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Best of 2022 – Top 10 dance compilations

Our roundup of the year continues

  1. Theo Parrish – DJ Kicks (!K7)

In a scene littered with insincerity, he seeks out authenticity and lets it shine. As he winds through the mixed version of this compilation, he switches gears, rides fade outs and generally moves freely. When he wants to throw down he will, but even in the more beat-matched mixes he takes a light approach, letting the mellow Rhodes of Jon Dixon’s ‘Wind Drifts’ take over from RayBone Jones’ ‘Green Funk’ with the calmest of transitions. Whatever the crossover between tracks, the narrative itself is captivating enough on its own, gliding through runs of rugged house, jazz-inflected broken beat and crooked soul on a 90-minute trip that radiates warmth out into the room like a good long-form collection should.

2. Horse Meat Disco – Back To Mine (Back To Mine)

We’re used to hearing Horse Meat Disco set the peak of the night alight with their fierce and fabulous route through disco, house and Italo, but what happens after the dance? On their entry for the long-standing Back To Mine series Jamies Hillard, Jim Stanton, Luke Howard and Severino Panzetta take us deep into their collections for a blissful, soulful soundtrack to that cosy moment when we want to wind down after a big night out. There’s still plenty of the groove-oriented magic we’ve come to expect from the crew, from Krivit editing Gwen McRae to Severino himself remixing Roisin Murphy, but as you’d expect this is also a voyage of discovery full of secret weapons, spread across two slabs of wax for your own mixing pleasure.

3 . Heavenly Remixes 3 & 4: Andrew Weatherall Volume 1 & 2 (Heavenly)

For the third volume in the label’s Remixes series, Heavenly Recordings has decided to look back on its lengthy relationship with the late, great Andrew Weatherall. The man occasionally known as Lord Sabre provided plenty of reworks for the London-based imprint over a 30-year period, and you’ll find some of the greatest here (and on the accompanying second volume, sold separately). Highlights include Weatherall’s legendary two-part dub of St Etienne’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’, his peerless, 15-minute peak-time 1992 take on Flowered Up’s ‘Weekender’, a delightfully dubbed-out, Asphodells-style rework of Gwenno from 2015 and a stunningly spaced-out dancefloor dub of Mark Lanaghan.

4. Jessy Lanza – DJ Kicks (K7)

The DJ Kicks series has managed to outlast the vast majority of other DJ mixes we can think of – the good, the bad, the populist, and the plain cash cow. Even the mighty Fabric compilations have rebranded and rethought, bringing the original legacy, FABRICLIVE included, to a respectful end at 200 outings. Strange, then, to think, that !K7’s mighty offering to the world of “What should we listen to at the afters?” has arguably managed to become more relevant as the years have flown by.

There was a time when the series existed at the lighter end of club fare, with some examples barely even matching that description. These days, though, there’s often a dance floor heaviness central to the selections, with Jessy Lanza’s broken, bass-driven set a case in point. Pointless attempts to describe the music, and lazy track list namedropping aside, this is energy-packed, heads down, futurist stuff packed with infectious percussion.

5. Dys Functional Electronic Music X (Repitch)

The REPITCH label started back in 2011 with a 12″ split three ways between its co-founders, Pasquale Ascione (Ascion), Davide Carbone (D. Carbone) and Nino Pedone (Shapednoise). Some 11 years on, and the trio are still very much at the heart of the label’s activities, celebrated here with the Dys Functional Electronic Music X compilation, highlighting not only their label’s scope but also, they say, pointing a way forward for its future intentions.

This collection pushes at the edges of the experimental techno genre, whether that be through speed and heaviness (see Buttechno’s pummelling ‘Ghost Yunost’), smashed up arrangements like opening tune ‘Mastice Riddim (VIP Mix)’ from Shapednoise and Gabber Eleganza or reconnection with the ruffneck breakbeats that were once an integral part of rave culture (Ascion’s ‘Plugged’ (Heavy-Rotation Mix) and DJ Plant Texture’s ‘Threat The Music With Respect’)

6. 25 Years Of CIA Records (CIA)

CIA Records makes a quarter of a century in operation with this bumper triple pack. It shows just why the label has endured such is the freshness and range of sound on offer. It was launched initially in 1996, out of a necessity as Total Science aka producers Q-Project & Spinback wanted somewhere for their own tunes.

It soon expanded to take in the best in the game and many of them feature here. From the smooth Calibre remix to open, via the silky minimal soul of ‘Break’ and correctly titled ‘Raggamuffin Bizness’ from Digital, this is one essential collection.

7. Duploc 10 Years Bundle (DUPLOC)

Belgian bastions Duploc look back over the last decade of resonance with this crucial ten track set. Launching at a time when dubstep was at its most crass commercial EDM-ified peak, the crew have forever maintained their love for the deeper, underground and innovative side of 140 music and this collection is a kindly reminder of that.

Highlights are in abundance as an all-star cast of older pioneers and new young disrupters get busy with the boundary blurring; Mungk’s ‘Mountain’ is all about that loose limbed modern jazz swing, Distance’s ‘Vigalance’ is pure abrasive attitude, Ternion Sound get their creep on with ‘Tactics’ while Juss B flattens us with pure 808 science on ‘Can’t Sleep’. And that’s not even half of it. Here’s to another 10 years.

8. Twenty Years of Underground Sonics – (Critical Music)

Marking label Critical Music’s 20th birthday, they’ve compiled 22 tracks over six discs from breakbeat cuts by Calibre to more melodic vocal cuts by Envy, and a proper bass growler from label owner Kasra. Expertly curated and mastered, following the label’s takeover of Printworks back in March, the six discs span a wide, international selection of the different pockets and scenes that drum & bass inhabits.

9 Studio One Classics (Soul Jazz)

Calling a compilation Studio One Classics is a bit axiomatic if you ask us – just about everything the legendary reggae studio put out is a classic. Anyway, Soul Jazz have assembled a load more such seminal sounds for this special Record Store Day collection across two slabs of wax. It has plenty of big names, heavy hitters and well known tunes form all the genres most pioneering artists. The Heptones, The Skatelities, Horace Andy, The Wailers and Dennis Brown are amongst just some of the making this another essential outing.

10. Too Slow To Disco 4 (How Do You Are?)

Since launching eight years ago, Too Slow To Disco has now become the go-to compilation series for all those interested in AOR disco, glossy West Coast blue-eyed soul, yacht rock and slow-motion disco. This belated fourth instalment – volume three landed in stores five years ago – is every bit as alluring as its predecessors, with an even more obscurity-heavy track listing. Highlights are naturally plentiful, with our picks including the eyes-closed wonder of James Felix’s deliciously loved-up ‘Open Up’, the low-slung shuffle of ‘Music In Me’ by Stephen Enchilidas, the synth-splashed Balearic rock haziness of Jimmie Spheeris’s ‘Beautiful News’, and the quietly funky brilliance of Severin Browne’s ‘Stay’