As 2015 comes to a close, music journalists everywhere are forced to summarize the year with a series of "best of" posts. Although this process is enjoyable for the most part, there are moments of extreme pain and hardship that occur when whittling down the hundreds of amazing tracks released this year down to a succinct list of 10-20. That being said, this year I think I've curated a solid list of my personal favorite tracks which also indicate major trends occurring within Trap, Future Bass, and club music.
Arca - 'Vanity'
I wanted to kick this chart off with a trend that I've been really feeling lately, strange/experimental sounds that are designed for the club, but less as a means to dance and more as music that challenges the listener. Arca might be the best example of this style. With production credits for Bjork and Kanye West under his belt, he's pushing his own style into the pop music sphere. "Vanity" was my favorite track off his 'Mutant' album, since it highlights the hauntingly beautiful nature of his work.
Sophie - 'MSMSMSM'
Another producer pushing experimental production into the world of pop music is PC music affiliate and sound designer extraordinaire Sophie. This has been a big year for him, working with artists like Charli XCX and Madonna, but this is only the beginning for him. His 'Product' release is just as experimental and jarring as his music, as the purchaser of the album also had the option to receive a uniquely designed "product" (sex toy) with their album. "MSMSMSM" is the perfect representation of his style, focusing on minimalist extreme texturized noises rather than the maximalist productions of other genres of dance music.
Swick & Lucid - 'Rubber'
Swick and Lucid's track continues this trend with its use of metallic sounds blended with liquid like aural movements that shift and swerve over a steady 808 drum beat.
Madeaux x Neo Fresco - 'Ego Death'
Possibly my favorite track of the year, "Ego Death" uses this same unique approach to sound design in a more gritty, no holds barred manner a la Gesaffelstein.
Zora Jones - 'Glade'
Sinjin Hawke challenged Zora Jones to make 100 beats before actually releasing any original music. The resulting work following this crucible is the '100 Ladies' EP. The 100 ladies represent all the previous songs which have led her to her current state of creativity. "Glade" flitters about at almost footwork-like speeds, with a much softer intensity shown in the airy vocal samples which seem to dance around the stereo field.
Hex Cougar - 'Hexifornia (Gesaffelstein Cover)'
One of trap/future bass's rising stars took a shot at re-working the dark lord's music, and he really outdid himself with this one. Hex Cougar adds more movement into the previously stiff "Hellifornia" in addition to some fitting hip-hop vocals as well as an ambient piano interlude.
Hex Cougar - 'Dungeons & Dragons'
I normally avoid two tracks from the same artist back to back, but they flow together well and allow me to move into the next trap music trend of 2015 that I want to highlight. This was a huge year for "chill trap" (for lack of a better term). The style that focuses on booming 808's rumbling beneath slightly glitched out minimalistic melodies. Notable producers include TroyBoi, Mr. Carmack, and now Hex Cougar.
Alexander Lewis - 'Forward'
Alexander Lewis is another talented producer whose work often aligns with the chill trap aesthetic. "Forward" is without a doubt my favorite track he's made, and one of my favorites of 2015.
S-Type feat. Yung Gud - 'Fire'
S-Type is often overshadowed by the superstars on LuckyMe's roster (Hudson Mohawke, Baauer, Cashmere Cat, Lunice, Lido, etc.), even though he's one of the crew's most talented members. "Fire" shows people everywhere why they should take note of this hip-hop oriented UK producer.
Mr. Carmack feat. Donnis - 'Solutions'
It wouldn't be a best of trap music list without including something from Chill Trap godfather Mr. Carmack. He's so representative of the sound of 2015, that I felt it was only appropriate that the cover art for this track (his face adorned with some very stylish Team Supreme glasses). With tracks ranging from somber, ambient beats to heavier leanings, I decided to opt for one of his heaviest yet.
Falcons feat. GoldLink & Chaz French - 'Aquafina'
Possibly the ultimate jam of 2015, "Aqaufina" has been igniting dance floors across the world this year. Falcons unique organic approach to dance music is a huge part of what makes this track so incredible. It's hard not to bounce to this one.
Baauer feat. AlunaGeorge & Rae Sremmurd - 'One Touch'
Despite being relatively quiet this year, Baauer still managed to release a few huge tracks. "One Touch" is a great representation of what a collaboration between a dance music producer and rappers/pop artists should be.
Baauer feat. Fetty Wap & Dubbel Dutch - 'Promises'
Another huge collab from Baauer with one of the biggest artists of 2015. It exists somewhere in between future bass, trap, and hip-hop spectrum, blending three of my favorite sounds into one.
Rustie - 'Big Catzz'
Despite a few road bumps and minor health issues, Rustie released one of my favorite albums of 2015 'EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE'. Departing from the more ambient route he took on his previous album, 'EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE' sees Rustie make a return to his familiar maximalist style that artists like Hudson Mohawke and him have popularized.
ASTR - 'Activate Me (Hoodboi Remix)'
2015 brought about a sharp increase in the popularity of future bass. This Hoodboi remix was without a doubt my favorite sample of the more fast paced vibrant incarnation of the genre.
What So Not - 'Oddity'
The 'Gemini' EP is the final What So Not release featuring both Emoh Instead and Flume production. Although most people are familiar with the title track, "Oddity" has somehow flown under most people's radar. What So Not have taken the aforementioned idea of experimental sound design and applied it to their own sound. Strange water pouring samples and snare sounds punctuate a journey through an epic aural expanse crafted by Chris Emerson and Harley Streten
Sam Gellaitry - 'Long Distance'
At only 18 years old, Sam Gellaitry has made quite a name for himself. Lighting Soulection's fan base ablaze since the moment of his signing, this young artist has truly outdone himself with his 'Escapism' EP. "Long Distance" is a great example of the producer's songwriting abilities, with a diverse range of instruments ranging from arpeggiated synthesizers to brass sections and moody strings.
Mura Masa - 'Firefly'
Mura Masa moved from hip-hop oriented beats to more ambient, uplifting sounds on his 'Someday Somewhere' EP. Even outside of the trap, bass, club, and experimental genres, "Firefly" is easily one of the best songs of 2015.
Lido - 'Here (Thoughts From A Tour Bus)'
After having his Soundcloud account deactivated, Lido posted this as the most fitting response possible. Can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for this prolific producer.
Cashmere Cat - 'HudMo Forever 1 (Cashmere Cat Edition)'
I wanted to close the chart out with something peaceful, and I don't think there could be a more fitting track. Although Cashmere Cat has been relatively silent this year (aside from some production work for Ariana Grande and Kanye West) he did produce this enchanting Hudson Mohawke cover. I'm also extremely excited for what Cashmere Cat might be releasing in 2016.