2016 Music Rewind

For much of this year I felt as though I was not able to keep abreast of music releas­es well enough to even pick favorites. Then sud­den­ly towards the end of the year I came across sev­er­al real­ly great releas­es and A Tribe Called Quest dropped their first album in years which turned out to be amaz­ing. Who knows, anoth­er great album might get released in the few remain­ing days of 2016…

The Body — No One Deserves Hap­pi­ness
Start­ing off qui­et and dark like Miran­da Sex Gar­den, this album soon gives way to slow-crush­ing heavy gui­tar glac­i­ers. Almost like Swans in the 90s turn­ing back into Swans in the 80s.

Horse Lords — Inter­ven­tions
Lop­ing cir­cu­lar grooves recall the Sub Saha­ran blues of Ali Far­ka Touré and Tinari­wen as well as the Hill Coun­try blues of Junior Kim­brough. A heady, trance-induc­ing, min­i­mal­ist rock sound.

Givan Lötz — MAW
I became aware of this record via the insta­gram account of @thevinylmind. He said, “One of the many things that fas­ci­nate me about music is how phys­i­cal sounds can be. Artists who can cre­ate shape and weight with sound have my utmost respect.” This was enough for me to seek out the album and I am cer­tain­ly glad that I found it. Soft-edged elec­tric gui­tar bal­lads flow with­in a mud­dy stream of ambi­ent tex­tures. The pace is patient, like Low or Codeine.

Abul Mog­a­rd — Works
Accord­ing to the prod­uct page on boomkat.com, Abul Mog­a­rd found his way to a late-in-life music career after retir­ing from decades-long ser­vice at a fac­to­ry. Seek­ing to fill the son­ic absence of post-fac­to­ry life he turned to elec­tron­ic music and drone-mak­ing and we are all the rich­er for it. Dis­play­ing the care and atten­tion of a crafts­man, Mogard’s drones pulse and swell with emo­tions both famil­iar and unname­able.

Strobes — Broke­speak
Strobes plays a thorny angu­lar fusion of jazz, pro­gres­sive rock, and Bat­tles-style post-rock. My good friend and Pink Hex band mate Joel Kromer turned me on to this one.

A Tribe Called Quest — We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your ser­vice…
ATCQ sur­prised us all in 2016 with this release. The lev­el of exe­cu­tion and indi­vid­ual artistry is some­thing that is get­ting rare to find in hip-hop releas­es, espe­cial­ly 2-LP full albums. The music is root­ed in the Tribe for­mu­la but is a great leap for­ward as well. The inter­twined vocal vers­es work per­fect­ly to imbue the whole with the spir­it of the recent­ly deceased Phife Dawg. Jarobi’s con­tri­bu­tions are cru­cial and I can’t help but won­der why we haven’t heard his voice more before now. This album is so good that I feel oblig­at­ed to go back and lis­ten to The Love Move­ment again with an open mind because maybe they only made good albums and I wasn’t ready for that one yet.

Yussef Kamaal — Black Focus
Funky, com­plex, mod­ern fusion. The core of this group is the duo of drum­mer Yussef Dawes and key­board play­er Kamaal Williams (who also oper­ates as Hen­ry Wu). They work with­in loose frame­works, rarely plan­ning much in terms of arrange­ments. The result is a loose-limbed groove-based music that sits deeply in the pock­et.