A festive top 20 (in no particular order) consisting of artists, tracks, mixes, nights and even mobile phone networks that have caught Uncle Albert's eye over the last 12 months. Half written in JFK airport and finished somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, it'll hopefully give you some insight into what has made the blog's first year such a memorable one.
Bok Bok - 'Southside'
Great to see instrumental grime embraced by Bok Bok and Night Slugs, who were incidentally crowned Resident Advisor's 'label of the month' back in November 2010. Definite break through in the sense that it represented the first grime EP put out by someone outside the recognised 'grime' bracket and it was certainly no gimmick either - 'Silo Pass' has been a set list favourite for over 6 months.
The culmination of almost two years' hard work from grime's pioneering duo Elijah and Skilliam and something they're incredibly proud of. Their Butterz imprint has completely transformed the way in which grime music is both marketed and released and deserves the attention it is beginning to receive from the big players of the electronic music world. Their weekly show on Rinse isn't bad either.
Buy via Juno Records here: http://www.juno.co.uk/products/rinse-17/438586-01/
Lord Of The Mics 3
The first two installments were legendary in their raw, uncut depiction of grime at its purest and the third continues the legacy in fine fashion. Masterminded by Jammer, volume 3 uses the same formula as 1 and 2, with his infamous basement (often referred to as 'the dungeon') once again the setting for emcees to do battle. Notable clashes include Kozzie vs Sox and Wariko vs Diesle - although not for everyone, it has definitely cast the spotlight back on to the art of spitting.
Buy via ITunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/lord-of-the-mics-iii/id483332557
2011 has been quite a year for Preditah. A relative unknown at the beginning of the year, he is now one of the most sought after producers in the UK. Notable remix work (check his rework of Trim's 'I Am') and two EP releases have satisfied fans' demand for music but you get the feeling he's only just scratching the surface. Next up is the highly anticipated 'Circles' EP due for release on Logan Sama's 'Earth 616' imprint. Expect a very big 2012.
Swindle - 'Moodswings' Video
Swindle's 'Moodswings' has deservedly been touted as one of the tracks of the year whilst the accompanying video from graphic artists 'Karimo' and 'Mr Tit' is arguably as memorable as the track itself. An all out sensory feast of flashing lights and conceptual visuals that make it one of Uncle Albert's favourite videos on the web in 2011.
Splurt - Uncle Albert x Sonic Router Mix 002
A very personal highlight for Uncle Albert - working closely with Sonic Router over the last 6 months has given me the opportunity to introduce some of grime's most promising talent to an entirely different audience. Splurt's effort was particularly rewarding because not only was it an excellent mix, it got the whole scene talking. The first piece I've put together in which I could really see tangible results.
Check it out via Sonic Router: http://www.sonicrouter.com/2011/11/splurt-diablo-sonic-router-x-uncle-albert-mix/
After spending a few years in relative obscurity and seemingly confined to grime's history books, 2011 has seen an unlikely transformation for one of grime's most likeable veterans. A number of memorable radio appearances alongside Elijah and Skilliam paved the way for the release of the excellent 'I Am' in the summer, whilst collaborations with the likes of Last Japan and even Skream illustrate the potential Trim has to be a major force in 2012. Confirmation of rumours concerning a deal with Rinse recordings would mark a fitting end to an excellent year.
Two of my favourite producers working together can only ever have been a good thing and the meeting of minds that saw Toddla T and Roska join forces to present the 'Toddksa' EP back in January was no exception. After interviewing Toddla, I went along to the launch night at Corsica Studios and witnessed some exceptional sets. The night that first made me realise I wanted to be writing about music for the long haul.
An excellent concept from Gobstopper / Butterz Records' Mr Mitch, who has been an Uncle Albert advocate from the very beginning. The idea that producers can battle in the same way emcees would is genius and not only allows for up-and-coming producers to establish themselves, but promotes the competitive edge that producers are often immune to. The first clash between Spooky and Darq E Freaker produced two excellent tracks and there is the scope for Beatfighter to grow and possibly branch out in 2012.
Check it out: http://beatfighter.co.uk/
Is there anything JME can't do? A huge statement of intent and one that brought a smile to Uncle Albert's face in 2011. Astounding.
Pearson Sound's RBMA lecture
A number of RBMA lectures have been broadcast online over the last few months but none have been more insightful than that with Hessle Audio boss Pearson Sound. Famed for his forward thinking, purist sound, the lecture not only explores his influences but touches on a whole range of specifics - a must see for any aspiring prodcuers / DJs.
Watch it on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/32560646
Mosca - Bax
2011 has been a particularly good year for Mosca with the release of 'Bax' on 'Numbers' in the autumn being the proverbial icing on the cake. A track that captures the archetypal old school garage sound in bucket loads, 'Bax' is one of Uncle Albert's tunes of the year and puts Mosca at the forefront of the garage revival by default. Great work.
502 Records' Boiler Room
Probably the best music-related experience I've ever had - Teeth, Zed Bias, Terri Walker and Oneman for a little over 2 hours on a Tuesday night. It was so good I wrote a review as soon as I got in.
Another star of 2011, Champion has gone from strength to strength this year, launching his own 'Formula Records' imprint over the summer. 'Sensitivity' featuring Ruby Lee Ryder dominated the Juno charts towards the back end of the year and even made its way onto Ben UFO's selection for the Rinse 16 compilation. Working closely with Butterz and Terror Danjah's 'Hardrive' imprint as well as releasing on Roska's 'RKS' imprint, Champion can look forward to continued success over the coming months.
Despite both going to the same university, Uncle Albert didn't meet up with Oscar over at LNUK (Lo Note UK) until we were both back in London early this summer. Since then, LNUK have launched a sold-out t-shirt range worn by everyone from Mosca to Horsepower and are set to release their first records in early 2012. They'll be celebrating their debut release with us at the Uncle Albert's 1st birthday in January.
An unbelievable year for Southampton's Royal T who remains at the forefront of everything good in the world of grime. Numerous releases with Butterz culminated in remix work for the likes of Katy B and Yasmin in the summer and he is fast earning himself a reputation on the decks to boot. A long term friend of Uncle Albert, you can catch him with MIK at the birthday bash in January.
Originally a trio, now a duo from Doncaster who have made a big impact this year. Signed to 'Greenmoney Recordings', debut release 'What You Do To Me' signalled their arrival in the electronic scene and they've continued to impress throughout 2011. Mella Dee has embarked on a solo project making grime too!
J-Sweet & Alias Fact Mix
Great to see two pioneers back at their best and this particular mix was a perfect reminder of their considerable credentials. J-Sweet's recent remix of Spooky's 'Rusty Bell' serves as further evidence that 'Marxmen' are truly back on the map.
Listen via Fact here: http://www.factmag.com/2011/04/29/fact-mix-243-j-sweet-alias/
A straight forward interview that resulted in 6 pints and a trip to YoYo says it all really. Despite getting pissed regularly, he's also had an excellent year - his 'Deep Teknologi' imprint has gone from strength to strength (notably with the release of MA1's 'Elektron' EP) and he was shortlisted to win DJ Mag's 'Breakthrough DJ of the Year' award.
Launch of Spooky's 'Ghost House' imprint
Another long term advocate of Uncle Albert, the launch of Spooky's 'Ghost House' imprint was long overdue. Incredibly dedicated, he rejuvenated the scene back in 2010 with the release of 'Spartan' and continues to embody the genre like no other.