Like we’ve said before, the essential mix series hosted by Pete Tong is a rites of passage for DJs. It’s the symbol of success, which lets DJs and producers take a brief sigh of relief and say to themselves, “yes, we made it”. In 2012, the essential mix series saw newcomers like Porter Robinson and T.E.E.D, as well as the return of pioneers like Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin and Groove Armada. From Techno to 70′s disco, the 1-2 hour long essential mixes of 2012 were impressive and diversive, and acted as a hub for the best display of electronic music imaginable. In our list however, we wanted to go a bit deeper. These mixes are the ones that resonated with us the most, whether that’s from well known superstars, or from up and coming artists just breaking through that elusive glass ceiling of success. And so, without further ado, here are our top 10 picks of the 2012 essential mix series.
#10: Matt Tolfrey
The island of Ibiza sounds like such a crazy time. At least, that’s what I can garner from Matt Tolfrey’s essential mix live from Sankeys; one of the hottest underground spots on that island. His essential mix is a mix of tech-housey grooves with some robotic sounds mixed in (almost sounding like Daft Punk at a certain point). Although it’s only an hour, his style was surely one of the most diverse we’ve heard, and it definitely deserves a spot on this list.
#9: Richie Hawtin
Constant dancing is the only way to explain Richie Hawtin. Since seeing him during his CNTRL tour, my entire perspective on DJing, techno, and mixing have changed drastically. Richie makes it a point to portray a spectrum of emotions through mixing, and invites listeners to open their minds to the energy he creates. His essential mix is just that: Richie’s own energy amidst percussive based techtonik melodies, with beatmashers, reverbs, repeats, and low/hi end filter effects filling the void of authenticity.
#8: Hot Chip
Starting off with an alluring French House track, Hot Chip’s essential mix proves that they are the masters of the groove. No stranger to the essential mix series, this fantastic duo came back around for a second time, bringing an old school-nu school vibe to the show, transitioning from funk artists like Prince to Metrojolt electronic favorites like Disclosure. This mix is a great example of how a DJ can send the crowd into a timeless trance, where no music is too outdated or futuristic.
#7: Eats Everything
It’s not easy for DJs to create and display a distinct sound. It comes with the fact that most DJs are constantly playing other musicians tracks; that’s simply a hard fact about DJing since the beginning of it’s time. Eats Everything managed not only to maintain a constant groove throughout his “Edit Everything Essential Mix”, but also defined his sound and hit it on the spot. Straight groovin’ all the way through, this mix shifts between jackin house, deep bluesy soul, bumpin’ tech house, funk and even shifts the vibe to some euphoric trance for a brief moment. Each track has a bit of Eats Everything’s style, since all but one are edits. Versatility at it’s best, Eats Everything killed this one with a lightning rod of originality.
#6: Carl Cox
Is there really much to say about this man? Everyone knows he’s the king of Techno, and is probably the most influential player to the game. His birthday set/essential mix is just that, a keystone to all the newcomers and the pioneers who’ve been looking for someone to look up to. That proud position belongs to none other than the Three Deck Wizard. The mix itself is a set of smooth laden tech influenced grooves, jumping from tech-house to techno as discreetly as possible.
#5: Nicole Moudaber
There’s something about this essential mix that just gets me movin and groovin in so many different ways. Maybe it’s the way she channels her mood through the music, starting off with a euphoric atmosphere and smoothly moving to a more “serious” ambience. Or, it could be that this mix is home to the sexiest techno known to man, with exclusives from Nicole herself that may or may not have even been released. No wonder why Carl Cox is such a fan of this one. Either way, while listening to these 2 hours you’ll get goosebumps, I promise. After you’ve listened, take a gander at our interview with the sexiest female DJ/producer herself, Nicole Moudaber! (Sorry Magda, you’re sexy too in your own way).
#4: DJ Sneak
If you thought Chicago House wasn’t going to have a place on this list, you were dead wrong. DJ Sneak’s hour long essential mix from Stankeys, Ibiza is a driven and funk filled hour of flawless mixing. From Chicago House to Tech House, DJ Sneak smoothly weaves through hard percussion and alluring distinct vocals creating a diversive essential mix that can’t be duplicated. You’ll hear everyone from Claptone to Barry White in this hour, plus even a bit of Stardust.
#3: Groove Armada
I’m not gonna lie, I felt like I was back in the 70′s or 80′s with this mix. Disco never died you guys, Groove Armada kept it alive. Ok, while that may not be totally true, this mix is by far the grooviest of them all. Amidst a disco-laden atmosphere, Groove Armada took House music, flipped it, re-wired it, and threw it back at us with the word “groove” as it’s synonym. Constantly bumpin all the way through, this mix is exactly what House music is supposed to be: eclectic, groovy and most of all, fun!
#2: Gaslamp Killer
Does it need any more explanation? The Gaslamp Killer had a huge influence on the entirety of music in 2012, and this Essential Mix was a huge part of it. Utilizing pure vinyl, serato, and an ipad of drum samples, The Gaslamp Killer threw down a whole new brand of bass music for the whole world to hear during this two hour mix. Genres span from hip-hop to theme songs to Mr. Oizo to trip-hop to straight bass – but that’s not what makes this mix so groundbreaking. It is the way he makes these genres interact with each other, creating entirely new styles and feeling through passion and the artform of the DJ.
#1: Nicholas Jarr
If you haven’t heard, Nicholas Jaar made quite the stir in the past couple of years. His album Space is Only Noise created a buzz in the music community, topping off with Resident Advisor naming it “Album of the Year” and Pitchfork including it in it’s “Top 50 Albums of the Year”. Along with this mix being named Essential Mix of the Year, Mr. Jarr seems to be making huge moves for 2013. The mix itself is the perfect blend of illustrious instrumentation mixed with a deep house undertone; beautiful symphonic performances make for an atmospheric chilling ambience. Constantly pushing on it’s own boundaries, the mix defies genres and focuses on musicianship, a characteristic many DJs forget. That’s why we put this mix at the top of our list. Plain and simple, Nicholas Jarr doesn’t give a fuck about genres, and power to him! So take a breath, relax, pop a squat, and listen to this beautifully moving 2 hours of music.