Of all the content that gets posted on XLR8R each week, there's little question that our podcast series is the thing that usually gets people the most excited. Even as a litany of mix series have sprung up around the web in recent years, readers continue to flock to XLR8R on Tuesday mornings to gobble up the latest mix on offer. In 2013, we published nearly 50 podcasts, all of which were exclusive DJ mixes crafted specifically for the series. The styles explored and the artists highlighted may have varied wildly from week to week, but we'd like to think that each podcast showcased an artist putting their absolute best foot forward. (After all, we only allow people to do one XLR8R podcast; there are no repeat appearances.) Given that, it was difficult to select our favorite mixes from the past year, but our Best of 2013 series wouldn't have been complete without taking a look at the XLR8R podcast series. Our editors' top picks are below, but in the interest of providing a more thorough picture, we've also taken a look at our web traffic and assembled a list of the year's 10 most popular podcasts. Read more »
Inspired by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and writer H.P. Lovecraft, electronic outfit Saroos explores a sound that is steeped in ambiguous sci-fi references. The group's sound is positioned at a crossroads between the physicality of post-rock and the abstractions of electronic music, but experienced ambient artist The Sight Below (pictured above) remixes "Seadance"—a track which comes from Saroos' sophomore effort for Alien Transistor, Return—by submerging that sound into a more cavernous place. Wavering tones reminiscent of old film sound effects and Drexciyan synth percolations bookend this new version of the song, allowing The Sight Below to focus on the guttural textures and druggy beats which meander through its core.
Now based in New York, London-bred producer Jack Dixon lends a more reflective, low-key take on techno and UK bass sounds. In advance of his forthcoming Those Questions EP—out next week via Dixon's own label, White Asega—the artist has shared "See Me," a one-off cut made with occasional studio partner Yusuf Sebaiti. Glitchy synth bits amass into a solid two-step rhythm on "See Me," as an eerily harmonized vocal line leads the track into a grimy, dejected breakdown. But the energy picks up in the song's final minutes, channeling a maximalist bass rhythm that can't help but crash into a bittersweet coda.
DJ Koze's Amygdala is one of the most strangely comforting records of the year. Across its 13 tracks, Stefan Kozalla deals in a beautiful, fuzzy melancholia that seems to be made neither for the club nor headphones, but rather for soundtracking a session of collective weeping with friends at the occasional beauty of the world. Read more »
Maschine Studio is the new, flagship product in Native Instruments' popular MPC-style "groove production studio" line, outfitted with onboard screens and a host of new controls. Included in the box is the brand-new Maschine 2.0 software, which is a big leap forward, full of features and tweaks large and small. Whether you invest in the Studio hardware or not, the 2.0 software is an essential upgrade, and works across the entire range of existing controllers: the original Maschine and Maschine Mikro, as well as their Mk II equivalents. Read more »
Helsinki-based producer V.C. recently released his debut long-player, Invisibility, via his own Raha & Tunteet label. After first giving us a taste of the 12-track effort last month with a colorful video for LP cut "Roy M.," V.C. returns to our pages to give away the slinking "Closing In." Echoes of the producer's time spent as an innovative figure within the skweee movement can be heard across the tune's three-plus-minute run, which cobbles together a playful hybrid from glowing synths, loose basslines, and a bit of understated boom-bap. While still evolving, "Closing In" is a welcome reminder that the miniature tones and crisp beats of skweee are still alive and well.
Crafted as a tribute to John Lennon on the 33rd anniversary of his death, Nicolas Jaar's Our World mix isn't exactly what people might expect from an average DJ set, as the widely popular and inventive artist turned in something closer to a free-form audio collage. Read more »
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