The 20 best 12inches of the year 2023

The good old 12inch remains the medium of the raving society, which is why the following 20 records of the year in this format include all kinds of things that were conceived for the floor – and only the best of them.

The good old 12inch remains the weapon of choice for the raving society, which is why the following 20 records from this year include all kinds of things that were conceived for the floor—but don’t fret, this is the good stuff. The TikTok kids haven’t moved on yet, Peggy Gou and Lenny Kravitz are now doing … things together and, on top of that, one club after the next is closing down: there have been better times in Lalaland, whose population, on top of everything else, is tearing itself apart (or each other a new one) on Instagram over supposedly political issues. It’s better to follow those who still have their ear tuned to the dancefloor and not switch into full-blown nostalgia mode, i.e. dusting off minimal techno and hardgroove as if it were a serious option to the status quo.

Whether it’s old heroes like techno don DVS1 and bass trickster Pangaea or new talents like n9oc, Skin Teeth and Verraco, it’s clear that functionality can continue to create sparks. Albino Sound, Barker and Priori & Al Wootton also proved that breaking away from conventions is also possible, which in different ways highlights the links with everything else that didn’t come from a club context and couldn’t be missing from this list. Modular drummer Jake Meginsky the cough syrup drone of Jon Collin & Demdike Stare and, as a complete outsider and yet the beating heart of this list, the Tara Clerkin Trio all proved in different ways that a lot can be said in a short amount of time as long as enough thought is put into it. Kristoffer Cornils

Albino Sound
Turnend Tapes • 2022 • from 11.99€

Samurai precision meets British bass force. Albino Sound comes from Tokyo and is interested in the alchemy of metal. It couldn't be more fitting. The four-track EP »Metallurgy« sounds like watching a grandmaster forming one of those hundredfold pleated samurai swords. Enormously dense and yet reduced to the essentials. Spartan and massive at the same time. Shattering bass. Sexy pumping to sluggish breakbeats. Splinters of sound that fly off like sparks under the rhythmic anvil. Cuts you like butter.

Jens Pacholsky
AD93 • 2023 • from 29.99€

Known for his bass-heavy techno, Guglielmo Barzacchini, aka Anunaku, explores more transcendent realms with his 2023 vinyl 12-inch »063«. The record unerringly evokes the desire for balmy, dance-filled festival nights. While some may miss Barzacchini's powerful techno as TSVI, »Andromeda« and »Chimera« reveal equally monumental motifs. Characterised by driving kick drums, sparkling synth melodies, sharp breaks and dreamy vocals, they are no slouches compared to Barzacchini's previous productions.

Celeste Dittberner
Smalltown Supersound • 2023 • from 21.99€

Sam Barker kommt wieder auf dem Tanzboden der Tatsachen an. Oder zumindest holt er die Kick wieder raus. Oder sagen wir besser, dass er weiterhin weirden Kram macht, der sich auf dem Dancefloor gut machen wird, sofern DJs und Crowd über einen mehr als zentimeterweiten Horizont verfügen. »UNfixed« wird vom selben schwebenden Puls angetrieben wie frühere Barker-Releases und der Rückgriff auf die Kick ist kaum mehr als eine klangliche Entscheidung, die hier kreativen Prozessen die Bahn brechen soll. Das funktioniert offensichtlich: Diese vier Tracks machen zwischen Kiffer-Krautrock, Teutonen-Techno und Braindance-Britainismus alles richtig.

Kristoffer Cornils
Benedikt Frey
Malka Tuti • 2023 • from 13.99€

By 2023, the tired cliché that techno had finally lost its innovative spirit was more widely accepted than ever before. But it all depends on how you define techno. When you add Benedikt Frey's broken tools and paranoid melodies, the repetitive, meaningless pounding of techno suddenly comes to life again. Raw, imperfect life, sure, but who cares? The answer: nobody.

Maximilian Fritz
Hush 06
HUSH • 2023 • from 12.99€

From subtle background noises to captivating synth melodies, every sonic nuance on »Hush 06« is carefully placed to give the record a cohesive yet varied character. DVS1 skilfully plays with different tempos and intensities, creating a continuous progression throughout the EP. The dark, pulsating beats create a captivating atmosphere that can be enjoyed on the dance floor or in the comfort of your own home.

Franziska Nistler
Immediate Proximity
Improx 1
Improx • 2023 • from 13.99€

Delta Funktionen schloss sich im Jahr 2020 mit der Produzentin Diana Napirelly zusammen, um als Immediate Proximity eine randständige Soundästhetik zu entwerfen: Dub-Techniken trafen auf ihrem Debütalbum auf Ambient und Noise, Industrial-Rhythmen oder verschrobene Techno-Grooves auf ratternde IDM-Konstruktionen. Mit »IMPROX 1« verweben sie die diversen stilistischen Stränge ihres Schaffens umso konziser in einen ganz eigenen, kohärenten Sound. Eine wunderbar vielseitige Mini-LP, deren Poetologie das Duo auf einem Nachfolger noch weiter ausformulierte.

Kristoffer Cornils
Jake Meginsky
Poole Music • 2023 • from 22.99€

Valentina Magaletti, Cinna Peyghamy, Julian Sartorius: Die elektroakustische Abstraktion des Schlagzeugs schreitet voran. Der Milford-Graves-Schüler Jake Meginsky lieferte mit »Trinities« eine Mini-LP ab, über der allerhand Kontext schwebt – Tochter kam zur Welt, tiefster Lockdown – und die dennoch auf kleine Gesten setzt. Improvisation, in ein blubbriges Modular-Synth-Klangbild eingefriedet, fordert hier dazu auf, zwischen den Zeilen beziehungsweise Tönen zu lesen. Besonders schön und eindrücklich im Kontrast zu den Erforschungen von Rhythmus und Raum: der schwerelose Ambient-Drone von »2521«. Musik wie frischer Schnee.

Kristoffer Cornils
Verve EP
Mute • 2023 • from 16.99€

Irakli Kiziria: I was immediately convinced by this record, and not only because I think JakoJako is one of the most promising artists in techno today. The music has a very special atmosphere that is very intense. If you use it right, it unfolds its effect like an explosion of emotions.

Jon Collin & Demdike Stare
Fragments Of Nothing
DDS • 2023 • from 30.99€

Jon Collins' approach to field recordings, on the other hand, is more accessible, even if his work with Demdike Stare sounds particularly droney and ephemeral compared to his relatively linear solo work. »Fragments Of Nothing« was 2020's companion tape to »Sketches Of Everything«, an album that accompanied me through the strange pandemic autumn in 2020. »Fragments Of Nothing« is even more minimalist and a little less dubby, but again, every minute spent in anticipation pays off. I'm curious to see how part 3 will turn out, »Minerals« was released at the end of June, but seems to have been held up at customs. 

Florian Aigner
How Was That For You
Bruk • 2023 • from 12.99€

Lårry (pronounced Lawry, as in Lawrence Cox) may not yet be on most people's radar. This should change with the EP »How Was That For You«, which will be released in March 2023 on the Berlin label BRUK. Lårry is not looking for euphoria, not for solidarity, but for depth and precision. With a sharp blade he meticulously slices away the edges of his breakbeats until only the blade remains. And when it flashes, the music becomes a weapon.

Sebastian Hinz
Molten Drum EP
Damage • 2023 • from 15.99€

There's always something going on musically in Bristol. In 2023, the English port city was home to some great, bass-heavy music. But to call this a new discovery is missing the mark a bit. Lurka has been part of the scene for ten years now, with labels such as Black Acre, Hotline, Timedance and Shall Not Fade. This year he released »Molten Drum« on his own label Damage, four atmospherically dense, stylistically diverse tracks (dancehall, dubstep or tech house) for bass-cold nights.

Sebastian Hinz
Memory Allocator
Die Orakel • 2023 • from 13.99€

Als Label wird Die Orakel seinem Namen wieder und wieder gerecht und macht den Sound von morgen heute hörbar. »Memory Allocator« ist das erste eigenständige Release der Frankfurterin n9oc. Die sechs Stücke werden vom »Artificial Intelligence«-Geist umweht: IDM und britischer Ambient-Techno sind deutliche Referenzen, das Klangbild insgesamt aber sehr modern und alles andere als retro. n9oc geht wie eine Chemikerin vor, die einzelne Molekülverbindungen tradierter und zeitgenössischer Genres extrahiert und miteinander in Bewegung setzt. Zukunftsweisende Forschung in Sound.

Kristoffer Cornils
Changing Channels: Part 1 & 2
Hessle Audio • 2023 • from 15.99€

Pangaea is back with »Changing Channels« and splits the work on two vinyl 12inches. He kicks off the record with a cheeky opening track. A female vocal moans the same incomprehensible lines over a haunting bass line and crisp, swinging drums: »SOS?«. Possibly, because you definitely need outside help to get off the dance floor with a banger like »Installation«. Finally, the end of the record is heralded by »Bad Lines«, rounded off with piano sounds and cheerful pounding beats.

Sebastian Hinz
Otro Mundo
Bambe • 2023 • from 15.99€

»Otro Mundo« ist die beste Techno-EP des Jahres, nur fängt sie eben an wie ein Björk-Album. Polygonia wirbelt schon seit geraumer Zeit neonfarbenen Staub auf, obwohl sich die Parameter ihres Sounds eher uncool lesen: Es geht zwischen Deep Techno und Ambient durch Flora und Fauna hin und her. Sie macht das aber alles anders und ergo komplett richtig. Womit wir zurück bei »Otro Mundo« angekommen wären, das mit einer grenzenlosen Unbekümmertheit Sounds und Stile miteinander clashen lässt, ohne den Dancefloor dabei hinter sich zu lassen. Polygonia stellt ihn sich nur anders vor. Besser.

Kristoffer Cornils
Priori & Al Wootton
Flaw EP
Trule • 2023 • from 15.99€

On »Flaw«, producers Priori and Al Wootton combine their unique styles on a 4-track EP. What to expect? Droning, subtle percussion and bubbling, electrifying synths. The mood? Playful, austere and somehow suggestive. But by no means dangerous. Particularly notable are the clicking and pounding kick drum in »Seclusion«, a subtle minimal style combination of breakbeat and dub, accompanied by the chirping of cicadas, which has a provocatively psychedelic effect.

Celeste Dittberner
Skin Teeth
Void '93
WNCL • 2023 • from 12.99€

The 2023 amplitude of the UK bass continuum, which has now been ringing ears for a good 35 years, was released on a small 10" called "Void '93" (WNCL). The reference is programmatic, though without being overcome by the mighty past. Instead, Skin Teeth smashes dubstep into breakbeats, cuts lost vocals into the underworld and hurls everything into a deep, high-pressure humming hole of low-end frequencies. Dubstep can still sound exciting in 2023.

Jens Pacholsky
EP 3
Monkeytown • 2023 • from 15.99€

Der Techno-Entwurf von Sylvere bewegt sich nah an den monsterbassigen Hybriden britischer Labels wie Livity Sound, setzt aber im Drumprogramming auf eine von seinem kulturellen Background in den Antillen ebenso wie von einem hartnäckigen Genreagnostizismus in Bezug auf all things dance music geprägte rhythmische Komplexität und scheißt obendrauf noch auf Arrangement-Konventionen. Knapper formuliert: »EP 3« ist eine Platte mit Seltenheitswert, viel Dub-Sirenen-Geheul, R&S-in-den-Neunzigern-Throwbacks, Breakcore-Anleihen und einem Downtempo-Track mit Autotune-Geschmachte.

Kristoffer Cornils
Tara Clerkin Trio
On The Turning Ground
World Of Echo • 2023 • from 26.99€

The world's best trio has hit it big. The Tara Clerkin Trio from the south of England have been on our lists for the past few years, and with »On The Turning Ground« they're back, this time with hearts and stars. To put it in a nutshell: This is music for facing the world with gentleness. The Bristolians are know for their understanding of pop, which makes their very local folk-dub(step) mix so sophisticated and non-niche. »Marble Walls« is one of the five best songs of the year.

Pippo Kuhzart
Voam • 2023 • from 18.99€

TraTraTrax continues to have a run and co-founder Verraco is setting the pace. Although »Escándaloo« was released on Voam, the label of Blawan and Pariah, it captures the synthetic-syncretic aesthetic of his own label like no other release: The title track grooves harder than techno is allowed to these days and throws a few almost brosteppy dub wobbles into the mix, »jajaja« tosses sounds and rhythms around even more carefree and »How Is This Even Possible?« is almost toolish in comparison—that is, if you acknowledge that everything is relative. One of the rare dancefloor EPs from this year that sounded both innovative and fun. Kristoffer Cornils

Kristoffer Cornils
Waage / Quantal
Thule • 2023 • from 16.99€

Icelandic duo Waage/Quantal have cast four grey and heavy-breathing monsters in the lead role for one of the best dub techno releases of the year. In keeping with the genre, they have dispensed with distracting extras such as meaningful names. More importantly, the classic crooked keys that stretch out in all directions like shattering icicles, and a monstrous growl in the low end of the register. Just two main ingredients from which not everyone knows how to distil musical brilliance—listen to the interplay of beat and chords on »WQ3«.

Maximilian Fritz