This is a copy of my last months guest post for Jivetalk where I talked about my favourite electronic and downtempo albums of 2013. This is a new section so depending on the reception I get there is room for it to develop in the ‘personal’ side of Style Division. I have quite a varied music spectrum so just because you’re not a fan of dance music doesn’t mean there won’t be something here for you to enjoy in the future. So have a read and let me know what you think by tweeting @StyleDivision and make sure you listen to the songs as well, your could find your new favourite artist below.
Bonobo – The North Borders
I would like to open with one of my favourite artists in the electronic music industry today – Bonobo. He is recognised for bringing warmth to his down-tempo melodies with his ever evolving sound which takes you on a journey. The tracks are split into vocal and melodic dispositions with songs almost competing with one another to be the most unique.
This album is perfect headphone music as the lack of heavy beats will not distract you from your day to day activities, but it will be over before you know it. If you’re into Sigur Ros, The Cinematic Orchestra or Emancipator then you should not miss out on this.
Personal Favourite: Sapphire
Mat Zo – Damage Control
Mat Zo (real name Matan Zohar) is a real breakthrough talent in the industry and his debut album ‘Damage Control’ does not disappoint. Although only 23 years of age Mat has been releasing music since he was 16 years old and ‘Damage Control’ is a culmination of experience and 3 years of solid graft.
Mat himself has described this album as “something to listen rather than dance to” which is a description I completely agree with. Mat is someone who started producing drum & bass tracks under the alias MRSA then moved onto trance/EDM, which is why it is difficult to describe the genre that ‘Damage Control’ takes . The track ‘EZ’ stands out in particular as its predominately a deep house tune that features trance breakdowns (confusing and very unique to say the least).
You can feel The Chemical Brothers influence in a lot of the album but with a more ‘updated’ feel so if you missed out on that craze back in the 90’s now’s your time to catch up.
Personal Favourite: Lucid Dreams
Phaeleh – Tides
Phaeleh (real name Matt Preston) is an artist that I have been following since his debut release back in 2008. Matt has a knack for surprising his fans, occasionally releasing free remixes and singles of great quality. This is a trait I respect in an artist – the love for the music they produce.
‘Tides’ is a mixture of shifting tempos, minimal dubstep, garage, downtempo electronica and house music which works surprisingly well considering the vocal talent that Matt acquired for this album. Having previously collaborated with Anneka and Indi Kaur the 2013 instalment brings us collaborations with Jess Mills, Cian Finn and Soundmouse which similarly to Northern Borders (above) breaks the album up quite nicely.
Again this album is more to listen rather than dance to but I found it perfect to have on in the background while you work or for winding down a party.
Personal Favourite: Here Comes the Sun
James Blake – Overgrown
Although not electronic in the traditional sense, James Blake’s second album has been popping up on Top 10 lists everywhere and it would be a shame to not mention it considering it’s actually a solid piece of work and a great follow up to his self titled debut album 3 years ago (The Wilhelm Scream in itself deserves an award).
James is a leading figure in something described as a post-dubstep community which features soul inspired songs that are much slower and experimental than the noise of other dubstep artists. James Blake provides his incredible baritone vocals to most of his tracks which add to the haunting atmosphere of the album but his collaboration with rapper RZA should also not go a miss.
I urge everyone to check out the artist if not the album and hear for themselves why he was nominated for the prestigious UK Mercury Prize.
Personal Favourite: Take a Fall (feat RZA)
Sasha – Involv3r
Sasha is somewhat of a legend in the electronic music world. Having released one of the all time best selling mix albums (The Renaissance Mix Collection) in 1994 his collaborations with John Digweed between 1996 and 2001 are considered a rite of passage for many electronic music lovers. It also earned Sasha and John the honour of coming top of the prestigious ‘DJ Mag Top 100 Poll’ in 2000 and 2001 respectively.
Although Sasha has rarely evolved his sound, his mixes and productions continue to have a cult following – I have personally witnessed a man bawling his eyes out at his secret set he did at a festival (although other factors may have been in play).
Involv3r as the title suggests is the third instalment of the Involver series. The difference between this and other mix albums is that rather than creating a continuous 2 hour mix and putting it out Sasha chooses original tracks by The XX, Foals, Little Dragon etc. and remixes them exclusively for this album. His remix of Felix Da Housecat’s – Watching Cars Go By actually received a Grammy nomination in 2005!
The album is heavily influenced by progressive house and most of the tracks are over 10 minutes long but you honestly wish they were longer. This album takes you on a journey and is best listened to without shuffle to fully appreciate it’s electronic bliss.
Personal Favourite: ThermalBear – Turn The Tide (Sasha Remix)