2010: Twin Shadows and a New Country


Dic 28 2010, 2:37

I complained last year about the over-accessibility of music and the lack of a clear musical direction in my life. Thankfully I had only the former to complain about this year and as far as complaints go, it’s an entirely self-inflicted one. Z-Soldier and I realized that we had a downloading addiction (52GB in 14 days; mediafire archives the new crack) and so this year we swapped downloading duties: when one of us was in charge of downloading, the other stayed `on the wagon’ so to speak; music would appear magically in our shared dropbox folder.

Two exciting new musical directions became visible to me this year. The first was a re-exploration of deep space synth and kraut sounds originally explored by the likes of Manuel Göttsching and Klaus Schulze with an occasionally noisy lo-fi aesthetic; with many of these artists releasing on tape-only labels. Unusually for me, the artists in this grouping are mostly American; they combine the Germanic inspiration with sounds from 80s American tv shows and the America of Blade Runner.

Deep Space Synths, Kraut Melodies, and Nostalgic Lo-Fi
1. Brain Storm (for Erin) - Mark McGuire
2. Access Granted - Emeralds
3. Black Castles - Fur
4. Returnal (Voice by Antony) - Oneohtrix Point Never
5. Hjurt - Forest Swords
6. Long day - Dylan Ettinger
7. 7 Note Trance - J.D. Emmanuel
8. Deep Distance - Ashra
9. Crockett’s Theme - Jan Hammer
10. Rock N’Roll Radio - James Ferraro
11. When you call - Paul A. Rosales
12. Bastard of a man - Paul A. Rosales
13. Can’t hear my eyes - Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
14. Menopause Man - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

The second was an old aesthetic given a name Minimal Wave by Veronica Vasicka; futuristic early 80s machine music made on primitive synths.

Minimal Wave
1. Radiance - Oppenheimer Analysis
The lead singer is apparently related to the Oppenheimer, who famously quoted the Gita - `I am become Death, destroyer of worlds’ upon seeing the mushroom cloud. The original Sanskrit uses the word `kaal’, which is perhaps better translated as `time’. My father used to call me `kaal’ as a kid because of my propensity to break stuff.
2. Click Shaw (Soft Metals Remix) - Reporter
3. Valerie - Frank (just Frank)
4. Polaroïd/Roman/Photo - Ruth [thanks Roland]
5. A Promise - Atelier Du Mal
6. Staticità - Atelier Du Mal
7. Stand Up Razaras - Bruce Haack
Bruce Haack, an electronic music pioneer from Alberta, is not minimal wave but he could’ve been. The actual trackname is `Lazarus’ instead of `Razaras’, but this is how 20jzfg labelled it.
8. Elle et moi (Joakim Remix) - Max Berlin [thanks see-through]

Music by, and sometimes about, famous women
1. Telephone (8-Bit) - Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
2. Alejandro - Lady Gaga
3. Waka Waka (Esto es Africa) - Shakira [thanks Sabine]
4. Call your girlfriend - Robyn
I realized Robyn was too big to be under the Sweden rubric; this is where she belongs. Body Talk is an amazing album.
5. Sweet dreams - The Big Pink [originally by Beyonce]
6. I seen Beyonce - Cazwell
To properly appreciate Lady Gaga, see the videos. Same for Cazwell.

Sweden continues to provide
I went to Sweden for the first time this year, where I met with leenus and his friends.
1. Another Sunday - The Legends
2. Today - The Legends
3. Lucky star - The Legends
4. There and back again - The Legends
5. Are we lovers or are we friends? - Acid House Kings
6. Jesus, walk with me (Jimahl Remix) - Club 8
7. Western Hospitality (Pallers Remix) - Club 8
I decided to re-listen to all my 1400 `loved’ tracks on last.fm; while doing so I fell in love all over again with The Legends and the side-projects of Johan Angergard. The man is a musical chameleon; each Legends album sounds completely different. But I like them all.
8. The kiss - Pallers
9. Come with me - Ceo
10. Golden Virginia - jj
jj no. 3 was a real disappointment; but this track was great. I actually listened to it driving through Virginia.
11. The swim - liminals
12. Rubicon (Dub Mix) - liminals
Had a major obsession with Liminals in the middle of this year. I hope they make more music.
13. Mercy Street - Fever Ray
14. Seeds - The Knife
15. This is how we walk on the moon (Bogdan edit) - Johanna Billing
- a cover of the brilliant Arthur Russell track, which the Swedish director Johanna Billing used as a soundtrack for her movie about people going sailing on the Firth of Forth. The remix is by a Romanian Bogdan not be confused with the ostensibly Bulgarian Bogdan Irkuk.

Italo is with us
1. Strawberry Skies - Games
2. Midi Drift - Games
3. Hold me tight - Katy Gray
4. Heaven can wait - Sandra
5. It Was Never Meant to Be This Way (Games Remix) - CFCF
I love Games, and not just because of Pioneer Valley pride. Games is Dan Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never(Hampshire) and Joel Ford of Tigercity (UMass) and together they make excellent dark italo. Strawberry Skies has the lovely vocals of Laurel Halo. I also really enjoyed the Heaven Can Wait mixtapes they put together; thanks to Z-Soldier and jonnyzipzap for decomposing them into their constituent parts.
6. Summertime, summertime - Nocera
7. No Summr4U - oOoOO
Witch-house was fun but didn’t have a lasting impact on me; but oOoOO’s take on Nocera’s joyous summer song did.
8. Terra Promessa (Bottin edit) - Eros Ramazzotti
It’s italo, so we need to have some Italians.
9. Friday Nights - Diamond Vampires
I have no idea where Diamond Vampires are from; but this track is amazing. The beginning dialogue that could be from an 80s film and the dark italo that follows. I want it to never end.

Sometimes I want to be a drum machine
1. Leaving Berlin - Donnacha Costello
2. Basement Life (Donnacha Costello Mix) - Visitor (aka Mark Broom)
Just get everything Donnacha Costello touches. That’s the rule I follow. He had a very nice album out this year Before we say goodbye.
3. Don't Give Up (John Talabot's Slowing it Down Remix) - We Are Standard
John Talabot transforms a ho-hum indie tune into something that would make robots dance on a beach. See also the following.
4. Silverhum (John Talabot's Wilderness Remix) - Al Usher
5. The Life Wire (Petar Dundov Variation) - Gregor Tresher
Both on Ewan Pearson’s Kompakt mix cd We are proud of our choices; track samples Dosem’s Beach Kisses.
6. Distant Shores - Petar Dundov
7. Kanon - Peter Dundov
Petar Dundov should be much more famous than he is. He is producing something very special; completely out of the box of mainstream techno, more in line with 70s deep space synth work.
8. Unionens sista dagar (Hot City Die Maschine Mixx) - Erik XVI
9. The Calling - Black Van [project of Kris Menace with kowesix]
10. On Tigris I thirst - Sneak-Thief [italo/electro]
11. O Dedo (SBTRKT Remix) - J-Wow [from Buraka Som Sistema]

How I fell in love with modern hip-hop
1. Love King - The-Dream
2. Yamaha - The-Dream
3. Forever (Dr. Rosen Rosen Remix) - Drake
4. Blame Game - Kanye West [samples Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th; My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is brilliant, awe-inspiring, and brave.]
5. The way I are - Timbaland
6. Night Air (Ramadanman Refix) - Jamie Woon

Shoegaze/Factory Time/Electronics
more or less electronic music, often in debt to shoegaze and factory-related sounds
1. USA Boys - Health
2. Celestica - Crystal Castles
3. Suffocation (Memory Tapes Remix) - Crystal Castles
4. I can’t wait - Twin Shadow
5. For now - Twin Shadow
Twin Shadow became very meaningful to me this year. Thanks Gillian.
6. Beasts and flowers feat. Freak You - digitalfoxglove
7. MY KZ, YR BF (Memory Tapes Remix) - Everything Everything
8. The Phoenix Alive (Kris Menace Remix) - Monarchy
9. Hide Me - WE LOVE
10. No train no plane - WE LOVE
11. White Chords (Mordant Music Remix) - These New Puritans
12. Too late to choose - d’Eon
13. Real Love - Delorean
14. Cloudbusting - Wild Nothing [Kate Bush cover]
15. Living in America - Dom [my sdtrk to becoming American this year]

The abandoned castle of my soul
1. Languissant - Dernière Volonté
2. Maintenant - Dernière Volonté
3. Où Tu iras - Dernière Volonté
4. Name der Rose - Qntal
Dernière Volonté make something between martial pop and dark synth-pop. I don’t know what the songs are about but they sound portentous in a good way. Qntal sing about Omnis mundi creatura, a Latin text by Alain de Lille on top of electronic beats. How could I say no?

Slow moving beauty in the blurry distance
1. Water Tongue - Aaron Martin
2. Blue eyes of the March 2 - Andrew Chalk
3. Lift into my hands - Andrew Paine
4. Fischer Mix - Richard Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith
5. Like a sailor - Richard Youngs
Richard Youngs is a genius; he does so many things - noise, folk songs, electronics, vegan cookbooks. I have resolved to stay Richard Youngs-complete. This has resulted in my buying a cassette tape he just released with Andrew Paine even though I no longer own a tape player.

The Star Shaped Individual in Society (or things that don’t fit anywhere else)
1. Dearsong - Eyeless In Gaza
2. Heartbeat thru’ the telephone - Bill Nelson
3. Munni Badnaam Hui (from Dabang OST) - Mamta Sharma & Aishwarya
4. Wir bauen eine neue Stadt - Greie Gut Fraktion
5. Let me bang (Jam City Refix) - Dj Deeon
6. U Ain’t Really Acieed (Acieed Mix) - Farley Jackmaster Funk
7. Bay of Pigs - Destroyer

Some albums I enjoyed this year
1. Dagger Paths (Expanded Edition) - Forest Swords
2. Beyond the valley of the ultrahits - Richard Youngs
3. Returnal - Oneohtrix Point Never
4. Does it look like I’m here? - Emeralds
5. Living with yourself - Mark McGuire
6. On Air - James Ferraro
7. We are proud of our choices - Ewan Pearson
8. Victorialand - Cocteau Twins
9. Chance Encounters in the Garden of Light (1 and 2) - Bill Nelson
10. Ecclesia Gnostica - Bill Nelson

Music Sources
people: [Z-Soldier and other friends [slbethard, n8kowald, side_streets]]
blogs: 20 Jazz Funk Greats/FACT Magazine/p4k/Systems of Romance/Feel My Bicep/Castles in Space/Tracasseur/We are up for sale!/Pop Stalinist (RIP)


  • Z-Soldier

    First impressions: 1. The sequence of tracks in "Deep Space Synths, Kraut Melodies, and Nostalgic Lo-Fi" might be my favourite album of the year. 2. I didn't give Petar Dundov the attention that he seems to deserve. 3. I cannot listen to "Alejandro" without being haunted by the second worst pop song ever, "Fernando". 4. "Waka Waka" is probably among the three best football cup anthems of all time and is superior to many good ones, including Ricky Martin's "La Copa De La Vida".

    Dic 28 2010, 16:06
  • slbethard

    mind=blown. This is incredible. So much to explore.

    Dic 28 2010, 22:48
  • n8kowald

    52GB in 14 days! :D Excited to listen to these. There's so much in here I don't know and will likely love. Your categorisations rule, as always.

    Dic 29 2010, 9:37
  • logix000

    Thanks! I'm going to dig in now. I'm especially looking forward to "How I fell in love with modern hip-hop", because I've basically written the genre off. Happy new year from us down in the south.

    Dic 31 2010, 16:20
  • nplanet

    I noticed the lack of any mention of some of the big albums that are showing up on everybody's lists. Any opinion on Deerhunter, Kanye, Arcade fire, sufjan etc.?

    Dic 31 2010, 19:02
  • nplanet

    oh I just noticed the Kanye track listed. Maybe I just didnt read this carefully enough. Is that last list essentially your favorite 2010 albums?

    Dic 31 2010, 19:06
  • arjesh

    Not quite; it's more stuff that really is best experienced as an album; I'd probably also add the Kanye album, the Robyn album, and the Donnacha Costello album to an album list. Regarding the absences, I actually just didn't get around to listening to the albums you mentioned.

    Dic 31 2010, 19:13
  • bpiche

    This is so good! So thought out and self aware. Going to start listening to your tracklist immediately :)

    Gen 7 2011, 23:13
  • sharevari

    And here's some feedback from me. Better late then never I figured! Most of this stuff was new to me (apart from the italo section and a few other things), and top discoveries so far would have to be: D'Eon - Lovely! Could have been Mr Fingers himself. Need to track down more stuff by this guy. Joakim mix of Max Berlin - Joakim's using some of my own favourite synth sounds in here, that atmospheric little string phrase is very XVI. :) Donnacha Costello remix of Visitor - Banging. Everything, Everything, Fur, Mark McGuire, Twin Shadow also great. And Games and Liminals of course! Which I have you to thank for making into two of my favourite artists last year. Btw, how did you find that Bogdan edit? I think that's a friend of a friend. And last but not least, how you can stand listening to things like Love King all the way through is beyond me! The lyrics! Painful! "Got girls on T-Mobile", WTF?? :)

    Gen 27 2011, 21:33
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