Here’s our final rundown of the year’s very best tracks.

25. DVS1 – Black Russian [Klockworks]

This tight slice of techno is as essentialist as you can get: propulsive forward momentum, a single showstopping synth that builds but never peaks, and the leanest of percussive tweaks to keep you on your toes. Engrossing and devastating.

24. Leon Vynehall – Inside The Deku Tree [3024]

There was so much to love about Vynehall’s Music For The Uninvited release on 3024, but it was this unusual opener really stood out from the bunch, from its Zelda-referencing title to its grand orchestral sweep. Another winner from one of the UK’s brightest stars.

23. Traumprinz – Messed Up Jam [Giegling]

The first cut from Traumprinz’ stellar All The Things EP was melancholy deep house par excellence (you may have noticed that we’re fans of the style here at White Noise). Meditative and moving, Messed Up Jam moves with pitch-perfect reluctance and grace.

22. Daywalker + CF – Supersonic Transport [LIES]

LIES’ best cut of the year came in the form of this galactic stormer, a propulsive journey comprised of an army of synths: twinkling, churning, swooning, stabbing, and an adamantine percussive skeleton.

21. Lnrdcoy – I Met You On BC Ferry [1080p]

The most emotional cut from Lnrdcroy’s sublime Much Less Normal LP was this 8-minute voyage into nostalgia, a skittering 2step beat tied to a hopeful synth line, its tune later echoed by a resonant bassline, the ghost of a melody.

20. Moodymann – Lyk U Use 2 (feat. Andres) [KDJ]

This dream collaboration worked as well as could be expected, albeit at an unusually high tempo. The heartache of Dixon Jr’s lyrics (narrated with his tongue firmly in his cheek – “eight and a half is not enough for you anymore?”) adds a certain melancholy to the buoyant production, with a deep soulful melody and some expertly chopped disco samples towards the close certainly courtesy of Andres.

19. Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers [Modern Love]

The most surprising cut on Andy Stott’s superb new album was its title track. Having chopped, distorted and generally abused the vocals of his ex piano teacher Alison Skidmore, here Stott lets her voice take centre stage, accompanying her pop-referencing melodies with twilit synths, a diving bassline and jittering percussion that never feels anxious. If this is Stott doing pop, we’re eager to hear more.

18. John Roberts – Ausio [Dial]

With his productions becoming increasingly knotty, it was great to hear a proper dancefloor track from Roberts. Ausio is superb for setting the scene: that harrowing bass threatens to break out for the 3 minutes, and when it finally does the track bristles, rather than bursts, into life: a field of searing synths, nervous atmospherics and insectoid chittering. Superbly moody and full without ever feeling crowded, this track showed Roberts back on fine form.

17. Call Super – Acephale II [Houndstooth]

This is one of Call Super’s straighter tunes, but it’s a long way from simple. A hammering kick anchors an increasingly frenetic field of crystalline synths that jostle for attention alongside an impressive range of details and effects. Listen closely for the canny use of panning and the genuinely alive feel of the track’s melodic details, each sound individually minute but powerful when put together. There’s a trick to Super’s best productions: they move with an unhurried pace, a central motif slowly accruing more detail, adorned with more sounds, until the force is just about overwhelming. There’s some kind of alchemy going on in Call Super’s music, and this ‘floor-ready track shows it better than any other.

16. Pender Street Steppers – Bubble World [Mood Hut]

Another genius oddity from the Vancouver duo takes the titular bubble sounds as its inspiration, cooking up a delightful plate of loose-limbed percussion, warm synth glows and a bassline that’s essentially out for a stroll. Killer mood music.
15. #####.1 – ##### [No ‘Label’]

This ungooglable cut on Rush Hour’s No ‘Label’ didn’t need a name to sell: its perfectly tuned percussion, synthetic choir and crushed melody was utter bliss, taking us into a dreamworld with every listen. The track has since been sourced to Dutch producer Aroy Dee.

14. Vril – Torus XXXII [Forum]

The centrepiece of mysterious Vril’s debut album was this slow-burn techno number, where a subtle play of percussion provides the backdrop to a building, keening synthline, leading to an emotional climax which is more about the build than any sort of payoff.

13. Kassem Mosse – Untitled A3 [Workshop]

Our favourite cut from Mosse’s superb debut LP was an expert construction of articulated percussion, searing synths and that tumbling, showstopping melody like pebbles falling through crystalline water.

12. DJ Richard – Freydis [White Material]

After a busy, hype-fuelled 2013, White Material provided only one EP this year, but it might have been the labels best. On its closer, DJ Richard combined a low-slung rhythm with alarm-like synths, a swooning wash and dramatic cuts to an eerie, inviting string section.

11. Jamie xx – Sleep Sound [Young Turks]

Jamie xx’s tracks may not be the best for getting your groove on, but he certainly has a way with making beautiful music. Sleep Sound’s lush harp melody gives way to a light, shuffling beat for the early hours, with smart, emotive vocal snips. After a gorgeous breakdown the track picks up pace, lush and melodically complex, a joy time and again.

10. Kowton – Glock And Roll [Whities]

This one was a real curveball from Kowton, best known for melting bass and grime tropes into tough techno forms. Here he goes for something prettier, as a delicate chiming melody takes pride of place over a fortified rhythm section and a vocal looped to infinity. It’s a simple construction, but the contrast between fragility and strength helped this one destroy many a ‘floor.

9. Objekt – Ganzfeld [Leisure System]

The release of Objekt’s excellent debut LP Flatland clearly wasn’t enough for TJ Hertz, and he came along to offer us one of the year’s best singles on a split 12” for Leisure System with Dopplereffekt. Ganzfeld is a mind-bender full of sudden shifts and electro flourishes, stuffed with detail but destructive on the dancefloor. You couldn’t ask for more.

8. Barnt – Under His Own Name But Also Sir [Hinge Finger]

The only release this year on Will Bankhead and Joy O’s Hinge Finger imprint was a stunning one-two punch from man of the moment Barnt, both sides of which really deserve a place in this list. While the stark Chappell detonated many a dancefloor, it was on the brilliantly-titled B-side that he struck true gold, militant percussion cutting like knives through the mournful, swooning synthwork: a sound somewhere between danger and religion. One of the year’s most singular, inspired cuts.

7. Caribou – Can’t Do Without You [City Slang]

The first cut from Caribou’s Our Love LP may have been played to death by the time you read this, but there’s a reason for that. It’s a veritable anthem, that tune that brings everyone together on a dancefloor, singing and smiling. It’s no simple production, either: Caribou plays with volume to make the track’s drop all the more effective, it all builds to a veritable fireworks display of melody, while the simple, sincere vocal line is sure to strike a chord with even the most hard-hearted listeners.

6. Dan White – Death Flutes [Forbidden Planet]

This techno space odyssey from Montreal’s Forbidden Planet has been on extremely heavy rotation in White Noise HQ, its slow build of ambience, gurgling acid and steady thud conjuring adventures in a bleak, desolated terrain. That the titular woodwind adds perfectly to the distressed, wistful aesthetic rather than proving a cheesy misstep only reinforces this song’s strength.

5. Efdemin – Parallaxis (Traumprinz’s Over 2 The End Version) [Dial]

Traumprinz has a way of going for big, genuine emotion without ever overdoing it, and reviving sounds that you might belong in the past with flair. He’s unafraid, and that’s part of what makes his music so enchanting. This stunning remix of Efdemin starts off as a subdued house track, its desolate vocal and cinematic synths conjuring a powerful mood. It’s the unexpected addition, just after the three-minute mark and some rave sirens turned melancholy, of a snappy breakbeat that elevates this tune to near-perfection. By the time you get to the burbling chimes that bring the track to a close, your fingers will already be edging towards the repeat button, and you’ll probably be feeling a lot of things you don’t normally feel. Viva Traumprinz.

4. Leon Vynehall – Butterflies [Royal Oak]

Vynehall’s mini-LP was a wonderful collection of tunes, but for us his best single track of the year was this follow up on Clone’s Royal Oak imprint a few months later. It’s an unashamedly upbeat slice of filtered house, with a lush piano line and an introspective vocal just on the right side of cheesy, with a rhythmic backbone tough enough to keep bring even the most reticent to the dance. The word ‘organic’ is thrown around a lot when it comes to Vynehall, and with good reason: his instrumentation has a warm, live feel that sets him apart from contemporaries, and a sincerity that allows euphoric tracks like this one to really take off.

3. Daniël Jacques – End Of My World [Mistress]

This one casts a spell: synths flicker like candlelight, open hi-hats slice through the dust, and that enigmatic vocal line is cooed over and over, seemingly acquiring different meanings with every repetition. When we appear to be heading for a breakdown halfway through, the kick disappears, the vocal echoes off, and, abruptly, the kick returns – gratification is sudden and immediate rather than delayed. That’s what makes this track more than the disco loop it appears to be: a sense of mystery that lingers long after the tune ends.

2. Jack J – Something (On My Mind) [Mood Hut]

Mood Hut’s releases have a way of prioritising vibe over innovation or dancefloor power, and that’s just why we’ve come to love them. The gorgeous B-side of Jack J’s solo EP (he’s one half of Pender Street Steppers) was an absolute masterpiece, rolling on at an unhurried pace, funky bass bumps and a lazy sax line bringing a contemplative mood to the chill. There aren’t really the words for this one: you’ve just got to relax, close your eyes, and listen.

1. Floating Points – King Bromeliad [Eglo]

 

 

 

King Bromeliad opens with a recording of Floating Points playing it out at his (sadly closed) home, London venue Plastic People. The sound is tinny, filtered, we can hear the crowd chattering and the speakers rumbling. Then, a switch, and the groove continues in unadulterated form, Floating Points’ immaculate sound design all the more impressive for the contrast (a similar trick was memorably pulled in Slum Village’s Dilla-produced anthem The Look Of Love). It’s an example of exactly the kind of ingenious (not to mention meta) touch and real care that Sam Shepherd brings to all of his productions, and the track that follows is, unsurprisingly an utter delight. It’s a rich, jazzy house tune that shuffles along at its own pace, sounding a little like the dancier cousin of Myrtle Avenue, the opener to Shepherd’s superb Shadows EP. Its elasticated chords are arranged spaciously, building and receding, while thousands of melodic and percussive details bristle beneath the track’s surface: it takes a great deal of complexity to come up with something that sounds so effortless.


In any list like these, the top few entries will be ordered almost arbitrarily: what makes the second best track worse than the first? We gave Mr Points the top spot not just for this excellent jam but also for his peerless musical catalogue: each release, however infrequent they may be, refreshing and joyous, while even his older cuts sound as relevant and moving as they did on first release. He might just be the best producer we’ve got right now.

 

Join us for more White Noise reviews and features in 2015, and while you wait you can listen to our resident DJ Moth’s mix of some of our favourite techno tracks of the year, embedded below or here on Mixcloud.