Best of 2014 Part 2
As promised, here’s the 2nd half of our end of year run-down. Read about our 20 favourite records below and check them out for yourself on our Mixcloud.
20. Klaxons Love Frequency
What a shame. Klaxons finally released the “pop” album they always promised to make, and a tiny percentage of their former audience heard it. Euphoric, straight-forward music that happens to be great, this album track also came out the Phantasy label in remixed form with Tom Rowlands and label boss Erol Alkan working their magick.
19. John Digweed & Nick Muir Ft John Twelve Hawks 3B3
Digweed and Muir announced an unexpected album project - a collaboration with dystopian sci-fi author John Twelve Hawks that focused on surveillance and lush electronica. In spite of the breadth of the record, we’ve picked the single - an acid-tinged banger that also featured a great Robert Babicz remix.
18. Laurent Garnier Enchanté
Laurent released a series of EPs on different labels throughout 2014. The record’s titles were a mystery to begin with, but soon revealed themselves to be flight numbers. His Hypercolour offering was the pick of the bunch. Jeff Mills influences made themselves heard on the dense and cyclic Pǝsnɟuoɔ, whilst Enchanté showed he’s still capable of making an anthem, should the mood take him - this arguably his first attempt since The Man With The Red Face.
17. BJM Mario Bajardi Standing
Mario Bajardi’s filmic sounds are distinct and his music wonderfully produced. Standing is firmly rooted at the neo-classical end of the composer’s spectrum, demonstrating his knack for a good melody, and featuring delightful violin playing. Read Cloud’s review of the EP here.
16. Floorplan Never Grow Old (Re-Plant)
In 2013, Robert Hood treated us to an album from his gospel house/techno alias Floorplan. In 2014, Hood got all retrospective on his audience, with a 3CD label retrospective celebrating 20 years since M-Plant’s inception, plus additional reworkings of classic tracks from all eras popping up on vinyl. This was one of those, and provided many of techno’s most spiritual moments of the year.
15. Brian Cid Sharp Objects (King Unique remix)
microCastle have a simple label policy - source great records from progressive house pioneers and those who’ve followed in their footsteps. Pairing New York’s relatively fresh Brian Cid with Welsh legend King Unique, Sharp Objects is full throttle, out and out aciiiid. We’d not have expected such a tune to make it so high in our chart, but when the piece in question is so good, it’s thoroughly deserved.
14. Caribou Can’t Do Without You
Can’t Do Without You is Caribou’s anthem. Sure, he’s a rich back catalogue of post-rock and electronica, but Our Love’s first single teleported Dan Snaith into another world. Sentimental yet never cloying, this was the singalong of the summer, and also came packaged with a Mano Le Tough and Tale Of Us reworking that was faithful to the original’s deftness of touch.
13. O'Hooley & Tidow Like Horses
Live, Like Horses is a delicate, piano-led alt country ballad that appears to rally against war. On record, the piece is transformed, with strings, muted timpani and intertwined vocal harmonies ensuring one of the most emotive build-ups of the year.
12. Ramon Tapia & Stavroz Havana (Dub)
This tune is known colloquially in Cloudlands as “samba around the room”, although as the year has gone on, “samba around the house” would have been a more apt name. Whenever you hear it, you just want to dance. A delectable Spanish guitar and trumpet breakdown ensure this sunflecked tune is much more than just a lot of fun - it’s bloody brilliant music, too!
11. Max Cooper Woven Ancestry
Whenever selecting a single Max Cooper track for inclusion in an end of year poll, you’re doing the artist a disservice. With output as varied as the brutal blast of Impacts and to the self-explanatory Voyage Through An Analogue Womb. he’s certainly hard to pin down. Woven Ancestry was perhaps his biggest departure yet, featuring 3 plucked string instruments from around the globe- the Euopean harp, nyatiti and kora.
10. The Antlers Hotel
On Familiars, The Antlers produced a grand, Mercury Rev inspired psychedelic pop sound. With tracks such as Hotel and Palace and Dave Fridmann at the helm, the future looks even brighter for this lush, expansive trio.
9. Dominik Eulberg & Gabriel Ananda Owltastic
Eulberg specialises in nature-inspired electronic music and this collaboration with Ananda sees him at his most playful. At turns propulsive, rocking and twee, this madcap record was a gleeful addition to the oft melancholy genre of melodic techno.
8. PMH Entrance
Heese announced his new label Finitude with this, the most texturally satisfying piece of electronic music of the year. Sleeparchive didn’t reinvent the wheel with their remix, instead simply adding some steel to the existing silk.
7. Guy J Once In A Blue Moon
It’s hard to believe nobody had the idea for Once In A Blue Moon sooner. This sounds like a record from another era, but only because of the mistaken idea that all the best melodies have been used up. Guy J’s found a diamond here, and dramatically presents it to us here amid chugging beats and near-eastern grooves.
6. Joy Wellboy Before The Sunrise (Dixon remix)
It was the quirky vocal treatment on Before The Sunrise that marked it out as one of the year’s best tunes. Dixon’s well crafted remix allows the song space to breathe, before an epic outro that surely ended many a DJ set over the summer.
5. Florian Gallet Recreation
Is this the highest techno entry in the chart?! Ostensibly, yes. Listen to newcomer Gallet’s mix of children at play, exaggerated snares that would sound more at home in an 80s power ballad, and carefree melodic writing. Then note the lack of any formulaic touches one might associate with techno. This is much more than a genre piece and very worth of its place in our top 5.
4. Mogwai Remurdered
Mogwai’s latest album didn’t shout about its brilliance. If anything, their loud-quiet-loud dynamic was reigned in somewhat on Rave Tapes. But with Fridmann at the controls, and a new lease of life from electronic music, of all the unlikely sources, they quietly went about producing the finest record of their career. Remurdered’s funky Moog jam was a highlight on an album packed with great tunes.
3. Gong This Revolution
This Revolution is the eye of the storm on Gong’s zany return to form. It provides a few minute’s solace amongst the madness that is I See You. The whole record is absolutely essential and adds to, rather than diminishes, Gong’s legacy on what may end up being founder-member Daevid’s last LP.
2. Henry Saiz White Rhythmic Mirror
The introduction to White Rythmic Mirror sets the mood and tone nicely, before Henry Saiz introduces a plaintive melody that speaks of loss. This same melody, by the end of the track, transforms into something more determined and optimistic. From darkness into light, with sun-flecked guitar leading the charge, Henry’s Balearic gem can be downloaded for free from this link.
1. Knifeworld The Skulls We Buried Have Regrown Their Eyes
The tune of the year comes from the album of the year. All 8 tunes that comprise Kavus Torabi’s suite about loss are perfect. All 8 work best when heard together. Time signature changes, glam rock riffs, modal scales and much more combine to create an unclassifiable record that deserved the Guardian’s 5-star review and more! The one tune most easily excerpted from this sprawling piece of creativity is the dark, foreboding tale we’ve picked as our number one track of 2014.