I hate to kill everyone’s buzzzzz, but to some extent 2011 may very well come to be remembered as the year that hype reigned supreme in the halls of hip hop high. As much as I loved the idea of Tyler the Creator and Co. coming through and “wrecking shop”, it turns out they were just another bunch of hungry kids dying to get on. Goblin wasn’t exactly Ready To Die (let alone 6 Feet Deep), and throwing 45k in the first week isn’t really going to bust anyone’s cherry. Sorry. Odd Future was EVERYWHERE, and when you consider that Tyler’s PR and Management firm, 4 Strikes Inc, is the same team that also look after Eminem, it’s even more disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for the dude, but really I wanted more from them and in a certain way to see him turn up in a video with Game & Weezy is a bit of a let down. Like, really? Was that all you wanted? A pair of sneakers and some miscellaneous award show gift bag swag?
No, the real action this year seemed to be in the genuine “underground”. For every so called “next saviour”, “next to blow” guy that came through on secretly stashed major label money, groups like Death Grips threw out free mix-tapes and shut the whole thing down. Ex Military is indeed the fuck you OFWGKTA proclaimed they were out to deliver; a harsh, loud, uncompromising, pressure point delivery of a record, with the rare quality of being genuinely, genuinely unsettling.
Death Grips – ‘Guillotine’
The underground also had help in the form of a familiar face. Digable Planets’ single “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” came to define a certain aesthetic of early 90’s hip hop, so how apt that the voice behind Black Up, the debut full length by Shabazz Palaces should be none other than Butterfly himself aka Ishmael Butler (now known as Palaceer Lazaro). Legendary label Sup Pop’s first hip hop signing, Shabazz Palaces delivered a stunner; experimental and new, yet soulful.
Shabazz Palaces – ‘Swerve’
The UK- always a home to innovation, and the Glaswegian boys at LuckyMe threw some heat with releases by Lunice and Jacques Greene, as well as an upcoming 2012 release by Machinedrum (the production head behind Theophilus London’s This Charming Mixtape). Technically ‘Hitmane’s Anthem’ was released at the tail end of 2010, but the sustain on it’s Southern trunk-riding low end carried over well into 2011. Damn. Just, damn. Every MC from VA and beyond the Mason Dixon line should pay homage to this track. If there was ever a piece that deftly united the worlds of Southern hospitality bass and continental electronic know-how, this is it.
Lunice – ‘Hitmane’s Anthem’
Lunice also collaborated with Harlem MC Azealia Banks. Her previous effort ‘L8R’ was definitely certified fresh, however it wasn’t anything that would put her on the map. But this year’s ‘212’ was undeniable. It was stupid, silly, fun, clever, witty and off the cuff. Apparently she’s in the studio with UK heavy Paul Epworth (Bloc Party, Adele, Florence & The Machine… list goes on), and I can’t wait to hear the results.
Azealia Banks – ‘212’
Harlem came strong this year, for the first time in a long time – Mase anyone? Another MC (and collective) from Azealia’s neck of the woods, ASAP Rocky brought that syrup covered –NYC crack rap steez, with a sprinkling of hood fashionista. Dare we predict a second Harlem Renaissance? Whatever the resulting fallout, there is no denying that the LIVELOVEA$AP mixtape was dope. Featuring spaced out, bass heavy, Mike Dean hat tipping production that sat nicely as a party starter, Sunday afternoon chill-scape and at it’s best, straight up trunk music. Listen carefully and you can almost hear the neighborhood windows rattling uptown.
ASAP Rocky – ‘Purple Swag’
So it seems that everyone is afraid of the big bad 2012, but if we’re honest with ourselves, times are already hard. Indeed, they must be if the ingenuity level has risen so greatly. Cause let’s face it, when we’re rich and fat, the music sucks. 2011 could be the beginning of our generation’s true contribution to the musical legacy of the western world. Like I said, renaissance anyone?
This year in Budapest was a quite strange one. It started with a horrible disco accident in January that shocked the country and had long lasting consequences for the city’s party culture. During the year the political and economic crises caused a lot of negative vibes. The closure of cult clubs like the Merlin Theatre and the open air Zöld Pardon also sent out shockwaves. But apart from the bad news, there were still many positive moments to be happy about instead. We’re going to take a look at some of the more exciting moments from throughout the year in our Hungary section.
This year was the 200th anniversary for classic composer Ferenc Liszt (Franz Liszt) but there were also some big anniversaries in electronic music too. Budapest’s underground electronic music community celebrated pioneer DJ and godfather of the scene Palotai‘s 50th birthday through the year on several occasions and Chi Recordings also had reason for celebration as they released a compilation for their 10th anniversary. We interviewed a lot of musicians this year, you liked the most Yonderboi on his return, 9b0 on his work processes, Jaffa Surfa on organic house music, ICR on his milestone double album, Sena on her solo project and emerging talent Mongoose on his career story.
It’s interesting in Budapest that there are only a few good club spaces but several cool nights. Decknology by TEST completed their mission of pioneering the local electronic music scene with the project surviving for only one year. Not like the other future music-oriented night Space Is Called which was started by DJ Cadik and A38 Ship or the new hipster-magnet Selected Sounds by NVC with live acts such as Caribou, Gold Panda, Nosaj Thing. Electronic Beats had also three very successful sold-out gigs, a Live Special Launch Party and a Festival, followed by an EB Presents party. There were so many other highlights that made this year, gigs to remember by Lamb, Jamie Woon, Darkstar and Shigeto on A38 Ship, Kink in Merlin, Eskmo at Balaton Sound, Crystal Castles at Sziget, Xeno & Oaklander in Roham Bar and so on.
And so many other things like the new Blind Musician EP by the continuously changing abstract hip hop formation Realistic Crew, or My Rorschach by Occam, the electronic solo project of drummer of Zagar. There was another great solo debut of eclectic singer Judie Jay with her Harmony LP. Our new discovery is Berlin based Hungarian producer Dnte with his beautiful wonky debut EP Wake Me Up (listen here).
Two more scenes were growing up and started to establish in Budapest’s underground, the lo-fi bedroom producers might have got more attention but there is a ghetto-tech community going strong, too. We’re looking forward to seeing 2012, it will be great!
Sure, music videos aren’t what they used to be since MTV dropped the M, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any bands who give a shit about the clips they produce to accompany their songs. That said I’ve tried to encompass a lot of different styles and music in this list. All types of directors and production values ranging from Canon 7D equipped bare bones budgets to Michel Gondry shooting for Björk. Most definitely it was a good year for the moving image and I suspect it will only get better and more creative in 2012. And if you don’t like the list, tell us which video is your favorite in the comments section below.
#1 Death Grips – Guillotine (It goes Yah) (directed by Flatlander)
My video of the year: “IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES (karen) GEE-OTINE!!!!”
#2 Dirty Beaches – Lone Runner (directed by Kevin Luna)
Now that’s a music video short film! It’s simply amazing. Best video that doesn’t use special effects that I have seen in ages. Beaches!
#3 No Age – Fever Dreaming (directed by Patrick Daughters)
Clever video for ‘Fever Dreaming’ from No Age’s latest record Everything In Between. One of the weirdest music videos I’ve since all year by far. Stick around until the end for a really fucked up ending.
#4 Metronomy – The Bay (directed by David Wilson)
A fabulous, twinkling summer video from Metronomy with a style that mimics the 70’s style by putting wacky wipe cuts EVERYWHERE. But they manage to pull it off beautifully.
#5 Gang Gang Dance – MindKilla (directed by Shoji Goto)
This video is kind of insane. It’s glitzy disco beat joined by big pumping synths and melted samples. Basically, it’s everything we love about the band.
#6 Katy B – Easy Please Me (dir.?)
‘Easy Please Me’ produced by Magnetic Man was Katy B.’s fourth single off her great On A Mission album. Nice british vibe and she’s really qt.
#7 Herman Dune – Tell Me something I don’t know (directed by Toben Seymour)
Starring Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and a super cute fuzzy blue yeti. Thank you for the great tunes Herman Dune. Looking forward for 2012.
#8 Björk – Crystalline (directed by Michel Gondry)
Seasoned music video auteur, Michel Gondry returns back to the big stage with a typically arresting video, replete with spellbinding psychedelic hallucinations of fantastical organic processes.
#9 Holy Other – Know Where (footage from “Black Garden” by Dietmar Brehms)
Holy Other’s ‘Know Where’ seeps out slowly with strangely pitched voices among the ghostly synths. Magic…
#10 Tyler the Creator – Yonkers’ (directed by Wolf Haley)
If I asked you who Tyler The Creator was in December 2010, only a handful of people would know. If I asked you in March, most of you would know. Tyler, along with OFWGKTA, created a whole new Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School subculture. You may not agree that this is Odd Future’s best song of this year, but without this song, you might not of heard the others. On top of all that, the music video.
2011 has been a game changer. It’s been the end of a rather unpleasant decade and I’m not just talking about the economic crisis. However, I’m really looking forward to the next ten years. We will keep the European dream alive and more, it will be a peaceful union. When it comes to Austria, it’s rather disappointing. At least in terms of politics, this year showed us again that politicians are corrupt – maybe even more than the rest of us.
Then again when I think about music this year has been over the top. I decided to talk to my colleague Stefan Niederwieser, editor in chief of the gap and part time DJ to review the year.
Hey Stefan, how has your year been so far?
Umm OK ish. I think I gained some weight. And some followers on Twitter! I like to think that there’s a connection between those two. I’ve been to Srebrenica and basically took the same photos in the Dutchbat HQ, which appeared in the international issue of Vice Magazine two months later under the title Genocidal Graffiti. But I was too lazy to send them my pics. Some random dude did.
The financial crisis sent shockwaves throughout the world, from London to Athens to Arabic countries. Dubstep went mainstream. Capitalism lost its glamour. Climate change is a topic for sunny days. More and more media outlets are copying from Pitchfork topics. Tyler The Creator and hipster black metal were the most enjoyable anomalies. Markus Schinwald and Thomas Prinzhorn won at the Biennale in Venice. Adapting to my new position was quite a challenge. Daily business kills caring about others. So, it was kind of interesting.
I read your tweet yesterday comparing visitors to the Kunsthalle Wien and people who go to see Austrian films. In your opinion has there been anything special except for Atmen maybe?
Atmen is definitely a film to watch. I’m not part of our film editorial staff for a reason, but I’d recommend Schwarzkopf about being a male immigrant with a moderate rap angle in Austria. And Whore’s Glory. In the tweet I said I was mainly wondering about the low attendances to Austrian movies this year. Quality-wise, Austrian films are still very strong.
Lets talk about music. What are you highlights?
Oh. Destroyer, Gang Gang Dance, Girls, Drake. And umm, we decide which album to feature on what level some weeks before Pitchfork reviews come out. So nah, we don’t copy Pitchfork. No we don’t, shhh. Oneohtrix Point Never, James Ferraro, Oval and Destroyer re-assembled the sonic ruins of consumerist pop in very different ways. Nostalgia still haunted the fields of indie music. And Simon Reynolds wrote a great book about just that. This year in music was mostly about memory and money. And a very good year too.
Did you experience any special nights out?
Oh, you want to know more about the awesome EMA gig she gave at the Waves Vienna festival, in which I’m almost not involved? No, really, the festival was a shitload of work with some very bad gigs and some very good gigs. Like the gig from Viennese noise super group Peterlicker. Or Icelandic Prog-Disco-Baile-Pop-Collective Retro Stefson. And oh, EMA …James Blake at Donaufestival was awesome, so much better than his gig at Primavera festival in Barcelona – which is itself a constant highlight with a killer lineup (event though the new stage harmed some of the special atmosphere). Fennesz did a huge remix of Gustav Mahler, which just appeared just this month in a 9 DVD box. In just the same venue, Chilly Gonzales performed not with, but on the ORF Radio-Symphony Orchestera. He mixes art with comedy, he’s hilarious, even though people hate him for just that. I missed the Suuns gig everybody keeps talking about. For electronic music, Soundframe festival and Runvie presented some very special acts in Vienna.
What about clubs? What’s your favorite of the year? Have you been to the Grelle Forelle yet?
I’d still have to say Pratersauna. They’ve still got the best bookings. The years after the first two, in which they really kept the hype up, will be the interesting ones. Can they get good deals with sponsors and booking agencies? Are they being swallowed up by small costs like lost and destroyed equipment, noise reduction, stupid neighbors, too much drugs or more opinion pundits? Flex went through all that and more, they were the pioneers and still attract lots of people, and tourists. Apart from that, you can experience very decent music in small venues like Elektro Gönner or Donau Techno. We assembled a very broad list of places to go on Foursquare. Check it out here.
And yeah, I’ve been to Grelle Forelle. They’ll have to adapt the spotlight. Having a no photo-no-guestlist-all-about-the-music-policy looks good on paper, but people quickly take enquiries at the door about the lineup of the night for arrogance. Stories like that spread fast and really don’t help in being cool. Much of the electronic scene reacted to the opening with a lot of prejudice. But like in so many cases, you have to get involved to change things if you don’t like the way it is. Grelle Forelle has one of the best sound systems in town. It’s very reachable on weekends via metro. And being tolerant about people who don’t look exactly like you helps if you want to have good night there.
I know you think The Wire is the best TV show ever. But do you think there is anything worth mentioning this year?
Oh, this was me lamenting on a personal level about a domain, in which I allow myself to be unjust. I guess I shouldn’t do that, as I’m basically frustrated, because I have too little time to delve into all these kinds of different TV shows. I simply have no clue about TV shows in 2011 and stick to the last best one I know. The Wire is awesome. Apart from The Daily Show and Colbert Report.
Did you see Fauner Consulting yet?
Nah. No. Shame.
What else is there to say? Wanna recommend something? What did we miss out?
Electro Guzzi this autumn. Soap&Skin next spring. There are a lot of new labels starting just now in Vienna – watch out for Luv Shack, Leap Records, Schönbrunner Perlen, moun10, Luv Lite Recordings and The Loud Minority. And let’s not forget Elevate festival in Graz, which isn’t just your random headliner-festival, as it also has a very international program and great lectures. And oh, I want to say hello to my Mom and Dad!
The end of the year is traditionally filled with endless lists. An easy exercise for the journalists, writers and movers and shakers of the music industry. In the past top ten polls tended to coalesce into a generally acceptable selection. Recently, however (luckily) such lists have diversified. Here are the impressions of 2011 from some of those who are involved in the music and arts scenes in the Czech Republic right now.
1. What have been the highlights of this year?
2. Lows of the year?
3. Best Czech music project/band of the year?
4. Best concert/party of the year in the Czech Republic?
5. Best music activity, album of the year – Czech and abroad?
6. Best cultural activity or project in the Czech Republic this year?
7. Expectations from the New Year in music and culture in the Czech Republic?
Tuco – DJ, label owner
It’s been a pretty quiet year for me on the DJ side because I’ve had other priorities this year so I can’t say there was any really amazing life changing gigs or anything like that. Diplo coming to Prague finally was cool although he showed he was past his best. Playing juke tracks before Caspa to a full Roxy was also great.
The main thing is seeing the label blossom and all the good press the artists have been getting, releasing a Traxman EP was great as we have been fans of his for years!
I was really disappointed at the total lack of interest in Prague in great up and coming artists who came to play here such as Lone, Warrior One, Mele, Ramadanman and Brenmar all of whom have seen their careers rocket in the final few months of the year. Lack of local interest in these kinds of artists is going to have a knock effect and I can’t see promoters not taking these kind of risks in the future.
Is it wrong to mention all the people on Meanbucket? 🙂 Obviously Side9000, Dryman and Tvyks but I’ve heard good stuff from Felix! Trusty, Freezer, Cuffia. These people stand out, they have their own sound and aren’t just trying to replicate certain English, French and American artists they hear which in all honesty tends to be the case here!
Again, it was pretty hectic year for me outside of music so I wasn’t out much unless it was DJ’ing bar a few exceptions. Primal Scream were amazing and it was great to hear all the old Screamadelica. Odd Future were cool and it’s really rare to see a Hip hop group here who are at their peak! There were some really great DJ sets as well from the people I mentioned above. I think Brenmar was probably the top for me!
I really liked the LP’s from L -Vis 1990, The Weeknd & Araab Muzik. Everything Jamie XX did was brilliant, Addison Groove also had a great year. Joy O had one of the biggest tracks of the year with ‘Sicko Cell’, I can’t remember that much hype surrounding one song for a long time!
Of course there was a lot of stuff from obscure ghetto producers that I was really into I wont mention them all but DJ Sliink has had an amazing year, Boylan is consistent and Rashad & Spinn are probably as close to becoming household names as anyone from the juke & footwerk scene will ever become.
I really like what UK producers Swindle, Rude Kid, Royal Tand Dismantle have been doing. That new wave of instrumental grime has saved me a lot at parties where people expected dubstep. It has the same energy and tempo but the production is more interesting, it’s raw and it’s good!
As far as Czech stuff goes apart from the stuff we released I didn’t here many “complete works” except for a couple of great EP’s from Felix! and Cuffia.
Freeze Festival looks really interesting, and the people doing the Education Parties seem to know what they are doing.
I’m hoping now Rytmus is rapping over dubstep people will move on. In other places some really interesting stuff has risen from it’s ashes.
Internationally I’m really excited about Sinjin Hawke who is doing really good stuff on a great little label from Brussels called Pelican Fly (definitely a label to watch in 2012). I also think Mele is going to be huge next year; he’s young and has the talent and attitude to do great things.
I would love to finally see a really good festival line up here, in fact it doesn’t have to be really good just acceptable! I’d love to see some good DJ’s or electronic acts incorporated into the line-ups like at other big European festivals, you only have to look as far as Slovakia and see that with Pohoda Fest they are at least trying.
I’d love to see some older people going out to parties and I’d love it if we could go the whole of 2012 without a Kosheen concert, but I know these are pretty far fetched dreams 🙂
Míra Valeš – editor
Fleet Foxes and their new record Helplessness Blues (Garfunkel meets Beach Boys:) or Destroyer – Daniel Bejar and his Kaputt. Pulp, M.I.A., Braids and Esben and the Witch and the great weather at the Pohoda Festival in Slovakia was a highlight. Also, there have been many great gigs in autumn and it seems like there’s been increasing activity in Prague in the arts& culture scenes;)
It’s also great to see that the Creepy Teepee festival could take place again and that the organizers didn’t lose money but broke even. I’m glad that even such a small festival as Mezipatra managed to bring Todd Haynes to Prague, a bigger star than has been lately the case even at the Karlovy Vary film festival, proving that when you have the courage and will, anything is possible 😉
Nothing really other than missing the Melt Festival.
I haven’t seen enough to be able to judge.
I like Dominik and Roman and their project Table.
In the Czech Republic it has to be Creepy Teepee and the people who make things happen here – Jakub and Anežka Hošek and Michal Brenner.
Next year will be great.
Martin ?ehá?ek and Dan Ligocký – promoters
The courage and effort of people who persistently feel the need to change and advance the Czech cultural scene, thanks to whom we’ve had quite a lot of interesting events this year.
Reluctance to try the new and unknown. But that’s normal really… Maybe the impasse of the local media which isn’t able to appreciate or draw attention to anything inspirational.
dné, Table, Fiordmoss, Floex.
The National at Divadlo Archa.
The Unsound Festival in Poland which is our inspiration. And the many singles and records that came out this year. It’s hard to choose the best though.
…hard to say.
Probably similar to 2011. We don’t expect any major changes because cultural development tends to generally be quite slow, so we remain soberly optimistic. It’s also true that several interesting events have already been announced for 2012 and we hope that a Czech “artist” will break through abroad.