2013 is Justin Velor’s debut album, a vibrant Technicolor collision of styles (“you might call it a musical Dr. Frankenstein,” he says) incorporating everything from Vangelis-inspired synth drones and nocturnal acid house rhythms to tender folk melodies and psychedelic flourishes, all delivered with a searing post-punk sneer. “I wanted to make a fantastical soundscape with colourful dynamics and a soul”
Helping him with his vision ‘Velor’ called upon some of the finest of Manchester’s rich alternative music heritage. Working closely on the project were Doves frontman Jez Williams and 808 State founding member Graham Massey, who both figured heavily in the production and writing of the album, while another Manc icon, Teenage Fanclub’s Gerry Love, adds a stunning cameo on the Eastern-tinted Missing You. Add to that Glaswegian Chris Geddes, one of the shining lights behind the insurmountable Belle and Sebastian, and Lee E John from’ 80s soul sensations Imagination, who lends vocals to the record’s poppy closer Back to the Source, and you have a truly stellar cast of musicians.
Luckily 2013 is every bit the sum of its parts. From the pulsating sonics of Flameout to the broken italo-house throb of Relance to the future-folk histrionics of ‘Listen’, it’s an album that doesn’t so much push at boundaries so much as it drives a ten-tonne lorry at them. But beyond its experimentation and sci-fi tilt is a more human story.
A dizzying fever dream of schizophrenic sounds, 2013 is – as its title suggests – an album ahead of its time, a gloweringly optimistic record designed as a “set of transmissions that work with and against each other like a broken radio” that offers one of the most invigorating and innovative sounds around.