Year in Review | Top 5 Mixes + Comps of 2013
by Joshua P. Ferguson
A fine line between this and our last post, sure, but with so many great sets floating around the Internet this year, we wanted to draw a line—however fine—between those and these official mixes (and comps) of 2013 in this second installment of our Year in Review 2013 coverage. Typically we do gravitate towards the blended variety with these releases, and it was one such that was clear taker for the top spot on this list, but the compilation landscape was a robust one this year, with distinct collections that proved the cross section of songs can be as satisfying as any DJ mix or artist album.
5) Deadbeat + DJ Olive Air Texture III — Air Texture
Exploring the interplay between mechanics and emotions, beats and the spaces in-between, and time or lack thereof, Air Texture's dual-sided compilation series of the same name pairs two artists with a shared love of experimental musical forms and beatless ambiance and has them compile a few of their favorite moments. Volume Three went to Montreal dub minimalist Deadbeat and longtime New York presence DJ Olive. The result is an expertly curated drift through supremely relaxing compositions, including contributions from Pole, The Orb's Thomas Fehlmann, Ricardo Villalobos, Fennesz, and the Field's ambient alter ego, Loops of Your Heart. During a year where the scene fueled an ambient renaissance, Air Texture was busy showing just how much its always been there, floating by just under the beat.
4) Young Adults House Slippers — Young Adults
In the past few years, L.A. has become a few things to dance music: a home to the raging electro of labels like Dim Mak and dubstep collectives like SMOG, the creative center of the left field beat movement lead by figurehead Flying Lotus, and, thanks to DJs LazyBrow and Deepbody and their Friends-of-Friends-affiliated label Young Adults, a force to be reckoned with in the annals of modern deep disco and house. Depicting the musical equivalent of swaying palm trees and sunset pool parties, the duo's debut label mix House Slippers solidified a triumphant return to sexy dance music as good for sitting back is it is for letting your backside come unhinged. Read our full praise here.
3) Various Musik For Autobahns — Rush Hour
Label owner and DJ talent Gerd Janson landed in our Top Sets of 2013 thanks to his proficiency in the DJ booth. While technical skill can't be discounted when plying such a trade, it doesn't amount to much without a keen mastery of track selection. And track selection is something Janson excels at. Through his early compilations like Computer Incarnations for World Peace, which he collected for Jazzanova's Sonar Kollektiv label, Janson returns to the field of pure track selection with this distinct statement for Amsterdam's Rush Hour highlighting left-of-center work from respected acts like Ame, Move D, Roman Flugel, and Tensnake. Exploring a realm of not quite ambient, not quite house, not quite industrial songs, Musik For Autobahns is yet another example of a release that exposes a nether-region in music where Dialogue Inc so often finds itself: engrossing productions that hint at the pulse of a dance floor without ever actually having to beat that hard.
2) Various After Dark 2 — Italians Do It Better
Our initial thoughts of this compilation when we reviewed it back in May:
"Italians Do it Better has created a distinct world for itself. Here, the close-knit family of overlapping band members and collective tastemakers has handcrafted a wondrous pastiche of sounds, scenes, and styles, heavily influenced by the '80s and '90s and the new wave, punk, and the late-era Italo and disco that came with those decades that is still somehow a sound all its own. Dreamy dance music with songwriting that eschews the unfiltered, candy-coated ecstasy of popular dance floors, After Dark 2 offers listeners a glimpse into a musical underworld of dim street lights, back alleys, and secret passwords, one that's as enticing as it is dangerous, and one that lives up to its name."
1) John Talabot DJ-KiCKS — !k7
The man who snagged the No. 1 slot for 2012's song of the year, returns to that position, this time with an intensely odd and delightful turn for !k7's long-running DJ-KiCKS brand. One of our favorite mix series, DJ-KiCKS has always stood by letting deserving DJs do what they do best. Spaniard John Talabot's contribution triumphantly continues that trend. Taking things out of the club—you might be detecting a trend here—Talabot moves through the mid tempo and meditative with a delicate hand, using a noteworthy platform to remind us all just how wonderfully weird electronic music can be. It's a quality that he's always shown in his productions, but hearing it on an mix series that reliably eschews club conventions only adds another level of depth to this artist, and confirms his already enticing musical personality.