George Harrison created joyous music under the right circumstances. Nothing else in his solo career quite stood up to that impassioned post-Beatles period, where years of ideas culminated into one album. For many artists, it’s the same deal: you need the right inspiration to make music that sounds good, but feels good too. For The xx and Julie Byrne, that inspiration has arrived; both artists created beautiful, jubilant albums this month, and both did it in very different ways.
The focus this time around is the Anjunadeep 08 compilation, the latest in a line of 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.
We all shared restless feelings in 2016 — watching the news, waiting for the next disaster. The small moments, the ones where we could press play and forget everything else, felt a little more romantic. In general, the music we heard this year matched our restlessness. Faced with the world around them, artists turned inward and created masterpieces.
In its eccentricity, Vine was a community of sorts. It was rewarding to be a member; if you scrolled enough, different corners revealed themselves to you. It got easier to find the weird underbelly after 2014 too, when the app’s user base contracted slowly, giving in to Instagram video and Snapchat. Vine didn’t mind. Its users birthed woozy 8mm nature videos, remix threads where different users would create music collaboratively, even feature-length movies told six seconds at a time.
In all the lead-up to 22, A Million, various promotional materials screamed the band’s new direction. The announcement was coupled with a note from Vernon’s friend, explaining that the album dealt with death and new leases on life. High concept art lined the band’s social feeds, as well as building sides in major cities. On the day of the album’s release, newspapers appeared below these billboard art pieces. Speakers on small boomboxes were tested to their limits, playing the album in its entirety.
It doesn’t feel like four years, but that’s how long it’s been since Frank Ocean released channel ORANGE, his debut long play and a system shock to R&B. Since that release, with its heartbreak and playfulness, Ocean’s story has been more about his disappearance. Since that release, we really haven’t heard from him at all.
Trap was still sprouting at this time, an offshoot of late 90’s trip hop, which was being molded and changed by west coast producers like Flying Lotus. The next direction of trap was popularized by Lil B’s music, where the kick drums and hi-hats were buried in ambience, bass and reverb. The most prolific creator of this “cloud rap” sound was New Jersey producer Michael Volpe, better known as Clams Casino.