In 2011, it seemed like anyone remotely associated with music dropped their “official mixes” (indie-rock bands, we’re looking at you), making for some very bloated Soundclouds. Because a new set nearly dropped every day, wading through was a tall order, but here’s five mixes from 2011 that you should carve out the time to listen to if you haven’t already. These folks who were clearly in the zone and can do something “official” anytime they want.
1. Jamie XX, Essential Mix
Let’s go ahead and crown Jamie xx post-dubstep MVP of 2011, shall we? (Sorry, James Blake.) While the producer is responsible for some of the year’s loveliest experimental bass work — the entirety of his collaborative effort with Gil Scott-Heron for We’re New Here included — this mix for BBC’s Radio 1 proved that the young Brit’s carefully crafted new-meets-old sensibility translates to his DJ sets as well. He’s smart with his selection, understated and meticulous with his mixing, and manages to keep things light and fun throughout.
2. NguzuNguzu, Perfect Lullaby
The first track off of this L.A. duo’s mix for DIS Magazine is a “harp edit” of Brandy and Monica’s teenage anthem, “The Boy is Mine.” Really. The song sets the tone for what unfolds into an effortlessly smooth dream sequence. The lullaby highlights R&B crooners (R Kelly, Ashanti, Ciara, and The-Dream) and puts them in step with moombahton productions and floating bachata instrumentals, making this mix one that’s ideal for late-night lounging anytime of the year.
3. Four Tet, Fabric Live 59
In an interview with Self-Titled, Four Tet aka Kieran Hebden explained that his goal for this mix was to create something that was both true to the city of London and the expansive electronic underground that experimental mega-club Fabric has fostered over the years. In turn, his contribution to the Fabric Live mix series is a run of techno, acid house, garage, two-step, and a slew of his own unreleased originals (including our favorite: his addictive, hi-hat driven dance nugget,”Pyramid”). Highlights include Musical Mob’s dirty grime bounce tune “Pulse X,” Burial’s meloncholic dubstep track “Street Halo,” and the garage-influenced tinkling of Caribou’s older club jam “Weber’s.” As a whole, the set puts you on the narrow back alleys of London: gearing up for a night out, dancing your face off, and then serenely sound-tracking your early morning walk home. Check out the tune “Locked” below and stream the whole set here.
4. Sparkle Motion, Flyte Tyme Vol 1
Here we have an entire hour dedicated to the genius of Grammy winning production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Sparkle Motion, a.k.a. TOBES and DJ Yoda highlight the pair’s ’80s-era classics with sing-a-long anthems courtesy of Janet Jackson, Human League, S.O.S. Band, Alexander O’Neal, and Cherrelle. (“Saturday Love” for both of those last two.) It’s a feel-good, family friendly throwback to teased hair and playfully coy love songs. Shouts to Robert Palmer for his creepy rendition of “Didn’t Mean To Turn You On,” too.
5. Four Color Zack, The-Dream Live Mix
This is actually the second mix that Seattle’s Four Color Zack has dedicated to the R&B crooner/producer. This thirty-minute mix benefits from the fact that it was recorded live from a club Zack was DJing at in April, where one can revel in The-Dream’s sassy, hook-perfected glory via jams like “Make Up Bag,” “Love Your Girl,” “Rockin That Shit,” and so many more. Maybe you can also use this to help forget that uncomfortably weepy mixtape The-Dream released earlier this year as well?