My top albums in 2023
What I realized thinking back and looking at Last.fm stats is that I relisten albums extremely rarely in the past few years. I keep pouring new music to my “listening todo list”, and it’s like a never ending chore trying to chew threw it. So if I came across something great, I was happy that I did, but still I rushed onwards to the next one. I picked the most listened albums from the past year below that I had some standout memories of, but I’m sure there were at least a hundred that I loved but don’t even remember.
I want to change this next year, and consciously keep some great albums on repeat for longer. Perhaps take more walks or bike rides with just music playing, instead of this year’s podcast and audiobook craze that overtook my on the go listens. I was also toying with the idea of getting a MiniDisc player so that I can have some great albums as physical discs and stick to them like I did in the old days. Btw, I absolutely love the idea of an MD player, I’ve always regarded that as the single best disc format and never had the device itself. Just needs a bluetooth adapter for convenience, but otherwise it would be perfect.
Back to albums, the absolutely clear winner of the year is Strength by Unto Others. This one album got the replay treatment heavily. It spoke to me this year like nothing else.
My top artists in 2023
I didn’t use the Last.fm export for the albums because I had a cyberpunk atmosphere music playlist that I played on repeat a lot and trashed my stats for the year. The playlist was partly playing during some Cyberpunk Red RPG sessions, but I also kept it running a lot on travels, especially when flying (that’s one I always have synced offline). I don’t think it’s representative of album plays, but for artists it makes sense—these were artists I loved to hear all year long.
My top live music in 2023
It wasn’t an extremely packed year for live music, but the standout moments were strong.
When seeing Weval in Paradiso we climbed up to the second level balcony, which was pretty much completely empty at the beginning of the concert. We found a small bench and moved it right to the middle of the stage two stories high, sat down, and this is how we enjoyed the most amazing electronic music live act and visual show from the recent years. It was like some absolute royal treatment, we were literally laughing at how lucky we were. The music was a rollercoaster of genres and moods, building from idm through uptempo electro to breakcore. And the visuals were building with the show, it started from some extremely simple lights, and ended up with a full stage wide, intense animation. It was perfection.
This was the year when I first met Dr Rubinstein, during ADE, at the He.She.They party in Shelter, and it was love at first contact. That level of energy, impeccable taste in selection, perfection in dj technique, and complete control over the audience. It was a benchmark of a dj set on a level that I haven’t heard in years. Funny thing, I originally went there as a fanboy for Ellen Allien, and Rubinstein stole my heart.
My top movies in 2023
I set out for this year with the determination that I want to watch more movies, and I did. I watched 97 movies, which comes down to about one movie every four days on average. All that while watching a couple of series, too, like binging through the entire catalogue of Bosch, and keeping up with some of the currently running shows. So yeah, this was an intense year for film. Now, as for what all those movies were… I wanted to take it easy, took on lots of lighthearted comedies, and went all in for adventure flicks. I guess it was all about compensating and keeping afloat while other parts of life were shit on occasion. Anyways, what it all comes down to is having seen lots of movies, checking off a bunch of Watchlist items, and getting positive energy, so I’m fine with what I had, even if my yearly average rating is not setting records.
Looking at the top list, it was mostly about random surprises. Again it got proven that my hunches work really well: seeing just a few shots from most of these movies I already knew I would love them, and I wasn’t disappointed. The colorful creativity of Three Thousand Years of Longing, the my kind of sci-fi atmosphere of Ad Astra, the nostalgia-infused hilarious entertainment of the Beastie Boys Story, the slowly building space horror of Life, the weirdo humor of They Cloned Tyrone, the jumpscareless gripping thrill of Talk To Me, the stunning art style of Entergalactic, the silent melancholy of The Midnight Sky were the most standing out. Interesting that none of these were well-advertised blockbusters, but they are far from being some kind of art house cinema, so what are these?
The Spidey animation is obviously the big screen one here, so that’s the line of demarcation, after which the complete randomness of my Watchlist kicks in.
My top series in 2023
Bosch had parked on my Watchlist for a few years now, and finally I took a stab at it, and one and a half months later I found myself done with seven seasons plus the Legacy series. I loved the flow of it and the stories, but in terms of art it couldn’t beat those other two.
Mrs Davis is like a spiritual successor to Dirk Gently—absolutely unhinged, every turn unexpected. I would love to say more, but I really can’t. It’s not an experience you describe. It’s something you show, if you want someone else to experience it.
Arcane killed my soul so that I literally had to build back. I actually had to take a pause of like two months at some point because it was just too much. It is an absolutely shockingly strong story that I am sure I have never seen in animation ever in my life (not to mention the surreal good art style), so I just had to finish it, but it literally took a toll. I was willing to pay, still. It’s like speeding to a chasm and you just cannot not be there for the ride if you know it exists.
My top audio dramas in 2023
I started taking walks during the day this year, to stand up from my desk more instead of working through eight hours straight just sitting still. This was when I realized audio dramas exist. These three were actually the first ones I listened to at full length, and I was shocked that this format exists on this level of quality. I also tried some others, but those didn’t stick.
Batman Unburied came out as the top one because it makes use of the format like no other. It is a piece of content specifically crafted for this medium, and since this was a new medium for me, it was extremely exciting to hear how it plays the notes of this format.
The Long Night on the other hand won me out with the atmosphere. It was like a new season of True Detective but audio.
My top game in 2023
Cyberpunk 2007 took me like three tries to get into it, and then suddenly 117 hours passed and I had a hard time getting out of it. I did all quests, side quests, gigs, every content and all endings of the original game. Great story, music, visuals, atmosphere, characters. Two things I loved most: the power fantasy and the open world.
A friend of mine said how much of a power fantasy this game is, and I realized how true that is. Sniping with a rifle, then running into action with parkour moves, dashing in air, splitting heads with a blade, quickhacking people and systems, and hearing your own cyberpsycho laugh, while industrial techno is pumping loud. It’s a mad cyberpunk fantasy dream.
And the world. What I loved most about the side quests and gigs was that they showed such corners of this city and what’s beyond it, that I would probably have never seen otherwise. I could discover depths, heights, entire sprawling micro-universes of their own, within, above, under, and outside the metropolis. The level of detail and the options to discover are insane.