Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 Honorable Mentions

The following is a list of the music that, in a lot of ways, I didn't spend enough time with.  It's been a busy year around these parts.  The list constitutes positions 31 through 50 of my year-end favorites.  I'm pretty sure any one of these albums, given some more time, would have ended up in the top 30.  As it is, here is a twenty-way tie for thirty-first place (in descending order). The 2012 Forest Gospel year-end list (in music) is coming soon...

Rebecca Volynsky

Joe Todd-Stanton

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nick Millevoi - In White Sky

Grizzly, doom-laden solo guitar from Nick Millevoi of Many Arms (whose self-titled LP on Tzadik this year was an incredible noise/punk/jazz frenzy).  On In White Sky, Millevoi has lets things slowly devolve into a wonderfully dark, trenchant granularity.  Beautifully demented and worthy of some meditative headphone time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eve Risser / Benjamin Duboc / Edward Perraud - En Corps

I kind of fell head over heals for avant jazz this year.  I've been tip toeing around it for a couple years now and this year, the year of Mayan enlightenment/apocalypse, I've found myself finally falling into the genre without reserve.  If you follow the blog, maybe you've noticed (and, like Erin, are disappointed).  By and large I am drawn to the bombasticly chaotic and swinging (best when hand in hand), which is what makes En Corps, a spare, non-swinging evisceration of jazz, such a surprisingly delicious and eye-opening discovery for me.  The album seems to burrow deeply into the tension of the almost-explosion: the space of the music world that precedes and bubbles towards a crescendo--yet here, Risser (piano), Duboc (bass), and Perraud (drums) dig their heels in and ride that tension of the almost-chaos (which is a chaos all its own) into a space that is both maddening and enlightening.  Consisting of two tracks, the first of which expands beyond a half an hour (the second, fifteen minutes), there is something to be said about the endurance of the musicians and the listeners who brave En Corps, but its a listening experience that rewards like nearly no other in 2012 that I can think of.  Something of a holy grail for adventurous listeners, I don't care what your stripe.

Undercurrents by Michael Fragstein

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Robert G. Fresson

Chris Corsano - Cut

Chris Corsano's everywhere.  He's been everywhere for awhile; collaborating with just about everyone worth noting working within avant rock, noise, and jazz circles.  And while he is a marvelous component of everything he's involved, an amazing percussionist, it's his solo work that I'm most fond of.  Cut is a perfect example of his wide-ranging sensibilities, quilting together a patchwork of modular noises and abstract drumming into something that satisfies immediately, track by track, and builds into something else that is cohesively resonant and confounding at the same time.  A really amazing album.  Also: awe-struck by the video below--Corsano is the next level.

Matthew Houston

Freak Heat Waves - S/T

Thorny, patiently epic art rock from Canada.  Year end fodder.  Newly-pressed-and-limited-to-300-vinyl-LPs-you-better-act-quick music. Because, if not, all that'll be left are regrets.  And guitars searing themselves into your subconscious, percussion ratcheting itself into your soul, vocals evaporating into thin air.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ahnnu - Couch / Pro Habitat

Ahnnu is a Los Angeles-based post-hip hop experimentalist that can be loosely, if vaguely, connected to the forefather work of Prefuse 73 (just to give you an arena), and 2012 is his coming out party.  Dude's released three albums this year--the most recent of which, Survival, popping up in October.  Survival is fair, but where you should really focus your time is with the first two from this year: Couch and Pro Habitat.  The albums are just lush, off-kilter with their overabundance of sampling, and luxuriously woozy.  They are distinctive from one another, but I can't help listening to them back-to-back--making them brother and sister. Something about these two albums just hits the pleasure centers so hard, its exhilarating   Ahnnu isn't new, per se, but relatively--certainly new to me--and in that capacity, maybe my most exciting personal discovery of 2012.  Check both albums streaming below:

So Long, Hong Kong by Gregory Kane

A charming exhibition of place, or: "I want to go to there."

Paula - Relaxed Fit

December is usually the month for playing catch-up, scrambling around trying to listen to everything you meant to over the course of the past 11 months in order to order your year end list.  I'm going to have a hard time doing that, though, after stumbling on Paula's Relaxed Fit from late last year.  I mean, holy moly!, this album is nuts!  Why have I never heard of these guys before?  And a Cadence Weapon spot on "Change the Subject"?!  Sooooo so good.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ratchet Orchestra - Hemlock

If you're looking to break into the world of contemporary jazz, Hemlock is the album. The third from Ratchet Orchestra in the group's 18 year lifespan, the album feels both comfortably experienced and stride-catchingly fresh. Which isn't to say that the band hasn't been striding along wonderfully since it's debut, only to point out that the group's third feels like its grand achievement, its youthful revelation--18 years in. Hemlock is a swelling set with enormous range, offering both orchestral jauntiness, and freely improvised chaos; moments of joyousness and playful abandon matched with loosely threaded melancholy; and all of it managed with a master-craft's touch. More simply, Hemlock is an expression of artistic genius, music that transcends genre. Ratchet Orchestra have tapped into something that demands being recommended in fevered tones, as if your life depended on listening to it. Who knows, maybe it does...it's pretty good.

At 30 strong memberwise, Ratchet Orchestra is no small operation. Check out the band crammed together in the Hotel2Tagno studio, working their voodoo...

More videos of the band recording after the jump.

James Lloyd

Friday, November 23, 2012

Eivind Opsvik - Overseas IV

Fusing together seventeenth-or-some century classical music with free jazz in a series of blissfully morphing pieces, Eivind Opsvik and band play a superb set on Overseas IV. Be patient with it and you'll find, in addition to the lovely composed sections, some really wonderful, lush bursts of jazz.

Dima Rebus


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eric Copeland - Limbo

Liked the Black Dice album from earlier this year, but just liked (should probably go back and listen to it again). I've actually been more fond of Eric Copeland's solo work lately. Limbo is really, really good, I think. It might be my favorite of his, actually. Anyway, it is what it is: skronky-whatever-psychosis. Good cover.

Manolito's Dream by Allakinda

We do not begrudge cuteness. Or wonderful animation.

Jason Murphy

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Raime - Quarter Turns Over A Living Line

I'm in thick with this thing. Makes it so you can only think of obsidian knives. Luminous blackness. This is music for stalking prey by. Or rather, music by which prey is knowingly stalked. Heavy music. Not in the ears so much as the chest. Caverous, sub-level music. This is Lost In London Fog With Jack The Ripper type stuff, plenty of murk and brood, and only slow-moving time scraping by in-between life and black sky black blood black pit of corpses.

Luke Ramsey

Glory at Sea

I've been meaning to watch this but I keep forgetting. Thought if I posted it here it my force me to.

Grass Mirror - Between Things EP

Don't know where I was or how I stumbled across this Ep, but Grass Mirror is on spot.  Nicely textured and casually experimental headphone candy.  Left field hip hop for your Monday.

Kyle Pellet

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gala Bent

First Dog - Feeble in the Biome

Jack Rodriguez is unstoppable. Somehow he always manages sneaking out two full length albums before I've finished savoring what I thought was the last one. And their always super good, too--upper-drugged electro-wonderment stumbling along in some kind of hyper, robotic giddiness. So, keeping you up to date, Feeble in the Biome is the latest slice of staccato-rich, color-rich electronics from First Dog. And it's his tenth! A landmark for the most consistent, hardest working left-field electronicists we have. And if your playing catch-up from two months ago (like I am), see also Language from the Grip..

Friday, November 9, 2012

Telstar Drugs - Telstar Drugs

I'll just get straight to the point: Telstar Drugs are amazing. This self-titled debut of theirs? Album of the year contender. Related to the recent surge in post-punk/pop coming out of Canada, Telstar Drugs is the embodiment of a smart, angular, infecting, imaginative album fully realized. I endorse it for president (of the president).


Emma Dajska

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Steve Weissman

Pages from Steve Weissman's utterly brilliant Barack Hussein Obama.

Jason Lescalleet - Songs About Nothing

Songs About Nothing is about something not anything Jerry Seinfeld after a lobotomy ambling dumbly into oncoming traffic and also is Lescalleet hitting something (nothing) on par in-between John Wiese and good friend Graham Lambkin obviously he's the destroyer the reinvigorator of dead or dying bodies making Larry David try and play Big Black at the bottom of a lake filled with dead automobiles tied with a string of loose splaying AV cables face duct-taped and every kind of parasite marking forearms with overtight tyings of floss and/or not dystopia go figure.

Chris Scarborough

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Peggy Lee Band - Invitation

The release stream from Drip Audio is sparse. Over the course of the last few years, the Vancouver label has been putting out between one and four albums a year. In an era when labels and musicians seem to be flooding the market with every spec of sound they can set to tape, Drip Audio is an enviable example of no-filler curation. It's more, though, than a simple avoidance of filler; Drip Audio is the diamond standard: when they release albums, you make room in your year-end top ten list. 2012 example: The Peggy Lee Band's Invitation, an album brim-filled with musical grandeur of the highest order. It doesn't get better. For their fifth album (where have I been?) the group has assembled a deeply dynamic set of both gilded and crust-inhabited arrangements, effortlessly transitioning between jazz, orchestral and free improv motifs, all of it cohering blissfully. It's a marvelous set, really. The back-and-forth between major key jauntiness and loose instrumental unraveling on "Why Are You Yelling?"; the languid beauty of "Your Grace"; the dirty, meandering, crushed improvisations of "Not So Far" which twine and resurrect into an unlikely, casual grandness--the album's a miracle. In the post-election haze here in the US, this is something in which you can find true hope. I think I'm just going to turn off the lights and listen to The Peggy Lee Band for the rest of my life...

Lost Lost Lost - Les Marquises

If your allowing yourself slip back and be engulfed by music outside of the calendar year, consider Lost Lost Lost.  Found these guys while doing a routine search of bands I wish were coming out with a new album soon (namely, Minus Story) and found Les Marquises.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Goodbye Lancia

Diamond Terrifier - Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself

Make sure, when you are searching for Diamond Terrifier, that you are not searching for Diamond Terrier, which is something else altogether. Terrifier is the right word here, even if Sam Hillmer's debut solo outing is slightly less terrifying than his work with Zs (and only slightly). Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself is also a bit more concise than the earth-eatingly expansive New Slaves, but fans should feel right at home with Hillmer's deranged saxophone spirituals spread here over a bed of fragment dub. In the hands of Hillmer, the saxophone remains my favorite instrument.

Heatsick - Déviation

There is something plastic and nerdy about this recent HEATSICK 12" that I'm absolutely in love with. Two wonderful sides of palm-tree-swaying casio-dub for the Lego demographic.  It's getting bitter cold here in Providence and Déviation's toyish magic is perfect for making summer out of the looming winter.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nap Eyes - Four More Songs By

Surprisingly giving little EP by Nap Eyes. In four songs it casually captures something immense and lasting (which is a lot more than can be said about the grand majority of indie rock I've heard recently). I've been replaying it for weeks now. There's something in the water up there in Halifax...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pencil Mountain

Babe, Terror - Knights

Wonderfully woozy, wonky, elongated weirdness from the good man, Babe, Terror.  Twelve mutating inches of it.  Very much a decedent of Black Dice, Excepter, and all that (though a bit more relaxed), so if you like that type of delusional misfit-ery and you're wondering where the goodness is that is descended therefrom: it's here, it's this:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

El Curiot

Richard Pearse

New old work from Richard Pearse.

Each Other - Heavily Spaced

Each Other are kings of the EP (as were Long Long Long before them (and I suppose, though not entirely related, Voxtrot before them)).  And Heavily Spaced is simply another perfect example.  I'm beginning to wonder if I could even handle a full length record from Each Other.  The band (if you consider its antecendent) has been operating for so long in the realm of pristine, compacted post punk and art-damaged pop that I feel like to extend beyond the formula would short circuit me as a listener, leave me twitching on the ground--overwhelmed by goodness.  As it stands, Each Other is among the last worthwhile indie rock bands, of which Heavily Spaced is a  testament.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Victo Ngai

Bill Connors

Donovan Quinn & Michael James Tapscott - Goodbye, Marlene

A gorgeous and delicate collaboration, Goodbye, Marlene is the best thing Donovan Quinn's been involved with for a long time.  Additionally, the album's a wonderful introduction to Michael James Tapscott, for those who haven't fallen already for his ethereal, angel-voiced atmospherics.  Acoustically sparse and brief in length, the albums is a quaint and wonderfully resonant listen.