2023: The Best Music Ever

5 Minute Read
Written by Alasdair King

A selection of music amidst the madness which was the year gone by.

I’ve been writing these things for a hellish long time now. End of year lists are in some ways great at highlighting what you might have otherwise missed, yet somewhat ironically also tend to miss out a lot themselves. It’s hard to dissect 365 days of music down in to a small assortment of picks, yet this seems to be the only option? At least for now…

More on that later…

Anyway, 2023 was a bit of a mess really.


A lot of really cool things happened but so too did a lot of terrible, terrible things. We here at Ransom Note like to think that we might bring a little light relief from time to time but in all honesty it’s a drop in the ocean comparable to the scale of hate and horror that’s out there.

Christmas is a time of reflection but it also ought to be a time of consideration, a time to be thankful for what we have. In our case that is music. However, for many others that’s the least of their worries. Please consider donating to the following charities this winter:

Crisis Homeless Christmas Appeal

Medical Aid For Palestinians

The Trussell Trust for UK Families in Poverty

Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders

Mind for Mental Health

Age UK

Migrant Help

Stephen Lawrence Foundation

Mosaic Trust


Speakers Corner Quartet – Further Out Than The Edge

The London collective invited friends and family to contribute to their debut album which showcased a versatile array of Jazz, Poetry and expression. Guests included the likes of Sampha, Kae Tempest and Tirzah and the album demonstrated the power of grassroots collaboration and a clear creative vision.

Headache/ Vegyn – The Head Hurts But The Heart Knows The Truth

To be honest i’m not really sure what this is. I guess that’s kind of the point. Realisations recorded in robot – deep pensive instrumentals and music which feels accurately reflective of the world’s current psychology.

Ron Morelli – Heart Stopper

The L.I.E.S. founder reminded us what House music is really all about with the release of an album on his own imprint. The New York DJ and producer has been a figurehead of the scene whilst swerving any of the pretentious bullsh*t that comes with. This was an album with a clear intention, hard hitting tracks which serve as an ode to the roots of the genre and a timely reminder for everyone else.

K-Lone – Swells

To be honest we probably could have picked a number of K-Lone or Widsom Teeth records in this list. The label has become one of the most interesting out there at the moment – representing a new school of UK Bass and House music. This album was as dreamy and balearic as it was club ready in parts and spotlighted K-Lone in a slightly different perspective.

bar italia – The Twits

Cementing themselves as one of the most interesting bands to emerge from London in recent times the release of their album ‘The Twits’ highlights the importance of keeping busy. The band released a number of records this year, a far cry from the days of old when one album every five or six might be enough to make a claim. However, the music on ‘The Twits’ really is their most accomplished to date.

CASISDEAD – Famous Last Words

It’s bloody great when an album with this much hype actually delivers. There had been a lot of talk about the release of ‘Famous Last Words’ with several singles having floated around in circles and online for a number of years. Could the concept be truly executed across a full length album? What would it sound like? Turns out we didn’t have anything to worry about.

Laurel Halo – Atlas

Delicate and beautiful, there is a sense of poignance which is hard to pronounce or place on ‘Atlas’. This was an elegant realisation of numerous years of hard work in which Laurel Halo has meandered and wandered between various sound palettes and frequencies. This is the sort of timeless album which will accompany many a light night or early morning in years to come.

Freak Heat Waves – Mondo Tempo

Deep, lumbering balearic pop meets lo-fi on a rare album venture from Mood Hut. This one sounds as great in the pub as it does waking up on some beach far away. Capturing a rare dreamy, summertime sensibility with enough depth and feeling to make it so much more.

Lord of the Isles & Ellen Renton – My Noise Is Nothing

Ambient soundscapes and heart wrenching truths from the Scottish duo make this a beautiful – yet at times haunting listen. There’s crushing sadness here paired with delicate optimism, much like the sun peeking from behind a storm cloud in the northern summertime. All bets are off.

Josh Caffe – Poppa Zesque

Realised potential springs to mind. Josh Caffe has been a consistent presence in the underground House music scene in London for a long time. However, this record feels like the maturation and result of years of hedonistic experiences, heartbreak, sex, late nights and mischief. It’s the complete package and makes so much sense both sonically and in its statement. A complete artist is born.

Purelink – Signs

Let’s make Ambient cool again. Purelink are doing just that – with nods to the likes of Brian Eno, Basic Channel, GAS and Biosphere. ‘Signs’ is what we’d imagine taking flight sounds like. Floating between space and time, the record is meditative in the best sense.

Singles & EP’s

Olof Dreijer – Rosa Rugosa

Back with new music, Olof Dreijer and Hessle Audio is a match made in heaven. Soaring synthesizers, playful percussion and wonky club sounds at their very best. This is what dancing in the future might sound like, underwater.

Eden Burns – Big Beat Manifesto Vol. VIII

There’s more than a few people who would complain if there wasn’t an Eden Burns record in this list. The ‘Big Beat Manifesto’ series is as straightforward as it comes in respect to its ambitions. However, Eden Burns has managed to tap into a sort of fun filled sensibility and playfulness that other producers could only dream of. It shouldn’t work but it does. From car horns to weird noises, vocal riffs and beyond.

Cybotron – Maintain The Golden Ratio

The return of Juan Atkins lived up to expectation. Deep, thoughtful Techno excursions on Tresor. These tracks remain as rooted in the storied legacy of Detroit and its past as they do the future. Deep, intelligent and immaculately produced.

Hoodie/ James K – Scorpio

Trip Hop meets Cocteau Twins on this two track EP which slipped a little under the radar at first. Released on AD93 this one is pensive and ethereal in equal measure.

Soos – Mundo Cute

Sounds like 90’s Big Beat without the cheese. This one is as sun kissed as they come, bangs loud and slow in the club but guaranteed to make you smile and put a spring in your step.

Ploy – For When We Haven’t Slept

Ploy does Tech House… well sort of. Mutant breaks and evil, discombobulated synths rise and fall across heavy hitting bass workouts for Timedance. God knows what genre this is.

Bawo & Oscar #Worldpeace – Grace Is Calling

The kind of UK rap which doesn’t come around too terribly often. Clever, poetic and thoughtful in equal measure. Then there’s the instrumental too.

Joy O – Archive 09/10

Whilst not technically ‘new’ it was a very pleasant surprise to hear these released digitally for the first time. Flashbacks to Rinse FM rips and spinbacks galore. What does that Christmas tune go like? The old ones are the best…?

Iya Shillelagh – WaterWeight

Felt threw a curveball with this heavweight EP with righteous lyrics and deep Dub sounds which would rumble and test even the hardiest of systems.

Tiger & Woods – Djs On Film

A late entry and a very valiant one indeed. The return of Tiger & Woods is just what this sad old world needed. Bringing with them the same fun filled energy as ever, think Disco on speed.


Cease & Resist – Sonic Subversion & Anarcho Punk In The UK 1979-86

Optimo curate one of the coolest compilations of the year featuring a refreshing take on UK punk. Obscurities and fresh takes galore, this release captures the roots of the culture and holds no punches.

Alex from Tokyo presents Japan Vibrations Vol.1

From Balearic obscurities through to futuristic IDM which sounds as futuristic as anything from the present. This release cements and emphasises electronic Japan in a new light.

Space Vol 1 & 2

A tribute to the beloved London club and institution, Space, in homage to Kenny Hawkes. House music classics yet lesser known alongside niche cuts from Dj’s which soundtracked the era.

L80s: So Unusual

The tenth edition in the longstanding series on Numero Group features ” icy hot coldwave, Sausalito seafood jazz, Glaswegian goth, makeshift Madonna, Sade spoofs, and Brat Pack balearic into a high-waisted, party-ready pair of danceable denim.” Every track a winner in its own right.

Ariwa Sounds: The Early Sessions

Whilst technically a reissue rather than a compilation of sorts. This from Melodies International couldn’t not be included – the amount of requests and track ID’s for this has been nuts and demonstrates the Mad Professor’s true power in the studio.

Richard Sen presents Dream The Dream: UK Techno, House and Breakbeat 1990​-​1994

It feels only right to include this one of our own. Not usually one to blow our own trumpet it was rather well received and that is down to the excellent curation of Richard Sen who reminded us what the music is all about.


And that, was that. Another year gone by and another soon to come. If you weren’t included, fear not because lists are bullsh*t anyway and who are we to judge your merit or worth. If you created something, anything in 2023 big ups to you!

We will be seeing out the year in London with our good friends Optimo at The Social, please come join us!