Top 100 original tracks of 2013

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Our favourite time of the year – a time when we can sit back and arbitrarily handpick the ‘best’ tracks of the last 12 months. Even the staunchest of snobs (that’d be us) could not deny that 2013 was a great year for underground electronic music. Of course, the internet itself benefitted from the ceremonious return of Pelski, a transformation from weedy blog to beefed-up website, complete with rambling reviews, our very own podcast series and an abundance of new and neglected corners of the site.

Enough about us. Here are the top 100 original tracks that really made an impression this year.

(For our top 50 remixes and edits, click here.)

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1. Henrik Bergqvist – Spin / Go For What Hurts

Taking joint first place are two delightfully nuanced house tracks on Aniara from relative unknown Henrik Bergqvist. B-side ‘Spin’ is testament to the fact that it doesn’t matter how repetitious a track is when the groove is this good. As stark and tatty as winter branches, a rattle of rickety percussion forms the backbone, underscored by a boulder of sturdy bass. The A-side is a more tender piece of shuffling house fitted with a delicate violin loop.

2. Damiano von Erckert – No Good Times

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Any number of tracks from young Damiano von Erckert’s two 12” Ava LPs this year could lay claim to a place in our top five. Perhaps not strictly an ‘original track’ given its patent sampling, ‘No Good Times’ is nonetheless a marvellous piece of vintage funk. Von Erckert’s fondness for dusty and loose instrumentation lends an authenticity often missing from modern house and soul music.

3. Nirosta Steel – Foxy Pup

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Following his untimely death in 1992, Arthur Russell famously left behind a wealth of unreleased material. When Steven Hall aka Nirosta Steel sent us this unreleased gem, we couldn’t help get excited. The track in question was produced on tape by Bob Blank and Arthur Russell in 1985 for Steven Hall’s solo project – and has only now seen the light of day. It is killer in its simplicity: a minimalist improv groove built around an E-minor chord and a slim, metallic drum beat. There’s a gnarled analogue snarl to the bass, whilst Hall and Russell’s delay-laden vocals are as cool as steel.

4. Blanc 1 – It’s All Over

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Released on Talabot’s new white label series (limited to 100 pressings), this Pional production showed surprising longevity. The young Spaniard’s vocal-work – a haunting croon that’ll linger on in the back of your head – hangs like a cloud over the tropical, steel-tipped percussion and nagging synth. A staple of Pional’s remarkable live set, it actually packs quite a punch on the dancefloor.

5. Powell – A Bandpowell

Powell’s ‘A Band’ – a monolith of murky static and industrial clangs – contains so many grey and brutalist elements that it should really sound gloomy as hell. In fact, it is peculiarly upbeat – feel-good, even. Fuzzy synths crackle like an unstable electrical box gone haywire, and the chugging drum machine and guitar-twangs push the blunted groove resolutely onwards.

6. DJ Fett Burger – Disco Tre

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The madcap and decidedly lo-fi house and techno of the Sex Tags crew really caught on in 2013. The Norwegian imprint’s ramshackle aesthetic often spills over into the inaccessible for some; but ‘Disco Tre’ perfectly straddled oddball charm and straight-up dancefloor fodder. Its organic bongo drums are scattered so loosely they continually feel on the brink of collapse – just about held together by a propulsive bass beat and warming Nordic disco synths.

7. Dark Sky – In Brackets

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Dark Sky have made a name for themselves over the last five years with their darkened, bass-laden output, lending their hands to everything from amen breaks to raw techno. Their deep house excursion on Mister Saturday Night unveiled another layer to their sound. The intricate title track boasts a lovely build-up – a beat-less twirl of strings and synths, both wistful and dramatic – before dropping into a medley of gently snappy percussion. The synth-work lays a shimmer of light across the track, but Dark Sky’s signature, an undercurrent of darkness, is buried somewhere in the shifty rhythms and sinister throb of bass.

8. Pépé Bradock – Imbroglios

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A good year for Pépé; this one rather slipped under the radar, released on the fourth instalment in his experimental Imbroglios series which predominantly focused on ambient textures mingled with slack house arrangements. ‘Imbroglios’ is a sweet – almost twee – deep house track, all twinkling synths and dainty clangs of percussion.

 

9. Max Graef – Kaese Schinken Floetemax

Famously just 19 years old, Max Graef has rightly been hailed as newcomer of the year. The seventh instalment on his own vinyl-only imprint Box auz Holz featured this, a sample-heavy bumper encapsulating all of Graef’s staples: jazzy, hip-hop indebted samples, choppy beats and a nagging vocal hook.


10. Floorplan – Never Grow Old

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The obvious floor-filler from Floorplan’s album (a side project of Robert Hood’s) features a lustrous soul vocal that sores above the unrelenting bass drum and jazz-flecked keys – all set to a breakneck 132 BPM tempo. It is a masterful exercise in incrementally increasing the intensity: the keys becoming more fevered and the vocal swelling upwards.

11. Bufiman – Fantasyvf

Jan Schulte’s ‘Fantasy’ is a magnificent tribal beast that unfurls hefty bass drums, hollow percussion, a host of peculiar squarking noises, and a marimba-like melody that drops you straight into the tropical jungle. Seriously robust analogue house music released on Dusseldorf-based imprint Verein Freier Menschen und Musik.


12. Medlar – Tides

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The standout from Medlar’s Sleep LP is wonderfully emotive, darting between wistful, cinematic and soulful all at once. Comparisons to the likes of Moodymann and Andres are more than justified judging by this rugged piece of funk.

 

13. Paranoid London w/ Mutado Pintado ‎– Transmission 5 (Instrumental)para

Detroit techno seems to have taken a backseat to Detroit house of late. But this slamming 12” released on Paranoid London harks back to the unbridled rawness of early Detroit, unleashing whiplashed 808 rhythms and a rumbling acid bassline.

14. Italo Johnson – ITJ 07A

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So-called ‘DJ tools’ can be frankly unexciting propositions. So Italo Johnson’s seventh episode in his ITJ series was a welcome surprise; simple and repetitious enough to earn its ‘tool’ tag, but punchy and wholesome enough to be a banger all of its own.

 

15. Mind Fair – So Strong

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A lush piece of disco, displaying a restraint and patience absent from the majority of today’s churned-out ‘nu-disco’ productions. The languid funk bassline underpins all manner of disco tropes – live percussion, dubby horns, the tinkle of bells – all tastefully executed amidst the sparse deployment of what sounds like a Nina Simone sample.

16. The Raw Interpreter – The Way You Love Me

17. Omar S – The Shit Baby (CP-1 Played By D.Taylor)

18. Rick Wilhite –Tribute & Respect

19. Begin – Here Comes The Sun

20. Simba – Three Kays

21. Mount Kimbie – Made To Stray

22. Damiano von Erckert & Tito Wun – The Way U Do It

23. Eddie C – Every Life Under The Invisible Hands

24. Olivier Boogie – Dance Band

25. The Mole – Now I Understand

26. Shit & Shine – Blowhannon

27. Albinos – Baka Tribe

28. Crowdpleaser – Right Beside You

29. Session Victim – Hyuwee (Instrumental)

30. Daniel Avery – Naïve Response

31. Sandrow M – Schnaubi

32. Levon Vincent – Speck’s Jam

33. Doc Daneeka – Walk On In feat. Ratcatcher

34. Borrowed Identity – Leave Your Life

35. Cuthead – Nautic Walking

36. Baba Stiltz – Our Girls

37. Soulphiction – Drama Queen

38. Ben Sun – Your Footprints

39. Midland – Checkbob

40. Beautiful Swimmer – Spezi

41. Dark Sky – Voices

42. Session Victim – Random Blues

43. Ben La Desh – Escape Route

44. Man Tear – Outside Amore

45. Mr Beatnick – Symbiosis

46. Four Tet – For These Times

47. Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie – Dusty Jazz

48. Romare – Taste of Honey (Give Me Fever)

49. Wbeeza – If You Believe

50. Velour – Speedway

51. Motor City Drum Ensemble – Send A Prayer Pt 2

52. The Right Now – Call Girl (Original Live Recording)

53. Soulphiction – Maybachswagger

54. Palms Trax – House In Motion

55. West Norwood Cassette Library – Acid Jazz

56. Deep88 & Melchior Sultana – Yo

57. Break SL – Zauberhafte Fantasie

58. Saine – Matte

59. Leon Vynehall – Step Or Stone (Breath Or Bone)

60. Axel Boman – Hello

61. Funkineven – The Joker

62. Ugly Drums – Basement Workout

63. Trus’me – T’es Une Pute

64. Pev – Aztec Chant

65. Cottam – The Other World

66. Francis Inferno Orchestra – Amber Express

67. Sisterhood – Call Me Ishmael

68. Quarion – The Plump Shrew

69. Tommy Rawson – Brenda Done Died With No Name

70. Daniel Dub – Smile

71. Graze – Ques

72. Romare – Hey Now

73. Chicago Damn – Temporary Transgression

74. Mr Tophat & Art Alfie – No Holdings (radio edit)

75. Syclops – Jump Bugs

76. Pittsburgh Track Authority – Now’s Tomorrow

77. Tirzah – I’m Not Dancing

78. Martin Brodin – Wilmert 1 & 2

79. Boogie Nite – Gotta A Lot Of Static

80. Eddie C – Jam On Dallas Road

81. Kyle Hall – Measure 2 Measure

82. John Roberts – Palace

83. Even Drone – One A1

84. Ninetoes – Finder

85. FRAK – Talk On Answer

86. Sounds Stream – Julie’s Theme

87. Crystal & S. Koshi – From Red To Violet

88. Dj Koze – La Duquesa

89. Moomin – Au Bord De La Mer

90. Mano Le Tough – Please

91. John Swing – Loving You Is Easy

92. Secret Squirrels #1  Track A

93. Marquis Hawkes – I Want You

94. Isolée  Allowance

95. Tornado Wallace – Desperate Pleasures

96. Vaib-R  About Freedom

97. Max Graef & Andy Hart – Biting

98. Tessela – Helter Skelter

99. Moomin – You Neva Know

100. Jimpster – Rollergirl

  • Kai Marius

    PELSKI THANK YOU ;)

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