The Monday Graveyear - My 2013 in Ambient and Electronic Music

I originally said that I wouldn’t do this. On air I refused to do this. I even stretched that I’d do a simple Spotify playlist and be done with it, but I feel like January 2014 is a perfect time to look back and write a bit about the albums that I found the most exciting from 2013 that fit in with the aesthetic of the Monday Graveyard. 

2013 was a great year for music (and go here for my Wednesday Graveyear post on my own blog) but there was a Monday Graveyear there. It isn’t perfect because I excised the ones in the “Anything” playlist into a “Eclectic” one, and also made a “MondayGraveyear”. But I have decided instead to a Real Monday Graveyear 2013 and it is available here.

Now, there are no winners or losers here – the ten albums I’ve picked are great. There is no number 1 (per se) and no number 10 – it’s just the ten albums I felt I liked the best. So, here we go:

The Field – Cupid’s Head (Kompakt)

The Field is one of the first artists that I could say really enraptured me with repetitive techno, and really unravelled the idea of tension built over time with continuous layering and looping. The two albums prior to this album, especially From Here We Go Sublime, his astonishing debut, are essential as someone who enjoys electronic music. Cupid's Head changes everything though, with more epic sound scapes and a far deeper sound than what has came before. A wonderful album.

Tim Hecker – Virgins (Kranky)

The oddest thing about Tim Hecker is probably the incredible way in which he makes albums consistently each time that are so dense and deep with new ideas. A consistent artist that makes albums with a vision, commits to it, and makes an all encompassing statement. Virgins seemed like it would have been impossible to match Ravedeath, 1972 when it was announcedand to me that album was a bit of a watershed moment in my assessment of drone,  and Virgins really does seem like some of his strongest work.

Appelscal – Dreaming in Key (Wise Man’s Garden)

This was a bit of a punt - recommended to me by Spotify via the Radio feature, I decided just to go for it, and christ I have not looked back. I have referred this album to anyone within ear shot of me being a dick about music - it's a fabulous album, not ambient, but thudding with odd sounds and glitchy steps here and there, and it's mesmerised me all year. The best part? It wasn't the only album he released this year - From A to Sea, was released too, and it's fantastic too. Wow.

Moderat – II (Monkeytown)

I played Therapy from this album on the sixth show and whilst listening to it I decided I bloody loved it. Not just that song, but there is so much more going on this time round than the first time - which is great, but II is just another kind of beast. Yeah, Apparat will feature in the show under his other guise, but you really cannot say that this wasn't worth the wait. Good stuff.

Mountains – Centralia (Thrill Jockey)

I understand that this album is another that probably doesn't quite fit in with the show, but it's going to be played soon and also I love it and I am in charge. Recently I spoke to someone about my show, and told them about the style of music, to which they erroneously said "that sounds like there's no guitars in it". I sheepishly said that most probably do, but that wasn't what they were meaning - they run a ROCK show, so I was fighting the wrong battle. Mountains' album features lovely acoustic guitar work and it really stands out.

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp)

There is little else I can say about this album that hasn't already been written by me already, but by god how did they do it. The best album of the year, in my opinion, and one I keep listening to and coming back to. Look, since Tomorrow's Harvest came out I've listened the tracks 490 times. Ooft.

Ukkonen – The Ancient Tonalities Of (No Pain In Pop)

Yeah, a real ambient album now, and one that is truly astonishing. Hidden from view as an obscured artist this really does seem like the darkest album I have on the list, and this list has the Tim Hecker album on it. But there is a lovely stretch of melody in it through the whole album which is really important.

Emancipator – Dusk to Dawn (Jakarta)

So, this is one of a kind, and a really lovely listen. A mixture of folk sounds and hip hop break beats, the album is truly a calm album. It really is like stepping into a deep bath of deep warm water, or an outside hot jacuzzi outside in freezing cold Northern Ontario. Beautiful album, heartbreaking.

Jon Hopkins – Immunity (Domino)

This has split the music discussion on the forums and sites I frequent. This album is either a fabulous experiment in big scope techno, or is either a superstar indulgence with almost no substance - I don't believe that, and the album to me is probably one of the best scope techno album's released this year. And christ, the tracks are really so large, like... Kasabian large.

Petrels – Onkalo (Denovali)

A really odd album, and one that has to be listened to. It's like a deep novel, one that was written in a prose difficult to dechipher, but once you've got it grasped and understand it's phrasing, you sudden can open the album up. It's a dark hole, but more vibrant and vital that their earlier work, and truly is a really important release for Denovali Records, a label I have a great admiration for.