Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 123 | Top Tracks of 2019

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 123 | Top Tracks of 2019Deters Beat Lab@0.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic—to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery—DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.


When I started using SoundCloud in early 2014, I made playlists weekly (read: obsessively). I’ve backed off a bit in recent years, but I still take time to collect songs for my yearly “best of” playlist, which I create every January and add to throughout the year. In late December for the past five years, I’ve narrowed it down to my 50 favorite releases of the year. They range from hard-hitting anthems to serene soundscapes, which truly sums up my music preferences.

In 2019, I was fortunate enough to premiere a few of my absolute favorite tracks of the year, including The Midnight‘s remix of SYML‘s “Clean Eyes,” Com Truise‘s remix of Gold Fields‘ “Waterfall,” and Essenger‘s “After Dark.” (A big thank you to all the artists who choose DA as their platform to reveal new music—we love you!)

2019 was a stellar year for drum ‘n’ bass, exhibited in tracks like Kove‘s “Le Retour,” Koven‘s “Love Wins Again,” 1991‘s “Guiding Light,” Metrik‘s “Hackers,” and so many more. The genre took some fun twists and turns, which fans heard in Mat Zo‘s Latin-infused “Games” and Sub Focus‘ earth-shattering remix of Bring Me The Horizon‘s “Mother Tongue.”

This year saw the arrival of a slew of monstrous collaborations—some unexpected and some that simply made sense. Regardless, tracks like Sullivan King and Grabbitz‘s “Crazy As You” and Delta Heavy and Zeds Dead‘s “Lift You Up” blew my mind. I was delighted when Fox Stevenson and Feint teamed up on a remix of the former’s “Out My Head,” since it flawlessly combined both their styles.

Speaking of Fox Stevenson, the UK producer released his highly anticipated album, killjoy, this year, and it’s a dynamic journey through all sides of the producer’s capabilities. Goldroom wowed me with his double-sided, multi-faceted Plunge/Surface effort, which has quite a story behind it. I had a hard time picking a favorite from A R I Z O N A‘s nostalgic Asylum LP, which is gorgeous and heart-wrenching from start to finish. I also need to mention what was likely my most-listened-to album of the year, which isn’t on SoundCloud: Ollie Wride’s Thanks in Advance. It’s gold. I lived in the aforementioned albums this year, and I’m so grateful to the artists who made them for sharing their creativity with the world.

Without further ado, here are my 50 favorite songs of 2019, in no particular order.


A look back…

Lunar Lunes: Anti Up deliver ‘Concentrate,’ Destructo, DARKO, and Ice-T create ‘Hustler’ + more

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Lunar Lunes: Anti Up deliver ‘Concentrate,’ Destructo, DARKO, and Ice-T create ‘Hustler’ + moreDestructo Boom Single

Each week, New Music Friday sweeps through with torrential force, showering streaming platforms with immeasurable amounts of new tunes. Just like Dancing Astronaut rounds up 25 of the biggest songs of the week for the Hot 25 Spotify playlist each New Music Friday, Lunar Lunes serves as a landing pad for SoundCloud users who want a whole new dose of tunes to kick off the work week.

Chris Lake and Chris Lorenzo have delivered some fresh heat via their first Anti Up release of the year, “Concentrate.” Destructo, DARKO, and Ice-T have cooked up a sultry new single, “Hustler,” and RAC has released his remix of Elohim and Whethan‘s “Sleepy Eyes.” Diplo flexes his house music muscles on “Hold You Tight,” and No Mana unveils his new mau5trap single with Winnie Ford, “House of Cards.” The Knocks bring the party to Blu DeTiger‘s “Mad Love,” and Bishu reveals his full Monstercat EP, Hali 2 Cali. The latest release on Tchami‘s CONFESSION comes from Andrea Marino in the form of “The Plug,” and Freak On takes to The Prescription Records for the Feel Like This EP. Khåen brings two new tracks to Lane 8‘s This Never Happened, and Zomboy and MUST DIE! make a formidable team on “Revival.” JayKode teams up with The Zealots vocalist Micah Martin on an intense new single, “Apocalypse.” Doctor P packs plenty of bass into “Death Anxiety,” and Codeko shows off a new remix of Two Friends‘ “Take It Off.” Don Diablo and CID bring “Fever” to the former’s own Hexagon, and Tropix and LAV8 drop their debut original song, “Fallin’.”

The selection is updated every Lunes (Monday).

Photo credit: Arik McArthur

Dirty South shows his dark side on brooding ‘darko’ LP [Album Review]

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Dirty South shows his dark side on brooding ‘darko’ LP [Album Review]Dirty South Darko Album Review

Dirty South is a man of his word. He promised fans two albums before the year was out, and suddenly darko arrived right in the nick of time. Just a month after releasing the stunning XVthe cinematic house titan submitted yet another chapter to his long player history – and it’s unlike any project the producer has helmed to date.

For some, it may have made sense to release both fall albums as a double LP. Yet Dirty South’s decision to separate the two projects makes perfect sense when listening. Both are worlds apart in feeling, tone, and flow. XV was brilliantly bouncy, often bursting with waves of elation; darko, on the other hand, is something different with a more anxious mindset all its own. The mournful synth swells of “Temps” announce the project’s ethos immediately, and the feeling of unrest permeates throughout the rest of the journey. On “Cassetta,” the intro burns slowly before ascending chords spread the tension on thick. “Piksi” follows directly behind, which is shaping up to be one of the darkest tracks in Dirty South’s repertoire.

Despite the unity of darko‘s world, trademark Dirty South touches abound. While the beaming brightness of past hits like “If It All Stops” is nowhere to be found, the “Kino” shuffles and grooves as undeniably as any of the artist’s dance floor weapons. “Lava” is a rhythmic tour-de-force, despite snarling horn-like synth blasts tethering it firmly into the album’s aesthetic. But despite Dirty South’s mastery of vocal-infused efforts show in past releases on labels like Anjunabeats, darko remains starkly instrumental. The move feels calculated as the arrangements ebb and flow freely, leaving the listener to wonder if any lyrics could speak single-handedly for the soul of the record.

The producer admitting the record is his favorite to date could indicate this new sonic direction — also showcased in songs like his recent remix of Lane 8’s “No Captain” — is settling in to stay awhile. The relentless cohesion of darko is something Dirty South had yet to do at this level. As “Corda” looms into sight to cap off the album, it sets the mind on fire. There’s a sense that the gravity of the sum of its parts has seeped in, and the effect after listening to the LP’s entirety is vivid. It’s gripped in an atmosphere of anxious and electric yearning, soundtracking a feeling of introspection and raw hunger. Beautiful but stark, dark but restrained, mournful but energized; whether or not these tracks invade the same playlists and dance floors Dirty South has presided over all these years is irrelevant. For a statement as nuanced and unified as darko is a triumphant highlight in and of itself.