Cool Tracks From 2023
A look back at some interesting tracks from this year
Riow Arai - cpa6
Starting things off with something hooky: Japanese producer Riow Arai, who I was looking up due to a great PS1 soundtrack, has been prolific in recent years on Bandcamp. The releases span genres and are pretty solid across the board. This track is from an album of chopped up 80s city pop. A simple & effective track.
Cliff Martinez - Miu Stretches
I didn't think Refn's Copenhagen Cowboy was as good as Too Old To Die Young, but the music was definitely a highlight. Cliff Martinez only contributed a couple tracks for this, but they are the standouts. Really nice moody synth work with an edge.
DJ Manny - You N You (Feat. DJ Phil)
A refreshing footwork track with all the bases covered. The sample hook is great, the beat is solid, the bass is deep.
Beau Wanzer - Stear
A nice track that seems rooted in the proto-industrial sounds of the late 1970s. An ancient drum machine drives a singular sequence with some creeping synth ambience. Good stuff.
Kid Lib - Meant To Be
Drum & bass is a genre that I took a deeper dive into this year. The classic 90s UK sound still sounds cool & futuristic today, and nothing hits quite like it. This track has everything I look for in the genre.
Sjellos - Hammer & Sickle
Game music is another area I took a deep dive into this year. Not a lot of favorites that actually released this year, but the HROT soundtrack is definitely one of them. It feels rooted in Trent Reznor's Quake soundtrack in a similar way that HROT feels to Quake itself. Really nice rhythmic, textural work that manages to be dark and unnerving without being annoying or grating.
Phran - Ghost Town
Tracks like these are always inspiring. It's always good to have a reminder that sometimes just a cool beat and a hazy sample is all you need.
The Hacker - Alexia
When SIAK shared first The Hacker with me way back in the day, it felt like my music tastes had leveled up just being exposed to it. The Hacker has remained a favorite of mine since then, and the new "Red Team" EP is excellent. This track is a great example of his super effective minimal style.
Om Unit + TM404 - Praha
“Praha” is not really the best representation of this release, but it's always a nice surprise to hear the 303 being used in a more melodic, ambient role.
Andrew Aguilera - Future Views
Got to mention Andrew's (AKA Mooninite) solo album here as well. It was really a step outside his usual production style, and definitely a success. Future Views (the album) is full of longer tracks with more sophisticated melody and texture work, and the title track here is a great example.