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There are a lot of my main, musical men within the top 10 albums of this year. In fact, this year a crapload of albums were released by artists I truly admire (a couple of them being by my other, main musical men). I was surprised when I didn’t feel their album releases, as I was really looking forward to hearing them and adding them to my daily arsenal. However, the releases within this top 10 did come through massively. That should speak volumes.
The top 10 albums of 2011
01 Africa Hitech – 93 Million Miles [Warp]
Africa Hitech’s sound can NOT be duplicated. The marriage of Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek is a match made in musical heaven. They are also one of the few artists who have taken juke/footwork and evolved it into something else entirely.
I have played these songs literally to death this year, and they still sound just as good as the first day that I heard them. I kid you not; I saw Flying Lotus live this year (You must understand that I adore Flying Lotus’ music), but the highlight of his set was hearing Africa Hitech’s Out in the Streets, as that was the first time I had heard the track on such a massive sound setup instead of my rinky dink speakers.
The singles from this album are not to be slept on, as they contain a lot of non-album tracks that are just as good.
02 Jerry Gari – These Three Agree In One [http://jerrygari.bandcamp.com]
This has been the year of Jerry Gari for me. He released not one, not two, but, count ’em, three full length albums, and they were ALL amazing. Two of them are in this top ten. These Three Agree In One is my favorite album out of the three.
Jerry Gari’s music immediately zaps you into another world—a sonic, lush, spacey soundscape of amazing music. His vocals are dreamy and soulful, and his lyrics are really clever and deep.
Of all the albums in this top 10 and truth be told any other album this year, Jerry Gari’s albums were the best album experiences, bar none, in regards to truly listening from start to finish without skipping not one song. For this mix, narrowing down which songs to play from Jerry’s albums was by far the most difficult, compared to the other albums on this list, because ALL of the songs are so darn good. It literally was agonizingly painful to leave some of them out of the mix.
03 Silkie – City Limits Volume 2 [Deep Medi Musik]
Silkie’s production is immaculate and, as with Africa Hitech, Silkie has a unique sound that is unquestionably ONLY his. Likewise, the songs on the singles (City Limits Vol 1.2 and City Limits Vol 1.4) and EP (City Limits Vol. 1-6-1.8) leading up to this release were just as strong, if not stronger than the songs on the album.
04 Machinedrum – Room(s) [Planet Mu]
Travis Stewart AKA Machinedrum, also 1/2 of Sepalcure, is one of my musical gods. His music is one of the reasons I get out of bed every morning. Ten years and counting, machinedrum, a musical chameleon, is holding it down like no other. His musical legacy is insanely forward-thinking—pushing boundaries and sound. Like Africa Hitech, for the past couple of years, he has been incorporating juke/footwork into his own music in a very palpable and unique way.
05 Wagon Christ – Toomorrow [Ninja Tune]
There is absolutely nothing I can say that I haven’t already said a million times. Luke Vibert is Wagon Christ!
06 James Blake – James Blake [Universal Records]
James Blake is an artist in the truest sense. He experiments, making sound malleable, bending it to his will. At first, I didn’t appreciate the album as much as I do now. It took me seeing him perform the songs live before I got into it. I was too hung up on how awesome the previous EPs were, and I just felt that the album wasn’t as experimental, at first. However, after living with these songs for months now, it is a solid release, just different from the EPs. For me, THE track on the album is I Mind.
07 Jerry Gari – Beta Music For A Beta World [http://jerrygari.bandcamp.com]
This is a totally instrumental album by Jerry Gari, and, since it is a Jerry Gari production, every single song is a sonic experience.
08 Sepalcure – Sepalcure [Hotflush Recordings]
You know that It has been an awesome, musical year, when you get not one, but two, machinedrum projects. Machinedrum is 1/2 of Sepalcure. That’s pretty much all that I needed to know to buy this album (yes, buy, please support independent musicians). What I didn’t know is that when I saw them open up for Africa Hitech (I could have died that night as I was already in heaven. Mux Mool and Dubspot’s Kiva were also great, too!), they were playing songs from this album. Seeing them live was the best part of the night. Particularly when “See Me, Feel Me” came on, Travis was SOOOOO into it that you knew that this guy is the real thing, doing it for the love of music.
Your relationship to songs are very different when you hear songs from an album in a club first and then hear the recordings later in your own space. This has only happened before with Bilal’s Airtight Revenge and Outkast’s Stankonia. There is something very special about it. Hearing the songs from Sepalcure that night was no less extraordinary. Visual memories will always be tied to these songs.
09 Andy Stott – Passed Me By [Modern Love]
The image of the album cover is what first got my attention. I put it in my very long queue of things to listen to in the future. I didn’t listen to it until I realized that Andy Stott was Andrea. I had been listening to Andrea’s Retail Juke / Write-Off for months, thinking it was a girl, so impressed. However, eventually finding out that Andy Stott is Andrea, I promptly listened to Passed Me By, after putting it off for weeks. Then, I realized I had found a new musical man, just how I like ’em — versatile and eclectic. Andy’s music is just that.
At times, I get flashbacks / glimpses to Akufen’s My Way whenever I listen to this. Where art thou, Akufen?
10 DJ Diamond – Flight Muzik [Planet Mu]
Last year was all about dubstep, for me. This year I became totally obsessed with juke and footwork. There are a lot of amazing juke tracks, but this full-length decimates any other full-length juke album. Juke can be very repetitive, but DJ Diamond actually knows how to evolve a juke track over the length of the song, keeping your interest to the very end. He also has a more expanded juke musical palette than his juke contemporaries, incorporating samples you wouldn’t expect like Santigold.
Best Song of 2011 – Africa Hitech – Out In the Streets [Warp]
The VIP mix isn’t too shabby either;) If you listen to my show regularly, you know how much I love Drum & Bass… So, I hope you understand that I’m trying to be funny. This mix is massive; I’m glad that Mark Pritchard still loves his D&B, too!
Best EP of 2010 – Silkie – City Limits Vol. 1.6-1.8 [Deep Medi Musik]
This EP contains a very strong contender for song of the year, It’s Late! There is not one filler track on this EP! The songs on this EP are just as strong as the album tracks.
I’m more than ready for City Limits Vol. 2.2;) Silkie, BRING IT ON!
Best Label of 2011 – Hands down, Planet Mu
First of all, Planet Mu has single-handedly gotten juke to the masses, and, on top of that, they released machinedrum’s room(s). Enough said!