LWE’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

10. Jonsson/Alter, 2
[Kontra-Musik] (buy)

It can be difficult not to have sky high expectations for artists after their debut blows you away. That was certainly the case for Jonsson/Alter, the Swedish duo whose 2011 LP, Mod, was as captivating as it was fully formed. How could the pair not only recapture but also build upon their exceptionally dreamy take on house music without crushing the lithe simplicity that was among its greatest charms? This year’s 2 proved it was not only possible but well in Jonsson/Alter’s reach to do so, firming up and gently embellishing their fundamentals with stellar results. Tracks like “En Melodi” and “Truffa Sig” offered the deep, hypnotic warmth we’ve come to love from the pair, while the thrumming, nerve tickler “Jimi” and “Svalor”‘s graceful dramatics make crystal clear how much beauty they can bring working with more ornate arrangements. Not only is 2 a magnificent step forward for Jonsson/Alter, it’s easily one of the year’s most accomplished albums — one that has earned its place in my heart alongside its predecessor. (Steve Mizek)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

09. Huerco S., Colonial Patterns
[Software Records] (buy)

With there being an incredible amount of high quality issues across a large spectrum of electronic music, it really seemed like 2013 was the year of the artist album. Huerco S.’s Colonial Patterns may have only come out in the last quarter of the year, but its effect was immediate and arresting. Huerco S. managed to make his debut album sound like he had spliced together a bunch of found soundtrack reel to reel tapes and dotted in the details with half-buried drums and sonic dust. Treacle thick washes of faded synths and pulsing, sidechained melodies ventured through beatless vignettes and drugged out basements, giving Colonial Patterns a hazy, dreamlike quality that few other albums could touch. (Per Bojsen-Moller)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

08. Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven
[Warp Records] (buy)

Dan Lopatin has firmly established himself as one of those artists whose fascination with texture verges on sonic fetishism. His albums are like time capsules of numb cultural dislocation, containing found sounds or carefully curated memories, and in that aspect, R Plus Seven on Warp isn’t all that different from its predecessors. But this time, his focus are software patches and MIDI in a carefully assembled, complex attempt of a discrete mnemonic whiteout. Familiar preset instruments, choral washes, anthemic organ stabs and broken-up exotic samples are proportionally organized between bursts of silence, denuded of the narrative provided by the songs. Like a video game designer, Lopatin manipulates them away from the protective gloss of their specific past, revealing them as unbearably vulnerable, exposed, like sea creatures lured out of their virtual shell. Listening to his oeuvre, it’s been all too easy to dismiss this approach as purely gestural, and one whose effectiveness has worn thin through overuse, but quite how he makes his music sound so wonderfully alien with such simple intervention still remains a mystery as deep as ever. There’s no holding back here, no hint of compromise, and while the results often may not be pretty, there’s no doubting his commitment to a singular vision. (Dino Lalic)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

07. Function, Incubation
[Ostgut Ton] (buy)

Easily the most eagerly awaited techno LP of 2013, Incubation saw Dave Sumner unleash his debut solo album after nearly 20 years in the game. Given Sumner’s hand in now-classic albums from Portion Reform and Sandwell District, expectations were high, and Incubation most certainly delivered. Function’s music has gotten much more cinematic over the years, a quality reflected in the record’s filmic structure and nailed with both “Voiceprint” and its reprise. The Reich-ian tones and hypnotic textures of “Counterpoint” sounded like an artist fully realizing a mature, signature sound, while the album version of “Inter” seduced with its rimshots and echoing melody. Yet fans of the rough stuff were certainly not forgotten, both with the rolling low-end and synthscapes of “Incubation (Ritual)” and the absolute monster of “Against The Wall.” Incubation‘s greatest achievement was folding it all into a memorable whole. (Chris Miller)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

06. DJ Koze, Amygdala
[Pampa Records] (buy)

I can’t remember any album taking as long to grow on me as Koze’s Amygdala. I probably would have given up on it, in fact, were it not for my car’s CD changer, which kept sneaking the German’s bizarre ditties into my brain. And once there, they just didn’t want to leave. “Royal Asscher Cut,” and its weird hyperventilating synths, “Homesick”‘s sweet and comforting take on hip-hop, and “Das Wort,” with its elegant yet indecipherable German lyrics. I have no idea what they’re talking about, but I sing along anyway. And that’s a pretty fair metaphor for Koze’s charms as a whole: the world he inhabits is totally foreign, but he makes it seem so damn enticing that you can’t help but want to take a look, then visit regularly, then stay forever. (Nick Connellan)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

05. Lawrence, Films & Windows
[Dial] (buy)

For a while there, it seemed like Peter Kersten’s Lawrence alias was rather adrift, lost in a sea of melancholy he’d once harnessed so thoroughly. Things started to turn around last year with the Etoile Du Midi single, but it’s his 2013 album Films & Windows that confirms Kersten is back at the top of his game. With melancholic elements brought to heel by firmer, singular grooves, Lawrence is free to paint affecting soundscapes with cinematic scopes that could command dance floors and fill a living rooms with equal ease. The strongest tracks balanced a need for aural breathing space and shifting swells of shaded synth pitches, yielding highlights like “Marlen,” “Lucifer,” and “Har Sinai” that immediately grabbed listeners’ attention. Other tracks repaid close listeners with a wealth of gorgeous details; like the way the melodies of the title track trickle down the scale like rain cascading down glass, or the slippery synth timbres of “Angels At Night” and tinkling sleighbells of “In Patagonia” that enrich the flowing motifs around them. Films & Windows would be an excellent album for any producer to release, yet its important place as a turning point in Lawrence’s discography makes his sixth album an essential slice of 2013. (Steve Mizek)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

04. Marcel Fengler, Fokus
[Ostgut Ton] (buy)

By common conception, Berghain and its label arm Ostgut Ton are a dichotomy, divided into dark, pounding techno, and bright, jaunty house. That’s a reductive point of view, really, but it works well enough. So when it came time for Marcel Fengler to release an album, most of us probably expected him to follow the rules established by fellow tech-heads like Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann and Planetary Assault Systems. But he didn’t. Sure, Fokus held a few brutal monochromatic tracks, like “The Stampede” and “Sky Pushing.” Overwhelmingly, though, the crew’s long-time dark horse used his debut long-player to air his influences, from British IDM (“High Falls”) to German trance (“Jaz”) and modern classical (“Liquid Torso”). And while these beautifully-composed trend-buckers were thrilling enough as mere ideas, it was the way Fengler threaded them all together coherently, as if they belonged, that made Fokus one of the year’s most compelling albums. (Nick Connellan)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

03. Donato Dozzy, Donato Dozzy Plays Bee Mask
[Spectrum Spools] (buy)

Bee Mask’s Vaporware/Scanops is such a staggering achievement that tampering with it seems like a bad idea, at least at first. Granted there is some leeway when the remixer is Donato Dozzy, but cursory listens to Dozzy Plays Bee Mask reveal little of the original’s majesty. Dozzy pushes his trademark subtle repetition to the limit here, eschewing beats almost entirely (we’ll count some of his pulses as beats) and keeping the original motifs intact. Repeat listens, though, find those seemingly simple loops stealing their way into your head, and it becomes apparent what the artist is doing: holding a microscope to the original “Vaporware,” paying tribute to its smallest fragments, adjusting, caressing, and magnifying its tiniest aspects. Given the quality (and length) of the source material, he could probably do 20 more of these. (Steve Kerr)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

02. Steven Tang, Disconnect to Connect
[Smallville Records] (buy)

Much was made about how Steven Tang took 14 years to release his debut album, and for good reason. A person’s preferences can really change in that time, so it’s surprising how well Disconnect to Connect fits together. Its avoidance of the trends of the last decade-and-a-half is less surprising. Tang spoke to LWE about how some of its tracks were left off prior EPs for not being marketable, but the record’s easy flow attests to the contrary. Tracks like “Some Solace” and “Interstice” are perfect house “album cuts,” ultra tranquil but not without a pulse; Tang easily merges them with more jacking, uptempo material like “Sunspot,” which still reclines upon placid pads. It’s undoubtedly a conservative record, but it makes a great comfort blanket. (Steve Kerr)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

01. John Roberts, Fences
[Dial] (buy)

Fences isn’t a huge leap forward from John Roberts’s sublime debut, Glass Eights. It delivered on the promise of the transitional Paper Frames EP, shedding the earlier album’s overt nods to Chicago house in order to more fully inhabit the producer’s unique sound world, one where samples ebbed and flowed between tense, heated friction and relaxed, crumbly ambience. Just when things seemed too lean to heavily on the latter, the album corrects its course, taking us in a wide arc through shuffling boogie of “Plaster” to a corker like the title track. The club hasn’t entirely disappeared from Roberts’s work, but Fences seems to make room for his new role as the jet-setting editor of The Travel Almanac, trying to create livable, domestic spaces in between time spent in transit. While Dial boss Lawrence’s Films & Windows conveyed a lucid, hardware-driven mastery of patient deep-house tropes, Fences ventured deeper into the label’s predilection for wintry, classical music–indebted timbres in an inimitable way. Rather than a total overhaul, Roberts opted for manifold small calibrations, and listeners were rewarded with his most fully realized and free-standing work yet.
(Brandon Bussolini)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Shawn  on December 23, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Thanks guys one of the best lists as always. I can’t believe it has been 5 years already since I’ve been a regular reader of LWE. Thank you all for shaping my ears to quality electronic music – I appreciate it immensely.

It looks like I have to listen to that Lawrence again and I need to give the Fengler more of a try.

I’ve got something like this so far (still waiting to get the Traumprinz album so I might bump one out):

25. Special Request – Soul Music [Houndstooth]
24. Steven Tang – Disconnect to Connect [Smallville]
23. Jonsson/Alter – 2 [Kontra-Musik]
22. Horror Inc. – Briefly Eternal [Perlon]
21. Cosmin TRG – Gordian [50 Weapons]
20. A Sagittariun – Dream Ritual [Elastic Dreams]
19. Matias Aguayo – The Visitor [Cómeme]
18. The Mole – Caregiver [Maybe Tomorrow]
17. Axel Boman – Family Vacation [Studio Barnhus]
16. Huerco S. – Colonial Patterns [Software]
15. Omar-S – Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself [FXHE]
14. Ñaka Ñaka – Juan Pestañas [Opal Tapes]
13. Ukkonen – The Ancient Tonalities Of… [No Pain In Pop]
12. Prince of Denmark – The Body [Forum]
11. Sven Weisemann – Inner Motions [Mojuba]
10. Function – Incubation [Ostgut Ton]
09. Patricia – Body Issues [Opal Tapes]
08. Laurel Halo – Chance of Rain [Hyperdub]
07. Gunnar Haslam – Mimesiak [L.I.E.S.]
06. James Booth – Reunion [100% Silk]
05. Blondes – Swisher [Rvng Intl.]
04. The Smoke Clears – Listen [Further Records]
03. TM404 – TM404 [Kontra-Musik]
02. Vakula – You’ve Never Been to Konotop (Selected Works 2009-2012) [Firecracker Recordings]
01. Stellar Om Source – Joy One Mile [Rvng Intl.]

hs236589  on December 23, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Where is Omar S ??

Tail Press  on December 23, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Yo where is Omar S ? from very far the best album this year.

Kinovjews  on December 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Why Omar S & Kyle hall are not in the contest ???

I am surprised you did not put Richie Hawtin in your ranking…so disapointing!!

My sist is a better blogger than you guys

Kinovjews

tail press  on December 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM

You can delete my post or you can just admit that this top 10 is an epic fail,
Where is Omar S and Kyle Hall The Boat Party ?

FUCK POLL 2013  on December 23, 2013 at 11:56 AM

No doubt about it, again, these end of the year poll are a completely joke.
You guys forget the 2 best LP’s of 2013 so far.
But you didn’t forget Huerco S the hypster who dunno about beat matching.

Never forget that people don’t give a shit about what you want them to like.

Alfonso  on December 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM

I thought I was the only one to love Fences so much, definitely the best album of the year… I’m sure all the people complaining in the comments, or asking for Kyle Hall never took the time to hear this album… absolutely brilliant!

littlewhiteearbuds  on December 23, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Except you, “Fuck Poll,” who cares so desperately about what we “want you to like” that you had to comment about it. #trollfail

FUCK POLL 2013  on December 23, 2013 at 12:12 PM

WOOOOOO
You’re so quick on the draw

Instead of talking about, start doing something you wanker.
You’ve never went across any machine. You’re just good to talk.

aa  on December 23, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Wait, why does a producer have to know anything about beat matching? That doesn’t seem like a particularly necessary tool in the studio, is it?

James  on December 23, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Its the Holiday season people! Let the love in!!!!!! Good list and happy 2014 xx

peter_pwn  on December 23, 2013 at 5:20 PM

minilogue – blomma

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on December 23, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Huerco S album is a good call along with the beauty of the John Roberts LP. Respectfully I have to say that one album that absolutely should have been mentioned should have been the Prince Of Denmark’s “The Body”. I also feel you guys should show some love to some of the albums on Opal Tapes like Patricia’s Body Issues as well. Well you will not sleep on it soon since there will be a vinyl release on the Vinyl only Black Opal imprint… Just sayin… Don’t sleep. Otherwise not a bad list. Not so sure about the allure of the Oneohtrix Point Never LP. I guess I should give it a good listen… Again…

Veloziped  on December 24, 2013 at 3:27 AM

kyle hall is already in the top five of the best tracks. they didn’t forget him

Pinker than thou  on December 24, 2013 at 5:46 AM

With you all the way on John Roberts. I think “fully realized and free-standing” is absolutely on the money, but seems it passed a lot of critics by for whatever reason.

On the other hand I found the Function album pretty boring, but seems to have impressed quite a few heads.

Hey Fuckpoll, wouldn’t you be more comfortable in the youtube comments section? You’d find a lot of like minded souls there.

Comrad  on December 24, 2013 at 2:41 PM

I love LWE, think its one of the strongest blogs out there. I have discovered so much music from this blog so thank you. In terms of those speaking about Omar-S and Kyle hall and speaking as someone who loves both those albums, stop being little bitches!! its an opinion list, LWE can choose whoever they want and in my opinion its a solid list. If you dont like it, read something else. and beat matching has nothing to do with producing an album. One love.

ATB  on December 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM

I like all the music here but what a sausagefest. Do women not make good music or something?

Icke  on December 25, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Function is One of my Alltime Favs but Yeah unfortunately i didnt understand bis Album too. Good to See dozzy again in the List. And fengler.

watermill village  on January 5, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I am so sick of the whole ‘where’s this album and that album?’ thing. there are 10 slots up there and a shit ton of amazing albums came out this year…daniel avery, axel boman, floorplan, akkord to name a few…and guess what? they’re on plenty of other lists out there! and so are kyle hall and omar-s for that matter. just be thankful daft punk isn’t up there. sheesh, people! also, glad to see lawrence get some love. that album is top shelf.

Trackbacks

LWE’s Top 10 Albums of 2013 – Littl...  on December 23, 2013 at 5:24 AM

[…]   […]

The Best Music of the Year Lists from Music Blogs and Press | That Eric Alper  on December 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM

[…] Little White Earbuds’ Top Albums of 2013 […]

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Popular posts in chart

  • None found