The 10 Best Bay Area Electronic Records of 2012
The Line Up
Another new San Francisco label is veteran local DJ Vin Sol's Soo Wavey records, an imprint that's dedicated to putting out new interpretations on the theme of raw old-school house. So far that's included a handful of memorable works like the Soo Wavey Rhythm Tracks series and 5kinAndBone5 & Robert Jeffrey's "Penis Power." The Line Up is Sol's first solo release, and it follows a similar hardware-centric aesthetic with brutal drums and bit-crunched stabs. Check out "Break Point," the sample-heavy B-side, for a trippy experience that's almost as weird as the record's cover. (That's a good thing.)
A Night at the Haç
A lot of reviewers remarked that Roche's first release for 100% Silk didn't sound very much like the kind of music you'd expect to hear at Manchester's legendary, but now defunct, Haçienda club. Actually, the discrepency comes down to which "Haç" he's referring to. In this case, all signs point to Haçeteria, the monthly dance party that's played a major role in fostering an entire circle of up-and-coming San Francisco house producers (such as Roche). Given that information, the release's name makes sense, as its four tracks are all good examples of the kind of loose and live sound associated with that party. Listen to "A Night at the Haç" and "Outsider Insider" and don't forget to check out "Auragan," his other excellent release on Hieroglyphic Being's Mathematics imprint.
Bobby Browser has been around for a little while now (actually, his duo with Greg Zifcak, Wav Dwgs, was on our 2011 list), but he's only recently begun to step out on his own. 2012 was a big year because it saw the release of Just Browsing, his debut EP, on 100% SIlk. Locals who've seen him know that he puts on an impressive live show with tables full of vintage hardware. That aesthetic translates to his record, with four tracks of brightly melodic keyboards married to the rhythms of ravey '80s house. Check out highlights "Smooth Cruise" and "Airbody."
"Make U Understand"/"Rest"
[Unknown to the Unknown]
This year has been especially good for 5kinAndBone5. The hardworking half-L.A./half-S.F. duo has certainly paid its dues, but it was only really in 2012 that the group stepped out into the spotlight. There were a number of reasons for this: the production of LE1F's "Wut," the outfit's creepy and hilarious Tumblr presence, and its string of bass-oriented releases. "Make U Understand"/"Reset" was one of its more high-profile singles of the year, as it was put out by respected U.K. label/YouTube channel Uknown to the Unknown. Even though 5kinAndBone5's sound has changed quite a bit since, this shows off the duo's studio chops and tasteful approach to bass music.
This might technically be cheating, but we're really looking forward to the January release of Oakland-based deep house producer Aybee's Worlds LP, the follow up to 2009's East Oakland Space Program. In the meantime, he just put out this excellent four-song vinyl EP cut for club play. As you might expect from the Deepblak label head, the music is textural and atmospheric in the best way possible, with a cosmic slant that invokes space travel while still being rooted in a kind earthly funk. Listen to A-side "Landing" and you'll hear why Aybee's upcoming LP is so anticipated.