It’s been another big year for me personally and despite it taking longer than anticipated, 2014 has seen our second vinyl release, Europe go into production, set for a Jan 19th release. On average, posts have been down on the site from month-to-month, with the record and my full-time job taking up much more time than normal, but I’ve still managed to squeeze a little reflection on the year into the schedule, and a look back at what’s tickled the ASIP earbuds.
My reflection normally comes in these mixes as opposed to lists or top-tens. (See 2013’s edition here). Anyone can put a top-ten together, but I feel like it needs a little more meaning and constraint, and a mix normally helps me with that. It enables me to touch on some of my favourite music of the year, cross different genres, include both the recognized and the new, and have a little fun along the way. One negative of course, I miss out on an absolutely tonne of music which I’d otherwise spotlight, but there’s plenty more sites out there that will help you find what you’ve missed, and an exhaustive list isn’t always helpful. This is my opportunity to capture the past year in one personal journey. Be it an accurate reflection or not, I never normally know until the mix is finished – that’s why it’s so fun and unexpected… but I’m happy with how it’s turned out.
On reflection, and an obvious difference this year to last, has been my focus, (or maybe a lot more peoples focus) on dub-techno. It helped that I was DJ’ing more this year, so I was definitely on the hunt for more vinyl, but I don’t think anyone will disagree it’s been a great year for the dark and dubby ambient side-kick, and I feel the need to call this out here. I could’ve put together an entire mix of my dub-techno finds, but I’ve chosen to include just a couple on this mix instead.
As with last year’s episode, the mix covers the genres we love here, including modern-classical, ambient, dub-techno, electronica and post-rock. So yes, be ready for twists and turns – unlike your more considered and conventional mix techniques. I’ve also decided to provide some track-notes below to give a bit more context on the music included – they deserve it.
Happy listening, and thank you to everyone who has read, listened and supported the site in 2014. 2015 is set to be an even bigger year with our second vinyl release, more great isolatedmixes and our very first artist release!
01. Levi Patel – The Light Unbalances Her
02. A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII
03. Otto A.Totland – Steps
04. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Asleep version)
05. Loscil – Iona
06. Marsen Jules – Beautyfear III
07. ASC – The Machinery of Night
08. Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre
09. Purl – The Stars Will Have An End
10. Neel – The Secret Revealed
11. Frank Sebastian – Towards Distance
12. Tdel – 1830
13. Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 3
14. Gidge – Growth
15. Greg Chin – Dashboard Angels
16. To Destroy A City – First Light
Levi Patel – The Light Unbalances Her (Dado Records)
Levi has proven my belief in what I do. The young aspiring composer put together an amazing EP titled Forms and together we found a fitting home for it on John Beltran’s Dado Records. An absolutely sublime composition. Read the full ASIP review here.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos VII (Erased Tapes / Kranky)
With Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds sidestepping on the Erased Tapes label front this year, it was the turn of AWVFTS to take centre stage. A well celebrated album, Atomos encapsulates their magical stage presence and beautiful compositions that I first witnessed on the Erased Tapes 5th Anniversary show in 2012.
Otto A.Totland – Steps (Sonic Pieces)
Similarly, with Nils Frahm busy touring and becoming the new-found-master of live performances, the world was busy searching for the majestic piano-tinkering void left in his wake. We didn’t have to look far, and it came in the form of Deaf Center’s Otto A.Totland on Pinô – my favourite modern-classical release of the year and probably the most desired vinyl packaging to boot.
Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal (Asleep version) (Domino Records)
Another ambient master-mind that hit astronomical status this year. An Essential Mix, remixing Coldplay, and being shortlisted for a Mercury Music Prize are just some of the highlights for Jon this year. But, I’m a die-hard Hopkins fan and believe you’ll never beat him when it comes to his ambient pieces, so thank god he released the Asleep Versions this year – a small taster of why we all fell in love with his music back in2001.
Loscil – Iona (Kranky)
Sea Island is probably Loscil’s most accomplished release to date, and definitely my favourite. You can hear echoes of his previous releases scattered amongst these tracks, giving you familiarity whilst breathing new air into one of our favourite ambient producers of recent years.
Marsen Jules – Beautyfear III (Oktaf)
I haven’t given Marsen enough love on ASIP over the years. The prolific german producer turned out Beautyfear for Oktaf this year. An instance of ‘abstract musical poetry’, created in a week during a stay in Lisbon. Look out for Marsen’s contribution to our very own release,‘Europe’ in January.
ASC – The Machinery of Night (Silent Season)
ASC returned with Truth Be Told, his second ambient release on Silent Season, again, to wide-applause selling out pretty much immediately. Deservedly so, it’s another dive into the hypnotic and immersive world of ASC.
Leandro Fresco – Nada Es Para Siempre (Kompakt)
This was the stand-out track on Kompakt’s annual pop Ambient series this year and apparently Leandro is set to return with a new album in 2015 too. The quality of his releases never ceases to amaze me.
Purl – The Stars Will Have An End (Dewtone)
Dewtone started off another succesful year with Purl’s return to the label, Behind Clouds. Another beautiful, bubbly slice of organic and dubby ambient music.
Neel – The Secret Revealed (Spectrum Spools).
It came late in the year, but Phobos is one of the best releases of 2014. The Italian techno veteran takes a completely ambient approach this time around, in a similar guise to his Voices of The Lake alter-ego (with Dozzy). This record however, is much more ‘space-ambient’ themed, with expansive pads and enough depth to loose your head for days.
Frank Sebastian – Towards Distance (Subspiele)
In what was a big year for Subspiele, the label produced it’s first vinyl record, and what a great way to begin. Label boss Frank Sebastian was up first with a mixture of ambient and dub-techno on Towards Distance. More detail here.
Tdel – 1830 (Don’t Trust Humans)
One of the new finds from 2014, on ‘Don’t Trust Humans’, is this brilliant techno LP from Tdel. It ended up being one of my most loved techno records of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing what both Tdel and the label have in store for 2015.
Donato Dozzy & Tin Man – Test 3 (Acid Test)
I also spent a lot of my time this year exploring the Acid Test series. After seeing Dozzy and Neel play in Seattle, my love for their music took on a new meaning and 2014 has seen me accumulating pretty much anything I can find of theirs on vinyl including the latest Acid Test instalment, Acid Test 09.
Gidge – Growth (Atomnation)
The record of the year in many respects – Gidge’s Autumn Bells, is definitely one of my most played, and probably my most recommend album for anyone I speak to about music this year. An exploratory masterpiece in electronica. Gidge’s isolatedmix has also been one of the most loved mixes to date… who knows what this young norwegian pair have up their sleeves next.
Greg Chin – Dashboard Angels (Delsin Records)
Perhaps one of the more unrecognizable names on the track-list, comes in the form of Dashboard Angels from Greg Chin, taken from John Beltran’s latest compilation, Music For Machines. I haven’t got around to putting anything up on ASIP about this release yet, but it’s a superb double compilation of new ambient acts, highly recommended and this track is a shining example of the quality.
To Destroy A City – First Light (n5MD)
n5MD had a pretty big 2013 and looking back, 2014 has been just as big for them too, despite the spotlight not leaning their way too many times. To Destroy A City returned with Sunless, their sophomore album and a highly anticipated record for many post-rock fans. It certainly did the trick, and this track was a perfect closer for me.