1. Caribou – Caribou stepped onto the dance floor in 2011, and his arrival was most welcome, for it brought us a refreshingly musical and superbly produced set of 12 inch singles. His remixes for Virgo 4 and Junior Boys raised the bar and were the staples of many a Mister Saturday Night set this year. But it’s this remix of a rare African jam produced under his Daphni guise and released on his own Jialong imprint which was the stand out for me. I first heard this when he played for us back in March. It’s been in my bag ever since.
2. Four Tet – In a similar vein, Four Tet has leaned into dance music culture extending himself as a DJ and continuing to push forward with his own vinyl only 12 inch label: Text Records (strangely missing from most year end polls on best labels). Again the result is a breath of fresh air. We were extremely happy to have Kieran play the opening Mister Sunday this year (he’s back playing with us in February at 12-turn-13).
3. Workin’ & Steamin’ by Harkin & Raney – By no means meant as an exercise in self-promotion, but rather I’m including this track from Steve Raney and myself to acknowledge how thrilling it was in 2011 to put out original music which was critically accepted and also played by those at the top of the game.
4. Roman Flugel – My favorite producer from 2011. He released a handful of amazing jazz inflected 12 inches for Dial, this storming track for Live at Robert Johnson and then topped it off with a full length also on Dial. I asked him to remix a track from my debut EP coming out on Throne of Blood in February, and he kindly said yes and then delivered an amazing piece of work, which I’m looking forward to seeing the light of day very soon.
5. PJ Harvey – My favorite record and live show from this year came courtesy of the wonderful PJ Harvey. Let England Shake is the sound of an artist doing her own thing with power, grace and individualism through the medium of old English folk music and stories of war. It may seem a quaint project, but it resonated with the times we live in and as a result struck a chord. The resulting plaudits were fully deserved.
6. Gowanus Grove – This year we returned to a familiar patch of land by the Gowanus Canal for our outdoor party Mister Sunday. There are a lot of New York-specific logistical and organizational challenges that need to be overcome to be able to open the doors at The Grove, which made the success of the summer all the more satisfying. Highlights included two of my personal gigs of the year – one in torrential rain the other on a glorious Labor Day weekend as well as memorable visits from Moodymann, Horse Meat Disco and Todd Terje.
7. The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross – This book was originally published in 2007, but I only got round to reading it this year, so it makes my list. It’s an amazing take on the history of classical music and the role of the artists in the society they created it in. Not only did it expose me to a wealth of music which I’d previously only casually taken notice of, but it told a fascinating story of the evolution of the place and value of music in our lives, something we can relate to today.
8. Levon Vincent’s Impressions Of A Rainstorm EP – I’m a huge fan of Levon Vincent’s work. His productions seems to respect and hold true the traditions of the past, whilst pursuing something new at the same time. He released the monstrous ‘Man or Mistress’ this year, but it was this EP which was the most well rounded package. ‘Impressions Of A Rainstorm’ and ‘Pivotal Moments In Life’ are both immense.
9. Maurice Donovan’s “Satisfied” – Maurice Donovan aka Ramadanman aka Pearson Sound continues to push forward the sounds of house music. Many of his records have been played at the Mister this year.
10. Omar S’s “Here’s Your Trance Now Dance!!” – It made the top of many a year end list for good reason. We first heard this when he dropped it at the Mister back in January. From that moment we new something special was on its way from Mister Smith.