Seb Chan (Editor)
Top albums of 2005
Tunng – Mother’s Daughter & Other Songs (Static Caravan)
Coming out right at the start of 2005 this has pretty much been on heavy rotation all year round. The biggest surprise of all was to be flying British Airways and noticing that it was the ‘feature’ album along with Coldplay and Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left on the inflight entertainment system in September! An amazing album of very British folk songs intertwined with electronic beats.
Alpen – Overdub (Feral Media)
The Sydney-based Feral Media label put out a lot of releases this year but the pick of the bunch was from label co-owner Danny Jumpertz’s solo project, Alpen. Not only sporting stunning artwork, it is wonderful pop post-rock album, with hooks AND noodling.
Pivot – Make Me Love You (Sensory Projects)
Another great Sydney album, and long overdue at that. I was sorting through my CDs and found 4 different demo versions of the album that I’d accumulated since 2001! It does lag slightly in the middle but its still probably the best local debut album in ages.
Sibot – The Real Estate Agents (African Dope)
One disc of a three CD set released as The Real Estate Agents (the other two in the set with Markus Womrstorm who had previous releases on NYC label Sound Ink) on the South African label African Dope. Sibot is a South African DMC champion and sits somewhere between Kid Koala in terms of humour and QBert in terms of raw skills. This debut reminds me a lot of QBert’s Wave Twisters and it is a heavily electronic turntable record of crazy beat science and a-typical funky jams.
Various Artists – 1981 (Bootleg)
A ‘not for profit’s bootleg, 1981 was highly praised on Simon Reynolds blog, Blissblog, just before the release of his Rip It Up & Start Again history of post-punk. That was enough to hunt one down, and on arrival it proved to be everything it promised – the best songs of 1981 skewed through a post-punk lens – and a lot more. There was a lot of stuff I already knew, but a lot that I never heard as well and spread over 9 CDs and 1 CD of several hundred MP3s there that made for compulsive listening well beyond the time spent reading Reynolds’ book. Each CD was categorised by mood and the three standout discs were Emotional, Fire and Feet. If you heard me playing The Cure’s All Cats Are Grey as the closing song at Frigid for a while then this compilation is the reason why.
Top individual tracks of 2005
Burnt Friedman, Jaki Lebeziet & David Sylvian – The Librarian [Out In The Sticks 12″] (Nonplace)
I’m probably not the only one who was a bit disappoiinted with the Nine Horses album Snow Borne Sorrow which followed this 12″. On the 12″ Burnt collaborated with Sylvian for the first time and The Librarian is a stunning track which, on the album version if tainted by an incessant guitar.
Pivot – Incidental Backcloth [Make Me Love You] (Sensory Projects)
The standout track from the Make Me Love You album and the one that we picked for the Cyclic Defrost sampler CD.
Clor – Dangerzone [Clor] (EMI)
Rumoured to be the backing band for Roots Manuva, Clor are one of those super funky ‘angular’ new British bands. They didn’t quite pull it off on their debut album but Dangerzone is a totally killer track with a booming hip hop beat and pop lyrics to match. The single Love + Pain was pretty good too but Dangerzone kills it.
Kode9 & The Space Ape – Kingstown [Kingstown 12″] (Hyperdub)
Steve Goodman drops yet another essential dub bombshell on his Hyperdub label which can seemingly do no wrong. Kingstown is total dread bass science. Maybe not as good as his Prince cover Sign Of The Dub but still streets ahead of the rest.
And some others heard or appreciated first in 2005
John Fahey – Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes (Tacoma)
Spiralling ‘primitive’ blues guitar. Recommended enthusiastically by the staff at Rought Trade in Neal’s Yard. And I’ve probably played it fifty times in the last three months.
Cliff Martinez – Solaris OST (Trauma Red)
Lawrence English bigged this one up in his ‘Selects’ in a back issue of Cyclic Defrost and I tracked it down on this recommendation alone. Although the remake of the film was disappointing the soundtrack by ex-Chilli Peppers Martinez is breathtakingly wonderful. One of the best ambient records in a long time.
Gonzales – Solo Piano (No Format)
I hated Gonzales for a long time. I didn’t dig the comedy schtick. Solo Piano is just that – Gonzales playing slightly twisted melancholy piano motifs. No backing, no drums, no singing, just piano. Quite lovely.
Mice Parade – Bem-Vinda Vontade (Fat Cat)
This was another one I took a long time to come around to. But since then its become one of my favourite ‘indie’ records of the past so long.
Some more great records
Goldmund – Corduroy Road / Deaf Center – Pale Ravine (Type Records)
Birmingham’s Type label burst onto the scene this year with a swag of fantastic releases. The albums from Goldmund and Deaf Center were their two strongest releases, combining admirably restrained ambient works and never-dominating subtle electronics. Goldmund’s Corduroy Road is a series of quiet piano works with heavy use of the sustain pedal. Deaf Center on the other hand is considerably darker, almost gothic, soundtrack ambience full of menacing and brooding moods. Both releases fit nicely into a modern classical/electronic/ambient collection which also contains Max Richter’s The Blue Notebooks, Johann Johannsson, and Biosphere.
Dungen – Ta Det Lungt (Kemado)
I concur with Lyndon on this one. An amazingly joyous record that sounds like it has come straight out of the late 60s or early 70s. Swedish psychedelic rock with big riffs and lyrics that are apparently not joyous at all, written a dark time in Dungen’s life. Fortunately it became much more widely available in 2005 with several labels licensing it from Sweden for various territories.
Best live show
I saw a lot of shows this year. Both in Australia and in Europe. But looking back only a few stand out.
Sigur Ros at the Enmore Theatre
I got some prime seats for this show and it was probably one of the best gigs I’ve been to in ten years. It is rare to be moved by concerts these days – there’s always someone annoyingly chattering nearby, or the sound is rubbish – but for Sigur Ros everything just was wonderful – amazing subtle use of video, crystal clear sound, epic songs, bowed guitars, Amina’s strings. Even though their best record is still their debut for Fat Cat (ágætis byrjun, 1999), this concert along with their continuingly beautiful music videos, showed they are a million miles ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of making affective (and effective) music.
Autechre at Cinecitta, Tokyo
I’ve seen Autechre a few times over the years – the first time when they toured to Australia for a show in Melbourne to launch Warp Records local deal with MDS in 1994. Then in 1998 I caught them twice in Europe and the UK. Now in 2005 they could have been terrible, but I think that seeing anything of this scale is Tokyo is going to be amazing. Japanese crowds for this sort of music are just so ‘into it’s it is crazy. Supported by LFO and Rob Hall from Skam it was an amazing all night show with about 3000 people crammed into a pitch black warehouse. Incredible sound and crazy bass, and surprisingly danceable.
Kid Koala & P-Love at the Cyclic Defrost #10 Launch, Clare Hotel
This gig so nearly didn’t happen.
We had booked P-Love for Frigid at the @Newtown but we got kicked out of the venue to be temporarily be replaced by Irish bands (which lasted three months until we came back in May) a week before the scheduled show. Then we had all sorts of problems with the main Kid Koala show – in order to meet rising costs we had had to set a higher door price than any of us were really comfortable with. That said, the Metro show was pretty good. Anyway, we took the tour party down to Bondi Beach on the Friday to do the cliff top walk to Coogee and got a call from Nick at the Clare Hotel – he could do the venue for us on the Sunday night if we wanted. Somehow we managed to convince Kid Koala to join in on the show with P-Love and we’d quickly promote it the best we could.
The Clare was packed to the rafters, people were even outside climbing on rubbish bins to look in the windows. It was crazy, and sweaty. P-Love and Kid Koala ripped it up back to back on four decks playing a wild party set – the kind of set that I think a lot of people were hoping for at their Metro show which was much more theatrical and skit-based. Everyone was happy, Kid Koala and P-Love and everyone had a great time. It reminded us of the value of cheaply priced intimate club shows.
Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett (Planet Mu)
Easily the winner of the ‘most unpronouceable album title’ award in 2005, Venetian Snares’ 2nd album of 2005 (and it was released in March) sees Aaron Funk produce a far more mature sound. Mixing some really crazy, but great, beats with his own viola playing Rossz got 2005 off to a good start.
Mutamassik – Masri Mokkassar: The Definitive Works (Very Friendly)
One of DJ/rupture’s cohorts brings out my album of 2005. Combining Moroccan street music with modern electronica production methods, Mutamassik created something truly spectacular with this record. Better than Special Gunpowder, this is now the definitive world music + nasty beats record.
Pendulum – Hold Your Colour (Breabeat Chaos)
Having been very very boring for quite a few years, drum n bass suddenly becomes interesting again and finds itself a new champion in Pendulum. With a good selection of special guests such as The Freestylers, Pendulum has made nasty dnb suddenly suitable for radio play (late at night, admittedly).
Markus Kienzl – Product (Klein)
Sometime Sofa Surfer Markus Kienzl made one of the years great records – sound layered upon sound creates what could truly be called a Product. Kienzl deliberately designed it like this so that he could play it in clubs, remixing the material on the go. Soulful electronica washes into dirty techno – great music.
M.I.A. – Arular (XL Recordings)
While loathed by many, the South American shanty riddim of much of Arular brings this previously unheard genre to mainstream ears. Displaying both attitude and musical ability (in part due to her boyfriend, Diplo), tracks like Bucky Done Gone and Pull Up The People set her above the pack.
Cassette Boy – Dead Horse (Barry’s Bootlegs)
Another Cassette Boy album, this time focusing more on cutups than humourous songs. Cassette Boy makes his living out of recording endless hours of news broadcasts and daytime TV, then splicing it together to make subversive statements. Dead Horse sees all the regular participants, including Tony Blair, George Bush, Harry Potter (as read by Stephen Fry), The Streets, Dido and a whole slew of UK celebrities. Very, very funny.
10ft Ganja Plant – Bass Chalice (ROIR)
Not strictly electronic, but 10ft Ganja Plant’s latest opus is 40 minutes of pure, blissful jazzy dub. You should track this one down.
Richie Hawtin – DE9 Transitions (Novamute)
If you’re going to listen to any mix of glitchy minimal techno, then Richie Hawtin is the man to do it with. DE9 transitions is a 94 minute DVD mix accompanied by a 74 minute cut down mix for CD. Simply put, Hawtin really knows his away around his decks and his record collection and puts down a blinding set.
DJ/rupture – Low Income Tomorrowland (Tax Records)
/rupture’s back with another mix and it’s a blinder. Moving from Filastine and Dead Prez to Tracy Chapman by way of Bong-Ra may not sound like it an easy path, but it is one that DJ/rupture has chosen to follow. Thankfully he’s more than qualified for this kind of expedition and Low Income Tomorrowland will remain on your playlist pile for a long time.
Just a quickie for these:
AFX – Hangable Autobulb (Aphex Twin’s first 2 EPs on CD for the first time)
Mr Scruff – Mrs Cruff (The first Mr Scruff album that no one’s heard and happens to be great).
Sun-Ra reissues with bonus tracks (With Space Is the Place now on DVD, these reissues are must haves)
Just a quickie for these:
Noisia – Monster (.nl dnb gurus turn out a great dark dnb 12″)
Motion Man ft. Kutmaster Kurt – Confidence (Main track features a great Lee Perry sample – say no more)
Unknown – Portishead & Manu Chao dnb remixes (dnb remixes of popular songs that actually work – Over by Portishead and King of the Bongo by Manu Chao)
Chris SU – Solaris (really tight dnb tracks with a Russian space station theme)
Not a bad year for new sounds, 2005 saw the return of vocals and guitars to a cross-section of genres. I’m not prejudiced either way on the rock vs electronic debate, as I love both equally. However, I do like a quality vocal performance, and I was impressed to hear some great singing in the ’05!
Sounds of ’05 Part 1
Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word – Andy Votel (Delay 68 records)
There’s no better way for the untrained ear to grab a ready made swag of psychedelic folk rock goodness than this launching pad provided by Mr. Twisted Nerve himself, Andy Votel. Featuring the jonimitchellonacid bliss of Linda Perhacs (whose “Paralellograms” CD is surely one of the reissues of 2005), the strange sibling harmonies of Wendy & Bonny and the always excellent Poppy Family, this album is entertaining from start to finish. Votels’ other comps this year (the Vertigo label mix and the Welsh psyche comp) were worthy contenders for this list also.
R.Kelly – TP3 Reloaded (Jive)
Now, this isn’t one I would recommend anyone rush out and buy, on the whole the album is a load of overly sexist R&B tripe provided by world famous pisser, R. Kelly. However, it does feature the urban operetta (?) entitled “Trapped In The Closet” – one of the most audacious and startling selections of music I have heard this year. Our man, R, tells the story over 5 tracks, of daliances with a young lady whose apartment he wakes up in after an amnesic night out on the crunk juice. Her husband arrives home to interrupt the affair as Kelly is attempting to leave, forcing our hero into the closet. Now is where the story really begins, only to become more and more (melo)dramatic as the tracks progress. The hook is the use of the same backing track for each part of the story, and the way R.Kelly’s emotions and anxieties rise to an urgent fever pitch in a crescendo of overwrought outpourings. Describing it here is of no real justice to this OTT magnum opus that really does need to be heard to be believed.
See the video for part 1 here.
If you’re really interested (and I know you are) there’s a DVD out with 12 episodes of this blown out masterpiece all told in song. Who knows, could lead the way for a crazy new genre – the musical soap opera! Word!
DJ Koze – Kosi Comes Around (Kompakt)
It’s a rare beast that can create such a diverse album containing techno, downtempo, tech house, minimal, ambient elements/tracks and pull it off with such aplomb as Germany’s DJ Koze. Take one listen to the exquisite strangeness of the track “My Grandmotha” or the groove within “Estrella”, and you’ll know what I mean. I thoroughly dug listening to Kompakt’s past and present catalogue while I worked at my machine this year, one of dance music’s most consistent labels.
Dungen – Ta Det Lungt (Subliminal Sounds)
Released O/S late last year, re-issued and expanded in 2005, this gem of an album is best described as a uncompromising, multifaceted musical trip straight in to your head and deep out into the Swedish forests. The title translates to “Take It Easy” and is the brainchild of Gustav Ejstes who grew up in a big 17th century house in the little village Lanna in Vastergotland, Sweden. His musician father opened his ears to the sound of Swedish folk rock from the 60’s and 70’s and duely inspired, Ejstes recorded this psychedelic gem in a house in the woods of Smaland.
It’s an album that keeps on giving, each listen uncovering new sonic thrills. I think the fact that it is sung entirely in Swedish only ads to it’s mystique. This album sounds like 1968 all over again. Recommended
Today – Superpitcher (Kompakt)
“Mope house” maestro, Superpitcher takes us on a ride like a dewy morning maladie along the German autobahn of our minds (hmmmmm…well) with the most impressive mix set I heard this year. Equally wistful and brooding, multi-textured, chunky grooves all seamlessly programmed in the way that only a true music lover could concieve, all the while holding tension and utterly surprising the listener at each turn.
I really dig this mid-tempo ride as it avoids everything I despise about the nasty cavalcade of DJ mix cd’s that have drowned the music market over the years. Featuring the pick of the Kompakt roster as well as similar Euro soul-tech brothers in arms such as DJ Koze, Wighnomy Bros, Max Mohr, Triola and Sebastien Tellier, this mix runs a close second to Michael Mayer’s legendary “Immer”.
Black Mountain – Black Mountain (Jagjaguwar)
From a sleazy darkness comes a new groove infatuated with rock, drugs, cum and the blues – once heard, not easily forgotten. Equal parts Led Zepplin, Velvets and the belief in the JB’s “on the one”theory, this is not modern music. Rather it’s an arresting assault dragged from the sludge of an ancient mud. Lead by Stephen McBean and a group of fellow health care workers, Black Mountain are the anti-Wolfmother if you please. One to turn up loud and impress/scare your mates with. Check out the Pink Mountaintops as well, also lead by McBean and equally as impressive.
It’s been a cool year for music. People will say the opposite, people do that every year. If you’re looking there’ always so much and I’ve been nowhere near as on the trigger as some other Cyclic Defrost crew. But I did get to do the records justice listening to loads of albums on long train trips travelling through Europe, China and Japan. Listening like that I found myself drifting back into a lot of indier records and a lot of more obscure, freakier stuff (still positively chambray shirt and boat shoes conservative compared). Frost/School of Emotional Engineering, Sun, Rand & Holland, Felt, Cluster, Marsen Jules and Battles all spent a lot of time in my headphones. This is just a work in progress.
TOP 10 TIME
1. Omar S – Just Ask The Lonely (FXHE)
When I bought this at Hardwax in Berlin I was desperate to hear something new; for such a fantastic record shop it really is a museum. Fortunately I found this. Brilliantly DIY, house, techno and broken beat deep repetitive underground soul music.
2. Khonnor – Handwriting (Type)
So many shoegazer electronic bands are perfectly hazy and reference all the right acts, but make polite forgettable music. Like that other teen indie kid, Francis Plagne from Melbourne (who may just sneak into this list when I’ve given it more of a listen), Khonnor’ made a truly affecting album.
3. Pasobionic – Empty Beats for Lonely Rappers (Elefant Traks)
Curse Ov Dialect and Tzu’ studio operator released this early in the year, but it took a while to hit me. Now it’s a firm favourite. The sparse beat programming may be too niche for Australia, please international beat diggers, find this.
4. Pivot – Make Me Love You (Sensory Projects)
Breathtaking, lush, tricky, melancholyâ€¦ In short everything you could want from the long awaited debut.
5. Remote Viewer – Let Your Heart Draw a Line (City Centre Offices)
Two of Hood in an album of achingly melancholy indie electronics.
6. Roll Deep – In At The Deep End (Radioclit’s chopped and screwed version) (Radioclit.com)
I can’ believe I still haven’ heard the proper record yet, DJ/Rupture put me onto this remix through his blog, I downloaded it and all I can remember listening to it now is the first time walking, jumping singing around Ebisu listening to this on my headphones and even the shoutouts “w w w w w w dot radioclit dot com’ don’ dull it’s the vitality of this narcoleptic flip to Roll Deep’ first record.
7. The Herd – The Sun Never Sets (Elefant Traks)
Like every record from the Herd this is a huge step from the previous one. Everything’ tighter – it’s the first one that feels like a band rather than a loose collective – and they’re confident enough to face their own spotlight without sacrificing the party tracks. Plus it’s my brother’ band.
8. Datarock – Datarock (Young Aspiring Professionals)
A huge development from their first EP. And after seeing them in Norway, with 20 mates from half the hardcore and metal bands in town jamming up a sleazy groovy Happy Mondays thrill of a show, the album sucked me in completely.
9. Dsico – You Fight Like A Girl (Spasticated)
Frustratingly nonchalant, after blowing up for bootlegging, he throw it away with a more comedy than music live set at TINA last year. But it’s that careless thing that makes this so good, plus he’ finally putting his production skills to work with songs that nod to Moroder, Wire and his own leftfield and glitched up tracks. This is patchy, messy and fucking cool. God it even has a secret track.
10. Fourtet – Everything Ecstatic (Domino) / Madvillain – Madvillainy (Fourtet remixes) (Stones Throw)
If Kieran Hebden wanted to prove that he’ lost his touch, then these wouldn’ be good for the argument. An explosion of veracious glee that’ll knock those freakfolk comparisons down for a while. Hard to imagine how Madlib and MF Doom’ classic could get better, but he did that too.
Others in the running:
The Chap – Ham (Lo)
Sam Prekop – Who’ Your New Professor (Thrill Jockey)
Broadcast – Tender Buttons (Warp)
Softland – War Againstt Error (Spezial Material)
Jackson & His Computer Band – Smash (Warp)
Five Dollar Day – Black Bears (Ill & Alice)
Various – Sexual Life of Savages: Underground Post Punk from Sao Paolo, Brazil (Soul Jazz)
Acetate Zero – Crestfallen (Arbouse)
Ark – Caliente (Perlon)
Jay Haze – Love For A Strange World (Kitty Yo)
Marco Passarini – Sullen Look (Peacefrog)
Six Vicious – Krunk’ Not Dead (Sixtoo)
Heavy instrumental hip hop with a dark post punk mood, the sleeve’ cool too.
Vex’d – Gunman/Smart Bomb (Planet Mu)
Heavy heavy dubstep . The A-side is all ravey synth stabs that build into a massive ragga dubstep. The B-side is more on the industrial tip. Both bombs.
Here is my list of my ten favourite records this year. I left off a few records that I thought were amazing (stuff like Antony and the Johnsons,Sufjan Stevens and the Go-Betweens) but will be included on so many year end lists that listing them here would be redundant. My list also includes a compilation and reissue. I know that is probably breaking the rules of year end top tens, but I refuse to bow to artificial constraints like time. All in all, I reckon it has been a great year for music, you just have to know where to look for the good stuff.
Animal Collective – Feels (FatCat)
For me this really is the best thing released this year. It looks as though these guys are finally going to be huge (I heard a Triple J announcer compare them to the Flaming Lips, which is odd) and I gotta say, I think it is a wonderful thing. To hear this beguiling, inexhaustibly creative music coming from car stereos and in suburban lounge rooms all over town would be something to hear
In an interview published in The Wire earlier this year the band claimed they were influenced more by Kompakt style techno than the free-folkers many expect them to feel a kinship with. On tracks like “Banshee Beat’s the connection is easy to spot, an insistent drum beat backs subtle melody complete with heartbreaking chord changes and zoned out lyrics about “trying to find the swimming pool’. The lead single “Grass’ is pure ecstatic lunacy.
These guys are long-time favourites of mine and I could not be more impressed by this record.
Christopher Bissonnette – Periphery (Kranky)
Thinkbox member Christopher Bissonnette’ solo record is an example of computer process music that doesn’ neglect to be beautiful and utterly moving. Bissonnette uses samples that are often only seconds long to create extended pieces that bear little resemblance to the sound source. Though at times reminiscent of a more minimal version a Tim Hecker record, Bissonnette creates a soundworld that is entirely his own. Periphery is a near perfect thing of beauty constructed from tiny moments.
Alvarius B – Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset (Abduction)
This is the second solo album from the Sun City Girls Alan Bishop. It is work of sublime acid fried nastiness. Over the course of the album’ thirteen songs Bishop tells the stories of some very bad men in his oblique, foul mouthed way. Mostly he accompanies himself with his unadorned Arabic inflected yet scattered guitar playing. A fascinatingly blasted document from a renowned globetrotter who clearly hangs out in the places that the Lonely Planet tells you to avoid.
Prurient – Black Vase (Load)
This guy out-harshes Wolf Eyes in the unleashing of black noise. This record is a surgically abrasive ode to sexual perversion and self-immolation. I’m really not sure what “Whipped Hole’ is about but after listening to the song it sounds like it would be rather unpleasant. Opener “Roman Shower’ is 14 odd minutes of headache inducing pure tonal mayhem. If you make it through that, added percussion makes the rest a little easier to swallow. At the end of this long and wonderful record silence sounds very strange indeed.
Various Artists: Invisible Pyramid Elegy Box (Last Visible Dog)
This 6CD box is a truly monumental slab of sound. A pretty comprehensive selection of the global drone/psych underground each deliver an EP length contribution dedicated to an extinct animal. The set is inspired by the writings of naturalist Loren Eisley who often lamented the extinction of species and America’ decision to explore space when so much of earth remained uncharted. The box set features Black Forest/Black Sea, Birchville Cat Motel, Wolfmangler, Loren Chasse, Bardo Pond, es, Andrea Belfi & Stefano Pilia, Sunken, Kulkija, Tomu Tonttu, UP-TIGHT, Flies Inside the Sun, Uton, mudboy, Steven R. Smith, Keijo, Doktor Kettu, My Cat is an Alien, One Inch of Shadow, Fursaxa, Ashtray Navigations, Peter Wright, Geoff Mullen, Urdog, Miminokoto, Area C, Ben Reynolds, Seht, Avarus, Renato Rinaldi, Matt De Gennaro. Bardo Pond’ skyscraping psychedelia and Renato Ranaldi’ inspired use of field recordings are my personal highlights, but it’s all great.
Vashti Bunyan – Lookaftering (FatCat)
I must admit I was a little nervous about hearing Vashti’ second album, after having loved and lived with Another Diamond Day. Any fears I had were allayed within minutes of putting this record on. This album is shot through with the same magic that made Another Diamond Day so inexplicably beautiful and infinitely playable.
Sunburned Hand of the Man – Wedlock (Eclipse)
This musical collective’ live releases have always felt like embers from a once blazing fire. Sure, they sound great but they don’ really seem to capture what it was like to be present at what sounds like a Pagan ritual of sound. I get the feeling Wedlock comes as close as humanly possible to capturing the Sunburned live experience. Wedlock was recorded in 2003 in the Alaskan wilds where the group was celebrating the wedding of two of its members. The double LP features several outbursts of the bands ritualistic and loose funk, as well as percussion meltdowns and more abstract pieces. It’s like Can’ Tago Mago relocated to the wilderness and played by a bunch of disenfranchised punks high on Emerson’ Walden.
Metope – Kobol (Areal)
I’m sure there are other contributors to this blog who could speak more eloquently about why this record is really something else. Great Detroit inflected minimal house with neat use of overdrive and odd noises. I really wish there were more clubs that played this kind of thing really loud.
Birchville Cat Motel with Lee Ranaldo – 30th December 2004 (Celebrate Psi-Phenomenon)
Recorded at New York experimental nightspot Tonic this record sounds like the public airing of a very private musical communication. Campbell Kneale and Lee Ranaldo’ contributions meld seamlessly to create an extended ascending drone that crackles with controlled electricity. This record is pure white light.
Albert Ayler – Holy Ghost (Revenant) (LP Vinyl Version)
OK so the Holy Ghost box set came out in 2004 but this first instalment of the vinyl version didn’ come out till April this year. Like the box set the presentation of the three LPs is excellent, they are pressed onto slabs of clear vinyl and packaged with a poster, postcard and an informative essay about Ayler’ brief life. The music is, of course, absolutely beautiful. Ayler combines old-timey Americana (marching band themes, spirituals and militaristic clarion calls) with his wild sax improvisations in a way that has to be heard to believed. The final piece of this set, with Pharoah Sanders, sounds like Wolf Eyes trying to wrestle a saxophone off Anthony Braxton while Borebetomagus provide the sound track. Wild stuff.
It is as Thurston Moore and Byron Coley wrote in their review:
“As Sun Ra so aptly put it, ‘It’s a motherfucker, don’t ya know?’ Seems quite unlikely that there will be another release with such gushing importance and pleasure, mixed so sweetly, in our lifetime or the next.”