I’ve tended to cover albums and compilations in the few other articles that have been posted here, mainly because there’s a bit more variety involved, more options for new listeners to consider, and generally more ease in reaching a consensus on what album is generally considered to be good, great, or even the best. There’s nothing wrong with having favourite songs either. Most people that are into their music have a top 5, 10, 15, or 20 list knocking around in their head, even if it does seem to evaporate the moment anyone asks them to name their favourite songs in rank order. The following isn’t intended to be an objective gathering of tracks that will likely be most people’s favourites but rather those tracks that I feel are up there with the best I’ve ever heard.
Aphex Twin – Windowlicker
Even though I considered songs like Vordhosbn, Xtal, and Alberto Balsam as among my favourites, Windowlicker just has the edge on them all. It has nothing to do with the well-known video with Richard D. James’ face superimposed onto everyone involved and everything to do with the intriguing introduction, the melodic progression which is drab and dark in the best of ways, and what has to be one of the best opening beat sections to any song ever. The creepy voices serenading the paranoid side of your mind throughout are genius, as are the frequent bass drops that come in the form of a deeply sighing voice. Windowlicker is Aphex Twin perfection, and I implore you to consider buying the album it originates from, the Windowlicker EP.
Booka Shade – Body Language
Booka Shade is a house duo hailing from Germany, and they are a name that should be well-known to fans of the house, minimal, and tech house styles. Body Language is by far the duo’s best-known song, and for good reason as well. The build-up crashes down to reveal the 11-note hook that gets every single person in the crowd of their live audiences going in a way you would never imagine such a relatively tame genre could do. the original track is quite lengthy at around seven minutes, but it’s a joy to listen to from start to finish.
Get to Booka Shade’s website to discover more of their fantastic music.
Rameses B – Memoirs
Liquid Drum and Bass has become extremely bland of late, with any producer thinking they can just shove down a light DnB beat, pop over some highly worn-out and generic chords and copy/paste in order to make a track.
Rameses B’s Memoirs is what happens when an artist takes things back to basics. The entire song revolves around a stunning melodic progression that spans 21 notes, split into separate, ascending triplets. The beat is as minimal as it gets, and the vocals sit on the track perfectly. This is the epitome of liquid DnB and is a demonstration of how liquid should be done. You can find the original mix on YouTube, and a series of remixes on the Memoirs EP at iTunes, featuring I Need You, a track that almost made it to this list.
Insideinfo – Metamorphosis
This one’s a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s a straight-up drum and bass track that’s somewhat minimal in approach. The female vocals have more attitude than 99% of the male ones I’ve heard, and are performed better as well. The wobbly hook is what it’s all about though; this one’s as dirty as minimal DnB comes.
Moonbeam – Stay With Me
Never have I come across an electronic music artist (or group of artists) that is as underrated as the Russian minimal/trance/house project Moonbeam. Though they’ve sort of lost their way from their once-brilliant minimal trance style they used to possess, a browse through their back catalogue will reveal a series of what can only be described as bangers. Tracks like the gorgeous I Love Mornings, 7 Seconds, Seeming Reflection, and Life Tree all lost out to the magnificent Stay With Me for a place in this list.
Incredibly, this track’s main hook is based around a rhythmical pattern that is played on one note (F to be exact), and the build-up/break down progression is typical of Moonbeam. You should definitely listen to Stay With Me, as well as Life Tree, Seeming Reflection, 7 Seconds, and I love Mornings (these are all YouTube links).
ATB – 9PM (Till I Come)
This one is just an absolute classic. The hook is known throughout the dance world, and although the beat sounds as cheesy as they come these days, it’s one that every electronic music fan should know. Check it out on YouTube.
Bar 9 – Strung Out
Though it isn’t really Dubstep in the original sense, Bar 9 was still making large tunes long before the likes of Borgore and Skrillex got their hands on the genre. Strung Out is a breathtaking example of what happens when you find the right sample (in this case, the main theme from Memoirs of a Geisha) and slap on quite the chunky dubstep beat over the top of it. This is the quintessential Bar 9 sound, and it’s a shame he doesn’t make them like this anymore.
Rusko – Jahova
Another Dubstep track that many will scoff at, but Jahova is extremely anthemic in nature. It has a memorable hook that people used to sing along to when it was played live, plus it’s got plenty of old-school wobble that treats the middle frequencies with the respect they simply don’t get these days.