The best (and worst) of 2007

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MATERIAL BOYS Pat Mahoney, left, and James Murphy stitch up a deluxe disco mix for the Fabriclive series.

MATERIAL BOYS Pat Mahoney, left, and James Murphy stitch up a deluxe disco mix for the Fabriclive series.

THE BEST

Burial Untrue (Hyperdub). This was the year that dubstep, which had gelled around a stark syncopated-doomsday framework, began to leach off its skeleton in unexpected ways. Untrue does so by circling back—albeit in a supremely ghostly fashion—to the sound’s U.K.-garage roots. Full review

Daso Meine Idee EP (Spectral Sound).Both the Spectral label and Cologne, Germany (Daso Franke’s hometown), are better known for spiky electronic minimalism than rich deepness, so this release comes as a bit of a surprise. But it’s a really good surprise, as all three cuts are among the most beautifully emotive house around.

DJ Buck “Nervous Acid” (Tu Rong). Release a cover of Bobby Konders’s 1990 acid-house classic? Sacrilege! But San Fran’s DJ Buck avoids any potential for controversy by taking a ballsy tack—the new version is played live, with a bass guitar standing in for the Roland TB-303.

Douglas Sound “Do Right” (Wurst Edits). When we asked Lee Douglas (a.k.a. Douglas Sound) where he got the sample that “Do Right” is based on, he said “I don’t know…some Teddy Pendergrast record I found for a dollar!” Whatever it is, the record is the most floor-filling disco re-edit this year.

Fabriclive 36: James Murphy & Pat Mahoney (Fabric). London superclub Fabric put out tons of fabulous mix-CDs this year, ranging from Marcus Intelex’s driving drum ’n’ bass collection to Ricardo Villalobos’s minimal-techno tour de force. But for sheer fun, none of them beat this compendium of disco old and new, crafted by DFA’s Murphy and his LCD Soundsystem crony Mahoney.

Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas Reinterpretations (Eskimo). It’s basically just a jacked-up reworking of the pair’s eponymous debut album, but that’s more than enough to make this the space-disco album of the year.

Motorcitysoul “Aura” (Jimpster remix) (Stir15 Recordings). Jimpster, the musical alias of Freerange Records rector Jamie, transforms Motorcitysoul’s thump-house original into a gently swirling vortex of synth riffs and percussion.

Pylon Gyrate Plus (DFA Records). Sure, it’s a reissue of songs that are 25 years old, and it’s not exactly club music (though discerning DJs have been known to drop “Danger” into their sets). But Pylon’s hayseed version of postpunk wins out over most releases from any era.

Sunshine Jones Seven Tracks in Seven Days (King Street Sounds). If it really only took a week for the former Dubtribe Sound System dude to put together this superb collection of gorgeous house music, he’s a stone-cold genius.This is as beautiful as music that goes thump-thump-thump is gonna get. Full review

THE WORST

Big-room tranceWe’ve never really got the appeal of the popular, Wagner-lite version of trance. Somebody told us it had to be experienced live, so we went to hear Tiësto at Hammerstein Ballroom. We get it even less now.

Dance remixes of rock recordsIn truth, a few of them are pretty good (particularly the versions where they erase all evidence of whiny lead singers), but one of the main reasons a lot of people got into dance music in the first place was to get away from this stuff.

Kanye West “Stronger” (Roc-A-Fella). Sure, it’s kind of cool that he used the killer synth riff from Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Too bad he ruined it.

Report card:
If this were any other American city, 2007 would have registered as a stellar year in nightlife. Long-running parties such as the Bunker, Deep Space, Basic NYC and dozens more continued their winning streaks, as did venues ranging from little basement joints like 205 all the way up to Pacha. Meanwhile, only a few clubs—Mr. Black, Roxy and Crobar/Studio Mezmor among them—shut down. Admittedly, the recent announcement that Motherfucker is kaput stings, but still, it’s been an okay year. Okay if we were Philadelphia or Sacramento, that is…but this is NYC, the onetime clubbing capital of the world. We shouldn’t have to be looking to cities like London and Berlin for inspiration—they should be aping us, dammit! Note to Dean Johnson, Mel Cheren, Gregory Lewis and the rest of clubland’s fallen soldiers: May the afterlife be one hell of a party.

FINAL GRADE: C+

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