Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top ten mixes/podcasts of 2013

I think I crossed a threshold this year where I now enjoy listening to podcasts more than going out to dance in the actual clubs.  Maybe it's a passing phase, or a part of the aging process, or simply an indication of how many great podcasts are downloadable on a regular basis.  Perhaps the biggest factor is the time restrictions on the average podcast.  Technically there are no time restrictions (e.g. Autechre laugh in the face of fatigue and short attention spans once in a while) but practically, podcasts are often confined to 60-90 minute run time.  Of course this is not all that new -- mix CD's have been around for twenty years and counting.  But the mix CD is usually a condensed version of what that DJ would tend to play in the clubs, whereas a podcast can take a number of different forms.  Want to show a different side of yourself and record a mix of classic soul instead of the techno that your fans are accustomed too?   Psychedelic rock might not play in the club but nobody's stopping you from tacking on a few of those tracks to the end of a podcast.  In the battle between a four hour marathon set in the wee hours of the morning and a bite sized 80 minute mix tape I can hear in the afternoon at work, I've been siding with the latter.  It's like the clock has been turned back twenty years and I'm taping songs off the radio again, wondering what it'll be like if I could get into the big, famous dance clubs.

I was surprised to see so many FACT mixes on this list.  It's not that I followed their weekly mixes all that closely, but it seems like every mix I heard from them this year was stellar (honourable mention to Floorplan's FACT 400 mix).

Selvagem, Beats in Space # 672 (Discoteca Hallucinante mix) (April 10)

Definitely the year's most unique, infectious, and baffling mix.  Eighty minutes of Brazilian funk, disco, house, and lounge rock from who knows which year, and who knows which artists.  Apparently they organize these kinds of parties once a month in Sao Paulo, but the mix could have conceivably been recorded at any time between 1985 and today.

Green Velvet Electric Playground 008 (April 12)

Green Velvet's weekly 30-minute podcast is always good, but I'm going with the first one I heard this year.  Could anyone else in the world have pulled off "Bigger Than Prince"?

Silent Servant, HNY 181 (May 29)

I'm sure that Silent Servant can pull off these 80's techno pop sets in his sleep, but they're always killer.  Is there anyone better in electronic music at combining nostalgia and contemporary sounds?

Prins Thomas, 66 min shoehorning (June 14)

Space-y lounge disco, or IOW, what you'd expect from Prins Thomas after he rolls out of bed, sips a coffee, and starts up a mixtape to wake himself up.  It's more laid back and restrained than his usual stuff, and that's what I love about it.

DJ Koze, FACT mix 387 (June 17)
Jon Hopkins, FACT 388 (June 24)

I listened to both of these mixes a lot more than the highly acclaimed albums from these two artists.   They're the "influences" mixes that provide the background for the albums, and featuring some of their new tracks to really drive home the comparison.

Material Object, CLR 234 (August 19)

A devastatingly heavy mix of cavernous techno, this is the one podcast on this list that demands a club listening experience (this is true for all CLR mixes in general).

Vatican Shadow, Fabric promo mix (September 5)

A 45-minute advertisement for his then-upcoming live set at Fabric, i.e. "this is who I am and what kind of music I like, come and see me play".  The mix takes you through noise, minimal techno, industrial, synth pop, and tribal ambient ... all in the first 20 minutes!

Mark Pritchard, FACT mix 406 Parts 1 and 2 (October 28 + 29)

Each year brings at least one great throwback mix to the early days of rave, but whereas most of those mixes highlight the sirens and breakbeats side of the genre, Mark Pritchard chose to focus more on the hip-hop and R&B elements that are almost always overlooked.  So massive (56 tracks, 90 minutes) that they had to split it into two.

Tiga, FACT mix 411 (November 18)

Fun, smooth, and eclectic, Tiga always makes mixing sound so much easier than it actually is.  Props for the timely Lou Reed tribute at the end.

No comments: