End of years a go go... Top 10 straight to box set DVDs. Top 1000 digital deep house labels. Etc. We've decided to go for Top 8 Whatevers. The Top 8 things of the year - be them bacon sandwiches; the top 8 times you stubbed your toe against the f*cking boxes full of useless sh*t your girlfriend insists on leaving in the hallway; and so on and so forth. We've asked all of our very excellent R$N scribes to pick their Top 8s of whatever for 2013.
In 2013 Mr Europe's star shone as one of the brightest on the pages R$N. Our faithful weekly audiophile guided our ears through the semana's aural delights. And we loved him for it... as did our listening organs.
Below is his top 8 of 2013.
It was last minute, and a serious stroke of luck but this year was the first year Ive had the pleasure of attending Freerotation and it was one of the highlights of 2013. Set in a country house (Baskerville Hall) just across the Welsh border you couldnt pick a more beautiful setting for a festival. The organisers have been doing this for years and have tried to focus on keeping the festival small, intimate and friendly. You have to be a member to bag one of the small number of tickets and you have to be invited by a member to become one. Sounds a bit elitist but I completely understand why they do it. Any other festival would have got big and turned shit many years ago but not this one.
Its not just the beautiful setting and quite possibly the friendliest crowd in the UK that make this such a special festival though. Its also the music. Quite possibly one of the best line ups you can imagine. People like Leif, Tom Ellis, Move D etc are the residents and play numerous sets at different times with different flavours. Also featuring you had the likes of Patrice Scott, Lakuti and Tama Sumo, Karen, Magic Mountain High, the list just goes on. All in all quite a magical weekend.
Four Tet Beautiful Rewind
This was one of the albums of the year for me, the master Kieran Hebden AKA Four Tet pushing things forward once again. Drawing on reminiscences of pirate radio and infusing this into his world of beautiful textures, broken rhythms and off-world sound pallet. Highlights on the album are the pent up beauty of Parallel Jalebi the mental breakbeat of Kool FM and the heads-down techno of Bulcha.
2013 has seen a strong showing of warped, analogue house music releases with labels like MOS leading the charge. The pick of the bunch for me has to be Gerstaffelens The Old Villagers EP that came out on MOS Deep earlier this year. Rough, out of tune acid at its best. Clanging 707 drums, demented analogue riffs but all tempered with deep, moody chords. Pure class.
A Field in England
Ok veering off from the world of dance music for one mention of a film that blew me away in 2013. A Field in England is a low budget, indie film set in the English Civil War directed by Ben Wheatley. The plot involves 3 men deserting a field of battle only to be taken prisoner by a magician, fed full of mushrooms and used to divine treasure.
Its an intense, psychedelic, darkly funny thriller set in one of the most exciting and bloody times in English history when magic and science were two sides of the same coin. A good example of this is the fact that Isaac Newton, darling of the Royal Society and father of Newtonian Physics wrote more about alchemy than he did about science.
The intensity on screen is underpinned by an awesome soundtrack which builds to a mind destroying crescendo of image and sound. Fucking ace. Just dont take mushrooms before watching. Wait till afterwards.
Its hard to pick a favorite release from Golf Channel this year with the bombs dropping left right and centre. Youve got a psychedelic journey into the minds off Juju and Jordash with their Unleash the Golem pt 2, tripped out funk from Mind Fair on the Downtown Nubian EP to the proto house vibes of Rhythm Odyssey and Dr Dunks with The Fox/Saffron. The label from NYC are really showing the rest of us how its done.
Greta Cottage Workshop
Ok so Greta have been around for a little while but this year seems like the year theyve really come into their own. Three releases of pure quality in 2013 with Paxton Fettels Not Bad for a Tenner, Wasserfalls Travelling While Sleeping and Mudkids Muddy Blues all proving that this label gives you diversity and quality. Looking forward to what is going to come in 2014!!
Fatima - Circle
Ok so this is more of a one to watch for 2014. Fatima dropped her Circle release on Eglo earlier this year which blew me away. Its also a forerunner for an upcoming album set to land next year, which Im very excited to hear. Expect spot on RnB/Soul, with forward thinking production and her awesome vocal talent. Yes please.
Leif Dinas Oleu
Another one of my favorite albums from 2013 was the long player debut from Leif Dinas Oleu. Named after the hill behind his hometown of Barmouth on the Welsh coast this is a beautifully crafted foray into deepness. Its taken him a long time to get round to embarking on a full album but I hope this first taste spurs him on to get cracking on another before too long.