BEST OF 2011: ITAL’S PICKS

We asked some of our favorite acts of 2011 to share their their own year-end lists with us. And for some reason, most of them took it a lot more seriously than usual. First up: Daniel Martin-McCormick a.k.a. Ital a.k.a. Sex Worker a.k.a. one half of Mi Ami, and his impressions of 2011.
(Oh and do check out the Mi Ami and Sex Worker guest mixes if you haven’t already.)

Every year ends with me being astonished it’s already over. I don’t know what a year is supposed to feel like, but whatever it is it’s difficult to wrap up. This was a sick year for music, but writing a narrative of a year in music or whatever is also tricky since there are so many lauded records I didn’t hear or even hear of. This is the shit I got into/experienced/whatever that stuck with me in 2011, month by month. Can’t wait for 2012.

January: I had just moved to NYC and it was bitterly cold and snowed the fuck out and the only work I could get was a dog walking job (which I still have). Some time around here I heard Demdike Stare‘s incredible Tryptych and Sandwell District‘s Feed Forward. Both were perfect soundtracks for the brutality, full of creeping dread, icy drones and thousand-yard-stare reverb. Definitely kept me going when I did not want to go back down to Atlantic Ave for Digby’s slushy evening walk.
Also, DJ SprinklesMidtown 120 Blues got a TON of play at this time. I briefly had a second job doing transit research, so for a bit I was all over NYC in the mornings and then would head to BK for the pooches midday. Sprinkles elegiac reminiscences of a lost house music paradise really struck a chord as I was first exploring the city.
Also we had a killer house party, which remains the absolute best way to experience music.

February: Around this time I was reviewing DJ Nate‘s Da Track Genius for Dusted and man, footwork is so sick. It was a huge inspiration for Ital this year, as it was for so much bass music/techno/whatever. It seemed like everyone got into footwork and I was no exception. The only thing is, although I understand how it offers a way forward for UK types coming out of dubstep and jungle roots, I was disappointed by the amount of wholesale appropriation. The most awesome thing about footwork (other than the music itself) is how it viciously reminds the listener that there are no rules and you should do whatever the fuck you want. People gotta remember to fuck shit up all the time.

March: Mi Ami went on tour around the US which was pretty great. I think my favorite part was rolling up to New Orleans. NYC was still in icy tundra mode, but NOLA was warm and absolutely inviting. The air there is soft and the food is slamming and shit is DIY like none other. The best part though was playing a show with some budding no wave ragers whose band name I forget but it was the guitarists First Show Ever. I have seen a lot of bands’ or projects’ first shows, but a person’s live debut is a special treat.
Also on this tour, the most hotly debated issue was the whether Round Two ‘New Day’ was better than Round Five ‘I’m Your Brother’ or vice versa. Damon went for ‘New Day’ and I went for ‘I’m Your Brother’ but now I’m not so sure. These were anthems the whole way through, as well as the one radio interview with the guy from Drexciya before he moved to ATL and passed away.

April: Mi Ami went to Europe and the big joints on this trip were Family Choice ‘Reggae Beat Goes On’ and Carl Craig‘s remix of Deee-Lite. Also Diva Dompe live was cool and Liturgy live was ridiculous… I would probably write a manifesto about that drum beat, too. We did a few dates with Awesome Tapes From Africa and it was always great but Amsterdam was the steamiest, people getting so down and Brian pulling out all the stops with a slice of Penny Penny. Tapes, man…
In Berlin I scored a copy of the too-fast-to-live St. Vitus Dance 12″ on Peace Frog, which grabs my favorite parts of Kyle Hall, Moritz Von Oswald and Jeff Mills and then goes back in time to the early 90s for a chill out session at 150 bpm. Huh?
Oh shit and how could I forget! Damon had been working on his Magic Touch tracks and was really getting them done on this trip. If you haven’t heard his 12″ on 100% Silk, you gotta NOW. It’s probably my favorite record of the year.

May: Can’t really remember too too much. The approaching summer was a relief of epic proportions. Driving around BK in a zipcar I stumbled on a reggae DJ playing Marcia Griffiths‘ cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Everywhere’ which was so awesome except/because he was getting on the mic like a champ and giving shout outs to any and all. Hilarious and annoying, that track is so good though.

June: Some time mid-year I heard Mark E‘s ‘R+B Drunkie’ which was by far the best non-2011 song I located this year. What is it that makes people lose it every fucking time? I think it’s the raw kick tone that lets you know it’s time to grind. The man’s a master.
Matthew David tore it up at 285 kent opening for Sun Araw and later that night I got to check the phenomenal DJ Harvey at Santos. There was an excess of ecstatic moments in his set but the best was likely when he played a full Vanessa Williams-style piano ballad around 2:30 am. No drums, no bass, just a woman barring her soul and some deep ivory tinkling. And then as soon as it was done, *boom* straight into some raw house. Perfect.

July: Ryan Trecartin‘s ‘Any Ever’ at PS-1 ruled my word in July and beyond. A series of fully immersive and disorienting environments that take you straight to the dark nexus of our internet/media saturation/post-everything/self-actualization/wheatgrass shot void. The impact and power of his work is impossible to describe, suffice it to say that this man gets it and it’s fucking terrifying and morbidly hilarious.
Laurel Halo also at PS-1 was on top of her game and the Dope Jams party later that night was the #1 DJ set of my life. It was gratifying to see so many people so down to be pummeled by the rarest, best disco and house not on any market. Expert mixing, impeccable selections, unimpeachable sound, fog, the feeling that memories we being born as you experienced it… the whole nine yards.

August: My main musical memory was playing a 100% Silk showcase right before the hurricane in a giant warehouse in Greenpoint. Yeah, all warehouses are giant, right? No. This had two rooms with floor space larger than most houses, brick walls and 100 foot high (!!!) ceilings. You know what that means? Projections look like you’re at the Cineplex Odeon and disco balls become portable planetariums. You know what else that means? Every band sounds like they’re playing through two digital reverb units from the 80s set to “Arena.” I didn’t realize those boxes actually emulated a naturally occurring sonic event. Thankfully the hurricane damaged nothing I own or rent, and I got to just chill and watch ‘Clueless’.

September: There were a few cool things in September but a trip to SF that brings an Optimo DJ set and, a week later, Virgo Four live takes the cake. Optimo refuse to go stale, keeping it ever refreshing with wide open taste and selection. Why can’t more DJs be so fresh and adventurous? Virgo Four was deeply moving and musically on point. It wasn’t house, it wasn’t acid, it wasn’t techno, it wasn’t classic, it wasn’t electronica, it wasn’t Chicago. It was two men playing music so personal, so deeply ingrained in their souls, so much about their friendship and partnership that I would have felt a little intrusive watching it were it not for the aura of pure celebration and joy.

October: Hey this list is getting long! Ditto much of what I said about Virgo Four for the Model 500 show in Krakow at the Unsound Fest, and then ditto much of what I said about footwork for the Rashaad and Spinn set the next night. Also Hype Williams DESTROYED, tearing into their set with a fury and intensity that is a mere undertone on record. More, please.

November: I was on tour in Europe solo for much of October and November, so there was less music consuming. Pretty much dove back into old favorites for listening… Music for 18 Musicians and the first Vladislav Delay album. Made a dent in Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae which generally rips you a new one and got to go to Russia. Stateside I gotta rep the Magic Touch live set. Obviously, he is my dude so I am more than a bit biased, but the echo laden, psychedelic expansiveness needs to be put to tape pronto. How many people are making bleep and bass dubs out of disco edits on a floppy disc-employing sampler?

December: December’s all about hitting up those year end lists! Blawan, Oneohtrix, James Ferraro, Mr. Beatnick, Regis, Juju & Jordash, Cooly G and the Shangaan remixes are all getting a lot of play around here, having missed them when they came out. It’s fun to catch up. Martha Marcy May Marlene was rough to watch alone especially if you meet up with a friend afterwards who hasn’t seen it and is planning on seeing it and you really want to talk about it but can’t. We also had another house party.

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