Top Five: Albums of 2013

For the second part of our glance back at 2013, we jump right in with the best albums of the year. Just like last year, we present only five of them per person, and in no particular order. And just like last year, I brought Dave and Jeff in for a little help on the lists, because a) the guys have great taste and lots of music knowledge, and b) it is always good to sit down with good friends while looking back at the year and reminisce.

Summary

Henje’s Top Five:

  • DJ Koze “Amygdala”
  • Jon Hopkins “Immunity”
  • Young Galaxy “Ultramarine”
  • Gold Panda “Half Of Where You Live”
  • Oneohtrix Point Never “R Plus Seven”

Dave’s Top Five:

  • James Blake “Overgrown”
  • Classixx “Hanging Gardens”
  • Toro Y Moi “Anything In Return”
  • Rhye “Woman”
  • Bonobo “The North Borders”

Jeffrey’s Top Five:

  • Disclosure “Settle”
  • Blood Orange “Cupid Deluxe”
  • Burial “Rival Dealer EP”
  • Blue Hawaii “Untogether”
  • Julia Holter “Loud City Song”

Henje’ Top Five

As I wrote on the Top Five genre post, 2013 was a good year for music. Over the year, I did my best to present the most exciting albums to you when I found them, but sometimes music fatigue overcame me, or I was busy with my music journalism articles – you know, the stuff where you actually get paid to write about music. As a result, only two of the records below were reviewed on B/B before, so hopefully you’ll find something still new and exciting for you in the list. Enjoy!

DJ Koze “Amygdala”

German Deep House DJ Stefan Kozalla, better known as DJ Koze, has been making music since the Nineties. Starting out with weird German Hip Hop, he turned towards House in the early 2K’s, but never has his sound been better than in 2013. On Amygdala, he reigned in most of his funny moods, and the result is a sometimes cute, sometimes soulful, but always accessible Deep House record. His strange kind of humor is still audible at times, but mostly restricted to the album cover.

Jon Hopkins “Immunity”

Jon Hopkins gets my newcomer award of 2013. Well, he is making music for more than ten years now, including work with Brian Eno and the “Monster” soundtrack, but he showed up on my personal radar just this year. Mea culpa! His Ambient Techno style manages to be thrustful and chill at the same time, good for losing yourself in, in the club as well as in your living room. It is one of those albums you feel at home in after a while, by creating an airy space in your head that you can go to anytime you want, simply by putting on the record.

Young Galaxy “Ultramarine”

Is there still such a thing as guilty pleasure? If there is, you won’t find it in mainstream pop anymore these days, but in the self-indulgent, introspective and emotional genre that used to be called Indie. Young Galaxy’s “Ultramarine” was my guilty pleasure of 2013, with sweet synths, cheesy lyrics and an air of heartbreak and melancholia around it. I loved their 2011 release “Shapeshifting”, but this year’s follow up was smoother, more leveled and more professional. An album without a single miss, one that you could put on and rely on to get you through the next 40 minutes of your life, no matter what.

Gold Panda “Half Of Where You Live”

I interviewed Derwin aka Gold Panda this year, and it was one of the highlights of my 2013. (But shhh, don’t tell him that. I am trying to be cool about it.) He is such a sweet, modest person, and his music shows it, with cute synths and samples interweaving in intricate patterns. He told me that he is the happiest when he is all alone, right in the middle of the production of a track, getting lost in the process. And that is something that the album can do for you too: Help you to get lost in what you are doing while listening to it. Granted, “Half Of Where You Live” it is not up there with his debut “Lucky Shiner” (next to nothing is), but it is one of the most underrated albums of 2013, if you ask me.

Oneohtrix Point Never “R Plus Seven”

Daniel Lopatin is a genius. There is no way around that fact. I won’t list his accomplishments all over again, but let’s just say that he is always on the frontlines of the development of experimental electronic music, and “R Plus Seven” is his cleanest and most futuristic record to date. A fragmented but never random exercise in what sounds like contemporary church music to me, with organs and choirs dominating it. But Lopatin chopped them up, turned them into stuttering hybrids and somehow makes them seem hyperreal that way. I have never been a religious person, but if there is a church somewhere that is preaching to these sounds, I might convert after all.

Dave’s Top Five

Another year comes to a close and as I reflect on the music that I played (admittedly over and over again) I completely agree with Henje that this year was a great year in music.  As I reflect and relish the time spent rediscovering 2013 I came to a realization.  In his previous post, Henje had mentioned that 2013 was all about disco but I found that the albums that stood out for me were those that leaned towards R&B.  Don’t get me wrong though, there were a lot of albums that utilized disco this year, but the albums that I enjoyed and had repeat value leaned towards R&B and it’s at least a close second in the genre wars and could continue to be the top genre next year.  With that said, on to the list!

James Blake “Overgrown”

The multi-talented James Blake continues where he left off from his 2011 self titled debut by crafting more beautiful electronic soundscapes layering them with his emotive piano and angelic voice.  However, I feel that where Overgrown really shines is through James’ embracing of R&B and scaling back on the abstractedness which I found was more on his first album.  The track that I feel perfectly displays this move towards R&B is the single “Retrograde.”    It’s a beautiful ballad that has some gorgeous synth swells but has a wonderfully smooth beat.  Check it out!

Classixx “Hanging Gardens”

Although this is Classixx’s first full length debut LP, Tyler Blake and Michael David have been hard at work touring and remixing their warm dancey beats for some time.  I know I was hooked with their 2009 flashy synth track “I’ll Get You” featuring awesome vocals by Junior Senior frontman Jeppe Laursen and is re-featured at the tail end of the album.  But if you’re thinking that this is just simply a dance album,  Hanging Gardens goes much deeper.  Blake and David have created an album structure that is exceptional by pairing lush instrumental tracks like “A Fax from the Beach” with tracks that have awesome guests like “Long Lost” featuring Active Child.  Thus highlighting their strengths in the production booth and as singer/songwriters.  For those of you needing a reprieve this winter, I highly recommend getting lost in Classixx’s sunny grooves.

Toro y Moi “Anything in Return”

Toro y Moi aka Chaz Bundick is another artist with whom I found to have spanned across genres this year.  Albeit subtly.  It was also at this point upon writing, that I began to notice a growing trend of my affinity for multi-instrumental producers this year.  With the album Anything in Return, Bundick continues with a synth-funk 80’s sound but makes some subtle tweaks of the beats and gets closer towards the borders of dance music.  And that’s what what makes Toro y Moi great for me.  Bundick, as an artist, continuing to progress and experiment (I’m pretty sure this is his longest album to date) but also content to just quietly groove in a sound/genre that he continues to perfect.

Rhye “Woman”

I know Henje likes Jon Hopkins for the newcomer award but my vote goes towards the duo Rhye.  Granted, there are two strong singles on Woman which were released in 2012 but there are so many other wonderful tracks that come with this album and it pushed me over the edge.  Just the idea that I’m writing about a silky sexy record is perplexing.  I mean, it’s been a longtime since I’ve listened to an album that is so sultry and have me craving more at the end but instead be content to hit the repeat button.  The way that Mike Milosh’s beautiful vocals gently caress the listener while gliding through Robin Hannibal’s masterful production is fantastic.  While some may find that “The Fall” and “Open” are Woman’s strongest tracks I’d also suggest checking out “3 Days.” I find it to be a great showcasing of the duo’s creamy synth sound filled with electro horns and a jazzy beat all while Milosh’s sultry vocals makes your heart swoon.

Bonobo “The North Borders”

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I would end with Bonobo aka Simon Green.  I’ve been a longtime fan of his and he’s one of the few artists that I’ve written about for the blog.  So, while I guess he gets my sentimental vote, I find that Green has such a great album from start to finish with The North Borders that it should not be missed.  Like Classixx, Green creates a strong album structure with some wonderful guest tracks peppered throughout the album i.e. the emotional opener “First Fires” featuring Grey Reverend and then pairs them with slick multi-layered instrumental tracks like the chime/bell filled “Cirrus” showing off his production prowess.  For those of you looking for that perfect for that late night groovy chillout, The North Borders is it.

Jeffrey’s Top Five

The albums released in 2013 can be roughly divided into two groups – those that look forward, pushing the envelope of innovation into new sonic territory; and those that look back to the past to find inspiration for a deeper personal connection on the grounds of shared nostalgiac rememberance.  It seems that many artists acknowledged this year that we love what we love, and sometimes that’s ok.

Of those albums that looked forward, some were inevitably heralded as genius (Oneohtrix Point Never), while others currently underappreciated may yet still develop a reputation years down the line as ahead of their time (Autechre, Gesaffelstein).  For me, a serial nostalgiast, I found myself immersed in the albums that looked back, reveling in the unique and personal ways that artists put twists on familiar and beloved sounds of the past.  The textbook example of an album on a nostalgia trip was Daft Punk’s epic release, incorporating a wide range of styles and collaborators to chronicle the history of dance music (sometimes a little too on-the-nose, as was the case on tracks like “Giorgio by Morodor”).  Other styles were re-invigorated as well, from St. Lucia’s full immersion into the synthpop sounds of the 80s to Jagwar Ma’s Primal Scream-era acid rock revival.  Henje has already elaborated on the further exploration of vintage R&B and disco sounds, and within the R&B genre there was even a division of camps.  Jenn Wasner of the alt-rock band Wye Oak pursued her love of 90s R&B girl bands under the Dungeonesse moniker, Robin Hannibal and Michael Milosh joined together in an epic ode to the silky-smooth Sade as Rhye, while Solange chided millennial hipster R&B enthusiasts for thinking they’ve discovered something newly hip by taking to Twitter with the hashtag #deepbrandycuts.  Still others pushed the boundaries further and further, creating warped and evocative sonic textures designed to accentuate emotive vocals (Kelela, Autre Ne Veut).

In the end, there were many great and interesting albums released in 2013, and compiling a list of just 5 inevitably gives short shrift to numerous others that could just as easily be given equal acclaim.  For me, personally, here are 5 complete albums that I spent the greatest amount of time listening to this year:

Disclosure “Settle”

Other than Daft Punk’s aforementioned magnus opus to the evolution of dance from Chic to Animal Collective, no other album this year treaded so much nostalgiac territory as Disclosure. The two brothers from Surrey are impossibly young (just 19 and 22 at this writing), but possess a remarkable affinity for the sounds and styles of the recent past. Over the course of 14 tracks on their debut album, the Lawrence brothers unfurl odes to Garage, 2-Step, Deep House, Synthpop, R&B, and straight bass music, all while working with many of the most sought-after vocal collaborators in Britain. In any other hands it would be a mess, but Disclosure tie everything together by producing a sound across genres that is unmistakably them, making Settle not only one of the most diverse offerings of the year but the one of the tightest as well.

Blood Orange “Cupid Deluxe”

A number of artists released wonderful moody atmospheric R&B albums this year (Rhye, Saint Heron, Jessie Ware, Sampha, etc.), but this offering from Devonté Hynes stands apart for its emotional substance. Hynes is perhaps better known for his work under the Lightspeed Champion name, and for many his productions as Blood Orange are quite a departure. But Hynes has been perfecting this sound for some time, having produced tracks for Solange (“Losing You”) and Sky Ferreira (“Everything is Embarrassing”) that are full of emotional resonance.  He’s saved some of his best work for himself on this LP, with “Chamakay” in particular hitting very hard. The last minute of “Uncle Ace” is among the grooviest moments in music of the entire year, and wonderful vocal cameos by Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), Samantha Urbani (Friends) and Dave Longstreth (Dirty Projectors) all accentuate but never overshadow the production work. This is a solid album, full of deep ruminations on social issues, remembrances, and pop hooks.

Burial “Rival Dealer EP”

A surprise end-of-year addition, this EP came out after I’d already mentally locked-in my Top 5. Sorry, Machinedrum, as lovely as your dubby IDM album Vapor City was this year (and it was truly excellent), Burial came along and blew me away unlike he has since 2007’s landmark Untrue. In listening to this EP, which sprawls over just 3 tracks, it feels as diverse and cohesive as an entire album. At 28 minutes, Burial stops and starts in new configurations to chop 10 minute+ burners “Rival Dealers” and “Come Down to Us” feel like epic sagas complete with separate and distinct movements. Musically, Burial treads some familiar territory (the irrepressible gloomy rave of “Rival Dealers”) and some new: namely, pop hooks. “Hiders” has been termed a Christmas anthem given the timing of its release and the chiming of bells that pervades throughout. Tying it all together is Burial’s longest track on the EP, “Come Down to Us”, a sprawling epic whose title also serves as a sampled vocal snippet on both preceding tracks. Thematically, this EP is as forward a statement as Burial has ever made, with sampled lyrics and speech throughout all three tracks alluding to questions of identity and acceptance. It’s a brutal listen that gets more contemplative and haunting with each repetition. Though released without much notice at the end of the year, I suspect Rival Dealer will spur just as much discussion and fanfare as Untrue has for the past six years.

Blue Hawaii “Untogether”

Much of the Montreal scene owes a lot of its recent continental success to the emergence of Grimes on the American scene in 2012, but no other Quebecois group follows her blueprint quite so closely as the duo behind Blue Hawaii. On Untogether, airy synths and light percussion surround chopped up vocals that ebb and flow throughout the productions. Many of the ideas, such as on leadoff track “Follow” evolve and unfurl organically and end up in entirely different directions than they started. The vocals of Raphaelle Standell-Preston are ethereally edited so that they don’t tower above but accentuate the synth work. The highlight of the album is the one-two punch of In Two, which starts as a quiet exercise in melodic harmonization and ends in a club-ready big beat flourish. These dichotomies make Untogether just as rewarding with repeat listens and one of the most aesthetically-pleasing releases of the year.

Julia Holter “Loud City Song”

Continuing a trend of beautiful ethereal releases in 2013 (Julianna Barwick, Mountains, Grouper), Julia Holter’s most recent record saw her simultaneously expand her ambient, atmospheric sound (she now has a full backing band that was absent on earlier albums like Ekstasis) while narrowing her focus. Loosely grouped around the themes of the 1944 French novella Gigi by Colette, the songs of Loud City Song portray a world and society that has simply grown too loud for comfort. Retreating into the cozy comfort of quiet and solitude among the crowds, Holter’s protagonist wanders a cityscape where she draws more comfort from anonymity than the attention of the masses. The effect is almost noir-ish, with Holter’s lyrics taking on the persona of not only the titular Gigi, but the faceless crowds that surround her, at one point going so far as to issue gossipy admonishments amidst a flurry of horns. This album is highly intellectual and introspective, but nevertheless engrossing on an emotional level. It’s also a beautiful recording, and worthy of full immersion.

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Top Five: Genres of 2013

So let’s start this year’s end list mania. Looking back on 2013 reveals at first glance that it was a good year for music. The lamenting about the decline of the music industry and what that does to the creative output is over, as the artists as well as the labels have found their new place and new ways of revenue in a (financially) smaller, but now again growing market – 2013 was a year of newfound optimism. The smaller labels, it seems, even thrived under this development, as they were quicker to adapt and were able to profit from the advantage digital distribution or the growing numbers of vinyl collectors present to smaller releases.

The music quality was strong in 2013, with many well known artists delivering good albums and some new artists breaking through to the surface, but it was lacking genre-hypes. But genres are silly anyway, right? So, the same as last year, please take the following list too seriously. By the way: Whatever happened to last year’s genres? Trap was creatively dead since February, the latest, and Seapunk is diluted, but surviving in it’s niche. And Vaporwave? Was publicly humiliated and denounced, but as long as the internet music festival #spf420 is happenening, it lives on in spirit. Most of this year’s genres are much more grown up than those, anyway. Or is that just me?

Disco

More than any other genre, 2013 was about Disco. While the year before had some mellow NuDisco (horrible genre tag, btw) by Poolside and Goldroom, coming out of the L.A. dance scene, this year it was the Europeans that set the course. There was Daft Punk, of course, tying up the attention of the music fans for weeks with their late Seventies retro Disco style. Their “Random Access Memories” alone could justify declaring Disco one of the most prominent genres this year, but musically, they were topped by the Norwegian producer Todd Terje and his collab partner Lindstrom. They didn’t release much this year, but what came out was deeply influencial, and last year’s albums still lingered.

Footwork

Developing out of the Chicago Juke dance scene, footwork gained more and more attention over the past few years, culminating in this year’s release of DJ Rashad’s “Double Cup” on Hyperdub, which received widespread critical acclaim. Without being an expert in what is still pretty much an underground phenomenon, I can tell that it has been a haven for those looking for fresh sounds in 2013. With its fast beat patterns blending into a carpet of tranquility, it is Hip Hop’s equivalent of Liquid Drum and Bass, inviting to dance to it as much as giving the opportunity to chill.

Deep House

House music was sometimes hard hitting, sometimes cute or ambient in 2013, but almost always deep. With DJ Koze, Axel Boman and other Pampa Records-related acts on the one end of the spectrum and British producers like Daniel Avery, Factory Floor and Lone on the other, House was the most versatile genre this year. It was a very wide and open genre to begin with, to be honest, and anytime you wouldn’t be sure where to put an electronic dance track, you would call it House by default. But this year saw the genre getting even more varied, widespread and, well, deeper. One notable exception was Disclosure, of course, who were floating on the surface of it all.

R&B

R&B continued to be strong this year. After Frank Ocean and How To Dress Well last year, it was Autre Ne Veut and Blood Orange that continued the legacy this year, offering a more pop oriented approach that was nontheless pretty interesting, and most of all beautiful to listen to. This genre is far from being a guilty pleasure anymore, even for the indie kids. R&B Vocals are this genre’s strongsuit of course, but those bass lines weren’t too shabby either.

Experimental Electronics

In 2013, there was a contant stream of great electronic music for the more adventurous at heart, as most of the established artists in this field released new albums: Tim Hecker, Oneohtrix Point Never, James Ferraro, The Field, Pantha Du Prince, and so on. Not all of them did their best work ever in the past months, but none of them disappointed either. With Jon Hopkins there was one stellar breakthrough artist though, who delivered one of the most immersive experiences of 2013. As he will be featured in our upcoming top lists, here is another favorite of mine who was stronger than ever this year: Dirty Beaches.

Top Five: Songs of 2012

Now for our last Top Five category of 2012, our most favorite original tracks of the year. We are a bit late on this one, but you know how it is, with life and all getting in the way of a hobby. This category has the most variety and sheer mass of numbers on them, of course, but you will still see one repeat in our lists – because we play the good ones to each other quite a lot, to be honest. Turntable.fm promotes the play of single tracks over albums, and as that’s where we hang all the time, we burn through a lot of single tracks in fast succession. With thousands of tracks in our queues we had to sift through a lot of single songs, and these here are the ones that were floating up top in the end.

Summary

Henje

Julia Holter – Marienbad
AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
Chromatics – These Streets Will Never Look The Same

Armeria & Karma Kid – Do Me Wrong
Elite Gymnastics – Andreja 4-Ever

Dave

Grimes – Genesis
Chromatics – Lady
El Perro del Mar – Walk On By
Hundred Waters – Boreal
Teen Daze – Brooklyn Sunburn

Jeffrey

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love
Purity Ring – Fineshrine
Tomas Barfod – Broken Glass
Baio – Sunburn Modern
Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

Henje’s Top 5

Finding the five top tracks of the years proved to be more difficult than I expected. It’s not that there wasn’t enough good music out there – indeed, there was more than enough. But there weren’t many songs that stood out as spectacular single tracks for me, because the futher I venture from pop mainstream, the more it is about the flow and the feeling, and the less about hooks and cheers. I could just as easily have chosen a completely different track list, but all of these here tickled me in a special way.

Julia Holter – Marienbad

Julia Holter gets an honorary spot on my list, because her album very closely didn’t mke it onmy album list. Her careful, experimatal and sometimes weird electronic pop definitely shaped 2012 for me, but in the end, the album was too inconsistent to be completely convincing. But her music touches me emotionally and intensely, and the opener “Marienbad” shows her at her best, with tempi changes, complex instrumentation and high pitched etheral vocals.


Julia Holter – Marienbad from RVNG Intl. on Vimeo.

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

“Your Drums, Your Love” is something like the standout single this year. And I mean “single” as in radio pop standalone track, as it features a massive chorus and hooks. You know, the thing that makes you stop for a minute the first time you hear it, and has the potential to make you sick by its sweetness and predictability by the second time around. It is due to the perfect execution and vocals shifts that this never happened to me with this song, though I listened to it maybe a hundred times over the past months.

Chromatics – These Streets Will Never Look The Same

This for me was the standout track on Chromatics great “Kill For Love” album. The dry bass line hook combined with the flowing synths and vocoder vocals emulate the 80ies retro “Drive”-like sound in a clichéd but ever so sincere way. Borderline kitsch, but thats how I like them.

Armeria & Karma Kid – Do Me Wrong

This one is another chill R&B infused electronic track, with great groovy vocals by Armeria over a flawless melodic setup by Karma Kid. This British collaboration has the typical dubby current, but then a 4/4 bass sets in and makes it very danceable too. I am looking forward to hear more from them in the new year. 

Elite Gymnastics – Andreja 4-Ever

Elite Gymnastics is only James Brooks now, after the break-up with his collaborator. And this will result in a shift in sound, away from rave and drums&bass sounds, towards more personal, quieter pop tracks, as he announced. “Andreja 4-ever” was one step in this direction, and if his upcoming material is as good as this song about feminist Andreja Dworkin, 2013 will be as much about Elite Gymnastics for me as 2012 already was.

Dave’s Top 5

For me, I found that creating a top 5 song list for this year was trying. I really wanted it to be a list that didn’t have any overlap with my previous posts but all that did was create more frustration for me. It wasn’t all frustration though. In fact, I found that the greatest benefit from creating these top 5 lists was that it forced me to explore my music collection and rediscover some wonderful gems released this year. So, without further ado here is my list—with a slight overlap!

Grimes – Genesis

Such a great track. The beautiful synths along with Claire Boucher’s dreamy vocals provide a great foundation to what could be easily dismissed as just another chill track. But when that poppy beat hits I knew I was hooked. Also, not only is the track itself gorgeous but the segue from preceding track Infinite Love Without Fulfillment to Genesis is flawless.

Chromatics – Lady

I know I’ve already talked about Kill for Love being one of my top 5 albums of this year. All of those tracks are superb but I find Lady is the one that stands out. It showcases the group’s signature Italo-Disco sound but also pairs perfectly with Ruth Radelet’s catchy but cool vocals. Anyone who is fan of the Night Drive hit Tick of the Clock will sure to be a fan of this one as well.

El Perro del Mar – Walk On By

If I ever wanted to reminisce about the early 90’s (and sometimes I do) I need only queue up Swedish singer Sara Assbring’s, AKA El Perro del Mar, smooth Walk on By. I mean come on there’s even a sample of Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy in there. It’s a fun track to chill out and groove to.

Hundred Waters – Boreal

This another one of my top 5 album posts. For those unfamiliar with Hundred Waters I find that Boreal is a great track that features the experimental and playful side of the group. The looping of Nicole Miglis’ piano play and glittering vocals along with the layering and stripping away of some fantastic bleeps are what made me a fan.

Teen Daze – Brooklyn Sunburn

I almost forgot about the massive amount of music that Vancouver chillwave dj Teen Daze, AKA Jamison, released this year. I mean 2 LP’s within 4 months of each other is just nuts. My favorite comes from his “first” LP All of Us Together. Brooklyn Sunburn has great dreamy elements that Teen Daze is famous for but it also has a nice beat that I could see being played in the clubs.

Jeffrey’s Top 5

For me, 2012 is a year represented by numerable solid album releases and far fewer stellar tracks. Consistency seemed to be the rule of the year, which lends itself to very enjoyable listening sessions but lacks somewhat in those singular tracks that beg to be played over and over again. That said, there were a number of tracks that spoke to me this year, and these five are surely fantastic on their own.

AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

As I mentioned in my Top 5 album explanation, 2012 will be remembered by me for the infusion of R&B into experimental electronic and indie music. No track epitomizes this cohesion better than AlunaGeorge’s end of the year gem. The opening echo and vocal manipulation hints at a grime or IDM track, but the entrance of Aluna Francis’ soulful vocal transforms the track and the chorus is a pop hook up there with the best of the year.

Purity Ring – Fineshrine

2012 also featured a number of Canadian electronic acts redefining the sounds of pop. Like their fellow Quebecois Grimes, Purity Ring manipulate vocals and warp synths in order to create new sonic textures at once both catchy and off-putting. “Fineshrine” allows Megan James’ lyrics to shine above a churning bass and choppy vocal effect that lend a slightly ethereal touch to her plea to “cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you.” Touching, yet wonderfully weird.

Tomas Barfod – Broken Glass

Salton Sea is Barfod’s first full-length under his own name, and it is markedly different than his previous work with WhoMadeWho and as a solo DJ, allowing him to use familiar aesthetic pallets to go in a new direction. Barfod says that Blade Runner is the album’s biggest influence, and on the stellar “Broken Glass” you can hear the use of Vangelis’ iconic ambient atmosphere. Band-mate Jeppe Kjelleberg’s vocals are distorted soulfully as the track ebbs and flows evocatively beneath him.

Baio – Sunburn Modern

Vampire Weekend is a much-loved band among the fraternal hipster and college party set, but the bands numerous side projects are often of greater interest (ROSTAM, Discovery, collaborations with The Very Best, etc.) for fans of bloops and bleeps. Bassist Chris Baio started DJing around the time that Vampire Weekend was first formulated, and keeps up with electronic music around the band’s studio and tour schedule. This year he released his first EP, which includes the absolutely fantastic “Sunburn Modern”, a 6 1/2 minute romp of melody and world percussion styles.

Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

Norwegian space-disco enthusiast Todd Terje released a brief EP at the beginning of 2012 that screamed novelty: four tracks recorded entirely using an ARP2600 synthesizer – hence naming the EP It’s The Arps. It’s a composition gamble that asked for skepticism, but immediately after the opening feedback of “Inspector Norse” the track ambles for 6 1/2 minutes through disco infectiousness, culminating in one of the biggest builds of the year – another trick, as Terje opts to release the pressure simply by re-instating a funky disco groove. In a world overcome by epic drops, it’s such a welcome jaunt of fun.

Top Five: Remixes of 2012

Playing with other people’s stuff is often more rewarding than making all of it by oneself. It is a form of communication of styles, and if you know the original track, you can listen in to the conversation led by means of sound. Although, come to think of it – it is more like a comment really, with the remixer saying something about the source material and in this process revealing what was already hidden in the original. And as with every kind of communication, there is also a social aspect involved, a statement about the relationship between the speakers. Given all that, remixes are a fascinating medium and so we decided to give them a Top Five post of their own. Here they are.

Summary

Henje

Shlohmo – Rained the Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix)
Korallreven – Sa Sa Samoa (Elite Gymnastics Remix)
Chromatics – Birds Of Paradise (Amtrac Remix)
LOL Boys – Changes (CFCF Remix)
Lianne La Havas – Forget (Shlohmo Remix)

Dave

Tame Impala – Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix)
Wild Belle – It’s Too Late (Snakehips Remix)
Matthew Dear – Her Fantasy (Poolside Remix)
ultraísta – Smalltalk (Four Tet Remix)
Kimbra – Two Way Street (Aeroplane Remix)

Jeffrey

Tame Impala – Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix)
Papa – I Am The Lion King (St. Lucia Remix)
Little Boots – Headphones (Dimitri From Paris Remix)
Shlomo – Rained The Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix)
Summer Camp – Losing My Mind (St. Etienne Remix)

Henje’s Top 5

My most beloved remixers this year are a bit incestuous. They keep remixing each others’ tracks, which is awesome, as most of them are exceptional stand-alone musicians. They have to be, of course, as a good track is what makes a great remix possible in the first place. Being on the same music label helps of course, but it is a tight scene where the sum is bigger than the parts. Someday someone has to make a remix map displaying all the crossroads. But till that time, let me remind you of the most awesome roads built this year.

Shlohmo – Rained the Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix)

A good remix is nearly unrecognizable from the original, and this one is great in that respect. While both are very chill, Jaar did a number on Shlohmo’s track by letting it evolve all throughout its five minute playtime. It rarely stands in one place for long and takes you on a journey through – spaces. Jaar is superb at giving his sounds a texture, playing with dry, direct sounds and just the right amount of reverb to make you feel as it you are attending a small private chamber performance.

Korallreven – Sa Sa Samoa (Elite Gymnastics Remix)

My favorite remix of this year. The way this track brought rave back into my life was a revelation, and although the break is a bit harsh, it just adds to the flavour of it. There is some Whitney Houston on acid thrown into the mix too, pushing it into full retro mode. Korallreven’s original is so very different from it’s array of remixes out there, each of them pulling it into a completely different direction, but this takes the cake.

Chromatics – Birds Of Paradise (Amtrac Remix)

With his remix, Amtrac turned Chromatics’ slow crooner into a full blown daytime house track. Many have remixed Chromatics, but none have so masterfully and smoothly transformed one of their songs. Chopping up the beautiful vocals takes guts, and making it work takes skill, and Amtrac obviously has both. This track is special to me because it is the sound of IBB and typical of my taste in music this year, as Jeffrey stated once.

LOL Boys – Changes (CFCF Remix)

LOL Boys are no more. They broke up this year, but posthumously released a remix EP of their Changes EP on Friends of Friends. There are some fantastic takes on the song on the EP, but CFCF’s smooth mashup with Bruce Horsby’s classic “The Way It Is” stands out. His remix work is very careful and gentle, just like his original tracks. And while his remix of Elite Gymnastics “Here, In Heaven” was epic, this one is way more fun.

Lianne La Havas – Forget (Shlohmo Remix)

Shlohmo remixed everything this year. From Tomas Barfod via LOL Boys to Ryan Hemsworth, he implemeted his drowned out sound and pitched vocals to a lot of the best artists out there at the moment. His style got a bit predictable over time, but he manages to constently find something of his own to add to the different musical styles he takes on. His Jeremih remix was the most popular, but I liked his chill dance version of upstart soul singer Lianne La Havas’ “Forget” the most.

Dave’s Top 5

To be perfectly honest, I was never the biggest fan of remixes prior to this year.  I would steer clear of them all together because I was simply never satisfied with what the remix artist would incorporate to the original track that I had come to adore as a listener.  I was not as active in seeking the out either.  That being said, this blog has exposed me to so much music and so many artists that I was able to discover some really fantastic tracks and these 5 were on heavy rotation for me.

Tame Impala – Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix)

I’m not sure what else can be said about Tame Impala’s album Lonerism.  It’s a great album and pretty high on my list for 2012 but…wow…this track has changed my opinion about remixes forever.  Producer Todd Rundgren, does everything perfectly with Elephant.   And why not?  The man is an all star musician and sound engineer having produced for 70’s greats from Grand Funk Railroad to Meat Loaf.   The subtle tweaks and fantastic builds make this track epic.

Wild Belle – It’s Too Late (Snakehips Remix)

The information I have on Snakehips (AKA Ollie Dickinson) is pretty limited but I really love this remix.  The original track, from Chicago duo Wilde Belle, was already a great funky groove but Dickinson adds a hip hop beat and plays with Natalie Bergman’s vocals that’s going to make you bounce.  Be sure to check out the soundcloud page for Snakehips for some other great tracks and funky remix of Willie Hale’s Groove On.

Matthew Dear – Her Fantasy (Poolside Remix)

This is a great example of being surprised by what a remix artist can accomplished with a superb original track.  I didn’t have much experience with Poolside when this track was first released.  I had only just started to fall in love with Pacific Standard Time and I was a big fan of Dear’s 2010 LP Black City.  The old me would have looked at this combination and thought this looks like a recipe for disaster but knowing what I know now this match makes perfect sense.  I really enjoy how Poolside focuses in on Dear’s vocals and apply a much more chilled beat that gives it a more upbeat feel.

ultraísta – Smalltalk (Four Tet Remix)

I know I’ve already blogged about this track but Four Tet’s trademark for creating repetitive rhythms by utilizing key elements from the original track was a real eye opener for me this year. I love how he is able to manipulate and twist Laura Bettinson’s vocals in into becoming a part of the beat.  I also discovered that I’m a sucker for a good build which this on has and while it is subtle it will definitely make you want to groove.

Kimbra – Two Way Street (Aeroplane Remix)

Take Kimbra’s masterful skills at creating terrific pop music and apply Aeroplane’s, AKA Vito De Luca, Italo/Nu-Disco magic and the end result is just marvelous.  Some great synths and beautiful beats create a solid foundation while the Belgian DJ does some fantastic work with the vocals turning this track into a wicked dance floor burner.

Jeffrey’s Top 5

Remixes are a tricky thing.  The challenge of building on a pre-existing piece of art is to make changes that improve the total package rather than making it merely different, or worse, simply more muddled than before. Phasing vocal samples, adding percussion that doesn’t juxtapose too harshly with existing elements, all while keeping and improving upon the best parts of the original artist’s work – none of these are easy. The simple fact of the matter is that there are a million bad remixes posted to Soundcloud every year – and only a few that really are an improvement on the original track.  Here are five that, in my opinion, took a track to the next level.

Tame Impala – Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix)

Tame Impala sit firmly atop many year-end album lists, so improving upon the original material is a difficult task for any musician.  Todd Rundgren has been in the music business for a long time, however, and recognized a lot of potential in those grungy bass riffs and power chord changes of the original.  Rundgren didn’t tinker much – instead, he amped the energy up to 11 and stretched out the build of the guitars out of a spacy haze in order to reach one of the most energizing – and mesmerizing – climaxes of any track all year.


Papa – I Am The Lion King (St. Lucia Remix)

One of the things I love about St. Lucia is that they throw the whole kitchen sink into their remixes.  Bongos, churning synths, sparkly jabs of piano, saxophones – all are welcome if it takes the track to new heights.  On this funnily named ambling indie pop track, St. Lucia build a wall of synth layers that build and fade with the lyrical highs and lows of the song.  A great guitar hook that appears only at the end of the original becomes the central hook of the remix, supplemented and then replaced by new piano and synth lines.  And that’s how a relatively docile indie track becomes a dance floor titan.


Little Boots – Headphones (Dimitri From Paris Remix)

Dimitri From Paris thrive on retro nostalgia, and on this remix of Little Boots’ earwormy “Headphones”, they’ve outdone themselves.  The intro cavalcade of drums could be torn from a mid-eighties New Order record, and whatever that synth sound is that introduces the chorus probably hasn’t been used since Italo went out of style.  The result is immensely more fun than the original track and will have you breaking a move in your florescent baggy pants.  It’s enough to make you want to break out a 12″ of Shep Pettibone remixes to follow.

Shlomo – Rained The Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix)

I can’t help but feel many of the same things about Nicolas Jaar as I do about Brian Eno, not that they paint from the same aesthetic brush.  But both artists utilize understated depth to evoke emotion and envelope a listener.  And Jaar’s work on this Shlomo track is sublimely paced, casing the entire track into the atmospheric patter of rain on leave, substituting the glitchiness of the original with a smooth guitar line, and creating a beautifully balanced percussion track to underlay the whole thing.  It’s a wonderful remix that takes the listener on an entirely different journey than the original.


Summer Camp – Losing My Mind (St. Etienne Remix)

St. Etienne utilize many of the same elements of the original track, a jangly pop song with dark whistles and a back and forth between male and female vocalists reminiscent of The xx.  However, they envelope the song more fully in darkness, using only a low echo of piano and a steady bassline to propel the song toward the chorus, by which time St. Etienne has taken control of the whole track, mangling and distorting vocal samples to heighten the uncomfortable, almost eerie atmosphere.  By the time the vocalist intones “It feels like I’m losing my mind”, St. Etienne throws the track back into darkness, slowly bringing back haunted distorted vocal snippets and a stabbing piano hook as the track churns to its end.  A wonderfully moody remix.

Top Five: Albums of 2012

Time for the supreme top list category: Our best albums of the year. We decided not to compromise and to make a common list, but instead the three of us will each present their most beloved albums of the year, collected in this one post. That way, we won’t have the mediocrity of some of the list we have seen floating around, plus you get to read about more than just five picks. As with the genre list we published earlier, the albums are not ranked, but in random order. More lists are to follow!

Summary

Henje

John Talabot – ƒIN
Elite Gymnastics – Ruin 4 EP
Ryan Hemsworth – Last Words
Chromatics – Kill for Love
The Gaslamp Killer – Breakthrough

Dave

Poolside – Pacific Standard Time
Chromatics – Kill for Love
Blackbird Blackbird – Boracay Planet EP
Tomas Barfod – Salton Sea
Hundred Waters – Hundred Waters

Jeffrey

How to Dress Well – Total Loss
St. Lucia – St. Lucia EP
Blackbird Blackbird – Boracay Planet EP
Grimes – Visions
John Talabot – ƒIN

Henje’s Top 5

For me, this year was all about branching out – there wasn’t one specific subgenre or style I liked the most or one direction in which my musical interests were developing, but instead there were many different ones I delved in. My choice of the best albums of 2012 reflects this, spanning from house via hip hop electronics to retro-rave and dream pop. Thanks to the work on this blog, I listened to more music than ever before, and an album had to be really great for me to have the leisure and patience to come back to it over and over again – but those here did it.

John Talabot – ƒIN

There was a wave of indignation by many users when GvB didn’t put John Talabot’s fabulous debut album on their Top 50 list a few das ago. And rightly so, because while he didn’t invent a new subgenre or new fat production techniques, he made the most sophisticated house album of the year. Skillfully layering multiple instances upon each other and ever so smoothly progressing, he created dense, rich, elegant rhythm structures and made his distinct percussion style one of the constant companions during the course of this year.

Elite Gymnastics – Ruin 4 EP

These EPs that were on my heavy rotation the most this year. They are a four part series, with the first two parts (containing the originals) released in 2011 and the last two (mostly full of remixes) out this year. They are best consumed as a double feature, as the remixes by some of the greatest artist I discovered for myself this year – like LOL Boys, Recycle Culture and CFCF – are the most fun when you seamlessly experience the way the themes and patterns of Elite Gymnastics source material are picked up and altered in so many different and interesting ways. It is a haunting trip that built a more personal connection to me than any other music in 2012.

Ryan Hemsworth – Last Words

Hemsworth was one of the most prolific and distinctive producers and remixers this year. His “clipping style” – cranking the bass up to eleven and using the distortion as an audio effect in its own right – made me love his debut album from the first moment I heard it. I called him this years Clams Casino, and I stand by it. His style will still have to prove its longevity and versatility, but it shaped my musical landscape for sure.

Chromatics – Kill for Love

Chromatics is the only act that will appear in my Top 5 albums, single tracks and remix lists this year. I guess that makes them my band of the year, but they didn’t overwhelm, and instead slowly snuck up on me. Johnny Jewel’s italo disco was like the slowdance version of the last years “Drive” soundtrack – retro-chic, shimmering and ever so cool. But it managed to erase this connection over time and to stand on its own, as the most interesting pop album of 2012.

The Gaslamp Killer – Breakthrough

The best album off the Brainfeeder imprint this year, The Gaslamp Killer took me by surprise. He seemed so out of the loop of what was going on in the music world right now – reminding more of 1998 than of 1991, and those seven years made a lot of difference – that I underestimated his album off the start. Who still listens to DJ Shadow these days anyhow? But Breakthrough’s flow, rhythmic stance and challenging mixture of sounds made it stick around and become one of my favorite go-to-listens over time.

Dave’s Top 5

Wow, such a fantastic year for music! First, I want to say that none of this would have been possible had it not been for my introduction to turntable.fm. The time I spent online helped expose me not only to new music but some really great people as well. I pushed myself hard to scour the internet for new and delightful music for my queue, especially for those Tuesday sessions that our IBB room was open. Like Henje, my 2012 top 5 album picks are the ones that had repeat value but they also reflect those personal experiences on tt.fm when I felt like I had struck gold. Enjoy!

Poolside – Pacific Standard Time

This may be a bit of a cheat since some of these tracks were released last year but the timing of this album for me was spectacular. The IBB room and blog had just started, the summer was at a full tilt and L.A. duo Filip Nikolic and Jeffery Paradise seemed to have relief from the blistering heat. The funky new disco textures definitely had me daydreaming that I was right there at the pool, chilling out and bobbing my head to the smooth beat.

Chromatics – Kill for Love

It’s not so much the sound that makes this album a part of my list. Don’t get me wrong, with Ruth Radelet’s gorgeous vocals and Johnny Jewel’s helming it’s going to be awesome. However, my favorite part about Kill for Love is its progression with each track. To start with a haunting cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and then immediately segue into the synth-pop heavy title track is nothing short of amazing. It really is an album that I can play from start to finish and enjoy the juxtaposition of synth-pop gems with the epic abstract tracks.

Blackbird Blackbird – Boracay Planet EP

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t impressed with the first few releases that Blackbird Blackbird produced in the past but I love this new direction that Mikey Maramag has taken with Boracay Planet. It swiftly grabs your attention from the start with a striking guitar sound in “It’s a War” but it maintains that level of interest throughout the rest of the EP and ends nicely with a great acoustic guitar loop on “Happy With You.”

Tomas Barfod – Salton Sea

Another fun record that all you need to do is push play. The beats on Salton Sea provide a great foundation and allow Barfod to play around with a lot of different styles. I’m particularly fond of the track “Broken Glass” that features mixed vocals from fellow WhoMadeWho band mate Jeppe Kjellberg and sounds reminiscent of GLaDOS, the main antagonist from the video game franchise Portal.

Hundred Waters – Hundred Waters

It wasn’t until I started creating my list and going through album after album that I remembered the digital folky Hundred Waters. Originally from Gainesville Florida, the band recently made a jump from a small label to Skrillex’s OWSLA after they completed the Full Flex Express tour that featured Grimes, Diplo, and Skrillex himself. Hundred Waters showcases beautiful vocals and piano by frontwoman Nicole Miglis but is mixed with some dazzling bloops and bleeps. The whole album might be a stretch for some IBB readers but if you’re feeling adventurous take a look at the band’s website and you can stream the whole album. For me it’s the seamless transition from tracks “…___…” to “Boreal” that made got me hooked.

Jeffrey’s Top 5

It was exceedingly difficult this year to choose five top releases in large part because it’s been such an excellent year for new artists. Any of more than a dozen 2012 releases merit praise for pushing the envelope, introducing new production styles to familiar genres in innovative ways, or simply producing pleasing earworms. For this reason, my list skews more toward pop this year, an expansive genre that saw some interesting innovations in the world of bloops and bleeps beyond those included in the four-to-the-floor electropop of top 40 or over-the-top production of dubstep.

How to Dress Well – Total Loss

One of the most exciting innovations of the past two years is the fusion of R&B hooks with ethereal electronica and garage beats. Last year The Weeknd brought this fusion to the mainstream (formally released this year on his Trilogy), and this year saw a variety of stellar releases pursue the same dynamic: Jessie Ware, Frank Ocean, and perhaps most beautifully, How to Dress Well, the pseudonym of Tom Krell, a graduate student in philosophy with a haunting voice and incredibly sharp sense of emotion. Total Loss may be the saddest R&B record I’ve ever heard, but it is so intensely beautiful that every listen is wonderful emotional therapy.

St. Lucia – St. Lucia EP

Of all the stellar debuts by indie dance bands this year (Poolside, Tanlines, etc.), St. Lucia’s six-song EP stands out as the most vibrant, versatile, and ultimately, the most enjoyable pop release of the year. Within 30 seconds of pressing play, the toe is tapping unconsciously, and the irresistable hooks don’t stop until the end of track 6. Layering beautiful background synths with quick stabs of sparkles and team vocals, the band possesses an undeniably retro vibe and the percussion flourishes hint at world influences – a fact confirmed by frontman Jean-Philip Grobler’s international bio (Brooklyn by way of England by way of South Africa). The interplay between quiet and loud moments emphasizes the height of the hooks and makes the whole EP pretty irresistible.

Blackbird Blackbird – Boracay Planet EP

San Francisco’s Mikey Maramag (aka Blackbird Blackbird) keeps up an impressive pace of new releases, offering several new singles and this stunning EP in 2012. Previous albums under the Blackbird Blackbird moniker featured short, catchy electronic instrumentals, almost as if Maramag had so many ideas for melody stems that he had to just push them all out there unfinished. And Maramag also maintains an active Bandcamp page, releasing one-off singles every month or so. All of which is to say that Boracay comes as a surprise – not because it is good (and it is more than good) – but because there are complete (and long!) songs here, filled out with guitar and vocals to augment the catchy synth hooks. “It’s a War”, “All”, and “Happy With You” are brilliant tracks, all worthy of consideration for end of year lists.

Grimes – Visions

When I reviewed the Grimes album back in March, I wrote that Visions maintains pop sensibilities and airiness while incorporating the sound textures common in the UK Garage genre. In interviews, Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) is open about culling influences from all over, a fact evident in the miming of various genre song structures and sounds (garage, synth-pop, euro-dance, IDM, R&B, etc.). As if to put emphasis on the album’s eclecticism, Boucher even includes a subtle sample of a classical piece by Mozart on “Nightmusic”, washing it in distortion and static. The traditional pop structure is in place, but the elements of sound in each track are completely turned inside out, leaving only Boucher’s sweet sing-song voice and cheerleader-esque callbacks intact. The melody and percussion of Visions sounds as if it has been zeroed-out in post-production and brought back to life through the application of some ethereal reanimation technique. Visions exists somewhere in the netherworld between the disjointed sound-smithing of Aphex Twin and the bubblegum of Katy Perry. Who would have thought it would work so well?

John Talabot – ƒIN

Released on Valentine’s Day in February, when much of the northern hemisphere was beginning to emerge from winter slumber into the spring thaw, ƒIN begins in the jungle and takes a listener on an intimate journey equally at home wandering empty city streets as packing a crowded nightclub. When I reviewed ƒIN back in February, I wrote that Talabot’s productions may be rooted in the balaeric house of his native Spain, but his work on ƒIN occupies a logical space between the dance scene and the more intellectual compositions of shimmery indie pop electronicists like Gold Panda, Apparat, and Caribou. Where Talabot finds particular success is his incorporation of mid-tempo house and nu-disco structure to unique ambient textures and sampling – from tribal drum patterns to the use of jungle frog and bird noises to introduce the sinister opener “Depak Ine.” The result is raw and organic, and many of the tracks on ƒIN rise up from ambient noise and completely envelope the listener. A lasting work that is worthy of being 2012’s best.

Top Five: Genres of 2012

It is December, the time for mulled wine, family and christmas frenzy. And the time to look back on the year and make some lists. As quality trumps quantity, we decided not to give you the top 50 everything – where you fly over the list and end up only feeding your ego by looking for stuff you regonize, saying: “Hey, you got taste, and I got taste! Aren’t we a cool bunch?” – but to limit ourselves to the best five things in different categories, without ranking them. This way, you can give those some thorough listens and real consideration.

First off are my favorite genres of 2012, and of course they are all dead, or dying. There are two ways “indie” genres die, and that is by lack of interest, or an overabundance of it. Either it does not get popular and won’t gather enough input and dies of inbreeding, or it gets too popular, bastardized and killed by its mutant offsprings. Well, those are some views on it, at least. Let’s try to take a calmer approach, and to not get rushed by the average one year internet lifecycles and overeager hipster discrimitations.

Synthpop

The indie-kids finally learned to play the keyboards again, or at least learned how to use Ableton Live. As with most trends, this one has been going on for some time, but it peaked and maybe already went downhill this year, the most prominent example being Passion Pit’s “Gossamer”. Others that come to mind are Grimes, Alt-J, Chairlift and ::M∆DE::IN::HEIGHTS::. All no favorites of mine, but 2012 wouldn’t have been the same without them.

Retro-Rave

The nienties were back with force this year, and one of the most interesting developments was the resurgence of rave and drum’n’bass sounds. It is still going hot and has room to flourish, if you ask me, with acts like Physical Therapy, Recycle Culture and Elite Gymnatics hopefully on the brink of a bigger breakthrough.

Seapunk

Closely related to this new rave delopment is what has been called #seapunk. It is more of a visual style though, using early nineties internet videos, manga images and aquatic themes overall. While mostly a closed internet community, it was coined for the public by last year’s #Seapunk Vol.1 by Coral Records Internazionale and gained a boost in attention by Rihanna using the retro-imagery in her SNL appearance this year. Musically, seapunk is related to rave, R&B and trap music.

Trap Music

Speaking of trap, here is where the party was this year. Originating from southern hip hop scenes, what is now called “trap” is dismissed by purists are being on its way to becoming the new “brostep”, i.e. something that the EDM kids ruined for everyone else. Featuring dry snares, bass builds and drops as well as high pitched vocals, trap is made for the dancefloor. It wasn’t helping its reputation that Skrillex recently turned his style this way, but there was some serious thrust behind this genre in 2012, with Diplo, Hudson Mohawke, Flosstradamus and RL Grime at the helm.

Vaporwave

And finally, developing out of hypnagogic pop, vaporwave is an underground phenomena just like seapunk. Traced back to Daniel Lopatin’s “Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1” from 2010 it gained some traction by finding a home in L.A. label Beer On The Rug lately, although most artists are still self-releasing. Running by the motto “The Future That Never Was”, vaporwave is nostalgic in its core, and anti-capitalist in the old Marxist sense that you have to accelerate capitalism to the end of its own destruction. It mainly consists of late eighties and early nineties sound relics, alienated by recontextualizing, changing tempo or pitch, or simply chopping everything up. Artists are INTERNET CLUB, MediaFired™, VΞRACOM or Macintosh Plus. One of my favorites is ROMCOM.