Is there ever really a bad year regarding the state of house, techno and its myriad offshoots? Starting off with a rhetorical question my seem like I’m hedging my bets but I’m going to nail my colours to the mast and say no. In spite of some periods of stasis, and what feels like a pervasive feeling of artistic stagnation in general, some will always rise up and, with the bit between their teeth, continue to lead and inspire. As far as 2013 is concerned, Joey Anderson stands out a mile for me. I’d heard his embryonic output but it was during this year that he really blossomed. His ethereal house vision is one at odds with the waking world, occupying a twilit world of chasms and dreams. He leaves an awful lot up to the listener, but the imagination can be even more powerful under the correct conditions, which his soundscapes encourage to flourish.
Over the last twelve months I’ve refamiliarised myself with a lot of the old masters, ie: the standard bearers of Detoit and Chicago, as well as the essence of what created this autonomous house music zone a lot of us live within twenty four hours a day. I could be doing a lot more though, and have been thinking of ways in which to make myself more valuable to the community. My lifestyle and location isn’t very conducive to participating at the level I’d like to so maybe the time is right to delve deeper and to see exactly what that brings. I’ve been wanting to start a label for a long time so in 2014 I plan to do the groundwork for this and to take advice where I can. The idea, above and beyond the quality of the music, is to have a strong visual aesthetic and an enigmatic emphasis. It’ll probably go tits upon no time, but one must give it a go.
The house/techno divide has never sounded more attractive and in sync. However, this isn’t meant to indicate some sort of rampant homogeneity, rather a symbiotic relationship which continues to flourish and evolve, albeit at a relatively slow metabolic rate. I’ve reflected on this before but it’s worth saying again. Even though great music continues to be made every year, floor-based electronica has, like every genre before it, pushed itself into a creative corner but, unlike every genre before it, seems to escape a lot of negativity due to its delivery and reception. Thank god for the virtual world, for which machine music is particularly suited to, inasmuch as style over content compensates for crap. The amount of DJs and producers one reads about, with incredibly expensive set-ups, but no tangible discography to speak of is overwhelming and depressing. These are the people who populate the likes of DJ TechTools, and Digital DJ Tips, clogging the forums in the name of creativity but producing bugger all artistically, while inhabiting the worlds of Beatport and Juno Download, the Gog and Magog of mediocrity. Not to say you can’t buy good stuff thereabouts, but you know what I mean.
So, after Joey Anderson where are we? Legowelt had another fantastic year but could be going a little stale. His output and back catalogue is peerless, but now he’s popping up everywhere he may need to rethink his approach. Rrose is someone who feels like the real deal, preserving a sentient anonymity under the auspices of a purloined identity, an obvious comparison would be Terre Thaemlitz, but as I’m not well-qualified enough to dig any deeper I’ll stop there.
Hessle Audio and Creme Organisation, kept on raising the bar and refusing to compromise. Indeed, it was a bit of a renaissance for Creme. as the’ve been around for a lot longer than most of their new-found fans probably realised. L.I.E.S. continued to have another great year, and almost certainly pushed Creme’s sound indirectly. Ron Morelli’s debut album was cooly received, however; although I doubt he’s quite the opportunist that many take him to be. Downwards, Stroboscopic Artefacts and Dolly also made an impression this year, as did White Material of course, pain in the arse to buy without taking out a second mortgage though.
Joey Anderson’s Juno Plus podcast, Conforce’s RA offering, Domenic Capello’s warm-up set from late summer, various Electronic Explorations mixes, Rrose & Svreca being particularly memorable, John Talabot from Ten Days Off, plus anything I’ve posted on here in 2013. As you can see I’m not one for end-of-year lists, the whole process of distilling the ambience of one’s life into bite-size chunks has never been my forte. However, what follows should give an idea of at least a portion of it.
Some Highlights From 2013 In No Particular order:
Happy New Year everybody!