Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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2010 Best of List:


My best of list is categorized into three main sections: favorite releases of the year, everything else I enjoyed listening to, and best reissues. I refuse to rank these albums in any particular order because none of them can be or are incontestably the best musical releases this past year had to offer. The only thing I musically regret is not having listened to enough of the never-ending flow of fantastic dance/electronic 12"s because too many were released, not enough were put on the internet as digital downloads, and I simply couldn't afford to buy most of them, vinyl or digital. Same goes for all the underground cassettes/CD-Rs too.

Favorite Releases of 2010:

1958-2009 - I, II, & III
Incredible drone/ambient project that has now been concluded with the release of the third cassette from the series. These tracks are some of the most gorgeous and devastating ambient pieces released this year not to mention the interesting concept of musically chronicling Michael Jackson's life and death.



read the rest!



Andrew Chalk - Ghost of Nakhodka
I know this one came out last year on cassette, and was reissued on CD this year, but it was only a run of 55 so most people couldn't hear it except via download. Andrew Chalk is not a new person in the Drone/Experimental Electronic music scene, but he still churns out achingly nostalgic drone tracks. With the specific sound of this release, Chalk made me think of what an album of purely beat-less, all ambient music by Boards of Canada might possibly sound like.


Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
Much has been said about this album so I will keep is short. Before Today is another consistently great Ariel Pink record full of ingeniously annoying songs and warped, nightmarish 1970s and 1980s funk recollections all topped off with his weird singing.


Astral Social Club - Happy Horse
Happy Horse is great for sounding like Boredoms mixed with the four-on-the-floor house beat used by GAS. Truly drugged out and optimistically lifting tracks that soar to the Sun. One of the best Dance/Electronic records of the year, and you could also consider this a distant cousin to the recent output of Campbell Kneale's Our Love Will Destroy the World. Absolutely Blissful.


The Dead C - Patience
Honestly I stopped paying attention to the Dead C a few years ago because, although consistently great, I thought they did not have much more to add to their sonic output. I guess I was wrong, or I don't care this time around because Patience reinstates the Dead C's greatness for crafting incredibly transfixing, yet simply constructed sonic dirges with incredibly lo-fi tendencies that they helped pioneer for noise rock. This album makes me want to go back and reassess their entire output from the 2000s decade because maybe I wrote them off a little too early and unfairly.


Deathspell Omega - Paracletus
The most brutal metal album I heard this year. Paracletus starts off running and doesn't really slow down as opposed to the two previous albums in this trilogy, both of which are structured more with contrasting slower sections and assaulting ones. Paracletus, instead, is Deathspell Omega at their most pummeling, with the closest resemblance to the straight-ahead Black Metal of Inquisitors of Satan mixed with their now defining Post-Rock meets Black Metal sound minus a lot of the presence of slower sections from earlier records in the Post-Rock style.


Flower-Corsano Duo - You Will Never Work In This Town Again
Although Flower-Corsano Duo have pretty much made the same exact record for the past couple of years just with slight variation, I couldn't care less because each one is so consistently unique and simultaneously pleasing to listen to. YWNWITTA is another solid effort because this duo do not sacrifice quality for technicality, which they are mind-blowing in terms of technicality. This record is for every aspiring guitarist and drummer, behold and let go.


Graham Lambkin / Jason Lescalleet - Air Supply
For America, Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet are among some of the best forces in field recording/sound collage music, right up there with Loren Chase and the whole Jeweled Antler Collective. Lambkin and Lescalleet are able to craft emotionally evocative aural sculptures out of mundane resources and often poorly recorded sounds of field recordings. I swear some of the sounds on this album, if listened to on headphones and with marijuana intoxication, pop out at you almost three dimensionally. Regardless though, the music contained within is hardly anything but simple drones awash with field recordings. Air Supply managed to be this year's equivalent of Brian Eno's On Land, a dark and foreboding minimal sonic experience. Yet, instead of sounding like some imagined alien terrain, Air Supply sounds like it came from your backyard.


Hype Williams - Untitled
Cheesy warped samples, horribly lo-fi but intriguing production, odd mainstream cultural references, and turning the Chillwave style on its end are but a few of the adjectives you could laud at the duo known as Hype Williams. These observations add to the allure of the music contained within here. Something like a blur or residue of a hip-hop or dub(?) party flushed down the toilet. The album art literally depicts what lies within. Good luck trying to find a copy of this on vinyl, but internet downloads are plentiful.


Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Love Is A Stream
Love Is A Stream is an incredible, post My Bloody Valentine Shoegaze album because it removes the song structures and goes head on for the texture. Sure many bands have done this before, but Cantu-Ledesma inserts emotion where so many fail and thus as a result draws you into the burning, heavenly dream buried under the noise.


John Roberts - Glass Eights
Out of all the amazing dance/electronic albums released this year (Actress, Shed, ASC, Mount Kimbie, Pantha Du Prince, etc) I think John Roberts still impresses me the most. Sure many artists have done this too, but John Roberts takes minimal Tech-house and filters it through vinyl distortion. This is the best House record from 2010 because through simple execution of the Minimal/Dial records sound, John Roberts comes out sounding unique and not afraid to pull your emotional strings as well as your intellectual ones when it comes to making effective, intelligently executed dance music.


Keith Fullerton Whitman - Generator Cassette
Not sure why everyone is freaking out over the Disingenuity b/w Disingeniousness vinyl that came out a couple of months ago. Maybe it has to do with the readily available nature of the vinyl format and that Generator was only pressed as a batch of one hundred cassettes. Don't get me wrong, that record is fantastic, but I think what was shown there was an amalgamation of Keith Fullerton Whitman's 2010 music up to that point, which is probably why so many reviewers liked it. But I prefer the minimalist sounds and melodies of this humble cassette on Root Strata over that because the impact was greater for me. This came out earlier in the year and surprised me as the biggest change I have heard from KFW in the past couple of years since he decided to primarily go analog with his music and largely ditch MAX/MSP.


Kemialliset Ystävät - Ullakkopalo
Kemialliset Ystävät has it's detractors that do not like the bedroom quality and homemade instrument sounds conjured within Jan Anderzen's recordings, but if you are willing to ignore or better yet engage the strange quality present in Ullakkopalo you will see how inventive Jan Anderzen is with some of the shittiest means possible. Something akin to a more psychedelic, homemade folk version of Black Dice. This album will make bedroom musicians proud.


Kurt Weisman - Orange
I hadn't heard Orange until recently and I have been impressed by it primarily because Kurt Weisman is able to mix the imaginative impact of Van Dyke Parks, minus the orchestra, with a four track, lo-fi sound setup. Easily among the most interesting use of lo-fi sound within an indie/folk album this year with some of the most personally expressive songs I have heard all year.


Mark Fell - UL8
If you like SND you will like UL8. Mark Fell takes the SND aesthetic and pushes into more abstract areas here, which is fitting for Peter Rehberg's Editions Mego because UL8, unlike SND, eschews most of the underlying Minimal House styles SND are most known for. Repetition and stark Minimalism is key to Mark Fell's music and through repetition he is able to offer a transcendental state that locks you in place, well if you're willing to let these electronic, schizophrenic beats and noises take hold of you. What matters is what is in between the lines here, the textures created by beating you over the head consistently with repetitive beats and subtle changes that so many reviewers fail to realize/understand when reviewing Fell's or SND's music. Not wholly unlike Florian Hecker's Acid In the Style of David Tutor album from last year, also on Editions Mego, which UL8 shares a bit of Hecker's concept with on the Acid In the Style of Rian Treanor section. Best record this year for annoying the fuck out of your roommate if need be.


Mugstar - Lime
Lime is the second contender for my favorite Rock album from 2010. These tracks are slow burners fueled by a depressed, nightmarish sound recalling the darker leanings of 60s and 70s Krautrock and Psych Rock bands. Mugstar are some of the finest modern torch bearers of rock that uses a drugged out state of mind to craft music that takes the listener on a refreshingly forward journey without any intent of ever reaching the conclusion and without pointless noodling that sends you too far out into stagnant space.


Purling Hiss - Hissteria
I am glad musicians out there are still content with making records like Hissteria. This is Rock without anything holding it back. Not afraid to riff endlessly, but also not falling into often boring or contrived song structures of so many Indie Rock, Shoegaze, and Stoner Metal albums. Take the album name literally and you will be rewarded with a sound that resembles Comets On Fire mixed with every Classic 70s Rock, Shoegaze and Shitgaze band you know from Loop to the noisier side of Spacemen 3 to the Stooges to Pussy Galore to anything on Siltbreeze. My favorite rock album from this year and I love that album cover.


Scientist - Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space
I still can't believe the dudes at Tectonic were able to get Scientist to do this. If you have any respect for Dubstep you owe it to yourself to check this out, and you will probably realize it's fresher than most of the Dubstep you heard this year. This is the equivalent of taking Dubstep and turning it into true dub. Is it a regression? Not really because by applying traditionally older aesthetics to a genre, which relies on those aesthetics of old while trying to shed them, Scientist has crafted something out of step with everything around it. Not necessarily new or forward sounding, but also not stuck in past tradition.


Sightings - City of Straw
I am not sure why this band never makes anyone's year end lists. What will it take for people to give a fuck about this band? I mean they receive good reviews, but maybe it's the blatant negativity present in their sound, I don't know. What I do know is that Sightings are adept at crafting coherently composed songs that fluidly mesh pop aesthetics with noise and abrasive dynamics. Best rock record this year for Throbbing Gristle/Industrial fans.


Skullflower - Strange Keys To Untune Gods' Firmament
This is easily the best Noise record of 2010 because Matthew Bower has never been one to sacrifice his sound for anything but his own personal sonic agenda. Twelve tracks of some of the harshest, most insane noise you will ever hear. If you don't believe me just listen to City of Dis and hear Dante's Inferno come to life.


Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Row To The Sky
The new Swans is truly impressive because it really does not feel like retread for Michael Gira. Of course there is obvious influence from Angels of Light in the song writing throughout the album, but at least that sound is made more grim and dirgeful. The only drawback I noticed was the inclusion of an out-of-place Devendra on track five, and Devendra's blatant influence on Gira's singing style.


Zs - New Slaves
The opening track on New Slaves caught me off guard the first time I listened to it because I was not expecting something from this band to demand my attention so dramatically. From their past releases I have heard, Zs' music was interesting, but not as abrasive or challenging in it's obvious minimalist influence blended with Free Jazz and Rock Improvisation. But on New Slaves, they throw their sound at you, whether the abrasive often times barely held together pieces stick with you is entirely up to you to decide. Patience and tolerance are keys to reward in terms of understanding and appreciating what Zs are doing on this record.

Releases I enjoyed listening to in 2010:
Actress - Splazsh
Air Rings Vol.2 Cassettes
Alastair Galbraith - Mass
Alter Eagle - Mechanical Gardens
Alva Noto - For 2
ASC - Nothing Is Certain, Phobos/Oort Cloud/Manner of Time 12"
Ash Pool - For Which He Plies The Lash
Ashtray Navigations - Six Imaginary Scenes From the Life of Muhammad Al-Aqil
Autechre - Oversteps
Balam Acab - See Birds
Barn Owl - Ancestral Star
Ben Klock - Berghain 04
Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Birds of Maya - Ready To Howl
Blessure Grave - Judged By Twelve, Carried By Six
Borful Tang - Heard and Unheard
Bosse-de-nage - S/T
Caboladies - Live Anywhere
Chasing Voices - Acidbathory
Chris Weisman - Fresh Sip Cassette
Clair Cassis - S/T
Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks - S/T
D-Bridge & Instra:mental Present Autonomic - FabricLive. 50
Date Palms - Of Psalms
Dem Hunger - Caveman Smack
Demdike Stare - Forest of Evil, Liberation Through Hearing, Voices of Dust
DJ Rashad - Itz Not Right
DJ Roc - The Crack Capone
DJ Stingray - Sphere of Influence/Sentiment 12"
Duane Pitre - Origin
Ducktails/Dracula Lewis - Split
Dylan Ettinger - Cutters
Efdemin - Chicago
Electric Wizard - Black Masses
ELEH - Location Momentum, Repose
Emeralds - Does It Look Like I'm Here?
Ensemble Economique - Psychical
Evan Miller - Spool/Thread
Expo '70 - Where Does Your Mind Go?
Expressway Yo-yo Dieting - Bubblethug
Farben - Farben 12"
Failing Lights - S/T
Forest Swords - Dagger Paths
Furze - Reaper Subconscious Guide
Gary War - Police Water EP
Golden Retriever - S/T
Group Doueh - Beatte Harab
Harvey Milk - A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Heavy Winged - Sunspotted
Hell Militia - Last Station On the Road to Death
High Wolf - Ascension
How To Dress Well - Love Remains
Hrvatski/Keith Fullerton Whitman - Quickies b/w Butcher Shops
Imaginary Softwoods - S/T
Incursus - Eternal Funeral Trance
Indignant Senility - Plays Wagner
Jack Rose - Luck In the Valley
Joe - Claptrap/Level Crossing 12"
Joe Colley - Disasters of Self
Julian Lynch - Mare
Keith Fullerton Whitman - Disingenuity b/w Disingeniousness
Kinit Her - Divine Names
Koen Holtkamp - Gravity/Bees
Krieg - The Isolationist
Libiis Rouge - S/T
Locrian - The Crystal World
Lone - Emerald Fantasy Tracks
Lovesliescrushing - CRWTH (Chorus Redux)
Lunatik Sound System - The Heavy Minded Orchestra
Magic Lantern - Platoon
Mark Bradley - Godspeed
Mark Fell - Multistability
Martyn - Fabric 50
Michael Mayer - Immer 3
Mike Shiflet -Llanos
Millipede - Full Bloom
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
Murmuüre - S/T
Night Control - Life Control
OFF! - First Four EPs
Omar Khorshid - Guitar El Chark
Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal
Oni Ayhun - OAR004
Optimo - Fabric 52
Our Love Will Destroy The World - I Hate Even Numbers, Ships Cloud Mascara
Outer Limits Recordings - Foxy Baby
Panda Bear - Tomboy 7", You Can Count On Me 7", Last Night At the Jetty 7"
Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
Pete Swanson - Feelings In America
Pom Pom - 34
Pulse Emitter - Over Clouds, Cosmic Images
Pummice - S/T 10"
Radio People - S/T
Ramadanman - Fall Short/Work Them 12"
Rambutan - Broken Infinity
Rangers - Suburban Tours
Rene Hell - Porcelain Opera, Club Speed
Rene Hell/Pete Swanson - Waiting For The Ladies
Rick Wilhite - Presents: Vibes - New & Rare Music
Robin Fox - A Handful of Automation
Rockford Kabine - XERO OST
RV Paintings - Samoa Highway
Salem - King Night
Sandwell District - Sampler Singles One & Two
Scott Cortez - Twin Radiant Flux
Scott Tuma - Dandelion
Sean McCann - Open Resolve, Lower Decks
Shackleton - Fabric 55
Shed - The Traveller
Sistol - On The Bright Side
Solar Bears - She Was Colored In
Soundstream -All Night 12"
Stellar OM Source - Exises, Trilogy Select
Sun Araw - On Petrol
Sun Circle - Lessness
Surgeon - Fabric 53
T++ - Wireless
The Alps - Le Voyage
Theo Parrish - Sketches
Thomas Felhmann - Gute Luft
Toshimaru Nakamura - Egrets
Tyler, The Creator - Bastard
Umberto - Prophecy of the Black Widow
Urban Tribe - S/T
Vakula - Firecracker EP 5
Vegas Martyrs - Missing Vancouver Women
Vibracathedral Orchestra - The Secret Base, Smoke Song, Joka Baya
Walls - S/T
Watain - Lawless Darkness
William Fowler Collins - Enter the Host
Wolvserpent - Blood Seed
Women - Public Strain
Wood-land - Stone Circle
Wrath of the Weak - Solace
Xiphiidae - Sewn Within A Circle
Yellow Swans - Going Places

Best Reissues of 2010:
Anthony 'Shake' Shakir - Frictionalism 1994-2009
Anything on the Dug Out label
Anything on Mississippi Records
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Fast Forward,
Brast Burn
Charanjit Singh - Synthesizing Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat
Dadawah - Peace & Love
Daniel Bell - The Button Down Mind of Daniel Bell (Globius Mix Vol. 4)
DJ Sprinkles Presents Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion I, II, & III
Dwarr - Animals
Drexciya - Neptune's Lair, Harnessed the Storm
Earth - A Bureaucratic Desire For Extra-capsular Extraction
German Oak - S/T
Harvey Milk - S/T
Jeff Mills - Waveform Transmission Vol. 1
Kevin Drumm - S/T, Second, Necro Acoustic
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - Sound System Scratch
Lovesliescrushing - Girl. Echo. Suns. Veils.
Mandarinen Traume Compilation
Marc McGuire - Off In the Distance
Martin Campbell - Historical Tracks 1978-1981
Moebius & Beerbohm - Double Cut, Strange Music
Pesteg Dred - Years of Struggle Against the Lies, the Stupidity and the Cowardice
Recloose - Early Works
Rick Wilhite - The Godson & Soul Edge
Sabbath Assembly - Restored To the One
Sam Prekop - Old Punch Card
Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974
Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Surgeon - Force & Form vinyl
Thomas Köner - Nunatak Gongamur, Teimo, Permafrost
Virgo - S/T

1 comment:

  1. very nice sir very nice, i have to check out some of these i havent heard, i almost bought purling hiss yesterday but aquarius was out, i got amen dunes and forest swords instead

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