Bicep, Koze and Woolford are just a few names that have become reassuringly prevalent in our end-of-year pages in recent times — and, yes, there’s some new names too.
While naturally we’ve focused on tunes that have made the biggest splash, there is, of course, extra points for ongoing consistency. Just because a track by an artist included in the top 10 isn’t your personal favourite, it doesn’t mean others haven’t been taken into account and considered.
Once again, it’s been an incredible year for dance music — as house, techno and disco artists, especially, have continued to embrace melody, tried new things and pushed their creative limits even further to keep dancefloors lively and abandoned, but most of all classy…
Bicep completely owned 2015. Teaming up with Hammer to drop ‘Dahlia’ and ‘I Believe’, and on their own, the Belfast-born duo have basically been enjoying the dance music equivalent of the Midas touch in 2015.
Of all their output — two or three were in contention for this Top 10 — it’s ‘Just’ that takes the crown. Built of breaks slowed to a canter, irresistible bleeps and a sultry robo-vocal, it’s the stuff of future dancefloors and sure-fire party dynamite.
02. DJ Koze
Psychoactive alchemist DJ Koze is more than just a producer, he’s a wizard. ‘XTC’, with its retro public service announcement sample (“many people are experimenting with a drug called ecstasy”), is as hypnotic as they come, but it’s the subtlety at play that’s so effective.
Airy and gravity-defying, this anthem-in-the-making has been getting smashed at (peak) times that belie its seemingly downbeat dancefloor demeanour, and that’s simply because it’s so special.
03. Paul Woolford
It wouldn’t be an end-of-year list without Paul Woolford’s name cropping up somewhere. No doubt his Special Request moniker will get a mention overleaf on our Albums Of The Year page for his long EP on XL, but it’s his piano-laden techno beast under his own name that gets a shout amongst the singles.
Yet another winning track named as an ecstasy-referencing acronym, you could possibly argue that 2015 was the year that clubbers rediscovered the little rave drug that changed it all.
04. Steve Lawler
Smashed to high heaven by any house DJ worth his or her salt this summer, DJ Mag lost count of the amount of times we heard ‘House Record’ in 2015.
First emerging to dominate WMC, its clattering 909s and snipped vocal samples became a ubiquitous fixture of many house events at a time when the house revolution was reaching its peak, from one of the UK scene’s longest leaders. The ViVA boss’ debut on Jamie Jones’ world famous label was undoubtedly one of the year’s defining tunes.
05. Fatima Yamaha
‘What’s A Girl To Do’
Spoken about in hushed tones since 2004, this was the year — following its re-release on Dekmantel — that Bras Bron’s cult hit went truly viral.
The original pressing is still going for £100+ on Discogs, and its return also helped remove the veil of mystery around a female-sounding moniker in fact owned by a male Dutch musician who’s enjoyed minor success in his native chart, only for the track to be picked up by Hudson Mohawke on ‘Resistance’ — with r&b voice Jhene Aiko on it too.
The track’s unusual journey aside, its seductive little electro hook is what makes it utterly addictive, and one of the most crucial moments of 2015.
06. Omar S
‘I Wanna Know’
Without doubt the poppiest of the Detroit don’s output, there’s a touch of Storm Queen about ‘I Wanna Know’. Sharing the raw, electro sensibility of Morgan Geist’s more saccharine side-project, the FXHE man is heard at his most unashamedly heartfelt.
With its thick and infectious deep-slung bassline offset by reedy synths and James Garcia’s silken soul vocals, ‘I Wanna Know’ is a joyful singalong classic that — effective as it is — doesn’t take itself too seriously at all, and is all the better off for it.
7) Morgan Geist
Is it house, disco, electro? No, it’s just Morgan Geist… again. 2015 was the year the New Jersey man appeared as the dazzling The Galleria with help from Jessy Lanza, but it was under his own name that one-half of Metro Area really re-affirmed his position as one of the coveted producers of our time.
‘Darkstar’ is a viscous, sinewy collage of analogue tones and textures that balances shades of light and dark magnificently — in a way that no-one other than Mr Geist quite can.
Blasé Boy Club
Kiwi has been bubbling under for a few years now, but 2015 was the year he really broke though, thanks in no small part to this inspired big-room spanker.
A tumbling barrage of hollowed-out techno on Duke Dumont’s Blasé Boys Club, ‘Short Tail’ on the ‘Animal EP’ in June is still tearing up dancefloors now, and it’s easy to see why. Primitive, bold and cavernous, this acidic bomb from Kiwi is nothing short of a dancefloor masterpiece.
09. Tim Green
An exquisite balance of extremes, Tim Green’s return to Sven Väth’s Cocoon saw Kent’s finest export make a hugely impressive comeback. Stripped back and minimal, ‘Eclipse’ — with its deep, steely chords — is defined by its gristly, brain-fizzing drop midway through. It’s a moody banger that typifies the dramatic prog-techno sound that ruled so many dancefloors in 2015, and not going away anytime soon.
10. Jack J
Jack J, aka Jack Jutson, hasn’t put out much, but what he has is sublime. With the release of ‘Thirstin”on Future Times in the summer, the Canadian became one of the most talked about new names of dancefloor funk.
Falling somewhere between the smoky, dusted down soul of Andrew Ashong and the deep, juicy house of Moodymann, this timeless cut works just as well for the after-party wind-down as it does on a clued-up dancefloor.
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