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Music you may have missed over the Christmas break

Been offline? Catch up on everything from Aphex Twin’s drunken offerings to unreleased Aaliyah and Grimes


Most of us have gotten drunk and done something spontaneous and/or regrettable. Hell, you might still be cringing from that overly sentimental 4am text you sent this NYE. Although if you’re electronic mastermind Aphex Twin, those drunken mistakes might luckily come in the shape of a surprise release of a freaky, glitch-ridden techno gem titled “T17 Phase Out” (below). “i prolly i shntnde downoied thi coz im drunki m ena uploaded..” he wrote on his Soundcloud account alongside the track, which was presumably created when sober.


Just when we’d taken a break from gushing about GrimesArt Angels (which ranked No.2 on our ‘Top 20 Albums of 2015’) the pop powerhouse shared unreleased track “Fifteen Minutes To” (below), a dreamy, falsetto-flecked DIY creation that sounds like an icy musical accompaniment to falling snowflakes. “Probably pre-Halfaxashe wrote on her Tumblr, referring to her second studio album from 2010.


It’s been a standout year for Arca, who has gone from the underground oddball producer behind twigs, Kanye and Björk, to a fully-fledged electronic auteur in his own right. Fresh off the back of his game-changing second album Mutant (which ranks at no.7 on our ‘Top 20 albums of 2015’) the Venezuelan beatmaker dropped this sweeping, cut-’n’-spliced, ice-filled track “Urchin”, proving that his creative clock never stops turning for a single second. 


Earlier this year, hip hop heavyweight Timbaland promised he’d be sharing unheard, unreleased Aaliyah music, writing on his Instagram: “Attention!!!!! People ask me all the time do I have any babegirl (sic) music we haven’t heard!!!!! Well the answer is YES!!!!!!!!” Now, this music has finally materialised in the shape of “Shakin’’, an uber-catchy, throwback jam that features the iconic silky vocals of the late R&B icon. The track appears on the producer’s latest mixtape King Stays King, which was released on Christmas day.


Maybe you were into Sam Smith’s overtly epic, chart-topping Spectre theme song “Writing’s on the Wall”, but we were much more enamoured with Radiohead’s low-key attempt at the James Bond soundtrack, a rich, string-soaked track titled “Spectre” that was unveiled on Christmas Day. “Last year we were asked to write a tune for Bond movie Spectre. Yes we were…” Thom Yorke wrote on Twitter “...It didn't work out ... but became something of our own which we love very much....As the year closes we thought you might like to hear it. Merry Christmas.”


As 2015 drew to a close, two of the year’s most agenda-setting R&B artists joined together for “Low Life” (below), a slow ‘n’ steady, auto-tuned creation about drugs, sex, money, cars and guns. “Porches in the valley, I got Bentleys, I got RarisFuture boasts, his distinct voice floating over a deep, dirty bass line. “Taking pain pills on the plane, getting chartered, popping tags on tags, I was starving.” And as The Weeknd sweeps in with his smooth-as-double-cream vocals, it’s hard not to nod along.


Tis’ the season to be jolly, tralalalala-la-la-la-la” so goes the famous line in “Deck the Halls”, the most cheerful of all the Christmas carols. And then, at the other end of the spectrum, is Miley Cyrus’ most recent musical offering, a Christmas song all about being miserable. “Why’d I even put up that fuckin’ tree, if there’s no one here that’s gonna see?” sings the pop provocateur, wallowing in her seasonal glumness. “This is my sad Christmas song, so I light another bong.” #PrayForMiley


Everyone knows that John Carpenter is the king of cult horror, which is why his endless slew of films and self-composed synth scores have been imitated and regurgitated time and time again. To that end, our favourite pop maximalist Hudson Mohawke has offered up his own homage to the auteur with “Escape”, a interpretation of the soundtrack to Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi thriller Escape From New York. Predictably, we’re completely obsessed.


Over the past year, Birmingham grime girl Lady Leshurr has been setting our speakers on fire with her Queen’s Speech series AKA a handful of scathing lyrical putdowns delivered via volcanic freestyles. The fifth and final of those freestyles was dropped right before the New Year. “Please don’t stop for a chinwag, you need a tic tac,” she raps with a Santa hat balancing on her head. “You will get broke up like a Kit Kat, and then taken out like a bin bag.” Ouch!


Kelela’s sensual, electro-R&B masterpiece Hallucinogen blew us away earlier this year, and Gaika’s debut mixtape Machine was named one of our ‘most criminally overlooked releases of 2015’, so when the pair joined together for a Kahn remix of “All the Way Down” we were excited as hell. Released just before Christmas, Kahn adds grit to the smooth edges of Kelela’s original, and Gaika’s spitfire verse is inimitable.