After weeks of debating the Top 25 Electronic Projects of 2012, the UPC EDM team (Jeremy, Madeline, Rachel, Zach, Mariya, and Josh) finally came to a conclusion. This past year had some amazing projects, ranging from singles, EP’s, to radio shows. Scroll down for a recap of some of 2012′s best projects and see if any of your favorites made the list. Enjoy!
25. Robotic Pirate Monkey – Heat.wav
Andrew Hathaway, Matt Berryhill, and Matt Flesher are the party pillaging electronic trio known as Robotic Pirate Monkey. The genre of glitch-hop exploded in 2012, and RPM’s funky, textured sounds show the world why. The juxtaposition of classical sounds with cutting-edge electronic inspiration pervades all of RPM’s Heat.wav. “Shake n’ Bake” sets the tone of this banging album. From the get-go RPM’s gloriously glitchy music explodes out of the speakers. The track “Banana Cannon” drops like a trap bomb, but maintains the dubby feel of the rest of the album. Picking up on this dub vibe, “Blasted” is quintessential RPM. Traditional dub beats mix with horns and futuristic electronic samples to create this dancey, dubbed out tribute to the origins of electronica. Each track has a unique niche on this massively awesome symphony of glitch-hop.
24. Koan Sound – The Adventures of Mr. Fox
The glitch-hop duo Koan Sound hit their stride this past year with The Adventures of Mr. Fox. The EP begins with the fun, high paced track “80’s Fitness.” The song opens with a fast house sample, but Koan Sound’s signature crunch bleeds through. The production’s true gem is a melodic mixture of, new and classical, varied samples. The track “Sly Fox” is groovy, but does not sacrifice it’s heavy side. Melodic samples follow with the track “Introvert,” as the EP winds to a conclusion. The following three tracks are remixes done by Reso, Neosignal, and Opiuo. Watch out for Koan Sound to keep this clever, glitchy dubstep coming in 2013.
23. Kill The Noise – Black Magic
Kill The Noise, Jake Stanczak, dropped his 5th EP, Black Magic, in November. The EP depicts how versatile his style is ranging from electro to trap all in one album. This incredible combination really rings true with weighty synths and heavy bass music. There are a couple stand-out collaborations on this album including the song with Feed Me, “Thumbs Up.” It showcases the blend of both artists unique flavor with Feed Me’s child voiceovers and Kill The Noise’s signature deep bass. A definitive favorite on this album is “Saturn” which is the second collaboration with Brillz and Minxx. It’s a beautiful electro house anthem with melodic piano and angelic vocals. Take a listen and you’ll know why this masterpiece was one the most popular and downloaded electronic albums on iTunes.
22. Cherub – MoM and DaD
Cherub is a sexy electro-pop duo that is the dance love child of 80’s funk and pop-music from the future. Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber have a fresh sound that is perfect for partying hard and grooving slow. Their music comes with one goal: to share a little bit of sex, a little bit of drugs, and whole lot of love with the world. The 2012 release MoM and DaD is the pinnacle of their production prowess. The album was released in February, and by August the first single had reached number one on Hype Machine’s most talked about songs chart. Faster, party songs and slower grooves juxtapose on this album. “Doses and Mimosas” is the first single, and something we can all believe in. Another upbeat track is “Monogamy,” about a man’s enjoyment of his life without a steady mate. “Dear Body,” slows the pace a bit, in a letter of apology from the group to their bodies for partying too hard the night before. All in all this album was one of our favorites from 2012, and if you haven’t heard it, check it out.
21. Beats Antique – Contraption Vol. II
Beats Antique is best known for their trippy, experimental shows, and oftentimes their music goes overlooked. This is a tragic fallacy, for Beats Antique music is some of the best experimental electronica on the market. Their music incorporates Middle Eastern grooves, Balkan weddings music, flamenco, French gypsy jazz, hip-hop, dub reggae, and other Eastern tonalities, mixed with modern, electronic, and dance sounds. Music lovers and ravers alike can join together in appreciation of their musical mastery. To the delight of beats antique-ers, Contraption Vol. II came out this past year. The album is Beats’ seventh production, and is a follow up to a 2009 release. The music does not lend itself well to singling out. The album moves as a cohesive unit, and should be listened to as such. Allow Beats to guide you through their created contraption.
20. DJ T-Rock & Squashy Nice – Getting Through
DJ T- Rock & Squashy Nice are an electronic hip-hop duo that formed in Atlanta in 1999. Together these guys have released 3 full-length albums, as well as some other small side projects. Mixing hip-hop beats with classical sampling of instruments and vocals, these two create a vibe like none other that’s perfect for any occasion, whether it be a party or just relaxing with friends. One of the songs that truly stands out on this album is “Your Expression,” which mixes Motown vocals with classic hip-hop beats and rhythm. “The Music of Our Time,” is another feel good track of this album; something short, sweet, and to the point. At only a minute and half this song sets a beautiful mood from the beginning with a soothing flute sample used throughout the song. A third song worth noting is “Why Should I Go On.” It encompasses a slow drumbeat with 60’s soul vocals to paint a serene picture in your head. DJ T-Rock and Squashy Nice always set the mood right.
19. Krewella – Play Hard
Capturing national attention in 2012, EDM trio Krewella has been rapidly gaining exposure and a worldwide fan base. Their EP Play Hard continues to break ground in original vocal stylings and brutal bass lines. Members Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf and Kris “Rain Man” Trindl bleed Krewella – they’re there to party and so are the fans. Their live showmanship and relentless raging are infectious and we’ve caught the disease.
18. Excision – 2012 Shambhala
Canadian dubstep producer Excision kills it once again with his 2012 Shambhala mix. After his initial Shambhala mix was relseased in 2008, Excision followed it by making it a tradition to release a new edition each year. Simply put, this artist doesn’t fuck around when it comes to morphing basslines of drum and bass, keeping it dark, deep, and dirty. The mix will surely keep you wide awake and if it’s not on full volume, you’re not doing it right. Excison embarked on his North American X Tour this 2012, and will hit the road early 2013 for his Executioner Tour, which is rumored to blast 100,000 watts of bone crushing sound system power. While you wait for him to conquer your city, play his 2012 mix loud and clear.
17. Matt Zo – The Bipolar EP
Mixed with magic, Matt Zo established a pure blissful vibe in his Bipolar EP, making you want to close your eyes and move to the trance. The highly anticipated project was released by Anjunabeats in February. The sensational four-track EP serves as a set of chilled progressive tunes from the young British prodigy who is rooted in London and is already supported by Axwell, Skrillex, and BBC Radio 1. Matt Zo has a unique way of combining multiple elements of trance with popular progressive house, making it sure to be a dance floor hit.
16. Ooah & LoBounce – Get Primal
The “drippy bass” pioneer himself Giancarlo Pasquesi, otherwise known as LoBounce, teamed up with L.A. producer Ooah on their bright summer EP, Get Primal. Filled with heavy bass and melodic overtones, this EP really showcased the abilities of the rising Chicago native. Like a true innovator and forerunner of unprecedented sound, LoBounce wishes to dismantle all that is known about the realm of music, unite together as a community, and propel into the future with new and fresh ideas.
15. Bassnectar – VaVaVoom
Continuing with the bass in your face, Bassnectar‘s VaVaVoom encompasses many different flavors of electronic music yet keeps the fluidity of his original style. Each song transcends human emotions and reflects creativity. The styles span from slow and melodic with “Butterfly,” upbeat and blissful in laughter crescendo, and the trap-like rap infused rager “Vava Voom.” He makes continuous subtle changes in bass depth and pitch until the songs completely morph into something else.
14. Griz – Mad Liberation
Mad Liberation is an exciting collection of songs that Griz has worked on and recorded by himself (for the most part) this past year. Most of the tracks are unique samples from original compositions, ranging from retro vinyl recordings to digital synthesis to live instrumentation. According to the artist, “Mad Liberation is a piece of me that is representative of my past, breathes life into my present, and is a taste of the future.” With an expansive imagination and continuous love for new sounds, Griz has a way with his simple digital equipment and “breaths life into these dead things to make them whisper and roar.”
13. Papadosio – T.E.T.I.O.S.
Ambient and soothing yet dance-infused. Papadosio is driven by a message of human transcendence, unity, and universal understanding. Their mission is clear; to combine eclectic musical traditions with modern electronica to stir the heart and fuel the mind. Papadosio’s 2012 journey of an album, T.E.T.I.O.S. (To End the Illusion of Separation) follows this trend. Filled with improvisational electronic rock, the album takes the listener on a quest through the mind and soul. “Direction Song” is a lovely introduction to their work; a dancey rhythm line paces soothingly ambient sounds. The entire album flows seamlessly from track to track. We recommend you kick back, relax, and allow Papadosio to guide you through the world of T.E.T.I.O.S.
12. Zedd – Clarity
Zedd’s Clarity album is the true definition of happy-house. The ten tracks glide seamlessly together, each adding a new layer as though a blithe electronic trifle. The range of sounds parallel that of the vast array of fervor. Each set of lyrics can only be described as uplifting, empowering, and relatable. Fans span from casual listeners to hard-partiers, encompassing even the EDM naysayers. Zedd takes the “less is more” route with this album, a singular and noteworthy approach in the electronic scene. Listeners would be remiss to not take advantage of the album as a whole; the fluidity Clarity brings is a both rare and a testament to the artistic talents of Zedd.
11. Dada Life – The Rules of Dada
Duo Olle Corneer and Stefan Engblom, better known as Dada Life, created a true reflection of personality in their album The Rules of Dada; boundless energy and carefree, often reckless, nature. Each track stands alone in content and feel but is pulled together with a consistent heavy synth emphasis countered with bass. Dada Life infuses its’ unique sound within plug-in creation “The Sausage Fattener” which results in each of the nine tracks playing like its own album.
Anthems such as “So Young So High” and “Rolling Stones T-Shirt” send the “young, wild, and free” message into overdrive by capturing the joy of youth in lyrics, beat, and flow. Dada Life’s ability to strike a balance between vocals and vibes continues to set them apart in electronic music. The duo’s view of vocals as instruments is exemplified in the manipulations and pairings of each track’s fundamentals. Bangers “Happy Violence” and “Kick Out The Epic Motherfucker” are on the heavier side but juxtaposed with softness found both within the song and across all tracks. The Rules of Dada is one of the most versatile albums of the year and takes the listener on a journey that simply kicks ass.
10. Paul Kalkbrenner – Guten Tag
Known in the EDM world as one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, Paul Kalkbrenner released his sixth studio album, Guten Tag, to his fans who were highly anticipating. The 17-track collection released in late November and is so fundamentally his sound that even Paul believes it is his most perfected album to date. His passion and love for music is felt through each track of this brilliantly crafted album and his fans truly embrace it, just a year and a half after his 2011 release of Icke Wieder.
9. MiM0SA – Future Trill Mix
MiM0SA continues to amaze music listeners by constantly morphing his sound from trap to trance and everywhere in between He has really trademarked how flexible his #FUTURETRILL genre can be. This twenty two minute mix takes you on the harmonious and hypnotizing journey through the many shades of MiM0SA. The way he incorporated many of his own songs like “Pink Sprite” and Jay-Z & Kanye West’s “Niggas in Paris Remix,” with other artists tracks like Sleepyhead’s “Summer Lovin’” and Dark Sky’s “Be Myself,” is cleverly complimentary. MiM0SA wrapped up his tour in November and has dropped two remarkable videos, “SWRV” and “Beast,” each leaning toward the trap side of bass music. 2013 will give electronic music listeners something to look forward to as MiM0SA still has much in store.
8. Zeds Dead – The Living Dead
Hailing from Toronto, Zeds Dead, dropped The Living Dead with Omar LinX in July and haven’t stopped for a breath yet. DC and Hooks, currently on the Countdown to Oblivion Tour, created this four song EP released via Ultra Records for those who appreciate grimy filth-step. With powerful LinX lyrics and the unique style of Zeds Dead’s bass, each song has its own sonic blend. The first song, “Crank,” blasts with an immense build up, reminding fans of how heavy and hard Zeds Dead likes their bass. On the other hand, “Cowboy” really shows a different side throwing in the acoustic guitar to the intro. True to the name, The Living Dead posses the mysterious supernatural pulse that gives you the chills.
7. Skrillex – Bangarang
Skrillex did it again with album Bangarang. With collaborations ranging from Ellie Goulding, The Doors, to Kill The Noise, Skrillex continues to display the breadth of his musical talents. The album kicks off with “Right In,” setting the pumped-up precedent for the rest of the album. Each track attacks the EDM scene while keeping the listener guessing, but always begging for more. “Breakn’ a Sweat” fractures genre barriers in teaming up with classic rock group The Doors to birth a true banger. True to form, Skrillex’s aggressive beats do not disappoint in Bangarang.
6. Knife Party – Rage Valley
Known for their aggressive electronic music, Knife Party raged into 2012 with the Rage Valley EP released in May. Rob Swier and Gareth McGrillen bring in four genius high energy bangers that are vital to everyone’s rage playlist. Each song on this EP has the bass power that rumbles through your chest down to your fingertips. “Centipede” starts with a National Geographic elevated synth sensation and the much awaited bass drop that has incredible depth. “Bonfire,” the third song, shows the inventive genius with the fusion of reggae lyrics and drum & bass. Hands down, this Knife Party EP keeps fans energized, dancing, and raging into the morning until they’re kicked out of the venue.
5. Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes
Flying Lotus is no stranger to the electronic music scene. Stephen Ellison got his start producing experimental music for the Adult Swim network, and has grown into a staple of the genre. He seamlessly blends hip-hop beats with an experimental, electronic sound. The album Until The Quiet Comes exemplifies this trend and maintains a danceable rhythm, while creating an ambient, beautiful sound. The compilation at times feels like a hard hip-hop production, while a track later the mood shifts to transcendent, electronic beauty. This is Flying Lotus’ fourth studio album and his unique sound is an ever-changing adventure. From beginning to end, the album does not stop pleasing the listener’s ears.
4. Dillon Francis – Masta Blasta (The Rebirth)
Featured in a June episode of Diplo and Friends, along with countless collaborations with well-known artists like Example, A-Trak, Doctor P, Kill Paris, Calvin Harris and many more, the moombahton king Dillon Francis truly redefined the genre of dance music in 2012. With his release of Masta Blasta in July via Mad Decent, he skyrocketed himself to the top of the EDM world and his style would be forever emulated by artists trying to achieve his specific sounds of two-step pulses, dramatic buildups, and most importantly, phatty bass lines. This year is just the beginning for this L.A. raised producer with a fresh haircut, with seemingly no end in sight.
3. Boys Noize – Out Of The Black
What can be said about Boys Noize that has not been said? Alexander Ridha’s resume speaks for itself. Three time winner of Beatport’s Best Electronic Act, and one of Rolling Stones “Top 10 DJs Who Ruled the Earth in 2012″ are just a few of his achievements. Out Of The Black is Boys Noize’s third full-length album, and it reminds the electronic scene of why Boys Noize has ruled our electronic Earth. Each track off of this release is blended into one sexy dance party. So flawlessly mixed, put Out Of The Black on at a party and watch the crowd get down!
2. Diplo – Diplo and Friends
Mississippi native, turned local Philly DJ/Producer, turned international icon, Thomas Pentz, better known by his stage moniker Diplo, had quite an eventful 2012. One of his major projects was his premiere of the radio program, Diplo and Friends, for BBC 1Xtra and Radio 1. The program first aired in April of 2012 and continues to feature the hottest names in electronic music.
1. Big Gigantic – Nocturnal
Here it is, the number one production of 2012 is Big Gigantic’s Nocturnal. This duo had an unreal 2012 in all aspects. They killed the festival circuit, playing at Electric Forrest, Mayan Holidays, and Ultra just to name a few. Their nonstop party touring was bookended by two huge Chicago New Years celebrations, both of which debuted new light set ups. Dom, sax and production, has played with Sound Tribe Sector 9, Cherub, The String Cheese Incident, and Break Science. While Jeremy, the drummer, has played with Paper Diamond this past year. Their music is a mixture of the improvisational dynamics of jam bands and jazz with DJ-style production, and has the ability to become extraordinarily heavy, while maintaining a sexy, groovy feel. Nocturnal was their fourth production and reached number 2 on the iTunes electronic chart.
Every song on the album is a must-hear, but a few are absolutely glorious. The title track, “Nocturnal” has a powerful, driving melody throughout the first half. The beat stops, and a crazy, fun dance-beat takes over. After dancing your ass off for another minute, that powerful melody returns with a sexy sax over it. This track is the essence of Big Gigantic, melodic electronic sampling paced by wicked live drum beats, with groovy greatness from the saxophone. 2012 was a great year for electronic music, but no entity thrived more than Big Gigantic. Nocturnal has some of the most creative electronic productions of all time, and we’re still unable to skip a single song on the album. Expect nothing but greatness from this dynamic duo in the future.
Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Leave your comments below!
Also be sure to check out our Top 25 Hip-Hop/R&B Projects of 2012!