There are a lot of great 2013 records that aren’t on this list. And there are a lot of great 2013 records I haven’t heard yet. And hierarchies are bullshit constructs. And yet here we are!
10: Eluvium – Nightmare Ending
Guitar drones and ambient synths mixed with moody neo-classical. The only ambient record on this list that stays ambient the entire way through, without drifting into abraisive noise solos. For fans of Stars Of The Lid and Eno-style ambient.
9: Melt-Banana – Fetch
2013 comeback records that don’t suck #1: Melt-Banana. I know that japanoise bands are not everyone’s cup of tea, but just listen to Zero, this album’s closer. How can you not love this record? We all have a little noise in our hearts.
8: Roly Porter – Life Cycle Of A Massive Star
Probably the shortest record on this list? This or the Melt-Banana. Beautiful concept, beautiful tones, beautiful progression from rich melodic Tangerine Dream style ambient into moments of brutal power electronics and back again. Fun Fact: When I first listened to this album, my music player locked up and looped a 10-second clip over and over, and I didn’t notice for nearly ten minutes.
7: Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty
This record is like if Zola Jesus listened to Doom growing up instead of Industrial. The production reminds me a lot of Earth’s last few albums, but if you dragged it through the mud and then accidentally used the ‘shoegaze’ preset when you mixed it. Basically it sounds like a lot of good things is what I’m saying here.
6: Le Matos – Join Us
I don’t even know what kind of music this is. Italian Troncore. Vangelis does Georgio Moroder on the set of Zombi 2. Sega Master System racing games fondly remembered through fever dreams.
5: Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Fuck Buttons is the band that proves all this whining about kids today being too soft for noise music is bullshit. Listen to this fucking record, man. This is an Ant-Zen record, this is a Tympanik record. Except the band is playing huge festivals and people are losing their fucking shit over it.
4: Diaphane – Lifeforms
I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from Régis Baillet, each album more than the last. Whenever I listen to his music, it makes me want to be a better musician. Beautiful, melodic, haunting, beautiful. Long, progressive washes of synths and loops with rare moments of driving, frenetic energy.
3: The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
If the Eluvium record is Eno-style background ambient, this is lights-off / headphones-on ambient. It is not for playing in the background while you work on wrapping Christmas presents or make dinner. It is for deep listening. There is so much here. Also there are a lot of beats so probably ambient isn’t the best word to describe this anyway.
2: Gary Numan – Splinter
2013 comeback records that don’t suck #2. The best 90s industrial rock record since the 90s. Seriously. If half the tracks on this were released by NIN as instrumental demos from The Downward Spiral no one would bat an eye. Gary Numan is one of those rare vocalists who can make any style of music sound like he invented it, and after listening to this record, I’m not sure he didn’t.
1: Pet Shop Boys – Electric
2013 comeback records that don’t suck #3. The last few Pet Shop Boys records sounded like they were made by people who hated music. It was only with a sense of deep obligation to the 80s that I listened to this in the first place, actually. It’s hard to pick a #1 between this and the Gary Numan, but it was so incredible to hear a return to form for PSB that it gets the top pick. All Pet Shop Boys greatest hits albums need to be recalled so they can add Love Is A Bourgeois Construct to the tracklist.