Top 5 of 2011 | Tara’s Picks

by Tara on December 29, 2011

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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  • December 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Tara, you have amazing taste in music. I love all our rants and raves on and I know you will continue to contribute to our amazing music scene. Thanks so much for all the support this year.

  • Ty Munzo
    January 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Tara bringing me back to some amazing memories of 2011 with this well written article. I’d have to agree with you on all those festi choices, but i got a couple tracks i might have included in my top 5 that you left out…just our differing taste. Cheers to an amazing 2012! Bring on the new tunes!

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