It’s the season of stockings and lists. The natural occasion to ask this bunch of messers and stalwarts of the underground to scribble down their highlights. Feel free to take issue and contribute your own.
Sunil Sharpe, Ear Wiggle.
Track:Radiance by Surgeon was the only truly ‘next level’ techno track I heard this year. Agoraphobia by Minimum Syndicat was acidic rave doom at its finest, while ‘Tayo Olowu’ by Forward Strategy was the techno wailer of the year.
Lerosa, Further Records.
Track: Wolfram Feat. Haddaway – Thing Called Love (Legowelt Remix). This had me waiting as was on youtube months before the vinyl release. He’s been on fire for the last year.
Gig: John Heckle in a live context is exhilarating, energetic, joy to watch; rocking hardware boxes and keyboard with a passion. Add to this the crowd all dressed up to the scary nines and you got a proper party.
Little Xs For Eyes, Sweet Folky Pop.
Track: Austra’s Lose It a wonderful, sparkly, anxious track with a soaring and simple vocal bridge. And you can dance to it!
Gig: Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings at Grand Canal Theatre – perfect pitch harmonies, on an empty stage. Rawlings plays guitar likes it’s an instrument you’ve never heard before.
Catscars, Moody synth pop.
Track: The only one I can think of is Rihanna’s Only Girl in the World for it’s cheesetastic ability to make me feel like a complete girl.
Gig: Future Islands at The Workman’s Club was an altogether enlivening experience. The singer delivers his lyrics in such a heartfelt manner that I had no problem hugging his sweat dripping body afterwards.
Track: Surgeon’s Radiance. A banging techno track with some experimental elements, great sound design, great builds, that keeps coming back to a banging, distorted techno beat.
Gig: Alva Noto – best set at Bloc this year. It was like an education in electronic music, using some of the most basic of sounds – sine waves and white noise.
Brian Conniffe, Experimentalist.
Track: The best album of the year in my mind is undoubtedly the sensational debut album from Cut Hands, the incredible range of which makes it difficult to pick just one highlight.
Gig: Children Under Hoof at Crawdaddy in January. I wish they would play again soon, but the always excellent performances from Catscars, School Tour, and Patrick Kelleher during the year made up for the silence.
T-Woc, Alphabet Set.
Track: Zomby’s Mozaik, I heard Aphex Twin play it in a set in Dublin and it stuck in my head until the Dedication album came out and I recognised it instantly.
Gig: Community Skratch Games. Absolutely nothing wrong with the country’s skratch, beat and MC messers descending on Galway to get drunk and make a hella noise in the Beirhaus for a weekend.
Kenny Hanlon, Infinite State Machine.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ-Om9ppcMU[/tube]
Track: Convextion Oil On Metal. The first Convextion track to see the light of day in 4 years; it made the majority of 2011′s techno sound limp wristed and disposable in comparison.
Gig: Suicide at Primavera. Nihilistic electronic punk taken out of it’s comfort zone of dingy clubs into an outdoor arena in front of thousands; in the process wiping the floor with the rest of the festival and everything else this year.
Aforce, Ghetto Quietly.
Emmet O’Donnel from noise band N, N.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvn-13S5dDk[/tube]
Conor Hickey from Section 4, Keepin’ Ballina’s scene alive.
Track: Fortunado – Hands Up Who Wants To Die. An absolute beast of a tune, it must be about 6 minutes long. The mood changes throughout, it’s quite and loud, nice and nasty, basically it takes you all over the shop. The lyrics are sung powerfully and passionately and even though I haven’t a clue what they’re about I love them! I always find it hard to pick a favorite song/album/gig etc but it was easy here, I’ll be listening to this song for years to come!
Gig: Only one gig from 2011 stands out for me, Canadian punk rockers The Rebel Spell in Galway in May. What I liked about them was their pure raw energy that I haven’t seen in a band for some time. And a real honesty came across in the songs. Also they rocked, were tight as fuck and the songs are amazing! Also during one of the support bands a drunkard fell on his own broken pint glass, spilling blood everywhere and had to be taken to hospital, of course the Guards arrived then for a look. Punk Rock is alive and well.
Stephen Foy – Murmur promotions.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-tO4HU0Okk[/tube]
Track: Ford & Lopatin – Too Much Midi (Please Forgive Me) American electronic music duo , album Channel Pressure is a concept album about falling asleep with the tv left on Gig: Hmmmmmmm bad year for me for gigs, Sufjan Stevens in the Olympia was great though, wasn’t expecting a full stage show with back up dancers, props and lots and lost of neon!
Shannon Duval, Family Planning.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi8nIC0iMkE[/tube]
Track: Osaka by Hella. A major dude recommended this band to me, and Osaka was the first song I heard by them. It actually stopped me and about five other of my friends in our tracks. I think one person shat themselves. It’s a mother of a tune, and the band are just too fucking good. Gig: Don’t have one yet. I’m hoping the best is yet to come.
Shane O’Sullivan, Elk.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOE707_f8rQ[/tube]
Track: Octopus Has No Friends from Mastodon’s ‘The Hunter’ album. Delicious guitar parts and an epic chorus with Mastodon’s newfound pop sensibilities make it a perfect snapshot of where the band are now. It’s great to hear bands like that slightly change their approach to writing and making it work so well.
Gig: It would have to be Reverberations: The Influence of Steve Reich at the Barbican in London at the start of May this year. I wouldn’t be a complete maniac for all of Steve Reich’s work but this concert was the European premier of his WTC 9/11 and it was a lovely piece of music. As a slightly political young fella, I had always read about the 9/11 attacks in light of their effect on international relations and America’s new age imperialism without perhaps considering the devastation that the attack had on the New York people and community.
Teddy, Macronite/Fried, Limerick
Track: Dub-one by King Operator. An appropriate title, dub-one really shows us he is the king operator with this masterpiece, awesome dark dubbed out atmospheric chords, echoing over the mindblowing continuos flow of edits that sound almost futuristic, yet they still maintain the essence of their jungle roots, keeping an awesome sound fresh and alive almost 20 years on. A true winner here.
Gig: Inigo Kennedy at Bump Festival – This set was just awesome, 2 hours of the most unrelenting idm influenced techno goodness ive ever seen. It was helped along nicely by the size of the enourmous funktion 1 rig too. The vibe in that tent was awesome, the place was seriously going nuts. One of the many stellar performances of the weekend.
Sixfoot Apprentice, !Kaboogie.
Track: Deviant – ‘Send In The Hounds’ (from Send In The Hounds EP on Community Skratch Music). This track, and the EP in general, sticks out as a definite highlight of 2011 for me. It’s hard to compare it to anything really. It’s pretty unique. A very original track that skillfully mixes elements of hip-hop and electronic beats with Irish folk and trad music. This is no easy feat. Many have tried this kind of crossover before and failed to make it all work the way this track, and the entire release, does. The sounds compliment each other perfectly, even with unusual timing and scratching, the flow and blend is perfect. If you ain’t got it, get it.
Gig: I’m afraid I can’t answer this one cos I’ve very rarely gone out this year.
Welfare, Choonage Galway.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7YIZTWAuYM[/tube]
Track: Eomac – You Don’t Know What This Means To Me. Eomac’s productions and DJ skills gained much well deserved attention during 2011, and this track by the Dublin man on Hsuan Records really did it for me. Warm sublines, half step garagey drums, evocative synths and tripped out vocal sample work make this a true killah.
Gig: Youngsta at Riseup 2011 was admittedly not a good year for Dubstep but this stood out as a great example of a quality low end exhibition, hard yet dark, minimal yet ravey, top stuff.
Hunter-Gatherer, Dublin electronic producer.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHV04eSGzAA&ob=av2e[/tube]
Track: Kimbra – ‘Settle Down.’ Superlative. Takes a common phrase, subverts it, builds it into a mini-drama with immense technical skill, an excellent tune, sparkling production and great use of dynamics. The video is possibly the year’s best.
Gig: Perfume Genius at The Sugar Club, May. One of the best gigs I’ve seen in years, from the act that produced the peerless ‘Learning’. Played material from his forthcoming second album, which may be even stronger than the first. An unforgettable experience.
Don Rosco, Wobble.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWwhPhMByTU[/tube] Tracks: Breton – RDI (Girl Unit rmx) – Hemlock. Sirens, strings, beats and sub bass, and healthy dose of Gapper/Snipper, perfect in the mix with anything, drops heavily. On 10″ vinyl, the format of kings.
Gig: Didn’t get out too much this year due to things and stuff, but best one for me was Sea Sessions in Bundoran. Lively crowd, fat sound from Hertz-U and Donegal hospitality. Eamon Doyle and T-Woc were the standout sets. Jungle Boogie in Cork was killer too. Kode 9 in the Twisted Pepper in October was the international highlight. Badman.
Niamh De Barra, Scurvy Lass based in Eindhoven.[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH8bqqdAGiM[/tube]
Track: I loved Lady Grew’s Bass Bully EP on Ghetto Quietly – her voice is amazing, and such a broad range. Real slinky subtle pared back music too, even when it’s going full tilt. Twas between Napoleon DC and Ghetto Croppee, but if I had to pick, Ghetto Croppee would nose in front.
Gig: It’s been a quiet enough year compared to the one before, living in the Netherlands and all. Best gig or night had to be No Yeah No and Redmonk in Ruta Bar (or whatever it was called back in March) on Capel St. The gig itself was deadly, Richie K and T-Woc tore it up in the early house a few hours later, and as one of the last weekends I was out in Dublin before moving, it was kind of a perfect goodbye.