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Friday, July 20, 2012

(A Predictable) Favorites of 2012 so far...

Here are 5 albums that I've really liked this year and have put on repeat wherever I am. I've listened to more dance music than usual this year and this short list reflects that. I used to listen to a lot of IDM in high school, and a lot of bands now are returning to that grimey, cerebral, nostalgic mood-creating, and alienating brand of electronic music, while at the same time, doing very cool things with it. But besides that, no surprises.

Blues Control - Valley Tangents - Drag City
My friend Mikhael once described Blues Control as sounding like the very notion of playing music three rooms away. Against and reinforcing this paradoxical ascription, Valley Tangents features a more polished, dynamic, and thoughtful sound that only penetrates yet supports the felt walls that had distinguished their unique emotionally engaging psych jam band ethos. As a result, the album is more intimate and deeply accessible in a good way.

Motion Sickness Of Time Travel - S/T - Spectrum Spools
Formally, this album is intimidating: four songs of length 20+ minutes, but listening to the album you forget the partitions and get lost in a Neu-agey celestial quasi-post-temporal experience distinctive of an 800%-slowed-down generation that is arguably punk.

Daughn Gibson - All Hell - White Denim
Mixing elements of Scott Walker's vocal performance, a heart-melting baritone, heavy 'country' thematic and sonic overtones, and familiar electronic-techno production, Daughn Gibson comes up with an original brand of hunk-pop that is refreshing and endlessly replayable.

Death Grips - Money Store - Epic
Violent, visceral, unrestrained hit after hit.

Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland - Black Is Beautiful - Hyperdub
My favorite album of the year so far, but then again, I am partial to everything Hype Williams related. In the proper sense, this is definitely an 'album', featuring half-pop songs separated by sub 1-minute half-dubbed-out grooves that make sense only within the context of the collective body of songs. Interviews with John Maus focus on the empowering and retaliative possibilites in playing with pop music and its conventions. But Maus' sentiments often sound pretty hopeful. To me, the duo are interesting because they seem to have the knack for expressing the mystery of pop and dance music in such an appealing and liberating way. It expresses a technological-social environment that is always changing and is never predictable. Why pop and dance music is engaging in its infinite regress of smoke-screens and references makes it impossible to pin-point down in terms of its exact retaliative or social causes and effects. It's a sneaky and unclear thing. This maybe nihilistic message and skepticism about other quasi-theorisms about music is hinted at throughout Black Is Beautiful in a way that is effective and undeniably sublime. 

Other favorites:
Grimes - Visions - 4AD
Stephen Steinbrink - I Drew A Picture - Self-released
D'Eon - LP - Hippos In Tanks
Various Artists - Atlantics Vol. 2 - Astro Nautico

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