December 20, 2017
The live sets, radio shows, and tune fiestas that moved our feet.
Whether you are an espresso’d early bird having it large on a Monday morning soul tip, or a nocturnal rave crab who canes it all weekend long, 2017 offered something for everyone.
As such, our favourite mixes this year appeared in shapes and sizes as varied as the sounds contained within: online radio stations, YouTube algorithmic suggests, and even via good old-fashioned, real life dance floors.
Featuring everything from arabic funk to shaolin jazz to cosmic electronics, the unifying theme amongst this diverse group of mixes is that they each brought new and exciting takes on sounds both familiar and unknown.
You may have also noticed that we’ve changed the emphasis of our lists this year, away from the tired, arbitrary and frankly over-used ‘best’, to the more openly subjective ‘favourite’. We believe this more accurately reflects the fact that these rundowns are essentially recommendations of what we’ve enjoyed most this year, as selected by VF’s editorial team, Gabriela Helfet and Anton Spice.
What were your favourites this year? Let us know in the comments below.
See the rest of our 2017 review:
Our 50 favourite albums of 2017
Our 20 favourite 12″s of 2017
Our 10 favourite 7″s of 2017
Our 12 favourite reissue singles of 2017
Our 30 favourite reissues of 2017
Our 12 favourite soundtracks of 2017
Our 12 favourite record sleeves of 2017
Magical Mystery Mix
’70’s Japanese Jazz Mix
Downtempo French radio show Magical Mystery Mix kicked off its second year with the launch of the new Beats From Japan series. Though they released numerous noteworthy sets (including hip-hop meets Fantastic Planet) the ’70s Japanese Jazz Mix came out tops. Criss-crossing through lesser known jams alongside those made more familiar via hip-hop samples, it’s an hour-long journey through a decade of Nippon funkiness in 1967 through 1976. – GH
The Do!! You!!! Breakfast Show, 13th July 2017
Audio sherpa Charlie Bones singlehandedly eased us from every morning doldrum this year thanks to his weekday Do!! You!! Breakfast Show. Though a rotation of memorable guests ranging from Alice Coltrane’s Devotional Singers to Theo Parrish rolled through, his solo days were amongst our favourites. Sometimes this meant turning to the chat room for jokes and inspiration – as seen in his Do!! You!!! jukebox and readers .wavs shows – sometimes this meant letting his selects do all the talking. This particular 13th July 2017 instalment showcases Bones’ ability to traverse everyone from Bill Evans Trio to Fatima Yamaha to Elliott Smith with pizazz and sass that is distinctly his own. – GH
Truancy Volume 193
Joe re-emerged in late 2017 to release a wide and wobbly new 12” channeling George Duke’s Brazilian boogie on big-time banger ‘Tail Lift’. Alongside the release he also turned out a similarly sideways mix for the ever consistent Truants, moving seamlessly between sunset boogie, machine funk, and raking bass music. Tearing up the rulebook at every turn, this one goes every which way but never lets the intensity drop. – AS
Live at Hydra 4th March: Printworks, London
The opening of new venue Printworks was one of the most exciting things to happen to London’s club scene in years. Promoter The Hydra hosted a series of Printworks’ best parties – that rare combination of a great line-up with an all-around lovely crowd – kicking off with its first event in March. Though much has been said of Printworks’ main room, with its emotionally impressive lighting rig (yes, really), the standout set of the year came in the altogether unremarkable, standard black rectangle of room two courtesy of Avalon Emerson. Throwing in everything from Magnetic Fields to Objekt to Aaliyah, in two hours Emerson transformed the half empty space into a packed dance floor sweatbox of the highest order. – GH
Habibi Funk 007
“Just 2 days ago I was sitting in a cafe during my recent trip for Lebanon and Egypt when Donald Trump announced his ban of Muslim people visiting the USA marking another climax of xenophobia, anti-Muslim and anti-Arabic narrative,” writes Jannis Stürtz beneath the seventh instalment of his his Habibi Funk mix series. The fruits of a life spent digging for rare records in the Arab peninsula, Stürtz’s mixes have become the touchstone for golden era funk and soul from the region, and recently spawned a seventh compilation which is also well worth checking out. As Stürtz continues, aside from the incredible wealth of musical influences on show here, the timing of this one felt particular poignant: “I’m aware that in times of these music is just a tiny piece of the puzzle to tell a different story but given that this is what I’m working with I felt it was the right time to drop another mix of music from Arabic tapes, vinyl and master tapes. Music that is very different to what a lot of people might expect…” – AS
A Crushing Glow Mix
Jazz, soul and ambient electronics filtered through the astral plane, Drumtalk’s A Crushing Glow mix was premiered on VF to support the release of ‘Out of the Blackness, Into the Blue’ 12”, one of our favourite record sleeves of 2017. Spanning the spaceways between spiritual jazz heavyweights like Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane, the organic modular electronics of Kaitlyn Aurela Smith and the motoric kosmische music of Cluster, let this one clear your spirit and soundtrack your quiet winter nights. – AS
Beats in Space Radio Show #880
As ever, in its 18th year Tim Sweeney’s weekly Beats in Space show continued to host a formidable selection of DJs. Highlights included Powder (who we discovered via BiS), Hunee, Denis Sulta and Cooper Saver. Peggy Gou’s episode, however, was our firm number one. Serving up a soulful blend of older house tracks alongside her own productions, edits and new jams, the guest spot shows off why Gou has rightly became one of the most in-demand DJs on the planet. – GH
Live at Dekmantel Festival 2017
Dekmantel rang in its 10th anniversary by delivering an abundance of mix riches – via podcasts and radio shows as well as uploads of live sets from its festivals – while also saving us from extreme fomo in the process. In this throw-down recorded at its August festival in Amsterdam, Helena Hauff takes you on a razor sharp, hour-long technotronic ride. Consider it an instant-dose of audio heat fit for any season. – GH
Operator Radio: 22nd April 2017
Prolific maestro selector Ge-ology dropped mighty sets all over the world in 2017, including Dekmtanel’s podcast, its festival, Do!! You!!! and Beats in Space which also appear on this list. Delving into his deep record bag with trademark skilful finesse, Ge-ology’s rapid-fire 61 minute set for Rotterdam’s Operator Radio was the most thrilling. The finest hour of boogie, funk and soul you’ll hear this year, from one of the most technically impressive DJs around. – GH
Lakuti & Tama Sumo
NYC’s Discwoman collective continued its ascendancy in 2017, giving women and LGBT artists a much needed platform in the dance community. In the 25th edition of Discwoman’s mix series, Uzuri Records founder Lakuti and Berghain/Panorama Bar resident Tama Sumo are at the helm for the duo’s first ever online b2b mix. Seamlessly weaving through genres including spiritual jazz, gospel, house, and techno with a mix that’s as close to seeing their uplifting live sets as you can get in 2D. – GH