Tribal Tracks: 2021 Release Recap

Articles, New releases // Mon 3 Jan 2022 - 19:13pm

This edition of tribal tracks features the very best of dance music for 2021. From energy filled, hard-grooving techno, to euphoric rave tracks with prerequisite drum patterns — these tracks have it all. Hand-picked by Tribal’s melomanic journalists: Aimee Dodd, Ruth Casey and James Barnes. A playlist of our featured tracks can be found below, be sure to give it a follow.

‘Space Ghetto’ – Skream

Skream is notorious for his genre-fluidity and diverse repertoire of soundscapes. He played a pivotal role in the development of dubstep in the early 2000’s, helping shift the genre from dark and minimalistic to something more melodic and accessible. However, since the 2010’s much of his work has involved molding the house and techno landscape. ‘The Steel City Dance Discs Vol. 23’ EP is another excellent collection of pumping rhythms and dance-inducing beats by the London-based producer. Identifying with an energy filled, rough-n-ready style, these tracks perfectly boast the Steel City Dance Disc vision. ‘The Space Ghetto’ is a clear fan-favourite and its tight-breaks and achy bass make it all-the-more addicting. The tune features a comical voice recording of Big Miz and is peppered with head nods to early hardcore tropes — a true breakbeat banger. – James

‘District 8’ – FJAKK

Few artists are able to adopt a classical approach to techno whilst interweaving styles that are also authentic to themselves — and yet, FJAAK seems to gracefully weave throughout different techno soundscapes, all whilst ensuring that the harsh sounds of Berlin’s techno movement continue to resonate throughout each of their tracks, demonstrating their musical eclecticism. One of my favourite examples of their musical abilities this year has been ‘District 8’, a track that was dedicated to one of their favourite venues. The intense track features vocal chops that draw you in from the get-go, just before a punch-heavy bassline takes centre stage. FJAAK enraptures the quick tempo and hard-grooving techno sounds of the early 1990s, ensuring that ravers will be dancing till dawn — so it’s no surprise that ‘District 8’ has brought the duo to the forefront of the modern techno movement this year. – Aimee

‘Overmono’ – So U Kno

British breakbeat duo Overmono AKA brothers Tessela and Truss secured their place in dance music this year with their single ‘So U Kno’. A track that is totally UK Garage with an R&B vocal sample throughout that sounds like it was perfectly constructed for grungy UK basement style clubs and warehouse raves. Despite having many previous releases before ‘So U Kno’, this feels like their breakthrough track, the one that really brought attention to their name. Released on their own label, Polykicks in June this year, this track feels like a gateway to the recognition they truly deserve as artists in 2022. – Ruth

‘The Age Of Love (Charlotte de Witte & Enrico Sangiuliano Remix)’ – Age Of Love, Charlotte de Witte, Enrico Sangiuliano

This year Charlotte De Witte and Enrico Sangiuliano reworked the trance classic, ‘The Age of Love’ — and whilst remixing a classic is always risky, the pair have well and truly delivered. The track kicks off swiftly with a bass drum that never lets up, layered on a stripped-back percussion and a suspense-inducing ionic synth lead. Although the track delves into an array of synths, the duo has maintained the original tracks trance properties, as well as its famous vocals, to evoke a nostalgic ambience. The remix has been aptly crafted by the pair’s hallmark styles: dark drums that come in crashing crescendos and moody rising synths. Yet, ‘The Age Of Love’ never feels too complex or overbearing — in fact, the track has been stripped down to its melodic backbone with elevated twists and compelling grooves. ‘The Age Of Love’ elicits a euphoric, familiar, dance-floor epiphany, which blurs the line between the sounds of modern techno and the ethereal charm of early trance. – Aimee

‘Lauren’ – Oden & Fatzo

I think we speak for everyone when we say Lauren was the track of Summer 2021. This year and this summer in general has been an outstanding one for music releases overall, but there’s something about Lauren that makes it a top contender for top of the leaderboard. French maestros Oden & Fatzo, formerly a quartet and now a trio, remixed the indie song from Canadian band Men I Trust and created a beautiful mix of poetic lyrics and 70s disco inspired production. The original song is just as good, but there is something so beautifully euphoric about the remix that connected a nation of ravers together this summer, and the solidarity is something much needed after several lockdowns and no events for over a year. The original remix on Soundcloud remained unreleased for quite some time, and impressively has now racked up almost one and a half million plays. The official release was not until October this year, but it must be said this perfectly polished and released edition is not a scratch on the raw, authentic edition over on Soundcloud. – Ruth

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‘Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)’ – Fred Again, The Blessed Madonna

Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing) pulled at heart-strings as radio stations broadcast the tune all across the globe. The track paid tribute to closed nightclubs and venues around the world. It featured TBM expressing “This year we’ve had to lose our space, we’ve lost dancing. We’ve lost – everything we took for granted”. This track is particularly prominent for me. I witnessed TBM’s first-ever live mix of the track at the UK’s first maskless and social-distance-free trial event since restrictions began. The atmosphere when this track played was electric. An optimistic outlook in a dark time can feel jarring to many, however, when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, this track resonates. – James

‘Spirit Wave’ – Mall Grab

As more and more DJs branch out into more lo-fi sounds, some are doing it better than others — and let me tell you, Mall Grab’s hit ‘Spirit Wave’ has been one of lo-fi’s most impressive tracks this year. The track starts out as a kind of minimal, dubby techno, but as it unravels in a measured yet powerful way, a euphoric rave track quickly begins to emerge. Mall Grab’s looping of the vocal sample, “And into the forest / And you look at trees and you appreciate the trees”, repeated like a mantra, resonates with his decision to return to simplicity throughout the track — and when the skippy drums set in, the track’s textures really begin to ooze with warmth and love. And yet, the looping vocal sample and the looping melody never seem to get old, in fact, they seem to further propel the tracks symphonic euphoria, driving you into the clouds. Mall Grab has somehow managed to capture the energy of rave culture that we were all missing during the pandemic in one track, and we couldn’t be happier. – Aimee

‘Den Haas’ – Dance Tip

One artist seemingly appeared out of nowhere this year and made a name for himself over the summer months, Netherlands based DJ Den Haas. His track Dance Tip made is way through an abundance of crowds and sound systems at various UK based festivals this summer, and presumably throughout the rest of Europe before its official release in September via Outright Records. This is a track with a real bouncing rhythm and beat that you just cannot resist the urge to dance to. Most memorable of Dance Tip is the feisty vocal sample of “stop the music? That’s out of the question!” which is actually sampled from Queen Latifah’s Dance For Me. Check out the rest of the EP for four tracks of nonstop, ballsy house belters. – Ruth

‘Soul System’ – Micheal Bibi

Michael Bibi’s musical momentum has continued to spur this year, and for those of us who have been lucky to dance with him, the release of ‘Soul System’ has been long-awaited, to say the least. Bibi’s rework of Adam Freeland’s ‘We Want Your Soul’ strips the track right down to its basics to make room for a lethal combination of his prerequisite drum patterns, eerie synths, and a hypnotising groove. However, sampling is integral to Bibi’s sound, so the haunting vocals that are spoken by a speech synthesiser in the original track continue to drive ‘Soul System’. Bibi seems to push aside anything superfluous, opting for a punchy sound as the droning vocal hook resounds against the thick walls of the tracks warehouse reverb. It’s no wonder that his track has become a staple of his sets this year, and subsequently taken over DJ sets all around the world. – Aimee

‘Alice’ – Viper Diva

French techno duo Viper Diva aka Shlomo and Hadone’s second EP, Snake Does Cry was another massive success for the pair as was their debut EP as a duo, Born To Be Slytherin. Snake Does Cry is the second release from them both on their label, Saike. The opening track in particular, Alice was one of the most highly anticipated tracks in the techno scene towards the end of 2020. The track was released in January this year, as was the EP. Alice itself is a thumper with turbo charged kicks and as always, high energy, emotive synths. – Ruth