December 30, 2010

Year-End Lists and Reflections

Notice Recordings' Year End “Best Of” List, 2010. And some reflections/reviews.

In no order :


Graham Lambkin / Jason Lescalleet - Air Supply (Erstwhile)

Once again these two (Gentleman) have created something completely unique, despite a similar textural palette used from Breadwinner -- (but maybe they can't help that). I am completely taken into and within these sounds. All the miniature atmospherics coalesce into something slightly industrious and unfamiliar while remaining mostly pastoral and domestic. Everything works in conflict and compliment. Furthermore, the compositional placement of sound is flawless to my ears -- certainly a subjective analysis -- but I feel every sound fares better based on what came before and what is to come.

Totally original and innovative yet folkish and firmly grounded in the "high-class" of the contemporary music tradition, whatever that is.

Rhodri Davies / John Butcher - Carliol (Ftarri)

Annette Krebs / Taku Unami - Motubachii (Erstwhile)

Harley Gaber - Indra's Net (Edition RZ)

John Cage / (Ulrich Krieger) - A Cage of Saxophones, Vols. 3 & 4 (Mode Records)

Although seeming a bit sonically disconnected from what John Cage might have intended, I'm sure that's far from an issue. The performances and sounds on this CD are complete perfection and a fantastic display of the saxophone's capabilities, especially on the Number Pieces. Fittingly comfortable amongst modern "contemporary" releases, and an interesting contribution to John Cage's recorded history.

John Cage / Terry Jennings (perf. by John Tilbury / Sebastian Lexer) - Lost Daylight (Another Timbre)

John Cage (perf. by Friedrich Gauwerky / Mark Knoop) - Etudes Boreales / Harmonies / 10'40.3'' (Wergo)

John Cage (perf. by Annelie Gahl / Klaus Lang) - Melodies & Harmonies (Col Legno)

I'm unsure how I feel about this release. The compositions presented, Six Melodies and Thirteen Harmonies (taken from Apartment House 1776), are some of my favourite Cage pieces, and their respective histories are fascinating. That's another story. I question, however, the choice of the Fender Rhodes as the "keyboard" accompaniment to Annelie Gahl's vibrato-less violin. Klaus Lang's playing is lovingly sparse and well-paced, but it at times displaces and isolates the violin's more homey, traditional sound. There are wonderful moments, however, which somehow work, such as during the nearly epic Harmony 5. I have conflicting feelings in the end. At times I feel that the monochromatic spherical shapes produced by the Rhodes allow the violin to freely wander throughout the remaining spaces -- and yet sometimes the Rhodes is so pure and unforgiving that the amorphous resonance of the sounds produced by the violin's wooden chamber have no reasonable place to go. Lastly, I feel the sequencing of the tracks is all wrong. Scattering Six Melodies into disconnected parts makes their small movements seem less like miniature fascinations with melody and more like fragments of something far greater. The disc is lovingly presented, very well recorded by Christoph Amann, and I have the utmost respect for approaching these pieces in this way. However, my issues still hold precedence.

Rolf Julius - Music For The Ears - ( Small Music No. 1 ) (Western Vinyl)

Michael Pisaro, Barry Chabala - Black, White, Red, Green, Blue (Voyelles) (Winds Measure Recordings)

John Butcher - Trace (Tapeworm)

This is why the cassette tape medium can often function so well. These are glimpses into Butcher's experiments with the saxophone body's resonance, controlled feedback and breathing techniques. I don't find these ready for the traditional LP format, but it's wonderful that they're available and moreover relegated to specific "sides" of physical media. Cassette tapes allow artists to put forth examples of experiments in sound without worrying about the conceptual baggage of the finished, often overworked LP, and this release is a fine example of that.

Eleh - Location Momentum (Touch)

Jana Winderen - Energy Field (Touch)

Infinite Body - Carve Out The Face Of My God (Post Present Medium)

Mark Fell - Multistability (Raster Noton)

Still confounding, monumental, arrogant and beautiful. Thanks for this one.

Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal (Editions Mego)

Hecker - 3 Track 12" (Editions Mego)

Various - Monkeytek Hi-fi Volume 1 (Mississippi Records)

Ada Van Hoorebeke / L.R.J. Martens - De Eeuwige Jachtvelden (Cetacean Nation Cassettes)

Mirror to Mirror - Heart (Ekhein)

Talugung - Mole Crickets ( House of Sun)

Thoughts on Air - Mallo Yallo (Cloud Valley)

Harmonizer - [ Self-titled ] (NNA Tapes)

Thank you Jon Hassell for laying the other-worldly sonic groundwork for releases like this.

Marcel Türkowsky / Dolphins Into The Future - In Search Of The Miraculous / Fourth Possible Musics (Stenze Quo Musik)

My favourite tape of the year.

Tuluum Shimmering - Heart Of Sky Heart Of Earth (Housecraft Records)

During the past year I have been wholeheartedly enjoying an extensive (re)-discovery of the music of John Cage, exploring through and within his presence as a composer and an extraordinarily intelligent and warm individual. Thanks to such labels as Mode, Wergo, Hathut, and Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm (MDG), I have been provided enlightening and revelatory means to no end with this man's work. His compositions are as unending as the cosmos and as grounded as the roots below us. Thank you John Cage.

I didn't listen to a whole lot of new pop-oriented music, let alone anything "rock"-oriented this year. In the past, I tend to enjoy a great deal of Techno and some Dubstep, but even that was far from my musical radar for some reason. In this area, however, I was quite impressed by records from Broken Social Scene, Real Estate, Matthew Dear, Robyn, James Blake, Joy Orbison (extraordinary tracks from this one), and Oneohtrix Point Never (including Antony's gripping version of the track "Returnal" (not so much the Fennesz version), and Dan's amazing Games tracks with Joel Ford and Laurel Halo). I mean, seriously, I cannot stop listening to Strawberry Skies. Perfection.

Despite the complete rubbish in the current mainstream music industry, I am still hopeful for the state of things. Not sure why exactly.


Giuseppe Ielasi - Aix (Minority Records)
Expo 70 - Where Does The Mind Go ? (Immune Recordings)
Akira Rabelais - Caduceus (Samadhisound)
Jon Mueller - The Whole (Type)
Ashley Paul - To Much Togethers (R.E.L Records)
Thomas Koener - Nunatak • Teimo • Permafrost (Type)
Joshua Abrams - Natural Information (Eremite)
Friedrich Cerha - Spiegel (Kairos)
Corridors - Corridors (Sedimental Records)
Pikelet - Stem (Chapter)
Mike Reed's Loose Assembly w/ Roscoe Mitchell - Empathetic Parts (482 Music)

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