Thursday, December 3, 2009

[BEST OF 2009] My year of experimental music

blog 2009/12/03 - [BEST OF 2009]  My year of experimental music

Only a handful of you listen to more experimental music, so I took all of those albums and lumped them together here.

Ambient drone, noise, contemporary sound art, minimal IDM, contemporary piano, the goodness is overflowing for those in the right frame of mind.

And oh yes, I am even ranking the albums, just to be that much more of a pretentious fuck.


1) Lustmord - The Dark Places of the Earth
2) Klimek - Movies Is Magic
3) Tarek Mansur - Hidden Sounds EP
4) Andrea Belfi & Machinefabriek - Pulses & Places
5) Gregg Kowalsky - Tape Chants
6) Kenji Siratori - Parasite Noise
7) Clorinde - The Creative Listener
8) Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modern - utp_
9) Danny Saul - Harsh, Final
10) Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions
11) Kylie Minoise - Live in Japan
12) Sam Hamilton - Sooty Symposium
13) Thomas Koner - La Barca
14) Ethan Rose - Oaks
15) Vargr - Maria Orsic Trilogy (3 CD)
16) Rachel Grimes - Book of Leaves
17) Merzbow - 13 Japanese Birds series
18) OST - La Sangre Iluminada (Enlightened Blood) (Murcof)
19) Taylor Deupree - Live 1 Mapping
20) John Zorn - Femina
21) Pummeler - The Sewage Riot
22) I.U.D. - The Proper Sex

The playlist is assembled for listening ease!  It is not formatted to match the order of the albums as listed here.
I front-loaded it with all of the relaxing delicate stuff.
Then it gets a bit more abstract, yet still pretty easily accessible.
Then it goes a bit darker and more minimal.
Then it heads to sound-art territory.
And the comes the noise!

Think of it is as a trial of your (awesomeness) might.
See how long you can last!  A 3 and half hour test of your hipstercred.

Lustmord - The Dark Places of the Earth:  #1 on the list!  BEST OF THE YEAR!  OMG how dare I?  How is this one album the best of the best of the experimental?  Purity.  There has been no album true to it's vision.  Not even Lustmord's other quality release this year ("[ B E Y O N D ]") caputres the simple majesty of dark drone like this album.  I will fall asleep to this album more than any other album released this year.  It will fill my rooms and my headphones.

Klimek - Movies Is Magic:  Instead of doing the regular thing of producing a sweeping album that is breathlessly described as "cinematic", Klimek goes one further, producing an album of intricate soundscapes that beg for a movie to be constructed around them.  These are pieces that demand visual creation, not audio that merely implies it.

Tarek Mansur - Hidden Sounds EP:  This EP reminds me of the greatest times of record collecting.  You find a 12" from an unknown name with intriguing album artwork.  You put it on the turntable.  It's dark, swirling, mysterious.  One side pulses abstract IDM soundscapes, and the other side nearly abandons structure altogether and instead creates a delightful sound world that just sucks you in.  So wonderful.

Andrea Belfi & Machinefabriek - Pulses & Places:  There is a world of texture going on here, and boy is it a dreamy place to be.  There is this wonderful tradition here of naming albums exactly how the record sounds, and this keeps that going nicely.  For fans of modern improv, deep click and glitch music, sound art, microsound, and good old fashion experimental improv.

Gregg Kowalsky - Tape Chants:  There's a lot of love in my heart for well-executed lofi drone.  People are all googoogaga for Grouper, but this is the true essence of it all right here.  Reverential.  This is truly lofi drone for the soul.

Kenji Siratori - Parasite Noise:  Awww fuck yeah, here goes the good shit.  Such deliciously textured noise!  Check the sample, this mostly goes on for like 40 minutes of super satisfying yum.

Clorinde - The Creative Listener:  A bunch of pixies rail some pixie dust, pull out their lutes and thumb pianos, and wait, someone brought a Nord Lead as well?  Awesome.  Let's get moody.

Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modern - utp_:  Mr. Noto is a personal hero of mine.  His works with Sakamoto have been incredibly beautiful, and here he's taking his hum and click techniques one step further, bringing in a string ensemble to fill in some midrange.  A gorgeous album of metered patience.

Danny Saul - Harsh, Final:  This caught me by surprise.  What started as wonderful textural drone guitar morphed in to a psych folk masterpiece.  This album is highly recommended, and one of my favourite surprises of the year.

Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions:  Explanation required?  Probably not.  But easily has the most "pleasant" moments of any Sunn O))) release preceding.

Kylie Minoise - Live in Japan:  Obviously (and lovingly) modelled after the Hanatarash live albums from Mom N Pop in the 90s, it is a fitting tribure.  NOISE!  YEAH!

Sam Hamilton - Sooty Symposium:  This work falls in to an area of visceral sound art that reminds me of the late Maryanne Amacher.    The pulses (of course) have greatest effect at high volume, but even at quieter times, you can't escape how much sheer attention the pieces demand of you.  Certainly not wallpaper music, this is sound to experience.

Thomas Koner - La Barca:  Koner takes on new sound avenues, incporating city field recordings in to signature sways of the drones.  His tones are oceans lapping up, and the ghost of cities long consumed rises up with the tide and then dissipate, only to be taken by the next churn.

Ethan Rose - Oaks:  Subtle acousticey sounds, lovingly processed in to tracks that imply a rhythmic underpinning, but are beatless and pulsing.

Vargr - Maria Orsic Trilogy (3 CD):  Some noise takes itself way too seriously, but at least these guys have released such a quality set, that you forget that you can't tell if they are laughing. 

Rachel Grimes - Book of Leaves:  It says something about the times we live in when it's a shock to find an album of straight-up acoustic piano.  No buzzes, no whirs, no droney post-processing, no 808s.  Her hands weave magic.

Merzbow - 13 Japanese Birds series:  He's a bit of a running joke in the 21st century, but damn, I do really like these albums.  As of writing only 11 of the 13 have been released, but really, isn't that enough to go off of?  Masami Akita gets his prog-drumming jollies out, and the results are far more textural than many recent works, and even sometimes have your head bobbing in that odd way when you try and act like you're super in to abstract improv jazz.

OST - La Sangre Iluminada (Enlightened Blood) (Murcof):  I haven't seen this movie yet, but you should totally google and watch the trailer.  It looks amazing.  And with classical glitch/idm producer Murcof at the boards, it might just be one of the best soundtrack matchups of the year, up there with Karen O and Where The Wild Things Are.

Taylor Deupree - Live 1 Mapping:  A veteran of the digital sound worlds, Deupree is the kind of master that can still crush Markus Popp with just the thought of going nearing his MacBook.  So very accessible with it's looping structure, this album collects some fantastic live works, and makes me very excited to one day experience this live in a big dark dark room, with just him staring deeply into his LCD monitor...

John Zorn - Femina:  I don't really understand the thematic underpinnings at work here, but Zorn's lovely little release Femina covers many of his contemporary compositional whims.  There's nary a squeal on the whole album, but instead it reveals a number of his fascinations (females speaking, cinematic framing) in a playful and almost wholly accessible manner.  Recommended for fans of contemporary classical, as well as stalwarts of the Tzadik/Zorn scenes.

Pummeler - The Sewage Riot:  This tape is just sexy.  Noise that washes over you a raging drone.  This makes me happy.

I.U.D. - The Proper Sex:  The review site Pitchfork Music is pretty much the stupidest site out there when it comes to experimental music.  They continually post "token" reviews and they always fall in the same derivative 7.1-7.7 range.  Every once in a while they take a rather mediocre work and put it on a pedestal like OMG aren't we so edgy and with it.  When they gave this album a bad review, I knew I had to check it out, and it was very much worth it.  Take that Gang Gang Dance glee and toss out the silly song structures and what you're left with is a remarkably listenable work of primitive musical adventure.


Ethan Rose - On Wheels Rotating
Ethan Rose - Scenes From When
Rachel Grimes - Every Morning
Rachel Grimes - Far Light
Clorinde - Leaf
Clorinde - Cecile
Murcof - Como Quisiera Decirte (Remix) (La Sangre Iluminada OST)
Murcof - Eugenio I (La Sangre Iluminada OST)
Murcof - Sangre (La Sangre Iluminada OST)
Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modern - Broken Line 2
Danny Saul - Your Death
John Zorn - Femina  Part One
Andrea Belfi , Machinefabriek - Pulses & Places 3
Gregg Kowalsky - Tape Chants VI-VII
Klimek - Exploding Unbearable Desires
Klimek - Exposed to Life In It's Brutal Meaninglessness
Taylor Deupree - Live in Bern (Sept 9, 2005)
Lustmord - Atom
Thomas  Koner - 33° 31' N  36° 19' E (Hour Six)
Thomas  Koner - 43° 42' N  7° 16' E (Hour Two)
Tarek Mansur - Hidden Sounds
Sam Hamilton - Old Gravel Roads Winding Out into the Dark Night of the Countryside
I.U.D. - Monk Hummer
Sunn O))) - Alice
Pummeler - The Sewage Riot side A
Kenji Siratori - Parasite Noise Part 1 (excerpt)
Kylie Minoise - Live Aktion 68 (Happy Noise Sunday! Vol. 15) (excerpt)
Vargr - First transmission from A
Merzbow - Requiem For The 259,000 Quails (excerpt)
Merzbow - Variation No. 1 (excerpt)

It's amazing how many ways I can pretty much say nothing:

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