Saturday, 31 December 2011

on-Tenori-on's Top 15 EP's of 2011

A note on the year-end lists: These lists have taken me ages to do, which is part of the reason they arrive so late, but the main reason is that I didn't want to cut out a large amount of December's releases like many high-profile publications tend to do. I've learned to listen to releases more thouroghly next time so that I don't have to spend as long trying to remember how much I like or dislike something all at the end. Needless to say many tracks, EP's and albums I initially dismissed I've fallen in love with now that I've returned to them, and others I praised highly (including on this blog) have fallen a little out of favour with me. Everything listed has been officially released between 1st January and 31st December 2011. I'll probably never be able to properly decide on the exact order of my favourites; this is just how they stand as of right now, but if I've listed something, it means I think it's worthy of your attention. And of course these aren't my only favourites of 2011: there are many albums in particular that haven't made the list, but check back thrrough my blog posts to see what they are. Feedback is always appreciated, so if you don't agree with something being here, if you think I've ranked something too high or low, or if  something seems to be missing leave me some comments.Thanks to everyone that has helped me in this project, and my first year of music blogging, and to all the artists I've tagged and discussed thoughout the year, please support them by buying their music, going to their shows, etc. And spread the word.

These are the rules I used to qualify my top 15 EP's of 2011:
  • Shorter than an album and longer than a single track. This goes without saying.
  • Basically, if a release goes under the name of EP (i.e. ends with "EP" or officially released as such), it qualifies. For example #2 is an EP even though it is only 2 tracks long.
  • Remix EP's qualify, although none have made it to the list.
  • A single and any number of B-sides are only EP's if they are released as such.
  • Free mixtapes are not EP's unless they are named so (e.g. #6).
And without further ado:

15. Colin Stetson - Those Who Didn't Run
14. Trash Talk - Awake
13. James Blake - Enough Thunder
12. Zomby - Nothing EP
11. Jens Lekman - An Argument With Myself
10. King Krule - King Krule
9. Kurt Vile - So Outta Reach
8. Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High
7. Toro Y Moi - Freaking Out EP
6. Black Milk and Danny Brown - Black and Brown EP
5. Burial - Street Halo EP
4. TV Girl - Benny and the Jetts

3. Clams Casino - Rainforest EP

The number of times I've peppered the tag "Clams Casino" throughout my too few blog posts surely testify to the reverance I have towards this guy. Released shortly after the Instrumental Mixtape, composed of the many beats made for Lil B, Soulja Boy, et al, Clams pursued the dense, cloudy production style in five solid new directions for the Rainforest EP. Released on Tri Angle Records, Rainforest fits right in with the beautiful, ethereal electronica of Holy Other and Balam Acab. And if you're unsure what my favourite track is, you might soon find out...

2. Nicolas Jaar - Don't Break My Love
 I reviewed this a few weeks ago. Read about it here. Instead I'll use this space to say how this EP has helped me rediscover Nicolas Jaar's debut album, Space Is Only Noise, after not quite "getting it" upon its release earlier in the year. Don't Break My Love is much more immedieate than its elder sibling; its two segnemts take their time to slowly build to form strange dancefloor manifestations. The kaleidoscopic shards that make up Space Is Only Noise work to form an organised whole. Don't Break My Love instead compresses the album's chopped vocal samples, feedback loops and clipped beats into utterly compelling modern electronica.

1. Hudson Mohawke - Satin Panthers

The most exciting EP of the year, Hudson Mohawke's Satin Panthers is brimming with more ideas than most full length albums you're likely to hear. A dizzying blend of past and future sounds bring a near-continuum of high after high; the enjoyment bought about by the number of things happening at once may only be rivalled by fellow Glaswegian Warp Records-signed Rustie (dream collaboration perhaps?), whose debut album Glass Swords was also released in 2011 (see below). HudMo seemingly accomplishes twice as much variety with Satin Panthers in less than half of Glass Swords' runtime. "Octan" starts things off with a 2-minute blast of rising and falling spacey synth textures, making room for "Thunder Bay", a rave/hip-hop mutation with strange synth-horn sounds. "Cbat" builds itself around a single chirpy phrase and grows as the drum patterns become more complex. On the other side, "All Your Love" couldn't sound more different: a highly-polished modern take of 90's rave and dancehall sped up way beyond what is necessary, and is just great fun. The final track "Thank You" serves as HudMo's victory lap, fusing everything incorporated so far: great drum programming, swirly, obnoxious synths and technicoloured Sega-esque charm. At less than 20 minutes, Satin Panthers is an essential sugar rush.

Click below for the rest of the 2011 year-end lists:
Top 100 Tracks of 2011
Top 50 Albums of 2011
Top 10 Music Videos of 2011

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