Kicking off the list is Max Cooper, a purveyor of strange, spatial sounds and a producer who lives to push boundaries while bringing listeners outside their comfort zones. Fragments Of Self seamlessly bounds delicate Classical piano and clashing glitches for a result that’s both gentle and jarring.
2013 has been a year for speedier BPMs. From juke to jungle to breaks, the 160+ BPM range has seen an influx of quality tunes, and when two fast-paced heavy hitters like Machinedrum (pictured) and Om Unit combine efforts, you’re bound to get something extra crazy. Dark, murky, and dangerous is the name of the game on Om Unit’s Rollers VIP mix of Gunshotta, which you can download for free here.
Whether you love or hate Drake, you probably got down to this track in 2013. You probably even caught yourself singing this one out loud a few times in private. Kastle’s remix inserts a dose of UK garage to the infectious original, keeping the late-night vibe alive and strong as we move into a new year.
Andrew Bayer’s sophomore LP If It Were You We’d Never Leave was a push in a new direction for the producer. Forgoing the usual trance-laden 4-to-the-floor beats for hip hop-style breaks, Echo shone through as the chill, downbeat gem adored by Anjunabeats fans and beyond. Check the album out for yourself here.
Wedidit’s mystery man from London via Portugal popped up on everyone’s radar in 2013 and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With an ethereal falsetto croon and shoegaze-y synths, Purple’s debut Salvation offered a heaping dose of hazy, left-field gems like the album’s standout The Club, a dark, enigmatic jam. The Salvation remix EP is available for free, with edits from Shlohmo, Jim-E Stack, and more.
Flume took Disclosure’s happy garage tune You & Me and gave it one hell of a maximal flip. Adding some huge drums and a hip hop feel to the mix, Flume’s edit is simply larger than life, capable of stopping the earth on its axis.
Shlohmo is pretty much running the smoked-out hip hop game, and with this collaboration with Jeremih, he now has the green light to dominate the R&B world as well. It probably won’t be too long before mainstream radio picks up on Shlohmo. The producer and Jeremih are planning a collaborative EP for Def Jam for February.
Daft Punk fandom was at an all-time high in 2013, and not just from the typical EDM crowd. After Random Access Memories was touted as one of the albums of the year in the pop/dance arena, the French duo garnered some serious indie cred with the help of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear on the upbeat, robot-tinged Doin’ It Right.
Whatever Nicolas Jaar touches tends to turn to indie-electronic gold. Darkside, his newest project with guitarist Dave Harrington, is a mark above the rest. Resting somewhere between The xx and Tom Waits, their debut LP Psychic is one of the most “real" electronic albums this year. Paper Trails is all smokey blues, best appreciated in hazy, dimly lit bars. The album’s out on Matador.
Lost & Found is the slept-on standout of AlunaGeorge’s debut Body Music. While singles like Your Drums and You Know You Like It cast a shadow over most of the other tracks on the release, Lost & Found positioned itself as a strange ride into glimmering 2-step while maintaining a unique space in one of the year’s best efforts.
In 2010, Mount Kimbie’s debut Crooks & Lovers was showcased in over 30 "best of" lists. While critics’ dust from 2013 hasn’t quite settled yet, it’s almost certain that their follow up, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, is meeting (just about) the same acclaim. Collaborating with youngster King Krule, You Took Your Time is the release’s most defining and expressive effort, setting the tone for an overall stunning sophomore effort.
It’s hard not to be totally enamored with FKA Twigs. Besides having a mesmerizingly beautiful voice and using incredibly innovative beats (props to Arca), her music videos are the most stunning adventures your eyes will ever go on. Papi Pacify takes the prize for most awesome/intimidating visual experience of the year. It’s highly recommended that you check out the video.
There’s a beautiful simplicity that shines through Parallel Jalebi, something that Four Tet has really nailed over the years. Sounding both lo-fi and well-tuned at the same time, Parallel Jalebi, off of Four Tet’s seventh studio album Beautiful Rewind, takes your brain on a trip, trudging along in angelic airspace.
If you made a romantic mix tape for that special someone in 2013 and left off Retrograde by James Blake, you dropped the ball big time. Blake’s Chet Baker-esque croon is enveloping, like a vocal-driven blanket of warmth. The shaky synths and waning sirens are awesomely overpowering, while the soulful piano chords keep swagger levels peaking at all times. Pure baby-making music.
Imagine a world where some of the world’s best present day musicians collaborated on a new project–say Thom Yorke, Flea, and Nigel Godrich–and decided they wanted to make some boundary-pushing electronic music. Well, that already happened, and they go by Atoms For Peace. Their debut album, AMOK, is one of the most innovative and creative albums of the year. While every song on the release is a gem, the ethereal standout Ingenue takes the prize as our top indie track of 2013. Bill Patrick concurs, so you know it’s good.