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Top 5 of 2011 | Tara’s Picks

time December 29th by Taradactyl authorTags: , , , , ,

First I want to express how honored I am to have begun writing for Afro Monk in 2011. I had been wanting to write for the site for a long while and am psyched to finally have the opportunity. It’s been a great year of music!

Top 5 Best Releases

1. Minnesota – Ancient Machine
2. Ill.gates – The Ill Methodology
3. Paper Diamond – Levitate
4. Phutureprimitive – Kinetik
5. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

For starters, I love where Minnesota’s sound has been going in the past year – very melodic and synthy but still sprinkled with some nice bass. The Ancient Machine EP is truly satisfying to me, and I particularly enjoyed Hold Up’s epic feel. Bass pioneer ill.Gates made me a happy camper with his solid ill.Methodology album – it is diverse, interesting, and deliberate. I particularly LOVE Never Alone with MiMOSA, Live and Learn, and My Special Place. Paper Diamond’s Levitate was in my headphones a lot when it came out and I was cruising around South America. It’s easy and soothing listening. He definitely has a distinguishable sound, yet each track is different, both of which I think are extremely important in successful production. Phutureprimitive blessed us with a miraculous album in 2011, Kinetik. Drippy bassy downtempo is what I really love to listen to when not raging at an event, and this LP did it for me. It is a stunning and emotive compilation that embraces what I love about electronic music. Personal favorites are Ripple Effect, Cryogenic Dreams, and Kinetik. And last but not least, I have to agree with Afro Monk that The Weeknd’s House of Balloons is most definitely top 5 material. The Weeknd’s voice is undeniably sexy and I love his ingenuous lyrics along with pleasant basslines. Wicked Games is stunning – I can’t get enough of it.

Top 5 Best Songs
1. Emancipator – Ares (Big Gigantic Remix)

2. ProJect Aspect ft. Kruza Kid – Let Me See Ya Sneakers Work

3. GRiZ – Chasin Galaxies
4. Minnesota – Sun Burst

5. Cryptex – Reset

Making a top 5 list of tracks was really difficult for me; I started by writing down all of my favorites and was facing a list of 20 solid tracks. I have narrowed it down to 5 yet still feel like there are a lot of others that deserve recognition. The tracks I chose are the ones that I consistently listened to this year, as opposed to ones that I enjoyed hearing live most. By listening through it is apparent that my tastes have evolved from heart-pounding dubstep to harmonious bass music. Anywho, I’ll start off with one of the tracks that I never get tired of regardless of playing it all the time: Big Gigantic’s remix of Ares by Emancipator. When I hear it I am elevated into a state of nirvana; it makes me reminisce about past life-changing music memories and stirs up some inexplicable emotion in me. ProJect Aspect’s contribution to Bass from Above Volume 2 (which is overall an exceptional compilation) is like a breath of fresh air that gives me a burst of energy. This guy seriously crushed it this year, as did a lot of the other Mile High Sound Movement kids. They’ve really got something good going on over there in CO, I hope to visit this winter and check out the scene. GRiZ made me stoked with Chasin Galaxies. It has a nice slow buildup, gradually adding in new elements like some lazerbass, subtle rap samples (Method Man), and effervescent high notes. I have been listening to GRiZ since his GK days and it’s pretty cool to see him hit the ground running; he has consistently brought the fire all year! Minnesota’s Sun Burst is SO dope – another track that is slow to build up but then digs deep and sweeps me off my feet. Sun Burst is brilliant, bold, and blissful; I really love how Christian draws out his notes. Cryptex’s Reset really speaks to me. Its pulsating and glitchy vibes are both innovative and profound. This track is on the Virtus In Sonus compilation brought to you by Gravitas Recordings – another phenomenal album!

Top 5 Events:
1.The Bounce Festival
2. Lightning in a Bottle
3. Emissions
4. Earthdance
5. Boom Boom Lagoon(s)

It didn’t take me much thought to figure out the best event I went to in 2011. The Bounce Festival (as well as The Big Bounce 2010) was just too magical to surpass. Nestled in the woods in the Feather River in Northern California, the venue at Belden Town is breathtaking. Add in some of the most talented DJs, forward-thinking artists and vendors, and all-around remarkable people and there you have a perfect 3 days. I think I have to say that my best musical experiences were spent there (namely Tipper, Emancipator sunrise set, and unbelievable sets from Love & Light and EPROM). Lightning in a Bottle comes in at a very close second; Oak Canyon Ranch just feels like home. Camping with all of your best friends at such an event is nearly impossible to beat. The Bamboo Stage was amazeballs (yes, I said it), thus where I spent most of my time there. The Do LaB always does an incredible job of incorporating awe-inspiring interactive art, yoga, speeches, and workshops. There is just a warmth about it – and lots of insanely beautiful people everywhere you look. Emissions was a super heady, intimate festival in Tuolomne. It was definitely fun feeling like everyone was mingling and getting to know each other. As Afro Monk mentioned, it SNOWED on us – definitely took people by surprise and added an interesting element. Kids were still goin strong at a renegade setup haha. Earthdance was a super fun experience, and the lineup was incredible. Although the acoustics in the Temple of Electronica were subpar (they downgraded from Funktion Ones) DJs still brought it, and the Geodome as well as the Headtron pool party takeover were rockin’. I doubt that many of you have heard of Boom Boom Lagoon. For the past few summers in Lake Tahoe, my friends Zach and Zeb have thrown some bitchin’ parties on the East shore of the lake. You hike in about a mile to get there or boat in. The beach fills up with Tahoe’s party people and this summer they brought in Love & Light for the first party, and B Bravo & Ill-Esha for the second party (who has quoted it as being one of her favorite events of the summer). When I think of summer in Lake Tahoe, I think of Boom Boom Lagoon. Although it didn’t make the list, Freaker’s Ball in San Francisco on Halloween was another great party with a dope lineup and unlimited fun!

Thanks for listening, & I’m looking forward to another excellent year of music – bring it on 2012! I’ll be at SnowGlobe to bring in the New Year, so if you know me & you’re going, hit me up!


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Top 5 of 2011 | Afro Monk’s Picks

time December 16th by John-Michael authorTags: , , , , ,

Top 5 Best Releases
1.  The Weeknd – House of Ballons
2.  Robot Koch – The Other Side
3. Tycho – Dive
4.  Thriftworks – Zen Zero
5. Tokimonsta – Creature Dreams

The way I came up with the list for this year was thinking to myself which albums did I listen to the most and can think off the top of my head as standing out. The Weeknd has been my obsession and biggest inspiration to my transformation into sexy bump n grid live sets. Tycho makes some of the greatest music to just drive/work too. Dive represents one of those timeless LPs that will never get old and pick me uppers when music seems to get dull. Robot Koch’s The Other Side is one of the most incredible albums that took me away into a dreamland and thought to myself why has no one talked about this release. I listen to it on a daily basis since I got it. Thriftworks is one of my secret weapons when playing to a crowd. Zen Zero is one of the fullest albums out there this year in my opinion. Tokimonsta stole my heart when she released Creature Dreams. I always somewhat enjoyed her music but never LOVED it but she sealed the deal on the Creature Dreams release. These are not as hype or heavy dance floor albums but encompass what I listen to on a regular basis.

Top 5 Best Songs
1. NastyNasty – Sweety Bodies

2. Kastle – Walking Away

3. The Weeknd – Wicked Games

4. Antenitas – Los Bandidos Cosmicos (Nico Luminous Remix)

5. ill-esha – Only Fair (Gladkill remix)

Top 5 Underrated Releases
1. Robot Koch – The Other Side
2. Shigeto – Full Circle Remixes
3. B. Bravo – Kiss ‘n’ Tell
4. Knowa Knowone – Sound Paintings
5. Chris B – Whats Your Fantasy

I mentioned that the Robot Koch album was rarely talked about this year and man did it go under the radar. It’s just beautiful and feel like all of you should take a listen to it. Shigeto is one of my greatest finds last year and the Full Circles release was mind blowing and just when thought it couldn’t get better it did this year with a remix version with some of the most talented in the game. B. Bravo is one of the most listened to artist in my entire library. I’ve been following his work for quite some time now and he doesn’t get enough attention in my book but I know he will over the next few years. Knowa Knowone has always been on my radar but never really put anything out that captured me till this year and take it might have been the same for many of you. His release Sound Paintings put him back on my map of an artist to keep an eye on. Chris B’s Whats Your Fantasy is one of those album I’ll never forget talking about with Simplify head hancho about before it got released and explained to him that was so glad to see Chris was finally putting out an official release. Simplify has now become one of the biggest labels in the bass scene and feel like despite the overall feel the labels puts out this was their best one.

Top 5 New Producers
1. Quitter
2. The Human Experience
3. Slidecamp
4. Guttstar
5. Lo Bounce

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Quitter is the hottest new sound that brings back memories of that hip-hop/beats/bass mixed into a high quality product. Absolutely love the direction they’ve started with. Can’t go wrong with a NastyNasty + So What collab. The Human Experience caught my attention last year and really inspired me. His new release this year almost made it to the most underrated list but overall I feel like he’ll be making quite a stir soon as he just was in Europe doing a tour. Slidecamp is another astonishing project that Boreta and Comma have put together that blew my mind. I truly hope we’ll see more from them and not just another abandoned project from another Glitch Mob member. Guttstar is the new Joker for me. I first heard his music and thought to myself this guy is the purple king. He’s also in the SEO business and instantly connected. He’s got much ahead of him in the coming years. Lo Bounce has been working hard all year pumping out some of the biggest bangers of the year in my eyes. His Me & U remix that was exclusive to always gets play time in any of my live sets since I received it.

Top 5 Events
1. Lightning in a Bottle
3. Emissions
4. Sonic Bloom
5. Art Outside

Lightning in a Bottle is one of those magical events where some of the biggest names come together and express themselves in art, music, dance, and more. It’s commonly described as the closest thing to Burning Man out of all the festivals. I know that till the end of my life I’ll be going to LIB. This past year had so many incredible memories and being backstage with some of my close friends that I only get to see during these festivals makes it that much better. SXSW this year was complete madness. Austin is where the event takes place and mainly focuses on bands and live music but this year it seems like electronic showcases were the spotlight to many. The amount of talent and people around this year made it one of the best weeks of my life. I’m quite sad that I no longer live in Texas but think I’m going to skip out on WMC this year and just fly to ATX for SXSW instead. Man too think I played at 5 different showcases last year is insane. Emissions this year was one of the best line ups of all the festivals. If you heard of that one festival that it snowed and screwed up a lot of things up that’s Emissions. It’s a shame because it was setup to be one of the best showcases all season. I assure you that next years will be one for the books. Despite the snow I had a great time and was one of those extremely intimate festivals where all the talent is walking around freely and not separated from everyone else. My favorite memory of the year was when I first arrived and was by main stage checking out the booth and having Jasper hugging me and being like hey whats up! It’s just one of those events where everyone is there just hanging out like one big family. This year I was fortunate to visit Colorado for Sonic Bloom. I hadn’t ever been since I started getting involved into the scene. Sonic Bloom was a dream becoming reality. I expected to get such a warm welcome from everyone there. I got to meet so many friends in person after communicating with them via online for years. The lineup was stellar and was able to interact with everyone with my press pass and even got invited to play on one of the side stages. Overall a wonderful experience and great community in attendance since such a large portion of the scene lives in Colorado. Art Outside is a small homegrown festival in Texas. I was proudly invited to go play at it. It was a honor to play alongside such talented people as well as a great farewell to Texas. I found out a few days before Art Outside that I would be relocating back to Miami so it was that last hoopla in Texas. I’ll be sure to make it a point to return next year and recommend you all to give it a chance if looking to try out a new festival you have never out too.

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