good in 2013

April 19, 2014

Remember 2013? It seems such a long time ago now, but even late-April isn’t too late for this blog to update on the previous year’s music. Certainly not. Last year was actually another standout year, including the return of a few of the big beasts in music – David Bowie (featured in this compilation) not least among them.

Click on the Mixcloud player above to listen, and reminisce.

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0:00:00 / Daft Punk: “Get Lucky” from the album Random Access Memories

No comment required – the biggest track of the year by far (here’s the proof).

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0:06:03 / Poliça: “Chain My Name” from the album Shulamith

Joyous, youthful synth-pop from the Minnesotan band.

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0:10:08 / Young Galaxy: “Pretty Boy (Peaking Lights Remix)”, original version from the album Ultramarine

An undulating pop gem from Vancouver (via San Francisco).

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0:16:41 / Nosaj Thing feat. Kazu Makino: “Eclipse/Blue” from the album Home

Dreamy pop, featuring Makino’s (she of Blonde Redhead) ethereal vocal talents.

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0:20:57 / Suuns: “Minor Work” from the album Images Du Futur

Intelligent, modern rock music.

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0:26:49 / Joasihno: “Oh Boy” from the album A Lie

Quirky, carefree and forgivably twee frippery from this Bavarian duo.

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0:30:59 / Foxygen: “No Destruction” from the album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

The Californians channel a cheesy Bob Dylan – and get away with it.

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0:35:53 / David Bowie: “Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy” from the album The Next Day Extra

Take Bowie’s triumphant return, add a respectful James Murphy (erstwhile of LCD Soundsystem) at his most inspired. The result is this astonishing track.

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0:46:16 / Banks: “Before I Ever Met You” from the EP Fall Over

Tied (with the preceding track) for best song of 2013, in this blog’s opinion.

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0:50:43 / Saltland: “Treehouse Schemes” from the album I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us

Six minutes of beautiful contemplation from cellist Rebecca Foon (also of Esmerine – see this year’s mix).

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0:56:56 / Serafina Steer: “Night Before Mutiny” from the album The Moths Are Real

Jarvis Cocker (behind the production desk) breathes new life into this otherworldly tale of derring-do, originally recorded in 2010.

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1:01:54 / Agnes Obel: “Fuel To Fire” from the album Aventine

Beautifully simple, simply beautiful songwriting from this Danish chanteuse.

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1:07:21 / Moderat: “This Time” from the album II

Sascha Ring (Apparat) and Gernot Bronsert/Sebastian Szary (Modeselektor) once again find the soul in the machine.

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1:13:04 / Junip: “After All Is Said And Done” from the album Junip

Swedish artesans featuring the talents of José González, whom you may recall seduced listeners with a beautiful Kylie cover back in 2003.

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1:18:46 / ends

 

See also:

good in 2012

March 2, 2013

Ah 2012, another year of non-posting (and 2013 is shaping up nicely in the same respect). Musically, as ever, there was reason for a little more optimism: new artists continue to plough the comforting furrows of melancholic synth-pop, krautish indie, soulful folk and minimal composition to keep this blog ‘happy’.

Click on the Mixcloud embed above to listen. Or, if you’re a VIP, wait patiently for an increasingly redundant physical copy to wing its way to you.

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0:00:00 / Ryan Teague: “Shadow Play”, from the album Field Drawings
[eMusic]

Opening Teague’s exquisite album, Field Drawings, “Shadow Play” suggests a hopeful awakening. The Bristolian composer’s artful blend of pastoral and urban grows in confidence and resolve over its duration, but remains in thoughtful repose, just short of committed action.

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0:04:08 / Metric: “Artificial Nocturne”, from the album Synthetica
[eMusic]

“I’m just as f**ked up as they say” confesses Emily Haines at the beginning of this epic slice of power pop. The driving rhythm combines with cascading chords to provide a brimming articulation of the futility of 24-hour culture – an “Artificial Nocturne”.

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0:09:48 / ERAAS: “A Presence”, from the album ERAAS
[eMusic]

The new project by former members of haunt-rockists Apse, ERAAS wove a neo-gothic fantasy with its first album. “A Presence” possesses a mesmeric, halting motorik beat and calls to mind “Sea Within A Sea” by The Horrors, as featured on the 2009 edition in this compilation series.

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0:14:24 / Biosphere: “Blue Monday”, from the magazine promo Power, Corruption & Lies Covered
[Discogs]

Well, here’s a turn up for the books. Geir Jenssen, a.k.a. Biosphere, retreats from the ice caps and tundra to cover perhaps the most sacred artefact in the electronic pop canon. By rights it shouldn’t be here (it was apparently released by Mojo magazine at the end of December 2011), but it makes the cut because (a) it remains an unimpeachably good song, and (b) Jenssen didn’t mess it up.

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0:19:52 / Liars: “No. 1 Against The Rush”, from the album WIXIW
[eMusic]

The art-punk outfit’s second album for Mute show off its electronic chops more strongly than ever. Single “No. 1 Against The Rush” blends accessibility (there are hooks!) with otherness just so.

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0:25:00 / Holly Herdon: “Fade”, from the album Movement
[eMusic]

In Movement, Herndon produced a provocative work about the interplay between human and machine at an almost anatomical level. “Fade” – with its sliced vocals, chopped beats and pounded bass – provides a energising way into the darker, more visceral sounds elsewhere on the album.

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0:31:15 / Grimes: “Genesis”, from the album Visions
[Boomkat]

Whereas Holly Herndon evokes a sometimes fraught fusion between tissue and metal, in Grimes’ music (created single-handedly by Claire Boucher) music the two forces duet in ethereal harmony. Transporting.

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0:35:29 / NZCA/Lines: “Atoms & Axes”, from the album NZCA/Lines
[eMusic]

Pure nostalgia, recalling the early, innocent synth-pop of early Depeche Mode, as well as previous revivalists (as noted in several reviews) like Junior Boys. No pretensions, other than those held back in the early 1980s by Michael Lovett’s (NZCA/Lines sole band member) antecedents, trapped in amber for our benefit and enlightenment 30 years later.

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0:40:18 / Clark: “Black Stone”, from the album Iradelphic
[eMusic]

An acoustic interlude from Iradelphic, Chris Clark’s wide-ranging tableaux of an album (though unmistakably Warp with it). As a whole the release didn’t cohere for this listener, though pockets of beauty, such as “Black Stone”, made it worthy of exploration.

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0:42:17 / Bat For Lashes: “Laura”, from the album The Haunted Man
[iTunes]

The lead single from Natasha Khan’s third album, The Haunted Man. Khan is among Britain’s finest songwriters of recent years, as “Laura”’s redemptive fable (and her previous appearance in this compilation series) attests.

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0:46:36 / DIIV: “Doused”, from the album Oshin
[eMusic]

Back to krautrock, back to Brooklyn (c.f. ERAAS, above – what is it about upper case, double-vowelled band names there?). But who’s complaining?

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0:50:12 / The Liminanas: “Salvation”, from the album Crystal Anis
[eMusic]

Effortlessly cool, unabashedly retro, seductively French – think Gainsbourg meets Spector with a banjo. Magnifique.

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0:53:30 / Choir Of Young Believers: “Nye Nummer Et”, from the album Rhine Gold
[eMusic]

Jannis Noya Makrigiannis’ music hit mainstream consciousness when his (still stunning) “Hollow Talk” (from 2008’s This Is For The White In Your Eyes) was used as the theme for Danish/Swedish crime drama, The Bridge. I think “Nye Nummer Et” means “New Number One”. And it should be.

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0:58:05 / Alt-J: “Something Good”, from the album An Awesome Wave
[eMusic]

∆, to spell the band’s name correctly, won the Mercury Music Prize in 2012 with their debut An Awesome Wave. “Something Good” is a sprightly ditty whose pensive quality makes it a stand-out among its more generic brethren on the album.

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1:01:37 / Sharon Van Etten: “Give Out”, from the album Tramp
[eMusic]

Van Etten produced possibly the year’s finest Americana in Tramp, recorded with fellow neo-folk luminaries Zach Condon (from Beirut) and Julianna Barwick among others. But it’s honesty and directness, not cool collaborations, that give songs like “Give Out” their potency.

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1:05:54 / Cold Specks: “Winter Solstice”, from the album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
[eMusic]

Al Spx (real name unknown), as the creative force behind Cold Specks, created a rare wellspring of authenticity in a world where increasingly one can look only to the past for that vital state of being. Her expansive songwriting and powerful vocals blend folk, gospel, soul and working song – music to be listened to, not written about.

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1:09:57 / Dustin O’Halloran: “Fragile N.4”, from the album Lumiere
[Boomkat]

Lumiere, from which “Fragile N.4” was taken, was released in 2011, so is here (due to administrative error) under false pretences. But no matter: O’Halloran’s rich, forgivably syrupy piece feels the right way to close.

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1:13:26 / ends

See also:

reaching down: a 2011 mix

February 11, 2012

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0:00:00 / Kreng: “La Poule Noire”, from the album Grimoire
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Belgian sound collagist and theatre composer Pepijn Caudron’s book of magic casts a mesmerising spell over the listener, conjuring a Grimm world of shadowy threat and decaying beauty. Its dark universe becomes, at times, so oppressive it leaves you caught between seeking escape and welcoming surrender. Delicious. (Listen for yourself.)

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0:03:41 / Hana: “Tate”, from the promo Wire Tapper 25

Low key, simmering techno from Greek duo Thanos Papadopoulos and Thanos Bantis, culled from the April 2011 edition of the Wire magazine’s promo CD/download series. To date, Hana have just one album of austere analogue electronics to their name. More please.

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0:07:15 / Daphni: “Ahora”, from the single Ahora
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Daphni is none other than Dan Snaith (Caribou, formerly Manitoba), so you know what to expect: lush electronics, organic rhythms, skewed melodies, solid grooves.

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0:12:41 / Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir: “Cool Gray 1”, from the album Pan Tone
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

In Pan Tone, German pianist Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka) and Icelandic cellist Guðnadóttir collaborated to produce one of the year’s most satisfying additions to the modern classical canon. The two musicians seem to interact and play off each other like seasoned jazz partners, recalling in places the meditative improvisations of The Necks. A fine addition to the wonderful Sonic Pieces label’s catalogue. (Listen here.)

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0:19:09 / Tim Hecker: “In The Fog II”, from the album Ravedeath, 1972
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

2011 saw not one but two outstanding releases from Canadian noise-whisperer Tim Hecker: centrepiece Ravedeath, 1972 and a curated selection of out-takes from those sessions, Dropped Pianos. Despite being recorded in Iceland (with Ben Frost contributing production duties), Hecker’s harmonic drones on Ravedeath evoke shimmering heat mirages, tantalising yet unreachable.

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0:23:55 / Chris Watson: “El Divisadero (The Telegraph)”, from the single El Tren Fantasma (The Signal Man’s Mix)
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Sound recordist Chris Watson’s output has tended to focus on the natural world, revealing new dimensions to our environment  that can only be experienced once you close your eyes (see previous posts). El Tren Fantasma (“ghost train”), Watson’s 2011 album and accompanying single – based on recordings made for a BBC television programme – mark a departure (if you’ll  pardon the pun) as it reveals the industrial grind, strain and toil of Mexico’s railway system.

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0:29:52 / Kangding Ray: “Or”, from the album Or
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Kangding Ray’s (David Letellier) latest album fuses minimal techno, bass and industrial to create a kind of, well, minimal industrial – the pistons, hydraulics and drills are still there but now they operate in sterile conditions, to nanometre precision, under the control of remote CPUs. Yet the machine has a heartbeat, as the title track (featuring the ubiquitous Ben Frost) amply demonstrates.

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0:35:00 / Answer Code Request: “Escape Myself”, from the single Subway Into
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

It’s fortunate that this fairly obscure (apparently German) garage/electronica ditty found its way onto Marcel Dettmann‘s highly recommended minimalish techno mix, Conducted. Otherwise its pleasingly propulsive shuffle wouldn’t have slotted into this mix, right here.

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0:39:15 / Pinch & Shackleton: “Rooms Within A Room”, from the album Pinch & Shackleton
[Boomkat] [iTunes]

I didn’t know dubstep could sound like this, bristling as Pinch & Shackleton is with exoticism, intellect, imagination and emotion. On their self-titled collaboration, Rob Ellis (Pinch) and Sam Shackleton brought renewed clarity to the normally submerged soundworld of the genre, in doing so moving its narrative away from the streets and into the mind.

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0:44:32 / Regis: “Blood Witness”, from the EP In A Syrian Tongue
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Erstwhile member of the apparently-defunct (and, if so, sorely missed) Sandwell District label, Regis (Karl O’Connor) exemplifies that collective’s uncompromising, muscular take on the techno ethic.

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0:50:00 / Jacaszek: “As Each Tucked String Tells”, from the album Glimmer
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Polish musician Michał Jacaszek’s seventh album sounds like it was assembled by a magical tinker or watchmaker – a multitude of tiny components that combine to become one living, mechanical organism. Blending baroque, ambient and jazz, Glimmer lives up to its name, a flickering lightbulb in the musty gloom. Captivating.

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0:53:33 / Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto: “Naono”, from the album Summvs
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Alva Noto‘s stark digital backdrops are the perfect foil for Sakamoto‘s melodramatic piano melodies; it’s no wonder they found each other. Summvs is their fifth collaboration in ten years, and retains its predecessors’ blend of fire and ice. The sonar motif of the beautiful “Naono” evokes an imaginary underwater journey beneath a frozen sea.

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0:59:27 / Roly Porter: “Arrakis”, from the album Aftertime
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Bristolian Roly Porter’s visceral debut took analogue synthesisers, including an ondes martenot, and field recording sources and systematically mangled them with the kind of noise generators and filters beloved of the other drone connoisseur in this mix, Tim Hecker. And like Hecker, Porter’s distorted musicality is both unsettling and affecting.

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1:02:48 / Petrels: “Winchester Croydon Winchester”, from the album Haeligewielle

Oliver Barrett (a.k.a Petrels) drew on somewhat obscure historical inspiration for his solo debut (he is also a member of Bleeding Heart Narrative): pagan water sources (“haeligewielle” is the Anglo-Saxon antecedent of “holy well”) and the life and work of William Walker, a renowned diver who shored up Winchester Cathedral in the early 20th century. The result is a surprisingly coherent blend of folk, field recording and post-rock, a deserving soundtrack for a biopic yet to be filmed.

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1:05:37 / Nils Økland & Sigbjørn Apeland: “Belg Og Slag”, from the album Lysøen: Hommage À Ole Bull
[eMusic] [iTunes]

Sometimes I wonder if I should give my listening entirely to the output of the ECM label. Its studied simplicity and singular worldview brings harmony, even in dissonance, to the disequilibrium of modern life. This tribute to Ole Bull, the 19th century Norwegian violinist and composer, was recorded in his home on the island of Lysøen. The two musicians – voilinist Økland and organist Apeland – tread the line between recital, composition and improvisation so gracefully you almost feel the Nordic wind in your eyes.

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1:08:20 / Khyam Allami: “Individuation”, from the album Resonance/Dissonance
[eMusic] [iTunes]

Syria-born Londoner Khyam Allami arrived at the oud as his instrument of choice only in 2004, after playing violin, drums and bass guitar in various settings since childhood (he’s now the ripe ‘old’ age of 30). His debut album betrays the startling proficiency and intuition in both composition and performance he has accumulated in less than eight years.

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1:14:17 / ends

See also:

good in 2011

January 25, 2012

2011 was another vintage year for new music – though it must be said a less-than-stellar year for this blog. Time to make a change.

Still, I just about managed to find time to curate my annual CD-sized selection of favourite tracks (not a definitive countdown, please note) from the past 12 months. I’m grateful for my own small mercies.

Click on the Mixcloud embed above to listen. Or, if you’re a VIP, wait patiently for a physical copy to wing its way to you.

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0:00:00 / Swod: “Sans Peau”, from the album Drei
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Swod is the acronymic name of German duo of Stephan Wöhrmann and Oliver Doerell. Together they crafted one of the most intelligent yet accessible instrumental albums (their third) of the year. “Sans Peau” illustrates its lightly-worn intricacies perfectly.

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0:04:52 / Mina Tindle: “To Carry Many Small Things”, from the EP Mina Tindle
[eMusic] [iTunes]

Nom de plume for Parisian singer-songwriter Pauline De Lassus, Mina Tindle captured critics’ and listeners’ (including this one’s) hearts with her warm, playful chamber pop.

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0:08:32 / Joan As Police Woman: “The Magic”, from the album The Deep Field
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Another slice of grown-up, contemporary pop from the consistent, generous but sadly not prolific Joan Wasser. This cut, with shades of “Cry Me A River” (a good thing, by the way), adds a touch of soul to her indie sensibility.

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0:12:40 / Metronomy: “She Wants”, from the album The English Riviera
[eMusic] [iTunes]

“She Wants” out-New Waves the New Wave – it sounds so authentic it could have inspired Japan, The Cure and the others over thirty years ago. But it was released in 2011, and sounds fresh too. How do Metronomy do that? Maybe it’s something in the Devon water.

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0:17:33 / Blouse: “Into Black”, from the album Blouse
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

More New Wave reminiscence, this time from elegantly morose Portlanders Blouse. My early enthusiasm for their self-titled debut album has perhaps waned just a touch, but “Into Black” still pulls me into a gratifyingly melancholy dream state.

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0:20:58 / Emika: “Come Catch Me”, from the album Emika
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Ema Jolly – Berlin-based, Czech-descended, England-born Emika – created possibly most accomplished electronic pop record of 2011. Her debut showcases her already coherent vision: meticulously-programmed techno and dubstep sounds wrapped in immaculate song structures. A real treat.

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0:25:02 / Astrid Williamson: “Pour (Raffertie Remix)”, original from the album Pulse
[eMusic] [iTunes]

I haven’t heard Ms. Williamson’s Brian Eno-inspired album Pulse, but this blend of her breathy, passionate vocals with Raffertie‘s techno theatrics hits the spot.

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0:30:01 / Hecq: “With Angels (Trifonic Remix)”, from the album Avenger
[eMusic]

Shamefully, the only other album from German sound designer Ben Lukas Boysen I’m familiar (intimate, more truthfully) with is 2008’s Night Falls – a cinematic, ambient, exquisitely dark symphony-of-sorts. Avenger, on the other hand, is a satisfying collection of mostly pummelling dubstep. Trifonic’s take on “With Angels” (click for an insight into the production process) is in fact one of its lighter moments.

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0:34:01 / Martyn: “Viper”, from the album Ghost People
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

This track from Dutch producer/DJ Martyn (Deykers) makes the cut simply as a result of its tip-of-the-hat to my 107th favourite track of the last four decades: Front 242’s “Headhunter“. That it’s also a pleasing little techno interlude is just gravy.

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0:36:39 / Rone: “So So So”, from the EP So So So
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

I can’t think of a single way in which this house/techno hybrid could be improved. “So So So” asks little of you but rewards you in spades – a selfless track that only knows how to give. The video is a hand-drawn treasure, and the other two tracks on the EP maintain the quality. Erwan Castex deserved all the plaudits he got in 2011.

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0:43:45 / Gui Boratto: “Soledad”, from the album III
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Gui Boratto’s 2007 debut Chromophobia remains one of the best dance albums ever released in this blog’s humble opinion. While his third full-length – called, aptly enough, III – doesn’t quite match up, it does have more than a few moments when Boratto’s intuition shines. “Soledad” is one of them.

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0:48:50 / Apparat: “The Soft Voices Die”, from the album The Devil’s Walk
[Boomkat] [iTunes]

Sascha Ring (a.k.a. Apparat) toured with a live band for the first time (photo here, video here) to support The Devil’s Walk, his fourth album blending analogue and digital, club and home, headphones and heart. While he may not appreciate the comparison, Apparat brings to mind Radiohead at their very peak.

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0:53:12 / M83: “Midnight City”, from the album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

“Midnight City” was pretty inescapable in the second half of 2011, particularly if you came across E4’s Made In Chelsea or the BBC’s endless Olympic coverage trailers while channel-flipping. I didn’t rate the album as highly as everyone else, but once you hear “Midnight City” its hook remains in your head thereafter. The very definition of catchy.

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0:57:15 / Julia Holter: “Goddess Eyes”, from the album Tragedy
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

The most conventional song on Tragedy, a meditation on the Greek play Hippolytus, “Goddess Eyes” nevertheless belies Holter’s beguiling otherworldliness. The album is captivating, bewitching even – we are Phaedra to Holter’s Hippolytus.

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1:00:39 / Lana Del Rey: “Video Games”, from the album Born To Die
[iTunes]

Possibly the breakthrough act of 2011, “Video Games” single-handedly propelled Lizzy Grant – Lana Del Rey to her audience – from online backwaters to the global chat show circuit almost overnight. A torch song for meaning and happiness, it brings majesty to the mundane. “Hollywood sadcore”, as the woman herself puts it, is the perfect label.

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1:05:19 / I Break Horses: “No Way Outro”, from the album Hearts
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Swedish neo-shoegaze band I Break Horses’ debut Hearts created a shimmering, beautiful soundworld, though perhaps it lacked just a little light and shade across its 40 minutes. That said, “No Way Outro” does evoke a kind of end-of-innocence feeling that takes a long time to fade after the song does.

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1:09:41 / Deaf Center: “Time Spent”, from the album Owl Splinters
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Norwegian duo Deaf Center crafted a beautifully haunted album of cello, piano and field recordings in Owl Splinters. I’ve covered the solo work of one member, Erik Skodvin, before. “Time Spent”, however, foregrounds the touch and poise his co-conspirator, pianist Otto Totland.

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1:11:51 / ends

See also:

rust to rust: a 2010 mix

December 31, 2010

My final post of the year, and my first ‘mix’ (I use that term loosely – it’s not an art I’ve remotely mastered as yet). It’s a companion to yesterday’s good in 2010 compilation and, for no reason in particular, it’s called rust to rust. Like the compilation it contains tracks from five of close to 94‘s top ten albums of the year, so even if the mixing isn’t up to scratch, be assured the music is. Happy new year.

0:00:00Infra 7 by Max Richter from the album Infra (Fat Cat)
close to 94’s #05 album of the year/album review

0:01:13Far From Land by Nest from the album Retold (Serein)

0:06:01India Lately by Gold Panda from the album Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)
album review

0:12:32 / I Feel Your Soul by Ghostape from the compilation Milky Disco 3: To The Stars (Lo Recordings)

0:15:23 / Silent Servant (Regis Edit) by Sandwell District from the download Bleep X Sonar 2010 (Bleep.com)

0:19:58 / Generator 7b by Keith Fullerton Whitman from the album Generator (Root Strata)
close to 94’s #03 album of the year/album review

0:22:27 / It Doesn’t Arrive by Emeralds from the album Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego)
close to 94’s #01 album of the year

0:25:48 / Stress Waves by Oneohtrix Point Never from the album Returnal (Editions Mego)

0:31:00 / Night Escape On Water, The City In Flames by Ensemble Economique from the album Standing Still, Facing Forward (Amish Records)
album review

0:36:17 / Angel Echoes (Caribou Remix) by Four Tet original version from the album There Is Love In You (Domino)

0:43:34 / VCR (Four Tet Remix) by The XX original version from the album XX (Young Turks, 2009)

0:52:07 / Salendro by Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics from the album Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics (OST) (Strut)
album review

0:53:51 / A Hidden Place/No One Really Knows by Sohrab from the album A Hidden Place (Touch)
album review

0:58:04 / V8 by Senking from the album Pong (Raster-Noton)
close to 94’s #08 album of the year

1:02:42 / Cherry Moon by Lorn from the album Nothing Else (Brainfeeder)
album review

1:06:10 / Os Veix3 by Autechre from the album Oversteps (Warp)

1:10:27 / The Making Of Grief Point by Loscil from the album Endless Falls (Kranky)
close to 94’s #09 album of the year

1:18:22 / ends

See also:

good in 2010

December 30, 2010

Herewith another end-of-year compilation and, like every year, good in 2010 doesn’t represent a definitive countdown of the best tracks of the last twelve months: it’s a track list for a compilation that covers some great music released across that period. (CD-Rs in the post to those on The List soon.)

You can listen to all of it in sequence here…

… or dip into it track-by-track below. Tomorrow I’ll publish a mix of deeper, darker stuff from 2010. Enjoy.

1. Lay In A Shimmer by Pantha Du Prince

The opening track of close to 94‘s sixth favourite album of the year (Black Noise), Lay In A Shimmer does what it says on the tin.

2. Odessa by Caribou

Opener and single from Swim, 2010’s fourth best album by this blog’s estimation, Odessa is kooky disco par excellence.

3. We Want War by These New Puritans

Bold baroque pop from Southend-on-Sea from the #10 album of the year according to close to 94.

4. Aminals by Baths

Baths, a.k.a. Will Wiesenfeld, broke through this year with his debut album, Cerulean, a highly-praised mix of hip-hop beats and sun-drenched Californian song-writing.

5. Tracers by Scuba

With Triangulation Scuba served up one of a small handful of thoughtful dubstep releases that appeal as much to the head as to the feet. Full album review here.

6. Move On by Lali Puna

A highlight from the so-so album released back in April by the German electro melancholists. Full album review here.

7. Mirrorage by Glasser

Glasser is Cameron Mesirow, a one-woman orchestra who performs on conventional instruments and those of her own invention. She also writes and sings beautifully. Can someone have too much talent? Check out her debut album, Ring, to find out.

8. Losing My Patience by Shit Robot

Great band name, though Shit Robot isn’t actually a band. It’s the alter ego of Marcus Lambkin, an Irish DJ, producer and member of James Murphy’s DFA stable of acts (see track 10). This track features Hot Chip vocalist Alexis Taylor, which is nice.

9. Vessel (Four Tet Remix) by Jon Hopkins

This year, as ever, Four Tet gave as much to listeners as remixer as he did as creator (his There Is Love In You album was a welcome return to form). This beautiful re-rendering of a track from Jon Hopkins‘ 2009 album Insides is what you hear if you look up with word sublime in the dictionary.

10. Home by LCD Soundsystem

The last LCD Soundsystem album? That’s what I call quitting while you’re ahead. From close to 94‘s #02 album of the year, Home is just one of a brace of James Murphy’s immaculately loose electro-punk cuts on This Is Happening. After listening to it you feel younger but wiser. Weird, huh?

11. Afraid Of Anyone by The National

Grown-up rock can either be grippingly stirring or crushingly dull. The National, naturally, stay firmly on the side of the former. From their universally lauded album High Violet, this track shows why the band, ten years in, are as strong as ever.

12. We Used To Wait by Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire were back in 2010. Back as in they released their first record since 2007’s Neon Bible, and back as in The Suburbs (from which this track is taken) more than made up for the (relative) disappointment of that release after the revelation that was their debut LP Funeral.

13. The Mall And Misery by Broken Bells

Broken Bells is name of the collaboration between Brian Burton (the producer-star better known as Danger Mouse, one half of Gnarls Barkley) and James Mercer (lead singer of US indie band The Shins). As such it could either be spectacularly good, or spectacularly bad. It is not bad at all.

14. Enchanting Ghost by Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens indulged the world with not one but two substantial releases this year. The first, the hour-long All Delighted People EP – from which this track is taken – was a wonderful blend of Stevens old and new (full review here). The second, the dizzying album The Age Of Adz, I haven’t yet fully digested.

15. The Course by Wildbirds & Peacedrums

It’s becoming an annual tradition to include something by Wildbirds & Peacedrums on this compilation, though last year they made it there via an administrative error. No such nonsense this year: their album Rivers, itself comprised of two EPs – Retina and Iris – was 2010’s seventh best. And that’s official.

16. Natural Tune by Efterklang

The quiet compilation closer is this year provided by Danish art-indie ensemble Efterklang, whose latest album, Magic Chairs, saw them return to a more intimate staging of their music following their triumphant tour of previous album Parades accompanied by full orchestra.

See also:

Compiling an extensive ranked list, in one’s idle moments, of favourite music from the last 40 years surely signals some kind of crisis. The conceit that it somehow matters whether that Pixies track is three, seven or 13 places ahead of that Ekkehard Ehlers track dissolves under the mildest scrutiny – it is one of the least important pieces of data ever captured.

To persevere anyway requires a cognitive dissonance that is only three, seven or 13 steps away from full acceptance of the fact that, from here on in, an increasing percentage of your thoughts will not only not matter to anyone else – they won’t matter much to you either. Once these thoughts reach 100%, well …

The flip side to this is the certainty that the individual pieces music contained in such a list not only matter to you, they matter to lots of other people too. And when you collect them together and associate them with all the other artefacts of humanly organised sound that have ever existed things don’t seem so bad after all.

So welcome to the midlife 150.

Like any list worth its name, there are rules:

  • It covers music first made available between the beginning of 1970 and the end of 2009, though please make allowances for mild inaccuracies at the edges
  • Artists can only appear more than once as part of different ‘acts’. For example, Lou Reed can appear as a solo artist and as a member of the Velvet Underground
  • Tracks that constitute whole albums have reluctantly been excluded. It didn’t seem fair, though it is mortifying that The NecksDrive By doesn’t make it as a result
  • It represents my opinion only at the precise moment it was compiled, and entries and their rankings may well have changed by the time they are published, particularly in the lower reaches of the chart

I’ll update this post as each entry is published; the plan is to get to number one by the end of 2010 2011 2012. I hope you find something new that you like.

All midlife 150 posts

#150 Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again by The Books

#149 Tender To The Blues by James Yorkston & The Athletes

#148 Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

#147 Left To My Own Devices by Pet Shop Boys

#146 Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

#145 Reflection Nebula 056n by Tadeo

#144 Don’t Buy Ivory, Anymore by Bojan Zulfikarpašić

#143 Fake Tales Of San Francisco by Arctic Monkeys

#142 Hurt by Johnny Cash

#141 Mother And Daughters Now Mothers by Chris Bowden

#140 Manchild by Neneh Cherry

#139 Slow Jam by Four Tet

#138 Up With People by Lambchop

#137 Toxic by Britney Spears

#136 Moya by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

#135 The Past Is A Grotesque Animal by Of Montreal

#134 Green Grass Of Tunnel by Múm

#133 Time & Space by Grooverider

#132 Behind The Mask by Yellow Magic Orchestra

#131 Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone by The Temptations

#130 I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost by Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co.

#129 Concrete Schoolyard by Jurassic 5

#128 The Rhinohead by Von Südenfed

#127 Pick Up The Phone by The Notwist

#126 Family Tree by TV On The Radio

#125 Movin’ On Up by Primal Scream

#124 Plays John Cassavetes (part 2) by Ekkehard Ehlers

#123 Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

#122 Hamburger Cemetary by Slowblow

#121 Pull The Wires From The Wall by The Delgados

#120 Undertow by Stars

#119 Londinium by Archive

#118 Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem

#117 With Arms Outstretched by Rilo Kiley

#116 Gasoline Alley Bred by The Hollies

#115 Hate To Say I Told You So by The Hives

#114 Ms. Jackson by Outkast

#113 Our Lips Are Sealed by Fun Boy Three

#112 Hypnotic Drugstore by Jimi Tenor

#111 Down To The Well by Pixies

#110 Different Trains – After The War by Steve Reich

#109 Vatnajökull by Chris Watson

#108 Nobody’s Diary by Yazoo

#107 Headhunter by Front 242

#106 Vitamin C by Can

#105 Over Jordan by Papa M

#104 The Box by Orbital

#103 Love And Communication by Cat Power

#102 Ten-Day Interval by Tortoise