Monstercat Media: “Best of 2011” Compilation Album

Written by: Mitchell Buchanan

Monstercat. Just the name screams pure awesomeness. A Godzilla-sized kitty that seems dangerous and destructive on the outside but, when you give it a grocery store’s worth of milk, turns out to be just another misunderstood pet in need of some love. Sure, its purring induces massive localized earthquakes and it’s the leading cause of traffic jams when it takes naps on the streets, but it’s just so damn cute that you can’t resist loving it.

This exact same notion applies to the Monstercat label’s “Best of 2011” compilation – it’s just so damn good that I can’t stop listening to it. You might recognize some of the artists that Monstercat roster from previous tracks we’ve featured: Going Quantum, Ephixa, Project 46, Noisestorm, and a whole lot more have all had excellent releases on Monstercat in 2011. However,  if you haven’t been keeping up with this growing Toronto-based EDM label, don’t worry – all you need is the “Best of 2011” Monstercat compilation. Featuring a 50-minute mix put together by Ephixa himself, this superb 20 song album has tracks from all areas of EDM. Whether you’re a fan of drumstep, hardstyle, electro, dubstep, or something in between, Monstercat’s “Best of 2011” compilation will exceed your wildest expectations. Ladies and gentlemen, dial your subwoofers up to 11.

The album begins with some smooth electro. Project 46 and Gemellini have teamed up to create what sounds like a beautiful mix of piano, strings, and soft finger snaps keeping perfect time. But don’t be fooled – “Deadline” starts off soft but quickly turns aggressive, the synths becoming more and more distorted until the tremendous final drop. The drums come crashing back in and we’re hit with a monstrous blast of sound. It’s the perfect opening track, a blend of beautiful melody and insane aggression.

Several tracks later, we get a taste of some of the sweet, sweet dubstep Monstercat has put out for us this past year. Take Varien’s “Cloak and Dagger,” for example. An incredibly haunting choir cries out amidst solemn horns. Soon, a modulating synth is heard underneath the rising tension – but it cuts out for a few last cries from the very same choir. Sonic laser fire and bass cannons overrun the track, but the choir observes from the sidelines – haunting the music like a chorus of ghosts from long-ago sonic warfare.

Cruise though some more tracks, and you’ll soon stumble across Ephixa. “Some Wobbles” was an exciting find for me – not only did I see Ephixa open for Skrillex in early July, but he’s somewhat of a local legend around where I live. Quickly gaining popularity from his “Zelda Dubstep” tracks, Ephixa rose to the forefront of the Ontario and Canadian dubstep scenes – and it’s easy to see why. “Some Wobbles” showcases more of Ephixa’s unique take on dubstep, featuring his signature mid-range, distorted synth wobbles. With a beat that alternates between driving and funky, “Some Wobbles” is an impeccable example of Ephixa’s fully-original songwriting skills – and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Ramping up the intensity, “Full Focus” is a wicked track from Dublin’s very own Noisestorm. A drumstep track that pairs a squealing high-register synth with an explosive low-register bass, the breakbeat keeps the back end shaking while the half-time percussion rattles the walls violently. The sinister synth-line starts out in the mid-range, but the melody is soon mimicked several octaves up – only adding to the intensity of an already completely out-of-control track. If you’re looking for that drum-n-bass feel with the pounding half-time rhythm of dubstep, look no further than “Full Focus.”

To finish off this monster compilation, we’re given a dose of Neilio’s fast-paced hardstyle. “Captivating” is a track that’s true to its name: a pounding kick and excited claps keeping time, bass staying low and almost bouncing off the back-end of the kick to fill in the offbeats, and a vocal clip professing the alluring power of music. Soon we’re introduced to melodic, echoing, distorted synths that resonate all around, but they’re quickly pulled to the forefront of the track. Wait for the beautiful modulating melody around the 2:00 mark – you’ll be absolutely captivated by the detail of both the melody itself and the craftsmanship of the vibrant synth sound.

With no shortage of stellar releases in 2011, I have no doubt in my mind that it must have been extremely difficult for Monstercat to choose their favourite 20 tracks for this compilation. Regardless of the difficulty, however, we couldn’t be more pleased with the exciting, varied selection they’ve chosen to give us. Ranging from electro to dubstep to hardstyle, and showcasing a little bit of everything in between, Monstercat’s “Best Of 2011” has something for any and all fans of EDM. Congratulations once again to Monstercat for an absolutely  stellar year of top-quality music – we can’t wait to see what this cutting-edge new label has in store for us in 2012!

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