a tech-house feel, The Perfect Crime is a nice progressive house uplifting track and Resistance harks back to acid house with an acid groove. Saying (featuring a great vocal cameo from Damon Albarn) and My Love brings things back down with deep house and an uplifting summery feel and you can have a break having got to the I’m Tired interlude. After Time and Sunshine 101 move back to the uplifting progressive house vibe and again show a great balance in production skill to vary and change across the LP. Little L has a tough tech house groove and satisfying bass line while The Light is an epic vocal lead dreamy that would sit well in a Moderat set, just great electronica. When you reach Under Stars you are in the outro and the album fades out but you feel that you need to listen again and appreciate a true gem of an album, we have done this a few times at after parties and when reviewing the album in this article.

Highly recommended and great debut album, have a listen to the album by following the link below.

  • Adam Beyer live at Awakenings Festival 25th June 2017

Awakenings is on the top festivals in Europe, they host a few parties every year either at the indoor Gashouder or the outdoor Sparrenwoude (we would highly recommend checking out some of the videos on Youtube as both are spectacular). The line ups are somewhat over the top with almost all of the top techno artists across all of the sub-genres of techno featuring and 2018 was a festival that TBC almost attended due to a friends stag do event in Holland however we were unable to make it. Luckily almost all of the mixes are recorded by BE-AT.tv which means you can easily access the best mixes and in this case we have a stormer for you from none other than the Drumcode head honcho Adam Beyer.

Adam Beyer has spent a great deal of time building and developing the Drumcode label and its artist roster so the last few years have not seen as much of a buzz around his tracks, mixes, albums or festival/event sets however this Awakenings set was the buzz on the internet and on social media from those who went telling their mates who couldn’t attend how much they were missing out! When we heard about his set from our friend who attended we went straight to Soundcloud (see link below) and got involved in typical TBC style in the early hours of a Saturday morning, Techno Breakfast time.

This mix has it all, which is essential for a festival set (having heard many over the years both live and via streaming or download), Drumcode artists, new material, a Depeche Mode remix from Thomas Schumacher and Victor Ruiz, the classic Vitalic Le Rock 01, the 80’s classic Pump Up The Jam and stormers from Boxia with Point of No Return and Spektre with Forged in the Heart of a Laserbeam. Add to the great track list (link below) the crowd noises from the festival, some ice cannons and other pyrotechnics you can hear in the mix plus the great transition from techno stomping to dance your ass off party tracks to classics you can sing along to like a little kid this mix epitomises the festival live set. As it is hard to put the whole mix into words we would highly recommend listening yourself on the link below.

https://www.1001tracklists.com/tracklist/1tvwm5jk/adam-beyer-day-two-area-w-awakenings-festival-netherlands-be-at-tv-2017-06-25.html

  • RA #596 mixed by Oscar Mulero

TBC have been fans of Oscar Mulero for a few years now albeit he has been djing and producing since the 80’s in his native Spain and across the world. When you listen to his production work it becomes quickly evident why we like him so much as he makes loud, heavy bass, banging techno, enough said! He runs the label Polegroup that has hosted artists such as Exium, Jonas Kopp, Reeko, Christian Wunsch, Lewis Fautzi and Perc which is quite a roster from the harder end of the techno spectrum. I was lucky enough to attend a night in Barcelona in 2017 where one of his label DJs played and it was banging, some of the artists he has signed to his label or invited to his nights are just superb techno dj’s and producers. Could you withstand the audio onslaught?!

In 2017 we were fortunate that RA enlisted Oscar to provide an episode of their podcast and this is simply stunning techno. Heavy and moody at the start progressing to the more full on, bass heavy, storming techno within around the 10-15 minute mark. Turn on your sub-woofer for some great bass frequency production work and a DJ utilising the EQ levels of the tracks to maintain a relentless bass line. Sciahri presents Insanity at around the 15 minute mark that does exactly what it says on the tin, this is pure insane techno. Oscar Mulero himself follows this track (and provides a few others later on too), along with a monster from Steve Bicknell called Harmonious Balance and later a remix from Planetary Assault Systems of a Lucy track, there are too many great techno tracks to name without writing down the actual track list. We must warn you that this is the heavier end of techno and could scare some people away but it is simply a great techno artist compiling and blending heavy, fast and dubby techno at its best. Enjoy the link below but beware, this isn’t for the faint hearted.

  • Essential Mix by Helena Hauff

2017 was the year that Helena Hauff rose to fame and held an almost stratospheric status in electronic music. She hosted a BBC Radio One residency show, debuted on the BBC Essential Mix show, played club nights and festivals across the World all while playing the electro end of the techno spectrum and in most instances just straight up electro, which has never really been mainstream in electronic music. This is quite a feat when you consider that she is also not a prolific producer having only released one production album in 2015 and a handful of singles and EP’s. Therefore she has risen to her current status off the back of her pure desire to promote her favourite genres, her superb mixing style and an almost geeky level of music crate digging for both new and old electro.

TBC were very excited about this Essential Mix having rated her Mixmag In Session mix in 2016 very highly and we were not let down when we finally got to Helena’s debut essential mix (we very much hope there will be more). Our excitement even lead to an after party at our flat where the full 2 hour mix was played at high volume with our sub-woofer turned up to max, this was pure exhilaration! The mix oozes class and feels like a sci-fi film soundtrack or computer game with the flow and mixing style that accentuates the bleeps, squelches, vocal samples and kicks that are prominent throughout. When the mix hits Transparent Sound at around 16 minutes with No Calls From New York, which is an evil sounding, break beat-esque rave track, the mix really cranks up and you almost feel like Helena is showing off her tune selection while not scaring people off with the more eccentric, eclectic end of the electro genre. TBC had to find this track, a cheeky steal from this mix, and have played many times since (something we had to do with a few tracks in this mix). As the mix nears 25 minutes W1bo presents Utopia Planitia things really start to pick up with a great bpm pace change and an uplifting electro track that is simply brilliant. The mix goes on to feature The Exaltics, Drexciya (twice), The Hacker, Aux 88, The Horrorist, Alien FM, The Advent and DJ Stingray which is literally the glitterati of the electro world for the last 15 years in dance music and the mix continues to grow, develop, ebb and flow throughout not feeling like a simple tune-fest but a perfectly crafted blend of superb electro and techno. The second hour is definitely more techno and at the harder end of the music spectrum with a particular favourite from Paul Blackford called Fallout played over an Adam Beyer Untitled track which is almost a tribal style electro monster track.

We literally can’t say enough about this mix, it even won Essential Mix of the Year! Have a listen with the link below and enjoy.

  • Essential Mix by Bicep

This is the second feature in our 2017 playlist from Bicep and it comes in the guise of one of our favourite radio shows the BBC Essential Mix. This was also Bicep’s second essential mix for Pete Tong with the first coming way back in 2014 and boy have Bicep come a long way since then in regards to sound, career progression and the overall quality that is evident across the 2 hour mix.

The mix starts at the lower end of the electronic spectrum with chilled, blissed out yet uplifting tracks that sit between chillout, nu-disco and deep house. At around the 25 minute mark Bicep step it up a gear with tracks from Giraffi Dog, Hammer, Tons of Tones,  Lake People and Norwell that flow perfectly and bring an old school feel with a great groove, squelches, breaks, kick drums and some superb keys, each of these tracks are ones you will want for your own collection. This shift in the mix brings us more in line with the sound that Bicep are harnessing and developing today, similar to the feel on their self titles album (reviewed earlier). As the mix nears the hour mark the old school feel remains but the bass becomes a bit heavier and the break beats continue with the epic Touch Absence from Lanark Artefax and flows into the hour mark where a more electro sounds emerges from the break beats from Abyssal Zone by Djedotronic, who are stalwarts in the electro scene, via an epic trance like track from Claude Speed called Ambien Rave. The electro sounds dominate for the next few tracks, raise the energy levels up and make you want to dance about and shake your ass like you’re at a rave, its contagious. Into the last half hour the mix takes on a more bassline, garage sound which is a nice touch as TBC are fans of this scene from many years ago and its works well with the rave, breaks and electro from earlier. Dan Cough’s B Jam into Urban Myths Makin Me Feel is a great mix that you would expect from a garage DJ, the diversity of Bicep is truly on show here. A classic from CJ Bolland is included around the 1 hour 40 mark called The Tower of Naphtali which is an R&S classic and again we hark back to the rave era and one of its most famous labels. The mix draws to a close but not before an Apex Twin number and two final tracks to ease you to the end with God Within Raincry being a great vocal chanting trance like breakbeat track and Modaji with Belle Epoque a blissed out closing track , what a mix!

The biggest failing of this mix was that it was released in December 2017 and missed the Essential Mix of the year poll where Helena Hauff took the crown (see above), as this mix would have definitely given Helena a run for her money. However do not be deterred by us using the word failing in this mini review as this mix is superb and one of our favourite essential mixes ever. The progression of Bicep is clear to see in this mix and we cannot rate it highly enough. Enjoy with the link below.

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