Dancing Astronaut presents the Top 100 Electronic Tracks of 2020

Dancing Astronaut presents the Top 100 Electronic Tracks of 2020Blank 1500 1000 4

Despite a year brimming with letdowns and shortcomings, 2020 enabled artists with the opportunity to stretch their creative legs throughout the time spent at home during quarantine, and the results delivered tenfold. 2020 supplied more forward-looking music than years recent memory, with artists leveraging the absence of overwhelming tour regimens into high-grade outputs that made 2020 just a bit more bearable.

Spanning from Lane 8 and Calvin Harris, who had already cemented their lofty sonic standing early into 2020, to ODESZA and Golden Features, who had a wrench tossed into their BRONSON rollout plan, to the Swedish trifecta of BROHUG, who put up a towering count of 30 releases in 2020, there was no deficiency of artistic ingenuity from January all the way to December. To reflect on the releases from this year that still remain in our day-to-day rotation, we compiled an eclectic playlist of Dancing Astronaut’s 100 favorite tracks of 2020. Enjoy.

Featured image: Leah Sems

Solaris Synthesizer Gets Major Firmware Upgrade

John Bowen Synth Design has released a major firmware update for their Solaris synthesizer.

The new v2.0 Multimode OS for the Solaris features 4-part Multimode and a new Phase Mod/Phase Distortion Oscillator Type.

“This has been many years in development,” notes Bowen. “I am eternally grateful to Jim Hewes for the thousands of hours he has dedicated to improving the Solaris operating system. Special thanks as well to Holger Drenkelfort at Sonic Core (for the phase distortion models from Scope) and Hrastprogrammer for coding the new Phase Mod/Phase Distortion oscillator type.”

Here’s what Bowen has to say about the new Solaris v2.0:

“Changes to Presets

The biggest structural change is that each Multi Preset now is actually 4 layers deep, making it four times the size of a previous preset. All older presets will load as 4-part Multi Presets. Loading an older preset file automatically converts it into the new Multi Preset format. The new Multi Preset will populate Part 1 with all the parameters, including the Master FX, Output settings, Performance knob assignments, stored joystick position, SamplePool, arpeggiator settings, Assign switches, and BPM. As before, when the Preset LED is on, you are in Preset Mode. Touching any parameter knob will immediately jump out of Preset Mode and put the Solaris into Edit Mode. When in edit mode, the bottom line of the center display will display the current selected parameter, which now includes the part number as P1, P2, etc.

New Oscillator Type: PhaseMod (PhsMod)

In addition to all of the new Multimode features, a 7th Oscillator Type has been added. This features both “DX7-style FM” (otherwise known as Phase Modulation or PM) and Phase Distortion (PD, from the Casio family of CZ synths). The waveshapes provided are as follows: For PM – Sine, Morphing Saw (Morph1), Morphing Square (Morph2) For PD – CZSaw, CZSquare, CZPulse, CZSawPulse, CZReso1, CZReso2, and CZReso3.

For Phase Modulation, use PMod as the mod destination. For Phase Distortion, use the Shape knob and destination. (You can have both types of modulation going on, of course.) On the oscillator’s page 2, you will find Sync and Quant(ization) parameters. For the PhaseMod Type, the only sync value is Gate. For certain PM sounds, you need to ‘lock’ the start of the phase to make sure you have a consistent attack to the sound, or you don’t want to have phase cancellation with stacked oscillators. Gate works with the Phase setting, to restart the phase at a specific point for every note-on event.

Quantize reduces the bit resolution of the PhaseMod oscillator. The range is 0-31 (with 31 = 1 bit). Results are very subtle until you are in the 27-30 range.”

PhaseMod Oscillator Demo:

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Details are available at the John Bowen site.

Grimes taps REZZ, Richie Hawtin, Tale of Us, BloodPop, and more for ‘Miss Anthropocene: Rave Edition’

Grimes taps REZZ, Richie Hawtin, Tale of Us, BloodPop, and more for ‘Miss Anthropocene: Rave Edition’REZZ TessaPaisan

Back in February, Grimes kicked 2020 off with the release of her Miss Anthropocene LP. Now, nearly a full year after the project’s release, the artist is prepping a collection of corresponding remixes, tapping a handful of electronic heavyweights for their takes on the album.

Rounding out at 11 new tracks, techno and tech-house will take center stage on Miss Anthropocene: Rave Edition with Richie Hawtin, ANNA, REZZ, Tale of Us, and Modeselektor all offering spins on Grimes’ groundwork. Frequent Grimes collaborator and executive producer on Lady Gaga‘s Chromatica, BloodPop, will also make an appearance on the remix album, as well as rising hip-hop and dance star Channel Tres, Âme, Julien Bracht, and Things You Say.

The club-primed Miss Anthropocene: Rave Edition is due to land on January 1. Ahead of the collection’s release, hear Richie Hawtin’s take on “Darkseid” and BloodPop’s “We Appreciate Power” remix previewed in Grimes’ recent Apple Music mix below.


Featured image: Tessa Paisan

Industry figures warn European tours may be in jeopardy following new Brexit trade deal

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After the announcement of a new Brexit deal, musicians across the world could face financial issues when trying to tour the European Union once live events resume. Following the omission of musicians from the list of workers allowed to enter the EU without a visa, music industry insiders warn that the cost of touring could far outweigh any potential profits.

Founder of Step Music Management, Ellie Giles, recently tweeted a simple breakdown detailing the financial toll musicians would face in traveling overseas for live shows:

Giles walks readers through exact costs, which ultimately round out to a total of approximately £500 after withholding. This £500 gain comes at a price of about -£3976 out of this hypothetical band’s pocket.

Beginning in January, anyone from the EU that is hoping to tour inside of the UK’s borders must apply for a visa, show proof of savings and a certificate of sponsorship from the event. This new establishment will impose the same burden of paperwork that is required of artists from outside the EU onto the UK’s neighboring artists.

To try and combat this setback, the Incorporated Society of Musicians bargained for a two-year, multi-entry visa as a part of the new ruling, only to have it shot down by the Home Office. While many wait for the world to kick back into gear as more vaccines are shelled out across the globe, it is evident that live-music and touring across the pond is headed for an abrupt shift, whatever that may mean.

H/T: The Independent

Featured image: Jake Davis

Nick Vyner captures the feeling of removing toxicity from your life in his newest single “Mood Swing”

Music has the ability to capture moments. Whether it be the song that’s playing at a party you had your first kiss at, the song you were listening to while you mustered up the courage to send a risky text, or the song that you played when you went on a solo drive to clear your head, music is consistently in the background of our lives, soundtracking both our past and present. Making music is very similar in the fact that an artist’s collection of work is a soundtrack of what they were going through at that time. Nick Vyner has been very cognizant of that when making his own music, and his latest release “Mood Swing” exemplifies just that. 

Meshing his love of musical theatre and jazz with pop production, “Mood Swing” begins with a sample from “I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face,” performed by Baby Washington. A drum fill seamlessly bridges the 1960s tune with the rest of the song, as Vyner starts to sing, “Truth stings / You can call it a mood swing / Pick a side and back it up.” Sonic elements like the bass and percussion modernize the track’s by-gone musical era feel, illuminated by what sounds like the whistling of a flute. The chorus begins and we’re taken through the thought process of ending a toxic relationship, platonic or otherwise, as Vyner sings, “We don’t need to talk right now / We don’t gotta do too much / I just wanna take some time / Maybe you could open up.” 

Being his first release under 10K Projects and Flighthouse Media’s joint venture, Solo Brightest, Vyner is leading with intention, crafting his own story, while hoping others are able to relate. Vyner explained, “‘Mood Swing’ is about moving on from friendships and relationships that aren’t healthy. It’s that moment when you realize you might be better off being completely apart from someone instead of trying to justify their behavior and keep them in your life.” Providing a space for people who are in the process of distancing themselves from someone else, “Mood Swing” perfectly soundtracks the very real and necessary process of putting your own well-being first. 

Connect with Nick Vyner: Spotify | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Good Morning Mix: Travel back to CamelPhat’s kinetic Tomorrowland 2018 set

Good Morning Mix: Travel back to CamelPhat’s kinetic Tomorrowland 2018 set65733781 342971163292741 7200280446633416590 N

In October, CamelPhat released their long-awaited debut LP, Dark Matter. Mere months later, the Liverpool-formed duo is now preparing to assume livestream duties at Tomorrowland’s virtual New Year’s Eve celebration, where they can be expected to shuffle through more than just a few of their Dark Matter tracklistings. But before fans catch Dave Whelan and Mike Di Scala’s set at Tomorrowland Around The World‘s digital successor, Dancing Astronaut recommends that they first revisit CamelPhat’s Tomorrowland Belgium 2018 set, live from the ANTS stage.

Surrounded by water, Tomorrowland’s ANTS stage cultivated an unmatched chill atmosphere for festival attendees to dance and lose themselves. Two years later, CamelPhat’s appearance from the ambient setting provides the ideal mood-boosting early morning experience. Rife with originals from CamelPhat as well as Basement Jaxx, Chris Lake, Green Velvet, and other house and techno commanders, the one-hour and 15-minute set can be experienced anew below.

In the time leading up to Tomorrowland’s virtual NYE eventDancing Astronaut will revisit Tomorrowland sets from artists slated to perform at the dance-focused finale to 2020. Follow the journey with our Tomorrowland NYE Good Morning Mix series, and learn why Tomorrowland’s Around The World festival was named our top digital event of 2020 here.

Featured image: Hï Ibiza

Palestinian DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi arrested following event at historical site

Palestinian techno DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi has been arrested after playing an event at a historical site in the West Bank, located between Jericho and Jerusalem. 

Abdulhadi, a prominent DJ on the global circuit and a figurehead for the Palestinian scene, was reportedly arrested in the city of Ramallah on Sunday 27th December after playing an event the night before at the Nabi Musa site, where many believe the prophet Moses is buried. 

An estimated 30 young Palestinians attended the party on Saturday night. Videos from the event were shared to social media, prompting anger and “accusations of desecration of the site” from some. Attendees were reportedly forced from the site after the arrival of a number of people angered by the event. 

According to a report by Mixmag, the party did not take place within the site’s holy shrine, as some have claimed, but in a separate area, which has previously hosted “weddings, birthdays, music and cultural events”. A petition calling for the immediate release of Abdulhadi states that the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism gave written approval for the event to take place, and for it to be filmed as part of a wider project promoting “Palestinian heritage sites and Palestinian techno music amongst music audiences around the world”.

In 2019, an EU funded renovation project for Nabi Musa was completed in cooperation with Palestine’s Ministry of Tourism, with the aim of developing cultural tourism in the region. The New Arab reports that documents seen by the publication confirm the event on Saturday’s permission to go ahead in the site’s bazaar area “with the aim of promoting the Palestinian historical and archaeological sites internationally through electronic ‘techno’ music.”  

According to a report in La Republica, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism has denied giving permission for the event to take place. The Palestinian Authority has reportedly ordered a full investigation into the event.

The petition for Abdulhadi’s release states that her arrest has been used by the Palestinian Authority as a means to “to ‘tame’ public anger” and as an “an official evasion of responsibility, hiding behind Sama instead of confronting the legal crisis and accepting responsibility.”

Naharnet reports that Abdulhadi’s application for bail was denied, and as of Tuesday 29th December the DJ’s time in custody has been extended by a further 15 days. Speaking to AFP, Ammar Dweik, director of the Independent Palestinian Commission for Human Rights, said: “We asked today for her release because her arrest is not logical… She had received an authorization from the ministry of tourism.”

“Nebi Mussa is not only a religious site but also a tourist site,” he continued. “If electronic music was not appropriate for it, the ministry should not have given its authorization.”

Speaking to Mixmag, one of the event’s attendees said: “What made this worse is a lot of lies [were] told about the nature of the event, claiming it was very immoral and a desecration of a holy place. What needed to happen immediately was for the PA ministry responsible to clearly state it gave a permit for the use of this historic/cultural site, rather than throwing Sama’ under the bus to satisfy the public.”

At the time of writing, 15,000 people have signed the petition for Abdulhadi’s release. 

DJ Mag has reached out to Abdulhadi’s management for comment.