It's hard to pin down exactly how many individual tracks are put out each year, but our best estimate is…oh, let's go with a gazillion. As production and distributions becomes ever easier, that number is bound to rise even further, especially in the dance/electronic realm—making it harder and harder for the truly astounding cuts to stand out. Still, within that sonic tide there are plenty of pearls for the taking—and lots of them landed in XLR8R's playlists this year. Below are our top 25 tracks of 2015; you can also check out this cornucopia of music on XLR8R's YouTube page.
25. Mild High Club “Windowpane” (Stones Throw)
Alexander Brettin is the man behind these four minutes of charming, chiming, stone-soul-picnic psyche-pop. He's previously worked with the likes of Ariel Pink and Silk Rhodes—and it shows.
24. Trust Image “Doing You Wrong” (1080p)
This pensive bit of drum & bass heaven makes us a bit nostalgic for 1997.
23. Siren "A/Way (Faze Action remix)" (Compost)
Epic, windswept house from Metro Area's Darshan Jesrani and Disques Sinthomme's Dennis Kane, laced with a sprinkling of deep-disco magic from brothers Robin and Simon Lee.
22. Romans (Tin Man & Gunnar Haslam) "Delmenium" (The Bunker New York)
Angular, squelchy bleeps laced over a moody, poignant melody make for a stretched-out session of oddly affecting techno.
21. Nicolas Jaar "Swim"
Melancholy, undulating, and near-epic in scope, Jaar's widescreen kinda-house track is a subaquatic wonder.
20. Etapp Kyle "Luna" (Klockworks)
By Klockwork standards, "Luna" is a gentle lullaby of a tune—but Ukraine's Etapp Kyle manages to pack plenty of feeling into its delicate framework.
19. Binh "Buyout" (Cabaret Recordings)
The Club der Visionäre resident conjures up a percolating track that's simultaneously effervescent and heartbreaking.
18. Artefakt "From Our Minds To Yours" (Delsin)
Drifting synths float above a propulsive, bustling drum pattern, courtesy of Artefakt's Robin Koek and Nick Lapien.
17. P-Sol "Hooked" (Love Tempo Records)
New York's Love Tempo label released this shimmering, woozy, boogie-wonderland of a number, with Wall of Fame's Patrick Sullivan at the helm.
16. Rote "Rote 2" (BleeD)
"Rote 2" is the second track from EP1, the debut 12" from Rote, the mysterious collaborative project between Daniel Avery and Volte-Face. "Rote 1," the EP's opener, is a stunner—as are the remixes by DJ Nobu and Svreca—but "Rote 2" is a special production that fully deserves its place within this list.
15. Melodie "Acid Sunday" (Metereze)
Romania's Cristi Tudorache serves up a subdued (but hardly sober) 303 dub-jam, perfect for your next late-night love-in.
14. Nick Höppner "Mirror Image" (Ostgut Ton)
The Berlin veteran melds lushly muted keys, a efficiently hooky synth lines, and spoken-word vocals into a gorgeous whole.
13. Howling "Signs (Rødhåd Remix)" (Monkeytown Records)
Dystopian label head Rødhåd takes the already atmospheric original and molds it into a exquisite piece, one that pulls off the neat trick of being both dynamic and meditative.
12. Konrad Black "Silene Dust" (Meander)
On his first solo release in over a decade, the Berlin-based Canadian rocks a pitched-down d&b groove to breakbeat nirvana.
11. Virginia "Fictional" (Ostgut Ton)
Old-school house vibes + swelling washes and cascading arpeggios + Virginia's always on-point melodic sense = one deeply groovy gem.
10. DJ Fett Burger & Jayda G “NYC Party Track” (Freakout Cult)
Adapting the bassline GQ's boogie classic "Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)," the name of this hard-to-find, vinyl-only basically says it all.
9. Kassem Mosse & Simone White "Flowers In May" (Honest Jon's Records)
It's been an amazing year for the Honest Jon's squad—tunes like this whimsical, weird, stripped-down charmer are the reason why.
8. DJ Richard "Savage Coast" (Dial)
From September's richly rewarding Grind LP, this slightly foreboding analog-synth workout is, as the name implies, evocative of a fiercely windswept shoreline.
7. Donato Dozzy "Cassandra" (Claque Musique)
Well, we couldn't have a Top 25 list without a track from the Italian techno innovator, could we? Especially when it's a cut that's as crisply hypnotic as this one.
6. Jack J "Thirstin'" (Future Times)
The rat-a-tat of military drums, smooth Rhodes piano work, and Jack Jutson's own jaunty vocals join forces for a sparkling, spacey and swingy little jewel of a tune.
5. Thundercat feat. Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington "Them Changes" (Brainfeeder)
Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, joined by sax guru Washington and the almighty Brainfeeder boss FlyLo, lays down a loping groove that recalls the left-field funk of Rufus, peppered with a touch of Rotary Connection's psyche-soul. In other words—it rules.
4. Cobblestone Jazz "Northern Lights" (Itiswhatitis Recordings)
The matter-of-fact story of this track's creation ("done in one pass over a three-day period in 2013, and edits were culled this past winter") hardly does it justice: "Northern Lights" is a winding jazz-tech journey, its eleven minutes passing by like a hazy, sublime dream.
3. Petre Inspirescu "Delir 4" (Mule Musiq)
Will 2015 be remembered as the year that the Romanian scene, and the DJs and producers within it, broke through? Time will tell—but in the meanwhile, we'll keep enjoying releases like this elegant and muted cut from one of that scene's leaders.
2. DJ Koze "XTC" (Pampa)
"Is the drug like the lie and meditation the truth, or am I missing something that could really help me?” We don’t get a definitive answer from Koze to the question posed—the Hamburg-based producer has deployed his tactics on the listener by forcing them to turn within and find the answer, with this gorgeous atmospheric track shimmering onwards. Chris Burrell
1. Floating Points "Silhouettes (1,11,111)"
With the release of his debut album, Elaenia, we knew we would be blessed with a surge of transcendent sounds from the mind of Sam Shepherd. Still, nothing quite prepared us for the rich, meandering and ultimately beautiful slice of galactic jazz.