Skip to the list if you want, but you’ll miss out on all the Very Illuminating* Introductory Text that follows…
* Illumination not guaranteed. No warranty.
About the Watchlist
This is an occasionally updated list of artists, labels etc whose productions are interesting enough to merit close attention to everything they release. That does not mean that everything they produce is great, or even that a majority is. Some people earn their place on this list by being consistently above average, others by being quite exceptional on a minimum of two occasions, and a few by being so mind-blowing that even though I only love one track they’ve done out of 4000, it was so good that I feel compelled to keep an eye just in case.
Regardless of which, these lists are entirely and fiercely meritocratic (at least in my personal taste and opinion – which of course is fickle and changes over time). Unlike many DJs, I will not use charts or watchlists to big up my mates or people that I have a business relationship with or as a mutual backscratching exercise. You cannot buy your place onto them by sending me free promos (but you’re welcome to send them anyway, and if they’re good enough, you’ll earn your place). Because of the evolution of taste and preference, the loss of a place on the list might say more about what I’m into these days than any decline in the quality of their output. I may keep a list of former members and give a reason for their expulsion… we’ll see when that fateful day comes. For now, the lists are expected to grow… slowly…
If you read these lists and an artist or label springs to mind who isn’t on the list, and you find their omission surprising, maybe I’ve missed them: please please drop me a line with your suggestions. I love to be nudged in interesting new directions. Until recently, 99% of my musical discovery has been by slogging through all the new releases in certain genres at certain download stores, but that task is now becoming impossible due to sheer quantity. I will still do lucky dips, but I need a more “intelligent” way of focusing my tune-hunting radar. If I dig your suggestion, I’ll try to do the same favour for you, and I’ll big you up on this site, how’s that. If I dig *lots* of your suggestions, you’ll get a link in my very exclusive “DJs I dig” links section, and you can expect a call-up for a guest mix…
One of these days my brilliant idea for auto-discovery of new acts from current faves (that actually works for underground and obscure acts, unlike all the existing ones) may see the light of day. Or someone else will do it sooner and better than I could, hopefully. Until then, let’s help each other out.
Executive summary of the foregoing for those who chose not to devour its elegant and carefully constructed verbosity…
- Places on this list are awarded purely on merit based on my personal opinion and taste at a particular moment. It is not a marketing tool.
- Send me your suggestions for names you think I ought to investigate, based on those already there, and I’ll love you long time.
Without further ado…
…may be selected either for their own productions or their skills at remixing others… the one does not necessarily follow from the other, and if you have only heard one or other aspect of what a producer does, I urge you not to disregard until you’ve tried them “both ways”…
- Ace Ventura
- Eat Static
- Far Too Loud
- Perfect Stranger
- Plastic Shell (in the hope that the next release will see them return back to genre they absolutely owned in 2007-8, epic psychedelic tech-breaks, and the production quality demonstrated by Foley, Conestruck, their Lizarb and Dilema remixes etc, and just stop with the accomplished-but-nothing-that-special minimal tech …. please guys?)
- SOTEG / Son Of The Electric Ghost
- Skeetaz (= Bil “SOTEG” Bless + Jamie “Kilowatts” Watts)
- System 7 Unique chunky but trippy techno. Do not miss any opportunity to see them live.
- Triple Agent
- Vibrasphere (not for their usual output of psytrance, which doesn’t move me much tbh, but for two absolutely stunning psytechno tracks: Analog Marinade and Waveguide, my #1 and #2 favourite psytechno tunes of last year.
- VIM Breaks
Same deal as artists – strict alphabetical order, gold star for those who have brought an exceptionally large number or high ratio of great tunes to the world. The labels list is likely to grow as I start paying more attention to which label my tunes are on, something I’ve been paying insufficient attention since going digital.
- 10 Kilo
- Broken Robot
- Camino Blue – added Jan 2011
- Chi Recordings (found so much good stuff in a dive through their whole back catalogue)
- Dead Famous
- Ego Shot
- Exogenic Records / Exogenic Breaks
- Full Tilt Recordings
- Glack Audio
- High Grade
- Med School
- Rune Recordings – added Dec 2010
- Sound of Habib
Netlabels offering Free Music
Putting the lie to the idea that “free” = “not worth selling” (something that free software has comprehensively disproven, but is strangely not yet accepted for music in some quarters). Many netlabels may contain gems but their signal to noise ratio is so vanishingly small that it’s not worth going there without a specific recommendation. But these ones have proved themselves worth closer inspection:
- Techno through and through. Much of it too banging and not evolving enough for my taste, but a couple of their releases are so superb, particularly Dropout’s “Bukkake” and “DNA”, that I feel compelled to check everything they’ve done. I’m doing it slowly, and finding a fairly low hit rate to my taste, but when they hit, they do it with style.
- [Disclaimer: Actually been a while since I had time to check this place, but I feel they have earned a permanent fixture on the strength of their back catalogue… and I will return at some point…] This place for me is synonymous with the phrase “Boards of Canada style IDM” because they at one point it seemed like they used those words or similar on nearly everything they were putting out… but although their bread and butter is lounge- and bedroom-oriented fayre with organic pads and laidback or gently-glitched percussion, there’s much more going on here, though leaning heavily towards the relaxed (nothing that will pound you into submission) and the trancey/loungey rather than trippy/psychedelic. They set the bar high on production quality. I sometimes wish they’d have a higher bar for interesting content, but hey, you’re still likely to find something of interest in at least one in three or four releases, and there’s a good chance it will be very interesting. Unique and quirky acts like Bad Loop, Xerxes, Kilowatts and Esem came into my life through kahvi and became some of my favourite chillout artists. Many others have gone on to release on well-known commercial labels after appearing on kahvi. All-time favourite has to be #130e: Bethy Ethodd – Dagens Tips – trippy (unusally for kahvi), quirky – verging on bizarre without falling over into it too much, and hey, it’s got a good beat.
- Tom Cosm
- Not a label, a geezer who makes interesting and quite unique-sounding chunky squelch-driven dance music of multiple genres (but usually not quite fitting inside the formula for any of them)… worth checking simply because the guy clearly has multi-skillz of production. He gives tunes away on a donate-if-you-like-em basis. Quite a lot of people donate. Nuffzed. I’ve long planned to do similar myself.