2013 Music Rewind

Time, once again, to review some of my favorite music releas­es from the past year (pret­ty much the only reg­u­lar fea­ture of this “blog”). 2013 was a very fruit­ful year for alt-R&B/future-R&B as well as for Chica­go-Lon­don bass hybrids. All the usu­al caveats apply. There is always too much music to hear all the great releas­es in a year but these grabbed me more than the rest. I look for­ward to read­ing all the oth­er lists to catch up on what I missed.

Chants — I Feel Like I Feel It
If mem­o­ry serves, I heard about this release via dj /rupture’s Mudd Up blog. The most obvi­ous sign­posts are Shlohmo or Origa­mi Sound’s post-Bur­ial sound­scapes but Chants man­ages to make an elec­tron­ic music album that sounds extreme­ly per­son­al and expres­sive. There is a strong enough iden­ti­ty to shrug off easy com­par­isons.

And the pric­ing starts at zero dol­lars: http://hushhushrecords.bandcamp.com/album/i-feel-like-i-feel-it

Dark Sky — In Brack­ets
Great great 12-inch sin­gle. Deep house vibes across all four tracks but nev­er for­mu­la­ic or obvi­ous. Some jazzy ride, some spas­tic kick drum vari­a­tion, some house-y organ shuf­fling — all adding up to an upbeat but mel­low lis­ten that is still very dance-y.

Death Grips — Gov­ern­ment Plates
Bru­tal, rhyth­mi­cal­ly slip­pery, and unapolo­get­i­cal­ly aggres­sive. Strong brew.

Djrum — Sev­en Lies
Widescreen, evoca­tive son­ics wed­ded to var­ied elec­tron­ic styles. The album starts in a loose house style but skill­ful­ly drops to hip hop tem­pos after a few tracks and allows the songs to breathe in the extra space afford­ed by the slow­er pace. Djrum knows how to exer­cise restraint and we are reward­ed for it.

Fati­ma — Cir­cle
Very strong sin­gle with two great slumped and sexy beats sup­port­ing Fatima’s unhur­ried vocals. Strong vibes and head nod­ding beats that I’ve come to expect from Kutmah’s dj sets (which is prob­a­bly where I first heard this).

Jessy Lan­za — Pull My Hair Back
There’s some­thing so effec­tive about Jessy Lanza’s breathy 80s pop vocal deliv­ery.

Lapalux — With­out You
This song squeezes my heart. Not an easy feat for a large­ly instru­men­tal elec­tron­ic music track. The stran­gu­lat­ed vocal effects are haunt­ing, though, and affect­ing.

Eric Lau — One of Many
Smooth neo-soul and hip hop in a Soulquar­i­ans mood. Beau­ti­ful vocal col­lab­o­ra­tions and a live feel make this album a great evening com­pan­ion.

Lorn — Debris
Son­i­cal­ly grit­ty and exper­i­men­tal but still ground­ed in the rap music roots evi­dent in L.A.‘s beat scene pio­neers like Fly­ing Lotus and Gaslamp Killer. Lorn adds a lit­tle snarl to his sound but nev­er los­es the groove.

Machine­drum — Vapor City
I’d ven­ture to say that Machine­drum is prob­a­bly putting out the best fusion of juke/footwork’s son­ic and rhyth­mic ideas with UK bass music’s obses­sion with sub fre­quen­cies and space (and the resur­gence of junglisms). It all works togeth­er in his pro­duc­tions in a way that feels like a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion from its influ­ences.

Nosaj Thing — Home
Almost every time some­thing came up in my shuf­fle play that made me stop and check for the artist, it was some­thing off this album. Leaps for­ward from his debut album, this mate­r­i­al made me com­plete­ly change my opin­ion about Nosaj Thing. There’s a breath­less, my-secret-crush-just-walked-in-the-room emo­tion­al ten­sion to this album that is just so rare in elec­tron­ic music.

Mark Pritchard — Ghosts
Mark Pritchard put out three incred­i­ble EPs in 2013. This is my favorite of those three. Just so unhinged and com­plete­ly in con­trol at the same time. Aimed square­ly at the dance.

Owiny Sigo­ma Band — Pow­er Punch
This sounds a bit like the sound­track to an imag­ined Mali space pro­gram. Uncon­ven­tion­al by rock stan­dards, dance stan­dards, and African pop stan­dards, this is fun and mind expand­ing music.

SP:MC — Declas­si­fied
Been hear­ing this artist for years in Youngsta’s Rinse FM shows with­out ever know­ing who they were. Every­thing I love about 2006–2008 era dub­step is in evi­dence: restraint, space, heavy subs, sub­tle syn­co­pa­tion, sin­is­ter atmos­pher­ic touch­es. Rec­om­mend­ed.

Truth — Devil’s Hands
Late­ly, the only dub­step I’ve been buy­ing on vinyl has been old­er mate­r­i­al from my favorite years between 2006–2008. This song is so heavy that I made an excep­tion. So much space that it’s basi­cal­ly stripped to the bones and emp­ty, it still man­ages to knock you about the head.

V/A — Grime 2.0
Icy, Eski-influ­enced grime son­ics meet Trap. So many high­lights on this com­pi­la­tion. If you haven’t seen it, seek out the launch par­ty video host­ed by Boil­er Room TV.