Restore To Factory Defaults by Felicity Hammond

Opinion: 2014 Was One Of The Best Years For Electronic Music

In our previous post, we’ve mentioned how 2014 was a pivotal year, one which saw a growing interest in electronic music and a much more diverse output from amazing electronic artists – both old and new.

2014 was a year filled with great things, and we’ll just pull a few out of our nostalgia hat in order to drive our point across:

  • London-born producer SOHN made his debut (and what a debut it was!) with Artifice
  • The ever-enigmatic Burial joined forced with Four Tet on the amazing Nova AND released his Rival Dealer EP
  • erwentpeller released one of the best dubstep mixes ever, a scoring of H.G. Wells’s War Of The Worlds sampling the original narratives by Richard Burton, Phil Lynott and David Essex, featuring the legendary track PCP by 16bit. It was even better than it sounded, one of the most unique and surprising ways to experience a traditional narrative.
  • Electronic/alternative R&B (or R&B Wave as Youtube seems to call it now) was simply massive, fusing distorted sounds with ’90s R&B vocal delivery, and artists like Banks, SEVDALIZA, FKA Twigs, Tinashe, LUCIANBLOMKAMP, Phlo Finister and many more delivered stunning singles, mirrored by cutting-edge producers like Shlohmo, Lil Silva, Arca, Lapalux or Jessy Lanza
  • labels like Hyperdub, Ninja Tune and Brainfeeder were at the height of their power, while 4AD was at the forefront of art-rock and noise-pop experimentation;
  • St. Vincent had a great 2014, with her titular album delivering standout songs, such as Birth In Reverse and Digital Witness.
  • the newly-formed PC Music label was a collective of artists who blended pop and nightcore influences with cyberculture; Hey QT was so big it essentially made hyperpop a viable genre.
  • as we’ve already mentioned, Youtube chillout channels like Mr Suicide Sheep, which collected chillout and bass music, saw an influx of listeners almost every day; “chillwave” was everything, with artists like Tycho and Washed Out dominating summer playlists
  • British band Daughter covered Pharell Williams’s Get Lucky, giving it a memorably unique, dark spin
  • often overlapping with chillwave, the “witch house” genre was still booming, until its eventual almost full-stop just a couple of years later
  • Electronic acts such as Flume, ODESZA and Disclosure were wildly in demand, with Mazde’s remix of Disclosure’s Help Me Lose My Mind (a London Grammar collab) possibly being the breakout electronic track of 2014.
  • Grimes collaborated with Blood Diamonds, an EDM powerhouse known for his massive drops, on Go
  • Until The Ribbon Breaks often released often sensual “re-imaginations” of breakout songs
  • Gazelle Twin was just one of the most powerful performers, with her Unflesh album coming out in 2014
  • Danish singer-songwriter (best known for her Major Lazer collab Lean On) showed creative genius with her No Mythologies To Follow album; later on, she collaborated with Sweden’s Elliphant on One More
  • Icelandic band Samaris fused folklore with dubstep
  • super-producers like Bonobo, Clams Casino and Flying Lotus just continued their ascension
  • not really a 2014 entry, but close enough: Julia Holter released the seminal Loud City Song album, taking her electronic pastoral sound to a more chamber-music oriented place and stunning her fans with an array of great live performances
  • Slow Magic kept on donning his signature tribal mask and released Waited 4 U, mired in nostalgia and childhood games
  • Jonna Lee continued her iamamiwhoami project with her BLUE album
  • the Project Mooncircle label delivered stunning experimental electronic tracks, of which we just have to mention CoMa‘s Monster, a 19-minute track with an “unofficial” video featuring scenes from American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns, feeling like the best Alice mashup since Pogo’s Alice. If there was one word summing up 2014, it was ambition.
  • Remix culture around electronic songs became a lot more widespread (quite an odd thing to mention, really), and since it was electronic artists remixing other electronic artists, it made the scene stand out even more
  • Jamie XX released All Under One Roof Raving and Sleep Sound
  • not quite electronic-related (but wait for it!): the crowdfunding boom led to a resurgence of nostalgia-based projects, and after My Bloody Valentine resurfaced, shoegazers Slowdive also reunited in 2014 with a series of stellar concerts distilling their signature sound.
  • A copy of Aphex Twin’s Caustic Window was famously bought by Minecraft’s creator, Markus Persson.
  • Russian producer Ishome toured Eastern Europe, delighting fans with her real-time wizardry
  • Fuselab was one of the best underground labels to follow.
  • Alison Wonderland teased a couple of songs from her game-changing Run album
  • Imogen Heap returned with her Sparks album, and promised that her newest invention, the Mi.Mu gloves, will change the way music is made (they didn’t, but they were at least a nice invention)
  • Aussie performer Banoffee released Got It, one of the catchiest tunes of the year; Australian electronic music became a lot more pronounced, with artists like Elizabeth Rose and Owl Eyes delivering stunning singles
  • UK-based label Hospital Records turned thirteen and was also one to follow, still sharing stellar drum and bass releases; their Med School Music offshoot often focused on notable newcomers
  • Scottish synth-pop group CHVRCHES shared one of their best singles, The Mother We Share
  • a lot of artists made their debuts, making synth-driven sounds or bass music a priority; electronic experimentation even seeped into the mainstream when it came to pop artists (it has stayed that way ever since, with new pop musicians often working with great producers in order to give their sound a different edge)
  • ESKMO remixed Hundred Waters (as if the band ever needed to sound even better!)
  • Hundred Waters released The Moon Rang Like A Bell, one of the decade’s true masterpieces
  • a Guardian article called the Roland TR-808the drum machine that revolutionized music“, and trap‘s popularity, often based on the “808 sound”, just kept on growing
  • Young Magic released the genre-defying Breathing Statues
  • another Guardian article focused on the afrofuturism aesthetic, and artists like Throwing Shade only contributed to its popularity;
  • UK grime and the oh-so-controversial drill also saw some of their best days; VICE and Noisey both wrote about grime
  • Skepta‘s award-winning That’s Not Me video reportedly cost “80 quid” to make.
  • Trip-hop was just as influential as ever, with artists like Ghostpoet and Tricky, but also the wildly in-demand London Grammar furthering the sound.
  • K.Flay revolutionized hip-hop by bringing it closer to lo-fi pop
  • releasing a song on Soundcloud was still a badge of honor, and Youtube was not nearly as big for songs that didn’t come with a video attached; you could still easily hear Klātu‘s latest, for example, on Soundcloud
  • rappers like Angel Haze or Little Simz slayed
  • music websites like FACT released artist mixes or playlists, and mixcloud was becoming a quality Soundcloud alternative

There’s a lot more to say, and we could go on and on, but it’s always best to show, not tell. We have compiled a playlist made out of every single track we’ve listened to back in 2014 based on Facebook posts, and it’s a huge one, hopefully doing an incredible year at least some justice. You can listen to it below, and hopefully it will take you back to a great year in music:

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Featured image is “Restore To Factory Settings” by Felicity Hammond

About Felicity Hammond (source: Saatchi Art)

Themes of allegory, mourning, and loss are at the centre of the work, which uses the transitional urban landscape and obsolete technologies as a backdrop. Photographs refer to a forgotten industry; industrial relics which become urban follies, lying precariously between construction and deconstruction, archaic and futuristic. The notion of allegory appears where it lays beyond the realms of the political, existing also as a platform for mourning. Through adopting the use of a monotone blue, they can be read paradoxically; representations of the city have been dismembered whilst at the same time have been carefully reconstructed, enabling a connection with an otherwise unobtainable past. This work engages with the allegorical impulse of the photograph; the portal which is provided by the medium.

Other Works by Hammond:

Capital Growth, 2015
You Will Enter An Oasis (Azure)

Reading Material: Sleek Mag’s feature on Felicity Hammond

Extra Reading Material: Who is The Electronic Music Listener? – a hilarious view on the demographics of electronic music (referred to as “EDM”) as seen by Nielsen back in 2014

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