Just for fun, let’s do this in reverse order. . .
There are two entries for each number on this list, perhaps they are not always musically identical, hopefully they share thematic parallels that are equally applause worthy.
Two superb collections of bleeding edge techno dance music from new label Houndstooth (which is ostensibly my choice for label of the year).
House of Black Lanterns’ debut collection chugs through various midnight streetlit genres of heartbroken house and gloopy techno, but it’s the footwork tunes that really soar above the rest of the tracks.
Akkord is the sound of industrial machines being retuned by geometric tesselation fetishists (yes, in a good way) and has quickly become a fast favourite in the month since it was released.
Whilst perhaps not sonically bedfellows, both of these acts have brought unique & fresh perspective to music production techniques.
F Buttons’ album saw them transform from benign purveyors of anthemic stadium drone into a dark, sludgy morass of antagonism and almost heavy metal aesthetic that they wore surprisingly well.
Yosi Horikawa’s lp meanwhile is a beautiful piece of work that betrays his clear talent for field recording – splashing raindrops make subtle rhythms, scribbling on a chalk board another, it really is a highly accomplished and delicious feast for the ears. Definitely one for bedtime too.
Janelle’s sophomore effort was even more confident than the first – im baffled why Dance Apocalyptic isn’t “The New Hey Ya” yet.
I don’t know a huge deal about Sango, but his productions alongside Ta-Ku and Kaytranada have been dominating a lot of my headphone time this year – crisp fat beats with a sensitive undercurrent. A bit like The Weeknd before he became creepy.
No embed available, but click HERE to see the Banana Clipper video
I’ve only just realised that both of these hip hop lps came out on Fools Gold, well i never..
Anyway, two searing, speaker destroying blasts of proper hip hop with one leg on the past and one eye on the future. Dope Song is my daughter’s current favourite “jumping on the sofa” anthem. For the record i actually found Danny Brown quite irritating prior to this lp, that’s how good it is – he changed my mind.
Jungle has come back in a big way in 2013 (more on that later) and these two lps represent the most overt demonstration of that.
Congo Natty has been knocking around quietly making jungle ever since his days as Rebel MC, but pairing with Big Dada he brought out this collection that is as close as you’ll get to being in an early 90’s Notting Hill street party without a time machine at your disposal.
Meanwhile, Paul Woolford surprised everyone by assuming this pseudonym and using his latest cutting edge production techniques to make a modern but authentically jungle lp. The results are pretty spectacular.
There was a time when it almost felt like only one record label was delivering the goods, and of course that label was WARP. As it’s star has waned, I personally think Ninjatune has grasped that mantle in making bold choices in electronic music. However, this year we were lucky enough to see not one but two “classic” age WAPR artists return to the fold and deliver solid hours of music that were instantly recognisable as their familiar sound with a few modern quirks.
BoC’s Harvest took a slightly darker turn with their Carpenter-esque homage to 80’s synth soundtracks and bleak nihilism, whilst NoW was the unmistakable sound of a man who clearly loves a very relaxing and happy lifestyle chilling out on a Balearic island. For the record, either Feeling Good or Bonobo’s North Borders wins the prize for “Most played family road trip soundtrack.”
Two slices of bass heavy abstraction from up & coming Dutch label RWINA. Desto’s lp is the sound of taking a dance music template and turning it into an introverted, slightly bleak, soul searching affair.
Eprom, meanwhile, continues to make music the likes of which are completely unexpected and previous unimaginable as that Vogel embed suggests. Utterly bonkers, whilst deeply serious.
Sometimes I’m not aversed to “indie” music, whatever that means these days. Both lps came out very early in the year and heloed me trudge through the Winter months – Blake’s 2nd lp strikingly more confident that his excellent 1st, whilst Thom Yorke’s supergroup basically sounded like a more electronic Radiohead.
Bit of a banner year for these two chaps. I have of course mentioned Machinedrum in a previous year end countdown, but his joining the Ninjatune family seemed to focus the elements of his recent output that had made him so unique. . . That is except for the fact that the man formally known as 2tall and Phillip D Kick delivered one of the most outstanding works of electronic music this year under his recent nom de plume OM Unit.
Both of these albums strike a perfect balance between solemn late night listening and rinsing dancefloor terror, somehow synthesizing the ambience and space of abstract electronica whilst barrelling along over modern equivalents of footwork, jungle and drum and bass beats. Quite a feat to make a sound that can be so ambiguous and focussed at the same time, and I think whilst the “jungle footwork” sound has been evolving over the last couple of years, it is these two which will be remembered as the turning point for the sound’s evolution.
which means my top choice for 2013 is…
With all honesty, I can’t really describe these albums and do them justice, so let me just say that whilst I am a fan of many forms of music, you can often hear or feel how all the separate pieces slot together – the vocals, the samples, the drum breaks that may or may not be familiar.
Both Holden & Hopkins have somehow made albums where it is near impossible to notice the cracks – almost as if both musical works had beamed down from another dimension where we use plants as musical instruments and elephantine heart rhythms can sometimes be heard in lieu of a drum machine. If you’re a fan of comics, i’d say this is like the current run of PROPHET – you don’t fully understand what is happening or why, but it’s so beguiling you want to stay involved to try and find out.
2013 has been an exceptional year for music (across all genres), but nothing has quite enchanted me and woven it’s way into my psyche like Hopkins’ Immunity has. I suppose you could say it’s infected me.
So, with that said, I urge you to treat yourself, get comfortable, turn the speakers up & the lights down low and enjoy a beautiful video to go with an amazing body of music – Jon Hopkins’ 8 minute long “Open Eye Signal” from the Immunity LP.
Look, everyone does their end of year lists differently, and i found it too difficult to choose only ten. However, I’d like you to try and think of this as a Top Ten with 2 choices for each themed entry. Hey, it’s my list, I can do what i want!
2013 had a plethora of well crafted and heartbreaking dramas about teenage rites of passage. I was almost tempted to roll in Prince Avalanche and I Declare War, and possibly even a glimpse of Sam Rockwell in The Way Way Back, but of course that way indulgence and madness lies. Both of these films are just beautiful and spoke to me on a profound level.
Two insanely ambitious blockbusters that both managed to stick the landing. Isn’t it great when people keep pushing this storytelling art form to new peaks?
Lumière brothers, the bar has been raised my friends.
IM3 was essentially a Shane Black Greatest Hits compilation, and i love it for that.
Pac Rim, i was hesitant to add initially, but i’ve watched it several times now and it seems to just get better with every viewing – world building on an epic scale from the geeks’ favourite director.
Two of the finest and funniest comedies of the year both dealt with immature man children fending off the end of the world with schoolboy humour and substance abuse.
Sometimes, all a film needs to do is be pretty. Very very pretty.
Two indie flicks that were both made using daring and revolutionary techniques and practices, with spectacular (and disturbing) results.
A cracking year for horror, the spooky ghost house horror of Conjuring was duvet-tighteningly effective. Gareth Evans’ “Safe Haven” segment in VHS2 was visceral & terrifying enough to make the rest of the anthology seem irrelevant.
Two exceptional performances from Steve Coogan this year (probably 3 if you’ve seen Philomena). North Norfolk Digital’s most notorious host finally made his way onto the silver screen after nearly 2 decades of anticipation. Meanwhile, another sublime collaboration with Winterbottom brought us the heartbreaking Paul Raymond story in a flurry of knockers & knickers.
2 doses of bone crunching Asian cinema brought to you by westerners. Keanu’s chop socky flick was a masterclass in old school kung fu, whilst Refn’s audience-baiting follow up to Drive boasted the mother of all Mothers, proving to be far more violent and destructive than any of the male players.
No animation, although Wreck It Ralph & Monsters University would be my top two choices there.
The next few:
Man of Steel
John Dies At The End
Death Race: Inferno
The History of Future Folk
We’re the Millers
And, seen (& loved) this year but not 2013 releases :
Searching for Sugar Man
Killing them Softly
Zero Dark Thirty
Side By Side
Inevitably, there’s stacks of Oscar-potential movies coming in the next few weeks, but to date I’ve logged 232 movies viewed this year, and this is a reflection of nights enjoyed rather than anticipated..
Thankfully i have the freedom to avoid films that look dreadful, which is why The Internship isn’t on this list, nor are any franchise-starters based on a Tween Novel.
There are a few emergent patterns that i’d like to comment on and open up to the floor:
1. Melissa McCarthy’s great performance in Bridesmaids is increasingly proving to be a a fluke. I submit films 3-5 on my list as evidence.
2. Russel Crowe really shouldn’t sing, similarly Jaden Pinkett Smith shouldn’t do anything.
3. Remake / Reboot fatigue is really setting in now. I was somewhat heartened to see the remake of Carrie was essentially ignored.
4. Kick Ass 2 – what the HELL happened?
5. I’d be happy never to see Bruce Willis sleepwalk through another film – between Die Hard 5, Red 2, GI Joe 2, and god knows what else, he’s gone from the everyman hero living off his quick wits to a tedious bore who almost seems to be actively leaning out of the screen saying “I cant even be bothered to appear here, so why should you bother to watch me?”
87 mins of old school hardcore, jungle, grime, trap, wobble, footwork and Drum & bass.. Guaranteed to get your booty shaking into the dark winter nights.
00:00 Speedy J – Spikkels
00:14 Shed – Fluid 67
04:21 Enei feat Chimpo – Headtop
06:30 Full Crate & Mark Pritchard – Dangle
08:46 EAN – 100% publishing (EAN GRIME REFIX)
10:10 Special Request – Lockjaw
12:13 snoop lion – here comes the king – skanx refix
14:19 813 – 813 x Danny Brown x Track
16:27 Tessela – Nancy’s Pantry
18:40 Freshmoon freebie
19:55 Eprom – Screwface
22:17 Howie Lee – Bango Monkey
23:58 manix – Living In The Past
25:18 manix – Riprize
26:02 Special Request – Deranged
29:22 Pawn – Your Words
30:39 Cadenza & Nasher – Gyal Town
32:46 Clicks & Whistles – Secrets
35:07 Danny Brown – Side B (Dope Song)
36:22 DJ Rashad – acid bit (feat. addison groove)
38:32 Chrissy Murderbot – The Original
41:28 Om Unit – jaguar
44:42 XIAVNJUVN – Uxmal betafinal
46:42 Sinistarr – Slew Dem rmx
48:56 Mark Pritchard – Manabadman (feat. Spikey Tee)
50:25 Tim Reaper – Tribal Fury
53:43 Bustos Domecq – Drop Out Jungle
55:30 Sam Binga – Freezy
58:32 Dabs feat. MC Kwality – Skull + Bones (Sam Binga Remix)
1:01:47 Mark Pritchard – Soundboy Fuck Off
1:04:21 DJ Gunshot – Wheel Up (Tim Reaper Remix)
1:05:12 Skanx and Lynx – Wheel & Deal 2013
1:07:03 Kalbata – Ninja we ninja 6BLOCC RMX
1:08:36 Calyx, TeeBee, Noisia – Hyenas (Original Mix)
1:10:23 Emperor – Jackhammer
1:14:03 Calibre Feat. Chimpo – Again
1:16:20 Chimpo – Manchester Anthem (Dub Phizix Remix)
1:18:27 Addergebroed – Shadows (Culprate remix)
1:20:29 Congo Natty ft. Nanci Correia, Daddy Freddy – Get Ready VIP (Om Unit Remix)
1:22:13 G Jones – Stars
a 75 minute road trip picking at Threads around the suburbs of Vapor City.
Longtime listeners will recognise that I’ve been a big fan of both members of Dream Continuum and their solo productions as Machinedrum and Om Unit.
This mix attempts to pull together a swathe of recent, largely non-album tracks, as well as some tunes from similar sounding artists. The first half is quite serene and melodic, whilst the 2nd half wades into slightly darker territory.
Om Unit lp “Threads” is out now and available to buy HERE
Machinedrum lp “Vapor City” is out now and available to buy HERE
House of Black Lanterns lp “Kill The Lights” is out now and available HERE
You really should grab all three.
00:47 Om Unit – Shine Your Light
01:11 Seafloor – Pukau
05:25 Machinedrum – Boxoff
09:41 Seafloor – Marsili
15:07 George Fitzgerald – Silhouette (Calculon Remix)
18:35 Plot Twist – Skydive
21:04 Dorsh (Calculon and Austin Speed Remix)
24:44 Plot Twist – Jjaro
29:31 Graphs – You’ve Got Things
32:28 Holy Other – Know Where (Orphidal Remix)
36:32 submerse – Melonkoly (Deft Remix)
39:33 House of Black Lanterns – You Me Metropolis
42:18 Om Unit – governer’s bay
46:59 Om Unit – The Red Curtain
50:25 Nphonix – Reach Out (Om Unit Remix)
55:15 Om Unit – The Hand
59:43 Machinedrum – Gunshotta (Om Unit Rollers VIP)
1:01:25 Machinedrum – Gunshotta (Fracture’s Astrophonica Remix) 1:03:35 Machinedrum – Stirrin
1:06:37 Marcus Intalex – Quer Key
1:10:15 Deft – Faded
Big thanks to groundmassmusic and low rise sounds (amongst others) for their recent compilations and eps that fill in a lot of the other gaps here.
00:00 Lukid – Snow Theme
00:14 Phaeleh – Tokoi
01:44 Beck – I Won’t Be Long
08:27 Hanami – Fruition
11:59 Cuushe – Butterfly (Kidsuke Remix)
13:59 Snow Ghosts – Gallows Strung
19:07 Goldfrapp – Alvar
23:30 Kettel – Clear
25:54 JMSN – Love & Pain (Kaytranada Remix)
26:52 Deft – Rising Sun
33:35 Sun Glitters – Nothing Left To Lose Now (Fieldhead Remix)
36:33 Zoon Van Snook – Snorri’s Saga
39:27 Shigeto – Soul Searching
44:55 Yosi Horikawa – Stars
48:10 PIXIES – Andro Queen
52:59 Lapalux – Quartz
56:42 Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo – Theme from Prince Avalanche
A fat slice of Trap nicely sandwiched in a warm bed of more chilled beats. There may be some hi hat salad falling out the edges..
00:00 Octa Push – My Share
00:20 Lockah x Taste Tester – Higher
03:22 Walton – Can’t U See
06:15 Ghost Mutt – Thoroughbred
10:51 Ta-ku – Sango – Owe Me (Ta-ku Remix)
17:44 Special Request – Broken Dreams
20:36 Bleep Bloop – Kitties
24:38 GJones – 32
28:14 Kanye West – New Slaves (Morrison Remix)
33:35 DJ Snake – Together
35:37 ƱZ – ŤɌ∆Ҏ ᶊῌῗ† √15
37:45 ƱZ – ŤɌ∆Ҏ ᶊῌῗ† √11 (Bonus Track)
39:44 Baauer & Just Blaze – Higher (Extended)
41:36 RL Grime – CliqCliq
46:08 Pick A Piper – Once Were Leaves (Caribou Remix)
51:01 Daixie – Placebo
53:43 AbJo – Little Dragon – Ritual Union (AbJo Refix)
Does what it says on the tin!
Hopefully it sounds alright too..
00:00 Congo Natty – Jungle is I and I
00:51 Congo Natty – 4 UK Allstars (Machinedrum Remix)
02:28 Boys Noize – Push Em Up
04:43 Beenie Man – Not On My Team (Homesick Remix)
07:32 Mark Pritchard – Duppies
09:40 Egyptian Empire – Horn Track (Wellbelove’s 85 Trek)
15:01 Addison Groove & Sam Binga – Rzor
17:14 Paradox – Crate Logic
20:02 dBridge – Death Of A Drum Machine
23:50 SpectraSoul – Memento (dBridge Remix)
26:07 John Rolodex – Back to Basics
29:21 Digital & Spirit – Phantom Force (Fracture Astrophonica Edit)
30:46 Alix Perez feat. They Call Me Raptor – Villains 1 Heros 0
33:52 Nonfuture – Gunshot Riddim (160 Intro VIP)
35:17 Dub Phizix – Happy 5
37:35 Netsky – Love Has Gone (Dub Phizix Remix)
41:08 Stray – Akina
42:50 Kromestar – Purple Cloud (Original Mix)
45:37 SpectraSoul – SOUR (Rockwell Remix)
48:51 EAN – Bearface
50:44 Dawn Day Night – Mister Meanor
52:34 Machinedrum – Eyesdontlie
54:13 David Bowie – Lets Dance (InFiction Remix – Mark Kloud 160 Edit)
Before MP3, before CD, before Minidisc, there was Cassette Tape!!
Mid 1990s vinyl only 1-take mixes recorded to cassette, recently unearthed in my parents’ attic.
At the time i think i had an Ecler Mac 60s mixer and a pair of Soundlab DLP1 belt drives.
Overall, these mixes may not represent the best turntablism known to man, but it’s personally quite fascinating to hear what i was mixing half my life ago, and hopefully you may enjoy listening to them too.
Guillermo Del Toro “gets it.”
That may seem like an absurdly vague way to start this review, but somehow it might be all that needs to be said. His previous few films were instant classics in their respective genres: the Hellboy films; Pan’s Labyrinth; Blade 2. What they all had in common was that these were films with comparatively limited budget and yet the scope of what was seen on-screen was positively epic: world building and visual storytelling at it’s very finest. Inevitably, the prospect of Del Toro wielding a “proper” blockbuster budget has led to some very high expectations from certain quarters.
Some might argue that the “Summer Blockbuster” is in poor health or need of resuscitation these days, admittedly the box office is still record-breaking year upon year, but with sequels prequels, reboots and spin-offs, fresh ideas appear to be in short supply. Step forward Pacific Rim to remedy this issue. Filtered through a lifelong obsession with disparate strands of geek culture, most notably the Godzilla and Kaiju films of Japanese cinema, Del Toro has birthed a whole new cinematic universe that is refreshingly tangible and unique. Giant robots or monsters may not be the most original of icons, but they have been deployed here in a new sandbox with a new set of rules.
A prolonged opening sequence hits the ground running, perhaps overwhelming the audience somewhat with a solid twenty minutes of exposition laying down the events that have led us to this particular point in the story, and it does so with aplomb, showcasing vast scenes of action & destruction before zeroing in on our hero Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam). What may come as a surprise to many is the intensely personal journey that the audience follows Raleigh on for the next hour. A crafty narrative quirk means that the two unified mecha pilots have to form a deep personal bond before the skyscraper sized robots will correctly operate, and Del Toro uses this to great effect, weaving a story not out of crass destruction and countdown timers, but of a journey of personal faith, redemption, and trust. A B-plot concerns two comedy bickering scientists’ quest to get deeper inside the brains of the Kaiju to understand what drives these horrific Lovecraftian terrors from beneath the sea, and these two primary storylines drive the narrative in perfect complement to each other. Charlie Day (Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Burn Gorman (Torchwood) hamming it up to delicious effect whenever they are onscreen.
Of course, personal or actual journeys are all well and good, but what people have paid to see is the monster smackdowns, and boy do they deliver. No jittery blurs of extraneous detailing and shaky camerawork here, the smackdowns are delivered as brutal wrestling matches between man-machine and beast that leave no structure untarnished. The mechs move with a slightly ponderous weight that befits their stature, and the fight sequences are hugely satisfying (not least of all because you can follow what’s going on). For the naysayers who listlessly dribble “It just looks like Transformers!” No, this gets right everything that Transformers got wrong – the stakes are established, the players are introduced in turn, and the battle commences.
The film is violent but is not explicit and overall has a family friendly tone. There are positive role models for both sexes in here: Rinko Kikuchi is particularly edifying as a conflicted but headstrong young woman trying to forge her destiny in this near-apocalyptic world – you can practically imagine the Comic-Con homages already. In combat, the city-wide carnage is punctuated with shots of refugees running to the shelters, so rest assured, unlike Man of Steel, we know the public are largely safe.
The question then is how is this film sufficiently different or interesting to warrant £10 and 2 hours of your life? Del Toro is never one to scrimp on the details, and there is a completeness and tangibility to this world that is both fantastical and believable. He has created new heroes for a new generation and equipped them with the best looking, most exciting and wish-fulfilling adventure that a modern movie can offer. This film recaptures a seemingly lost alchemical balance of what exactly constitutes a “Good Blockbuster” – the sense of adventure from ’80s Amblin movies; the confidence to take its fun very seriously; and pin-sharp special effects that look spectacular on any screen (but no doubt better in 3D at the IMAX). Admittedly, the cast is largely comprised of British television actors, but one can’t help feel that this film will raise their profiles no end. Did anybody know of Harrison Ford before 1977? Well, there you go.
This may seem like damning with faint praise, but there are more than a couple of moments that call to mind Independence Day – that sense of scale: that the whole world is in legitimate jeopardy and only our heroes can save the day via rousing speeches and alien-busting maguffins. Yes, the film is not afraid to have the odd cheesy moment, but given the context it works extremely well, and if it doesn’t, well, you can just chuckle & groan along with the rest of the audience.
Brushing the ID4 albatross to one side, what this film really feels like is the original trilogy of Star Wars. There are larger than life ideas and characters, a detailed and nuanced universe which they inhabit, and most importantly, there is scope for a whole new realm of adventures to be explored in the future. Dare I say it out loud? Pacific Rim: This generation’s Star Wars. Perhaps you should go and see what the fuss is all about.
Pacific Rim “vault” content can be found here.
This review was originally written for Lost In The Multiplex.