Increasingly electronic music is reasserting itself as a viable album length genre. Sure it still thrives on the single and the remix but more and more there are albums, primarily from the UK scene, that manage to straddle the headphone and dancefloor worlds or in some cases they work most effectively as immersive home listening experiences. Here are the albums that we found ourselves returning to most often in 2013.
Special mention to Burial’sRival Trader EP which dropped late in the year and on first listens it sounds excellent. I decided to keep this list focused on albums but Rival Trader is no doubt one of the finest releases of the year and a great way to round out 2013.
1. The Haxan Cloak – Extinction
2. DJ Koze – Amygdala
3. Zomby – With Love
4. Forest Swords – Engravings
5. Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
6. Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle – Perils From The Sea
This is by no means a snapshot across all forms of electronic music as I have little interest in some strands such as trance, commercial dance music or the mainstream adoption and bastardisation of the name dubstep. I say ‘the name’ as the music itself bears little resemblance to the sounds that were created under that tag through the 00s. My tastes instead drift towards bass music – be it dub, experimental, minimal techno, ambient or drone. This list of releases from 2012 hits the best of those dark, murky suggestive and cerebral places so in no particular order here are our favourites. Click on the artwork to sample/buy any of the releases via Boomkat.
The first list of acts performing at this year’s Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has been announced and as usual it looks to be a great mix of electronic, psychedelia, rock and hip hop. Check out our Rdio playlist featuring bands appearing at the event that takes place from December 7-9th.
There is a ballot happening so if you want to increase your chance of being allocated a ticket you need to head to www.mmf.com.au before 10pm Tuesday 21 August. Round One has been drawn and results hit inboxes Wednesday 15 August. Round Two results out Thursday 23 August.
Kieran Hebden is one prolific dude. Even though his full length albums only drop every few years he always has something on the go with single releases on various labels, putting together mix comps for Fabric and collaborating with Burial and Steve Reid. One of the recent tracks to appear on his own Text label is Jupiters which starts with some sublime kosmiche synth work before dropping killer percussive snaps and bass detonations. It works brilliantly both as a dance floor tune and in the headphones. Available in limited quantities on vinyl only.
Future Bass! Post-Dubstep, post-House, post everything! Four Tet, Mala, Untold, Black Chow (Kevin Martin/The Bug’s latest project), Coki and loads more all-exclusive new tracks on this new album for Soul Jazz Records.
Soul Jazz Records have brought together some of the UK’s most pioneering producers of the day to create an album that can only be defined as future music. All new exclusive tracks from a set of artists all at the height of their respective careers alongside heavyweight new-wave producers. From the off-kilter hypnotic post-House bass music of Four Tet (one of the most hyped tracks of late) to the boundary pushing genre busting post-Dubstep of Mala and Coki (the two halves of Digital Mystikz), Untold and more alongside truly uniques tracks such as Kevin Martin/The Bug’s latest incarnation, Black Chow. Future music! Future Bass!
‘Future Bass’ is packaged in a limited-edition deluxe plastic casing with set of free postcards and vinyl comes on super-loud, super-heavyweight triple vinyl, mastered at Transition.
Jack Ladder was the first full set we got to early in the day and it was a nice relief from the early afternoon sun to descend into the Basement venue to check out his indie rock ‘n’ soul sound. Ladder finally got going after some guitar issues and proceeded to play a set from his recent Love is Gone album. With the Pivot rhythm section (who played on the record) backing him, the songs were true to the CD versions and after a tentative start he gradually got warmed up and relaxed into a great 40 minutes of music, highlights of which included ‘Best Kept Secret’ and ‘Mother (Bird Is The Word)’.
Wandering between stages to get our bearings we came across Yves Klein Blue. Sporting a rather pretentious moniker they came across as a fairly down to earth rock band with touches of ska and polka that brought to mind comparisons to the Clash, especially in frontman Michael Tomlinson’s mannerisms and look. Confident and engaging, they caught attention and injected some early afternoon energy into the still arriving crowd.
A band trading on hype and not necessarily reputation is always going to struggle to win over skeptics and Tame Impala’s main stage set had a strong audience of curious onlookers. The sound on the stage didn’t do them any favours as it was frustratingly quiet, especially for a band that trades in pysch stoner rock that counts volume as ones of its key ingredients. By the end of their set their fans were still there but the attention of many others had wandered.
No Age are a couple of young gents from Los Angeles currently leading the charge for a small scene centred around a club called The Smell. They brought a refreshing pared down and deconstructed aesthetic to the festival in light of the number of acts keen to project an image or style as part of their musical act. No Age operate with drums, guitar, their voices and some effects pedals and they lived up to their two albums with a set high on short sharp outbursts and some nice melodically abrasive riffs that stuck in the brain.
One man that was bound to be a personality of the day was Jay Reatard. He hit the stage with the other two members of the band, suitably big haired and loud in both volume and colour in his pink screaming t-shirt and the even hotter pink pants of the bass player. Telling the large crowd that “All the other bands on the bill think they are so special, this shit is easy!” he launched into song after song of his trademark punk pop with its melodic hooks and buzzing guitars. Reatard energised the crowd with his Dinosaur Jr meets Ramones meets Kiwi pop sound. It was raw and primitive and it was like a blast of fresh air.
Time constraints meant that a time share was needed between Four Tet and Stereolab. Outdoors and at a festival Four Tet seemed to take a while to warm to the crowd who, at the Red Bull Academy Stage, had been used to harder and more danceable beats through the day. His style is more for listening to and nodding one’s head and it took a good 15 minutes for everyone to settle into his vibe and hook into his wavelength. Just as they started to it was for us to head to Stereolab. They were well into their set on the main stage and were hitting that sweet spot of the indie krautrock sound that has become their trademark. Laetitia Sadier is the focal point of the band live and her sweet sing-song vocals were endearing. It was a nice break from the noise and the crush of bodies at the other more crowded stages.
The biggest response of the day was quite possibly for The Drones and their swaggering, staggering indie rock. The reality of what was happening with the bush fires down in VIC was brought home when Gareth Liddiard mentioned that Havilah, the place where they recorded the album of the same name, was most likely burnt to the ground. They seemed to take this as motivation to deliver a ragged and brutal performance of howling vocals and twisted, screeching guitars that encompassed all corners of their career from ‘Shark Fin Blues’ to the stomping ‘The Minotaur’. They were for my mind the most dynamic and invigorating band of the day.
Finishing up the main stage was Minnesota’s (and now New York’s) The Hold Steady. Perhaps viewed by some as the outsiders of the festival with their more rockist tendencies they quickly dispelled the myth before a small yet enthusiastic crowd. Craig Finn’s frontman quirks were amusing and entertaining in the way he comes over as the eternal nerd living out his rock dreams. The endearing thing is how convincing he is in the role, strutting like a Jagger librarian, pouting and gesturing wildly. It was an infectious performance with tracks like ‘Sequestered in Memphis’, ‘Party Pit’, ‘Chips Ahoy’ and ‘Stay Positive’ all creating an arms aloft party atmosphere and an almost perfect end to the day compared to the softer and lighter Feist performance that finished the festival in 2008.
Meanwhile, Girl Talk was over on the other main band stage. He had drawn a huge crowd, mainly of the younger and noticeably more drunken attendees that online forums have been blaming for the perceived change in mood of this year’s festival. There was a noticeably different atmosphere with many people seeming to care more about their look and getting drunk than appreciating the music which is, after all, what the Laneway Festival is or should be about.