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2009 in Review by Decibel Festival Director Sean Horton

Posted in Lists, Music News, Note to Readers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by worldromper

Sean AKA Nordic Soul is the Decibel Festival Curator and Director, he is my good friend and one of the greatest contributors to Seattle’s thriving underground music community. This is a very insightful summary of electronic music in 2009 with his Top 15 list at the bottom as well:

From Sean:

Every year it’s part of my job at PlayNetwork to come up with a list of top albums and overall assessment of music trends for the year. Below is my brief review of what I felt was a pretty landmark year for electronic music in the US and in general. Barring any incredible releases over the next month, these are my picks for the year. Keep in mind this list is strictly made up of albums; not EPs, 12’s or remixes (i.e 95% of the electronic music I purchased this year).

2009 in Review : Binary Pop, Warp’s Legacy, Dub Mutations and the Return of Sexy Dance Music

2009 has been an incredibly innovative year in relation to music production. Artists like Animal Collective, Fever Ray, Royksopp and Moderat have proven once and for all that digital beats and electronic sound design can appeal to a pop audience that otherwise wouldn’t find themselves listening to “electronic music”.

This year also marks the 20 year anniversary of the greatest electronic music label (arguably greatest label) of all time, Warp Records, which has had an exceptional year across the board with strong indie releases from Grizzly Bear and Maximo Park as well as strong releases from their more obscure electronic artists like Tim Exile and Clark. Warp’s 20th anniversary box set is not only one of the best reviewed collections of they year, it’s also a brilliant testament to the label’s vast catalog of ground breaking artists (i.e. Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Jamie Lidell, Nightmares on Wax, Prefuse 73, Autechre, Broadcast, Plaid, Battles, Squarepusher, etc).

In addition, 2009 witnessed the rise of Dubstep as a respected genre in the US through acclaimed UK labels like Hyperdub (Burial, Kode9, Joker, Zomby, Flying Lotus) and Tectonic (2562, Martyn, DJ Pinch, Benga) both of whom continue to blur the boundaries between Grime, Dub, West Coast Hip Hop and Detroit Techno. With the avid support of tastemakers like BBC Radio 1’s Mary Anne Hobbs and Low End Theory’s Daddy Kev (Alpha Pup Records) UK Dubstep and West Coast Glitch Hop / Hip Hop have both become quintessential styles on the electronic music frontline in the US. From Burning Man to this year’s Movement festival in Detroit, Dubstep and Glitch Hop have fully emerged in 2009 as a staple sound in North America.

Another emerging trend has been the Deep House and Tech House revival, which has been experiencing a resurgence the past few years as club-goers have tired of the heady, sterility of Minimal Techno and the frenetic, over the top sound of Electro House. Artists like Gui Boratto, Voodeux, Pezzner, Milton Jackson, Stimming, Mode D, Catz n Dogz, DJ T and Dixon have all helped in keeping underground dance music both sexy and musical.

Overall 2009 has been a phenomenal year for technologically driven music, proving that creativity is truly catching up with the tools used for musical expression in the digital age.

Here are my Top 15 albums of the year:

1. Animal Collective “Merriweather Post Pavilion” Domino Records

2. Various “Warp 20” (Box Set) Warp Records

3. Moderat (aka Apparat & Modeselektor) “Moderat” Bpitch Control Records

4. Fever Ray “Fever Ray” Rabid Records

5. Phil Kieran “Shh” Cocoon Recordings

6. Nosaj Thing “Drift” Alpha Pup Records

7. Jon Hopkins “Insides” Domino Records

8. Various “5 : Five Years of Hyperdub” Hyperdub Records

9. Lusine “A Certain Distance” Ghostly International

10. Grizzly Bear “Veckatimest” Warp Records

11. Gui Boratto “Take My Breath Away” Kompakt Records

12. 2562 “Unbalance” Tectonic Records

13. Modeselektor “Body Language Vol. 8” Get Physical Music

14. Tim Hecker “An Imaginary Country” Kranky Records

15. Voodeux “The Paranormal” Mothership Records

Decibel Festival 2008: A Review, A Reawakening- DAY 3

Posted in Events, Festivals, From the Front Lines (Show Reviews) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2009 by worldromper

Last year in between four straight days of partying and boarding a Tuesday morning flight to Thailand, I somehow wrote a review of the epic, amazing time I had at Seattle’s Decibel Festival.

A party like no other, Decibel is a city festival held in the clubs, bars, parks and museums of Seattle, an event for the people, by the people. I will be reposting my review from last year along with photos and links, in five parts: Intro, Day 1, Day 2….you get it.

Decibel Festival 2009 takes place September 24-27 and you can check the lineup and buy tickets here.

DAY 3:

Saturday morning started with a trip to Seatac airport to pick up my very favorite producers in all of the universe- edIT and Boreta of the Glitch Mob. Sadly I missed a lot of Decibel in the Park but I heard that Noisemaker and Manahan laid it down proper, as usual. I rolled up in style with my precious cargo around 4PM just as Jacob London was finishing up and Truckasauras were getting set up with their Americanakitsch: gold Zelda cartridge, Uncle Sam hats and all. Who wants to bet that was Maker’s Mark in that plastic cup?

edit and boretaTruckasauras was good but I live for the Glitch Mob and now my dear children, you can see why. I think I personally called every single one of my friends and told them to go to this performance or I would kill them. And over a dozen of them came up and thanked me afterwards for the mind-blowing experience. edIT and Boreta (and Kraddy and OOah, the missing mobsters) create something new with each live show; you either get it or you don’t, and something tells me the mass of people dancing their asses off for an hour and a half GOT IT. Burner breaks, glitch hop, laser bass, Crunkedouthyphyfunkadelicpsybrokenwhomphopmusicforbasssluts or whatever you want to call it; the Glitch Mob pushes through boundaries like they aren’t even there (like the spoon) and they have a hell of a time doing it.

dB in the parkGreat success! Decibel in the Park was mad fun, just like you knew it would be. The fact that the showcase was free added to the aesthetic and I know of at least one person who asserted that the Glitch Mob changed his life (me too). I hope to see more outdoor shows at Volunteer Park and of course, more freaks.

After a nap and a shower I headed over to Grey Gallery quickly to say hi to the Sweatbox and Knight Riders kids (I LOVE TECHNO) and then got myself to the Baltic Room where I made yet another exciting artist discovery at the Ghostly International Showcase: Deru, who was taking things on a dark and twisty turn there on the dance floor.

The dirty sounds got me all worked up which was just perfect because I hopped a cab up to Chop Suey where things were CRACK-EN’ in mad bottle rocket style. In the hot-as-hell side room Swank was ripping it up like a pirate and Sean Majors followed suite, keeping the energy ramped up, and over in the main room LA Riots started laying crazy on the crowd who flipping loved it.

neumosOnce again I was forced to pull myself away from the bRave New World Showcase and head to Neumos for Carl Craig; the end of Audion’s set had the people bursting in bubbles and then THE DETROIT LEGEND stepped up- and this is where I should stop writing. I danced for his entire set like a raving madwoman, like a lunatic with no lunch, like the insane devotee of the cult of dance that I am. I don’t know what tracks he played, I don’t know what he mixed in or how he did it, I don’t know his no-doubt long list of props, awards, and accolades. I was dripping, dripping with sweat; it was in my fat eyes and in my stupid smile which did not wear off all night (and is in fact still there right now).

This is what I live for. This is why I stay hours late into the night at my office writing for you, why I go out all the time in search of it, why I do what I do- so that I can have this divine experience, and it is no less than that. My brain stops working completely and the music takes me over and I experience something that I cannot find elsewhere- not from a person, not from a drug, not from anything else on earth. THIS IS WHY WE DANCE. THANK YOU CARL CRAIG. No really, I love techno.

After three days of dancing of course I wanted to dance more and headed to a friend’s afterparty first; the dubstep was sticky-icky but just not what I was searching for so I trolled down to the Church of Bass once again for yet another WOW experience and discovered yet another new favorite performer of the festival: Dixon. Oh. My. God. You would think the people on his dance floor had been sleeping for a thousand years instead of going for three days of Decibel. Taimur Agha kept it bangin’ as well and I left after several more hours of epic dance trance- a very very great day in the life, right?

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The 2009 Decibel Festival takes place September 24-27 in Seattle; for tickets and more information please click here.

Photos by Sudapop of Rockit Science and Tap Tap of Tap Tap Productions.