(Again, no real order, see last year’s here.)
It seems very difficult to make electronic music sound organic. Boards of Canada beautifully pull off the impossible. Somewhere between the Blade Runner soundtrack and Cluster’s Soweieso, my affection for this album grows daily.
Bill keeps it minimal as usual, but the tones are different. He’s always used different sound palettes but this configuration is beguiling and magical. The songs seem to do something different every time I listen to them. If you worship song, this album is your stylized altar of the year.
Mark Kozelek had a busy year. He released an album of covers, a electro-collaboration with the Album Leaf’s Jimmy Lavelle, and he made this record with his old Red House Painters bandmates. The Perils album sounded like two separate entities that never quite meshed, whereas Mark Kozelek and Desertshore saw the new diary-like lyrical style merged with great BAND playing. Not quite a new Red House Painters record, but an amazing first step in a somewhat familiar world.
Do I even have to tell you how busy Pollard is? A new GBV album, two solo records, new double-album Circus Devils, plus assorted other team-ups. Here’s what you need to know: Honey Locust Honky Tonk is the BEST solo Pollard since Waved Out (way back in 1998). If you are intimidated by the sheer output volume of this man, ignore it and start here.
Ah the difficult second album…Why not just solidify what you’re really good at? That’s what Paracosm does, plops you deep into a blissful murk of swelling electro-mush. It’s impact is felt tenfold with headphones…
ANOTHER second album. Angular, seismic, and exhilarating. A few years older, these Swedes cover the ground so missed by bands like Nation of Ulysses and Wire. My great regret of the year is that I didn’t get to see them tour this album.
A great year for Fahey-style guitar outings. Impossible Truth certainly falls in line with it’s contemporaries, however, the elements and space that Tyler puts around those intricately tuned and played guitar parts are what sets this apart. It’s hazy impression of suburban malaise is moving.
I still don’t understand why this is referred to as drone? I guess that’s kinda what it does, but the layers involved are unsettled and constantly changing. That’s probably why I haven’t stopped listening to it. I suppose drone sounds better than minimally-layered-abstract-hyperconstructions?
There will theoretically come a day when there aren’t new Yo La Tengo records. Thankfully that day has yet to come (it has been 3 years though). It’s easy to overlook how imaginative, consistent and surprising this band can be. It’s all on display here, perhaps a tad quieter, but all the more rewarding for it.
A Syrian wedding singer recorded this album in Brooklyn. Futuristic and overdriven party music. Based on folk dances but you really won’t notice. What you will notice is the ultra-liberal pitch shifting of the soloing keyboard. One of the most musically exciting discoveries of the year for me (thanks Four Tet).