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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 1

Posted in Festivals, From the Front Lines (Show Reviews) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 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 1:

My 2008 Decibel Festival began officially at Grey Gallery on Thursday night where the Oi Vay boys were warming up the lounge with their sexy beats; Struggle was up top spinning and Eddie was dancing around like the lovable soul he is. This was not to be the last time I ran into this Seattle legend shaking his ass during the weekend- that boy gets down, for real.

I hung out at Sole Repair for a bit where Team Peloton was tearing it up; I tried bouncing back and forth into Neumos but the opening acts were all a bit too slow for me/not my cup of tea/kill me now and I kept finding myself back across the street at Sole Repair where the dancing was goo-od mmm mmm. Those boys know how to make the people DANCE!

I like being able to see the DJ and so hung out upstairs which had more room for the freaky dancers with flailing arms, like me. Around 1AM when INCITE! aka Sean Horton aka Decibel Festival Director went on we all donned mustaches to wish him a happy birthday. I am a big fan of Sean’s new moniker and hope to see more of his more aggressive and visceral style soon in the future. I really enjoyed Stewart Walker as well, he was sweating and dancing to his beats almost as much as the wild crowd was.

Sasha gets downThen I RAN back over to Neumos where Jahcoozi was running slightly late but noshing on snacks downtstairs in great spirits; I have been a big fan of theirs for a while and this was one of the acts I was really stoked about experiencing. Sasha and Oren took the stage and proceeded to turn the club on its head- what started as a half-full room of looky-loos ended in an all-out dance brawl. MC and rapper Sasha kept jumping down into the crowd and we all gathered around her like we were third-graders on a playground and she was the cool girl, dancing in a circle and getting down and getting dirty. She WAS the cool girl, and with her I-don’t-give-a-shit dance moves, heavy crowd interaction, sharp lyrics and mad trumpet skills she won over everyone there as did Oren, backing her up with his keen beats and electric bass.

sasha and oren rock Jahcoozi’s performance was definitely one of the highlights of the festival for me and I have heard the same from several people. After their show we all went and kicked it in the Green Room where we talked to them about their trip up the West Coast (Seattle was their favorite show, ahem), Berlin (the scene there is as great as you think it is) and tried on Sasha’s sweet fur hat. I made the bands.tv guys and my coworker Cedric wait until about 3AM for the live streamed interview, but finally Jahcoozi was ready and we had a quick chat for the camera before all heading off to Sean’s birthday party in the loft above Grey Gallery which was rockin’ and hot and sweaty, just like a good afterhours should be.

Then we left with Jahcoozi and partied all night until breakfast hour back at the Best Western Executive Inn. The food sucked.

Photos by Matt Matsuda.