Clubs: The best (and worst) of 2008

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FOLLOW THE LEADER Lindstrm’s Where You Go I Go Too tops this year’s list.

FOLLOW THE LEADER Lindstrm’s Where You Go I Go Too tops this year’s list. Photograph: Kim Hiorthy

THE BEST

Lindstrm
Where You Go I Go Too (Smalltown Supersound)
Piling up plus-size tunes (the title track clocks in at 29 minutes) and allusions to Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Moroder, Hans-Peter Lindstrm has delivered the space-disco epic he’d long been working toward. The album’s arpeggiated excess, teetering near the edge of the cheese canyon, is an utter joy. (Buy now)

The Juan MacLean
“Happy House” (DFA)
This was DFA’s year, and any number of the label’s artists could have made this list. But with its ecstatic, unironic exuberance—not to mention a good, old-fashioned banging piano—this house track from the Juan MacLean tops them all.

Martyn
Natural Selection EP (3024)
Dubstep’s spiraling evolution continued apace in 2008, and Martyn’s hybrid of the genre’s chasm-like textures and techno’s rhythmic drive is a big part of that development. This is the music that deep house might have mutated into, if only deep house had consumed enough ganja.

Trus’me
Working Nights (Prime Numbers)
Seemingly arising out of nowhere, the U.K.’s David Wolstencroft dropped this swirling, near-psychedelic homage to disco and funk, drawing comparisons to the likes of Moodymann and Theo Parrish. Oceanic in depth yet funky as hell, it’s a mind-blowing album. (Buy now)

Wink
“Stay Out All Night” (Ovum)
Sure, Josh Wink’s big tune isn’t much more than a groove—but what a monster groove it is, with a four-note Hammond organ line and a touch of effects-twisted Rhodes piano draped over ten minutes of a nicely shuffling Chicago-house rhythm. As (almost) always in dance music, less is more.

Simon Baker
“Plastik (Todd Terje Trketech Remix)” (Playhouse)
When in the midst of working on a reimagining of 2007’s pleasant-enough original, Todd Terje expressed his doubts on the Resident Advisor website that it would ever be released. The reason: “It’s going to be pitched down a lot,” he said, “and crossed with some Turkish disco. Heavy disco....” And that’s precisely why this arpeggiated, percussion-heavy grinder is one of the year’s best dance tracks.

Quiet Village
Silent Movie (!K7)
Much like Where You Go I Do Too, this album’s kick comes from the way it treads the area between grace and schmaltz. But whereas Lindstrm’s opus examines that space via cosmic grandeur, Matt Edwards and Joel Martin’s debut does so by creating a richly emotive rendition of easy-listening music.

Michna
Magic Monday (Ghostly International)
This glistening swirl of sounds ebbs and flows through everything from electro and glitchy IDM to spaghetti-western sound tracks and horn-fueled funk. Still, it’s a coherent and purposeful collection, and marks Adrian Michna as a sonic collagist who’ll be around for a while. (Buy now)

Ezekiel Honig
Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band (Anticipate)
With its barely-there instrumentation, whispering melodies and muted-heartbeat pulse, the latest sonic dreamscape from electronic artist Honig isn’t exactly club music. But it’s a perfect denouement to an overextended night out on the town—we know because we’ve road tested it. (Buy now)

THE WORST

Madonna
“Give It to Me” remixes (Warner Bros.)
Though dance versions of mainstream artists are almost always horrendous, we can understand why producers take on the remixes: Such assignments are among the few that earn a sure paycheck. And we can understand why the mixes suck: They’re generally being made for an audience that doesn’t really like dance music in the first place. But considering her dance-music background, these lowest-common-denominator remixes are puzzling—all we can figure is that she feels the need to appeal to the all-important gold-chain-and-Axe demographic.


Report card

This was another 12 months of sideways crab-walking in the nightlife world. The much-anticipated Santos Party House opened its doors, and while it wasn’t exactly the after-dark savior that some expected, it was a welcome addition. But bottle service continues to plays an outsize role in the overall scene, putting a major dent in the we’re-all-here-together, communal vibe that defines the best clubbing. The city administration still has an adversarial relationship with nightlife, which led to the temporary closing of Studio B and the introduction of heavy-handed security mandated by the authorities. And, with the notable exceptions of the hip-hop and soulful-house milieus, Gothamites still obsess over European DJs and producers at the expense of homegrown talent. Still, there were plenty of nights that featured more worthy parties and spinners than anyone could possibly check out. In a city that’s fallen far from its onetime spot as clubbing capital of the world, that’s no small thing.

FINAL GRADE:

C+


BEST (AND WORST) OF 2008:

ART | BOOKS | CLASSICAL | CLUBS | COMEDY | DANCE | FILM
GAY | MUSIC | THEATER | TV & DVD | KIDS

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