Year in Review

Houston's Five Best Electronic Singles of 2015

Houston's electronic scene is bursting at its seams, which means it is time for these technological savants to have their own column: Future Sounds of Houston. During my conversations with many of these musicians, a sense of community has emerged distinctly tied to this city's incredible diversity. Filled with brilliant artists, composers and producers, many of them have eagerly collaborated with each other, sharing their knowledge as well as their gifts.

2015 may as well be called "The Year of the Producer," considering the numerous collaborations with some of Houston's emerging hip hop artists, like FLCON FCKER converging with Biz Vicious and birdmagic and android genius on Guilla's Bjork-sampling single, "I Love Him." For now, the future of electronic music looms brightly in Houston, drawing closer to the precipice of its own Golden Age.  

5. COBEAUX, “Tabanca”
Cobeaux's shimmering sound and sterling production on "Tabanka" transports listeners to warm analog worlds waist-deep in despair. High-pitched and airy sequences float between the tricked-out hi-hat schemes and deep bass kicks. Tones sharpened like knives pierce every space in between. From the song's intro until its very last note, "Tabanca" remains unresolved—a style Cobeaux is in the process of perfecting. Crafting discordance to simultaneously sound beautiful and  is no simple feat, but Cobeaux's sleight of hand makes music for the contemplative masses. 

4. MATSU-MIXU, “Masochist Letter”
Michelle Yue’s vocals fall from the heavens while Mat King’s keen encyclopedic appreciation for Detroit's house-music history finds its way onto “Masochist Letter.” Bright rhythms pulse through dark themes of a love destined for destruction, yet pause to find some pleasure within the experience. Hopelessly devoted to house, Matsu Mixu reminds us that fleet-footed trends and subgenres owe much of its delight in the genre to those who desire to dance into the wee hours of the night. 

3. CYCLEA, “Phaleo”
JJ Akvah manipulates dimensions, not controls. “Phaleo” is urgent, pushing forward into unknown realms only to return with something to remind us that the past and future are human constructs. Rooted in deep house, the beat pounds out its own shape. This isn’t a Daft Punk tribute track; “Phaleo” is the sound of a racing sports car driving too fast down Westheimer blurring the lights from the street, the lights from endless strip malls, and the lights from oncoming cars. “Phaleo” sounds distinctly Houston.

2. CHILDREN OF POP, “Girls Like”
In 2015, Chase Demaster established himself as one of Houston’s hardest-working musicians. Touring the east coast, moonlighting as a guitarist for Deep Cuts, working with Josiah Gabriel on the perturbed sounds of Kult Disney, and 37 other things that I have failed to mention, Demaster still found the time to also create one of Houston’s most definitive electronic cuts this year in “Girls Like.” Mystery looms large throughout the track, as Demaster’s greatest gift lies in his reverence for conventional pop arrangements. Layers upon layers of remorseful vocals plead for mercy, yet never receive it. Mid-tempo laments make for the best afterparty tracks, played softly.

1. FLOODS, “Until"
Zoom in on warm synths hovering above warped chants. A two-shot frame unveils a young woman attempting to scream before an uptempo beat silences her wishes. Pan toward the evening’s landscape. What the night reveals is a reminder that this is only a dream. As FLOODS, birdmagic and android genius create soundtracks for listeners to develop their own imaginary films. Cinematic, uncompromising and pensive, the duo visualize their sound so that more than our auditory sensibilities are stimulated. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephan Wyatt