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DJ Mag’s top compilations of 2023

From all-time-great mixes and new editions of top class labels' club-focused series, to eye-opening archival collections and new material, there were more than enough compilations to keep us going through 2023. These releases often offer a prime vantage spot from where to spot the stars of the future — an early hint at genius that leads to incredible careers, EPs and albums. Here, DJ Mag contributors select their personal favourite comps of the year, offering an unranked overview of the sounds that made the past 12 months so memorable for electronic music in all its forms

DJ Mag compilations of 2023 - A-D
‘10 Years Pressure Traxx’ [Pressure Traxx]

In the fast-changing world of selling records, German label Pressure Traxx — started by Arno (fka Einzelkind) and Frank Schwarz, aka Frost — has built a solid reputation. Over the last decade, the label has effortlessly weaved between house, acid, minimal, tech-house and techno while maintaining its trademark vibe throughout. This V/A comprises 10 new and previously unreleased tracks from the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, John Dimas, Edward and Christopher Ledger which capture the imprint's timeless sound. ANNA WALL

Transparent Sound
‘Accidents 1994-2023’ [Tresor]

Bognor Regis duo Transparent Sound innovated a uniquely UK-sounding form of electro, often imitated but never bettered. With electro ever in the ascendant, it’s an apt time to revisit some of the classics of this underrated duo, and Tresor’s compilation gathers the best, as well as newer creations by Orson Bramley, who now uses the name as a solo artist. Check out ‘No Call From New York’, a Helena Hauff favourite, or the mellower ‘Mistakes Happen’ for proof of their brilliance. BEN MURPHY

Interplanetary Criminal
‘All Thru The Night’ [Locked On Records]

Original garage label Locked On remained at the heart of UKG’s revival thanks to this superb comp from contemporary innovator Interplanetary Criminal. He did a fine job of offering up a fresh garage sound with his own slick productions, next to bumping grooves from fellow tastemakers Holloway and DJ Perception, while also giving a knowing nod to garage’s original roots by including a tune from the legendary Todd Edwards, all of which showed the genre remained in rude health in 2023. KRISTAN J CARYL

‘Aluku Records Various Compilation SA Edition Pt.3.1 (B-Side)’ [Aluku Records]

Anyone looking for a primer on where African electronic music was heading in 2023 need only have turned to Aluku Records’ ‘SA Edition Pt. 3.1 (B-Side)’. The comp pooled music from across the board: organic, deep, melodic, progressive, it was all in there. Label founder Aluku Rebels was an early pioneer in the UK’s Afro-house scene, promoting talent through his podcast mixes before launching his own label — but lately, he’s turned his attention to a new generation of artists and, as this comp shows, they’re smashing it. RIA HYLTON

‘Brum As Fuck’ [House Of God Birmingham]

‘Brum As Fuck’ is a fitting 30-year celebration of much-loved Birmingham club night, House of God. The release features music from HoG’s four residents — Surgeon, Paul Damage, Sir Real, and Terry Donovan, who have all remained in place since the night’s initial inception — alongside “cherished” guests. Each deliver one brand-new cut exclusive to the compilation, as well as a classic from the House of God vaults. The result is a headlong journey through the dark and heavy techno that has shaken House of God’s dancefloor for three decades. ROB MCCALLUM

Collection Two [Companion]

In a year dominated by dancefloor maximalism and ever-faster tempos, Melbourne’s Companion crew embraced the warm-up and wind-down. Through stellar clusters of cosmic downtempo, psychedelic dub and vaporous ambient house, we’re transported to a club space on a gentler planet. Weatherall fans will relish in Saphileaum’s slow-mo acid chug and Ronan’s deep reggaeton; Radart and duun conjure chillout room couches and curls of joint smoke. Maara unspools the mind with swirls of sub-bass and shattered crystal melodies — the peak of a 10-track trip. EOIN MURRAY

‘Crosstown Rebels presents CR20 The Album: Unreleased Gems and Remixes’ [Crosstown Rebels]

Compilations are designed to put you onto new music, or make you revisit something that may have been previously overlooked. This Damian Lazarus comp is the poster board example of a perfectly curated comp — and more. The first track, a remix from South Africa’s amapiano pioneers, Major League Djz, sets the tone for the diversity of the groovy and symphonic work on show here — from Maceo Plex to Art Department to Black Coffee and beyond. KITTY AMOR

Disruptive Frequencies [Nonclassical]

A startling compilation of adventurous electronic music that felt bracingly unique. Six Black and South Asian experimental and electronic artists recorded new music specifically for this compilation, and the results are resistant, playful, yet seething with dissident aggravation. It’s often noisy as hell, deeply danceable, bass-heavy, placelessly mind-blowing, and genuinely boundary-pushing in terms of its mix of soundscapes, turntablism, field recordings and audio collage. The start, just the start, of something tremendously special. NEIL KULKARNI

‘Dreams of Electric Bleep: A collection of Irish electro {1999-2005}’ [Earwiggle]

No better label than Sunil Sharpe’s Earwiggle to release a V/A that delves deep into Ireland’s early electro era, and celebrates some of the finest artists that helped nurture the genre’s emergence there two decades ago. Featuring a crisp edit of ‘Free The Flange’ by Dublin duo Decal, trippy textures from Americhord on ‘Frqnz’ and Phil Kieran’s stomper ‘RIP’ (initially released in 2000), the compilation is a timeless source of inspiration for new and established electro heads alike. NIAMH O’CONNOR

‘Drums (Lata)’ [Príncipe]

If we had one criticism of Lilocox, it’s that he might be too productive for his own good. As one of Cargaa’s most prolific beat-makers, it’s almost impossible to find a lot of the unreleased gold that the Lisbon-based artist regularly spins, outside of his high-octane DJ sets. Thus it was with great excitement that we got to tuck into ‘Drums (Lata)’, a 45-track mixtape of unreleased material, showcasing just why his riotous brand of batida destroys dancefloors worldwide. REISS DE BRUIN

DJ Mag compilations of 2023 - F-N
Helena Hauff
‘fabric presents Helena Hauff’ [fabric records]

At their best, mix albums should give us a glimpse into the personality of the artist at the helm, and Helena Hauff’s funky, insouciant instalment for fabric underscores the effortless cool that makes the Hamburg electro selector so enduringly popular. The pacing and track choices reflect both Hauff’s knowledge of, and passion for, her subject matter. From classics by Clarence G (aka James Stinson) and dynArec to new cuts from Nite Fleit, IMOGEN and Hauff herself, she weaves it all together with inimitable flair. CLAIRE FRANCIS

‘fabric presents Saoirse’ [fabric records]

There are good mixes, and then there are mixes that you listen to over and over, often on repeat. Saoirse’s entry into the fabric cannon is undoubtedly the latter. Building through the wobbly acid of Luca Lorenzo’s ‘Identify’, Caim’s hypnotic ‘Illusion’ and the bleepy depths of ‘369’ by 616, through bursts of electric funk like Jacek Sienkiewicz’s ‘The Evidence’ and Hamatsuki’s ‘Shrink’, to the euphoric crescendo of ‘Herzsprung 1’ by Caunos, before ending on her own celebratory fabric tribute ‘RM 1’, it’s the kind of mix that reminds us why we do what we do. BEN HINDLE

‘fabric SELECTS II’ [fabric Originals]

This 10-track comp from fabric Originals salutes bass-driven sounds, inviting producers from various genres to drop sub-heavy rhythms. There are big hitters and promising newcomers here alike, with LUXE’s cavernous, stop-start stepper ‘Duality’ an early gem, and Kessler’s frenetic breakbeat cut ‘Simma’ guaranteed club nitro. Elsewhere, dBridge’s ‘Ecstatic Madness’ updates the temporal displacement of his autonomic material, and Neil Landstrumm’s ‘Slanj’ is a wonky, synth-heavy dubstep piece. The artists gathered here prove the vitality of bass-heavy rhythms today. BEN MURPHY

‘Future Bounce Club Series: Vol 2’ [Future Bounce]

Future Bounce pulls from across the musical spectrum — cinematic soul, leftfield R&B, down-tempo electro — but this comp, which marks Jamz Supernova’s fifth year as label head, celebrates the dancefloor. ‘Vol 2’ joins the dots across the global underground: quest?onmarq’s heads-down, hands-high club slammer ‘Contagion’, Scratcha DVA & DemiMa’s house-amapiano fusion ‘SIYOBONGA’ and Poison Zcora’s lilting broken beat ‘Certain People’ all make the cut. And fittingly, it rounds out with ‘Spirit’, UK dub as future-facing as the label. RIA HYLTON

‘Generation Liquid (Volume 1)’ [Above Board Projects]

Who better than Fabio — resident of legendary club nights such as Speed and Swerve, and founder of the Creative Source label — to curate this essential compilation of liquid funk classics? He championed and named this soulful sub-genre of drum & bass after all, and his selections are as on-point as you’d expect, with gems like Artificial Intelligence’s ‘Switch On’, with its lush vocal, curlicues of saxophone and teched-out bassline, and Calibre’s subtle jazzy remix of Jaheim’s ‘Put That Woman First’, with its jazz piano chords and crisp beats. BEN MURPHY

Danny Tenaglia
‘GU45: Brooklyn’ [Global Underground]

“I didn’t even think that there would be a desire to have me do a compilation anymore!” That was Danny Tenaglia’s first thought when Global Underground asked him to contribute a new set to the label’s long-running mix series, more than two decades after his now-iconic previous instalments, ‘010: Athens’ and ‘017: London’. Needless to say, he was wrong — and the new mix shows why he’s still one of the world’s most beloved DJs. Full of Tenaglia’s trademark late-night swagger, but sounding very much of the now, this is house music done extremely right. BRUCE TANTUM

‘Happy Land (A Compendium Of Alternative Electronic Music From The British Isles 1992-1996)’ [Above Board Projects]

The early ’90s in Britain was an inventive time, with many UK producers drawing on influences from Black American dance forms like house and techno, Jamaican dub, hip-hop, new-age ambient and even folk to create their beats. ‘Happy Land’ collects some of the best of this era, with Radioactive Lamb’s ‘Bellevedere’ all emotive techno and Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Soul Vine’ a sampladelic, bleep-laden delight. Particularly good is ‘Linmiri ≠ Bradley Stryder’ by Strider. B., an early Aphex Twin moniker. BEN MURPHY

Bill Brewster
Late Night Tales presents After Dark: Vespertine [Late Night Tales]

Bill Brewster’s latest comp in the long-running Late Night Tales series is not just a collection of excellent tracks, it’s also an expertly curated and superbly programmed DJ mix. As ever with BB, it’s a mix of well-known names including Ray Mang, Lanowa and Rhythm Plate along with plenty you’ve likely never heard of, and gathers together low-tempo disc-slo, chugging trudge-step, squelching synth-funk, post-punk, Balearica and all sorts of other sonic treats. Constantly interesting, intriguing, unexpected, and grooving. HAROLD HEATH

‘Luke Una presents É Soul Cultura Vol.2’ [MR BONGO]

‘Luke Una presents É Soul Cultura’ wasn’t meant to be a series, but after ‘Vol.1’ dropped everyone wanted more. ‘Vol.2’ continues very much in the vein of the first: wonky, funk-inflected, tripped-out, spiritual — it has all the Una feels. But what makes this and the previous comp so special is that it taps into decades of musical exchange, hours spent in the company of strangers, in strange rooms and random post-club sessions. It’s a life’s work, what Una might call “late night music for the disenfranchised”. RIA HYLTON

‘Night Slugs Classix Remixed’ [Night Slugs]

Founded as a party in 2008 by Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990, Night Slugs is widely considered to have developed one of the most distinctive sounds in UK club music through the ’00s. The London label celebrated its 15th anniversary this year with a tour, and this compilation, which saw 23 classix from the imprint’s catalogue reworked by label favourites like Ikonika and Girl Unit, as well as artists who share Night Slugs’ groundbreaking ethos, like Hagan, DJ Lag and Bored Lord. Unmissable. ROB MCCALLUM

‘Nymph_o’ [Because Music]

On ‘Nymph_o’, Shygirl reveals an endless capacity for reinvention. This remixed retelling of her Mercury Prize-nominated debut is a catalogue of excellence; she casts the album’s world with a star-studded array of the global club and alternative scene’s wunderkinds: Björk, Arca, Eartheater, Kingdom and Fatima Al Qadri, among more. Each one of her collaborations is as fun as it is expansive, developed as much out of hedonistic nighttime adventures as it is out of the studio. ‘Nymph_o’ is not just music — it is playtime. CHRISTINE OCHEFU

DJ Mag compilations of 2023 - P-S
‘Peach Pals, Vol. 3’ [Peach Discs]

A fresh delivery for summer this year, the third compilation from Shanti Celeste and Gramrcy’s Peach Discs was the best from the imprint yet, bringing together eight dancefloor slammers from the likes of Gunilla, Kepler and moodii. The tracks are bouncy, bright and versatile, skipping from percussive chuggers and hypnotising layered house cuts to acid-infused tracks and airy techno, embodying Peach Discs’s output to a tee: the best from the global underground. AMY FIELDING

‘Pharmakon’ [Ritual Poison]

Genres are varied across Ritual Poison, but the common factor is often a sense of euphoria that makes tracks feel like timeless classics. It’s found in abundance on ‘Pharmakon’, the crowning glory of which is Anna Wall & Corbi’s ‘Space Kicks’, which elevates you to a higher plane via bleep, piano hardcore and acid. LUXE’s ‘untitled 045’ adds lush garage, WNCL’s ‘Dropping With The Force’ remix is a ravey beast, and the phat droning bass on No.’s ‘Sink Or Swim’ is irresistable, but dig in anywhere and you’ll strike gold. BEN HINDLE

‘Rare.wavs (Vol 2)’ [Foreign Family Collective]

ODESZA’S opulent live show is backed by a 90-person team and a jaw-dropping drumline. Behind the scenes however, Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills have managed to build an intimate home base for an eclectic group of leftfield players. This year’s surprise compilation, ‘Rare.wavs (Vol. 2)’ opens with a deep contribution from the label bosses, before turning the speakers over to names like TOKiMONSTA, EVAN GIIA, OLAN and Brooklyn’s bad tuner. It’s pure bliss — the result when strokes of hazy house, crackling lo-fi textures and liquid d&b collide just right. MEGAN VENZIN

‘Remmah Rundown’ [Remmah]

As the world eased out of lockdown, Rory Hamilton, aka Hammer, launched Remmah Records, a label for the producer’s own releases. But as artists began reaching out he widened the brief, making it a home for up-and-coming talent from all over. ‘Remmah Rundown’ showcases the first wave of producers in his orbit, and they’re making music as disparate as the locations from which they hail: rolling Italo, indie- electro, ambient techno — it’s all there, highlighting the musical ambitions of the Remmah label. RIA HYLTON

‘Rhytual Reworks’ [Straight Up Breakbeat]

Resound’s 2019 ‘Rhytual’ release stripped back his production process to create entrancing moments. Though originally only four tracks, this year’s full ‘Reworks’ package offered nearly four times as many, with established names like Skeptical, dBridge and Dead Man’s Chest turning out guttural minimalism, digitised funk and raw jungle techno respectively. Extra special, though, was the opportunities afforded to lesser-known names, like Blood Trust, with his hulking drumfunk version of ‘Gnosis’, and Esc, whose epic spin on ‘Deus’ was weapons-grade Amenism. BEN HINDLE

‘Richard Sen presents Dream The Dream: UK Techno, House and Breakbeat 1990-1994’ [Ransom Note Records]

Richard Sen revisits the naive creativity of the early ‘90s before dance music was fully codified, dipping into records he was playing at the time. Zipping between the EBM-influenced Mind Over Rhythm, the proto-hardcore of Epoch 90, Bandulu’s Italo-sampling ambient house and As One’s sad, bleepy IDM, it captures a nascent sense of excitement and possibility — a blueprint of so much to come. JOE ROBERTS

‘RIFT Two’ [YEAR0001]

Imagine a nightclub on the 77th floor of some skyscraper in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve in the year 2099, filled with clubbers and cyborgs, all crying their eyes out while dancing into the new century as the world crumbles around them: ‘RIFT Two’, the second long-playing compilation released on Stockholm label Year0001 since its launch in 2020, is a decent stab at what the DJ might be playing. Cotton Mouth, Soft Blade and Mechatok are among the contributors. SAM DAVIES

‘Silberland Vol 2 - The Driving Side Of Kosmische Musik 1974 - 1984’ [Bureau B]

As per the title, this 20-track compilation is all about the sound of tomorrow as made yesterday, honing in on the German kosmische movement during its peak, a sound almost impossible to define but representing a determined push to the future, driven in no small part by hopes that Europe could be reborn free. Sonically, that sounds like proto electro, lo-fi synth, driving post-punk, abstract sci-fi sound walls, and at least one David Lynch movie bar scene. MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT

‘Stop What You’re Doing’ [Left Bank]

Celebrating its second anniversary with the launch of its in-house label, Tbilisi’s Left Bank club brought friends and affiliates together for its debut 13-tracker. Locals HVL and Wesley Wise sculpt propulsive techno tools, while Esi and Dali navigate experimental terrain, from instrumental psych rock to gnarly, bass-charged trap. Capturing the club’s “commitment to a constant process of moving forward”, international underground innovators like James Bangura, Bruce, Sam Goku and Pavel Milyakov bring their A-game, further illuminating the impression this club is making on a global scale. EOIN MURRAY

‘Synergy’ [Black Artist Database]

From community spreadsheet to multi-pronged global platform, Black Artist Database have already achieved so much in their three-year lifespan. In 2023, the collective reached a new stage of expansion, offering artists a home for their music on their in-house record label, and launching their first compilation, ‘Synergy’. The inaugural release was a celebration of Black female artistry, a stack of tracks from the likes of Afrodeutsche, NIKS, DJ Holographic and Chmba, blending Detroit techno, Afro house, UK funky and more. OLIVIA CHEVES

DJ Mag compilations of 2023 - T - Z
‘The Architects : Volume Two — Alchemy’ [Artikal Music]

Three years on from the first volume, Artikal Music dropped the second in its ‘The Architects’ series in November. The 14-track comp demonstrates the full spectrum of the sub-rupturing dubstep the imprint pushes, from deep, dark and dubwise, through to devastating dancefloor cuts like Fluidity’s ‘Night Rider’. Including music from label head J:Kenzo, and Artikal regulars like Truth, Cimm, Mythm and Unkey, plus Belgian veterans The Untouchables and Drumterror. ROB MCCALLUM

‘TIME VOLUME 5’ [Slimzos Recordings]

Slimzee’s Slimzos Recordings continues to put out the darker end of grime and dubstep over 20 years since the label’s first release and, in January, the fifth instalment of the imprint’s now annual new year V/A release dropped in ‘TIME VOLUME 5’. The 14-track release features instrumentals from artists including Oddkut, Greazy and Slimzee’s AS. IF KID collaborative project, E3 Breaks, as well as a very special VIP of C-Rank’s ‘Obey’. The only downside is that the compilation was never given a physical press. ROB MCCALLUM

King Mzaiza Music
‘Umbhoqo Manifesto Vol.1’ [PSSNGR]

King Mzaiza Music pushes the emerging sound of South African umbhoqo music with this V/A, a sonic journey of contrasts with sounds ranging from trap to grime, wrapped around township culture and emotions, creating a narrative that evokes the dance. Tracks like ‘Sithi Sithi’ and ‘Ama’ offer infectious beats, while dancefloor cuts like ‘China Town’ and ‘Isikhalo Sikalova’ deliver a fractured vibe. This magnificent offering from the PSSNGR camp shines a light on the future of African electronic music. MICK WILSON

‘Under the Island: Experimental Music in Ireland 1960 - 1994’ [Nyahh Records]

Ireland’s experimental undergrowth has flourished in recent years, but documentation of its history has often been scarce. Leitrim’s Nyahh Records rectifies that here, digging deep into the archives to unearth music that still sounds compelling today. Desmnd Leslie’s electronic drones are as eerie as they were in 1960; still-prolific Roger Doyle’s musique concrète is strangely captivating; Olwen Fouéré invokes Laurie Anderson; Nigel Rolfe’s fusion of sean nós singing and rumbling drums from 1979 would work in a Lena Willikens set. These weird roots run deep. EOIN MURRAY

‘Unruly Records Anthology - 1991-1995 (The Early Years)’ [Unruly Records]

Unruly Records, the label helmed by Baltimore royalty, Scottie B and Shawn Caesar, has been one of the most important purveyors of Baltimore club. The genre, a distinct blend of Miami bass, sped-up breaks, and raunchy lyrics, has a rich history, but one that is continually overlooked. This comp, which mines the Unruly catalogue for some of its earliest gems from the likes of Miss Tony and KW Griff, helps fix that historical oversight. A reminder of the importance of Baltimore’s place in American dance music history. HENRY IVRY

‘Who Say Reload Volume One: Original 90s Jungle and Drum & Bass’ [Velocity Press]

News that Paul Terzulli and photographer Eddie Otchere had collaborated on an oral history of drum & bass and jungle’s exhilarating formative years in the early ‘90s was exciting enough, but the accompanying compilation CD was possibly even better. Gathering together classics from Foul Play, Nookie, Origin Unknown and more, it offered a snapshot of a revolutionary era in UK rave culture. Most importantly, it liberated some pioneering tracks from the confines of impossibly expensive Discogs listings. JAMES KEITH

‘Worst Behavior, Vol. 4’ [Worst Behavior Recs]

Worst Behavior’s comps are always an enticing prospect; each balances right on the bleeding edge of turbo-charged club-focused electronic music, championing a diverse range of sounds and artists, and packing plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Some highlights here include bastiengoat’s rave belter ‘to a level where love is real’, the acid madness of Addison Groove’s ‘160 Cowbells’, Moscow Legend’s frantic ‘TEK DIS! (160 FLIP)’, and co-founder Anna Morgan teaming up with Kool Karlo for the booty-shaking ‘Pop That’. Never a dull moment throughout. BEN HINDLE

‘WZY3.5’ [Woozy]

Dublin label Woozy’s latest explores the colourful fringes of club music, from the deep dembow psychedelia of MSJY and Viiaan, to the blissed-out UKG-goes- hyperpop of soltura. Dåser’s ‘Doabey’ injects rubbery percussion into sizzling electro; Mossambi’s ‘OLED’ stomps and swerves along the intersection of minimal techno, breaks and deconstructed club. Dark garage, d&b and percussive techno are alchemised with shadowy subs, while Henzo, Soreab and Baitface serve weird ‘n’ wriggly bass with a serious snap. EOIN MURRAY

‘Zone 3’ [Overview Music]

As a young drum & bass imprint that flourished during lockdown, at a time when labels were popping up everywhere, Overview has managed to stay relevant, while other imprints have fallen away. There’s a reason for this — the consistent stream of high quality underground music the label pushes. Its latest compilation album ‘Zone 3’ is testament to this. Featuring many exciting names, including ABLE, Thread, Sweetpea, Sudley, Scepticz, Xeonz and Minor Forms, it’s an album reminding everyone that underground D&B is thriving. JAKE HIRST