Tuesday, December 21, 2010

List! Part Two! 20-1!

Part 2 of my list starts now. The stuff on the first part of my list could probably be classified by me as "very good." The stuff on this list is more along the lines of "whoa. yeah. all right!" These are releases that I really loved and listened to lots.

20. Infinite Body - Carve Out the Face of My God

Great drone album that is sometimes quite noisy, other times as smooth as can be. I think he's better at the noisy parts, in particular the wonderful "Sunshine," which for its first half is simply pulsating blasts of staticy euphoria.

19. Arp - The Soft Wave

For me, Arp is kind of reminiscent of a more minimal, less emotive B. Fleischmann. This album is very gentle and smooth. It's also very accessible; I feel like everyone could easily get into this. Also, listen to the second half of "Grapefruit." It totally sounds like a Books song.

18. The Books - The Way Out

Speaking of which, The Books are back with more of the same. Mostly the same anyway. There's a lot more singing and normal songish stuff on this album, which is both good and bad. Ultimately, for me, they're still the most consistently excellent guys out there.

17. Adam Michalak - Seven Colors

This is a really good album featuring some wonderful field recordings. The reason it's this high on the list, however, is because I love love love the opening track, "First Color." I recommend putting it on repeat and staring at the ceiling.

16. Sean McCann - Open Resolve

This entry is a placeholder for all the stuff Sean McCann released this year. He suffers on this list from his own prolificacy. By my count, he released 13 things this year. There's just not enough time to listen to them all. I can tell you this though: the ones I've been able to listen to in-depth are awesome and all over the place, spanning folk, drone, and noise. Continent and Lower Decks are also great.

15. Concern - C├Žsarean

No surprises here, just solid, top-notch drone. Acoustic instruments and field recordings are used to create an organic, immersive experience.

14. Benoit Pioulard - Lasted

Benoit Pioulard insulates the spaces in and around his otherwise textbook folk songs with bits of gentle noise. Sometimes, as is the case on title track "Lasted," his songs pause right in middle and drone for time a before resuming their traditional structures. This is a step up from his previous album. He also gets bonus points for visiting Ft. Wayne this year.

13. Joseph McNulty - Trail Running

One of a number of great tapes released on Roll Over Rover this year, McNulty gets some help from label-runner Sean McCann here. Some of the samples go on a bit long, but mostly they have a positive effect. I love how some of the songs break down into catchy folk tunes at the end (one is even a Beatles cover).

12. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Bradford Cox writes these incredible pop songs that sound totally effortless. Like he could write them in his sleep. This is my favorite album by them.

11. Motion Sickness of Time Travel/Nova Scotian Arms - The Fire Cult to Your Dream Child

I saw someone use an excerpt from a Borges story as a description for this tape, and I feel this is very appropriate. It really evokes the feeling of being trapped in some kind of massive, neon labyrinth. Sometimes desperate and lost, sometimes peacefully wandering, the unknown always lurking behind the next corner. Great tape!

10. Swanox - Dawnrunner

Great drone-folk that for the most part is heavier on the drone than the folk. What an amazing, mesmerizing adventure of foresty sounds.

9. Deep Magic - Planetary Roots

This is a relatively recent release, but I knew the first time I listened to it that it would be high on this list. This sounds exactly like the rainforest. Listen to the second track and tell me it doesn't sound like the rainforest. Oh man that second track. Definitely my song of the year if I were doing that list. Absolutely gorgeous.

8. Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal

Great album by a top dronester. This album is saturated in nervousness and anxiety, which provides a sense of urgency and makes every turn taken feel significant. Hate that first track though. Hate it.

7. The Fun Years - God Was Like, No

First of all, definitely the best album title of the year. The Fun Years are masters at finding great samples and looping them forever. This ability is on full display here. Wonderful album that always feels like it's over too soon.

6. Brian McBride - Effective Disconnect

Brian McBride is one of the guys in Stars of the Lid, which is relevant because this sounds exactly like Stars of the Lid. That's a good thing, by the way. It has that same mysterious quality that keeps me utterly transfixed in spite of (or maybe because of) the slow pace and intentionally unobtrusive nature of the sound. They can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.

5. Max Richter - Infra

I think this is easily Max's best album. It feels more fully formed and cohesive than Postcards, while remaining every bit as heart-achingly beautiful.

4. Yellow Swans - Going Places

I didn't know about Yellow Swans until this year, but it sounds like they're generally considered to be tops in the noise world. This is apparently their final album as Yellow Swans, although they haven't slowed down at all in terms of releasing other music (Pete Swanson has some great solo releases this year). This is probably the most abrasive thing on my list. However, in spite of the harsh noise, it gives off an undeniable feeling of hospitality and optimism. I get the sense when I hear this that they've got something awesome to show me, and that everyone's welcome.

3. Emeralds - Does it Look Like I'm Here?

I feel like a lot of people are dissin' on this because it's not nearly as grand in scope as some of their other releases. This is dumb. I feel like the shorter song lengths have enabled to them to really dial in and pack so many good ideas into one album.

2. Marc Codsi - Faded Postcard

This album really has an amazing variety of sounds. It features areas of peaceful tones, harsh static, field recordings, and chopped up vocal samples. And that's just for starters. This probably got more listens than anything else, due to the way in which each track is so distinct from the rest.

1. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Love is a Stream

Oh boy...this is sooo good. It's basically a case study in everything I love about music. Basically I think music should just try to be as beautiful as possible and not concern itself with all these other fake factors that don't have any bearing on whether it's good or not. I guess that's pretty hard to quantify, but you know it when you hear it. And I hear it on this album. It's just pure, delicious sound. It's as though someone took the loudest and most euphoric moments from Loveless and stretched them to an hour. I find myself constantly turning the volume up when I listen to this. I love it! Maybe you will too!

Finally done with this list. Thanks for nothing everyone. I'm thinking I might do a list of best new board games next.

1 comment:

  1. Great List! Lots of things I agree with you on real bad and definitely excited to see Yellow Swans and Love is a Stream up so high as I loved them so bad too. I knew you like Going Places but I wasn't sure if you were into LIAS, definitely some great albums which I think will be all time amazing classics.

    I'm busy right now or I would post some more comments. I'll respond some also when I post my drone/experimental list, which is hopefully soon.


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