We’d like to give a big welcome to new contributor Will Coe. He’ll be writing about really whatever he feels like, but he definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to this post’s topic- electronic and house music. – Nathan
By Will Coe
Amidst the many perils and challenges of this past year, the world looked to EDM as a reason to get hyped and forget whatever horrible tragedy was currently happening. 2013 saw a host of producers calling back to little-known sub genres of the 90s and early 2000s while still attempting to look forward musically. We saw the gradual rise of elements of jungle & garage into the mainstream and the varied results of America’s continued reaction to the influx of European dance music onto their radio dials and Facebook pages. This is a list of the dance tracks I thought best exemplified electronic music in 2013.
20. Laurel Halo – “Chance of Rain” [Hyperdub]
“Chance of Rain” mulls over acidic synths and industrial beats deliberately defying any kind of genre label whatsoever, even stopping mid-song to highlight a jazzy piano solo and continuing to show that Laurel Halo’s sound is an electronic force to be reckoned with.
19. Mount Kimbie – “Made to Stray” [Warp]
Moving closer to their club focused contemporaries, Mount Kimbie’s Cold Spring Fault Less Youth contained many of the year’s most unique and reverb-y tracks. “Made to Stray” merges the spacier early work of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos with a thudding, clicking, spinning beat and dreamy vocals.
18. Paul Woolford – “Untitled” [Hotflush]
While he’s not busy tearing up the charts as Special Request, Paul Woolford shows he’s not quite ready to give up the pure house euphoria he lays down in “Untitled”, classic house from start to finish.
17. Mat Zo – “Lucid Dreams” [Astralwerks]
2013 was a huge year for Mat Zo and all of that hugeness can be heard in this nearly overwhelming track that mixes soulful samples with pounding, crunchy bass and airy vocals.
16. Omar Souleyman – “Wenu Wenu” [Ribbon]
I guess this is what ravers listen to in the Middle East? With unique production by Four Tet, Syrian artist Omar Souleyman took western dancers by storm with his eastern dance hit, showing us that house music can absorb dance trends from the furthest corners of the world. By the end it’s catchy refrain will have you attempting to sing along, and failing miserably.
15. Floorplan – “Never Grow Old” [M-Plant]
A track of two energies, weaving Aretha Franklin’s timeless vocals over and under a thrusting techno beat and finally merging the opposing forces into the same climactic life force.
14. Forest Swords – “Thor’s Stone” [Tri Angle]
Forest Swords’ Engravings comes from within a deep sonic forest in which little musical spirits live and jump off each other in order to devour your soul. “Thor’s Stone” mixes instrumentation with hiphop grooves and dark dubby vibes to occupy its own tribal vortex.
13. Four Tet – “Parallel Jalebi” [Text]
Every release from Four Tet shows him at the head of his game and the edge of his own personal exploration. This muted, bassy track from 2013’s Beautiful Rewind is a soul-searching journey in itself.
12. Omar-S – “Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself” [FXHE]
One of house music’s most talented mainstays continues to dazzle us with this soulful gift of optimism and individualistic house mentality.
11. Jai Paul – “All Night” [XL]
Each release from Jai Paul makes me more excited for his actual debut. “All Night,” released as an unauthorized demo, showcases Paul’s unpredictability and production wizardry, which he uses to meld a soulful, glitchy storm of emotions that I can’t stop listening to.
10. Todd Terje – “Strandbar (samba)” [Olsen]
On the track “Strandbar”, which means “beach bar” in Norweigan, Terje commands an army of drum loops and synth licks that create the perfect soundtrack for your very own Strandbar.
9. Jon Hopkins – “Open Eye Signal” [Domino]
Immunity is one of my favorite albums from 2013 and “Open Eye Signal” showcases its best moments in one rolling, intense 8-minute track that will make you feel like you are digging yourself out of a grave with your bare hands (in a good way).
8. Lone – “Airglow Fires” [R&S]
Matt Cutler’s best release since his mesmerizing 2012 album Galaxy Garden, “Airglow Fires” clears up the clutter and focuses itself on the stuttering hook sample and rapid, jazzy percussion. Rife with electricity and neon streaks of positive vibes.
7. DJ Rashad – “I Don’t Give a Fuck” [Hyperdub]
The best mainstream example of the footwork subgenre, DJ Rashad’s Double Cup has been topping charts all year, This track is a perfect example of the chaotic, paranoid sampling and drum beats that define the Chicago movement.
6. Tessela – “Hackney Parrot” [Poly Kicks]
The sample urges you to “work me with temptation” while Tessla blends breakbeat and trap with classic soulful house elements to create something both floor-shaking and incredibly unique. Be tempted.
5. Isolee – “Allowance” [Pampa]
Another stellar 2013 release from Pampa and my favorite minimal house track of the year. Nostalgic, regretful synths and understated drums create a headspace between your ears that welcomes you in from the cold with warm blankets and hot chocolate.
4. Ten Walls – “Gotham” [Innervisions]
Like House church music, a dense, meditative beat threatens to derail the orchestral synths for a rumbling 9 minutes. Also impossible to get out of your head.
3. Burial – “Rival Dealer” [Hyperdub]
Not much needs to be said of Burial, Hyperdub’s star child and every producer’s role model. His 2013 EP release reaffirmed his position as king. “Rival Dealer” is a sprawling, euphoric 10 minute journey that rivals his best work.
2. Matthew Herbert – “It’s Only (DJ Koze Remix)” [Pampa]
DJ Koze’s perfect remix of Herbert’s 2001 release combines minimal drums & dark synths with practiced vocal riffing, creating an all-around great track that sounds like nothing else out there.
1. Machinedrum – “Gunshotta” [Ninja Tune]
The opening track from the flawless Vapor City, Machinedrum manages to blend as many styles as possible into one track, layering soulful vocal samples under a murky puddle of synths and bass which build to a ragga drop worthy of the biggest festival bangers.