Although some claim that electronic music has finally run out of ideas, we feel that the music that passed through the shop this year has been richer more varied, mixing more diverse influences than ever before. With only a quick glance at Phonica’s top picks of 2016 you will see Afrobeat, Future Jazz, House, Broken Beat, Ambient, Techno, and indefinable records which explore new boundaries. These records couldn’t be more different, and that, in our opinion, is a very, very, good sign of things to come.
You’ll notice that, without intention, our top 20 LPs are all on independent, mostly very small (we’re talking one-man-operation small) labels. We see this as a continuing and maturing trend away from the majors, a democratisation of music for the multitude, allowing open-minded consumers and producers to create and buy brilliant long play records away from corporate influence. The sound of 2016 is one of fusions, experimentations, and independent thinking.
Other websites such as RA or FACT have now switched to the ‘Top tracks’ chart where each track counts separately – perhaps more apt in these days of streaming and MP3s – but here at Phonica, we feature Singles – 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.
The compilation is not as big as it once was. Podcasts and mixes have become the new ways for DJs to show off their sets and only the established series such as Fabric and DJ Kicks seem to be releasing mix CDs these days. Curated collections seem to be thriving with some choice platters from ‘Hostel La Torre’ or Jeremy Underground in the form of his ‘Beauty’ collection.
The reissue market has grown considerably in the last few years thanks to the resurgence of vinyl. However, this year has seen an explosion in the number of singles reissued – mostly 12 inches but some 7s and 10s too.
Reissue Albums and Collections
The number of quality reissues and collections seems to be accelerating year on year at the moment. Whether it’s due to the ‘vinyl resurgence’ we are told is occurring by major news outlets, or perhaps the Discogs generation maturing, and gaining the courage to email their favorite lost producers, is not yet clear.
With a broader range of records being played by DJs, producers are also channeling a more diverse mix of influences. We have reached out to the artists behind some of the releases featured on these lists, as well as to some friends and regulars, to find out which releases they have been digging and who have influenced them in 2016.
Last but not least, our own staff have compiled their personal highlights of the year. As a team, we have discussed thoroughly the content and order of all the other lists, and the results are a mixture of best sellers and Phonica favourites. This list is an opportunity to get to know our individual tastes better, this way you know who to talk to next time you are in the shop!