I love this time of year, lists upon lists of people’s favourite albums of the year, you learn the ones to trust and you see how you’ve moved on. I vividly remember buying the xmas editions of the NME and Melody Maker back in my late teens and spending the early months of the following year catching up on what I missed out on, it was on one of these lists that I discovered bands I treasure now, Sparklehorse, Grandaddy, Elliott Smith, I look this year and nothing grabs me, maybe the Nme has moved on, undoubtedly I have and now I have new people to trust, new musical guidance and thanks to the world of blogs a hundred and one opinions and views from people of high musical compatibility, ones that will introduce you to albums that you will love and remind you of albums that you forgot about, so here I present my favourite discoveries from other peoples end of year lists and the blatant omissions from my own list.
Emeralds – Solar Bridge
I’ve harped on lately about my recent discovery of drone, or more relevantly my recent understanding of the genre, one that I’ve struggled with in the past and not really “got”, it left me bored, it gave me a headache but now I can’t escape from the soothing swathes of sound that resonate through the speakers so dreamily, music at its most naked state, stripped bare to the basic elements and dragged through static radio waves to the innermost part of you, dreamy drones that make me wonder whether the sound of drone may have some kind of embryonic connection, the kind of sounds we hear in the nine months we spend within our mother’s womb growing and developing into the individuals we now find ourselves as.
Emeralds much like The Fun Years touched me instantly; other drone loves such as Johann Johannssonn & Fennesz took their time to gain to my trust and approval and I am glad of my own persistence, Emeralds needed no such persistence, such natural organic sounds, surely impossible not to love even for the most traditional of listener. This two track EP / album has stolen my heart, you should let it do the same to you.
Source: Swan Fungus
I'm Not a Gun – Mirror
Fitting nicely in to the same niche as Flica and Akira Kosemura I'm Not A Gun produce a deeply melodic sound with wondrous glitchy electronic, a natural progression from the “normal” guitar based post-rock that has lately begun to bore me so much.
D_rradio – D_rradio
I can’t but feel bad to have neglected this album over the year, it’s one of those albums you continuously rediscover when you hit the random button, again it’s not a million miles from the kind of IDM Japan has been producing in such great quantities, yet your very own British version to cherish and prove that deep beneath the new musical culture there is genuine talent and melodic greatness to make us proud and soundtrack our daily existence. A spectacular release.
From the very first few seconds of this record you are treated to pure loveliness, gentle twinkles echo in a small child’s laugh before the piano comes in set to glitch beats that have become so recognisable amongst the fore players in the world of Japanese experimental IDM, except in this instance Mr Domenico Mino is a London resident, whether he is of British origin or not I'm unsure but in Time Lapse he’s created an album worthy of its place on Akira Kosemura’s excellent Schole label, a welcome addition to both the owner himself and Flica.
Magical and sweet and peppered with subtle rubbery bass lines, a small treasure.
Source: Nineteen Ninety Never
D Chong - Compositions & Miniatures for Shortwave Tape
I know incredibly little about this release, I call it a release though I can’t even vouch for whether this actually was released, a recommendation from a friend and a recommendation that required several revisits before its true worth became evident.
Dark ambience, broken radios and apocalyptic strings combine deep down to create a murky beauty that will transcend you in to a world of its very own, The Melancholy Suite trilogy standing out as a theme of hope amongst a traumatised society.
An emphatic feel good stomper of a track, perfectly executed northern soul tinged pop guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, effortlessly wonderful. If Strawberry Fair was a little too Shangri-las then this is for you. Can’t wait to hear an album.
The Just Joans – Hey Boy...You’re Oh So Sensitive
If you couldn’t get along with the new Ballboy album like I and just wanted some good old Scottish Tweeness delivered with more than a pinch of salt and some fantastically broad Scottish accents.
Source: Bland i Poka
Andrei Machado – Lacuna
Whilst Goldmund and Balmorhea received the coverage at least amongst the underground, it was actually Andrei Machado that delivered the goods when it came to simple dreamy piano, the kind that no one I know can fail to like, using all the magic that the piano seems to carry and delivering some of the most lovely stripped down music of the year.
As a general rule I hate the word and the genre of Jazz but Bohren & der Club of Gore seem to have pulled something truly enchanting from this difficult genre. Deep deep down in the darkest realms of jazz, lies the beautiful sound as borne out by each and every piano note that accompanies the deep bass that sits octaves and octaves beneath. Music full of distrust, secrets that are better off not known, a gloriously sad listen.Bohren & der Club of Gore - Staub mp3
Final Light – To Stop an Exploding Man
No doubt a Heroes inspired title, the music however is simple and heart achingly lovely, another lovely net release from the Lost Children Net Label and maybe one that could give French Teen Idol a run for his money as the best artist on the label.Final Light – To Stop an Exploding Man full album zip
It took me a long time to get into this after my instant love of the Japanese Spy Transcript EP, at the time one of the most exciting post rock releases I’d discovered in some while, expertly fusing post rock, electronic, samples and a healthy dose of metal ethics into one delightful melting pot of sound and ingenuity.
The single that preceded the album Seraphim & Cherubim put me off, mainly due to the singing on second track Heartflusters, somehow I ignored the beast of an A-side which contained all their usual angst and haunting piano beauty joined by sweeping violins and brutal bass.
The Paris Hilton Sex Tape from the aforementioned tape is a welcome inclusion and possibly one of their finest moments
I have a terrible tendency of rarely reaching the end of an album, in this instance though the foolish listener like I will be missing out as the albums crescendos in style from the heaviest yet C.N.T.R.C.K.T passed the sequel that is He Films The Clouds Part 2 with its actually welcome angelically building outro chorus, to my favourite Maybeshewill moment yet, Not For Want of Trying. Taking a fantastic sample from a film of which name I can’t remember and butchering up a behemoth of a song, guaranteed to make heads bang and air guitars strummed. Riff piles upon riff until a magical breakdown, recession like worry, desperation in the voice, frustration, anger, sick of hearing the same old stories, the same old lies, the uncertainty, the fragility of everything. It’s caught so unbelievably well, I can only wonder how amazing they must be live.
Max Richter – 24 Postcards in Full Colour
It goes without say that this really should have made my top 30, maybe even my top 10, effortlessly elegant and beautiful, and short short tracks, which for someone with an attention span as short as mine is a real blessing. A wonderful release from an artist that you really wouldn’t expect anything less from.
An attempt an exploration of the ringtone as a vehicle for music performance , ‘24 Postcards…’ is an experimental work made up of 24 classically-composed ringtones, set to be premièred in various gallery spaces. The première is intended to be in the form of a series of installations where pre-registered audience members switch on their phones to receive SMS messages, each message alert playing back one or more of the tracks, so making up the performance. In tandem with this release, will be a micro-website hosting 24 photographic images, one accompanying each track. As Max explains: “Thinking about how we listen to music today, I wondered why it is that ringtones have so far been treated as unfit for creative music… Who says ringtones have to be bad?.. It’s like saying LPs or CDs are bad – its just a medium….”
“Because the piece is a collection of tones, where I have no control of the order, I made a structure that holds together by use of shared material – like a cloud of pieces, or a handful of confetti, or a constellation of fragments – to be navigated as you like…” Max views the writing process in similar terms - shuffling basic elements into new constellations.
Tilly and the Wall – O
Potty mouthed as ever but also seemingly brilliant as ever, the idea of having three tap dancing ladies instead of a drummer is yet to lose its novelty, neither has their ability to write stomping pop tunes, this time borrowing a new rockier attitude extraspecially so on the thudding Pot Kettle Back, like what It must sound like if you have the mis/fortune on the floor below a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert.
People We Trust
Silent Ballet Post Rock