Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best of 2007

10. STUDIO - West Coast / Yearbook 1 (Information)
I'm not particularly impressed by the obvious 80's influences, you can call it Balearic or whatever, I don't care, but this Swedish duo is actually very talented, and their sound is equally impressive. They're also responsible for some of the best remixes of recent times.
Download track: Life's a Beach! (edit) and Self Service (short version).
Visit MySpace.

09. BJ NILSEN - The Short Night (Touch)
I don't know what to say about this album.
I guess you
have to hear it. The Short Night is composed of intricate and beautiful layering of location recordings, weather, radio, tape machines, filters and generators. Exceptional.
Download tracks: Black Light and Finisterre (excerpt). Visit homepage.

08. CHROMATICS - Night Drive (Italians Do It Better)
Chromatics set the bar high with their Shining Violence release earlier this year, and even if Night Drive resembles a collection of their best moments rather than a brand new album, it's still nice to have them on one single LP. Now, if they only had included In the City as well, they would've come full circle.
Download tracks: I Want Your Love and Night Drive.
MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

07. JASPER TX - In A Cool Monsoon (Pumpkin Seeds In the Sand)
Gothenburg-based artist Dag Rosenqvist released a number of records and EP's this year, but I have to say this one is the most compelling. In A Cool Monsoon leaves most of the drones behind in favour of melodies through live instrumentations. A haunting, incredibly beautiful record.
Download track: Bending Spoons. Visit MySpace.

And Their Refinement of the Decline (Kranky)
Released as a triple vinyl set or as a double CD, And Their Refinement of the Decline is a demanding listen. At first I thought I'd find this boring, but it's actually interesting all the way through. Sure, by the second disc you've already filled the acoustic drone quota, but it's so delicately done that it's hard to criticize such a monumental body of work.
Download track: Apreludes (In C Sharp Major).
MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

05. NO AGE - Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat)
The founders of Wives sat out to compose the most beautiful noise pop record ever, and succeeded. Consisting of four EP's, the first half of the album is noisy, with short bursts of pop sensibilities drenched in stabbing guitars and reverb, hooks drifting in and out of static, while the later part consists of longer songs with focus on layered feedback and guitar.
Kind of complicated, but equally rewarding
Download tracks: My Life's Alright Without You and Sun Spots.
MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

04. BLACK LIPS - Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo (Vice)
I had no previous experience of The Black Lips before I got my hands on this. Needless to say, I was blown away. Turns out it's the best live album I've ever heard! Recorded in Tijuana, this insane session features psychedelic, energetic punk rock songs, fuelled by tons of tequila and blow, performed amidst dive-bar regulars and hookers fingering themselves onstage.
Download tracks: M.I.A. and Not a Problem.

MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

03. PANDA BEAR - Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
Loops, chanting, samples of splashing water and subways. Made my summer. Makes me want to visit Lisbon. And New York. Feel-good album of the year, no doubt. Simply amazing. If you haven't picked this one up yet, I suggest you do so. Absolutely essential.
Download tracks: Take Pills and Bros (edit).

MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

02. BEN FROST - Theory of Machines (Bedroom Community)
A concept album of sorts, this is an absolutely incredible piece of work. Distortion, shimmering drones, distressed guitars and drums compressed into stabbing, concrete sounds. Demanding and unforgiving, it makes for a truly special listening experience. Best "electronic" album of the year, hands down.
Download track: Theory of Machines.

MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

01. DEERHUNTER - Cryptograms / Fluorescent Grey (Kranky)

I got this in February, and in March I knew which album was going to top my list for this year. Simple as that. Describing Cryptograms is difficult, but frontman Bradford Cox does it best in his own words: "I’ve always thought of Deerhunter as a punk band, a drone punk band. The whole concept behind Deerhunter is to create an ambient garage band, a band that could create garage rock and ambient music simultaneously." Make sure you give this one a try, because it's the most important record of the year. Fluorescent Grey, the EP released a few months after Cryptograms, is also recommended.
Download tracks: Cryptograms and Like New (from Fluorescent Grey).
MySpace. Buy it on Itunes.

Best Reissue: Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (Factory/Rhino)
One of my favourite albums remastered, on lovely vinyl. Essential purchase. Now, I just want to see that movie, too. If it ever comes this way. Sometimes it sucks living in Sweden, I'll tell you that much. If you've somehow managed to ignore this album up till now, give it a try. It's really something.
Download track: Disorder (remastered).

Worst Purchase of the Year:
Marcus Schmickler with Hayden Chisholm - Amazing Daze (Häpna)
It could've been In Rainbows (even if I didn't pay that much for it), but I have to go with this one. I love the Häpna label, but this gives me a headache everytime I try listening to it. Bagpipe drones, each over 20 minutes long?
I should have known. Here's an excerpt of the most tolerable of the two tracks: Infinity in the Shape of a Poodle (for Björk Gudmundsdottir).

That's it. Overall, 2007 was a good year for music. Feel free to post your own top-10 (or whatever) in the comments section, or albums that are strangely missing from this list. Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Best of 2007 - Honourable mentions

Okay, so before presenting the Best of 2007 list, here's a couple of albums that didn't make the cut, but came very close. Amongst others, in no particular order:

Christian Fennesz & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Cendre (Touch)
Cendre is unrelentingly fascinating and beautiful - a stunning piece of work, though I prefer Sakamoto's work with Alva Noto. To me, this was too much of a tease - I was expecting a new solo album by Fennesz by the end of this year...
Download track: Haru.

Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold (Echo)

Gothic pop, of some sort. I'm not going to drag it out, I have included songs from it on more than one occasion in various mixes, so I suggest you look this one up. Download track: Horse and I
and What's a Girl to Do?

Gavin Bryars with Alter Ego and Philip Jeck -
The Sinking of the Titanic (Touch)
I had a fever a few weeks ago and I listened to this while trying to get some sleep. Possibly the worst hour of rest I've ever had. Clocking in at 72 minutes, this is an immense experience, recorded live at the 49th International Festival of Contemporary Music at the Venice Biennale.
Download track: The Sinking of the Titanic (excerpt).

Burial - Untrue (Hyperdub)

I didn't like the last Burial album, but I find this to be so much better, because of the vocal emphasis. Heavily influenced by two-step and UK garage, crafted from dub and spectral samples. Pretty depressing, but also very special indeed.
Download track: Archangel
and Near Dark.

Pelican - City of Echoes (Hydra Head)
Yes! This is the way to go. If Sonic Youth was a metal band, I'm pretty sure this is how it would sound. I applaud Pelican for stepping away from the doom-laden records they've put out before.
Download track: City of Echoes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mix: I Love You Golden Blue

This is a sentimental Christmas mix of sorts, dedicated to my friends, but first and foremost a tribute to my home town, Obbola. Bless you, backwater town, and thank you. Tracklist:

00:00 BILL FAY - I Hear You Calling
02:53 ATLAS SOUND - So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)
05:36 ELF POWER - Grand Intrusion Call
08:47 BEIRUT - Postcards from Italy
12:59 DOMOTIC - I Hate You For Ever
16:39 THE HIDDEN CAMERAS - Mississauga Goddam (edit)
21:54 SUFJAN STEVENS - Sister Winter

Total running time: 26:56. Download it here (37 MB, 192k).