RSS
  • Retrospective 2013 - Part 2: #25 - #01

    Gen 19 2014, 18:05

    25
    HEATSICK
    "Re-Engineering"
    (PAN)



    Formerly known as one half of the British avant-drone and noise duo Birds Of Delay the expatriated Steven Warwick now indulges in soaking up Berlin hipster dancefloors with nothing more than a simple casio keyboard. Intrinsically skeptical towards the traditional album format Warwick is struggling hard to let “Re-Engineering” not fall into gooey mixtape schemes. Sometimes however it seems to just slip his hands and these moments happen to be the most insightful and define the record as a thought-provoking cybernetic poem that shifts its single elements in a complex pattern of the post-modern bonmot and a critical theory of dance music that takes its cues from New York funk and no wave to acid house, musique concrète and the whole spectrum of the deterritorialized and absurd post-everything web 2.0. Plus, the saxophone contributions from André Vida turn up the record's hotness by several levels.

    Listen


    24
    DIRTY BEACHES
    "Drifters / Love Is The Devil"
    (Zoo Music)



    You can easily imagine Hong Kong ex-pat Alex Zhang getting lost in one of Wong Kar Wai's overwhelming visual maelstroms, just like one of those desperate characters in “Fallen Angels” or “Chungking Express”. Indeed Zhang embraced staging his mauvaise 50ies guitar hero alter ego enthusiastically with his previous records. His latest double album however reveals the exhausted person behind the stage: “Drifters” seems like a restless 'on tour' ramble through the souled-out nightlife of several neon-lit metropoles, always ending up in the same faceless hotel room with some faux-rockabilly-nowave/industrial à la Suicide dripping from the laptop speakers. The largely instrumental “Love Is The Devil” gives a glimpse of the hollowed-out morning after, a fierce and hard-hitting introspection that summons black holes of emptiness and the shuddering experience of feeling nowhere at home ever again.

    Listen


    23
    FOREST SWORDS
    "Engravings"
    (Tri Angle)



    When Matthew Barnes' debut record, the now legendary “Dagger Paths” ep appeared out of the blue in the mid of 2010 there was really little to nothing that sounded like it. A whole new world of sonic possibilities has been accessed since those lo-fi infected, endlessly meandering dub riddims crept their way through doom-ridden guitar drones, summoning scenes of nostalgic and tropical coming-of-age stories burning away on grainy tape. The sound of contemporary music may have changed quite a bit in the last three years and Forest Swords sure does have its fair share on the recent developments. What he does on his first real full-length however is not so far away from “Dagger Paths”, only that his vision has become much clearer now. The textures have become deeper and richer in sound but also begin to take more sinister shapes. Moreover, Barnes has really perfected his sense and timing for using vocal samples to sheer astonishing extent and the way these samples weave in and out of those shattering dubbed out basslines will send shivers of amazement and pure delight down your spine.

    Listen


    22
    RASHAD BECKER
    "Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol. 1"
    (PAN)



    You may have read the name Rashad Becker some hundred times before. It appears in the sleeve-notes of countless records especially from the experimental and leftfield spectrum because Becker is one of the guys behind the renowned Dubplates & Mastering studio in Berlin, who give a vast array of vinyl records its exquisite finish and distinctive sound. With so much different sonic input passing through his hands and ears everyday, Becker may have developed a singular macro-cosmic perspective towards contemporary electronic music. Instead “Traditional Music...”, his very first own record, plays out like a simulated faux field recording, an adventurous and fascinating close-up of insectile alien organisms struggling through hostile and pitchblack spaces. Much in the tradition of vanguard sound researchers like Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani (RIP), Becker explores a sonic palette that reaches so far out of conventional tonalities that it is often experienced as not of this world. But what if those microscopic fragments of agony are not fictional and instead just distorted images of our own trans-human bodies wearing ourselves down between the collapse of social systems and the ever tighter grasp of concrete machineries?

    Listen


    21
    LAUREL HALO
    "Chance Of Rain"
    (Hyperdub)



    After two excellent 12-inches the queen of avant-house and experimental synthesizer music has put together another difficult but mind-expanding longplayer for Hyperdub. In stark contrast to last year's controversially discussed yet critically acclaimed “Quarantine” that was largely focussed on her voice, “Chance of Rain” is an almost entirely instrumental affair. By employing strange horizontal time shifts and melting layers of both frantic, complex drum machine rhythms and shards of piano and corroded spheres she offers a new and unheard interpretation of the ambient~techno nexus, which in its most brilliant moments reveals itself as a meditation on the relations of tempo and texture.

    Listen


    20
    RABIH BEAINI
    "Albidaya"
    (Annihaya Records)



    The man behind the mad and minimalist techno improvisations of Morphosis is making a not so unexpected sidestep to more folk-infected terrain with this gorgeous record. On “Albidaya” the Lebanese Berlin-via-Venice producer is exploring his Middle-eastern roots from a strictly electro-acoustic perspective. Maybe inspired by the work of Dariush Dolat-Shahi (an amazing collection of his recordings was issued on vinyl in 2012 through Dead Cert) and his love for free jazz, Beaini sets a large array of oriental strings, distorted organs and sparse percussions against the chaotic netherworld of glitches, bleeps, noises and concrète soundscapes to weave an aural carpet so deep and thick in texture that you can sink your head in entirely. Rounded off by virtuous saxophone contributions from Piero Bittolo Bon, „Albidaya“ offers a rare and engrossing listening experience.

    Listen


    19
    MILES
    "Faint Hearted"
    (Modern Love)



    The venerable Miles Whittaker is well known as one half of England's most forward-thinking sonic outfit and eldritch electronic duo Demdike Stare. But with a vita so deeply entangled with the evolution of UK club culture and dj-ing, Miles seems pre-destined to contribute a competent commentary on the current status of electronic (dance) music. And „Faint-Hearted“ is exactly that; eight wholly diverse exercises in re-building electronic styles from the scratch, encompassing experiments in dub techno, cinematic ambient, ravished 'ardcore jungle, pulsating minimalism and abstract and subterranean drone architectures. All unified by his immaculate craftsmanship there is a certain red thread passing through the album, but Miles sometimes couldn't resist to obliterate and dissolve his tracks in noisy invocations of pure dark matter.

    Listen


    18
    BARNETT + COLOCCIA
    "Retrieval"
    (Blackest Ever Black)



    Recorded in a few short-termed studio sessions in Seattle and Vancouver, „Retrieval“ is the result of the meeting of two creative minds from the prolific American drone-metal scene. While Alex Barnett has been part of Oakeater, Faith Coloccia is coming from a more visual background (where she contributed several artwork for Hydra Head and Profound Lore) but also played with the post-metal vanguards of Pyramids and runs the Mamiffer project with her husband Aaron Turner (Isis). Created from an entirely analogue arsenal of synths and instruments, the record evokes a Cthulhian journey through the microcosm of vintage horror-soundtracks and John Carpenter-esque synth patterns which has probably become a prominent thing to do in recent years. But the way the duo drags these layers of sweeping giallo ambient into dark pits of dirt and hiss makes this introspective ghost-story totally their own.

    Listen


    17
    HUERCO S.
    "Colonial Patterns"
    (Software)



    The overall atmosphere on “Colonial Patterns” is that of dissolving, atomising and melting of artefacts that have ever been barely there or are lying buried under layers of dust and sediment. Making loose references to the leftovers of Pre-Colombian cultures in his native midwest Kansas-born Brian Leeds expands the grainy, smoky and smudged outsider-house formula, that has been popularised by cassette labels like Opal Tapes, for the first time on large-scale double lp for Daniel Lopatin's Software Records. But rather than leaving the impression that this sound has been overdone by now, Huerco S. succeeds to present a collection of tracks that are totally to the point and feel like he has gone in-depth exploring how much you can abstract and pulverise the loops and textures of Basic Channel inspired dub techno and deep house music.

    Listen


    16
    THE STRANGER
    "Watching Dead Empires In Decay"
    (Modern Love)



    The infamous sonic outlaw Leyland Kirby has already made himself a modern myth by now. Widely known through his monikers V/Vm and The Caretaker in which he underwent every stage of experimentation from remixing Chris de Burgh into a hauntological drone-pop nirvana to sampling old ballroom 78s for a never-ending labyrinth of looped memories, Kirby now re-activates the less-noticed The Stranger project for an album worth of harrowing and eerie isolationisms in a post-cultural terrain vague. Loosely based on disparate and diffuse percussions of dull-edged metal and worn-out machines, intersected with small traces of ice-cold melody, scraping off thick layers of rust in the bleakest winter morning, the record unfolds like a droning requiem for built-up areas awash in grey and left to desertify into a dehumanised wasteland.

    Listen


    15
    ROLY PORTER
    "Life Cycle Of A Massive Star"
    (Subtext)



    Rarely does the overused term 'epic' resound with such a deep gravity as on Bristol-based Roly Porter's second solo longplayer, a large-scale space opera that, like its title says, traces the immense sonic monstrosity radiating from the processes of merging, convulsing, vaporising and solidifying matter. But rather than only portraying a purely abstract soundscape, Porter builds a rational musical context for his curious atonalities by weaving in the breath of the perennial: compelling neo-classical string orchestrations of Wagnerian extent struggling against vortices of blackest drones and pulsating power electronics in a life-affirming journey through the micro- and macro-cosmos of our very own identities.

    Listen


    14
    HELM
    "Silencer"
    (PAN)



    You might have already seen Steven Warwick's new project feature at the very beginning of this list, now here's the other chap from the legendary Birds Of Delay, both of them publishing their stuff on Bill Kouligas' impeccably creative PAN imprint. Appearing as the slightly more down-to-earth part of the duo, Luke Younger stayed in his native England and kept his recording process largely analogue. Often referred to as an ep and mere addendum to last year's excellent “Impossible Symmetry” I disagree with the public opinion and consider the rough 30 minutes of “Silencer” as one of Younger's strongest and most cohesive exercises to date in exploring the secret ritual layers of the mundane everyday scenery. Culled from various field recording sources he arranges a thrilling abstract narrative of irrational concrète rhythms dissolving in the apex of an ever crescendoing abradant drone, transcoded into a crackling and scratching spectrum of sound, so tangible and yet so transient that it remains an impossible task to put these unsettling atmospheres into proper words.

    Listen


    13
    TIM HECKER
    "Virgins"
    (Kranky)



    The immaculate talents of Canadian sound artist Tim Hecker need no further introduction. With the heavy ambient-noise opus of 2011's “Ravedeath, 1972” Hecker assured his place in the eternal hall of fame of contemporary electro-acoustic composers. Its follow-up “Virgins” however enlists a seemingly more intimate approach. Recorded in a Reykjavík studio with an inspired chamber ensemble that amongst others features prominent names like Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurðsson, Hecker is not shy of creating arresting and complex harmonies out of piano, organ, strings and electronics. But the focus of the record is now on the environments of the performers, the resonating and reverberating of the room itself, that feeds back through the compositions sometimes with a low accompanying hum, other times as a physically engrossing wall of noise. Centred around these spatial hyper-sensibilities, these little time-shifts, interferences, errors and analogue glitches, “Virgins” stands as a testimony to the sheer manifold and impact of spaciousness on our aural experiences in a time when distances are being melted down and nullified and our anthropological concept of 'place' is in danger of disappearing forever.

    Listen


    12
    EMMPLEKZ
    "Your Crate Has Changed"
    (Mordant Music)



    Ahhh... the ever cheerful and eloquent Baron Mordant is joining forces once more with the wizard of dub-infected plunderphonics Nick Edwards (Ekoplekz) for another session of witty post-industrial vignettes that comment on the absurd and the bizarre in the everyday life of Britain today. Cobbled together from cut up diary pages, found texts, blurbs and burps and melting away in a miasma of lunatic riddims, eMMplekz assemblage an aural equivalent to the psycho-geographic excursions of writers and film-makers Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair. In equal parts tongue-in-cheek belches from a night out in the pub and lucid observations of his surroundings, the Baron misses no opportunity to put both his fascination and disgust for the degenerated and exploitative digital era at display. May those violators of the English language and their sonic pestilence creep long through the sinkholes and porosities of many a local sound system.

    Listen


    11
    DALGLISH
    "Niaiw Ot Vile"
    (PAN)



    Another record from the adventurous and ever fascinating PAN label to feature in this list. Being active for some 20+ years, sound artist Chris Douglas has been involved in the ambient-techno and IDM scenes of California and Detroit. More widely known under the name O.S.T. he also released one album (“Fimt”, 2003) on Wai Cheng's Isolate Records to whom “Niaw It Vile” is dedicated. His first lp under the Dalglish moniker is an otherworldly hermetic and initially reclusive record that requires a couple of listens to understand its language. Most of its tracks are based on several layers of subtle, dissonant electro-acoustic noises, streams of cold ambient floating in between dismantled and fractured rhythmic systems of Autechrian design, all organised in a way that they seem to float apart of each other in an endless sea of miscommunication. It takes a while to realize how tightly knit these single threads actually are and once its hidden structures are revealed “Niaiw Ot Vile” appears as a gateway into a nocturnal district inked with a million shades of blue in which sound and melancholia shape-shift into and out of each other.

    Listen


    10
    HOLDEN
    "The Inheritors"
    (Border Community)



    Seven years after the idiots were winning it seemed like James Holden would never return for a proper rematch. But then in the midsummer of 2013 he did, with a flamboyant, complex, almost-prog triple lp of oblique algorithms programmed on his elaborately home-built modular synth. “The Inheritors” plays out like an archaeological field trip cutting aisles through layers of a super-thick sound embellished with melodeon, bodhran, sax and bass guitar, in its most ambient parts so raucously textured that it feels like a dozen :zoviet*france: records spinning at the same time. Other times it's a rhizome of endlessly noodling, bubbling chord sequences spiralling their way through a chaotic universe of crop circles and notched rocks. Eventually there are moments of brilliant, lucid avant-house and pure emotional rupture transforming these slabs of black wax into tokens of a whole new magical mystery tour.

    Listen


    09
    COLEEN
    "The Weighing Of The Heart"
    (Second Language)



    French sound artist Cécile Schott was probably amongst the most unlikely entries in 2013 to return with a new record. After a 6-year-hiatus in which she learned to create and design ceramics, her fourth album “The Weighing Of The Heart” seems elaborate and ripened for a long stretch in time. In fact it has been conceived and recorded over a short span of only a few weeks and similar to its predecessor “Les Ondes Silencieuses” it is performed entirely on acoustic instruments, most prominently the viola da gamba, but also clarinet, guitar, piano and some light percussion. However it is the first time for Schott to add her own voice to the mix, referring in poetic metaphors to the Egyptian book of the dead. Akin to the spirits of exceptional artists as Arthur Russell, Laurie Anderson or Moondog, Colleen's elegant, clear-sighted compositions, lyrics and singing are sparse and minimalist, both grave and feather-light, always absolutely to the point and not a single note is wasted in this meditative space. The immensely beautiful gatefold cover was illustrated by her husband Iker Spozio.

    Listen


    08
    DEMDIKE STARE
    Testpressings #001 - #004
    (Modern Love)



    After their highly acclaimed 'Elemental' project, Mancunian cultists Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker open up their coven and make a step away from their trademark abstract ambient/horror electronics to head for much more adventurous and critical floor-oriented terrain on their aptly named „Testpressings“. This series of four white-label 12-inches underlines once more their radically forward-thinking futurist and researching attitude towards making electronic music, while in a recent interview with The Wire Miles noted that „trying to lose listeners is more exciting than trying to keep them“. Therefore their testing ground is of highly heterogeneous array, taking all liberties to switch between jungle, noise, deep house and exercises in Muslimgauze-approved percussion styles.

    Listen


    07
    KIRK
    "Zła Krew"
    (Inner Gun / Oficyna Biedota)



    Amazing discovery from the Polish experimental underground scene, a trio made up of turntable, electronics and trumpet. I found this album somewhere described as „nice jazzy ambient“ which gets it so terribly wrong that it almost serves as an ironic stepping stone for what you will actually hear on „Zła Krew“ („Evil Blood“): first of all, kIRk's sound is not nice – it's more like a droning rattle that comes from abyssal jaws like the album cover suggests and you know these teeth will soon cut through sordid flesh. Second, trumpeter Olgierd Dokalski might come from a jazz background but the way his lunatic repetitions push the music into surreal terrain have more in common with Eastern-European folk song and Jac Berrocal than any free jazz tradition whatsoever. Finally, calling this music ambient neglects how physically engrossing it really is – it moves through myriads of miasmatic and decaying layers of organic matter that call to mind the magical invocations of substance from Bruno Schulz to Jan Švankmajer.

    Listen


    06
    PERFUME ADVERT
    "Tulpa"
    (1080p)



    The sole cassette-only release to feature in this list comes from the duo of Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire weirdos Aaron Turner and Tom Brown. It remains a bit of a mystery to me why “Tulpa” didn't appear on Opal Tapes since their muggy smudged-out techno abstractions are totally on the same line and Opal label head Stephen Bishop is after all living in the same town. However, “Tulpa” is a highly addictive collection of sweaty, funky 4/4s smeared over with abrasive textures of worn-out tape and messy feedback in the vein of Leyland Kirby's dusty nostalgia. At the same time their twisted perspective on dance music is not a million miles away from the deconstructive ambient-house approach of Actress, but less elegant, and coming more from a distinctively suburban bedroom territory whose hidden wormholes open to irrational spheres and leak the greasy matter of molten space and time.

    Listen


    05
    POWELL
    untitled 12"
    (The Death Of Rave)



    Ok, you might think „how is this guy stupid, for what reason does he put a black-label 12-inch single in his top-5 album of the year list wankery of sorts...“. Sure, you're totally right, I am stupid. But then again, it just happened that the rough 20 minutes on this slab of black wax turned out to be the most explosive, most game-changing and mind-fucking of the whole year. There's such a squall of nervous energy and tension bursting out of the upfront in yer face kickdrum of „A Band“ set against an off-beat snare and chaotically incorporated guitar feedbacks and noises culled and sampled from your favourite New York no wave “bands” that will brand an irreparable but pleasant damage into your cortex each time you drop the needle on this golden track. The rest of the ep delves deeper into the vortex of cold fever no wave anomalies and every damn second of it is a must-hear and must-feel when played at full volume. What's more is that the London producer Oscar Powell had an overall strong year with a couple of jaw-dropping remixes for Ike Yard and Silent Servant, a hard hitting and unorthodox FACT mix, another great ep on Mute's new avant-techno offshoot Liberation Technologies and a handful of whacked out vinyls of like-minded no-ravers published on his own Diagonal label.

    Listen


    04
    THE HAXAN CLOAK
    "Excavation"
    (Tri Angle)



    On his second longplayer Bobby Krlic is crossing, and then also blurring the strict border that separates the dead from the living and transmits his deadpan frequencies from six feet beneath the ground. Told by throbbing, pulsating deep audio, shot through with shocking moments of concrète, early electronics, treated violin and distant classical piano, 'Excavation' unfolds an unsettling and challenging narrative of pure existentialism. Further explanatory words would probably spoil the mystery of this borderline journey, which is a heavy listen to go through but one that is eternally rewarded and lightened up by the experience of Krlic's sheer brilliance and ingenuity.

    Listen


    03
    JULIA HOLTER
    "Loud City Song"
    (Domino)



    With the difficult brilliance and beauty of her two previous full-lengths “Tragedy” (2011) and “Ekstasis” (2012) the wonderful Julia Holter gained some wider recognition within and beyond the loose scene of leftfield and experimental-electronic aficionados. From an aerial perspective it seemed like the ever bigger growing Domino Records, to whom she signed late 2012, intended to push her into much more accessible 'indie' directions with her third proper album. Instead, the Los Angeles composer's academic and minimalist background manifests again very clearly on “Loud City Song”, which is arranged for keyboard, violin, cello, trombone, saxophone, drums and field recordings. Employing French writer Colette's novel “Gigi” (1944) and its Hollywood musical adaption (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) as a framework and steppingstone for her own imaginative sonic narrative, Holter invokes a subtle and intelligent drama of colliding spheres of the public and private, of galvanic interferences and nebulous romances. Sometimes more obliged to jazz and conventional song but always returning into drifting plateaus of late night urban ambient, “Loud City Song” is probably Holter's most personal and emotional record to date, but also one that reveals how far-sighted, how carefully assembled and well-thought out her music really is.

    Listen
    Listen closer


    02
    BASIC HOUSE
    "Caim In Bird Form"
    (Digitalis)



    A quite busy year lies behind Stephen Bishop, in which the Teesside producer has finished two albums for Digitalis Recordings and Luke Younger's Alter label, and also published a myriad of challenging and critically acclaimed cassette and vinyl releases from a whole new avantgarde of leftfield/electronic artists on his very own imprint Opal Tapes. In hindsight there was rarely a record in 2013 encapsulating so well the sound of now from an oblique outsider perspective as the magically peculiar “Caim In Bird Form”. It's not easy to summarise what Bishop does to create such compelling sonic abstractions but maybe it's rather a question of what the genius loci of his native North-East England does to him. Therefore it's surely no coincidence that he shares the same sabulous, sedimentary and windward textures with the ingenious mid-80ies recordings from :zoviet*france: who are located in Newcastle, Northumberland which is only some rough 40 miles north of Bishop's home. It's a highly imaginative way of experiencing a geologically distinctive landscape where the industrial mingles with the rural and a wayward palaeolithic folklore is spun across eroded coastlines to fields of carved stone. This is the soil from which Bishop forms abstract technoid rhythmical systems but unlike his local compatriots Perfume Advert there is little to nothing hedonistic or danceable about it. More rhizomatic in nature the recordings of Basic House exude a layer of sediment that will soon be covered or eroded by others to continue the temporal evolution and shaping of a landscape. A layer by which radiocarbon analyses will easily pinpoint the year 2013.

    Listen
    Listen closer


    01
    THESE NEW PURITANS
    "Field Of Reeds"
    (Infectious Music)



    Well, how do you follow a near-perfect album? Maybe by stepping completely out of its context and removing yourself from the concept of any so-called indie music scene whatsoever? You can still feel that 2010's “Hidden” was weighing heavy on Jack Barnett's shoulders. Nevertheless, “Field Of Reeds” is not the expected retreat, instead its ambitious arrangements rush to much bolder and more distinguished terrain. Aside of introducing the voice of Portuguese jazz singer Elisa Rodrigues and several children choirs, Barnett has become more conscious of being a singer himself. In contrast to the album's overtly rhythmic predecessors, Barnett's compositions are now almost entirely acted out through amazing woodwind and string orchestrations and a rediscovered magnetic resonator piano. For the greater part the lack of percussion and drums may make it appear as TNPs quietest opus to date, belying the fact that you will rarely hear a contemporary record more powerful and thrilling than this. But how does it come together? “Field Of Reeds” is largely inscribed with the topography of a landscape, more precisely the English landscape. Ranging from breathtaking panoramas to subtle down-to-earth details, the music empathises with the true nature of the island. Isolated, distinct, experiencing its own language and environment. Barnett retrieves a timeless symbolist poetry for a territory that just like the glass smashed on one of the album's key tracks lies now shattered in dozens of fragments, parts of them concrete while others transformed into dreamlike imaginations. Executed with much effort, much endurance and hard work, and assembled with an anachronistic seriousness, it seems that “Field Of Reeds” is carrying traces of the romantic and pastoral, of great English early and baroque music composers like John Dowland and Henry Purcell in its bloodline. From a more contemporary perspective TNP follow the thin line of subtle English impressionisms once spun by Talk Talk's “Laughing Stock”, Hood's “Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys” and Bark Psychosis' “Hex” (and unsurprisingly so, Graham Sutton is involved in the album as a co-producer). Even if some parts of it remain cryptic and labyrinthine, “Field Of Reeds” reveals a haunting insight into the soul of a landscape and the mind of a highly dedicated and inspired young composer.

    Listen
    Listen closer



    SEE #50 - #26
  • Retrospective 2013 - Part 1: #50 - #26

    Gen 2 2014, 22:16

    50
    BOARDS OF CANADA
    "Tomorrow's Harvest"
    (Warp)



    Returning from the dead after a 7-year hiatus, the mighty BoC share a new vision of post-urban wasteland culture by means of a vast sonic palette that ranges from their trademark pastoral synth nostalgia to precisely spliced hip hop tropes and then to much darker and more unsettling terrain.

    Listen


    49
    GARDLAND
    "Syndrome Syndrome"
    (RVNG Intl.)



    Just like their label-mates Blondes, the Australian duo of Alex Murray and Mark Smith deal in largely improvised techno abstractions, but different from Blondes’ academic background, Gardland’s textures are much darker and grittier. Their modular synth workouts ride through dubbed out spaces and carry a lot of dirt along the way to create this unique 4/4 freeform dystopia.

    Listen


    48
    ENSEMBLE ECONOMIQUE
    "The Fever Logic L.P."
    (Not Not Fun)



    Aside of being part of the infamous and loveable Starving Weirdos collective Brian Pyle is getting more and more busy with his solo effort putting out more and more diverse records than ever before. Amongst the new bulk of releases “The Fever Logic” may be his finest hour yet: a slow burning drone pop-not-pop opera drenched in NNF-approved reverb and haunted by nocturnal phantasmas.

    Listen


    47
    JOSEPHINE FOSTER
    "I’m A Dreamer"
    (Fire Records)



    Never a conventional singer-songwriter Josephine Foster has wandered through many shapes and shades of song: once one of the protagonists of the “new weird america” she transposed German romantic ballads from Schumann and Schubert into pitchblack psych freakouts, invented new possibilities for art-folk adventures on the shores of the Iberian peninsula, melodized poems by Emily Dickinson and re-recorded the songs of F.G. Lorca and then returned home to follow the blood-red line of a surreal Americana. “I’m A Dreamer” now sees her unmistakable voice paraphrase intimate versions of ragtime, old-timey ballads and early 20th century sentiments.

    Listen


    46
    KINIT HER
    "The Cavern Stanzas"
    (Reue um Reue)



    The Wisconsin duo of Troy Schafer and Nathaniel Ritter labour tirelessly to contribute to their vision of the Great Work that is more or less centred around shedding some light on the early 20th century German spiritualist and traditionalist circle known as the Münchner Kosmiker. Amongst the large number of recent releases these two 15-minute compositions that build “The Cavern Stanzas” might be the finest document of their recordings yet. Beginning with soaring violins the tracks soon transform into atmospheric pieces of devotional song, passages of ritual percussion and guitar play, to conclude in dramatic dronescapes.

    Listen


    45
    METASPLICE
    "Infratracts"
    (Morphine Records)



    Debut longplayer from this obscure Phildadelphia tech-noise duo and easily one of the heaviest electronic records this year. Their laboratory-wise way of creating and treating sound might have much in common with the French school of electro-acoustic research but quite typically for Morphine Records there’s also a certain psychedelic drive at play here in those swirling and churning rhythms that it feels like their slowly built up electro-magnetic fields will forever go down the drain in the end.

    Listen


    44
    VATICAN SHADOW
    "Remember Your Black Day"
    (Hospital Productions)



    What once seemed like nothing more than Dominick Fernow's private little Muslimgauze tribute project with a couple of limited cassette runs in strict war-on-terror fashion, has over the course of the last two years taken the shape of a serious think tank for the current wave of noise-techno experimenters. “Remember Your Black Day” sees Fernow move his formula to much subtler terrain, putting emphasis on some blood-freezingly atmospheric synth backings on the spectacular A-side of the record, while on the flip he unleashes another hard hitting and dry-as-sand desert storm attack.

    Listen


    43
    SAMUEL KERRIDGE
    "A Fallen Empire"
    (Downwards)



    Karl O'Connor's legendary Downwards imprint has been inclined to the darker fringes of the techno spectrum ever since its inauguration in the mid of the 90ies, but in Samuel Kerridge the label has finally found its ultimate prince of darkness. Aesthetically a dreadful meditation on the abyssal fanfares of 1914, “A Fallen Empire” plays out like a futurist symphony arranged for mechanical and militaristic machine rhythms set against an inferno of noise and drone layers. Recommended if you enjoy imagining Genocide Organ remix the British Murder Boys on Russolo's intonarumori.

    Listen


    42
    NANCY ELIZABETH
    "Dancing"
    (Leaf)



    Third album from this highly gifted Mancunian singer-songwriter. Like all her previous work “Dancing” is an intelligent and oblique jewel of a record with perfectly balanced arrangements, often sparse and subtle but always moving, this time focussing on piano and for the first time incorporating a few electronic distractions.

    Listen


    41
    LIBEREZ
    "Sane Men Surround"
    (Savoury Days / Alter)



    Discomforting sound abstractions made from guitar, violin and dirty electronics, which won't be out of place in a strange situationist and post-modern ritual. By hollwing out vague landscapes and re-inhabiting them with a ghostlike personnel the duo of Tom James Scott and John Hannon blur the lines between the coal-covered districts of an industrial England and an occult netherworld of daily absurdities.

    Listen


    40
    STREETWALKER
    "Future Fusion"
    (Cititrax)



    One year after the impressive fake-ebm mindfuck of “Everyday Grace”, Elon Katz moved on to share some wires with Mutant Beat Dancer Beau Wanzer in order to summon this visceral beast of grittily textured beatbox workouts. More aimed at the floor than any White Car record before, “Future Fusion” pays tribute to early 80ies proto-techno, industrial disco and the huge influence of Cabaret Voltaire in letting European dance music stray so much away from Detroit's and Chicago's booty-shaking swag.

    Listen


    39
    DISTEL
    "puur"
    (Enfant Terrible)



    Not easy to categorise in just a few words, the dark atmosphere of “puur” sits somewhere between heavier IDM experiments, the nocturnal wanderings of later-era Coil and a much needed rehabilitation of the long ill-fated 'angst-pop' cosmos. With a crisp and clear sound design and ever surprising song structures the Dutch collective offers a real feast for mind-blowing headphone sessions.

    Listen


    38
    DISAPPEARS
    "Era"
    (Kranky)



    At a time when the psych-rock, shoegaze and kraut-motorik revival came in full swing Disappears appeared amongst a myriad of hairy guitar bands like Cave, Moon Duo, Lumerians, Hookworms and others. But with their fourth album „Era“ the Chicago quartet set itself finally apart from the flock by transplanting their grooves into much colder and more monochromatic terrain. While their songs still remain repetitive mantras, the vibes they create now drift more into the angst-ridden paranoia and negativity of no wave, noise and the European post-punk subculture.

    Listen


    37
    GRUMBLING FUR
    "Glynnaestra"
    (Thrill Jockey)



    Have a look at just one of their press shots and you will know that the duo of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O'Sullivan is ultimately predestined to reinvigorate the pleasant spirits of British eccentricity and eclecticism. Recorded in the wyrd otherworld of artist Ian Johnstone's house in Tottenham, “Glynnaestra” has come within a whisker of being a would-be prog-rock opera. Instead the loosely connected songs and sound experiments align in cosmic order to provide a wild journey through epic space age nostalgia, Blade Runner tributes, cheesy synth pop, eldritch electro-acoustics, shards of radiophonic madness, droning field recordings and the witty baroque folk of Syd Barrett and early David Bowie.

    Listen


    36
    DARKSIDE
    "Psychic"
    (Other People)



    In 2011, the young Nicolas Jaar appeared out of the blue to release the highly influential “Space Is Only Noise” album, a fragmentary, partly jazzy and experimental reflection on the meaning of pause and accent in contemporary dance music. By teaming up with guitarist Dave Harrington Jaar is making another peculiar move forward. Here, Jaar's carefully sculpted rhythmic architectures and signature basslines intertwine with the characteristic melody and texture of the electric guitar that often switches in mode between blues, funk, jazz and stranger psych-rock escapades.

    Listen


    35
    THESE HIDDEN HANDS
    self-titled
    (Hidden Hundred)



    Wicked and atmospheric hybrid of complex IDM percussion stylings and heavily textured industrial-techno. Always retaining a perfect and well-designed balance between broken dancefloor beat-ups and fascinating abstract ambient sceneries this British duo is really at the tip of the contemporary experimental techno avantgarde.

    Listen


    34
    TROPIC OF CANCER
    "Restless Idylls"
    (Blackest Ever Black)



    Much has been written on the recent revitalization of 80ies goth and cold/dark wave topoi and it's easy to put Camella Lobo's Tropic Of Cancer into exactly that context. But if you think twice you may notice that her deeply narcotic machine loops - that here got a super-tight production treatment from Karl O'Connor - might as well be low-lit and slowcore interpretations of the Birmingham techno underground. Awash in melancholic reverb and elegantly minimal synth and guitar orchestrations, “Restless Idylls” provides eight versions of the never-changing tale of fatigue, desire and isolation.

    Listen


    33
    Other Ideas:
    THE BOATS / THE MISTYS / THE HUMBLE-BEE



    With “Other Ideas” boatsmen Andrew Hargreaves and Craig Tattersall founded a new self-managed imprint for loose experiments and wondrous side-steps. And with a string of 3 completely diverse LPs the label had a really strong first year. On “Nomenclature” The Boats make an unexpected trip to the warehouse and share their blurred perspective of techno and rave culture with some totally fucked up chaotic rhythm improvisations that call to mind the like of Prostitutes and Container but have a clearly more British plunderphonic side to them than their American contemporaries. The Mistys sees Hargreaves teaming up with singer Beth Roberts to create a visionary post-modern recombinant pop record that takes its clues from overdriven fragments of saccharine 80ies synth and r'n'b, played through a filter of raw analogue noise. But the most fascinating record of the lot delivers Tattersall in his Humble-Bee disguise. The dusty, pastoral “Henrietta” is made up of two barely there long-form compositions for field recordings made in Cornwall, decayed tape loops and buried piano.

    Listen / Listen / Listen


    32
    ÖDLAND
    "Galaktoboureko"
    (Ödland)



    The French Ödland are without doubt one of the strangest and most peculiar bands on earth. Like a 19th century chamber music ensemble they perform all-acoustic and self-produce all of their albums with much effort and passion. Over the course of the last three or four years the tireless entrepreneur of the band Lorenzo Papace researched and taught himself to play the bouzouki and baglama to make this album in tribute of the Greek and Turkish rebetiko music traditions – a collection of songs about drinking, longing, pleasure and melancholy, all performed in typical Ödland style with their overtly cute Frenchness, their humour and nostalgia. Sweets and sugar for the heart included.

    Listen


    31
    YOUNG ECHO
    "Nexus"
    (Ramp Recordings)



    Really strong forward-thinking and diverse debut from this young Bristol collective that a.o. includes Sebastian Gainsborough aka VESSEL, whose „Order Of Noise“ was one of Margot's fav picks last year. Rich in texture and mood, the album wanders from ambient and concrète soundscape to distant pop tunes and ghastly rap interludes buried under its abstract and cavernous post-dubstep architecture.

    Listen


    30
    KING KRULE
    "Six Feet Beneath The Moon"
    (XL Recordings)



    Circulating in the underground as the 'next big thing' for more than two years already, the blood-young Archy Marshall took his own sweet time to finally complete his debut full-length. And how gorgeous it turned out to be. “Six Feet Beneath the Moon” lives in a cosmos totally of its own. Essentially a songwriter album it benefits strongly from the influence of bass music, two step, hip hop and jazz. It's a reflection on urban lives wasted away in nocturnal distractions with Marshall stepping to the fore by means of his characteristic snotty white boy rap delivered in harsh Cockney accent.

    Listen


    29
    Ô PARADIS
    "Los Olvidados"
    (Autre Que)



    There's rarely a year passing without the release of a new album by Catalonian one-man-band Ô Paradis and it's astonishing to see how Demian's creativity never subsides. “Los Olvidados” is another example of his trademark mediterranean cut-up pop between melancholy and psychedelia, this time recorded beautifully with a warm and rich sound and interspersed with a bunch of great atmospheric samples. While still relying for the greater part on his sensual serpentine basslines and the depth of his voice, Demian continues to incorporate more and more electronic sounds from the experimental post-dubstep spectrum to carry his music to always new dimensions.

    Listen


    28
    SNOW GHOSTS
    "A Small Murmuration"
    (Houndstooth)



    Lavish debut album from this male/female duo that marries slow-stepping triphop and dubstep rhythms with melodies and orchestrations from the British folk and songwriter traditions, done in such a compelling and serious way that it just feels right and not like one of those foul fusion projects. Accompanied by a beautiful booklet of atmospheric sepia photographs, “A Small Murmuration” offers highly subjective but nonetheless revelatory snapshots of the English landscape and soul, ranging from melancholic siren songs to dark and dramatic tales of crime.

    Listen


    27
    RON MORELLI
    "Spit" / "Backpages"
    (Hospital Productions)



    Ron Morelli is the man who keeps outsider and hipster house dancefloors swinging with a constant flow of wicked twelves on his uber-prolific and already-cult imprint L.I.E.S.. But the fact that his very own debut lp “Spit” and its slightly more accessible addendum “Backpages” came out on Dominick Fernow's basement industrial/noise label Hospital says a lot. It's essentially dance music but turned upside down so much into a vortex of pure dysphoria that party-goers will have serious trouble trying to boogie along to “Crack Microbes” and the like. Morelli's discomforting tales of frustration, stress and indifference are instead creepy DJ tools for a misanthropic anti-disco that will make troubled bodies sweat and shake with a cold fever ecstasy.

    Listen


    26
    A HAWK AND A HACKSAW
    "You Have Already Gone To The Other World"
    (LM Duplications)



    A couple of years ago Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost went on tour to show Sergej Paradjanov's essential masterpiece “Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors” to some probably astonished or puzzled audiences. Their new album manifests this love and homage as half of its material is culled from re-interpretations of the music and samples from the film. It's startling to hear how the duo has adopted such an immensly authentic approach towards performing Eastern-European folklore and how they still manage to channel a distinctive voice of their own in between those songs and dances. And just like the film that inspired it, the album turns out to be a small yet insistent triumph over the calamities and banalities of our senseless age, a deep vessel of colour, sweat, tragedy and beauty.

    Listen



    SEE #25 - #01
  • SECOND ANNUAL REPORT

    Gen 1 2013, 1:16

    All words have been swallowed by the ill-working system. But then again, "words are just words, words are just words, that you'll soon forget...". So, there's only the list. And pretty pictures to look at. And some sonic evidence. That's not enough for you? Come on, it's 2013!

    Here you go:

    50
    CHROMATICS
    "Kill For Love"
    (Italians Do It Better)



    Listen


    49
    DEAN BLUNT
    "The Narcissist"
    (Hippos In Tanks)



    Listen


    48
    MONOLAKE
    "Ghosts"
    (Imbalance Computer Music)



    Listen


    47
    FAY
    "Din"
    (Time No Place)



    Listen


    46
    SHACKLETON
    "Music For The Quiet Hour / The Drawbear Organ EPs"
    (Woe To The Septic Heart)



    Listen


    45
    LIGHT ASYLUM
    self-titled
    (Mexican Summer)



    Listen


    44
    TENNIS
    "Young & Old"
    (ATP Recordings)



    Listen


    43
    LAU NAU
    "Valohiukkanen"
    (Fonal)



    Listen


    42
    MALA
    "In Cuba"
    (Brownswood)



    Listen


    41
    MUSETTE
    "Drape Me In Velvet"
    (Häpna)



    Listen


    40
    TOLOUSE LOW TRAX
    "Jeidem Fall"
    (Karaoke Kalk)



    Listen


    39
    IANVA
    "La Mano Di Gloria"
    (Il Levriero)



    Listen


    38
    LUKID
    "Lonely At The Top"
    (Werk Discs)



    Listen


    37
    RYAT
    "Totem"
    (Brainfeeder)



    Listen


    36
    CHAIRLIFT
    "Something"
    (Kanine)



    Listen


    35
    Ô PARADIS
    "Personas"
    (Old Europa Café)



    Listen


    34
    WRECK AND REFERENCE
    "No Youth"
    (Flenser)



    Listen


    33
    TAMARYN
    "Tender New Signs"
    (Mexican Summer)



    Listen


    32
    RITES WILD
    "Ways Of Being"
    (Not Not Fun)



    Listen


    31
    CARTER TUTTI VOID
    "Transverse"
    (Mute)



    Listen


    30
    JULIA HOLTER
    "Ekstasis"
    (RVNG Intl.)



    Listen


    29
    DAUGHN GIBSON
    "All Hell"
    (White Denim)



    Listen


    28
    EFTERKLANG
    "Piramida"
    (4AD)



    Listen


    27
    THE CARETAKER
    "Patience (After Sebald)"
    (History Always Favours The Winners)



    Listen


    26
    POLIÇA
    "Give You The Ghost"
    (Totally Gross National Product)



    Listen


    25
    NITE JEWEL
    "One Second Of Love"
    (Secretely Canadian)



    Listen


    24
    PYE CORNER AUDIO
    "Sleep Games"
    (Ghost Box)



    Listen


    23
    STARVING WEIRDOS
    "Land Lines"
    (Amish)



    Listen


    22
    ARCA
    "Stretch 2"
    (UNO)



    Listen


    21
    EMMPLEKZ
    "IZOD Days"
    (Mordant Music)



    Listen


    20
    X-TG
    "Desertshore / The Final Report"
    (Industrial Records)



    Listen


    19
    THE XX
    "Coexist"
    (Young Turks)



    Listen


    18
    TREMBLING BELLS & BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY
    "The Marble Downs"
    (Honest Jon's)



    Listen


    17
    AVA LUNA
    "Ice Level"
    (Infinite Best)



    Listen


    16
    SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL
    "The Call From Below"
    (Digitalis)



    Listen


    15
    HOLY OTHER
    "Held"
    (Tri Angle)



    Listen


    14
    LAUREL HALO
    "Quarantine"
    (Hyperdub)



    Listen


    13
    COOLY G
    "Playin' Me"
    (Hyperdub)



    Listen


    12
    ACTRESS
    "R.I.P."
    (Honest Jon's)



    Listen


    11
    ELA ORLEANS
    "Tumult In Clouds"
    (Clandestine)



    Listen


    10
    VINDICATRIX
    "Mengamuk"
    (Mordant Music)



    Listen


    09
    DEMDIKE STARE
    "Elemental"
    (Modern Love)



    Listen


    08
    VESSEL
    "Order Of Noise"
    (Tri Angle)



    Listen


    07
    ANDY STOTT
    "Luxury Problems"
    (Modern Love)



    Listen


    06
    GNOD / $HIT & $HINE
    "Collisions 03"
    (Rocket)



    Listen


    05
    VATICAN SHADOW
    "It Stands To Conceal"
    (Hospital Productions)



    Listen


    04
    SILENT SERVANT
    "Negative Fascination"
    (Hospital Productions)



    Listen


    03
    JESSIE WARE
    "Devotion"
    (PMR)



    Listen

    Without doubt the pop album of the year. Jessie Ware's style is that of poignancy and restraint. She treads the soul with respect, she cares not to give too much away of her, yet is able to unleash the deepest of emotions, but when she does, it's done with a cause. Teaming up with a couple of leftfield producers has yielded an album worth of well elaborated songs that will unfold their true strength on repeated listens.


    02
    WHITE CAR
    "Everyday Grace"
    (Hippos In Tanks)



    Listen

    Fucked up nu-beat goodness that takes its cues from the legendary Cabs circa '87 (Sex, Money, Freaks - era) and Skinny Puppy's drugged-out horror ambiances of "Cleanse Fold And Manipulate", however all damaged and fraught with the digital distress of post-internet economics. If you are talking about "electronic body music", then be well aware that this BODY can be troubled, shaken and disowned by various circumstances. If you have only the slightest interest in any kind of twisted dance music there is no way ignoring this album.


    01
    RAIME
    "Quarter Turns Over A Living Line"
    (Blackest Ever Black)



    Listen

    Quarter Turns... is a piece of music that "takes you there" from the very first seconds of sampled helicopter sounds and never leaves you alone until the defeated finale of broken chamber music. The whole album is built on a subtle tension that is never resolved and never relieved. There is no liberation. You are trapped in this cycle forever.
    Raime work skillfully in the field of tactile emotion - their art is defined by pure nuance, precision, elegance, commitment and modesty. Yet there is always an irrational crudety to their sound that cannot be subtracted. Their sparse sample-based compositions are exercises of restraint and rare beauty. "Quarter Turns Over A Living Line" goes beyond the frontiers of creating a mood on so many different levels that today it has become every bit essential to the imaginary canon of contemporary electronic music.



    Other than these longplayers, there's been plenty of fine musical haberdashery coming this way, like the excellent ep's from EAUX, TWIGS, BRONZE AGE, JACK NOVEMBER, DVVLLXNS, BURIAL HEX, TROPIC OF CANCER and the infinitely recommended cassette tapes from IVVVO, SAND CIRCLES and KIRSCHSTEIN.

    And so on.


    BE BLESSED. BE HUMBLE. TAKE CARE OF YOUR LOVED ONES. LISTEN TO MUSIC.

    Yours,
    Margot-in-the-margins
  • dead the long year

    Gen 2 2012, 1:43

    Whenever another year breaks off and fades into the next one, those in the position to know are eager to keep track of those tongue-tied remnants of the immediate past to fill up our virtual museums for the next 500 terabytes and counting.
    Be it just to edge your self-penned random identity or to namecheck those destined for fame before anyone else does, gathering lists will always remain a helpless practice to negotiate the fact that things keep passing us by, that we have little influence on how to shape our surroundings, that the space we live in slowly returns to dust. In a year so heavily imbued with tragedy and banality, further drifting towards outer and inner collapse, music replied in a new language of adamant heaviness, a recurrence of the dark and dismal and a reawakened sense of decay and depression. From Andy Stott's menacing burial of techno traditions to Daniel Bejar's burnt-out 'Kaputt' clad in soft-rock disguise, from Peaking Lights' endlessly crunching dubstreams to the poetry of absence and negativity forged by the young Nicolas Jaar, a greater part of 2011's most interesting records were exploring new dimensions of depth and inner earth spaces. As if we would finally press our ears up against the ground and tunnel into the ever pulsating liturgies of the underworld. Here then is a baker's dozen of jewels I brought home from this cave:


    13. Robedoor - "Too Down To Die" (Not Not Fun, US)



    Exchanging the boneyard mud for a more kosmische hexensülze, the murky Eagle Rock trio unfolds its sci-fi drone opera again in heavy air.
    No matter how many kids were operating in the same musical field in recent years, the Robedoor emissions are transmitted from a whole different galaxy.
    And they reach further into our cells with every dash of pitchblack vinyl they send down to earth.


    12. Wooden Wand & the Briarwood Virgins - "Briarwood" (Fire Records, UK)



    James is easily the most brilliant songwriter of his generation.
    He must have written 500+ songs in the last 15 years and you got to be hard pressed to find a single bad lyric within this huge cauldron of wisdom and romantic irony.
    "Briarwood" is what seems to be Toth's twisted take on southern rock, wholly electrified and brimming with a strange kind of charme and dignity.


    11. Nicolas Jaar - "Space Is Only Noise" (Circus Company, F)



    Seldomly has contemporary electronic music been so deeply inspired with the poetic qualities of pause and accent.
    Jaar's signature is that of arranging the traces of rhythm once they blurred out, putting ultimate emphasize on the spaces between sound.
    From out of these spaces grow fragments of songs sketched with pure elegance and wit.


    10. Trembling Bells - "The Constant Pageant" (Honest Jon's, UK)



    Probably the last true folk-rock band in the 21st century. Their third longplayer sees them at their most guitar-heavy rollicking heights, backed with a full string and horn section and fronted by Britain's finest female vocalist.
    With a set of songs that sound like coming fresh out of 1974, when production and analogue recording skills were at a certain peak, they forge a new, distinctively British nostalgia for the future.
    The venerable Joe Boyd said he loves them and he does well doing so.


    9. The Haxan Cloak - self-titled (Aurora Borealis, UK)



    Skillfully performed deconstruction and re-defiinition of the long malaised 'dark ambient' formula.
    An angst-ridden, fully irrational suite that emerges from the alchemy of processed strings, chants and subtle electronics.
    Like fog patches drifting past the barren fields of a paranoid post-witchcraft Albion or having late night dinner on Pendle Hill.


    8. Ô Paradis - "El Mismo Hombre" (Disques de Lapin, US)



    Forgive me for I am biased when speaking about the works of this Catalan wizard.
    Forging a distinctive brand of loop-based mediterranean psychedelic pop for about 12 years, Ô Paradis has now arrived at the point of a stripped-down yet complex accoustic minimalism.
    The splintered midnight melancholia of "El Mismo Hombre" will remain one of the most sombre and well-executed entries in his discography.


    7. Burial Hex - "Book Of Delusions" (Brave Mysteries, US)



    The long awaited, often delayed and allegedly cursed "Book Of Delusions" is clearly a testament to Clay Ruby's immense understanding of shaping the occult into sound.
    In a doomed marriage of minimal techno, Bianchi-/Schnitzler-esque electronics, post-industrial and devotional song, the two LP sides condense every aspect of the project's recording cycle.
    The work of an obsessed, highly gifted genius.


    6. Cut Hands - "Afro Noise I" (Susan Lawly, UK)



    The sound of bushwhackers sharpening. William Bennett is literally living through his best years impelling his Cut Hands project, being mostly an exercise in polyrhythmic percussion, passed through a vast palette of in-dub-strial noise, reverb and delay effects.
    With a timbre rather menacing and oppressive than 'liberating' or 'ecstatic', Bennett also turns the table on the majority of half-arsed 'ethno'-inspired attempts at so-called 'African drumming'.


    5. Water Borders - "Harbored Mantras" (Tri Angle, US)



    Use your imagination and replace Coil's unholy "Horse Rotorvator" into the early 90ies, getting hollowed out by the Bristol triphop mafia and then replenished with the 808s of a dozen warehouse raves.
    The Frisco duo Water Borders were dwelling heavily on that kind of fantasy when recording their debut lp.
    A highly inventive and refreshing sound drenched in an atmosphere and attitude that bears much resemblance to the mid-80ies UK post-industrial cosmos.


    4. Peaking Lights - "936" (Not Not Fun, US)



    Aaron and Indra are going from strength to strength with their sophomore "936", getting them even signed with the ever cormorant Domino Records.
    By plunging further into the deep sea of dub and reggae traditions they began creating a totally idiosyncratic sound rising from their self-built oscillators.
    Locked on a psychic bassline that just goes and goes, this is the record to stagger or dance your way through the night on cotton wool.


    3. Shalants - self-titled (American Dust, US)



    I kept this cd spinning on infinite repeat for months. I have not remotely felt so obsessive about a single album since my teenage days.
    "Shalants" is basically old-fashioned music, so well written and well arranged, recorded with so much care that it almost breaks your heart to see it barely recognised by the public.
    It's an album that feels its roots reaching deep in the history of Californian music but grows strange fruit on its wide entangled branches.
    A rare masterpiece of dark psych-tinged chamber pop.


    2. Ela Orleans - "Double Feature" split w/ Dirty Beaches / "Mars Is Heaven" (La Station Radar, F)





    Wondrous woman and artist of Polish descent, known to a few as a member of Hassle Hound. She builds up songs from loops, processed strings, piano and other small sounds.
    She does that in such a stunning, heart-stoppingly beautiful way, it's almost hilarious to try and write something down about it. Go and open up your ears for her singing "Neverend".
    It's the voice of a hundred white nights spent in vain and you will know deep in your heart the true nature of longing.


    1. Andy Stott - "Passed Me By" / "We Stay Together" (Modern Love, UK)





    2011 will be remembered as the year when Andy Stott altered the term "underground techno" to a new dimension.
    Stott takes the faintest echoes of pulsating 4/4s from outside the club and buries them so deep beneath a myriad of layers of dirt and earth and pure dark matter, that sometimes only the pressure of bass and subbass remains.
    A statement of meditative militancy for the new dark age, that was carefully prepared last year by Demdike Stare's ovewhelming "Tryptich" and is now executed without remorse, opening a new chapter in electronic music.



    Honourable mentions (in no particular order):

    King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
    Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres
    Htrk - Work (Work, Work)
    Sleep ∞ Over - Forever
    Chelsea Wolfe - Άποκάλυψις
    Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On
    Byetone - Symeta
    Weyes Blood And The Dark Juices - The Outside Room
    Julia Holter - Tragedy
    Love Inks - E.S.P.
    Bodies of Water - Twist Again
    Cliffie Swan - Memories Come True
    The Dreams - Morbido
    Twin Sister - In Heaven
    Tim Hecker - Ravedeath 1972
    Meg Baird - Seasons On Earth
    Charalambides - Exile
    Sølyst - self-titled
    Pumajaw - Demonmeowmeow
    Darkness Falls - Alive In Us
    Marissa Nadler - self-titled
    Religious Knives - Smokescreen
    My Brightest Diamond - All Things Will Unwind
    Destroyer - Kaputt
    Wet Hair - In Vogue Spirit
    Maria Minerva - Cabaret Cixous
    Jah Wobble & Julie Campbell - Psychic Life
    The Necks - Mindset
    Pure X - Pleasure
    The Weeknd - House Of Balloons
    Emptyset - Demiurge
    Roly Porter - Aftertime
    Ödland - Sankta Lucia
    Laurel Halo - Hour Logic
    High Places - Original Colors
    Nový Svět - Into Your Skies
    Jonathan Wilson - Gentle Spirit
    Dirty Beaches - Badlands
    Bronze - Copper
    Kreng - Grimoire



    Singles, 12"s, EPs

    Pulp Disco & the Outcasts - Overnight To Düsseldorf 12"
    Young Hunting - Night Of The Burning EP ...recommended for fans of Contrastate, Nocturnal Emissions etc.
    Ghost Eyes - Phantom Mountain 7"
    Raime - Hennail 12"
    Steve Gunn / Ilyas Ahmed - split 7"
    Nite Jewel - It Goes Through Your Head 12"
    Husband - Love Song 12" ...ultra-recommended tribal disco shot!!!
    Snow Ghosts - Lost At Sea EP
    The Haxan Cloak - Observatory 12"
    Regis - In A Syrian Tongue 12" ...Karl O'Connor going strong on a heavy duty Muslimgauze trip!!!
    Tropic of Cancer - Be Brave 10" b/w remix by Richard H. Kirk
    Factory Floor - Two Different Ways 12"
    Angel Olsen - Strange Cacti EP
    Covergirl - Paris Burns 7"



    Videoclips


    Ghost Eyes: Phantom Mountain



    Aesthetically shot variation on the theme of the dance plague, also known as "the dead can dance", to accompany one of 2011's most intriguing songs.


    Holy Ghost! - Wait & See



    Today's hottest 80ies revivalists/nostalgists being mimed by their own fathers. When history fights back...


    Dirty Beaches - Lone Runner



    Coldblooded Mary-Jane packing her things while Alex grinds off with that riff into deepspace oblivion. Intense!


    That's it folks. You can close the book now on 2011.


    Peace be with Trish and Bert, sorely missed on earth.

    Dogstar wishes to all of you,
    Margot