The Waveform Transmitter Best of 2018 – Editor Selects

As we career headlong into 2019 with the events of 2018 behind us, The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight selects his favourite musical tidbits from the past 12 months.

Well, Christmas isn’t far off, so you are undoubtedly feverishly shovelling mince pies down your throat and using “it’s Christmas” as an excuse to start drinking at 08:30. However, if you’re a moaning bastard like me you’ll already be seething with bile every time that fucking Amazon advert permeates your conscious. Yes, yes I can feel it, its called molten rage and it is giving me indigestion. So, where do I turn for comfort from the insidious sound of singing boxes that have haunted my ears since September, inducing sudden outbursts of choral Jackson Five covers while I have a piss? I turn to the amazing music that I am fortunate to hear on a daily basis. You can keep your myrrh, mate, I want frenetic percussion and acid squiggles when I’m in my manger.

So, in keeping with clickbaity tradition, we have put together our selections from the past twelve months; we’ve chosen two each from the albums we’ve loved, singles/EPs that have impressed, mixes we’ve got down to, and labels which have come into their own in 2018. As always, selecting such a narrow range from a massive pool of talent was a tough task, but we’ve just about managed to whittle it down to our absolute favourites. We haven’t put them in any particular order, this isn’t a top ten, this is our best of 2018, and we love them all equally. Without further ado, then…

Albums

Posthuman Mutant City Acid

If you have yet to get your hands on a copy of Posthuman‘s brilliant Mutant City Acid long player, then we suggest you do so. The album is packed with nostalgic nods to the motifs of our counter-culture; themes of dystopia are joined by retro video game references and science fiction ephemera, all of which are given new life thanks to the duos electronic interpretations. As with all of their productions, this one is solid and has a narrative that runs throughout, working as perfectly as a cohesive whole as each track does standing alone. Check out Into Gestalt, below, and check out our full review, here. Then go and buy the album because you need this in your collection. (Ste Knight)

Steven Rutter – Brainfog

It may come as a surprise to some, but Brainfog represents Steven Rutter‘s debut long player as a solo artist. This is despite a wealth of releases, stretching back to the 90’s UK techno scene, the foundations of which Rutter laid alongside Mike Golding as the seminal B12 production duo. Fast forward to April 2018 and Rutter releases Brainfog, as much a deeply personal, introspective journey for Steve as it is for the listener. The album was conceived as the producer recovered from an accident and the ensuing difficulties that recovery posed. The track titles give this away in the first instance, with Sleep Gives FreedomCracked Reality, and First Degree Anguish all very telling. The music itself reflects the artist’s mindset, too, with melancholy running strongly throughout the compositions, the odd chink of light shining through the thick miasma of Brainfog.

It is encouraging to see that, despite his personal battles, Steven Rutter hasn’t lost the personality that endures in his productions. We still have tracks that are faithful to his sound. The tropes that were cemented by UK techno – those futuristic breakbeats married up with diaphanous pads and deftly orchestrated synth work – are all present, with our producer exploring a range of tempos to suit the mood that each track instills. Producing the album clearly gave Steven as sense of catharsis following his period of illness, and listening to it offers exactly the same to us – a sense of relief and escape that is rarely achieved by the new wave of paint-by-numbers producers.

Take a listen, below, and buy it here.

Singles/EPs

Roza Terenzi/D.Tiffany Oscillate Tracks 001

November gifted us with a killer double header from producers Roza Terenzi and D.Tiffany, who launched the Berlin-based Oscillate imprint’s inaugural release; Oscillate Tracks 001D.Tiffany‘s Spirit Alien offers up a healthy serving of rave-drenched nostalgia, as breakbeats skeet playfully over the top of a thick, booming sub bass, synth stabs heralding a very present 90s vibe which techno heads old and new will undoubtedly find infectious. Dreamy pads add to the wistfulness of the track – a perfect ode to times when electronic music was less about image and more about the beat. The track enjoys a rework from Oscillate mainstay, Jayda G, as the Esoteric Mix tones the rave elements down and gives the track a more ethereal quality.

Roza Terenzi fires us straight into a funked-out electro orbit, with her contribution, Electronique. The track features some true break-out percussion, encouraging the listener to throw down more powermoves than would be considered healthy. An acid squelch enters the fray halfway in, which sees Terenzi minimalising the tracks elements and allowing those present to enjoy centre stage, before the bulbous bassline returns for another crack of the whip. If you are a fan of the early rave/breakbeat techno sound, a la Warp Records‘ Artificial Intelligence compilation, then you will definitely dig this release. Take a listen below, and grab your copy here.

Phoboz – Flow

Released in April on Russian imprint Resonance MoscowPhoboz‘ EP Flow is as trip-inducing as its cover art. The tracks induce an industrial vista, where forgotten machines clank away down deep, dank corridors, the air thickly laiden with fungal spores and acidic dewdrops. Aside from the beatless title track – which is the second of a six-track collection – the remainder of the EP asserts itself with heavy, looping beats that allow the atmospheres, created by our enigmatic producer, room to breath.

Despite their industrial undertones, the compositions on this EP have a darkly organic quality, their sentience laid bare by their quickly evolving nature. Imposing drones and static breaths sigh out across the tracks’ foundations, as though we are being watched from the shadows that lie behind the machinery that crunches and grinds before us. Listen to the EP, below, and head here to buy the release.

Mixes

GiGi FM – Waveform Transmitter Making Waves #1

Making Waves is our platform for unsigned artists to have their voices heard. The exclusive mix series was opened by GiGi FM, a French DJ who currently resides in London, and it stands out to me as one of my favourite mixes of 2018, not because it landed on our pages – no bias here – but because GiGi‘s track selection is on point throughout. She flits between genres as comfortably as fellow countryman, Laurent Garnier, and her Making Waves mix is testament to her ear for incendiary tracks – an enviable quality that far surpasses her age, demonstrating a musical maturity far beyond her 27 years. Get this one on loud, that is the ONLY way you should be listening to it.

Dan The Automator – Solid Steel 06.04.2018

Dan The Automator  has held a special place in my heart since I first heard the classic Dr Octagon album, Dr Octagonecologyst. Produced, in part, by Automator, the album was integral to my formative years, encouraging my appreciation of music that was…well…a bit different. Dan The Automator‘s Solid Steel mix was aired back in April, and represents an array of Nakamura‘s tastes and influences. Plus, it features Prince‘s version of Creep by Radiohead, which, in true Purple One fashion, turns the track on its head completely; a brilliant introduction to a mix that defies any sort of genre pigeonholing, it is just Automator through-and-through.

Labels

Western Lore

2017 saw Western Lore dropping its first two releases, both from producer and label head Dead Man’s Chest, whose Throwing Shades and Darkness at Dawn EPs launched the label and set it off on a blistering trajectory. 2018 has seen the label really come to the fore, with eight releases enjoying the light of day thanks to the Bristol imprint.

Exploring a retro-influenced jungle sound, the Western Lore label has become home for a number of underground artists who have contributed to the label with a mighty fine selection of productions. Silent DustPliskin, and Sam Binary have all joined the ranks of a label that we hope to see a lot more of in 2019. Check out their Blunted Breaks label showcase, below, and get your own copy, here; the compilation is a great way to get to grips with the label’s sound and discover some excellent emerging artists.

Craigie Knowes

Yeah, we’re aware that the Craigie Knowes imprint have been releasing music since 2015, including their War Child fundraisers in 2015 and 2016. Following those, 2017 saw the imprint welcoming several artists to their fold, including Carl Finlow and DJ Overdose. However, 2018 has seen the label dropping no less than ten records, never faltering on the quality of their rapidly growing back-catalogue.

Textasy kicked off 2018’s single/EP releases for the label this year, with his hardcore explosion, Dallas Gun Club, which was swiftly followed by Voiron‘s Voironizer acidelectro themes. Clearly the labelheads have an ear for a tune; their releases this year have been totally off the chain, and we hope to see plenty more output from this provocative label. Given that 2018 also saw them dropping wax from Derek CarrThe Burrell Connection, and Posthuman, we have no doubt that the next twelve months will be equally as impressive, if not more. We’ve knocked a little taster playlist together…listen below and buy the label’s releases, here.

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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