A Closer Listen tends to be positive in its reviews, so sometimes it’s difficult to tell which releases we like more than others. This page lets you know what we’re listening to and enjoying the most.
Rich’s Picks: Spring 2013
The crocuses are gone, and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. But even these will soon disappear. The blossom’s ephemeral nature has been celebrated in Japanese literature for centuries. Music often imitates the cherry blossom. New music moves us or entertains us for a while. But then it fades as it is replaced by newer music. Those who appreciate music love even the unenduring. But some releases buck the trend, staying in our CD players and iPods, our cassette decks and vinyl piles, long after their seasons have ended.
Spring’s biggest surprise was Clorinde‘s conceptual double-disc The Gardens of Bomarzo (Etruscan Records), inspired by Italy’s famous Garden of Monsters. Another highlight was Main‘s Ablation, the crown jewel of a spectacular season from Editions MEGO. Ennio Mazzon‘s Xuan (Nephogram/Ripples) is his finest recording to date. And Prada & Oregon‘s tape loop symphony His Past of Heaven-Floor Luminants-Her Lufa (Auditory Field Theory) is a left field stormer.
An early candidate for Album of the Year is Wrekmeister Harmonies’ You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me (Thrill Jockey, June 11). It rises from ambience into drone, modern composition, screamo and metal before descending into tendrils of beauteous strings.
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Jeremy’s Picks, 2013′s rolling recommendations…
Donald Byrd, A New Perspective (Blue Note)
RIP Donald. This album is my favourite of his, adding a choir of voices to what was already a pretty awesome septet. The combination of the choir and Byrd’s trumpet on “Cristo Redentor” is, frankly, awe-inspiring.
Kevin Ayers, Shooting At The Moon (Harvest)
RIP Kevin, as well – and RIP Lol Coxhill who passed away recently and plays sax on this album. I had a ‘best of Kevin’ that I just couldn’t get into at all, but hearing Joy Of A Toy album later on changed my mind, so I’m going through the catalogue in a chronological fashion. Shooting is the best so far.
Alice Coltrane, A Monastic Trio (Impulse!)
Really, it should be ‘which Alice album is it this week?’. Although this one has “The Sun” on it (as a bonus track), which I think was the first Alice Coltrane I heard, in the Music and Video Exchange in Shepherd’s Bush.
Talk Talk, Spirit Of Eden (Parlophone)
Following my Prince / Japan success, I kept returning to the same charity shop hoping for more goodies, and occasionally I found something. Most notably, an original, near mint, pressing of my favourite record ever – for a couple of quid. What did I do? What do you think?
Autechre, Radio Mixes
Lest you think I only listen to old stuff when not reviewing for ACL, here’s a doozy – over 20 hours of Autechre on the decks / laptops / whatever in two epic sessions. A breathtaking collection of obscure electronica and industrial and old skool hip hop this is too much for one sitting, but sounds mighty good in manageable doses. They’ll be somewhere on the internet – happy hunting!
Jai Paul, “Jasmine” (XL)
He’s released two singles in as many years and they’re both great – “Jasmine” gets the nod as it’s his most recent. This year, he might grace us with a third tune.