In no particular order, my top 10 favorite dark/electronic releases from 2013. I decided to not label any of these lists “Best of”, as I just want to share a few releases that I enjoyed and am not saying anything is better than anything else. Anyways a list with links and short descriptions; and a Mix featuring a track from each one.
1. THAT WAS THEN THIS IS NOW – THAT WAS THEN THIS IS NOW: This super group features instrumental work by BLVCK CEILING and vocals by Moon Mirror. This should be the soundtrack to a seventies exploitation flick; complete with car chases, shoot outs, and sex scenes.
2. Kiernan Paradise – Loss: A solo project of Pleasure Leftists member Haley Morris, Kiernan Paradise is a minimal synth based project that allows Haley’s vocals to be the focal point.
3. LTTLE PHNX – D’Esprit Luvrs: New Zealand singer/synth player Lucy Beeler released this synthpop/witch house gem back in April. Haunting and beautiful.
4. Moon Mirror – Transference: This Aural Sects release was in constant rotation for my daily commutes. She had some poignant words to say earlier this year, and I completely agree with her views on art. (The gist being “I’m a musician, not a saleswoman.”)
5. CRIM3S – Stay Ugly: This EP reminds me of what I first liked about witch house (the White Ring song Roses, and specifically the distroted bass, hip hop beats and scream/singing) and my only complaint is that it wasn’t a full length!
6. Pharmakon – Abandon: I caught Pharmakon‘s set at Hopscotch this year. It was an intense 20 minutes of electronics, and very confrontational singing (going into the crowd and just screaming). This release does a good job of capturing the sonic side of that experience, though I wouldn’t dare listen to it as loud as I did live.
7. Purple – Salvation: I do not know much about this artist, just that a friend recommended this release to me and it is great. Laid back beats and pitch shifted vocals are highlights of this.
8. Spell Hound – Guerrilla: Another Aural Sects release on my top ten! No surprise there, as they consistently put out interesting music. Spell Hound are a duo who also feature female vocals and witchy beats.
9. ∆AIMON – Aaimon: This is the debut LP of duo ∆AIMON, and a last minute addition to this list with its December 2013 release date. They have been creating some of my favorite dark electronic music for the last few years. This release was an instant favorite, with its dual gender vocals, and nice mix of dark and light atmospherics and textures.
10. Gatekeeper – Young Chronos: One day Gatekeeper posted on Facebook a link to a torrent for their new EP. So I grabbed it. The most Mortal Kombat soundtrack sounding release of this list, and I mean that as a compliment. Extremely danceable and dark.
Image of Pharmakon at Hopscotch Fest 2013 is by me
Sometimes you hear an artist and you think to yourself, “Damn, when the rest of the world hears this, they are going to be HUGE!” Of course due to the fickle nature of the internet, this doesn’t always happen. But I can see big things in store for this artist. From her Bandcamp page:
“D’Esprit Luvrs is the debut album from New Zealand’s lovelorn synth-siren Lttle Phnx (AKA Dancer/Singer/Synthesist: Lucy Beeler of Auckland City). A hypnotic nine tracks of heavy heart-throb beats, conflicted bass-dirge, and ethereal lamentation. Haunted-pop that has grown through teenage flirtations with the occult and black nail polish to deliver a luminous deep-blue-vs-black alternate-gothic-pop. D’Esprit Luvrs is an evocation of the Old Gods of Synth-Pop via Disintegration, an ode to the maturity of knowing you are happiest in Robert-Smithian outside-looking-in longing.