Best of 2012

It only took me 6 fucking months to write this shit up. Zero fucks given. Anyway, after last year’s hiatus, 2012 was the year where I really got back into music. In no particular order, here’s a review of what 2012 sounded for me. Tags off, btw.

Blondes – Blondes
dance, electronic, house, techno
I used to hate techhouse, then I listened to Blondes. It has some interesting tribal-esque elements to it. Also first album I thought of when started compiling this list.*

I’ve Lost – From These Hands 
ambient, experimental, drone
Subtle and fragile with acoustic guitar here and there.

Ufomammut – ORO: Opus Primum  
metal, drone doom, space rock, stoner metal, sludge metal, doom metal, stoner, stoner rock, doom
Look at all those tags man! LOOK AT THEM! Heavier than a fucking black hole.

John Zorn – The Gnostic Preludes  
classical, jazz, avant garde, tzadik, chamber
This man needs no introduction. With only 8 (YES, EIGHT) releases this year, Zorn has got to be the hardest working motherfucker in the music biz. Truly some of the most beautiful music Zorn has ever made. This is an incredibly clean sounding album: harp, guitar, vibes. Fresher than the milk out of your momma’s left tit.

Bonobo – Black Sands Remixed  
ambient, bass music, deep house, leftfield, abstract, future jazz, downtempo, hip hop, techno, experimental, electronic, electro
Black Sands was on everybody’s 2011 list. Great remixes. Bassy and soulful sounds on this one. Solid.

Heinali – Air  
ambient, classical, contemporary, modern classical, modern, neoclassical, minimal electronic, postmodern
This feels like getting lost on an iceberg.

Mere – Mere  
experimental, avant jazz, dark jazz
Dark and nostalgic.

Chano Domínguez – Flamenco Sketches  
jazz, world music, fusion, flamenco
Once again Chano proves he’s the only one capable of properly fusing flamenco and jazz together.

Dr. John – Locked Down 
blues, funk, jazz, rock, rhythm and blues
Just what the doc recommended.

Death Grips – The Money Store  
alternative, electronic, experimental, hip hop, glitch, noise
A sledgehammer to the balls and someone cumming blood on your face at the same time. Intense.

Desiderii Marginis – Procession
experimental, dark ambient
Ritual dark ambient. Sinister shit.

Can – The Lost Tapes 
experimental, progressive rock, psychedelic, krautrock
Unreleased material by Can – need I say more?

North Atlantic Drift – Canvas  
ambient, electronic, experimental, drone, post rock
Band name seems fitting. Available on Bandcamp.

Pleq & Spheruleus – Quietus Gradualis  
ambient, experimental, electroacoustic
Another ambient masterpiece. Pleq shows us a different side of his. No glitch up this bitch.

James Blackshaw – Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death  
experimental, new classical, baroque folk
Jack Rose lives. Magnificent guitar and piano pieces.

Burial – Kindred
electronic, uk garage, dubstep
When Burial releases anything you shut your whore mouth and you put your headphones on.

The Host – The Host
electronic, footwork
An interesting album from the masterminds at Planet Mu. Electronic to its core with a vintage sound of sorts. A bit indescribable.

Ametsub – All is Silence
electronic, idm, glitch
Light IDM. Sunday morning music.

Shigeto – Lineage
ambient, electronic, experimental, idm, jazz, hip hop
This bad motherfucker keeps coming up with the freshest shit. Dude knows his shit. Respect.

ASC – Out of Sync
ambient, idm, techno
Tripped out soundscapes and broad variety of ambiance and beats. Fantastic stuff.

OM – Advaitic Songs
metal, psychedelic, drone, doom metal, stoner metal, stoner doom
Travel to the deserts of hashish and smoke the wisdom of the mystics. You’ll feel the sand up your nose after listening to this one. What a trip.

Änglagård – Viljans öga
progressive rock
After 16 years of silence, Änglagård is back. They’ve refined and polished their sound.

Mount Eerie – Ocean Roar
folk, indie, noise
This is the Microphones/Mount Eerie album I’ve been hoping he’d make since ‘Mt Eerie’

Elephant9 – Atlantis
alternative, norwegian, progressive, fusion, rock, psychedelic, progressiverock, jazz, funk
Elephant9 in their usual form: energetic, dynamic and, just plainly, fucking mental

Mala – Mala in Cuba
electronic, dubstep, latin
Mala spent 3 months in Cuba and came back with a bunch of samples. Wobwobs meet tumbao.

Melvins – The Bulls & The Bees
grunge, rock, sludge
Short, fun and heavy EP. Long live King Buzzo.

Rudi Zygadlo – Tragicomedies
electronic, dubstep
I was completely taken aback by this album. I may or may not have been blazed off my mind the first time I listened to this but I really enjoyed the journey that this album takes you in. It jumps from being very cheesy to being very really interesting back to being very cheesy in nanoseconds. It’s weird. Anyway, Melponene is a GREAT fucking track.

Pharaoh Overlord – Lunar Jetman
experimental, indie, psychedelic, rock, stoner rock, space rock
Long spaced-out psychedelic tunes? Yes, please.

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin – Live
funk, jazz, minimalism
Nothing compares to the brilliance of these guys. Polyrhythmic and groovy as fuck. If these guys ever come to play within a 200 mile radius from you, you better make that fucking trip.

Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
ambient, electronic, hip-hop, downtempo

Snarky Puppy – GroundUP
experimental, funk, jazz
These motherfuckers can groove. Young, talented band rising from UNT in Denton.

Dictaphone – Poems from a Rooftop
electronic, experimental, jazz, modern classical
This hurts. This hurts oh so good.

Part-time Heroes – Lightfalls
jazz, downtempo, nu-jazz
This also hurts. Umph.

oOoOO – Our Loving Is Hurting Us
electronic, witch house
Dark, chopped up and thick. Like a huge-ass sushi roll, bitch.

Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio
jazz, soul, hip-hop
Glasper effectively combining soul, rnb and jazz with a sick roster backing this record up.

Hidden Orchestra – Archipelago
experimental, jazz, trip-hop, nu-jazz
Their mixtapes are also ace. Check em out.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
ambient, drone, post rock
They broke up and now they’re back together. And instead of a shitty broken vase with duct tape we get a restored work of art. Was skeptical, but in the end pleasantly relieved.

Holy Other – Held
electronic, experimental, witch house
More witch house up in this bitch. Dark, dense yet oh-so-lovely sounds.

Death Grips – NO LOVE DEEP WEB
alternative, electronic, experimental, hip-hop, hobocore
What? You want more bloody cum on your face?

Purity Ring – Shrines
alternative, electronic, indie, synth pop
“Into a bright bound sea surrounded fury our bodies will return”

Ufomammut – ORO: Opus Alter
metal, psychedelic, doom, drone, instrumental, stoner rock, stoner, doom metal, stoner metal

John Zorn – A Vision in Blakelight
experimental, jazz, avant garde
It’s Zorn. Dude’s insane. Deal with it. (Really smooth, accessible stuff, by the way. Nothing too crazy on this one)

Andy Stott – Luxury Problems
electronic, house, techno, dub techno
I still have no idea what to say about this one. Most people I’ve shown this to have hated it and later have come back to me “Hey man, what was the name of that guy you played last time?”. Word.

Cody ChesnuTT – Landing On a Hundred
funk, pop, soul
Feel good soul musak. Under the Spell of the Handout is an outstanding track. That drop in the middle has the potential to save the world.

Umberto – Night Has A Thousand Screams
electronic, experimental, house, progressive rock, disco
Vintage electronic sounds. Umberto has never disappointed me.

Cello + Laptop – Parallel Paths
ambient, experimental, electroacoustic
Wishy washy bleeps and bloops.

Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio Recovered: The Remix EP
jazz, soul
Black Radio remixes, brah. Headphone dat shit and bang yo head.

Maths Time Joy – Hideaway
electronic, bass, future garage
Superb future garage EP.

Lucrecia Dalt – Commotus
electronic, experimental, indie
Intricate and soft, yet dark and creepy.

Grischa Lichtenberger – And. IV [Inertia]
electronic, experimental, techno, glitch
Nothing I can say will prepare you for this album.

WIFE – Stoic
One of those albums where the first tune tells you that you are in for an absolute treat.

Julia Holter – Ekstasis
ambient, electronic, experimental, pop
For once the tags do a very accurate job at describing this. Essential.

Action Bronson – Rare Chandeliers
Admit it. You wanna to listen this dude rap.

Philip Glass performed by Lavinia Meijer – Metamorphosis – The Hours
classical, dutch, harp
Philip Glass. On harp. Yeah.

Captain Murphy – Duality
electronic, psychedelic, hip-hop

Noyce – Rough Sound
electronic, jazz, chillout, beats
An album that went very much unnoticed; undeservingly so. This holds a collection of really nicely crafted future beats.

Holly Herndon – Movement
electronic, experimental
This goes from having steady beats to what the fuck is going on. Very interesting use of voices.

Roomful of Teeth – Roomful of Teeth
classical, experimental, world music, a cappella
Speaking of voices… experimental a cappella music? I have yet to listen anything remotely similar to this. Enthralling.

Burnt Friedman – Bokoboko
electronic, rock, downtempo, future jazz, krautrock
Friedman’s mechanical approach to constructing beats continues to intrigue me.

Jenova 7 – Dusted Jazz Volume Two
hip.hop, instrumental, downtempo
Nothing much to say about this one. Just a very well done, laid back, smokey beats album.

Angles 8 – By Way Of Deception
jazz, free.jazz, free improvisation
Another masterpiece from Clean Feed. Keep in mind when you’re listening to this that it’s a live album.

Michael Chapman – Pachyderm
experimental, folk, minimal
Minimalist acoustic guitar pieces. Mesmerising.

Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing Remixes
electronic, funk, jazz, hip-hop
The originals are great, but the remixes are outstanding. Check out the original collab too.

Fontanelle – Vitamin F 
funk, jazz, rock, fusion, instrumental, jazz fusion
Very reminiscent of late 60’s Miles Davis. Hypnotic and thick

Fire! & Oren Ambarchi – In The Mouth – A Hand
free jazz, ambient
1/2 loud jazz. 1/4 psychedelia. 1/4 ambient.

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
experimental, funk
This album took me by complete surprise. Weird yet groovy. Cool use of horns throughout the album.

Eivind Aarset – Dream Logic
ambient, electronic, experimental, jazz, abstract, ecm, noir
Fierce as the blow from a sword of petals.

Karantamba – Ndigal
psychedelic, world, gambia
Definitely one of my most played albums of the year. Psychedelic grooves from the Gambia.

Vessel – Order of Noise
electronic, experimental, house, techno
Solid album. Top 20 in RA’s list, if that means anything to you.

Coco Slang – Canadian Dutch
hip-hop, bass, crunk, skweee, wonky, trap
Feels like an exploratory piece looking for new places for the hip-hop (weird-hop?) genre. Then again, I reckon this is my first experience with ‘skwee’ music. Light up that joint and press play.

Steinvord – Steinvord
electronic, idm, breakbeat, electronica, acid, braindance
Is it Skrillex? Aphex Twin? Who gives a shit, this is fucking awesome. Braindance fuck yeah.

Clinic – Free Reign
experimental, indie, rock
Kraut-rock-y goodness. Synths, psychedelia and beats. At times it reminds me of Broadcast.

Long Arm – The Branches
hip-hop, instrumental, glitch, trip-hop
Technically from 2012, but a special edition was released this year

Robag Wruhme – Leistenhans Zwo EP
techno, minimal
Two song EP. Beautifully produced techno.

KC Roberts and the Live Revolution – Between the Cracks
funk, jazz, rock, soul, rhythm and blues
Feel good funk band

Burial – Truant
Hey didn’t you hear what I said? Just put your headphones on, dammit.

Cults Percussion Ensemble – Cults Percussion Ensemble
classical, percussion, children
This is a favourite of mine not only for the music (which is really good, don’t take me wrong) but for the story behind this.  Read it here. TL;DR: 14 year old Scottish kids playing crazy cool percussion music.

Blundetto – Warm My Soul
funk, jazz, reggae, soul
Soulful as fwak

Syd Arthur – On An On
folk, progressive rock, psychedelic, rock, canterbury
The Canterbury scene is far from dead. Excellent album.

Portico Quartet – Portico Quartet
jazz, modern jazz, post jazz
PQ making a slight move into the electronic genre, solidifying their own sound. Solid release.

Stubborn Heart – Stubborn Heart
This is a strange album which I initially had mixed feelings about. The vocals on this provide an interesting layer over the music. In the end it grew on me enough to be on this list. Might not be your cuppa, but it’s worth a listen.

Sensate Focus – Sensate Focus 5
experimental, house
First tune on this single is MENTAL. Crazy ass time signatures on 90s house samples. Quickly turns from “oh this is typical house” to “oh this is…what the fuck is this”.  Really sneaks up on you.

Discovered in 2013

Sonar – A Flaw of Nature
funk, jazz, switzerland, post rock, minimalism, world
Swiss band from Ronin Rhythm Records – band follows the modus operandi and philosophy of the label. Tags on this one are fucked up, btw. I’d call it minimalist progressive rock.

Meridian Brothers – Desesperanza 
psychedelic, cumbia
Brain melting tropical madness straight from Colombia. Sick.

Morgan Delt – Psychic Death Hole 
alternative, ambient, experimental, psychedelic
The cover art caught my attention. Turns out this is wicked and very trippy as the cover suggests.

* I started compiling this list around May, so I may have left a few albums out.

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

—Khalil Gibran


Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. 
Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?

Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. We cannot get to a star while we are alive any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion. Just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means.

To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.
Vincent Van Gogh

Gravity’s Rainbow

Go ahead, capitalize the T on technology, deify it if it’ll make you feel less responsible — but it puts you in with the neutered, brother, in with the eunuchs keeping the harem of our stolen Earth for the numb and joyless hardons of human sultans, human elite with no right at all to be where they are.
–Thomas Pynchon