• And the Sky Began To Scream

After not listening to How To Destroy Angels for a few weeks, I gave their full LP a listen from start to finish. Still holds up very well; it’s very dark but distinctly different from Nine Inch Nails.

In a way the whole HTDA concept reminds me a bit of a film director like Nicolas Winding Refn; extremely stylish and very evocative of this unsettling mood that really no other album so far this year has come close to touching.

  • When A Fire Starts To Burn

Disclosure have blown up over in the UK and gotten big critical praise here in the States (well, at least from Pitchfork.) Frankly, I find the hype a bit overrated. Great beats, but I find them heavily following that late 90s/early 00s two step garage that Basement Jaxx helped popularize.

Yet Settle is a really fun album on a surface level. One of my favorite tracks comes early: “When A Fire Starts To Burn”. Great samples.

  • Easier To Hide

Kompakt is all about smoothness. Especially when you look at a guy like Kompakt frontman Michael Mayer, there’s such a precision and cleanliness to his mixes.

When I thought of that smooth sound, Maya Jane Coles debut LP really had that same feel. Really solid production and this overall murky, dark vibe consistent throughout. I was a bit surprised she went with so many guest vocalists, but they work well.

Still Maya excels best at vocal, highly rhythmic house music; the fairly straightforward “Easier To Hide” exemplifies this.

  • Kölsch - Goldfisch

Another big Kompakt artist is Kolsch; he hits big, and epic pretty much all the time on his tracks. Almost at times there’s a refreshingly 90s trance throwback vibe to some of his tracks.

Kolsch’s strength is in the details: On “Goldfisch”, an otherwise pretty straightforward pumping techno track, there’s all these odd flute sounds that pop in at off beat moments. Even the the counter beat to the bass has this unique, “pop” sound to it.

Speaking of Kompakt artists, another very underrated album from way back in 2011 is GusGus’s Arabian Horse. There’s this icy, dark strain of vocal-heavy techno that the album uses as a launching off point. In today’s bass heavy, dirty synth filled EDM, Arabian Horse feels out of place. But there’s a meticulousness and simplicity to the synth choices that really make the whole album totally enjoyable in 2013.

A highlight is the first single from the album, Over.

After a long stretch of coding today in silence I’ve been marathoning The Field for several hours. While Kompakt is long past its mid to late 2000s heyday, The Field is artist that ages well with time. There’s a timelessness to his trace-like looping that’s always cool, especially for headphone listening.

Undoubtedly one of his highlights was The Deal, off of his 2007 debut LP. It goes on for over 10 minutes, but there’s all these subtle variants and layering to the track that are fascinating to listen to.

I question how long this video will remain online, but it’s a great opener while it lasts: Nine Inch Nails started off Lollapalooza off with the new track “Copy of A”. The brilliance comes in that stage direction. Reznor starts solo on a basically bare stage, with band members and their respective instruments added later, one or two at a time. Clearly there’s a nod here to Talking Heads’ classic concert film Stop Making Sense.

  • Kalopsia
  • Queens Of The Stone Age

Sometimes guest vocalists, producers and other personnel slip in unnoticed. But Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails, How to Destroy Angels) has a voice that’s unmistakable in this song’s first chorus. Like almost everything else on this album, it’s an excellent hard rock track.

(Source: Spotify)

When people talk about DFA 1979 many lean on “Blood On Our Hands” or “Black History Month” given the many dance remixes of these tracks out there. But I really love the simplicity and (comparatively) chilled out nature of “Little Girl”. Look for the simple guitar back and forth at the track close.