An annual DEF tradition as we mull over some of the highlights from our artists before we wave goodbye to 2020.
Katie released her new Austra album, HiRUDiN, on May 1, and this was followed by official music videos, a series of remixes from Avalon Emerson, HAAi, Octo Octa and more (some of which have now been compiled for a 12” release due next year), an Instagram filter, and a film entitled The Shape of You I Know Completely.
For the latter, Katie worked with director Trevor Blumas to create a short film that explores the thoughts and ideas behind HiRUDiN, based on conversations she had with journalist and writer Anupa Mistry and curator Sebastian Kvist. Watch below:
2020 saw the Fever Ray catalogue land on Bandcamp as part of the full Rabid Records discography being made available on the platform. At the end of the year, Fever Ray announced Plunge Psychics, a ltd 88-page zine that explored the inspirations for the Plunge visuals. Due for release in February, its available to pre-order now from the Rabid store.
A new reinterpretation of M83’s “Solitude” from contemporary synthesizer duo Felsmann + Tiley arrived in May. It was complemented by a playlist curated by Anthony that aimed to “capture many of the emotions we are feeling in these strangest of times.” Listen to that below:
This year saw Moby release a new album, All Visible Objects, which offered a return to his early techno roots. A style of music reflected in the remixers chosen to rework the tracks. At the album’s centrepiece was “My Only Love,” a Roxy Music cover version whose impact was heightened by the accompanying, animated music video. Created by Zombie Studio, the music video depicted the effects of rainforest deforestation in quite stark terms. Moby took to Twitch to discuss the themes of this video with Zombie and others; one of several times he live-streamed on the platform.
As the year drew to a close, Moby released another album, the self-explanatory-titled Live Ambients Improvised Recordings Vol. 1. Recorded during lockdown, the album’s ten tracks were made according to three rules: they had to be improvised, no post-production, and a sense of calm had to exude each.
Mylo released a 2020 version of his “Drop The Pressure” with mystery figure Claptone; opening the classic club hit to a new generation of fans. Further remixes from Purple Disco Machine, Sonny Fodera and 1991 & Mant followed.
We got to see some new remixes from Olof this year, as he brought his trademark touch to tracks from Zhala, Mehdi Bahmad and Emmanuel Jal & Nyaruach. Olof also produced Zhala’s track, “Holes,” which was released on Robyn’s label Konichiwa Records.
DJ Olof also made an appearance as part of Bring Your Spoon, The Knife Serves Birthday Cake, a special live-stream broadcast in November. Watch that below. London online radio station NTS also broadcast a guest mix from Olof featuring “an hour of fun and funky sounds including new remixes and current favourites.”
At the start of 2020, Planningtorock was commissioned by Michel Gaubert to soundtrack Chanel’s AW 2020 collection. The reaction to this music led Planningtorock to release a new EP, Planningtochanel, which arrived over the summer. Watch the video for lead track “Drama Darling” below:
In addition, Planningtorock served up a series of remixes across 2020, putting their touch to tracks by Christine & The Queens, Romy, Austra, Zhala, Godford, HOPE and Despicable Zee. Listen to a playlist of them below. In October, a new Planningtorock commission featured as part of World To Come, a Berlin festival based on Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis”.
REX THE DOG
DJ Mag dedicated the latest episode of their film series, How I Play Live, to Rex The Dog and his live modular performances, taking in a Kompakt showcase in London he played at. Watch below. From a music perspective, Rex teamed up with DJ Haus to release a collaborative EP on the Soft Computing label and saw some recent Kompakt highlights remixed by Krystal Klear, Bawrut and Wolfram.
His biggest project this year however was establishing a strong community on Twitch with his Synth Club live stream. Broadcasting weekly, Synth Club features modular and analogue synth jamming, trademark goofy animations, rave reminiscing and general chit chat with Rex’s followers. There is an archive of highlights from Synth Club on Rex’s YouTube channel.
Robyn capped off the Honey campaign with a final round of remixes from Avalon Emerson, Floorplan and Louie Vega. She also collaborated with SG Lewis and Jónsi (Sigur Ros) on two tracks, Impact and Salt Licorice that would have defined the summer months in an alternate pandemic-free dimension. Robyn also recorded a special selfie stick version of ‘Dancing on my Own’ for a Mark Ronson live stream – watch that below:
Her reaction to the unfolding COVID crisis and how to retain a connection with her fanbase arguably defined the year for Robyn. Club DOMO was an ongoing series of DJ sets and performances live-streamed from her Stockholm studio which culminated with a headline slot on Adult Swim Festival. Watch the Club DOMO featuring Zhala below.
Röyksopp delivered more music to their Lost Tapes series this year, kicking off in January with a rare version of their Lykke Li collaboration Were You Ever Wanted. Following this, they dropped the much-requested Andromeda, an improvised track with long-time Royksopp collaborator Kjetil Møster called Gentle Movement, a previously-unreleased song with Anneli Drecker entitled Shine On Like The Stars and Oblique Thrills, produced as an ode to jazz pianist Lyle Mays (RIP). The last Lost Tape to date arrived in August in the shape of Alpha Male [Live]. Listen to all the Lost Tapes below.
In January, Susanne released her latest album, Self Portrait, which was the soundtrack to a Norwegian documentary ‘Selvportrett.’ The film told the story of one of Norway’s leading photographer-artists Lene Marie Fossen who was suffering from anorexia and sadly passed away in late 2019. A video for lead track “When The Lord” can be viewed below:
This was later complemented by the release of ‘Music For People In Trouble,’ a collection of photographs, self-portraits, meditations on nature and brief moments in people’s lives captured by Susanne during the travelling that inspired the album of the same name.
2020 was the year Karin and Olof celebrated 20 years of releasing music together as The Knife. These celebrations encompassed a whole range of activities and will continue throughout the next year. So far they have made their entire catalogue available digitally worldwide for the first time ever, put the entire Rabid discography on bandcamp, issued a new vinyl edition of Live at Terminal 5, released the theme from their Europa Europa collaboration internationally, used their Instagram account to delve through their archive of photographic memories as well as do a live Q&A with fans on the platform.
In November, the band hosted a live stream called ‘Bring Your Spoon – The Knife Serves Birthday Cake’ which featured a broadcast of their 2014 Coachella performance as well as a special DJ set from Olof. Look out for further anniversary announcements in the new year.
Zhala returned with new music this year in the shape of the critically-acclaimed single “Holes,” which was produced with The Knife’s Olof Dreijer. Released on Robyn’s Konichiwa Records label, “Holes” is a taster for Zhala’s forthcoming album; she also released remixes of the track by Olof, Plannningtorock, Deep Throat Choir and TAYHANA. Listen to those below. Next year will see Zhala make her acting debut in a forthcoming feature film entitled Sagres. Read more about that over at Variety.