2013 : A Year In Review

And just like that, another year has gone by… This one seemed particularly like a rapid passing, even though each one appears to hasten all the time. This was the sixth year of Headphone Commute’s existence, during which I published 200 articles, featuring album reviews, artist interviews, free mixes, and even a few write-ups on some hi-fi equipment! The readership continues to grow, and I keep on stressing out over the next big thing that I can deliver. But at the end it’s always going to be just a few more words about some amazing music… which surely will suffice.

In 2013, during a few live shows and festivals that I was fortunate enough to attend, I had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people, among them plenty of musicians, label curators, and fellow sonic connoisseurs that I’ve followed throughout the years, such as Clint Mansell, Max Richter, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Volker Bertelmann, Ben Lukas Boysen, Carlos Cipa, Thomas Bücker, Christoph Berg, Tim Hecker, Erik Skodvin, Monique Recknagel, JC Chamboredon, Timo Alterauge, Thomas Hack, Marcus Fjellström, Sean Horton, Gabe Koch, Samuel Valenti IV, Travis Stewart, Thomas Fehlmann and seriously too many others to mention! You have all contributed to my quest! Thank you for those fantastic moments, however brief they were!

In terms of music, there were many welcomed come backs! I’m speaking of course of Boards of Canada, Arovane, My Bloody Valentine and even Nine Inch Nails. Plenty of favourite musicians have continued doing what they do best, improving and evolving their sound further. Among these, works by Marsen Jules, Richard Chartier, Daníel Bjarnason, bvdub, Hammock, Olan Mill, Eluvium, Ex Confusion, Ian Hawgood, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Black Swan, The Field, William Basinski, Ryuichi Sakamoto + Taylor Deupree and even Autechre really stand out. A few welcome surprises with many unexpected turns came courtesy of Ben Lukas Boysen, Apparat, Greg Haines, Oneohtrix Point Never and The Stranger. Perhaps no one has evolved the various electronic styles further than Demdike Stare, Diamond Version, DJ Hidden, Machinedrum, Tim Hecker and of course Jon Hopkins! These, and many others, will surely get their due respect in the upcoming Best of 2013 selections!

Among the labels, Glacial Movements continues to march forward with an excellent roster; Dronarivm picked up some amazing artists, with plenty of exciting announcements for 2014 already; 12k, Room40, Touch, n5MD, Home Normal, Kranky, Editions Mego, Oktaf, hibernate and Line continue to deliver consistent quality output, while Sonic Pieces, Preservation, Erased Tapes, Facture, Bedroom Community and Miasmah carry on with pure delight. Raster-Noton, Warp, Hymen, Ad Noiseam, Ghostly International and Modern Love seem to appear on the edge of sonic transformation. Denovali somehow managed to release over 20 albums (or probably more!), each unique in its genre and outstanding in character. These are all the labels that I can’t live without and continue to hungrily consume their every single note! Serein, Low Point, Kesh, Dynamophone and Experimedia have been fairly quiet, with the latter sadly announcing that it will close its doors at the end of 2014.

With your help, Headphone Commute was able to raise and donate a total of $30,000 generated by the sales of …and darkness came benefit compilation! This has been the highest achievement of my lifetime by any means to date! Perhaps there will be more to come… Of course, I can’t thank you all enough for your ongoing and continuous support! What else? If somehow I managed to forget to mention someone, please don’t hold it against me – just look at the above list of names, I’m impressed that I can even keep all of these in my head! With this I want to close this year in review, wishing you a very happy New Year, and finally kick off my Best of 2013 lists which will be published one per day beginning tomorrow, January 1st, 2014!!!