2015 Music Rewind

Here’s my list of favorite releas­es for this past year, pre­sent­ed in alpha­bet­i­cal order:

Lucre­cia Dalt — Ou
This is filmic, cin­e­mat­ic music. Sounds creep in and out of view with the seam­less rhythm of the best film edi­tors. Tex­ture and grit are key ingre­di­ents but har­monies do some­times emerge to lend a famil­iar emo­tion­al anchor to the abstrac­tion. There’s a radio­phon­ic woozi­ness that bathes the whole affair in nos­tal­gia.

Dr. Yen Lo — Days with Dr. Yen Lo
A col­lab­o­ra­tion between rap­per Ka and pro­duc­er Preser­va­tion, Days of Dr. Yen Lo is a dim­ly lit set of loops which per­fect­ly sup­port the dead­pan lyri­cal sleight of hand. There’s hard­ly any per­cus­sion to speak of for most of the album and that leaves com­pre­hen­sion room for the lis­ten­er. Ka’s mind twists and turns with­in every line but it is all so effort­less and casu­al that it could eas­i­ly slip past you. Remov­ing the temp­ta­tion to get lost in the beat is a bril­liant move and you end up nod­ding your head to the lyrics.

fLako — Nature­boy
This was the first 2015 release I jot­ted down to start this list and it still sounds great to me. It sounds simul­ta­ne­ous­ly time­less and com­plete­ly con­tem­po­rary. The beats sound fresh and new but are not trendy genre tracks. There is a strong musi­cal­i­ty behind every song. The live instru­ments and pro­grammed ele­ments blend seam­less­ly to cre­ate an organ­ic whole.

King Midas Sound & Fen­nesz — Edi­tion 1
King Midas Sound is already a haunt­ed com­bo of dread, bass, and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. This first in a series of forth­com­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive releas­es sees The Bug’s cus­tom­ary weight, men­ace, and tex­ture wed­ded to the decon­struct­ed mist of Fen­nesz’s sound world. Look­ing for­ward to the next edi­tions.

Lad­dio Bolocko — Live and Unre­leased 1997–2000
A great doc­u­ment of an extreme­ly inter­est­ing band. I was a big fan of drum­mer Blake Flem­ing’s work with his pre­vi­ous band Daz­zling Kill­men. This is a very dif­fer­ent ani­mal but the sub­tleties of his drum­ming are what drew me into both projects. Hard and heavy but detailed and groovy.

Hailu Mer­gia — Hailu/Yegle Nesh
I was under the impres­sion that this was a reis­sue but it is in fact new mate­r­i­al by the leg­endary Ethiopi­an jazz musi­cian. Moody, dark funk vibes on 7‑inch vinyl.

Rodinia — Drumside/Dreamside
Post-rock ambi­ent math-funk? The Drum­side half of this record is filled with odd time sig­na­ture grooves that mix the feel of krautrock motorik pulse with raw break­beat crispi­ness. The Dream­side has a late 90s ambi­ent vibe and it floats and soars with­out ever falling into New Age-iness. Great exe­cu­tion in both worlds.

Suf­jan Stevens — Car­rie & Low­ell
A love­ly, con­fi­dent album. The vocal melodies are gen­tle but state­ly, nev­er frag­ile. My favorite moments fea­ture a muf­fled piano that sounds like you are inside the guts of the instru­ment. I thought at first that they had put con­tact mics on the tines of an elec­tric piano to get so inti­mate a sound.

Andrea Taeg­gi — Mama Matrix Most Mys­te­ri­ous
A heady explo­ration of dance music pos­si­bil­i­ties, this album plays almost as a set of vari­a­tions on the theme of min­i­mal tech­no in odd time sig­na­tures. The sound design is famil­iar but twist­ed into new shapes that don’t roll smooth­ly, cre­at­ing new move­ments.

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