2014 was a fantastic year for music, especially in the underground which has continued to grow and establish it’s depth. While I spent most of my year on my chair studying away, I did manage to listen to quite a few sets/mixes. Here are the top 15 that resonated with me the most this year. I’ve undoubtedly missed some fantastic mixes, but alas, you can’t listen to them all.
15. Caribou – BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix of the Year
I can’t do without you… I can’t do without you-uuuuuu. Caribou guide us through a very diverse catalogue of sound in what deservedly is the BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix of the Year.
14. Hisham Zahran – 2014 Year Mix
I’m arguably cheating by listing a year mix, but this one was too good to ignore.
13. Isaac Tichauer – Music To… Celebrate To
Isaac Tichauer decides to put together an exclusive mix of what he’s spinning nowadays. Magic ensues.
12. Solomun & Andhim – BBC Radio 1 Ibiza Special
Solomun, out of the Diynamics camps, teams up with Andhim for BBC Radio 1’s Ibiza special.
11. Jon Hopkins – BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix
Absolutely fantastic mix that’s both atmospheric and groovy – an Essential Mix that lives up to its name: essential.
10. Kosmolyot’s Flashback Mix
All the way back in February, Kosmolyot quietly put together a nostalgic mix of some of the most iconic progressive tracks from the 2008-2012 era. While mostly residing in the house world, the mix wanders briefly into the trance realm but maintains a thirst-quenching level of juicy, progressive goodness all throughout. Seamlessly mixed and sequenced, this journey through the progressive side of house is quite a treat and slots in as my #10 this year.
9. Ten Walls – BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix
To me, the Essential Mix has always been more than a dance mix. It’s always stood as a chance for DJ’s/producers to showcase their talent and musicality in ways that may not be achievable on a dance floor. And it’s always been the adventurous and experimental mixes that have lasted the test of time in the history of the Essential Mix (Above & Beyond in 2004, Ame in 2006, Eric Prydz in 2013, and Sasha’s Maida Vale mix all come to mind). Ten Wall’s mix follows suit and incorporates sounds ranging from video game soundtracks to signature house and techno vibes. The mix is a true journey in sound and lives up to the grandeur of the BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix.
8. Mind Against – Fabric Promo Mix
Back in the spring, the Italian duo recorded this promo mix before their gig at the famous Fabric nightclub in London. Brothers Alessandro and Federico Fognini piece together a mix that’s full of romantic house and techno sounds, and riddled with influences from the indie and new wave worlds that the duo often refer to. It boasts a versatile track selection that is expertly mixed in a way that only these two maestros could achieve.
7. Maceo Plex, Live @ Movement Detroit 2014
If you could accurately described Maceo’s work this year then I’d be extremely impressed. The Maceo Plex sound of 2014 has been a blend of many different things. Dark, funky tech house that isn’t really tech house. Progressive, vocal prog house that isn’t really prog house. His remix for Royksopp’s “Sordid Affair” stands as a prime example – not to mention the fact that it’s a future classic. His performances have been nothing less than stellar either. Aside from his set from Movement, his Boiler Room and ENTER sets have been top quality as well. Maceo took the scene by storm in 2014 and a single listen to any of his sets will show you why. Trust me, you won’t be able to turn this one off.
6. Cubicolor – The Anjunadeep Edition, Episode 07
Over the past few years, Anjunadeep has vastly outperformed its parent label Anjunabeats in production, consistency and diversity. About halfway through 2014, the label surprised its loyal following with the announcement of their long awaited podcast. Many episodes have struck a chord with me throughout the year (episodes by Jody Wisternoff, Matt Lange, Martin Roth, Above & Beyond, and Hisham Zahran come to mind), but it’s Cubicolor’s episode that resonates the most. It’s lush, uplifting, and reminds me of summer. Including the future classic “I Got This Feeling”, this mix takes me places – to warm places.
5. Guy J – Summer Moments Mix
When it comes to progressive house nowadays, the first name I turn to is pretty much always Guy J. He has consistently shown his expertise at both production and mixing over the years and his 2014 summer mix was no different. Expertly stringed together to form a journey, the mix contains groovy bass lines coated with some mind-melting melodies. There really isn’t much more to say about this one: if you like progressive house, this mix is what you’re looking for.
4. Martin Roth’s Summer Mixtape
I’ve always been a big fan of Martin Roth’s diversity; he’s been able to excel in both the progressive and deeper/techier sides of house. This mix is a perfect example. From original productions to his mixing ability, Roth treats us with a collection of tracks that have resonated with him this year. I was very eager to rank his Spring Mixtape here instead, but the tail end of this mix, namely the mixing of the last 2 tracks, won me over. Roth ended the year with great acclaim after the release of a long-awaited EP and a minimal, melodic single that he released for free on his Soundcloud page. Both releases, as well as his mixes this year, are worth checking out.
3. Tale of Us, Live @ Time Warp 2014
I am ashamed to admit that I was completely unaware of Tale of Us prior to this year. However, upon stumbling across this set of theirs this past summer, I instantly became a fan. Their uniqueness is what stuck out to me first – in not just their productions but also their set construction. They display an impressive ability to captivate the listener with hypnotic, minimal techno that’s riddled with deep, dark melodies, and achieve such through both track selection and immaculate mixing. The German duo have achieved a lot of acclaim this past year, and a listen to any of their sets will show you why. Their set this past July at ENTER @ Space, Ibiza sticks out among others. I urge you to explore their catalogue, as it introduced me to a world of sounds that I had no idea I loved. I’m confident they will do the same for you.
2. Adriatique – Diynamic Radioshow 10/2014
Adriatique have been impressing me all year. From their recorded sets and studio mixes to their live performances, I have been left nothing short of thoroughly impressed by the Swiss duo. That one summer night in Toronto sticks out as the best performance I’ve seen all year, with me and a close buddy of mine absolutely entranced by their mixing and track selection right from the get go. This mix resonates harder with me because of how lush it is. The sounds are incredibly warm and even romantic at times, and it maintains a hypnotic tempo. Coupled with some seamless, water-tight mixing, this episode of the Diynamic Radioshow has some very high replay value.
1. David August, Live @ The Boiler Room Berlin
I have no idea what kind of magic is being casted by the Diynamics team, but something special happened in Berlin back in April and it made some significant ripples in the underground scene. Christian Loffler put together a great set that night, but David August’s masterclass is what stands out the most. This set blew me away the first time I heard it and has continued to impress me ever since. It’s incredibly atmospheric and captivates you from the intro itself. The sounds range from introspective, melancholic melodies to warm, vocal tracks, and things get even more fascinating when you watch the YouTube video of the set and start dissecting August’s use of loops, samples and layering. The set has been in my rotation constantly throughout the year and offers me something new to appreciate after every listen. It’s emotive, unique, and above all else, it sounds different from anything else I’ve heard from anyone this year. For me, it was a shoo-in at #1.
You can find all of the mixes above in the Soundcloud playlist below: