2016 in review: Je ne dis pas au revoir mais merci

I'm told time goes by faster as one gets older, but this year was a heavy decade. Heavier for at least me: we saw glimpses of its hope, its fear, and its wreckage from too close and afar.

Greats were reminded of their temporality, youth of their mortality, and cities of their destructibility. Once invisible communities became living, breathing flesh, bloodied, torn. Worn. Too often inside out, backwards, lost in translation. Lost in rage misdirected or worse, misguided. Burned trash and cut glass littered the pavement and the softer palms of our reaching hands... that casual crimes were done by connected victims was inconceivable.

The afterparties felt like an afterthought.

By contrast, this was the same year I got a job doing something relatively meaningful after graduating as a humanities major. It was a year in which gas convection ovens ruined more cookies than I'd care to admit and the year I moved to "the city" months after we mooned it from above. It was another year of helping strangers but not wanting to be helped. This was a year, or so it felt, of parallel motions that made me feel strangely like I'd started in circles.

The afterparties were often a 50/50 shot.

In keeping to those circles and in support, I spun, paused, and started spinning again more frantic and frequently for lack of a better way to communicate. My year in music as follows.


The Chemical Brothers feat. Beck — “Wide Open” (Born in the Echoes, Virgin EMI)
Though the song is technically part of a 2015 release, its January video featuring Wayne McGregor choreo as performed by Sonoya Mizuno makes it worth revisiting.

DOOMSQUAD — Total Time (Bella Union)
Something about having a Blumas sister scream "YOU MOTHERFUCKER" ("It's the Nail that Counts, Not the Rope") live, up close, and personal was both beautiful and sobering.


Holy Fuck — "Shivering" (Congrats, Last Gang)
This song and the next are rhythmic traps just as dark and unsettling as one might expect from industrial icons such as Nine Inch Nails but so much greater in their earnestness.

Princess Century feat. Melatonini — "Safe Word" (My Precious!, Red Maze)
This year, longtime blog favourite Maya Postepski moved to Berlin and teamed up with Eleni Nasiou, a local there who goes by MELATONINI, to bring us this beauty.


Jamie xx — "Gosh" (In Colour, Young Turks)
Filmed in 天都城, this eerie and masterful recreation of the visuals for Jamie xx's "Gosh" made for an easy way to sneak one of last year's best albums into this year's round-up.

Kaytranada — 99.9% (XL Recordings)
Kaytra had his biggest year yet, with the drop of his debut full-length weeks after coming out to The FADER. 99.9%, being 99.9% flawless, was a 99.9% solid for the 2016 Polaris Prize.


Kanye West — "Fade" (The Life of Pablo, G.O.O.D. Music)
As distracting as half the tracks on Pablo were, several others confirmed Yeezy still had it.

Essaie pas — Demain est une autre nuit (DFA)
Essaie pas at the SF Eagle was a brilliant way to end an evening of St. Patrick's festivities.


Cherushii feat. Maria Minerva — "Thin Line" (Memory of Water, 100% Silk)
This haunting video was released shortly after confirmation of Chelsea Faith Dolan's death in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire; I'd been unaware she and Minerva were close collaborators.

Bonobo feat. Rhye — "Break Apart" (Migration, Ninja Tune)
Since Woman, Milosh's run off solo with the Rhye handle, but this fragile song can have it.


Bon Iver — 22, A Million (JAGJAGUWAR)
I constantly found "22 (OVER S∞∞N)" on non-stop repeat for days these last few months.

Gold Panda — "Your Good Times Are Just Beginning" (Robbie Knox / City Slang)
Good Luck and Do Your Best bore a simple, trite message, but over time, this instrumental became a looping light in the darkness. (And my new ringtone). Hearing it live was a treat.


Junior Boys — Big Black Coat (City Slang)
I wonder what feature vocalists might do for these hometown musicians. Fellow local Dan Snaith describes Jeremy Greenspan as Hamilton's #1 music ambassador for good reason.

International Contemporary Ensemble — "On the Nature of Thingness" (Starkland)
From ICE's compilation of the same name / because everything is about striking a balance.

in passing

truth is often
numerous things
seem to warrant apologies

at a gateway to narnia
in passing
you met me

in the margins
we whispered
raised spines
a third quarter

your platform was flimsy
still i cheshire'd back


now that extended stay is over
do not pass go the bank is broke
we are the 99 per cent
by monetary terms only

everyone else has already fled
into high fantasy sanctuary

i gave you what you thought was the key
received what i thought was the end of me

i insisted you stay so i left instead
out to the left coast
you couldn't cross the border
the key doesn't work you screamed

across states
the insular mountains
cascade range


darling, i know
i know but you didn't
but i'm less wise now than i was before


i've seen more now
i'm more apathetic
i'm less apolitical

still i wrote you this poem


the other one i wrote years ago
and/or non-committally so

with my head underwater i screamed

up through
lake shasta
the fraser river

it's not paradise here either
do not pass go the bank is broke
we are the 99 per cent
by monetary terms only

truth is often numerous things

your platform was flimsy
in passing
stay bold

When there's a burning in your heart

2015.08.14 -- 2015.08.20 // one car, two planes, three provinces, four parts

I haven't written here this summer. I haven't been in Toronto since January 13, effectively missing NXNE, Fringe, and TIME Festival. Upon return, I left immediately to be a tourist.

i. prince edward island

We start small and grow towards a sort of synergy. The smallest of Canada's ten provinces and the birthplace of the vast nation, L'île-du-Prince-Édouard sported red sand, green gables, and the longest bridge to span ice-covered waters. Deep sea fishing, we somehow caught a jellyfish -- Squishy and every cod we caught were released back into the ocean.

On the third day, we jumped on another boat. A larger one, car in stow, Nova Scotia-bound. Munit haec et altera vincit. At this rate, the seven seas shall surely Horcrux me.

ii. nova scotia

We caught sunset in Sydney, after coasting several hours not to Ryan Hemsworth but Acadian folk music (think The Trews, Wintersleep, Joel Plaskett). We drove the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton, counterclockwise back towards the centre of the province. The ocean in the Maritimes is shallow for a good thousand feet before the ocean floor drops suddenly. Unlike the west coast, the tides are calm. A midday dip and a lobster feast and an evening hike later, we turned in(n) on the shores of Bras d'Or Lake.

A two day reprieve was warmly welcomed and warmly spent among Haligonians before continuing on. In the Halifax harbour was a Play Me piano.

iii. new brunswick

On the last day, we came full circle. We waxed, waned, peaked, and flowed back out into the ocean. We retreated inland towards smaller, more familiar bodies -- waters you could lap. Waters significantly less salty. We built and burned bridges, and we stood on wooden rafts beneath them. Naturally, the sun was on our side -- the sun is on all sides.

I struggled to find Toronto's iconic CN tower in this next frame; a smooth descent otherwise.

iv. ontario

... la fin est le début

Motez infuses Sam Smith's "Leave Your Lover" with signature bass

Coffee aficionado Motez Obaidi -- with whom I talked origins, zanboors, and beards last October -- has been tearing it up these past months. Spinning 1015 Folsom in San Francisco as we speak, the Adelaide-based producer known for his deep house habits dropped an official "Leave Your Lover" retake this past Thursday.

"A song I instantly loved and wanted to remix, it's easy working with a voice as good as @SamSmithWorld," he shares on Soundcloud. Seriously, it's an alignment of stars. We're just now crawling out from under its influence. But only long enough to share it with you if, for some unfortunate cause, you haven't already heard it. Here it is:

Best moments? 1:04, when the piano chords come in; 1:37, when his signature warped bass arrives; and 2:23's handclap drop.

TORONTO: Tez is swinging your way on January 16 -- I'll be in San Francisco by then (a tragic crossing of his and my travels, to say the least) -- catch him at The Hoxton with DESTRUCTO and Anna Lunoe for their SHIP2SHIP tour.

It's An Endless World, according to Holobeams

Splitting time between Glasgow and Nagoya is a producer I haven't entertained for a while. My first (and at that point, last) encounter with Iain Foxwell's Holobeams moniker (formerly Holobeams and Broken Machines) was midsummer 2012, shortly after the warm and broad reception of two-track debut "Clouds/Sunrise": "Heads in the Clouds" a crunchy electronic ordeal slowly and gloriously infiltrated by sparkly smooth piano; "85 Sunrise" packing the same crunch, but with a more abrasive electronic melody.

All web searches seem to lead back to the hype of that time frame, but since then, Foxwell has released four more EPs, the most recent being January 4's It's An Endless World.

This latest effort arrives about a year after the chillier outer space synth of Chase the Horizon (2013), marking the longest gap between releases. And the difference is audible: in the cycling and layering of each track's motifs, the offensive zone skating remains seamless but the rippling cross-ice passes are now smooth too -- the audio effect equivalent to what looks like a freshly zamboni'd neutral zone. And I'm not just pulling the hockey references because I can; if Chase the Horizon was a cool evening fog, It's An Endless World is absolutely crystalline, ice cold with warm reflections.

You should really just play through the entire thing -- these EPs are never long enough once through -- but "Breaking Wave" is (appropriately so) the height of the sparkle.

2014 Favourites

song of the summer from Calvin Harris (choice remix by Diplo x Grandtheft)


Taiga by Zola Jesus
looks like / what I wrote before / what I wrote after / live review

"Beggin for Thread" by BANKS (Harvest) remixed
In the Lonely Hour by Sam Smith (Capitol)
"Go" by Grimes (Arbutus) watch
"Hideaway" by Kiesza (Island) watch


"Heartbeat Overdrive" by Ballet School (Bella Union) watch
The Tone by BLAUS (Tricycle) what I wrote
"Malachite" by Lydia Ainsworth (Arbutus) watch


"They Don't Know" by White Sea (Crush) what I wrote

Neuroplasticity by Cold Specks (Mute) what I wrote


Familiars by The Antlers (ANTI-)
looks like / what I wrote


"Jealous (I Ain't With It)" by Chromeo (Last Gang) live review
"Walking With Elephants" by Ten Walls (Phonica) stream


For Those Who Stay by PS I Love You (Paper Bag)
what I wrote before / what I wrote after

Feel Something by The History of Apple Pie (Marshall Teller) what I wrote


"Horus" by SLUMBERJACK (onelove)

Alone for the First Time by Ryan Hemsworth (Last Gang) what I wrote
"Seeya" by deadmau5 feat. Colleen D'Agostino (Ultra) stream
How to Run Away by Slow Magic (Downtown) what I wrote
"Bill Murray" by Phantogram (Republic)
Our Love by Caribou what I wrote


"Looking Too Closely" by Fink (Ninja Tune) what I wrote

"Glacier" by James Vincent McMorrow (EMI)


"Fancy (Motez Edit)" by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX (Island) interview

"0 to 100 / The Catch Up" by Drake (OVO) stream / remixed


Rave Tapes by Mogwai (Rock Action) live review
Awake by Tycho (Ghostly International) what I wrote


Palo Alto by Devonté Hynes

time melts like snow off the porch
2014's been a game changer. The last time this occurred was in 2011; coincidentally, I haven't felt quite this way about a year in music since then.

2014 was a year that finally put this blog title to use, with the arrival of producers such as Porter Robinson and SLUMBERJACK alongside electronic pop and alternative artists Black Atlass, Tove Lo, Lydia Ainsworth, Vaults, and YOUNG & SICK. It was Last Gang Records' 10th year anniversary; it saw the rise of Fool's Gold, Mad Decent, and the revival of DFA, Mute. There was the surge of English and Australian electronic, French club bangers and tropical house. Everything was remixed... again and again. We went to mass raves.

But beneath this EDM bubble, and if you looked for it, stayed the reassuring presence of sound indie rock, tasteful pop, experimental minimalism, PBRNB / new soul, and skate punk shenanigans. To 2015 we go.

Ocean Avenue lends some tropical house vibes to Whitney on his latest, "Wake Me"

Another Frenchman with his sights set on the internationally bubbling tropical house kick, Ocean Avenue has been officially active for two months. During this span, he's cleanly (and tastefully) remixed JJ Goldman, Indochine, and Jaymes Young, accruing upwards of 100,000 Soundcloud plays and over 600 followers. This early in the game, he may consider rethinking his performing moniker due to competition from a dozen small town bands.

Or he might rise above them, especially so with his first original release, a shimmery, cowbell-blessed jam which prominently samples the title lyric from Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know." It reminds me of Naxxons' "New Orleans," from last summer, which was an instant hit. Keep an eye on this track and pick it up early below, you hipster.

VIDEO: "Attak" by Rustie feat. Danny Brown

Here's Scottish EDM-saurus Rustie (real name Russell Whyte) absolutely killing it on his latest collab and Danny Brown having a pillow-less pillow fight while spitting god knows what and non-stop, too. Luckily, they've provided the lyrics. The video's nothing brilliant, but that particular shade of aqua and those audio sirens are. Green Language drops August 25th via Warp Records.

14/08/10 REMIXES: Nelsaan, Manila Killa, AObeats

Day in, day out.


Anonymous Norwegian producer Nelsaan tried to slip this Sam Smith remix in under the radar. At first, it's unassuming amongst the other pretty "Stay With Me"s in the crowd. And then it's absolutely arresting, and absolutely prone to be one of those "missed connections" if you don't act on it now. So... um, stay with it; it's not love, it's all you need.


Manila Killa is 21 since releasing this Dawn Golden remix, has 12000 Facebook fans, and hails from the selfie capital of the world. And like the selfie, I can't tell if the D.C. Filipino's edit of "All I Want" is introspective or extraverted. It blends aspects of both personalities -- a bubbly demeanour and friendly steel drums, but a dreamy haze and soft shaker. There's a tropical getaway if I ever saw one.


Another very accessible, very diverse futuristic house remix comes at the hands of AObeats, who happens to be a friend and collaborator of Manila Killa and another Moving Castle member. This version of "Sprezzatura" from Testudo's latest EP unwinds on a syncopated club beat with a seriously magical case of the wobblies.

Populous channels Afrobeat and krautrock in "Vu"

Lecce, Italy's Andrea Mangia produces electronic world (yes, I went there) music as Populous and considers himself a "white b-boy." THUMP, where the lead single from his upcoming Night Safari premiered, reports: "It's a blend of African chants mixed with samples captured from a famous kraut-rock band," says Mangia. In terms of the safari, "It should represent Africa, but I'm pretty sure someone would say London."

Mangia gives a good explanation for the rhythmic frenzy and melodic zen present on "Vu." Frankly, the track reminds us of this other Afro-inspired gem from three years ago, a piece titled "GOLD" by a mysterious little band called TEACHERS. But while "GOLD" was an anthem, "Vu"'s excitement comes in waves of tolling bells, tribal chants, metallic rustling, and incessant kick drum. Although the casual listener might skim over it; I stand by this obscure addition to my repertoire -- it is a most cherished one.

Night Safari is due September 29th via Bad Panda Records; here's "Vu."