German label ECM has made public an immense catalogue of incredible, innovative music, most notably in the jazz realm from folks like Keith Jarrett, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Don Cherry, Pat Metheny, Steve Reich and Chick Corea, to name a few. Since it was established by Manfred Eicher in Munich in 1969, ECM came to be revered not only for the imaginative, open-minded sounds that were being captured on vinyl, but almost as much for the sublime, artful sleeves the music came packaged in.
ECM's history was compiled for a 2012 exhibition at the Haus der Kunst museum in Munich, for which this here book acts as a catalogue. At around 300 pages and weighing in at a couple of kilos it's far more than your average catalogue, bringing together not only a written history of the label through interviews, round table discussions and critical essays, but also a visual one, through photos, artwork, film stills and sketches from Eicher's archives. Like everything with the label's stamp on it the book is exquisitely designed with a painstakingly admirable attention to detail. A wonderful gawk for even casual jazz fans.
This one might have gone undetected in the December rush - the latest single and first sample of HTRK's forthcoming third album Psychic 9-5 Club. Pronounced "hate rock", the Australian duo of Nigel Yang and Jonnine Standish mourn the loss of original member Sean Stewart with this minimal swell of cool room dub and arrestingly hushed vocals.
"2013 was a big year for us because our debut LP finally saw the light. Although it had been ready for a while it was nice to get it out and spread/get some nice vibes. Most of 2012 and 2013 has been spent writing and arranging new songs for our next album. It's going to be angelicus spectacularis and La Sagrada Familia. But at the same time auditus and nutritivae.
It wasn't just a great year for us but for a lot of our friends and mother earth. Here is a list of a couple of the best things that happened in 2013."
Well not quite a best of. That would be an impossible task having released music from Tame Impala, Young Dreams, The Presets, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cut Copy, Movement, Darkside, Beni, Pond, Shine 2009, CEO and Canyons as well as Club Mod artists Softwar, wordlife, Naysayer + Gilsun, Villa, SymbolOne and Roland Tings. What a wild ride.
Here we opt out of picking favourites and instead list a selection of videos, remixes, cover versions and modcasts that might have gone unnoticed. Maximum holiday stimulation.
"In year 2013 I released an album with Shine 2009, did a decent amount of touring/traveling and made some songs that i'm really excited about. But most importantly, in 2013 I was introduced to some excellent new artists and became friends with the best people in the world. This list is about my favorite people of 2013"
1. Elo Suova
My son was born in late August. He'll be the voice of generation alpha.
"2013 has been a year of working on a new album. A year of living in Los Angeles, taking a lot of hikes, eating a lot of kale and getting in tune with a lot of vibrations. It's been a year of discoveries also, mostly the discovery that real life can be stranger than fiction, and that the future is now, and that everything can kill you.
Here are some things i found out about in the science/tech world that blew my mind throughout 2013 and how they could probably kill you."
DARKSIDE set the bar high this year with their guitar driven electronic master work. The duo's multi-instrumentalist wonder Dave Harrington gives us an interesting spin on our annual list series.
"This year we finished and released our first record - it's been pretty insane and I'm genuinely excited about it. I also just put in an order for my first pedal steel guitar and I hope to have it early next year. I'm not sure how good I'll get at it but I'm gonna try, it's kind of my New Year's resolution. So here's my list of my 5 favorite pedal steel players."
Wow it's that time ALREADY? Cool the panic as Naysayer & Gilsun kick off our end of year Recommends series by counting down their 2013 highlights. The duo poll high on our own list with the refined minimal house EP All That Good Work / Blue on Club Mod. Revisit it here.
Luke Neher aka Naysayer
Two thousand and thirteen. A year of musical neogenesis and spiritual regeneration. For many of us the dry scrubland was burnt off to make way for a blossoming new undergrowth. Amongst the soot and charred earth we found not just new sounds, but old ones; re-issues. Five re-issues.
Conceived by German DJ Ralf Behrendt in 1982, Saâda Bonaire brought together sultry female vocalists Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld, The Slits producer Dennis Bovell and copious musical talents from the local immigration centre. The world infused dub disco project only had one single to boast - the leftfield freedom anthem You Could Be More As You Are.
Foolishly canned by the suits at EMI upon release, the group now have a second chance with this 13 track compilation on Captured Tracks that resurrects lost gems from their sessions at Kraftwerk's studio in Cologne. With never before published photos and in depth interviews, this is a must buy for fans of Lizzie Mercier Descloux, Grace Jones and the Compass Point sound.
The album title says it all. Smoothest tunes from the Kiwi oddball. Warped pop that sounds like Hall & Oates on ludes, recording in a whale's stomach. Only in actual fact, it was laid down in a Tokyo hotel room over the course of a month, with a small parade of visitors. High probability that someone spiked the tea ceremony.
Connan nails it with incidental hits like the title track and the surreal soul of 'Do I Make You Feel Shy?'. Not to forget the 5-part odyssey 'It's Your Body'.
Lucerna Music Bar, Prague, Czech Republic
Basen , Warsaw, Poland
Oakbank Racecourse , Oakbank, SA
Maitland Showground, Maitland, NSW
University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT
The Metro Theatre, Sydney, Australia
The Hi Fi, Melbourne, Australia
Prince of Wales Showground , Bendigo, VIC
Murray Sports Complex, Townsville, QLD
Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia
Capitol, Perth, Australia
Metro Theatre, Sydney, Australia
Rod Laver Arena , Melbourne, Australia
Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast, QLD
170 Russell , Melbourne, Australia
Hay Park , Bunbury, WA