Niels Van Tomme (Update Contributor)

  • Best of 2013

    Despite, or perhaps because of, a general malaise in the culture industry, curators Anselm Franke and Diedrich Diedrichsen mounted an exceptionally thought-provoking exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. "The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside" was a critical study of the many ways in which aspects of Californian counterculture have been co-opted by global capitalism. There’s also a book published on the occasion, which, among other things, contains “a playlist with comments,” and which I hugely recommend.

    2013 was the year of Terre Thaemlitz, who not only released two conceptually rich records under his DJ Sprinkles moniker, but also mounted a truly heroic DJ-set, spinning records for hours on end at Cameo in Brooklyn. Omar S further perfected his thing, The Necks expanded their inspiring quest, DJ Rashad and RP Boo seriously kicked ass, John Carpenter never sounded better, both David Tudor and Lee Hazlewood were celebrated with beautifully put together box sets that for once didn’t feel like mausoleums, and the mighty Drexciya archival project has finally been completed.

    At the closing of the year, Burial gave us an emotive highlight from which we will need the next twelve months to recover.

    2013 was further marked by the relentless resurgence of new age musings, not of the hip and "ironic" Emeralds and Oneohtrix kind, but the actual amazing musical movement that erupted in all sincerity from the American underground. In this regard, it is useful to consider the genre in relation to broader societal and cultural trends as explored in the “The Whole Earth” exhibition and book mentioned above.

    Additionally, reading Michaelangelo Matos' excellent article "We All Wanna Be Prince: Exploring the Purple One's Impact on Dance Music" (April, 2013) made me not only revisit Prince's finest moments, but lead to an eye-opening archive of Ron Hardy mixes, which exposes the legendary Chicago DJ's radical tape edits and truly eclectic taste:

    Lastly, for 2014, I wish there to be less hype, more substance and more criticality, and lots of forward-looking endeavors.

    Without further ado, here are my lists. There are three sections / ten entries per section / absolutely no hierarchy:

    DJ Sprinkles “Queerifications & Ruins” (Mule Musiq)
    Death in June “The Snow Bunker Tapes” (Ner)
    Chris Watson “In St. Cuthbert's Time: The Sounds of Lindisfarne and the Gospels” (Touch)
    Kyle MF Hall “The Boat Party” + “Bonus EP” (Wild Oats)
    Rabih Beaini “Albidaya” (Annihaya)
    Holden “The Inheritors” (Border Community)
    Matana Roberts “Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile” (Constellation)
    Tuff Sherm “Struggle Smell” (Reckno)
    Dennis Johnson “November” (Irritable Hedgehog)
    Floorplan “Paradise” (M-Plant)

    Dwight Sykes “Songs Volume 1” (PPU)
    Saada Bonaire “s/t” (Captured tracks)
    Shuggie Otis “Inspiration Information / Wings of Love” (Legacy)
    μ-Ziq “Somerset Avenue Tracks (1992-1995)” (Planet Mu)
    Laraaji “Celestial Music 1978-2011” (All Saints)
    Finis Africae “El Secreto de las 12” (Em Records)
    Fluxion “Vibrant Forms” (Type)
    Muslimgauze “Tandoor Dog” (Staalplaat)
    Patrick Cowley “School Daze” (Dark Entries)
    Phill Niblock “Nothin to Look At Just a Record” (Superior Viaduct)

    “I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990” (Light in the Attic)
    “IPEM (Institute for Psychoacoustic and Electronic Music): 50 Years of Electronic and Electroacoustic Music at the Ghent University” (Metaphon)
    “The Gospel According to Budgie II” (BDG) (technically released in 2012, but made available/discovered in 2013)
    “Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988” (Strut)
    “In the Dark: Detroit Is Back” (Still Music)
    “Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992” (Sinecure)
    “Metal Dance 2: Industrial, New Wave, EBM - Classics & Rarities 79-88” (Strut)
    “Kill Yourself Dancing: The Story of Sunset Records 1985-1989” (Still Music)
    “Cosmic Machine: A Voyage Across French Cosmic & Electronic Avantgarde 1970-1980” (Because Music)
    “Deutsche Elektronische Musik Vol. 2: Experimental German Rock & Electronic Music 1972-1983” (Soul Jazz)

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