We enter the concluding part of our "best of 2013" feature rounding things off nicely with our bass and 170 BPM selections...
This year has seen some great additions to the Organic team, not least Muttley Subversion. Mick as we know him here has taken ownership of the (for want of a better word) bass reviews in the form of his monthly Basal Sounds feature. With this in mind we thought it essential that we asked him for his top 10 tracks of 2013.
Muttley Subversion (Writer & bass reviewer)
1. EUS - Sol Levit LP
When this came out, not many people were listening. So I reviewed it for Fluid Radio, and later a review for A Closer Listen sprung up. This is my album of the year, for many reasons. It's dark yet enthralling, in places harrowing yet euphoric, and transcendent in its characteristics as a drone suite based partly on samples from Jose Acuna's (then) famous grandfather. Modern classical music lovers with a taste for the sombre, let this eat you up from the inside out.
2. Goldfrapp - Tales Of Us LP
Something less sombre but no less touching is my runner-up album of the year, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory's seventh LP together. My family has a penchant for their first LP, "Felt Mountain", which I heard when I was 11 on an O2 mobile phone advertisement. We rest to it, or listen intently. This is available as a quality since the musicianship on every Goldfrapp album, even their more dance-oriented LPs, is second to none. On this record, they name a song after a collaborator on this LP, and Alison sings about the subject. Classical, trip-hop and experimental music lovers will find much to appreciate here, as they've honed their craft into a timeless form.
3. Abandon - Abandon LP
8 stretched-out tracks of stoner rock and shoegaze moroseness from Umair Chaudhry and crew, this the debut LP of "Abandon". I saw them perform on a local GTI bill well over a year ago, as their debut live show, and it was as excellent as "Land Of No Horizon", from "Monsters", a tune that initially drew me to them. The LP climaxes on the last piece, "White Summer", with a nail-bitingly austere guitar riff that sends shivers down the spine. The painting artwork by Magdali Melin is something to ease the eyes too.
4. Tycho - Awake [Single]
This still powers my day like an energy drink long after I first heard it. The melodies are tightly knotted yet playful, the production superbly crisp, and with this being from the forthcoming LP next year, we've much to look forward to. Tycho transplants all the sass of downtempo electronica into a build befitting the best in the genre.
5. Cut Copy - Free Your Mind LP
A riveting slice of old school house now with this record from Cut Copy. Taking some inspiration juice from the acid days but never pricking the ears too sharply, the 4/4 kaleidoscopia sound is plentiful in rich melody, stellar drum work and harmonic dexterity. Comparisons are scarce, but if you loved A Guy Called Gerald's "Voodoo Ray" then you're going to like this.
6. Total Science - See Your Face EP
Bit of a turn up for the books this one - the best Total Science I've heard since "Jungle Jungle". 5 varied tracks with bulldozer beats on "Hush Ya Mouth", sprinkles of romantic sleepydust on "See Your Face (feat. Riya)", dubstep & future garage swing on "Suspicious", with a general leaning towards the experimental, more so than Shogun ever normally does.
7. Welcome To Peepworld - Charm Offensive EP
Songwriting with violins or cellos is almost a clarion call to "been here, heard it before" but that's where "Welcome To Peepworld" differs. Combining cello work from Duotone's Barney Morse-Brown (renowned by The Guardian for his recent album with James Garrett, "Ropes"), Fi Mcfall and Dylis Audubert paint a sombre, yearning picture of fascination with infatuation. Love often gets confused with the yearning-for-company state, so much that it often reflects a detachment in paradox. With this EP's 5 works, clarity comes shining through the rain like hail.
8. Foci's Left - Grumpy Love LP
A shameless plug for my debut album, now critically acclaimed by Fluid Radio and Nightshift (see the reviews on the Foci's Left Bandcamp for their words). I've put so much work into this record that it inevitably became one of my favourites of the year, dedicated to my sister. Without further ado I'll let the music speak for itself.
9. VUM - Laura Palmer / Are You Animal? 12"
"Laura Palmer" is my non-self track of 2013. "I will wait here, for a lifetime, understand / I will wait for you, take my hand" is sung with such emotional levity that it's impossible not to like. The flipside "Are You Animal?" channels the indie rock side of the band while both sides' lyrics transform your environment into a wonderland.
10. Natasha Khan & Jon Hopkins - Garden's Heart [Single]
This track is the reason I went to see the brilliant How I Live Now film this year, directed by the renowned Kevin Mcdonald. Natasha Khan strums an ascending and descending shoegaze guitar line over Eno protege Hopkins' trippy beat patterns and mesmerising electronics. If you needed any introduction into the world of Bat For Lashes and Jon Hopkins, look no further.
(Catch more from Muttley SubVersion at www.subvertcentral.blogspot.com)
Alexander (Organic Founder)
Finally, I get my own stab... here goes.
1. Altair & Silent Dust - Sakharov
Silent Dust's sample hunting skills are truly something to behold and once again they hit a home run with "Sakharov". One of the highlights of the none60 imprint for me, this track conjures feelings of cold depth and penetrating emotions. One of the most unique production outfits with 170 BPM electronica.
2. Daat - 1999
Somewhere in a dark dystopian future, Daat's vision of a post civilization Montreal is being played out... If you can't wait for such a time then "1999" is a good second best! Described by one of my techno friends as "how drum & bass should sound" this track is an ode to futurism. clicky beats and a bassline with a thunderous belly on it, "1999" takes 170 BPM out of it's comfort zone and into a place far more ambiguous...
3. Frederic Robinson - Theme Park
Taken from the sampler 12" for the "Mixed Signals" LP, "Theme Park" was a fantastic opener for a top notch album. What was an audacious year musically for Blu Mar Ten Music was rounded off nicely with a genuinely solid drum & bass LP. For me, drum & bass really came back this year as far as originality and well rounded music is concerned, in part due to Frederic Robinson. I also hear young children particularly like this tune!
4. Synth Sense - Symbol #9.2
If Green Peace have a Christmas party, then "Symbol #9.2" will be no doubt be getting dropped. Dressed in organic woven clothing with flowers in their hair they will gather in a circle, hold hands and slowly wave from side to side... If you don't have time for Synth Sense's music, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.
5. Special Request - Soundboy Killer
When I originally heard about the Special Request project I was not very keen on the idea, I can admit that much. Luckily for me, my doubts were unfounded, with the "Hardcore EP" and excellent "Soul Music" LP demonstrating Paul Woolford's knack for re-invention. Taken from the latter "Soundboy Killer" is my favourite. Break heavy, lofty bottom end and a quirky MC Ribbz sample. Revivalism isn't all that bad is it?
6. ASC & Synkro - Machine Love
Two modern maestros go head to head on Auxiliary's offshoot Veil imprint, with the rest of the EP also including an Organic favourite Sam KDC. Deep, emotive, delicately structured, all the hall marks of post Autonomic 170 BPM experimentalism, music that demands your attention. I've also heard a rumour that "Machine Love" was inspired in name at least by an extreme grot video... (I may have made that last bit up).
7. Anile - All This Time (feat Hannah Eves)
I'm sure Anile will reluctantly agree, "All This Time" doesn't do anything new... But is does do every element really really well. This is how soulful drum & bass should be done. I'm sure this tune has been an anthem for lots of people this year. A sultry rolling liquid tune with a beautifully executed vocal performance from Hannah Eves....
8. Klute feat Naomi Pryor - Give It All
Taken from Klute's latest album "The Draft", "All This Time" recruited the enchanting vocals of Naomi Priors who perfectly compliments the track and maybe even makes it. These days it's not easy to innovate within the standard drum & bass model, 25 years in most things seem to have been done it seems, but Klute still has a trick or two up his sleeve. This one doesn't really even drop, it just builds continuously, I just wish I'd heard it in a club a bit more...
9. Felix K - Flowers Of Destruction #2
If you took Doc Scott's "Liquid Fingers", the hardest AnD track you could find and asked a hardened S&M enthusiast what he thought they would sound like mashed together, you would get something approaching Felix K's "Flowers Of Destruction #2". You will either like this alot, or not at all, there is no middle ground here. Taken from the sonically punishing "Flowers Of Destruction" LP this one is best experienced on a powerful sound system.
10. Alex Smoke - Rats
Emotional techno? "emo-tech"?.. No, I'll leave that to the hipsters to come up with a name for it... Whatever you want to call it Alex Smoke's "Wraetlic" project delivered a whole batch of thought out, conscious, thought provoking track early on in the year and I cannot do a top 10 without it's inclusion. With so much hack, throwaway music being bandied around under the techno umbrella at the moment it was refreshing to see it delivered with soul... Just how it should be.
Until next year, that is your lot!