Happiness is a list of new SoundCloud links to follow, records to go buy, artist names and sounds that are new – not the reappearance of repeated artists and musicians, usual suspects, and expected names, but something to actually discover. So, we’re grateful to CDM contributor Matt Earp, aka Kid Kameleon, for his selecting talents. Grab the headphones. -Ed.
Top 10 lists are played out. Deconstructing what’s bad about Top 10 lists is ALSO played out. And people who make Top 10 lists miss a lot of music for all kinds of reasons – because an album isn’t in a genre they follow closely, because things get released after magazine cutoff dates for Top 10 submissions, because we turned off the internet that day, or because we didn’t turn off the internet that day and then lost a week to the latest meme of the moment.
So what follows is simply 10 great releases from 2013 that just might have snuck by you. They (and a 1000 others) are worth spending more time with. If any of these are new to you, great! We hope you explore more from the labels and artists that cooked them up. If you already know them, awesome! Tell us who else the world missed in its frenzied end-of-the-year #bestof2013 madness in the comments (actually, everyone should do that.) Happy listening, and here’s to a great 2014.
A completely beautiful album arriving late in the year from DFRNT (Scotland/Latvia) a man who has traveled in the deep side of dubstep for a long time now. Patience is a fully mature work of emotion and craft that stretches into dub, ambient, and techno, and holds up to multiple listens. Get lost in it.
Yosi Horikawa – Vapor (First Word)
Yosi Horikawa (Japan) was a breath of fresh air this year, beautiful tumbling beats falling over glittering synths and percussions, sad and joyous in equal parts. A rare accomplishment.
TM404 – TM404 (Kontra Musik)
Andreas Tilliander (Sweden) is a giant of genre mutation – this project, made entirely by chaining the inputs and outputs of a bunch of 303s, 808s and a few other machines is a deadly dub monster of spookiness. There’s truly nothing else exactly like it out there.
Ed.: For more on TM404, see us waxing poetic about him in our last feature, after he made Peter’s machine-loving heart swoon in Berlin…
Roland Meditation: TM404′s Amazing 303s and Machine Live Sets [Video]
Fulgeance – Cubes (Musique Large)
Fulgeance (France) keeps the long French tradition of playful music alive with this album. His beats hit so hard, yet are so creative and fun that you return to his squelchy version of hip-hop time and time again. Also wins my vote for favorite live show of the year at Fusion Fest 2013.
123MRK – NoName EP Remix (Infinite Machine)
A stunning compilation of no less than FIFTEEN remixes of 123MRK (France), someone who was already a favorite. It’s a compilation of the best of the best in the post-house-breaks-whatever genre – if all dance music was this complex and awesome, humanity would be much closer to receiving enlightenment. Lots of Origami Sound artists here – standouts from Deft, Pixelord, Arapaima, Resketch and Seapoint, but truly, it’s all good.
V/A – Beat Garden Compilation 2 (Gergaz Netlabel)
Gergaz (Slovakia) has consistently pushed boundaries in the future beats realm, and this was my favorite comp of the year in the genre. Worthy of being 25 tracks long, with great tunes from both those well-known within the scene and relative newcomers.
Alphabets Heaven – Siamese Burn (King Deluxe)
Siamese Burn was a great release, but honestly, the story here is that King Deluxe hit five for five releases this year with stellar stuff from Metome (Japan), Aleph (the 19-year old Siberia resident), Jacob 2-2 (NYC), and Julien Mier (Netherlands), in addition to Alphabets Heaven (UK). 2014 looks even brighter.
This release also produced my favorite video of the year.
Digi – Ivory (Lucky Beard)
Digi G’Alessio (Italy) is totally on fire (props due to Tinker who turned me on to him). He got fully into African percussion this year, mixing it up with trap, footwork and dubstep in the way only he can do. I struggled with whether to list his superb release as Clap! Clap! on Origami, but ultimately his release on Crooker’s Lucky Beard is too good not to pound on repeat.
JSTJR & Two Sev – Zoukology (Generation Bass)
Love or hate the implications of the Zouk Bass genre, JSJTR (Boston) was its undisputed star of it in 2013, and the Zoukology EP is a riot of awesome rhythms from start to finish.
Sven Laux – We Were Here (Dewtone)
Dewtone was incredibly prolific in 2013. It showed an amazing sweet spot between ambient, techno, glitch, and downtempo, revealing that emotional chillout music is alive and well. Picking one release was tough with offerings from Purl and Deflektion, Nikosf., AM.Light, Alveol, Ali Khan and new favorite Bjorn Rohde, but We Were Here from Sven Laux (Germany) took the cake.
These artists or labels put out stuff that made the rest of my year. Their collective talent was staggering. Thank you to Felix K, Beastie Respond, Shigeto, Ulrich Schnauss, Frikstailers, Lotide, Mute Speaker, IKACO, Jeri-Jeri, Thornato, Oh Blimey / Ear Jerker / Baan, Appleblim & Kommon, Bearcubs, Robot Koch, Ferrein, KRTS, Om Unit, Chesslo Junior, Ital Tek, Bambooman, Memory9, Miyuki, Bobby Tank, Astro Nautico, Wii-Ru Records, Urban Waves, Exit Records, Out of Dots, ZZK, and Pelican Fly.
Sometime around September I got lost for a whole month in the seemingly endless world of Brian Grainger / Coppice Halifax / Milieu Music (South Carolina). Even though this album is technically from 2012 (and made from older material), it completely sustained me for a long time. It’s the greatest fusion of dub, techno, ambient and electro with a super solid groove that I’ve ever heard. Track it down if you can – the original releases come packaged with tracks from Axs and Ohrwert, also both great.