It’s about that time of year where we’ve made it half way and can start to project what our favorite albums of the year will be. While I can confidently admit that there is A LOT I haven’t listened to–and by that I mean albums I actually WANT to listen to–the good thing about this is that you can always make up for a bad mid-year list with a solid year-end one. Not to say that this list is bad, it’s actually really great.
Metal Rouge, Then In Shadow
Comparisons to Albert Ayler, Harry Pussy, Fushitsusha, Ash Ra Tempel, Charlambides, and Band of Gypsys (via Volcanic Tongue) are not enough to set back this California trio of two slide guitars, drums and voices. It is simultaneously heavy, soaring and absolutely jubilant in the form of channeling the transcendent through music (which is where the Ayler reference makes perfect sense). Ecstatic and hair-raising, probably my favorite tape right now.
Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chp 1: Gens de couleur libres
A very eclectic mix of jazz, modern classical and poetry/spoken word. I read an article saying how it doesn’t work without the spoken word parts. I kind of could do without them, personally, but it makes for a much clearer narrative and sets the mood very well. Definitely a musical journey, very introspective and moody in parts, highly ecstatic in others.
Peter Evans Quintet, Ghosts
One foot firmly rooted in bebop and the other taking a long stride toward the future of avant-garde jazz. Really demands to be listened to. The playing is just fabulous.
Arrington de Dionyso, Suara Naga
I kind of tried hard not to like this, as the descriptions made it sound like that one weird record that gets included on year end lists to shake things up. However, the disjointed, Beefheartesque take on blues, funk, and rock, mixed with some noisey atonal elements, vague jazz and drone bits and the Thai throat singing just works. Has a whole sexy, aggressive-type vibe to it that just oozes coolness.
Alvarius B, Baroque Primitiva
Speaking of disjointed, damaged and every other hollow buzzword to describe music…Alan Bishop’s take on folk is much different from his brother’s guitar excursions, but the originals, covers, everything just drips with a kind of personal quality of being direct communication between the player and listener. Chilling stuff.
The Psychic Paramount, II
Frenetic, chaotic walls of sound mixed with very solid musicianship and locked-in grooves. The production value really sets it apart. It’s noisy when it wants to be, but when the players flex their chops the interplay is decidedly clear and virtuoso. A total kick to the balls/vagina, but in a good way.
Fire Death, Fire Death
Some transcendent type skronk fest. Completely unrelenting, though very subtly blended, layered and with a total vision/direction in mind.
Natural Snow Buildings, Waves of The Random Sea
Been here before.
Up-Tight, The Night Is Yours
Another album to enter into the canon of Japanese psych-rock, I’m sure. While they aren’t really rewriting the genre–Fushitsusha, Boredoms & Les Rallizes Denudes comparisons be damned–they are very varied in their sound and blend it together very well. It’s nothing too derivative and no examples of spreading themselves too thin. This is just good old, blown out psych rock with a lot going on beneath the surface.
Kuwayama Kiyoharu & Masayoshi Urabe – Heteroptics
The best free improve out there. Musical conversations with the cosmos.
Lussuria, Ghost Entanglement
Stillbirth, Toward Sailor
Michael Pisaro, Asleep, Street, Pipes, Tones
Deaf Center, Owl Splinters
Nicolas Jaar, Space Is Only Noise
Dirty Beaches, Badlands
Area C, Map of Circular Thought
Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides, Low Fired Clay Escape
Ferran Fages, Robin Hayward, Nikos Veliotis, Tables & Stairs
Fire with Jim O’Rourke, Unreleased?
C. Spencer Yeh & Jon Wesseltoft, Northern Resonance I
Pierrot Lunaire, Turn Back The Hands of Time