my year-end list (2011)
James Blake- James Blake, Enough Thunder, Love What Happened Here
Duh. If you drove in a car with me, sat in my office, or stalked my facebook page over the past year-and-a-half, you are probably well aware of my love for Mr. Blake. From his first single nigh on two years ago, to the recently released three-song EP “Love What Happened Here”, James Blake has reminded me that I’m not so jaded or over-musicked that I can’t be blown away by a new talent. There are actually whole sound wildernesses out there yet to be discovered, and here is one worth the repeated listen. Blake’s production lay bare the intricacies of a few deceivingly simple instruments, not least that feral-soul voice of his. I hope his profilic first two years in the UK spotlight do nothing to squelch the quality of his music. Here’s to an equally awakened 2013, Jim.
Battles- Gloss Drop
Ian Williams is still one of my favourite guitar players. Gloss Drop comes across as more mature an outing from the band’s previous opus, 2008’s Mirrored. Overall, the guest vocalists do nothing to distract from the trio’s tight post-post-rock. And they’re ease in being out front and center as serious musicians has provided hours of worthwhile videos of them showcasing the core of Battles’ true calling: tight knit, where-did-that-come-from, sonic ear candy.
Oneohtrix Point Never- Replica
Returnal piqued my ears, Replica drew me in to OPN’s brand of drone. We both arrived at a similar place this year in our musical output, using looped ambience to tap in to corporate nostalgia. Lopatin takes Replica into what would be deemed kitschy and overused sounds from pop culture in the 1980’s-early 90’s, but it don’t come across in nearly the same way other bands have ripped off what I still think is a pretty terrible time for music (see: that last song on the Bon Iver record). It feels much more personal, like I actually remember my small world from the days of elementary school, not what would be fed to me as skewed version of events I had nothing to do with. Deep listening record of the year.
This was my pop record for the year. I loved the aesthetic of this project right from the get-go, and while female vocals (still) aren’t generally my thing in electronic music, SBTRKT does a good job of picking his collaborators. Sometimes you just want something listenable, and this was that record for me.
I suppose then, this was my metal record of the year. Past all the hype, past all the backlash, past all the hyped-up backlash and the backlash to the hype, Liturgy produced a metal record that made my brain hurt. In a good way. I want to crawl inside the life-affirming riffs of Returner and get sucked in to the noodle-drone of Generation. And like a lot of my favorite metal albums, this collection of songs was recorded in such a way that everything is clear as day and pummeling.
M83- Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Ugh. Just listen to it.
Balam Acab- Wander/Wonder
Of all the “drag” or “witch house” producers that clamored out of the lo-fi ooze last year, Balam Acab came across to me as the one with the most potential to rise above the blogosphere and make genuinely affecting music. His debut full-length dabbles in childhood nostalgia, not unlike Oneohtrix Point Never, and marries organic and synthetic, like Brother Blake’s more adventurous EP material. His sounds are pretty. This is late night music, yearning for a time when innocence wasn’t a dirty word. How much we needed that this year.
Blanck Mass- Blanck Mass
As much influenced by Vangelis as Eno, Fuck Button’s Benjamin John Power crafted a drone record that has obvious references to his main gig, yet adds in space for tenderness. Blanck Mass explores the potential of the synthesizer, with a couple tracks affecting noises that are practically animalian, calling to mind some cyborg zoo in the next starsystem over.
Mogwai- Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
I loved this record because it reminded me of what post-rock is capable of.
Josh T. Pearson- Last of the Country Gentlemen
I have been waiting to hear something, anything from Josh T. Pearson for six years now, and this record was pretty well worth the time scouring for news of his resurgence into music after breakdown and subsequent reclusion.
Earth- Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I
Josh Mason- Temple Bell
Brian Eno- The Drums Between the Bells
O’Brother- The Garden Window
The Mountain Goats- All Eternal’s Deck