Congratulations friends, we made it!
2015 was an incredible year for electronic bass music in which we saw “future bass” (a term we essentially made up in 2010) really take on a defined sound, turning it into more of an actual genre than an umbrella term used to describe contemporary, progressive electronic bass music. While this has helped make the sound more accessible to the mainstream and unveiled a complexity in the tastes of the average ‘EDM’ consumer, it’s also left a large swath of what was once considered “future bass” on the fringe of any relatable genre without much classification outside a term like “left-field” or “experimental.” The future won’t be all happy blips, saw waves and seventh chords… so we’ve compiled some of our favorite “Experimental” club tracks that were released this year.
Keep in mind– there are some really noisy, unlistenable tracks out there that belong firmly in the “experimental” category and nowhere else. That’s not what this is. These are tracks produced for a dance setting which push the limits of what you might expect to hear in such a place. The kind of music that takes you by surprise in the best of ways. Enjoy!
The Most Experimental Tracks of 2015
22. Hunt For The Breeze – Call
According to HFTB, the track was “inspired by grime and avant garde club music artists such as L-Vis 1990 and Sinjin Hawke, and labels like Night Slugs and Her Records.” Throughout the creation of the track over the past couple months, HFTB made it a point to “focus on making the tune constantly moving and evolving into varied to club music,” and boy did he succeed.
21. DJ Shadow – Swerve
This is the first track DJ Shadow has put out since 2014 and its due out on some unnamed LP so fuck it– I’ll just leave this here. Gotta love that trippy
20. Sakuraburst – cherry blossoms explode across the dying horizon
It sounds pretty much exactly like the title says it will
19. Sober Rob + Lux.Impala – nativity
This one is heady, very dope on
18. Graves & AYA – Truth
Keep your ears trained on AYA, this collab with Graves is trappy but has some crazy timbres.
17. Mr. Carmack – EGO (Woolymammoth Remix)
This track will pretty much destroy no matter how big your system is.
16.Conrank – Ma Fan
Conrack put out a whole album of dope tracks on my favorite Saturate Records this year and this was just one of the many joints that would be strange but amazing in a receptive club setting (seriously LA, can we get our collective shit together?). Be sure to peep the goopy track he put out with Zean last week as well.
15. Nite School Klik – Posse
The future is bleak. Guhhhhh
14. All Day (Eprom & Salva Remix)
Eprom managed to transition brilliantly from dubstep into the music he’s making now and his performance of Shades alongside Alix Perez was a bright spot in a sun of talent that was the Low End Theory Festival which took place this last summer. This secret remix of Kanye’s hit single with Salva is just doin’ the most.
13. G-Jones – FUCK WHAT YOU HEARD
This is a more recent release out on Saturate Records’ 5th compilation but G-Jones has just been killing it all year and he’s really begun exploring the limitations of bass music. We’re expecting a big year coming up.
12. Montell2099 – whats your name
Montell has been doing some dope shit lately with the woodwinds reminiscent of old hudmo but this track sort of bridges the gap between what we know now as “future bass” and something a little more emotionally complex. This is a great track to lead into some flylo or dilla beats.
11. Nömak – Schrödinger’s Cat WLP Edit
These French guys are pretty good at the electronic musics.
10. Yung Lean – Hoover
I’m not the biggest Yung Lean fan but this track is DOPE and very different from anything he usually does, definitely put himself outside the comfort zone on this one and it paid off really well. I hope he makes more tracks with this more gritty, direct musical style.
9. Death Grips – The Powers That B
Fuck Death Grips. You’re together, you’re not together, you’re playing a show, you’re not playing a show… nobody gives a shit and I’m not about to pay for tickets… that being said, the music is incredibly different, aurally exciting without being overly harsh (wait for hudmo), and they’d probably like the way I feel about them. I’m surprised I’ve heard so many hard bass DJs play hardstyle but never Death Grips (or DnB, for that matter.)
8. Hudson Mohawke – System
God dammit I miss old Hudmo, he’s never been the same since working with Kanye and the whole TNGHT thing. System was one of the few glimmers of the old Butter Hudson Mohawke (which is mind blowing still, one of my first introductions to ‘future bass,’ thanks Olox!) but overall his music has just become overly harsh and noisy… like he’s either trying to make your ears bleed out of some misplaced sense of creativity or he’s damaged his hearing over years of playing the clubs. Hate it or love it, he’s pushing the limits.
7. Sayer & Bleep Bloop – Dukes
Wow, we love both these guys and Sayer is a real hot up-and-comer who’s not afraid to push the limits of dance music– we only disovered him this year but I suspect once more people catch on this guy is going to go places.
6. Um.. – skrillex
Um.. is one of those producers who’s just making music unlike anyone else out there. It’s some kind of psychedelic electronic bass music using those low goopy synths. Shifty Rhythms has really been showcasing some interesting artists lately!
5. Moniker – Cracked
Arps and squelchy synths and its another release from Saturate Records who, I cannot stress this enough, IS SO AHEAD OF THE CURVE in terms of who they’re willing to release, this entire album by Monker is more testament to that.
4. Lapalux – Olefin
I love Lapalux… Olefin is a class of compounds that are derived from plant waxes and this track is again, borderline psychedelic experience using electronic instruments to mimic organic timbres and rhythms. Stick this one on the ‘Playa Playlist.’
3. Masayoshi Iimori – Papapa
I’ve been playing this track in my sets since it came out, it honestly inspired me to start making music again after being a creative rut for a while and it goes off EVERY TIME in the club (or my car)
2. LH4L – Neoprene ft. Billion dollars
Again with these French, it’s not enough to have the best wine? The Record Record series have been incredible and this track by LH4L is particularly noteworthy for its ridiculous drum pattern and maddening synths. How could a remix ever do better than this?
1. Sophie – JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE
You knew you were going to find Sophie at the top of this list. She (he? herm? shim? sherm? I didn’t know you get wet) has taken the future concept so far and pulled it off so well that Lemonade actually made it AS THE ACTUAL AD FOR McDONALDS LEMONADE! Too much meta for a man/woman to handle alone (check how gender neutral I am, fam). You could really pick any track from Sophie for 2015 but I thought this was one of the more unique tracks from msmsmsmsms. Count ’em.
Obligatory: To Pimp A Butterfly
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention this album.
If you told me before release that I wouldn’t be bumping the jazz-hip hop fusion album between Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat on a daily basis I would have called you an idiot. Months later, I’ve listened through only a handful of times. I’ve studied jazz, I love hip hop, I love all artists involved but this was one album where the sum was not greater than its parts. The album is incredibly uncomfortable and the self-comparison to Tupac feels particularly thin considering the album was produced and distributed by none other than major label Interscope. Despite its failure to spark a larger conversation on race (thanks in part to its broad, timid acceptance by the overwhelmingly-white music media) it boldly challenges the modern concept of what a hip hop album can be in 2015 in a way that only Kendrick Lamar could. I think its okay to hold out hope that the third album will be more radio friendly but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kendrick took another half court hook shot either.
And there you go! You know there probably at least a hundred more dope experimental dance tracks that were released last year, but these are the current favorites! The musical landscape has begun to shift and we should be in for some big surprises in 2016.
Go to a local show, the gritty cheap one with drink specials… (maybe you’ll catch your boy). Tip those bartenders. Tell artists you appreciate them on the social media. Don’t click on clickbait and don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Be a leader. It’s up to us to maintain the integrity of the scene. Keep your ears to the ground and stick with your crew at RTT to be ahead of the curve in 2016! We love you.
Trappy New Year!
–Jeff aka Lewdite (Hater of The Year 2015)