Crate Digging with Andrew Wowk — 10 Must-Have Tracks from December

by | Jan 10, 2023 | Essay | 0 comments

The sheer volume of new music released on a daily basis means that some gems will invariably go unnoticed, even by the most dedicated enthusiasts. Crate Digging is a monthly roundup of top-tier tracks you might have missed from across the electronic music spectrum.

From obscurities uncovered during trips down Bandcamp rabbit holes to the latest releases from legendary artists, Crate Digging is here to keep your collection up to date.

1. Xao – Aqua Tofana [C.A.N.V.A.S.]

Berlin-based producer, sound designer, and composer Xao delivers a melancholic-yet-blissful piece of digital shoegazing. “Aqua Tofana” juxtaposes rapid-fire, high-tech drums with murky bass, reverbed vocals, and grainy pads to generate maximum headnodding vibes.

2. Cardioactive – Ego Saved My Life [Mekanika Recordings]

Psychedelic, driving techno with a touch of cheeky breakbeat swing. Cardioactive sets up the premise early in “Ego Saved My Life.” He then spends the remainder of its runtime subtly tweaking its gritty bass line, staccato drum breaks, and spacey effects to keep things interesting.

3. nickname – Simon Said [Extra Spicy]

In this absolutely raucous bootleg of Pharaohe Monch‘s “Simon Said,” nickname chops up the source material’s infamous opening refrain over tight TR-808 beats, classic breaks, and booming sub bass.

4. Arcane – Curse of the Pharaohs [Rua Sound]

Enjoying a strong finish to 2022, Arcane features in Crate Digging for the second month running with “Curse of the Pharaohs.” Although the tough, precise drums, scattered vocal samples, and warbling bass pack a huge punch, the real star is the expansive, Egyptian Empire-inspired horn lead.

5. Gunjack – Ritual48 [Self-Released]

The highly productive Gunjack drops a rolling, percussive techno cut full of his trademark live edits, gnarly sample manipulation, and syrupy low end. “Ritual48” is one of those grooves that could loop infinitely and never get stale.

6. The Astonics – Heart of Soul (Con-Figure Remix) [Omni Music]

“Heart of Soul” is deep, meditative jungle that is purpose built for big sound systems. Con-Figure adds clever edits and effects for additional flavor on his remix, but he retains the original’s dusty, warm aesthetic by bringing the alluring vocals and misty pads to the foreground.

7. $turmtech – wave [play labs]

$turmtech returns to dj playstation‘s play labs imprint with some razor-sharp, techy breakbeat. Warm, dub techno-style chord stabs float above chunky, synthetic drums, with additional sub bass layers coming in after the second drop for added thickness.

8. MoMA Ready – Time And Space [Haus Of Altr]

New Yorker MoMA Ready strikes a balance between classy and wonky on “Time And Space,” blending shuffly deep house percussion and sultry vocal samples with off-kilter analogue chords and bass sequences. Quintessential New York house flavors abound.

9. David Duriez presents Plastic Music – Subterranean aCID [Brique Rouge]

Inspired by the early days of acid house in Chicago, David Duriez (a certified acid legend in his own right) takes it back to basics with “Subterranean aCID.” This is acid house for purists: Jacking drums and two TB-303 sequences weaving around one another as they get tweaked into oblivion.

10. Theiz – 1000 Year Cycle of the Dragonfly [EPM Music]

“1000 Year Cycle of the Dragonfly” shows off Theiz‘ 30 years of experience as a producer. Its sound design references uplifting ’90s house while adding a contemporary edge thanks to precise sequencing and intelligent use of effects.

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