2018 Music Rewind

Mary Jane Leach — (f)lute songs

For much of this year I felt like I had less time than usu­al for active music lis­ten­ing. I got mar­ried, my wife was preg­nant, she gave birth to our beau­ti­ful daugh­ter, I had work com­mit­ments, my band The Twi­lights record­ed and released a new album, etc. As a result I have a huge back­log of albums that I want­ed to check out that I have not lis­tened to yet.

So, this year’s list con­sists of albums that I did hear that made a strong enough ini­tial impres­sion on me that I either 1.) wrote it down to remem­ber for this list, or 2.) imme­di­ate­ly sug­gest­ed some like-mind­ed friends have a lis­ten — with the caveat that my sur­vey was woe­ful­ly incom­plete as I prob­a­bly only made it through half of my to-do list of albums.

Any­way, here’s my list in alpha­bet­i­cal order:

Beak〉〉〉〉
Geoff Bar­row (of Por­tishead fame) has brought his atten­tion to groove and atmos­phere to a fusion of prog rock and krautrock. It’s not high­ly tech­ni­cal music, but I use the prog rock label because of the pro­duc­tion style and drum sounds as well as some pret­ty pre­cise play­ing.

Fran­cis Har­ris — Triv­ial Occu­pa­tions
This album is a set of dance music-inspired pieces lay­ered with per­for­mances on acoustic instru­ments. The melod­ic min­i­mal­ism and the repet­i­tive struc­ture are famil­iar entry points for fans of house or tech­no and the impro­vi­sa­tion ele­vates the tracks beyond dance floor util­i­ty.

Khru­ang­bin — Con Todo El Mun­do
This most­ly instru­men­tal TX-based gui­tar trio has escaped most of the expec­ta­tions that come of being gui­tar-based and TX-based by avoid­ing blues and rock clich­es. Instead they take a sol­id soul/rhythm & blues foun­da­tion and pep­per it with melod­ic and tonal influ­ences from African and South East Asian pop. The grooves are unfussy and the lead gui­tar is always taste­ful.

Mary Jane Leach — (f)lute songs
Gor­geous, slow­ly unfold­ing com­po­si­tions (span­ning 1985–2018) that inhab­it the same uni­verse as Mor­ton Feld­man, Phill Niblock, and Alvin Luci­er (espe­cial­ly his pieces for slow-mov­ing oscil­la­tor).

Noinonoinonoino — 8
Dark fuzzy elec­tron­ic impro­vi­sa­tions with smears of ana­log delay feed­back self-oscil­lat­ing over bass-heavy beats.

Lucy Rail­ton — Par­adise 94
Dark and rich­ly tex­tured debut release from this com­pos­er and cel­list. Plen­ty of extend­ed tech­niques to pull out cel­lo creaks and groans that blend seam­less­ly with her elec­tron­ic sound design and effects. Real­ly engross­ing com­po­si­tions that seem almost stream-of-con­scious­ness in their flow but nev­er feel aim­less or unstruc­tured.

Debashis Sin­ha — The White Dog
This release was brought to my atten­tion by a post on Cre­ate Dig­i­tal Music. The White Dog is patient­ly paced and restrained elec­tron­ic music with nods to 90s ambi­ent tech­no and IDM. It name checks Alvin Luci­er in its titles but I don’t hear an obvi­ous son­ic influ­ence. It’s always a pleas­ant sur­prise to hear elec­tron­ic music that is not eas­i­ly labelled into its com­po­nent sub-gen­res.

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