Good things 2012

Words: Jeremy Curry

Since I usually regret something on my “Best Of” list, I would rather just mention that these were some good things I enjoyed at the time. I am sure they aren’t the best, as I know I will find something better that was released this year, many years down the road.

Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi and Keiji Haino – Live at SuperDeluxe Tokyo

These guys are regulars on my lists, only because I consider them masters of their craft. I usually end up enjoying everything they churn out. Seeing them live was not only a highlight of my year, but of my life. It was very loud, intense, and a quite a surreal experience. Being able to see three of my favourite musicians playing together on a single stage was pretty amazing. It was also my last day in Tokyo, which made for a great goodbye party for myself. They were loud, abrasive, screeching, wailing, flailing and squonking to my heart’s delight. I don’t know if I will ever see a show quite like that again.

Blur – 21 Box Set

Blur - 21 Box Set

Blur have been one of my favourite bands since I was in junior high. These guys were always pushing the envelope of what they could make, and would scrap everything they became famous for to start fresh. I liked that. “Song 2” was popular everywhere when it was released, and became a beer ad / jock anthem. After that, they released the album 13, which was mostly sad ballads. They have never stuck to one sound, and always strayed from getting pigeonholed into one specific genre. This box set is a really great hunk of every full-length release they have ever put out, as well as b-sides, rarities and live tracks. It’s a nice trip down memory lane, and the chance to listen to all of these unreleased tracks was a nice addition.

Patrice and Friends

A couple of his albums were released last year, but in 2012, Patrice and Friends (a.k.a. Grime producer Slackk) dropped another banger into my lap called Cherry Sorbet. It’s a nice mix of footwork, boogie, soul, R&B and funk jams moving at such a fast pace that you’re sure to be tuckered out on the dancefloor pretty quick. All of his albums are a lot of fun, but I would suggest starting with Cashmere Sheets. So many great beats pumping at you on that one.

Lone – Galaxy Garden

This might be my favorite electronic album of the year. It starts off with some wild jungle jams and keeps flowing from there. It’s a very playful but busy and intelligent album, which also contains some of my favorite tracks to bust out at the club, such as “Spirals” which samples Anneka’s vocals into what sounds like a classic Orbital track. I haven’t heard another release like it this year, and that is refreshing.

R. Stevie Moore

R. Stevie Moore

I found out about this man through The Wire and discovered his exhaustingly massive output of releases. I’ve heard a bunch of them, but haven’t even scratched the surface. His album with Ariel Pink is completely bonkers, but is also a match made in space. Those guys were meant to record together. There is a documentary about R. Stevie Moore on YouTube, and although it’s kind of boring, watching his recording process is fascinating and would also drive me completely insane. He is a master of pop music, and producing massive quantities of it.

Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth

I found out about Ryan Hemsworth through FACT Magazine, where he contributed one of the year’s best mixes. Playfully mixing up rap artists like Danny Brown with the Donkey Kong and Chrono Trigger soundtracks is a genius move. The beats get pretty hazy, but the drum samples push forward and keep you moving. I have a bunch of his mixes on heavy rotation at my house, as he compiled them online and gave them all away for free. I think he would be a great guy to see live, if you want to get some exercise by dancing your heart out.

Other notable albums of 2012:

O’Rourke / Ambarchi /Haino – Imikuzushi
Sir Richard Bishop – Intermezzo
Six Organs of Admittance – Ascent
Andy Stott – Luxury Problems
Mark Fell – Sentielle Objectif Actualite
Anenon – Inner Hue
BEAK> – BEAK>>
Jason Lescalleet – Songs About Nothing
Josephine Foster – Blood Rushing
Raglani – Real Colors of the Physical World
KTL – V
Stephen O’Malley & Steve Noble – St. Francis Duo
Chris Reimer – The Chad Tape
Fenn O’Berg – In Hell
Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
Rangda – Formerly Extinct

2011: The Backwards Relationship

Words: Jeremy Curry

The year 2011 felt like one of my past relationships going backwards. It started off long, frustrating and complicated, but it ended with excitement, wonder and a hell of a lot of questions. The reason for this is because I’ve moved from my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, to the monstrous super champion funzone of Tokyo, Japan. I am surprised the city has not eaten me alive yet. I’ve attended a couple of live events, but the city is so breathtaking and vibrant that anywhere I go turns out to be a fantastic treat. I have yet to find myself in a state of boredom or frustration. I am sure being unemployed will catch up to me soon. Anyway, I’ve seen loads of crazy outfits and cute cartoons and just plain weird junk, so let’s move on.

BURT BACHARACH

I’ve always loved Burt, but it wasn’t until this year that I heard the five disc anthology Something Big, that I really started to appreciate the guy. He creates these perfect pop songs that seem so innocent and fun, yet have this gushing feeling of love all over the damn place. Colour me sentimental. These songs can sound kind of corny sometimes, but man are they arranged in such a perfect way. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I play “(They Long To Be) Close To You” or “All Kinds Of People”. It’s like sitting by a roaring fire on a cold day, sipping hot chocolate while your border collie brings you your slippers and your daily newspaper (mine would be The Onion). Oh, and there’s a roast cooking in the oven too!

JIM O’ROURKE’S MANY ALBUMS RELEASED THIS YEAR

Jim O’Rourke is my favorite musician, so it was kind of crazy for me this year, when he released about eight albums I think? I don’t know if this is correct, but some great ones are the compilations Old News Vol. 5 and Old News Vol. 6. His album Indeed with Oren Ambarchi was like riding a death-cycle into No Man’s Land, and the album with Ambarchi and Keiji Haino, In A Flash Everything Comes Together As One, was a wonked out whirlwind of improvised freak outs, brain-blasting riffs and jarring electronics. He also worked with the group Fire! for a release on Rune Grammafon called, Unreleased? Yet the real gem I heard this year was called One Bird, Two Bird with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow. This is one of the most abrasive, brutal and awesome records I have heard all year. Gustafsson squonks out the gnarliest sax wails I have ever heard. Like his life depends on tearing up eardrums. Merzbow and O’Rourke flicker in and out with hisses, drones and wobbly tones that would have you think you’re in droid hell. For somebody who has been churning out an insane quantity of albums, the quality is still top-notch.

THE BEACH BOYS SMILE SESSIONS

It was so cool that this was released this year. I had no idea! Snuck out from under me, I guess. This is another pop masterwork that was never really finished and is considered to be one of the greatest American unfinished records. I don’t know who else you could lump into that category? Does Meat Loaf have a fantastic unfinished record we have yet to hear about? Doubtful. The Smile Sessions are pretty much as close as it gets to the completion of the record, with tons of extra stuff on the vinyl editions. It’s a great way to choose your own adventure as to how you think the tracks should have gone together, although I was quite happy with this result. Oh, I also forgot about Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. They didn’t finish that album, but they released it anyway because they didn’t give a shit.

Here are some good albums that came out this year:

DJ Quik- The Book of David

200 Years – s/t

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – YT//ST

Wild Flag – s/t

Thundercat – The Golden Age of the Apocalypse

P.J Harvey – Let England Shake

Master Musicians of Bukkake – Totem Three

Masami Akita, Mats Gustafsson & Jim O’Rourke – One Bird, Two Bird

Cyclo – id

Boston Spaceships – Let it Beard

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

Evil Madness – Super Great Love

FORMA – s/t

Gui Boratto – III

P.G. Six – Starry Mind

G-Side – The One… Cohesive

Ellen Fullman – Through Glass Panes

Rustie – Glass Swords

The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions (reissue)

LFO – Frequencies (reissue)

Savaging Spires – s/t

Mark McGuire – Get Lost

The Roots – undun

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Sonic Youth – Simon Werner a Disparu

Everything else? Kinda shitty.