Here’s a quick review of the year so far. We’ve each chosen our two favourite songs of the first half of 2013, and they’re presented here in no particular order.
The Knife – A Tooth For An Eye
A wordly musical knowledge, and a lifetime of anger, pleasure and rhythmic principles condensed into an exciting, lean, and elegant 4:35. – Bernholz
Colin Stetson – To See More Light
Like Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, it starts off with a sinister, patient patter of gradual, psycholgically affecting horror, and becomes something grander and more sublime. A slow reveal, the raw, arpeggiating sax seeps into the subconsious unravelling a deep, hypnotising complexity. – Bernholz
Anna Meredith – Orlok
Anna Meredith’s last EP, Black Prince Fury, was one of my favourite releases of 2012. Anna is a self-deprecating but fiercely talented composer, with a brilliant sense of humour. ‘Orlok’, from her new (forthcoming) EP Jet Black Raider (Moshi Moshi) continues her series of playful, 8-bit cinemascapes. – Gazelle Twin
Sharaya J – Banji
I caught wind of Sharaya’s debut via Kode9 who shared it on twitter saying ‘so good’… which it is. Surprised it’s not been such a hit. – Gazelle Twin
His Electro Blue Voice – Kidult
Italy’s His Electro Blue Voice open the recent Sub Pop 1000 compilation with a glorious wave of guitar panic. I can’t wait for their debut album coming soon on the same label. – Great Pagans
Mykki Blanco – Wavvy
Only amplified by the incredible video, Mykki Blanco’s gender-straddling hip hop hooked me with it’s oppressive atmosphere and jumpy rhythms. – Great Pagans
Joey Anderson – Press Play
Joey’s already released a lot of interesting, abstract club music this year. This is a good example of his unsettling and weirdly compelling style, and it also has the most beautiful piano line that I’ve heard so far this year. – Acquaintance
Dark Sky – In Brackets
I just love everything about this. The musicality of it, the warm enveloping chords, the rattling percussion, the unshowy production, and the effortless transitions between rhythms. Definitely a keeper. – Acquaintance
Anna Meredith is a name that has been floating in my consciousness for many years. When I once circled various UK contemporary music festivals, classical publications and ensembles with my shaky dream of becoming a composer, I was very aware of some of my female contemporaries, since there were (and still are) only a handful. Anna was one of them, along with Mica Levy AKA Micachu, Tansy Davies and my one-time colleague, Claudia Molitor who have all gone on to do great things.
News of Anna’s frequent world premieres, commissions, awards and praise filtered through to me via various contemporary music news streams. After a very long period of cutting myself off from that ‘world’ to focus on indulging my electronic and popular music sensibilities, I was extremely excited to encounter Anna’s work again, but on a very different plane. Just as I leapt with excitement at the brave new sound of Micachu’s debut album Jewellery (Rough Trade, 2009), Anna’s Black Prince Fury EP (Moshi Moshi, October 2012) is a most welcome return to my otherwise distant classical past and it is a brilliant reminder that noteworthy, British female composers can enjoy freedom and success in the world of ‘popular’ music.
The tracks are screaming with life, brave ingenuity, humour and self-confidence and anyone who can shoehorn a world famous pop ballad (‘The Power of Love’), a bicycle horn and 80’s stadium rock beats into nightmare-laden contemporary experimentalism and STILL manage not to elude popular music press is a rare genius in my book.
Cue a high-profile collaboration with Bjork in 2013…