I know there’ll be a deluge of music on here over the next week, so I thought I’d better get started!
It goes without saying that 2016 has been a bastard of a year politically and this seems to have been reflected back in the music world. David Bowie’s shockingly perfect exit from this mortal coil knocked me for six in January and just when I thought I had got my head around the clusterfuck that was 2016, I watched in real time on my Facebook feed as more than 30 young people from the tight-knit, diverse, open-hearted, inclusive and passionate experimental dance underground (headed by my beloved Not Not Fun offshoot 100% Silk records) lost their lives in a warehouse party fire in California (R.I.P. Cherushii). Against this backdrop, I found myself kind of scrambling about listening to records here and there and grabbing scraps of sound, but never really latching onto anything like I normally do. With this mind, I thought it would be unfair to have the usual ranking and countdown as nothing stands above the others enough to justify a ‘winner’, so I thought I’d just throw out a long list in alphabetical order of albums that I have enjoyed this year. I’ll break it up into a few parts to make it more palatable though. OK, here we go….
２８１４ – Rain Temple
2015’s amazing 新しい日の誕生 was number 6 on my list last year and would probably have been even higher if I’d spent as much time with it then as I have now (finally tracked down the double vinyl). “Rain Temple” switches the rain-soaked Tokyo backstreets of 新しい日の誕生 for something more pastoral, but no less thrilling and inventive.
Here’s the closing track:
Aluk Todolo – Voix
I don’t know anything about this except that it is French (I think!), dark as fuck, droney, black metalley, noisy and experimental in all the best ways.
Blown Out – New Cruiser
More proof, if needed, that Riot Season continues to be the UK’s finest independent label. “New Cruiser” is a big fuck off psychedelic space jam just like they always claimed to make ’em, but never actually did. Big, big-nod inducing swirling riffage to take you far out of your headphones/desk/small town/parochial country/fucked-up world…
Here’s the first half:
Carla Del Forno – You Know What It’s Like
I was hesitant about this at first as it looked like it was going to be a Julia Holter knock-off. But I loved that Julia Holter record last year and I think this is even better. Great songwriting lashed to a dubbed-out, inventive electronic soundscape that manages to be subtle and memorable at the same time and has hints of Peaking Lights about it.
David Bowie – Blackstar
Ah…what’s to say? As I said above, his death affected me more than any rock star death since Kurt Cobain. Over the last few years Bowie had quietly become one of my all-time favourite artists and on the day he died I was right in the middle of one of my Bowie binges. I had Bowie records on both house turntables, a book about Bowie open on my bedside table and this album (bought the Saturday before he died) strewn across the coffee table in the telly room with the lyrics sheet out. And what an album it is. From the prescient lyrics to the innovative jazz, the skipping drum and bass to the woohs of enjoyment you can so clearly hear of someone who knows they are making their last record and it’s a fucking belter. RIP David.