Favourite albums for 2014


Running a little early this year, as The Sound Lab kicked off the week of best of lists on Triple J, but here are my favourite albums for 2014. You can read the original post on the Triple J website  but here is it - in full with plenty of links and music. In this case my list comprises a few albums that I have listened to constantly, a few artists I respect deeply and a few others that crept in at the last minute.

And yes - it is my final Sound Lab list for what is my final Sound Lab year after 11 beautiful years of playing all kinds of music that I love and worship on Triple J - I'll write more about this later.

  • #10

    FuFa Music

    Volume 1

    FuFa is a compilation dedicated to beats and bass (Sydney artists in this case) put together by FBI radio show, Future Face. Artists include Elbee, Jozz Scott, Ben At Work, Monk Fly, Option CommandRoleo and Anomie who gets a special mention for her excellent 2014 album, Permanent Revelation.

    And additional props to the other collectives who work hard to send out beautiful Australian and international beats including the good people of Free The Beats and Uncomfortable Beats.

    [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/156683539" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]




Clean Dirt

A restless, noodly and lovingly produced album from Melbourne producer, 0Point1 aka Bob Streckfuss. It's his debut album and it's a lovingly crafted series of intricate compositions comprised of samples from around the house, vocals and a lot of talent. When I interviewed him this year, it was apparent he was quite shy and the delicate nature of the music somewhat reflects this. I love it when a quiet release creeps up on you and you find yourself returning to it time and time again. And like so much great music I’ve loved on the Sound Lab over the years – you can grab this for free or for a donation (go on give $). It’s really good. Gets my vote. Here’s the link. http://feralmedia.bandcamp.com/album/clean-dirt

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/155841023"]





Clark has been kicking around the UK electronic scene for a good while and his latest is once again released on UK label, Warp. I've always had a fondness for his production approach, which is imaginative, dense, textured, sometimes unsettling, gothic and with a hint of the vintage Boards of Canada-esque treatment in some moments, but louder, way louder. With this album, he also asks you flip off the shoes and get moving on a wobbly techno dancefloor. Unfurla is rips through you like a freight train while The Grit in the Pearl build and builds till you’re in the clouds. Any more superlatives I can think of … I’m on team Clark.

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Andy Stott

Faith in Strangers

A late entry this year and I may still be wrapping my ears around this one, but I have faith, Faith in Strangers that is. Andy Stott is from Manchester and I am a big fan of his previous spaced out album, Luxury Problems. Whispy, intense, sparse, fab hooks are allowed to disintegrate into a wall of intensity. Stott doesn't ever let you settle in and put on your trackies - and that is what makes it so good. Continuing to push the edges of electronica.

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The Worry

Gotta love Seekae. The trio's talent was immediately obvious with their first album The Sound of Trees Falling on People and they cemented it with +Dome's bouncy instrumental joy. And while some were initially a little worried about the new album, with the introduction of vocals, any trepidation is out the window. Another strong, forward thinking album from one of my long time favourite acts.

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Dear Arca, how do you do it? You gave Kanye West more cred on Yeezus, helped FKA Twigs on her sensational album and you're also giving Bjork a hand on her upcoming release. You're also 24 and amongst all of this, have also released an album that I want to eat. Xen defies anything you would imagine, a series of shuffling beats, bass heavy moments, experimental meanderings and it's so very, very good. I cannot wait to hear what he does next.

The video for Thievery is something to behold ...

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQXKelbB9wk&w=560&h=315]



Ben Frost


Australian musician /composer Ben Frost made a smart move to Iceland many years ago and each of his new releases is something of a revelation. His latest, is a tantalising mix - heavy, melodic, industrial and even a little theatrical. It was written mostly on his laptop while Frost was travelling in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the result is intense, rhythmic, mechanical and expressive. The percussion on tracks like Venter reverberate – underscored by an eerie undercurrent monster of a melody that eventually takes its place in one massive crescendo. Give it time – allow it to seep into your brain and echo in your chest. Turn it up loud and say hi to the neighbours.

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The self-titled debut from Kiasmos is a breathtaking melding of strings, minimalist and experimental compositions and beats. It is simply beautiful. Put it on to go to sleep, put it on to get yourself ready to go out - it succeeds on all levels. Featuring one of my favourite minimalist composers, BAFTA winning Olafur Arnalds and fellow Icelandic artist, Janus Rasmussen (from Bloodgroup). The release connects the space between Arnalds' minimalist piano and string solo compositions and Rasmussen's electronic sensibilities. Put it all together and you have an intoxicating combination.

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Aphex Twin


His reputation as a mind blowing electronic artist is so grand that it would have been sacrilegious not to include Aphex Twin’s album, Syro in my top ten for 2014. Thank f*#k it’s brilliant. Should it have been number one – well yes and no … it’s superb that’s all I need to say. The fact remains that his sound is his own and it has for me an air of timelessness about it. Each track is a unique code, perfectly arranged patterns of sound. Whether its skittering juicy synths, basslines that take you to the moon and back, vamped up acid or gentle piano. And on this note I will forever thank Aphex Twin for transforming my musical tastes when I was a lass and for still remaining relevant and curious with this new record.

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Our Love

An overwhelmingly positive album from Caribou aka Dan Snaith. It's his sixth studio album and the first in four years as Caribou after a slew of releases exploring his dance music chops under the moniker Daphni. Not surprisingly then, Our Love shifts his sound to take in the dancefloor and a little hip hop R&B influence too. It's an album that shows off Snaith's beautiful, skilled and warm approach to production. It's fun, it's optimistic and it's full of love. I love Our Love - it's a little grower.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/152480774" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

And here's a list of other artists whose releases could have just as easily be in there from this year: Martyn, Rat&Co, Raz Ohara, Fatima Al Qadiri, Copeland, Anomie, Elbee, Submerse, Wen, Untold, Plaid, Zammuto, Lee Gamble, Teebs, Illum Sphere, Lawrence English, Porter Robinson, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, Dylan Michel, Dorian Concept, Broken Chip, Lukid, Dabro, Drox, Machinedrum, Lucian Blomkamp, Loops Haunt, Slamagotchi, Lee Gamble, SHXCXCHCXSH, Plastikman, The Bug, Mannheim Rocket, VHS Head, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Lorn, Super Magic Hats, Aeriae and a personal favourite that’s a little off the brief is Banks.