Over the past month, there’s been lists and lists and lists, a real glut of them in fact. This is probably our favourite, though we’re not entirely convinced it’s not a joke…
We’ve always been a bit uncomfourtable with the idea of lists. After all, they’re nothing more really than a few people’s highlights of the year. But they become this sort of canonical, essential viewing, with an undue ammount of authority accorded to them. Kieran Hebden really gets to the meat of the issue in this interview, which we really recommend watching.
So with that in mind, instead of giving you a “top tracks, mixes, albums, newcomers, DJs and live acts” type of list, we’re just gonna share with you a mish mash of artists, releases, moments etc. that really did it for us this year. It’s not in any order, we feel it’s not right to assert which record is “the number 1,” when comparing releases is undoubtedly problematic.
We’ve definitely missed things out, so we’ll add to this post as and when we think of anything more. Let us know if you think we’ve made any glaring omissions.
Leif – Dinas Oleu
Leif has a prolific discography stretching back to 2004, but he waited till this year to put out his first full length. It’s a really great listen, not at all a collection of tracks but a really coherent and consistent album. Leif really hits the LP nail on the head here, achieving a vibe and atmosphere that takes you somewhere else. This is what I’ve always looked for in an album, and Leif’s effort is reminiscent in this way of Flying Lotus’s LA and in its textured melodies, of Mount Kimbie’s Crooks and Lovers. In between the LP’s opener, Through Noise Part 1 and its closer, Through Noise Part 2, the FreeRo resident had a lot more to say, which he does over the course of 8 tracks.
Through Noise Part 1 sets the scene with crackle and reverb replacing the beat. Next up Belief and Experience comes in with its claps and synthline combining to create a wonderful cacophony of sound, texture and colour, a vibe that is continued for the duration of the LP.
The best thing about this release is that the consistency in the feel and ambience of each track does not grow boring or repetitive. Each track is a standalone track with its own distinct signature, leading to a really entrancing blend of one track to the next. From the slow beats of Stutter & Hum to the more sprightly Koku, Dinas Oleu has more than its fair share of amazing moments.
For me the particular standouts have to be the title track and Through Noise Part 2. I can see both working really well in a mix. Dinas Oleu is carried by its organic elements, with levels of instrumentation coming to the fore over a restless beat. Every time I give this album a listen, Through Noise Part 2 ends far too soon, despite being the longest track on the album. It’s perhaps the most dancefloor focused track, and coming in after the previous 9, it packs a serious punch. It’s got a real deep bassline, a textured beat and a few acid house elements.
Dinas Oleu is just a stunning album. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed. It balances perfectly textures, drum patterns and vocal snippets to create an organic, airy and symphonic sound. Crucially, it rewards further listens.
Image via TruantsBlog
Huerco S. has been all over our radar this year. 2012’s offering on Opal Tapes with that track was followed up this year with a terrific debut full length, a release on Future Times and the first release on Anthony Naples’ Proibito imprint under his Royal Crown Of Sweden alias.
Huerco’s sound is drenched in atmosphere, in a feeling that both drips off and hits you full force in equal measure as you listen to his productions. Everything he put his name to this year was unique and demanded further listens. His Colonial Patterns LP is a fruition of his earlier sonic experiments, creating a sound that is like a less rigidly programmed and sequenced take on Shed’s sound, with its restless beats and surprisingly spacious melodies met with more of a glitchy and rough sound.
The Apheleia’s Theme EP on Future Times is a more dancefloor friendly release which nevertheless continues in the same vein. Every track on it is worth your attention, from the melancholic title track to the more joyful Cercy. The Regalier EP, under his Royal Crown of Sweden moniker is a deeper, more languished affair, with a harsher, rougher mix of the lead track coming in from L.I.E.S. men Bookworms and Steve Summers. What a way for Anthony Naples to start off his label.
Anthony Naples really found his groove this year. The US seems to be producing a lot of talent over the last few years that sits in that hard edged aesthetic that L.I.E.S. have made their own. Anthony Naples makes tracks that are a bit easier to listen to and enjoy while retaining that harsh kick and those lo-fi tendencies, and he’s not a bad DJ either. 2012 saw his and Mister Saturday Night’s debut 12″, that got tongues wagging for all the right reasons, and this year saw him consolidate his sound over the course of some truly exceptional EPs and his own Proibito label.
Where to start? I don’t think I heard one thing I didn’t like from Anthony Naples, and his NTS mix showed a wide range of influences. His return to Mister Saturday Night with the Moscato EP showed Anthony’s Jekkyl and Hyde at work on the A and B sides with (I think) the A side containing a melodic track pushed along by its punchy beat, and (I think) the B side containing a real drum machine workout at a high tempo that really devastates dancefloors.
The El Portal EP on Will Bankhead’s TTT label showed a deft touch to Naples’ productions, with real soft snares and blue melodies that sounded improvised coming to the fore. For me its all about the B or the “N” side, as its got that real weapon, Busy Signal on it.
His EP for Rubadub is another top effort. It’s got a track to suit every vibe: Ill Still is a great builder with its rolling beat and prominent melody, Faceless is a peak time track with its hands in the air feel and I Don’t See Them would tear down a basement with its effective kick working well around a slowly developing melody.
Last but not least among his 2013 output was his P O T release on his own label, which also saw noteworthy releases from Huerco S. and Local Artist. The A side is a real beast that is really akin to L.I.E.S.’ output with its jagged opening which gives way to an ambient conclusion. The B side is a more dubby affair.
Anthony Naples has had a terrific 2013. Let’s hope it continues.
Off Minor Recordings
Jordan GCZ of Juju & Jordash started his own label this year. Although it’s only 2 releases young, they were both of a real high quality, and we’re really looking forward to seeing what else he’s got up his sleeve.
The first of these 2 releases came from Jordan GCZ himself. The track Crybaby J is really well done, despite being his first solo production. You can tell it’s by Jordan, as it’s got definite similarities with Juju & Jordash’s productions. The simple yet effective kick – clap beat pattern has been used to great effect by them in the past, and they’ve also made use of similar melodic arrangements. Have a listen to Loosey Goosey to see what I mean. Emotional and improvised, this sounds as if it has somehow kept up the spirit of jazz in a house tune. Great release.
The second Off Minor release comes from Jordan’s friend and Magic Mountain High collaborator, Move D. Move D apparently gave Jordan access to a load of old tapes of music he’d made in the 90s, hence the name The KM20 Tapes, 1992 – 1996 This release contains 5 tracks that really make the most of an acid bassline. Across Move D’s productions, there has been a definite acid lilt at times, and this release collects 5 tracks he made about 20 years ago. There’s the ambient atmospherics of Kriek – Animals, the dancefloor destroying Ovi Reise, and the spluttering Ground Zero, the melodically fluent Picking Flowers For You, which is like a spot of sunshine on a cloudy day, before the EP closes on March Of The Cheesecrackers, which is a drum track that somehow sounds like someone munching on cheese and crackers.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Off Minor’s release schedule. Whether it’s more old Move D’s seeing the light of day, or more solo Jordan GCZ productions, or someone he’s worked with in the past in Amsterdam, it’s sure to sound unlike anything coming out on any other label, not including the Juju & Jordash stuff on Dekmantel.
Sankt Göran presenterar Slobban – Slobban EP (Aniara Recordings)
Sound clips on Discogs.
We’ve been big fans of pretty much everything Aniara put their name to for a while now, and this “promo only” release from 1999 that they dug up and reissued this year is fantastic. It’s nice to see Aniara reissuing a real high quality release from before the label’s time, it’s just a shame that none of my local record stores can keep up with demand for any of their releases, ever. Let’s hope for a repress soon enough. An EP of fast paced deep house that really does it for us, with each track as good as the next.
Henrik Bergqvist – Go For What Hurts/ Spin (Aniara 07)
Another great Aniara release from this year. Amazing drum work interrupted and given greater meaning by the light melodies that come in. House/ techno whatever you want to call it, these is a great release on both sides and without a shadow of a doubt one of the best of the year and one that will remain in my record bag for a while. It always gets a reaction. Thank you Aniara.
Stefan Goldmann – Remasters Vol. 2 (Victoriaville)
Another awesome release from this year. The more keen eyed among you might point out that this release originally came out in 2001/2 as Simitli – Music That makes Me Dance EP . The tracks have all been fundamentally changed, however. The strong originals have been improved on with this release containing stripped back versions. Closing In is a great opener, a great track to play early on. Gee Baby (Aint I Good To You) is also a top track, one you might play as you’re building towards something in your set. The real clincher, though is the edit of Read That Lips. Mesmerising stuff. This release is a great improvement on tracks that were already good.
Pjotr – Udacha 004
A very welcomed rare release from Pjotr, who just really gets what Deep House is all about. On this release we’re treated to 4 cuts of textured, layered house music that is Kerri Chandler’s “a feelin'” encased in two sides of vinyl. each track is as good as the next, each goes as deep as the one that came before it. If you like deep house, you could do a lot, lot worse than take a gander at Pjotr’s Udacha effort. Beautiful melodies are propelled forwards and supported by a jacking beat on each of the tracks and yet they all sound distinct and original. Deep House is a simple thing, but one that doesn’t get pulled off as right as this often enough.
This year saw a new one day festival in Bristol’s Eastville Park, one which I had the pleasure of reviewing for Data Transmission. Generally there’s not too much techno in Bristol, or at least there wasn’t at the time of Arc, so it was great to have a day showcasing the local (Livity Sound, October etc.) and the international heavyweights (Skudge, Roman Flugel etc.) This was an affordable festival that felt as if the organisers wanted to make everyone happy, something all too rare these days. The quality lineup was complimented by visual installations, great sound and a good vibe from everyone there. Let’s hope there’s another Arc Festival next year.
RA’s Angus Finlayson wrote a great feature about the UK industrial techno revival (or whatever you want to call it). Interviews with all the major players, from Surgeon to MPIA3, insights into their backgrounds, musical and otherwhise and wider musings about the cultural force that is techno combined to create a truly fascinating and well written piece about the UK techno scene.
Mike Huckaby’s Mix For Keep It Deep
A fluently brilliant mix as you’d expect from Mike Huckaby came in towards the end of the year and blew away any winter depression that we were suffering from here at Subsoil HQ. Nothing like that Rudouplho tune to blow away seasonal gloom. There’s also an interview at the below link that’s worth a read, but seeing as we’ve stuffed this post so full of links already, we’ve embedded the soundcloud player below. Enjoy, and have a good 2014.