The 10 Best Politically-Charged Tracks, according to Orbital
On the whole, we (obviously) think all of this year’s Dummy mixes were great. Whether it was the beatless techno of Ricardo Donoso, the radio show-styled selection of Trailer Trash Tracys or the “rollercoaster ride” of Lukid, all of the mixes submitted to us this year were of an exceptional calibre. The web mix is such a broad concept, and there’s not really a right or wrong way to do it – there’s no time limit, no issues of clearance and no set direction that it must be taken in. The only thing that matters is that the artist has enough imagination to keep it interesting.
In picking our favourite Dummy mixes, we wanted to go for diversity more than anything – not diversity in terms of “eclecticism”, but diversity in approach. As such, these mixes range from mega-conceptual journeys to showcases of an artist’s own material, and from genre-specific experiences from scene stalwarts to deeply personal journeys by rising stars. That’s without even mentioning the solid dance party mixes. The only thing that ties them all together is that they’re all fantastic.
Whilst an hour-long mix of chopped and screwed EDM and trance might sound like a pretty gimmicky concept on paper, D/R/U/G/S (pictured) delivers the goods on his Dummy Mix. The thumping, overdriven sounds start to take on a previously invisible groove and swing, as well as a seemingly weightier low end, once dropped down to 108 beats per minute – we never thought we’d find our feet tapping to big room names like Funkagenda and Axwell.
Crafting hazy, melancholy and lo-fidelity synth music, 1991’s mini-album for Opal Tapes (later pressed to vinyl by Boomkat) was one of the most exciting things to appear on the Dummy radar this year. What’s most interesting about 1991’s mix is that, despite not including any of his own material on it, the whole thing feels like it’s his – industrial legends like Clock DVA sit next to modern maestros like Actress, yet 1991 is the voice that shines through the most.
S-Type had a stand-out year in 2012, with his ‘Billboard’ EP dropping on LuckyMe after what seemed like an eternity. His mix for Dummy showcases his soft side, with every track on it being specifically chosen because it’s close to his heart. Listening to the mix, you can clearly hear the influences on his own sound, the glowing synths and huge hits dominating many of its tracks. But one thing seems particularly apparent about the whole thing: both technically and in terms of selection, S-Type is a really, truly incredible DJ.
Themed on the idea of “parallel worlds”, Australian DJs, producers and crate-diggers Canyons delved into the realm of otherworldliness on their Dummy Mix. “Collectively, as a Canyons mix, we hope it takes the listener to another place as well.” With this in mind, the duo tackle everyone from Joe Meek to Brian Eno & David Byrne, taking in a lot of stoned space rock obscurities along the way. It leaves you with that “how on earth did they even find this?” feeling – and, true to its theme, they probably didn’t find it on this earth.
For all the Aaliyah/Cassie/Brandy/etc. samples being shoehorned into every track under the sun right now – a practise that we aren’t against in theory, but which has undeniably reached saturation point – it’s quite rare to find genuine R&B obsessives. The exception here is Brenmar, one of the few artists to display an incomparable affection towards R&B music and whose Dummy Mix this year was one of our favourites because of it. Following his throwback ‘Slow Grind, Deep Hustle’ mix in 2011, pt. 2 focuses predominantly on newer sounds and booming re-edits that sets him apart from the imitators and which is, more than anything, a total blast to listen to.
As much love as we have for hyper-conceptual mixes, sometimes a straight-up DJ set will hit all the right spots. With his album ‘Rinse Presents: Royal-T’, Royal-T delivered a riotous and totally unpretentious collection of bangers, tackling grime, bassline and particularly garage with exhilarating results. His Dummy Mix is no different, a no-frills set of tracks that he’d been playing out at the time that are run through at a rapid speed. This one is strictly for the dancefloor – if you’re about to leave for a night out, then just pretend that this was our number one choice.
Mr. Beatnick doesn’t chase hype and doesn’t hog the limelight, and one suspects that that’s the way he likes it. His releases, occasional as they are, have been straightforward and gimmick-free, but always feel lovingly crafted and considered. His Dummy mix follows this ethos too, with every aspect having been clearly considered and crafted. It plays out like a dream warmup set – a low-key affair that starts murky and lo-fi before evolving into something almost banging, taking in downtempo house and hip hop along the way. We wish more DJs were like Mr. Beatnick, to be honest – keen to experiment without going into chinstroking territory, but happy to relent on the hits and focus more on that ever hard to quantify ‘vibe’.
When this mix came out in January, footwork was the word on everybody’s lips, with Planet Mu having been accepted as the de facto home of the sound outside of its native Chicago. Producers from all over the world started to incorporate the influence into their own work, but this interest was shortlived, with far too many bandwagon-hopping producers ditching the 160bpm sound almost as soon as they’d adopted it – something that has regrettably happened to too many native movements in recent years (just look at ballroom, b-more, dubstep, juke, trap, etc.). Still, the true footwork artists have always been here to stay, and are still playing some of the most invigorating DJ sets you’ll hear and putting out fantastic records left right and centre (see Young Smoke’s recent ‘Space Zone’ and the Lit City Trax catalogue, for example). DJ Earl’s mix is a runthrough of his own vast catalogues of material, a smoother and more soulful take on the footwork template, that is still just as exciting a year on.
“Duga-three is a four-part piece of music I wrote after reading about a Soviet signal transmitter of the same name. it was characterised by the repetitive tapping sound it broadcast, which was sufficiently powerful enough to intercept transitions across the world. After 28 years of transmission, the Duga-3 array was abandoned as mysteriously and unexpectedly as it had appeared.” There’s not much else to say here – Evian Christ’s mix comprises entirely of his own material based on this unconventional concept, but doesn’t feel contrived in its execution, and simply ought to be listened to as another chapter in his musical canon rather than as a standard Dummy Mix.
SND’s name is taken from “sound”, minus the wussy vowels, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’d be more interested in exploring textures and soundscapes on their Dummy Mix rather than delivering a set of seamlessly mixed 4/4 house tracks. Even so, could we necessarily expect this? Three hours of tonal, non-rhythmic music is a lot to stomach in one sitting – to be honest, it might be hard to stomach it at all – but for sheer scope and ambition, no one else delivered in the way that Mark Fell and Mat Steel did.