Rather than focus on particular tracks, we prefer to focus on entire singles here at Phonica, be they 7inch, 10inch or 12inch – there has to be a physical release for it to be included in our chart. It’s the hardest chart of all to compile. So, what can be said of the ‘sound’ of the 2018 single?
There has definitely been a resurgence of releases revisiting the rave aesthetic and the sound of breakbeat, jungle and drum n bass, such as Dust-E-1’s ‘The Dust In The Dance’ on Collect Call and Lanark Artefax’s ‘Touch Absence’ on Whities.
The trouble with our favourite singles chart is that a lot of these records have gone and won’t be coming back – limited presses create hype and a lot of labels are happy to see this hype build, Discogs prices rise but mostly, in the end, a repress does appear and that’s when the record gets noticed. Conversely, there are still huge records that just continue to fly out as soon as they come back.
The top positions were impossible to decide, so see the entire top 10 as equal, as many of us staff could not agree on our favourites of the year.
50. Sudan Archives
The breakout single of alternative R&B singer, violinist and producer Sudan Archives, raised in Ohio.
Swede Almaty hit us with ‘Gennaro’ – straight after Naive’s killer Eris Drew / Octo Octa coupling which drew attention to the label. It was perfectly lined up to show what a great label naive is (with 2 mentions in our Singles round-up) The original mix, ‘Gennaro’, is a left-of-centre club beast that drums up a storm of imaginatively combined funky breaks, unrelenting percussion and melodic emotional peaks to create unstoppable dancefloor momentum and then we get remixes from Octo Octa, Photonz and Endian too!
48. Peach / Various Artists
Featured on Midland’s Intergraded label (initiated to give some new & up’n’coming names some deserved attention), this was a great year for Peach thanks to both an excellent and fresh Boiler Room and this great house track with an uplifting melody, bouncy rhythm and a great little vocal sample from Reese Project’s ‘The Colour of Love’.
Reigi / Haipa
There is little known about Slowglide apart from originating in France. Sounds ranging from Sheffield bleep to distant echoes of Detroit with a little Bristol bass pressure for good measure. Once again shop favourite Antinote surprise us with their constantly high quality control
46. Sharif Laffrey
Longtime Detroit producer Sharif Laffrey served up a vocal heavy and hypnotising fourteen-minute long club anthem on his newly founded Special Forces imprint earlier this year. Big!
Whirring basslines, skippy hi-hats and bumpy kick patterns all over Californian born Berlin-based producer Huerta’s first Slow Life release. Top class dancefloor material!
The Grid 001
San Francisco DJ / producer Matrixxman unveils his new label ‘The Grid’ with a special double 12” – ‘The Grid 001’ captures Matrixxman in full Techno mode with tracks of pure rhythm, polyphony and shades of Acid bookended with brief ambient sketches with the first track sounding like a trip to Berghain’s cacophonous main room.
43. Roisin Murphy / Maurice Fulton
Play Thing / Like
(The Vinyl Factory)
Over the course of 2018, ex-Moloko singer-songwriter Roisin Murphy and Maurice Fulton teamed up to create a series of four collaborative EPs via The Vinyl Factory. Our personal favourite of the bunch is ‘Play Thing / ‘Like’ with its vocal heavy club jam on the A-side and a slightly hazier, slower paced affair which takes over the flip. Such an incredible pairing of talents!
Reptant surprised us right at the end of the year with ‘Freq Accident’. It created a bit of a frenzy in the shop, with all the staff wanting a copy. Its a sharp electro record of four dark yet playful and euphoric tracks. The title track also featured on DJ Seinfelds DJ Kicks CD. Nice job Reptant, you evil techno lizard!
Linkwood’s 150bpm electro-funk hybrid took over the A-side on this killer Firecracker release. There are two awesome ambient/house cuts on the flip as well. Not to mention the stunning silk screen printed sleeve!
Relative newcomer Upsammy is a young producer from Holland. This release completely floored most of the staff here with it’s hard to define but state of the art sound. Stealing clear of easy to please 4×4 rhythms, broken electro drums are used in a precise and original way, sat beneath unusual melodies and ambience, even her own guitar is subtly incorporated. Truly progressive magical moments to be expericened on rarer dancefloors.
39. Lady Blacktronika
Wax Cylinder Only
In October, London based label Meda Fury delivered a smoking hot 2XLP from Lady Blacktronika. This double pack features a collection of unreleased dancefloor material, as well as a handpicked selection of tracks from Blacktronika’s back catalogue that were previously only available digitally. Incredible deep and raw house sounds all over this one!
38. Luis Malon
Sisters Of The Night
Crisp snares, punchy kick patterns and space-age synth lines coming from Luis Malon on this excellent Slow Life 12”.
37. Mdou Moctar
Mdou Moctar Meets Elite Beat In a Budget Dancehall
Recorded in 2017 over three separate evenings, but released in 2018, these raw, psychedelic, unedited, live recordings were rumoured to be fueled by laughter and Azawad gunpowder tea. Incredible live music coming straight out of the Niger!
36. Tessela / Lanark Artefax
Following an extremely limited release as a dubplate, the ‘Intimidating Stillness Mix’ of Lanark Artefax’s ‘Touch Absence’ got a welcome re-release on Whities’ new Blue series, backed with Tessela’s ‘Glisten’ – itself sought after since cropping up in Joy Orbison’s Essential Mix in 2016.
35. Count Counsellor
A strange release this one and one that shows how to remix source material to create something completely new and original – a recording from what sounds like of the Canadian diva’s Vegas showcases is transformed into a house-not-house anthem, complete with pitched-down vocals and a middle break where Celine actually talks to the crowd. Inventive edit of the year!
34. Gene On Earth
It could’ve been any of the Berlin-based Gene on Earth’s Limousine Dream releases that made our chart – all flew out of the door, with this one and the ‘Top Cat’ EP standing out from the numerous minimal / tech-house releases that arrive.
33. Mr Fingers
Inner / Outer Acid (Aleksi Perala Remix)
Aleksi Perala has been impressing us all lately with the introduction of his own scale, the Colundi Sequence, to techno and dance music. None of us quite understand the sequence properly but what it does achieve is microtonality in his music, moving away from traditional Western tonality. His addition of the Colundi Sequence to Mr Finger’s ‘Inneracid’ resulted in a euphoric track that is at the same time eerie due to its being slightly ‘out of tune’. We’ve all been enjoying this 12 in the shop and are just as many fans of the dark, acidic and shuffling B side remix. It’s truly braindance magic!
Kassian are Londoners Joe Danvers and Warren Cummings. After their Heist debut, the duo rocked dancefloors with this pumping disco-house cut on the Aside, completing a strong EP with the uptempo bumper ‘System’ with it’s spoken word hook and cheeky organ riff before rounding off the EP with ‘This One’s For You’, a truly special end of night anthem in the making!
31. Joy Orbison
Joy Orbison unleashed his banging 81B EP via Hingefinger in October. This one is packed with six eclectic cuts, ranging from big room chuggers to dubby techno rollers to experimental sci-fi soundscapes. Delicious!
Ambivert Tools Volume 4
‘Hearing Voices’ is the standout here based on a beautiful looping keyboard melody which subtly grows, progressing and ascending to a deceptive moment of silence before returning to its original melody.
All The Things
We wish there were more EP‘s like Silvestre‘s recent release on his own Padre Himilaya imprint. Never weird for the sake of it, incredibly fun and not too serious, the ingredients of perfect party bangers. Low slung mid tempo breakbeats, pop samples, reggaeton vocals, ghetto house vibes and backwards ambience. Hard to imagine playful inventiveness that never gets boring
The Dust In The Dance
Dust-E-1’s jungle, drum n bass and rave inspired ‘The Dust In The Dance’ four tracker landed in March via Collect Call. This one blew the roof off and sure didn’t stay on the shelves for very long!
27. Loidis (Huerco S.)
A Parade, In The Place I Sit, The Floating World (& All Its Pleasures)
A few months into 2018, Huerco S. surprised us with a stunning new two-track EP under his Loidis alias. These tracks were made between 2014-2016 and have a beautiful dubbed-out, hypnotic feel to them. Big love!
26. North Lake
North Lake is Michigan-based Isaac Delongchamp and his ‘Hearing Voices’ EP features four tracks that illustrate his influences, stretching from classic Detroit Techno to Deep House and even New Age and Ambient. ‘Hearing Voices’ is the standout here based on a beautiful looping keyboard melody which subtly grows, progressing and ascending to a deceptive moment of silence before returning to its original melody. On the flip, the simple but devastatingly effective Omar S-esque ‘Magic Ride’, the EP’s peak energy moment!
25. Denis Sulta
Sulta Selects Volume 3
It was a big year for Denis Sulta who supplied many peak-time anthems on his Sulta Selects imprint (including the current L&S) but it was this speeded-up euphoric Thelma Houston album track that became a summer hit!
24. Wino D
(Wah Wah Wino)
Their ‘Absolutely Wino’ collection arrived and disappeared without much fanfare and Ireland’s Wah Wah Wino crew remain as mysterious as ever – there was zero information on this release before it dropped – but who cares? The experimental electronics on ‘Wino D’ caught the ears of everyone at Phonica as well as our customers. A collective to keep an ear out for.
23. Tony Allen & Jeff Mills
Tomorrow Comes The Harvest
Legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen combined forces with techno pioneer Jeff Mills to create a sublime four-track 10″ for Blue Note Records. Traditional Nigerian rhythms meet sci-fi inspired electronics. A truly magnificent meeting of minds!
22. Kasper Marott
Big anthem time again and Danish producer Kasper gave us this huge record on Modeselektor’s new imprint. ‘Keflavik’ is a party track at face value, yet the flurry of arpeggios carry a certain delicate wistfulness, deftly counterbalanced by an almost Italo disco-inspired bassline that’ll stay with you long after the track is over.
Wow, for fans of Abacus in his Prescription & Guidance days, this return to production just showed the quality of house music he has put out all these years. Hypnotic deep house music at its best.
20. Donato Dozzy
“Love at first listen” is how Marco Shuttle, who released Mindless Fullness through his Eerie label, described this record, and listeners may have a similar experience. Framed by a pillowy halftime groove, “Cleo” isn’t exactly a dance floor shoo-in. But, ticking along above 140 BPM with 16th note arps supplying shimmering momentum, it produces a feeling of weightless drift, as if we’re looking down on the techno dance floor from some serene higher vantage-point. The euphoria comes from the bass and lead lines, gorgeous glowing vapour trails that pass in subtly different configurations. “Mindless Fullness” retains the high tempo and crystal clarity, but swaps arcing melody for heads-down hypnotism. With “Cleo”‘s afterglow still hanging in the air, its dancing bell-tones are all the more mesmerising.
Shin-Okubo One Night Stand
Every year, we get a limited supply of the stunning S.O.N.S. releases – techno at its best. This fourth EP in the Seoul-based producers’ Tokyo-themed series combines trance, techno and breakbeat elements with heavy atmosphere and intricate production. Stunning.
18. Erol Alkan
Spectrum / Silver Echoes
Erol Alkan returns to Phantasy with ‘Spectrum’ and ‘Silver Echoes’, his first original solo material in five years; two pure dancefloor cuts which perfectly embody Alkan’s charismatic, psychedelia-tinged and singular approach to DJing and production.
17. Daniel Avery
Quick Eternity (Four Tet Remix)
Not content to only give us one stunning remix this year, Kieran Hebden flips the warm, undulating synths and crystalline percussion of Avery’s original in his own inimitable style, building shimmering, skittering flourishes before a pneumatic final half.
16. Peggy Gou
Travelling Without Arriving
Following her huge landmark Ninja Tune release, Peggy released one of her earlier favourites – a subtle deep house groover that comes complete with a remix from one of her favourite DJs, Ge-ology. Here, he takes Peggy’s laidback track and adds his own touch, taking the initial riff and layering several lines of groovy kicks before introducing a sharp synth stab. Harder-hitting than its predecessor, Ge-ology’s edit is a supremely danceable cut, and better suited to the late-night floor!
Pangaea’s Bone Sucka features two heavy-hitting breaks and piano driven techno bangers. Top stuff from the Hessle Audio camp once more!
Casa Voyager were on form this year but there were never enough copies to go around – hopefully full represses will be back with us – this OCB track was the highlight of the 3rd EP, is is the return of electro breaks, we ask?
13. Justin Cudmore
Twisted Love / About To Burst
Brooklyn DJ and The Bunker resident alongside Mike Servito, Justin Cudmore releases two no-nonsense acid-tinged house slammers for our Phonica White imprint – made for the dancefloor, this has been one of our bestsellers in the store.
12. Mella Dee
Mella Dee brought the heat via his own Warehouse Music imprint with three high energy, funk-laden and disco-flecked summer belters. This one flew off the shelves back in the summer. The rest of Mella Dee’s Warehouse Music releases are well worth checking out too!
11. Harrison BDP
Winner of Best Breakthrough producer at DJ Magazine, we were very happy to invite Harrison for a 3-track EP on Phonica – one of our best sellers of the year – and a resounding piano-led Italo anthem, combined with some heads-down tech-house and a 2-step garage track to round things off!
10. Joy O & Ben Vince
Transition 2 / Systems Align
This collaboration between Joy O and saxophonist Ben Vince was epic and refreshingly different for both of them. The result was two rhythmic and textural modern-day dancefloor monsters (and the return of the saxophone!). Excellent on both sides!
9. Eris Drew & Octo Octa
Eris Drew and Octo Octa delivered this stellar collection of breakbeat, US garage and dreamy house influenced cuts via Violet’s Naive imprint earlier this year. Seriously good stuff and we’re looking forward to seeing what each of these talents brings to the table in 2019!
803 Crystalgrooves 001
Berlin’s Cinthie has long been a respected figure in the Berlin underground electronic music scene, heading up the Beste Modus and we_r_house imprints, as well as Unison Wax alongside Diego Krause. Her new label, 803 Crystalgrooves, launched this Ep containing the anthemic heavy hitter ‘Together’, a heady House groove fuelled by a filtered, funk-infused bass line, bright organ chords and bumpy 909 drums, peak-time house indeed!
Opal (Four Tet Remix)
Bicep’s ‘Opal’ was already an anthem before its single release and Kieran Hebden didn’t have to do too much – just emphasising that euphoric build for a simple and effective dancefloor weapon.
6. Omar S
Your Socially Awkard Criminal
Its been a busy year for the legendary Omar S and it could’ve been any of Omar S’s big records in the top 50, (such as ‘One of a Kind‘ or ‘I’ll Do It Again‘ but we plumped for the Inner City-like anthem of ‘Games That We Play’ on this EP with Diviniti sounding like Paris Grey.
5. DJ Koze
Pick Up / The Love Truck
With this track, Koze set out to make an anthem along the lines of Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ – taking the riff from Melba Moore’s ‘Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance’ and adding Gladys Knight’s vocals made for an easy anthem. Whilst some moaned that it was all too simple, surely its simplicity is what made this such a dancefloor anthem.
4. Krystal Klear
Euphoric 80s-tinged house music sounding just like New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ from Gerd Jansen’s consistent Running Back label. Heard everywhere throughout the summer, a new package of remixes from Paul Woolford, Gerd, Mano Le Tough continued its ubiquity.
3. Aphex Twin
Aphex Twin returns once again with the Collapse EP, a five tracker hailing from the underground. Its five tunes chew up notions of exhilaration with life-affirming abundance, high hats and sauntering arrangements, brain-scrambling noise and much much more, all cloaked in an absolutely jaw-clenching sleeve design from Weirdcore.
The Night Land Remixes
Its all about the epic 11 minute long Superpitcher remix of Talabot & Boman’s ‘Dins El Llit’, with its twists and turns for a hypnotic house odyssey – although both the Samo DJ and LB Dub Corp remixes are also outstanding – what a package!
1. Peggy Gou
Once (It Makes You Forget)
Its definitely been Peggy Gou’s year – after her Phonica White and Rekids debuts, the South Korean Berlin-based DJ gave us the singalong house anthem of the year in ‘It Makes You Forget’ (not forgetting the DMX Krew-inspired ‘Han Jan’ on the flip). This was easily our biggest seller of the year by far!