Beetz Magazine Contributor's Albums of the Year
As the year is drawing to a close, here at Beetz Magazine we have decided to share what we feel was best from 2018. This list has been hand-picked by our contributors, offering an insight into the new releases we've had on constant rotation these past 12 months.
Enjoy and let us know what you think!
Children of Zeus: Travel Light
It has proved impossible to grow bored of this stunning album since we covered the initial release in July. The Manchester duo have worked tirelessly over their lengthy careers to craft this flawless debut album. It’s quenched our thirst for their Modern-Soul sound that was made apparent to us in
earlier tracks such as ’Still Standing’. It skilfully explores links to genres by applying multiple vocal styles and features, to beats that mirror elements of Lofi Hip-hop. The album achieves a consistent vibe throughout, giving it a pristine finish with infinite replay value. - Michael
Jon Hopkins: Singularity
When Jon Hopkins returned for his first album since his 2013 offering Immunity (which marked the producer’s liberation from the peripherals of his musical outputs and pushed his technical prowess into the limelight through tracks that strayed from his signature ambience and into aggressive dance beats), the world knew it was going to be a big one. But whether anyone could have expected - or even imagined – the nostalgia-drenched yet irrevocably danceable soundscapes of ‘Open Eye Signal’ and ‘Everything Connected’, or the genre-bending wobbles of ‘C O S M’, remains to be seen. Electronic music and Hopkins at their finest. - Hannah
Murkage Dave: Murkage Dave Changed My Life
Having attended University here before getting kicked out, Manchester is where Murkage Dave began his career in music, playing a vital role in the progression of the city’s nightlife. He’s most commonly known from his Murkage Cartel collective, but this year took time to focus on his solo endeavours and introduce an album of his personal sound for the first time. It is a thing of beauty. Lyrically, an honest projection of his thoughts and experiences through Soul and emotion. The beats are reminiscent of those that used to appear on Pirate Radios, especially the bonus track, and personal favourite, “Every Country”, a Skepta production featuring Birmingham’s Jaykae. Despite being late to the party as a November release, it has immediately prevailed as one of the years most valuable albums to us. - Michael
Auntie Flo: Radio Highlife
Auntie Flo is one of my favourite UK electronic producers, so you could imagine my excitement upon hearing the release of Radio Highlife, his first album in three years. The Glaswegian has long been at the forefront of Afro-Latin infused house, blending sounds from around the globe to consistently deliver toe-tappers. The album draws on everything we love about Auntie Flo; laid back tribal percussion, soulful vocal samples and worldly melodies that all evoke exotic imagery. Bouncy tracks are met with slow rollers, which are in turn broken up with spiritual skits and interludes. All in all an excellent addition to an already eclectic body of records. - Callum
Jorja Smith: Lost & Found
The Walsall singer-songwriter has accomplished so much since shooting into the spotlight with her release of ‘Blue Lights’ back in 2016. Since then, her graft has undoubtedly been leading to Lost and Found. This album is nothing less than angelic, with her sound displaying perfectionism and class that’s comparable to a new-wave Amy Winehouse. She’s rightfully been nominated for Mercury and Grammy awards in recognition of this exemplary body of work. - Michael
Pacific Coliseum - Ocean City
Though it may be hard to do so in the deep, cold depths of December, imagine it: You’re cruising down an oceanside road in the passenger seat of a friend’s car, the sun is shining and will continue to do so until about 10PM. You have beers, tunes and a long evening of good times stretching out before you. Ocean City, a kicked-back Balearic House roller, is this scene rendered as a song. Every part of it, from the lazily strummed guitar melody, to the hazy synth line, to the sampled waves lapping gently beneath the mix, harkens back to the simpler, warmer times of a few months ago. This Balearic vibe persists throughout the LP – in fact the aforementioned tune is somehow among the more urgent cuts. Elsewhere the percussion is slowed down to a crawl and accompanied by twinkling melodies and subtly emotive bass lines, evoking dream-like memories of long, warm days beside the sea. Though this release makes for perfect summer listening, it is perhaps an even more useful pick-me-up during these hard times.
Metro Boomin: Not All Heroes Wear Capes
I tend to steer clear of what is going on across the pond for Beetz, but producer Metroboomin’s return to music made it necessary. It brings new creativity to American Trap-Rap, a genre saturated in recent years. The album incorporates rich, orchestral samples and instrumentation with the more stereotypical, crafting unique beats that standout in comparison to the work of other producers in the genre. Another portion of the tracks veer even further from the expected, evidently paying homage to aspects of Caribbean and Latin-American sounds. In true Trap fashion, the album features just about every important name. Despite this, it is undeniably Metro Boomin that is the force behind the album's brilliance. - Michael
Various Artist - Kulor 001
DJ, Produer and label boss Courtesy has stood as a lynchpin of Copenhagen’s electronic music scene in recent years, through her co-management of the short-lived Ectotherm label along with fellow Copenhagen DJ Mama Snake. Though Ectotherm has now disbanded, if the debut release on her new label is anything to go by, she will continue to lead the way in the Danish capital. Fast, pounding and consistently moving, Kulor 001 compiles some of the best the city’s blooming (and aptly named) ‘fast techno’ scene has to offer. This crop of producers have cultivated a distinct sound, by combining the breakneck rhythms for which the scene is named with delicate trance melodies. The latter of these elements is rooted in a common influence that all the artists in the scene share, having grown up listening to the oft ridiculed genre. A few of the cuts lean even further into this influence, as is the case with tracks like Forest Car, a straight trance banger. It may be a style to which a good deal of negative associations are attached – cheesy melodies, excessive breakdowns and past-it ravers stuck in the nineties. Don’t be fooled though, Kulor 001 is a shining example of how this relatively small group of Scandinavian trailblazers are repackaging all of Trance’s redeeming qualities into a new sound that feels vital on the cusp of 2019. - Jacob
If you don’t think of Mefjus when you think of Neurofunk then you must either not be an avid listener of the sub-genre, or you’re on some wild taste-making shit that I’m not cool enough to have listened to yet (if so - hit me up). Naturally released on Noisia's Vision Recordings, Manifest exceeds all expectations – set only by Mefjus’ own previous offerings. The forward-thinking Austrian producer juxtaposes delicate, melodic and hopeful build ups with spine-tingling and aggressively alien drops (see this at its finest in ‘The Sirens’ and ‘Sizzle Fizzle’). Never one to be predictable, Mefjus toys with tempos and moods throughout; ‘Together’ melds liquid-inspired drums with his signature out-of-this-world warbles while ‘Work It’ and ‘Physically’ demonstrate that just as much damage can be done at a half-time tempo. It’s no wonder Manifest won Mefjus the Drum & Bass Arena Award for Best Album - the man is a genius. - Hannah
Skee Mask: Compro
One of the more exciting producers currently operating in the sphere of Techno returned this year with a follow up to 2016’s acclaimed Shred. Skee Mask (Real name Bryan Müller) ranks among an elite minority of producers able to forge a completely distinct sound within dance music’s limiting framework, combining deep ambient soundscapes with silky smooth and intricately arranged rhythms. Compro plays out with a very natural ebb and flow between moments of reflective ambience, jungle-infused slammers and everything in between, which are all tied together by continually interesting sound design. Müller textures each of his tracks in such a way that the various sonic elements blend into one another, with liquid beats flowing between densely detailed pads, resulting in an organic sound that is rarely captured by those working with drum machines and synths. - Jacob
This album sets a precedent of genre defiance within a scene that rarely strays too far from the general conventions. Up until 2018, Octavian has been preparing for this release by concentrating on creating his own unique sound, which unusually falls somewhere between the realms of Drill, House and Rap. As unusual as this concept sounds, the quality of the album makes it frustrating that it has taken until now for these styles to be connected and explored in this fashion. The multidimensionality of it combines the best of all three genres, resulting in a brilliance difficult to put into words that no one could have forecasted. - Michael