2012 Top 10s & 20s

Poppy Ackroyd
Mario Basanov
Ryan Blotnick
Peter Broderick
Vladislav Delay
Taylor Deupree
El Fog
Masayoshi Fujita
Golden Gardens
Mano Le Tough
Yann Novak
The Swifter
Robert Scott Thompson
Christiaan Virant

Compilations / Mixes
Hernan Cattaneo
Change The Beat
DJ Deep
Full Body Workout 10
We Love Detroit

EPs / Singles
Andrew Bayer
Birds of Passage
Brancaccio & Bishop
Maya Jane Coles
Gerwin, Nuage & 2 Shy
The Green Kingdom
H. Salut / Hopeless L. M. B.
Her Name is Calla
Herrmutt Lobby
Darren McClure
Oh, Yoko
Michael Price
Danilo Rispoli
Phil Tangent
Windsor for the Derby

Mario Basanov: Journey

Lithuanian electronic producer Mario Basanov's debut album for Needwant Records very much lives up to its title. Less a club-focused collection of dancefloor bombs than a song-oriented set that uses dance music as its foundation, Journey incorporates a broad range of styles into its sixty-eight-minute running time. The album is distinguished by the quality of the material, yes, but also for the polish and imagination Basanov brings to the production. Many tracks are elevated by near-subliminal ear candy, such as the little hi-hat swish that lifts “Let It Go,” the thumb piano in “Like a Child,” and the triangle accents that add sparkle to “We Are Child of Love.” The songs' synth-heavy arrangements are typically expansive and their grooves infectious.

Powered by chunky synth work and a crisp funk flow, the sexy house jam “Let It Go” opens the album strongly, especially when the dulcet vocal tones of Miss Bee are front and center. Though it sets the bar high for what follows, the song is a good choice of opener as it immediately brings the listener on board. The soulful voice of New Orleans-based Rahjwanti also handsomely complements Basanov's driving house pulse in “Slip Away.” Minalga and Jazzu likewise elevate the late-night house dramatics of “We Are Child of Love” and “Under Your Feet” with their respective vocal presences, while the hard-grooving electro-funk of “Say What Ya Want,” with singer Stee Downes along for the ride, also makes a strong impression. Despite its modern synthetic sheen, “Something About” opts for a style redolent of old-school soul music, especially when Edwin Williamson's emotive vocal is factored in. At times (such as during “Like a Child”), Journey favours a laid-back ballad style that would sound more at home as part of a pop musical than dance music festival. “Mes Souvenirs” relocates us to Paris for three minutes of jazzy house, while “Lonely Days” closes Journey in Prince mode, with the song riffing on his falsetto ballad style.

Predictably the vocal cuts overshadow the instrumentals, especially when Basanov has smartly used a gallery of vocalists rather than one or two only. As decent a tune as it is, the vocals-free “Skywalker,” for example, can't help but sound inferior when placed after “Let It Go”;“Alone in the Dark,” on the other hand, fares better on account of its dreamy moodscaping and exotic atmospheric touches. The album isn't without its fun moments either, as the electro-funk jam “High School,” with its raucous call-and-response, shows. Overloading an album with sixteen tracks is a risky move (even when two are brief ambient interludes), but Basanov pulls it off in large part due to the consistently high quality of the material and the collection's stylistic variety.

January 2013