1. Floating Points – Love Me Like This – R2 Records
I’m racking my brains trying to remember how I came across Floating Points, but I just can’t really remember. It may well have been on Gilles Peterson’s excellent Radio 1 show. LMLT, an infectious, funky 80’s sampling slice of deep house, was featured on the February edition of my podcast, and was originally given away as a free download. Within a few months, it was released on Vinyl courtesy of R2 Records. The first pressing completely sold out and a repress was soon in order to meet demand!!
FP went on this year to release further singles on Planet Mu and his own Eglo imprint. His rapidly increasing popularity was confirmed in the same year, with numerous guest appearances on Radio 1 on the Mary Anne Hobbs & Gilles Peterson shows. His second appearance for GP included a live session at the Maida Vale studios.
2. D-Bridge & Instra:Mental – Sepia Tones EP – Darkestral Recordings
The record that completely flipped the script in the drum & bass scene this year is definitely Sepia Tones. The first time I heard Translucent, on DJ Flight‘s 1xtra show back in Nov 08, it totally blew me away; The pure power of the melody and subtle drum patterns sealed Instra:Mental‘s reputation as pioneers in what felt, for long time, like a stale genre. The limited edition Sepia vinyl double pack will be a sought after collectors item in years to come. Sepia Tones can only be described as an utterly timeless masterpiece.
3. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns – Parlophone / Echo
Largely thanks to the excellent Spotify, I decided to check out Bat For Lashes. This album swiftly became essential listening for the latter part of 2009, and both albums were rapidly purchased. “Two Suns”, the 2nd album from BFL, effortlessly shifts from pop, to folk, to indie, and more. “Daniel” is an excellent single, with a very catchy chorus and has an undeniable Fleetwood Mac style about it. “Sleep Alone” is just utterly engaging; amazing production, haunting vocals and, quite simply, a perfect pop song.
4. The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules – Asound/Bubbles
It was only through falling in love with an early single, Golden Cage, that made me think to see what TWBA were up to. It soon became apparent that they had a new album. After one listen, I was utterly hooked. Great guitars, lovely screeching fender rhodes, and brilliant vocals from Erlend Øye made this an essential purchase. This album also has the rare quality in that I like every track. Superb stuff.
5. Spectrasoul – Alibi (Break Remix) – Critical Recordings
Every Spectrasoul record this year has been absolutely essential. This one is a guaranteed dancefloor smasher, Break quite rightly sealed his place in the drum & bass A-List with his remix; an excellent, melodic and infectious track.
6. Unquote & Mr Sizef – Hours Have No Reverse Motion – Hospital Records
Recent years have seen an explosion of dnb producers coming out of Russia. Oak, Electrosoul System, and now Unquote & Mr Sizef. This leftfield dnb track made it’s debut on the massively popular Autonomic Podcast and was an instant hit. Hard kicks, odd vocals, and sad chords make it sound fairly drab on paper, but the end result is infectious, soulful, and pretty groundbreaking stuff.
7. Alix Perez – I’m Free – Shogun Audio
This single was a taster of the Alix Perez album 1984, and was a great choice for first single. I’m Free is a deep, dark & moody master class in drum & bass production, and a definite highlight of 2009.
8. Blu Mar Ten – If I Could Tell You – BMT
The London-based Trio have been working hard this year, turning in two drum & bass singles and a 13-track LP, no mean feat for any producer. “If I Could Tell You” is an outstanding track which has gained attention both inside and outside the drum & bass scene for it’s gorgeous melodies, infectious vocals and solid bassline. A firm favourite of a mate of mine: Strangely enough, he really doesn’t rate drum & bass, and won’t accept that this is a dnb track!!
9. Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream – Virgin
Without doubt, this year’s MGMT. Empire Of The Sun’s debut is an LP bursting with retro, 80’s sounding pop tracks. Massively infectious and just a joy to listen to.
10. Spectrasoul feat Mike Knight – Melodies – Exit Records
The second appearance from Spectrasoul in this chart; It was hard deciding on the best tracks because they’ve released so many this year, on labels such as Subtitles, Exit, SGN:Ltd, and most recently, the mighty Metalheadz. Melodies is a mysterious, magical track with sparkling synths, slamming drums and amazing vocals courtesy of Mike Knight. The flipside, Insignia, is also, absolutely superb.