Steve Messer

Revivalist aesthetic: musical discoveries from 2019

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Last year I put together a playlist of music I’d loved or first listened to in 2018 and, genre-wise, it was relatively varied. Beats, jazz-funk, rock, club heaters, hip-hop and some essential bass music. This year’s list, however, is quite different to that. It’s a playlist of songs that are mostly all the same, to be honest.

2019 has been the year of the revivalist sound, with young producers harkening back to the days of 1990s rave with pumping modern tributes. The stand-out release for me has been Soundbwoy Killah’s Halcyon Daze, an LP ‘suffused…with the heady fug of rave memories and long nights in the dance’ (as told by Bleep). They’re tunes that make you want to go raving again, even if your own halcyon days were 2006–2013, not the decade previous.

This playlist is packed with those kinds of tunes, it reeks of nostalgia.

In a way, it’s a mournful playlist. Going out these days isn’t like what it used to be (*cough* old man *cough*). In reviving the warehouse rave, clubs like Printworks have mass-marketed and stripped away the original appeal: underground folklore. It’s something Burial touches on in this interview with Wire magazine.

The UK was changing in a different direction, away from us. Maybe the feeling of the UK in clubs and stuff back then, it wasn’t as artificial, self-aware or created by the internet. It was more rumour, underground folklore. No mobile phones back then. Anyone could go into the night and they had to seek it out. Because you could see it in people, you could see it in their eyes. Those ravers were at the edge at their lives, they weren’t running ahead or falling behind, they were just right there and the tunes meant everything.

There was a time when I respected music in that way. These days I don’t give it enough dedication.

But then again, maybe it’s an optimistic playlist. The music I’ve listened to and loved in 2019 seems to be sounds of a remembered era, and I’m really keen to go out and hear music again. I miss it: the swaying, the lights, the sweat, the laughs. So 41 tracks remembering all that has sparked my keenness to get dancing again.

Anyway, that’s enough blabbering. Here’s the playlist of tracks I discovered or loved in 2019.

And here’s to getting back out there. See you in the dance, front-left.

Tracklist

#TitleArtist
1Halcyon DazeSoundbwoy Killah
2DreamRobohands
3RufigeLee Gamble
4DreamingJon Hassell
5Nu Spring30/70
6Ai PaintYoung Paint
7CruxSporting Life
8JazterpieceDennis Bovell
9OpBremer/McCoy
10BROWN PAPER BAGTOSHIO MATSUURA GROUP
11Audi A3L U C Y
12Dilla Mix 1Abstract Orchestra
13Suite HausMakaya McCraven
14ザ・ワードII - Remixed by 鳥居真道 (トリプルファイヤー)セキトオ・シゲオ
15I’m ready for dancingRonald Langestraat
16Mumma Don’t TellLeifur James
17SèteSouleance
18BallDuval Timothy
19Film ScoreSmith & Mighty
20Walworth WaltzJoy Orbison
21Tumblin’ (Death March)Smith & Mighty
22Flyby VfrSkee Mask
23Dial 274Skee Mask
24Black Balloons RepriseFlying Lotus
25Loiner DubSoundbwoy Killah
26Be Ya GirlKW Griff
27RZZSkee Mask
28Controlled Energy ReleaseTHUGWIDOW
29Chiseler’s RushCall Super
30I Hate When People Make Tracks Like ThisJimmy Edgar
31Olbass All Bass 004 (140 BPM)Vegyn
32iii’s FrontOvermono
3302-52-03RP Boo
34Under the InfluenceSoundbwoy Killah
35KotosMala
36Do it AgainShinichiro Yokota
37FoxxyCassius
38Glass EyePearson Sound
39My FutureLoraine James
40BullseyeSully
41It Ain’t LoveRahsaan Patterson