2012 was a huge year for Boiler Room! Aside from Pete Tong and his Essential Mix show, I would cite Boiler Room as one of the most important tastemakers in electronic music. They pull the most important legends and the most innovative newcomers – and this list highlights the best of the best. With the enormous volume of these sets this year, I fully accept the possibility that I missed some huge ones, leave a comment if you have one you think I might have skipped over!
#6 : Sinjin Hawke
I am so jealous of these young kids. It seems like they put out these incredible, groundbreaking tracks and sets together with almost no effort. Sinjin Hawke is one such kid, and this set is the proof. It seems almost unfair to call it a set – if I’m not mistaken, the entire set is composed of MIDI sequences put together by Hawke himself. If we allow ‘trap’ to be called a genre, this kid is the king. When all the big names at festivals are making godawful trap bootlegs of other big festival songs and the doucheface people that listen to it demand that anything with an 808 to be called trap, Sinjin Hawke says fuck that and makes some real, raw, and unique bass music. Can we make a distinction please? ‘Trap’ is nothing more than a category for shitty, unimaginative festival remixes, and bass music is a genre reserved for those making real music – dudes like Hawke, The Gaslamp Killer, Shlohmo, etc. This set serves as [one of the] unofficial bibles of the genre, and made a huge impact on 2012. Pay attention to this guy in 2013!
#5: Simian Mobile Disco
While not too far off from their normal live sets, Simian Mobile Disco brought an entirely new face to the Boiler Room in 2012. They play this incredible live set with the most beautiful computer noises you’ve ever heard without the aid of turntables or CDJs – educating the world both about their music, classic acid and techno, and the standard that we should hold every performer at in electronic music. Never mind the DJs, never mind a vocalist, these two have some of the most raw talent in electronic music ever. The only reason they aren’t higher on the list is because you should already know how good they are.
#4: Jamie XX
You heard about Jamie XX in 2012, no questions asked. His Boiler Room set was performed on CDJs/vinyl, and his talent as a producer shines through in this set. He was one of the guys who wasn’t showing what DJ sets were, but showing what DJ sets could be. He played some of the most future tunes I’ve heard – ranging from indie dance to future garage to straight techno, but whatever he played was done with style. This is a great example of a DJ both innovating in track selection but keeping to the original roots of DJing in terms of telling an auditory story – the only problem with this set is that it isn’t recorded louder.
#3: Four Tet
Four Tet is straight up one of the most important people to ever bless electronic music. I think this set can be best described by one track – ‘God Made Me Phunky’ by MD-X-Spress. This track and set bleed house music, and remind us all why the 90s were such an important time for music. While bands were doing all kinds of crazy shit, tracks like these were a simple four bar loop for an entire song with a vocal so catchy you wouldn’t catch anyone sitting still when the speakers were blaring in a Detroit warehouse party. Four Tet educates the masses about an important time in house music – definitely another mandatory listen for any up and coming DJs.
#2: Carl Craig
You can’t think of Detroit, the start of techno and house, and the explosion of electronic dance music without mentioning Carl Craig. He innovated both in and outside the Detroit sound, and aside from techno and house, played a big part in the then growing drum n bass scene as well. Without this guy, it is entirely possible that many of the tunes we know and love today simply would not exist. His Boiler Room set definitely reflects that. No turntables here, just a straight live set with a whole bunch of gear that all gets used brilliantly. The intro is so past and future at the same time I can barely understand it – it is abundantly clear that Craig has one of the most mature, sophisticated and innovative techno minds any generation has ever seen. The guy must have a 4/4 kick drum and a hat line playing at all times in his brain, and that love and understanding of techno is what puts Carl Craig’s set at #2 on my list.
P.S: Check the Maschine jam about halfway through. Bet you couldn’t pull that off!
#1: Sven Vath
Boiler Room, if nothing else, is a showcasing of what DJing and live performance is supposed to be. In the former category, I have yet to see a bad DJ set, but some certainly stand out far and above the crowd. For anyone familiar, this choice of #1 should come as no surprise. Sven Vath is easily one the most important figures in both techno and trance (he was doing his thing in the 80s – making seriously future shit and pissing off people with guitars everywhere), and to see him destroy two turntables like he does in this set is both a treat and an honor. DJ sets seem to have devolved since the good ol’ vinyl days – what happened to telling a story? Where is the journey in these festival house sets? Sven Vath recognizes what a DJ set is supposed to be, and takes it to an entirely new level. The set moves from euphoric techno/trance to a peak at harder techno, back down and up again for one of the most emotional and educational 2 hours in Boiler Room history. This set should be mandatory textbook material for any DJ, new or veteran, young or old.
Richie Hawtin, Seth Troxler, DJ Shadow, Thom Yorke, Skream B2B Disclosure, SBTRKT, Questlove, Lunice.