We fancied doing a top 5 but being a tiresomely creative bunch no-one stuck to the five items rule. So here’s just some things that we’ve loved over the year.
Glenn Max: Artistic Director
Aphex Twin’s Syro is a career highpoint for a composer-weirdo who has never made a bad record. With Syro, Aphex puts aside all his ”you’re not cool enough to get my trip” bullshit and sets about creating what is the most joyful roller-coaster ride for the ears since… well, since never.
No record sounds better, no record is funnier, no record has such crippling beauty, no record is as danceable. You can put it on at a party and no one complains it’s too weird. You can put it on each morning on the way to work and its like listening to a book on tape. As someone who has often found Richard D James to be arrogant to the point of un-musicality, it is a pleasure to celebrate his unencumbered genius on Syro.
2. Tinariwen – Emmaar
3. Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun
4. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
5. Stephen Malkmus- Wigout at the Jagbags
6. Young Fathers – Dead
7. Eno and Hyde- Highlife
8. FKA Twigs – LP
9. Goat – Commune
10. Snarky Puppy – We Like it Here
Without a doubt the most emotional, communal, funny, political and joyous moment of sheer wonder came from a little known band from Birmingham called, Black Sabbath.
Although we thought we knew the songs and what to expect, nothing could have prepared us for the ‘California Jam weather’ in London on the 4th of July. While Soundgarden were cool and Faith No More had a moment or two. Sabbath we’re so futuristic, so dark, so epoch-ending ominous that they were basically the most distilled version of the blues any of us had ever heard. Opening with War Pigs’ sirens, we were reminded of the sheer travesty of our planets fate – set against the beautiful night in Hyde Park – and somehow we could see that at the end of time, art can triumph over devastation. Led by a mesmerising 8-year old in a 66-year old body named Ozzy, we laughed and headbanged our way through a two-hour set of mesmerising proportions. Watching Ozzy amuse his old bandmates to the point of distraction was sheer joy. Although I saw Ozzy live once before and witnessed his rare magic as a leader, communicator and medium – with Iommi and Butler by his side playing through an unusual selection of their best cuts (Black Sabbath, Fairies Wear Boots, N.I.B) it was sheer beauty…. with strangers arm in arm, looking at each other as if to say, “Can you believe this?” “Is this as amazing as I think it is?” “Am I dreaming?” I didn’t expect such a spiritual moment from a seasoned arena rock band…no this was better than words can tell.
2 Prince at Roundhouse. Late show. Genius. Who knew? Not me.
3 St Vincent. Stubbs Austin Tx.
4 FKA Twigs at Primavera – a star is born.
5 Seun Kuti at Primavera and Village Underground
6 Fat White Family Electric ballroom, Field Day, Great Escape etc
7 Tuneyards – Village Underground
8 Young Fathers – XOYO – a new dawn for UK Music.
9 Melanie Di Biasio – VU – concerts don’t get more smouldering than this.
10 Nils Frahm and Jon Hopkins – Admiralpalaast, Berlin
Jorge Nieto: Club programmer
Similarly the album of the year for me was Syro by Aphex Twin. I also loved Wildest Dreams the self titled debut by DJ Harvey’s live band. But the club world works more on track or single of the year so here are my faves.
- &Me – After Dark
- Ame’s infamous Dan Croll remix an anthem of club world and banned by Dan Croll so its impossible to find online
- Dixon & Guy Gerber – No Distance
- Swayed – Kiasmos
- The Acid – The Creeper
- Jaques Greene – No Excuse
- Ry X – Sweat
- Gaiser – Say What?
- Daniel Avery-All I Need (Remixed By Roman Flugel)
- Floorplan – Robert Hood Never Grow Old
- Antal at plastic people – 6 hours of bliss.
- Sandrien at Trouw takeover at VU (watch out for this girl she will reign the techno world in a few years)
- Mano le tough at ADE
- DJ Harvey at Sonar
Superstition and Inverted audio featuring San Proper
Nils Frahm at the Barbican
Declan Cosgrove: Programming Assistant
- Axel Boman – Family Vacation
- Roman Flugel – Happiness is Happening
- Daniel Avery – Drone Logic
- Leon Vynehall – Music for the Uninvited
- Steffi – Power Of Anonymity
- DJ Harvey @ ADE – great disco and a pleasure to watch a a legend.
- Marcel Fengler @ Superstition – great mix of pumping techno and some of the best mixing I’ve seen.
- Sandrien @ Superstition – an absolute pleasure to watch, nicest lady in techno and really knows her stuff and how to work a crowd. Very impressed by her.
- Axel Boman + John Talabot @ Studio Spaces – needless to say an amazing DJ set of two of the biggest electronic artists. well crafted and interesting dj set.
- Rodahd @ Studio Spaces – sweaty 9AM partying with hard pumping german techno.
- Patient Zero (Function Remix) – Rodhad
- Rainkist (Marcel Dettmann Remix) – Dark Sky
- His Name – Barnt
- Searching Forever – Borrowed Identity
- What It Is – Flori
- Atalatis Discoteque
- Hollywood – Stump Valley
- Bad Kingdom (DJ Koze Remix) – Moderat
- Sideral – Talaboman
- Nards (Ryan Elliot Remix) – Trus’me
Dan Davies: Editorial Director
- Kiasmos – Kiasmos. I don’t go clubbing a hell of a lot these days which is why this debut thrilled me. Coffee table dance music is a bit of a dirty word but this is a great album to put on at home. It’s the continuous house heartbeat, the deft piano, the strings which are an orchestra not a sample that makes for a satisfying continual return. And they’ll be back in the UK as part of Convergence next year.
- Petals Have Fallen – DELS. Ever more confident, ever more competent DELS new album touches a few personal notes but you need to find the biggest stereo you can and listen to those samples and deep base hits. Oh, and he designed the vuzine for us.
- Divide and Exit – Sleaford Mods. Reminds me of my days kicking around in the East Midlands ten years ago, and all of the good people of Leftlion. Rough, tough and very funny – although I’d be terrified to have drink with them.
1 Kate Tempest – Everybody Down album launch, Corsica Studios.
A hot ticket and a particularly sweltering night as we all crammed into Corsica Studios with apparently Frank Ocean and Rick Rubin also squeezed into the sweatbox to witness a spoken word star go supernova with the help from Mr Dan. Although the sound wasn’t quite as good as the Village Underground gig there’s no replacing the sheer delight Kate was having this night and this freestyle still sends shivers down my spine.
2 Jungle – Village Underground
Just a couple of brilliant promo videos and urban GTO artwork was all we had to go on, which explains why the group were still very much in the shadows when they played VU after selling out with ease. Managing only to run off the entire debut album in 40 minutes, this was one of the most compacted sets but everyone walked away knowing they would supply the soundtrack to the summer, regardless of being based in Shepherd’s Bush not South Central.
3 Daka Brakha – WOMAD
WOMAD always throws up inspiring musical surprises and Daka Brakha was my discovery this year. Although their dress might be traditional, their sound certainly isn’t. Their female fronted line-up included a rapping cellist, touches of techno and a guitarist who could stand in for Jonzi from Sigur Ros. Probably not going to be the next biggest thing, but they should be.
Ava Szajna-Hopgood: Editorial Assistant
The War on Drugs- Lost In The Dream
Yes, it’s epic, a little re-hashed and familiar, but it’s also kind of great. Very great. Like all the American road trip cliches you can think of rolled into one, longer explanation of an American cliche. If this is the album that turns me on to Bob Dylan, then it’s just going to be that way I’m afraid.
The Horrors- Luminous
Luminous didn’t come off my record player for the entirety of summer. The Horrors’ albums always seem to define the year they come out in for me, and Luminous was whirring, busy, endless, sublime. Despite the tiny Dalston studio/laboratory this was made in, I love how big they’ve taken this.
Warpaint- Field Day- Victoria Park
Dancing like no-one was watching because what was happening on stage sounded too good. Disco//very in the park.
Black Lips – Bethnal Green Working Mens Club
Sweltering heat, beer on every bit of bare skin, a pit forms within the first four bars of Black Lips’ set. Forty minutes in and the disco ball has been wrenched off the ceiling by a wayward crowd surfer, the band indistinguishable from the crowd, the stage no longer visible, and so, when the venue, crowd and band align, the great Black Lips gigs go.
To Whom It May Concern, Generic Greeting exhibition launch- TwentyTwentyTwo- Manchester
An hour before opening, Big War and Szajna decided to do the whole night on vinyl and light up the tiled basement bar in the only way a July night fuelled by LPs can. Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Loose Ends, Marvin Gaye, too much Belgian beer….broken phones, missing the last Metro home.
Kitsuné’s French Kiss Party- Village Underground
Giant disco balls, Alexis Taylor, I think some of The Jackson 5 somewhere in the midst of a birthday haze…. this night became the one to beat for the rest of 2014, the one whose alchemy we tried to break down in taxi rides home- precisely what made it so good? It remains undefeated.
I went along begrudgingly, I came out converted. This isn’t Richard-Curtis-does-the-miners’-strike, this is heart-wrenching, faultless British cinema, with some stand-out acting from Ben Schnetzer, Joe Gilgun and Dominic West. I only spent 10 months in the 1980s, but in light of the slacktivism that became really apparent this year, it made me feel like I missed out on some true fighting spirit.
Amelie Snyers: Office Manager
65 Days Of Static at Convergence – that ticked all the boxes for me
Melanie De Biasio at Village Underground – I felt so proud because she is Belgian but mostly I love how simple yet GRANDIOSE it was, it was beautifully balanced.
Sebastien Tellier at Village Underground – in a world of slick PR and conventionalism, we should all thank him for not giving a fuck and being such an idiot on stage – the music was EXCELLENT too.
Matias Aguayo at Boiler Room – fun, just fun
Kitsuné’s Valentine Party
Rush Hour Takeover at Superstition – Fun doesn’t get better than that
St Vincent. I don’t understand why I ignored her for so long. I love her and she should be one of those feminine role models for not giving a shit in such an elegant way. She’s so powerful. Also she’s the only person who made me like hearing electric guitar in a long time.