Our last two instalments lined up some of the very best tunes of the last year, but now we’ve got the absolute crème – White Noise’s twenty favourite tunes of the year.
20. Denis Sulta – It’s Only Real [Numbers]
Glasgow’s Denis Sulta’s two releases on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams marked him out as a serious new talent, and this single-sided outing on Numbers showed that he could pull of an anthem too. It’s Only Real is deceptively simple, essentially an unchanging drum loop and one showstopping melody, but it tears apart dancefloors like little else.
19. Pender Street Steppers – The Glass City [Mood Hut]
Scene favourites Pender Street Steppers offered a perfect distillation of their sound with this year’s The Glass City, an ultra-chilled confection of gentle percussion, fluttering melody and a broad bass swagger.
18. Bicep – Just [Aus]
Honestly, we didn’t expect to see Bicep on this list again. After the trend for balls-to-the-wall 90s diva house faded, we rather thought the Northern Irish duo would disappear along with it. But we’ll be the first to admit where we were wrong. Bicep turned out the winning Just in 2015 and rightly dominated dancefloors. While earlier Bicep tracks were instant-gratification affairs, Just is sinuous and subtle, its earworm synthline calling out like a siren til the soaring scifi keys reach boiling point.
17. Khotin – Sorry Sequence [Normals Welcome]
16. Soichi Terada – Sun Showered [Rush Hour]
It was hard to pick a single tune from Hunee’s superbly curated compilation of Soichi Terada’s forgotten house gems, but Sun Showered hits the sweet spot of rhythmic drama, colourful melody and flat-out optimism that makes all his tracks so winning.
15. Merle – Mimi Likes 2 Dance [Stripped & Chewed]
Chicago outpost Stripped & Chewed did a stellar job reissuing this lost beauty from ’99. Merwyn Sanders even reworked the original lead single, with a new vocal line and cleaner production (and a change of title as a nod to his wife). With its catchy pop vox, funky backbone and urgent synth sweeps, this cut adds a pinch of joy to any set.
14. Whispers Beirut – Away [Unreleased]
Still officially unreleased, this collaboration between Baba Stiltz and Petrodollar caught us off-guard with its simplicity and its melancholy. A yearning synth rules the track’s first half, before a slack hip hop beat picks up the pace. Sometimes less is so much more.
13. Hidden Spheres – Waiting [Distant Hawaii]
If you’re going to open a sub-label just for one release, it better be a good one. Lobster Theremin heeded this rule when they opened Distant Hawaii for a single summer release by Mancunian Hidden Spheres. Opener Waiting was the most sublimely chilled house track we heard all year, a breeze of warm melodies wafting over a textured drum workout.
12. Palms Trax – Sumo Acid Crew [Dekmantel]
11. Harvey Sutherland – Bermuda [MCDE]
It’s easy to see why Motor City Drum Ensemble snatched up this synth-maestro for his own label – in 2015 Sutherland brought the funk like no other. Bermuda is an absolute masterclass in songwriting, from its virtuosic opening to its astonishing climax which crams in more melodies than we would’ve ever considered coherent. But Sutherland pulls it off with flair. More please.
10. Florist – Final Bounce [All Caps]
After a long gestation period on Soundcloud, one of the Vancouver scene’s best releases showed up unexpectedly on the Glaswegian All Caps imprint. The Phenomena EP was a winner, the feather in its cap Final Bounce, a spare slice of house with aquatic vibes and a soulful choir that rises magnificently from the mist.
9. Haydn – Booty Meat [Junk Yard Connections]
Buried on the B2 of a V/A release from Sweden’s underlooked Junk Yard Connections imprint, Haydn’s Booty Meat is the definition of a secret weapon. The unusual combination of gentle keys and a racy vocal line keeps dancers on their toes, and when that mighty rhythm kicks back in after the dubby breakdown everyone on the ‘floor will drop to make it clap.
8. Raw M.T. – Untitled [Mörk]
After he wowed us with the brittle techno of Walkman Is Dead a couple of years back, Italian producer Raw M.T. was back with a vengeance this year. In the middle of a superb EP on Lobster Theremin offshoot Mörk was Untitled, a humid house killer with exotic vocals and a malevolent bassline. Intoxicating stuff.
7. Nebraska – Emotional Rescue [Mister Saturday Night]
White Noise’s favourite party-starter of 2015 came from the reliable MSN stable courtesy of Nebraska. On the diverse Stand Your Ground EP a disco killer nestled on the B2, a shot of euphoria served over filtering brass and earworm vocals.
6. Route 8 – The Sunrise In Her Eyes [Lobster Theremin]
We’ve got a bit of a fetish for melancholy deep house heavy on the ambience, and few producers bring the feels as magically as Hungarian talent Route 8. The opener to This Raw Feeling is as dreamy as its title suggests, warm pads caressing the ear like a gentle tide, a quickened pulse and hopeful chimes leading us deeper down the rabbit hole.
5. Fatima Yamaha – What’s A Girl To Do [Dekmantel]
Okay, so maybe everyone’s sick of hearing about this tune by now. But if we leave aside the bittersweet melody, searing synth lead and solemn bassline, we’re left with a hopeful story.
Keeping up with the lightning-paced electronic music world can lead us to treat tracks as disposable tools, each EP skimmed for parts, forgotten by the month’s end. The fact that a house tune from 2004 caused such a stir in 2015 proves that longevity and beauty can triumph over disposability. We are capable of treasuring our beloved music like the art it is.
4. Dude Energy – Renee Running [Animals Dancing]
Not content just issuing a fine album under his Suzanne Kraft moniker this year, Californian wizard Diego Herrera also dropped one of our favourite club tunes of the year as Dude Energy. Combining impressive bass weight, razor snares and a mesmerising melody that sounds plucked from a gypsy songbook, this tune was a shot in the arm of samey dancefloors throughout the year.
3. Leon Vynehall – Midnight On Rainbow Road [Rush Hour]
From the very start, Leon Vynehall has had a way of evoking complex emotions with his music that few artists can parallel. His only release this year was a solitary tune on Gerd Janson’s lovely Musik For Autobahns 2, and, though beatless, it’s one of his greatest compositions to date. A glittering melody flutters through a rain-streaked landscape, accompanied by skipping snares, traffic sounds and a heaving ambient wash. It’s music to get lost in, and you won’t want to be found.
2. Fit Siegel – Carmine [Fit]
Detroit’s Aaron Siegel doesn’t put out much music, but when he does it’s practically buy-on-sight. This year’s Carmine was an immensely emotive slice of house that takes you places that little music can reach. A delicate construction of gossamer synthwork, filtered snares rattling through the scales and a taut electro rhythm, this was the tearjerker to rule every 5am dancefloor in 2015.
1. DJ Sotofett – Nondo [Honest Jon’s]
Sex Tags head DJ Sotofett has risen to underground legend status over the last few years, and it’s not hard to see why. With an excellent label and mix series, an adventurous DJing style and a penchant for explorative, breakbeat-fuelled remixes, Sotofett (and his crew) stand as rather unique figures in an often homogeneous scene.
Yet one of the reasons why Sotofett’s releases are so successful is how adeptly he adapts and works with a stream of varied collaborators. This is the story of White Noise’s favourite tune of 2015. On a superb album chock full of ace collaborative efforts, the standout tune had Sotofett jamming with Karolin Tampere on drum machines and synths while Maimouna Haugen offered hushed, sinuous vocals. With a seductive synth motif and spare afrobeat percussion it’s a simple piece, but all the deadlier for it. It’s easy to feel jaded by the 4/4 scene if you don’t keep searching for something different. Sotofett always provides.
That’s all for 2015, we’ll be back soon with fresh coverage for the new year. Hope you enjoyed the roundups, check out all our Best Of articles below: