By now you’ve read most of the lists from all the online list-makers. If you’re like us and were left wanting more – more honesty, more feeling, more reasons to like end of the year lists – here it is. This is not a rundown of our favorite Beatport Top 100 bangers. These are the songs, artists, mixes, festivals, memories and moments that solidified a place in our heart in 2017. This is the Bizarre Culture 2017 End of the Year Music Superlatives.
Best Recorded Set
If we had to pick just one mix that summed up 2017, this would be our choice. Recorded in September, this mix came out of the gates on fire with a killer, building intro in Vicram’s “Acid Squirrel” [Crowdspacer], and introduced us to Perel’s “Die Dimension” [DFA], Julian Stetter’s “Bushwick” [forthcoming on Correspondant], and brought DJ Arif’s “Gegenzauber” [Nous’klaer] to the masses after heavy festival rotation in the EU. A perfect blend of italo-disco, progressive italo techno (we stole that term from Marvin & Guy), 80’s new wave, and pure house bliss.
Runners-Up: Gerd Janson’s Essential Mix, Black Spuma DHA #309, and DJ Tennis’ Essential Mix.
Best Live Set
We weren’t actually here for this, but listened to it posted online and were blown away. The Red Axes signature sound was on full display with two hours of originals, remixes, and driving indie-techno synth bangers from Ara Koufax, Simple Symmetry, and forthcoming edits.
Runners-Up: Job Jobse Boiler Room at Dekmantel Amsterdam, and The Drifter at DGTL Barcelona
Paradise City – Read here.
Remix of the Year
We first heard this at ADE in October, played by both Red Axes and Marvin & Guy at the Life and Death event. Released on Jennifer Cardini’s new label Dischi Autunno – a home for indie rock and experimental electronica – this is a song that sticks with you and will have you smiling, buzzing and humming the chorus all day, whether you’ve just left the club, cycling to work, or hitting the gym. The indie rock anthem gets the 4/4 makeover it deserves from the Russian brothers, with the crescendo unloading on your soul like a full magazine from a Kalishnikov.
Skinnerbox – “Gender” (Axel Boman Remix) [Turbo Recordings] – pure euphoria, and a midseason favorite for Song of the Year
Jennifer Touch – “Sell” (Curses Remix) [Riotvan] – although any remix off this EP is worthy of a spot on our list.
Todd Terje – “Maskidans” (Erol Alkan Rework) [Olsen Records]
Whirlpool Productions – “From: Disco to Disco” (Adam Port Remix) [Vertigo/Capitol]
Blondie – “Long Time” (Hercules & Love Affair)
EP Of The Year
All three tracks have that rolling bass drum and “glitchy,” emotional melody that sucks you in more and more with each layer. All three tracks are certified A-sides and work well in any setting. Think Bicep 2.0 in 2015.
Red Axes – Kalacol EP. It goes without saying that this release from Life and Death was heard the world over, with “Kalacol” a staple in the rotation for openers and headliners alike, getting support from DJ Tennis, Ame, Dixon, John Talabot, Jennifer Cardini, and more.
Lauer – Phlipper EP [Running Back]. Dolphin sounds anyone?
Denis Sulta – Nein Fortiate [Sulta Selects] EP. Double Oh XX YES PLEASE.
Black Spuma – Orme [International Feel]. One half Tuff City Kids, one whole Lauer.
Original Track Of The Year
This was a late year release, but my god if it doesn’t overwhelm, overpower, and elevate the vibe in every set. The sultry, come-hither German vocals, the driving melody, the layers, the build up and release. This song is a story within a story and owns every second of your mind that it plays.
Runners-Up: By far this is the toughest category, but without betraying our guidelines previously mentioned, this is our list:
Red Axes – Kalacol [Life and Death]
Marvin & Guy ft. Fantastic Twins – The Train of Fantastic [Life and Death]
Lauer – Muscle [Running Back]
Moderna, Theus Mago – Francesca (Wild at Heart) [Techno Mysogino]
Phil Gerus – Make Time [True Romance Records]
Label Of The Year
Jennifer Cardini has her fingerprints all over our end of the year superlatives, and for good reason. In 2017, Correspondant leveraged itself in a crowded space by cultivating its own spacey, ethereal, indie-techno, synth-crushing layer cake from the likes of Zombies in Miami, Marvin & Guy, Fiberroot, Red Axes, Die Wilde Jagd, Khidja, and Uriah Klapter, while adding a low calorie chocolate frosting of Balearia from Yovav, and topping it off with a sweet cherry remix on top from Gerd Janson. Don’t take our word for it, check it out HERE.
Me Me Me – A big year from Man Power’s label, with some killer original tracks and remixes, brought to the mainstream of underground techno and house heads by a heavy year touring, and consistent support from Cardini, John Talabot and Mano le Tough. We couldn’t get enough of Pale Blue’s “Comes Home” remix from Pional.
Life and Death
Hivern Discs – Quality, not quantity this year. Stellar EPs and contributions from Margot, Marc Pinol, Alejandro Mosso, and Aera, plus a smattering of pop-up shops and label nights, and responsible for bringing back the hypnotic “Aurora 2” from Charlotte Bendiks to end the year.
Most Disappointing Label of the Year
Keinemusk has a formula and a brand, and it works. But the brand might be the problem. They ride the afro-percussive techno wave made popular by…them! And produce 2-4 “UNRELEASED” tracks that are rinsed to ever-loving death by Dixon at the beginning of every festival season that sets SoundCloud users into a frenzy – and then release a much anticipated EP from &ME or Rampa 4 months later. It’s not for a lack of quality output, but a lack of innovation. Having a trusted brand is hard to do and it is what attracts loyalty from consumers, but is that really what we are searching for with music? Conistency matters, but not at the expense of originality and exploration. We want to be challenged and exposed to new sonic landscapes and trust a label to take us there, but Keinemusik keeps taking us to the same safe place. The full length LP You’re Not Safe was a compilation of one-note duds, spanning big room house to jazzy R&B. Adam Port continues to shine because he’s versatile and not afraid to take risks, but the same can’t be said for his label mates.
Maeve. Slow year from the Mano Le Tough imprint. The Isolee EP was big at the beginning of 2017 but faded out, and Mano’s EP almost went unnoticed altogether. We expected more after hosting a fantastic mid year Boiler Room set, but it wasn’t meant to be. Give us more The Drifter!
Artist Of The Year
A non-stop global tour + a full length LP + John Talabot x Axel Boman = UNDENIABLE. Isn’t that the best anyone could hope for?
Rookie Of The Year
These artists are not technically rookies or “new” to the scene, but they made a big impact on us in 2017. They’re all champs in our eyes, and we’re looking forward to 2018 because of them.
Denis Sulta, Perel, AIMES, Man Power, Pardon Moi (anything off HÖGA NORD REKORDS, really), Solitary Dancer, Melatonin Man.
Breakout Artist Of The Year
For quality and ubiquity. His label Me Me Me blew up, and he managed to carry the success of a strong end of 2016 with “Tachyon” right into 2017, with original productions and banging remixes that put otherwise lesser-known artists on our radar. He toured non-stop and brought the infectious italo-disco, indie dancewave of Me Me Me to the mainstream, thanks in part to a flurry of recorded sets posted online.
Up and Comer To Watch for 2018
From Brooklyn by way of Alabama, AIMES’ piano-driven balearic banger “Grandiose Visions” – also the first vinyl release on his label, Wonder Stories – landed him on Bizarre Culture’s radar in May. We are looking forward to what 2018 has in store for AIMES and his spacey disco-forward imprint, Wonder Stories. We recently caught up with him to pick his brain about 2017 and what’s to come. Check out the interview HERE!
There you have it, folks. It was a long, great year for music, and we couldn’t be more excited for 2018. Thanks for reading, thanks for following along, and we wish you all a Happy New Year!
Words by Tyler Besse