Best Netaudio of 2013

best-of-2013

#3. Lefolk – isn’t this dangerous
Release Date: 25.01.2013
Label: Resting Bell
This is one of the best ambient releases in years. Where some ambient might suffer from “cheap synth preset”-syndrome, this is most certainly not the case for ‘Isn’t this dangerous’. Far from walls of sound, all pieces on this release are beautifully crafted, incorporating space and silence just as much as actual sound. The track that stands out the most is ‘Ludmilla’, which is probably my most-played track of 2013.

#2. Params – Grids Grains & Waves
Release date: 24.08.2013
Label: Self-released
Download link
Params released a superb example of clicks and cuts on the world with ‘Grids, Grains & Waves’. Every track is an intricate collage of of patient and haunting synth sounds, subdued kick drums and clicks, cuts and noise. While perhaps not as flamboyant as my #1 pick, this excels in subtlety. ‘Grids, Grains & Waves’ is a fantastic release.

#1. Ochre – National Ignition
Release date: 21.01.2013
Label: Aura Materia
Download link
Whereas deciding the number two and three spots for my list took quite some time, this was not the case for the top spot. When I first heard it back in January, there was little doubt in my mind ‘National Ignition’ was going to be the best netaudio release of 2013. Everything about it just breathes quality: the instrumentation, the intricate rhythms, crisp mixing and stunning artwork (which is available as a separate matte print), and of course the track ‘Leaving Arcadia’. Ochre created something truly special, and it will be in my all-time favourite album list for years to come.


This review was originally published on netlabelism.com, an online music magazine covering netlabel culture and releases. I was editor for the magazine from January 2011 until December 2014.

Dead in Sacramento – Over the Fiery Wall of the Horizon

coverThere’s always just that little extra excitement when coming across new netlabels from one’s native country, so it was with great expectations that I clicked the link to Belgium’s Tape Safe. What I got instead was a call from the 1990′s, who desperately wanted their website design back. Combined with poor sentence structure and excessive use of exclamation marks, my initial enthusiasm was most certainly curbed. But I was there for the music, not to look at the website. Browsing through Tape Safe’s catalogue of releases quickly reveals they offer a plethora of releases in a wide variety of genres. This gives potential listeners a mixed bag of releases, you can get a good idea what they sound like through their latest compilation.Personally, I much prefer the more “curated approach”, as mentioned in Filipe’s latest interview with Thanks for your netlabel. While there is most certainly room for improvement (both in website design and focus for the label itself), there are some delightful sounds to be heard here.
None more so than ‘Over the Fiery Wall of the Horizon’, the debut EP of Dead in Sacramento. The opening track, though somewhat lacking the finesse in instrumentation which the other tracks excell at, exerts just enough pull to get the listener to stick around for the second track. ‘There is no quiet here, nor silence’ is a tiny masterpiece. While it is undoubtedly one of the shorter drone tracks out there (at 3:52 most of its peers have barely begun unfolding most of their layers), it is a meticulously crafted soundscape. The texturing is just right for grain, depth and space alike. It immediately reminded me of Radere’s ‘Lost at Sea‘, which is still one of my all-time favourite ambient/drone releases.
After this excursion, the album returns to a less dronelike instrumentation. Where the opening track stumbles about in its efforts to find its footing, the rest of the EP hits all the right chords with a steady yet subtle precision. Distant guitar is incorporated, which gives a slightly more rhythmic dimension to the release.
All in all, this is a solid debut, and I can’t wait to hear more from Dead in Sacramento. Highly recommended!

Release Page


This review was originally published on netlabelism.com, an online music magazine covering netlabel culture and releases. I was editor for the magazine from January 2011 until December 2014.