The 10 Best Compilations Of 2012

DMCWORLD gives a high five to the master of the London Olympics 2012

The only time Danny Boyle will ever grace our hallowed pages!

Words : Ben Hogwood

1)     Isles of Wonder (Decca)
It wasn’t supposed to work. The opening ceremony of London 2012 was worrying us all, the suspicion being that the UK was going to fall flat on its face while presenting itself to the world. Not a chance, not with Danny Boyle in charge – this after all is the man who made the soundtrack to inspire a generation when he worked on ‘Trainspotting’. He used similarly vivid imagination for the opening ceremony, and again Underworld were involved – though this time their contribution was the other end of the emotional scale to Karl Hyde shouting ‘lager lager lager’ all the time. No, this was a couple of slow burners, with ‘And I Will Kiss’ building over 17 minutes of raw drumming power. Boyle also managed to smuggle High Contrast, Fuck Buttons, The Chemical Brothers and more Underworld into the ceremony’s music – and getting Dizzee to perform ‘Bonkers’ was pretty far out too. All that and more is here in a thrilling ride that not only brings back great memories but is musically top notch. Something to remember 2012 by!

2)     Road Kill Vols. 1 & 2 (Hit + Run)
Every so often a compilation or two comes along that opens your eyes to a different musical way. Both volumes of Road Kill did that in abundance, showing a side of West Coast hip hop that is often in danger of sitting in the shadow of The Game and the like. The music of Shash’U’, Zackey Force Funk, Om Unit, Thavius Beck and many more is powerfully delivered and unstinting, with huge beats and even the odd gun shot or two. There are softer moments, but even these keep the intensity high. Without question these are two of the year’s finest compilations, with music that makes you sit up and see things differently, as it contains some startling invention at times.

3)     Cutting Edge mixed by Luke Solomon (D-Edge)
Arguably Luke Solomon’s best mix to date – which given his career as co-head of Classic is some achievement. ‘Cutting Edge’ seems to have all the right proportions, paced in a way that ramps up the tension before cutting loose with tracks from Iz & Diz and Trademarq. The subtle twists of funk mean that none of this is standard house music, and the energy this mix creates would power many a discerning house music dancefloor. Possibly the best house music mix of the year, with absolutely no pretensions, just good music that is well mixed – and that’s all you could ask from a compilation!

4)     Jende Ri Palenge (Soul Jazz)
Soul Jazz love to open the eyes and ears of their listeners, and the bright red and yellow artwork of ‘Jende Ri Palenge’ meant there was no ignoring it! The only down side of Soul Jazz is that they make you realise how ignorant we can be musically, for this compilation – with a DVD documentary accompanying it – is crammed full of music from the people of Palenque, Colombia. Not only that, a second CD lets a team of remixers loose on the originals, so that we can see how the propulsive rhythms of the region work when they have electronic beats tagged along. If the results of producers like Matias Aguayo, Manuela Torres and Osunlade are anything to go by, the signs are that Soul Jazz have really stumbled across something special – and we’re lucky to be able to share their discovery.

5)     Forever Underground – Artifacts 1997-2012 (NRK)
House music said goodbye to NRK in 2012, as founder and head Nick Harris stopped the label to work on other concerns. His decision meant the Bristol imprint bowed out at the top of its game, and this compilation was a fitting document of its legacy. Probably the biggest NRK anthem is Kerri Chandler’s ‘Bar A Thym’, but it was good to be reminded of the treasures Nick Holder, Trackheadz, H Foundation, Audio Soul Project and many, many more brought to the label. Their ability to offer a gritty and deep take on house music served them well, with an urban edge that proved very difficult to emulate. They will live long in the memory!

6)     Contemporary (Tartelet)
Scandinavia continues to be a hotbed for the production of electronic music, and the Tartelet label from Copenhagen served up this selection of Danish delights, a collection of unreleased tracks. Featuring the talents of the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, Muff Deep and Kenton Slash Demon (two members of When Saints Go Machine’) and Acid Woman, it’s a set of ten tracks that consistently offer invention and rhythm. Which, when you think about it, is all you could want!

7)     Air Texture Vol II selected by Loscil and Rafael Anton Irisarri (Air Texture)
A second consecutive appearance in the compilation top ten for the Air Texture label, and well deserved it is too. This is because there is some remarkable music here, music that uses next to no percussion but which is incredibly ambient, able to take its listener to a totally different head space by the time it finishes. The Loscil mix is especially good, with warm pulses of sound working like waves on a beach, while at other times the listener feels suspended on the edge of space, far above everything else. Irisarri’s selection also defies gravity, showing how musical moods can be created from the barest source material. Something very different to put your mind in a totally new area.

8)     FAC.Dance 02 (Strut)
Strut have an incredibly consistent record of delivering high quality compilations, so it’s no surprise to report that their examination of Factory’s dance vaults presses all the right buttons. This is a fascinating document for New Order aficionados, with 52nd Street’s ‘Can’t Afford’, produced by New Order’s Stephen Morris, an early forerunner of ‘Fine Time’, and Nyam Nyam’s ‘Fate’, produced by Peter Hook, another keyboard-led blockbuster that gets the adrenalin pumping. There are some interesting experiments here that reflect the growing influence of ska on pop music, but some electronic gems too – and when put together, all make for a genuinely thrilling compilation.

9)     Secret Love Vol.6 (Sonar Kollektiv)
It is a joy to report the return of this rather special compilation series, which shows just how big the record collection of Jazzanova is. Volume six keeps up the high quality rate of its predecessors, and in Psychemagik’s ‘Valley Of Paradise’ and Tim Knol’s ‘Days’ it has two winners early on. With an element of folk brought in alongside the electronic work of the likes of Jori Hulkkonen and Luc Cousineau, this has always proved to be a most enjoyable winter warmer that introduces its listeners to new music – and hopefully it’s now back to stay!

10)  Philadelphia International Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes (Harmless)
Tom Moulton needs little introduction, being pretty much the first producer to regularly remix his source material. There are some real giants among the 31 offered in this handsome box set, with pride of place going to The O Jays’ ‘Love Train’. The same group get beautifully turned over in ‘Back Stabbers’ and ‘I Love Music’, while other beneficiaries of the Moulton string sound are The Trammps, Lou Rawls and People’s Choice. If you’re already familiar with Moulton – and why wouldn’t you be – then this is almost a mandatory purchase, but if not you’re in for four CDs of disco-fuelled heaven.