The year 2013 was a watershed for me: I finally crossed over from buyer to streamer of music, and the Pitchfork app inside Spotify, rather than iTunes or Amoeba Records, became my main conduit for finding and listening to new music. (I understand from my hipster friends that Pitchfork is no longer cool; but, then, neither am I.)
Accordingly, here is a Spotify playlist of tracks released in 2013 that I culled out of the stream for repeated listening. Looking it over, I see that Big Pop, although it provided plenty of food for socio-economic and political thought (Thicke, Lorde, Ms. Cyrus, Mrs. Carter, Gaga, Macklemore & Lambert, etc.), and two inescapable summer tracks that I can still hear in my head right now (Blurred Lines, Get Lucky), largely passed me by, as did the big-deal Brooklyn indie rock (Vampire Weekend) and all the hip-hop, with one obvious exception (see below).
I’ve put the tracks in order of length, because it seems to me that I was drawn by temperament, training, and perhaps by my general emotional state in 2013 to longer and longer streaming tracks that emphasized space, electronics, repetition, drones, or ambience. Consider this playlist to be like that old science film Powers of Ten: it begins gently, at a human scale, but by the last track, almost ten times the length of the first, we are deep in intergalactic sound space. Enjoy the trip!
Glenn Jones, “Across the Tappan Zee,” My Garden State
Logos, “Surface Area,” Cold Mission
DJ Rashad, feat. Spinn, “Double Cup,” Double Cup
Disclosure, feat. Sasha Keable, “Voices,” Settle
Oneohtrix Point Never, “Boring Angel,” R Plus Seven
Fuck Buttons, “Year of the Dog,” Slow Focus
Julianna Barwick, “Forever,” Nepenthe
Kanye West, “Blood on the Leaves,” Yeezus
Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N.” (Vindata Remix), Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu
Tim Hecker, “Live Room,” Virgins
Julia Holter, “City Appearing,” Loud City Song
Gorguts, “Colored Sands,” Colored Sands
Kronos Quartet with Bryce Dessner, “Tour Eiffel,” Aheym
Burial, “Rough Sleeper,” Truant/Rough Sleeper EP
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “We Drift Like Worried Fire,” Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Scott Walker, “SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter),” Bisch Bosch
Phill Niblock, “FeedCorn Ear (feat. Arne Deforce),” Touch Five
Robert Fink is a Professor of Musicology at UCLA, and President of IASPM-US. He studies Minimalism, Motown, EDM, and other things that don’t necessarily begin or end with M.