Year in Review
Top 5 DJ Sets of 2014
by Joshua P. Ferguson
In some ways, narrowing down the best DJ sets we heard this year can be the hardest list to put together. It's certain we've surveyed more sets than we have new albums and, it being the main conduit for electronic music, it might be a more important summation of the winning sounds of the year. But surveyed, listened, narrowed we did and here are the sets we came back to again and again this year.
5) James Healy (Air Texture) Boiler Room Upfront 002
Perfectly summed up on the Boiler Room site as "a vividly realized deep dive into the world of experimental electronic, ambient and New Age," this mix from artist, producer and DJ James Healy picks up right our feature on the best ambient music of 2014 leaves off. Spanning decades of sounds and textures with selections dating as far back as 1985 and others yet to be released, it's a singular statement on what he calls the softer side of electronic music. As the brains behind the Air Texture label, whose focus is precisely ambient sounds that fly in the face of the cliche that this music be relegated to a listening station at Pier 1, we can think of no better man for the job. The listening here proves it.
4) Tycho Black Sunrise live from Burning Man
Despite it's spike in popularity and the invasion of the EDM set on its sacred sands, Burning Man still stands apart as a home for distinctive expression. This set from Ghostly guy Tycho is a powerful case in point. Dropping the needle at a pre-dawn 5:40am to soundtrack the sun's rise and the scene as the Embrace sculpture is set ablaze (the marquee event of Burning Man every year), Tycho crafted a set high on diversity and on uplifting vibes. Ranging from the twilight grooves of Boards of Canada, Washed Out and his own work to the free-flowing house of Dauwd and Psychemagick, it's the type of set we wish we were hearing more of.
2) Robag Wruhme Live @ 10 Days Off Belgium
Climbing our charts in 2014 with slow burn of a mix that moves from Aphex Twin ambient to his scrunchy reworkings for the likes of Burial and DJ Koze, Robag Wruhme mesmerized us yet again this year with his impeccable DJ flow, this time with his contribution to Belgium's 10 Days Off festival. Restrained, spacey and minimal in a way only he can do it, the German stand-out rules the nether region between the dance floor and your morning soundtrack with a meditative approach to house and techno that's perfectly inline with our own tastes.