SP Mix: Going Deep for the Winter Lull

Every month, John Gaudes (@johngaudes) writes about a new release from the previous month and spins a mix based on the artist’s influences and peers. We call it the SP Mix.

It’s a new year, which means the music industry is collectively waking up from its December snooze. With end-of-year lists spinning (this guilty party included), the holidays are no time to be putting out an album or try to avert eyes from nostalgia season.

Unless you carry the clout of Beyoncé, who put out her self-titled album a week ahead of Christmas in 2014, there’s little reason to release something at the end of year. Not even the changing industry –- the emergence of streaming, the self-empowerment of free releases, the surprise album –- is likely to change our collective apathy to new music in December.

Of course, the trends of pop and alternative music don’t do much to affect the electronic world. In a single-driven ecosystem, changing seasons do little to change the churn of progressive house – so what better time to spotlight the turntable segment of the music-making population?

arunadeep

My focus this time around is the Anjunadeep 08 compilation, the latest in a line of, you guessed it, eight deep house compilations from Above & Beyond’s Anjunadeep label. A two-disc LP mixed by label manager James Grant and 90’s house pioneer Jody Wisternoff, Anjunadeep 08 is an overarching look at the deep progressive sound — one that’s become a favourite of BBC and the London DJ scene.

Indeed, the figurehead artists of Anjunadeep 08 were lauded by influential radio DJs throughout 2016. Yotto, a Finnish producer who broke out in 2015, enjoyed no less than four “Essential New Tune” titles from Pete Tong this year –- for “Personal Space”, “Aviate”, “The Owls”, and a remix of Rufus De Sol’s “Like An Animal”.

Yotto’s newer cuts, including the bouncing “Fire Walk,” have moved to a clubbier sound –- set-finishers rather than starters, but still with the dark, brooding undertones. It eschews the festival EDM drops for a subtle beat progression, one where the bass and melody drive the song, not a single build to a drop.

London’s Icarus are another up-and-comer. Their single “Home” resonated on radio airwaves throughout Europe, mixing the gorgeous melodies of London Grammar with a mainstream deep sound. They’ve earned praise from the likes of Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), and look to me as this genre’s Disclosure, able to take a niche sound and project it outward with melodic earworms.

These are just two examples of what’s become the norm among BBC heads. A few years ago, I was turned on to Essential Mixes by a friend –- using those 3 a.m. avant garde sets by Flying Lotus, Eric Prydz, Above & Beyond, and Nicolas Jaar to soundtrack my studying, my workouts, my commutes. It was the beginning of a BBC fling.

Their Radio One formula, which mixes pop in the daylight and dance after hours, is one that’s been copied by Apple’s Beats 1 here in North America. The online-only station even poached Zane Lowe, who’s now their Los Angeles-based DJ. His move, though, hasn’t changed the food chain. There’s still no taste-maker region topping London. In my experience: if you want to hear what’s next, you go to BBC Radio One.

What’s next for 2017 is a continued emergence of the progressive house sound. With its dark, villainous undertones, throbbing basslines, and flashes of vocal melody, it’s well-suited to the times. We all want something to keep us moving through the day. Deep house mixes like Anjunadeep 08 do just that.

Mix Tracklist

Sam Smith – Like I Can (Jonas Rathsman Remix)
Boom Jinx & Soundprank – We Know (feat. Katrine Stenbekk) [Vintage & Morelli Remix]
Isaac Tichauer – I’ll Let You Go
Solomon Grey – Broken Light (J_Ashworth Diffraction Remix)
Icarus – Home (feat. Aurora)
Icarus – Hiding
Dusky – Skin Deep
Yotto – Fire Walk

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