Guest lists from Jayne Amara Ross and Frédéric D. Oberland (The Freemartin Calf, Oiseaux-Tempête), Bryan Ruhe (Ruhe), David Vélez (The Field Reporter), Monique Recknagel (Sonic Pieces) and David Colohan (Raising Holy Sparks, United Bible Studies) round out the year! Happy post-Christmas to all!
Jayne Amara Ross and Frédéric D. Oberland had a busy and fantastic year in 2013, as the release of The Freemartin Calf on DVD/vinyl was preceded by global screenings in living rooms and parks, and followed by the debut of Oberland’s Oiseaux-Tempête project. At the end of the year, Amara Ross began a residency in Iceland. Reviving post-rock and spoken word, these artists continue to redefine the essence of creativity. With a new FareWell Poetry in the works for 2014, we’re already excited for the new year!
Enjoy each artist’s Top Ten picks below, and click here for their recent interview with A Closer Listen, where they share much more about The Freemartin Calf and upcoming projects!
Jayne’s Top Ten
ADRIAN UTLEY’S GUITAR ORCHESTRA – In C 2xLP (Invada)
AGATHE MAX – Dangerous Days LP (Inglorious)
CHANTAL ACDA – Let Your Hands Be My Guide CD (Gizeh Records)
COLIN STETSON – New History Warfare Vol.3: To See More Light 2xLP (Constellation)
ENSEMBLE PEARL – Ensemble Pearl 2xLP (Drag City)
GASPAR CLAUS – Jo-ha-kyū LP (Modest Launch / Important)
GETATCHEW MEKURIA & THE EX & FRIENDS – Y’Anbessaw Tezeta 2xLP (Terp Records African Series)
MASTER MUSICIANS OF BUKKAKE – Far West LP (Important)
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – Push The Sky Away LP+2×7″ Boxset (Bad Seed Ltd)
TINDERSTICKS – Les Salauds (OST) LP (Naïve)
WITXES – A Fabric Of Beliefs 2xLP (Denovali)
One of the youngest artists to crack our year-end Top 20, Bryan Ruhe made a solid impression with multiple releases. As the owner of the Clothbound label, Ruhe made a dent in the industry, but as a solo artist, he’s poised to make an even bigger impact. We’re looking forward to hearing his new sounds in the new year!
–2013 NEW RELEASES–
Benoit Pioulard – Roanoke (Self-Released)
The Boats – Live At St. James Priory, Bristol (Our Other Ideas)
e + i – Putting Off Stars (Cotton Goods)
Eluvium – Nightmare Ending (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
Josh Mason – Conduit (Scissor Tail Editions)
The Seaman & The Tattered Sail – Light Folds (Facture)
Wixel – Revox Tapes (Jordskred)
–2013 VINYL PRESSINGS OF PREVIOUSLY RELEASED ALBUMS–
Johann Johannsson – Fordlandia (NTOV)
Vangelis – Blade Runner (180 remastered vinyl reissue)
Vikki Jackman, Andrew Chalk & Jean-Nöel Rebilly – A Paper Doll’s Whisper of Spring (Faraway Press)
As a recording artist, David Vélez is both prolific and accomplished, his field recordings, soundscapes and installations stretching the boundaries of the ever-developing genre. As the head of The Field Reporter, he makes a difference in the entire industry. His website’s annual review (with guest lists!) is only a few days away, but here we have a preview of his own picks!
Compound form. COPPICE (Triple Bath)
Music for earbuds. STEPHEN CORNFORD (3Leaves)
Aral. D’INCISE (Mystery Sea)
Blank tape positive. RICHARD GARET (Contour Editions)
Forest solitude. JOHN GRZINICH (Static / Very Quiet)
Quasi static crack propagation. YANN LEGUAY (Consumer Waste)
Untitled #308. FRANCISCO LÓPEZ (Very Quiet)
The great silence. JAY-DEA LOPEZ (3Leaves)
Oiarzun. JEREMIE MATHES (Taâlem)
An extended meaning for something meaningless. FRANCISCO MEIRINO (AFT)
These walls resemble absence. MUFI.RE -Rui Almedia- (3Leaves)
Vaccabons et malfactours. FRÉDÉRIC NOGRAY (Kaon)
Circle wind. HIROKI SASAJIMA (Felt Collective)
Strata. TARAB -Eamon Sprod- (Unfathomless)
A measure of ground. STEPHEN CORNFORD, PATRICK FARMER (Consumer Waste)
Siilo. EERO PULKKINEN, TEEMU ITOLA (Whitecolors)
Framework Seasonal -Issue #5 Summer 2013-. THE DERBY TAPE RECORDING CLUB, THE LEICESTER TAPE RECORDING CLUB. Edited and compiled by MARK VERNON (Framework)
A Hawk And A Hacksaw – You Have Already Gone to the Other World (LM Duplication)
Colleen – The Weighing of the Heart (Second Language)
Kaboom Karavan – Hokus Fokus (Miasmah)
Dean Blunt – The Redeemer (Hippos In Tanks)
V/A – London Is The Place For Me 5 + 6 (Honest Jons)
Johanna Billing – I’m Gonna Live Anyhow Until I Die (Apparent Extent)
Sumie – s/t (Bella Union)
Mountains – Centralia (Thrill Jockey)
Though hard to pick just ten albums from the mountain of tapes, cds & vinyl I picked up in 2013, here’s a selection, in no particular order, that moved me in one way or another, all of which I can heartily recommend….
1. Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle – Perils From The Sea (Caldo Verde Records)
I bought the first Red House Painters album the day I started college & have been a fan of Kozelek ever since, though probably much more intermittently since the dissolution of that band. When I first heard ‘Gustavo’ from this album, I felt like I’d just watched an incredible film. One of those early 90s Indie ones I seemed to live for back in the day & truthfully, still do. I was really taken aback by it & when I heard the whole album, I was not disappointed. Maybe it was hearing him singing in a new context, without the cyclical fingerpicking (which I absolutely love, mind) or maybe it was the fact that the songs all seem to have their own narrative. It made me listen to him with fresh ears. Those haunting, world-weary moments of clarity & epiphany are made all the more beautiful with the electronic backing & gently pulsing beats. So many stunning moments. A perfect pairing of musicians.
2. Lord Dog Bird – The Trinity Knot (Moon Glyph) * Daniel Higgs – The Godward Way 12” (Latitudes)-
A lonesome pump organ carries prayers to the green heart of the Void out across the mountains of Northern California. To me, the pump organ, the harmonium, the chord organ… these are the sounds of hope, a melancholy sort, but hope nonetheless. Combined with the declamatory (Though in a good way. What’s a word for that?) hymnal reaches of Colin McCann’s voice, I can hear eagles high above the valley & see the sun reflecting off the Yosemite snowfields of my own wanderings. Joining the ranks of Charlemagne Palestine, Hermann Nitsch & Gurdjieff (in harmonium mode) for my fix of hope’s name shouted from the treetops, though the shout is a real one here & these are songs you can hum & stamp yer feet to. Like Daniel Higgs…’In these last days, there’s not much to say so you might as well sing…’ After an opening quip & a gentle meander on the banjo, Daniel sings these words & ascends across a harmonium drone with a wordless chant. Then, numinous visions set to banjo stomps carry us further into these last days… Think Sandy Bull with an apocalyptic bent & the voice to make ye believe it. I had the good fortune, as a member of Woven Skull, to tour Ireland with the good man himself & I got to hear an ever-evolving version of The Godward Way each night. Theories on the interdimensional nature of the Sasquatch, shooting hoops & playing together in a sunlit yoga room just out of the shadow of Newgrange sent us all along The Godward Way. Long may we wander… Honourable mention also to ‘Surrender To Love’, a tape on Wild Sages which is a whole other trip entirely.
3. Slow Walkers – Slow Walkers (Peak Oil)
The music Liz Harris makes takes me to another place & isn’t that something to look for? Music as a portal. A portal to where though? A steamy Ballardian jungle growing inside the rusting hulk of a sunken submarine? A firefly-lit forest of teleporting trees & spirits walking in straight lines towards an unreachable horizon? Her music feels alternately suffocating & expansive but this collaboration with Lawrence English definitely leans towards the claustrophobic. Though ‘The Man Who Died In His Boat’ by Grouper & ‘The Event Of Your Leaving’ by Raum, her collaboration with Jefre-Cantu Ledesma, are works of beauty & shadow too, Slow Walkers is my most returned to of the three.
4. John Carpenter – The Fog OST (Death Waltz)
’11:55, almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00, just to keep us warm…’ Oh how I wailed & gnashed my teeth when I missed the first pressing & oh how I jumped for joy when a second pressing finally spun on my turntable & Mr Machen uttered those words by the campfire, as indelibly etched on my mind as every other mist-drenched moment. I can’t separate the music from the film, nor would I want to. Still one of my most watched favourites, the music is as foreboding now as when I first rented the video. A tense mix of ethereal & pulsing, like much of his soundtrack work.
5. These New Puritans – Field Of Reeds (Infectious)“You asked if the islands would float away… I said, yes.” There’s a video on Youtube of the title track set to clips from ‘The Tree Of Life’ & it makes so much sense to me when I watch it, that it’s impossible not to shed a tear at the sheer beauty of it all. I’m talking about whatever is outside the window when it’s on, whatever’s in yer glass, be it coffee, wine or ale & whoever is on yer mind & every single mile that separates you from them, every single thing that separates them from you. Those four in the morning, end of December moments where you are fit to burst with loneliness & outside that same window, a fox goes by. A mist is settling & stars are scattering… & you remember how small you are in the scheme of things, so what’s there to do but smile? One of the few bands to remind me of Talk Talk, in that they seem to have absorbed the very waters from the lagoons of Spirit of Eden or Laughing Stock. Check out the clip I’m talking about & take a deep breath….
6. Gate – The Dew Line (MIE) * Alastair Galbraith – Cry (MIE) * Peter Jefferies – The Last Great Challenge In A Dull World (De Stijl/Xpressway)
Three essential reissues of NZ underground classics. When I was a young four-tracker, records like these were my Holy Grail, alongside the Sentridoh & Daniel Johnston tapes. Gate’s ‘Needed All Words’ (titled slightly differently on the reissue) is a resigned anthem, stumbling over itself again & again. Elsewhere, jangly indie as played through amps encased in cardboard boxes sits alongside the kind of yearning fuzz-drenched balladry that can only come from living on the edge of the world. On ‘Cry’, backwards guitar & keening violin surround mumbled incantations like briars endlessly intertwining while lonesome Casio patterns drift into mist. Fragments are all we get, snapshots of tiny epiphanies & that voice! Aw, how I love the sound of the sung (& spoken) NZ accent. Made these musicians all the more otherworldly to me back then & nothing’s changed, this is still magical. Peter Jefferies evokes pure resignation too, but that same edge of the world-weariness reaches a transcendent pinnacle in ‘On An Unknown Beach’, one of the most beautiful songs this poor heart has ever been broken to. The NZ underground is deep & endlessly rewarding, all seemingly held together by a sound that descends like mist on so many recordings from the era. Maybe they were all using the same four-track or teetering on the same brink. Who knows? Do yerself a favour & hear these albums…
7. Alice Coltrane – Divine Songs (Tummy Tapes) * Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe (Dead Oceans) * Hammock – Oblivion Hymns (Hammock Music)
In a year where I managed to track down several free jazz LPs I’d been hankering after (Alan Silva, Kenneth Thornton, Giuseppi Logan, Roswell Rudd…) thanks to the second hand stores of Germany & Scandinavia, I didn’t seem to pick up any contemporary records. So, this welcome bootleg LP of a tape from Swamini Turiyasangitananda’s devotional Hindu phase is my choice. That said, it’s pretty far from the jazz she is most known for, though just as spiritual & incantatory, with an occasional Nico fronting the Cosmic Jokers atmosphere to it & a warm exploratory feel to the organ. What a voice though! Essential listening for those who want to sip from the soup of the eternal OM….. This same transcendent feeling can be found in the vocal soundscapes of Julianna Barwick, augmented here by a raft of Iceland’s finest. If this record had just been ‘Pyrrhic’ stretched out to 40, 60, 100 minutes, it still wouldn’t be enough. ‘Departure Songs’ was one of my most listened to albums of the year, though it was recorded in 2012 (not that this list is being all that strict) & I haven’t lived with Hammock’s latest for too long, but there is something of that sense of epic joy about this one too. Hope, hope, hope… What a beautiful thing to beat at the heart of an album. No secret how much I love Stars Of The Lid & Hammock share something of their endless vistas & vapour trails…
8. Steven R. Smith / Ulaan Khol – Ending / Returning (Immune)
A split record with himself, the Khol sides expanding on the ‘solo’ half with acres of skyblown fuzz & gnarled thickets of noise. A master of evoking the desolate plains we sometimes find ourselves lost in & the paths we take to escape them. With the exception of his Hala Strana guise, the music he makes is as solitary as it gets. Notes & chords seem to stumble & smear into one another, spooling around fragments of themes, only to dissolve or abruptly cut out. For fans of Neil Young’s ‘Dead Man OST’ or Loren Connors at his loneliest. Now that would be some trio…..
9. Lost Trail – Nothing Is Fucked Forever (Wood Thrush Tapes) * The Cloisters – S/T (Second Language) * Mike Gangloff – Poplar Hollow (Klang)
If I were to write about all the amazing records friends of mine put out this year, I would still be writing when you read this, so here are three albums, all of which draw on landscape in their own ways. ‘Nothing Is Fucked Forever’ (If I was going to get a tattoo…) exists in that spectral realm, the ‘Other Burlington’, where ghost trains can be heard in the distance, water towers rust into the dusky horizon & the voices of loved ones slur & speed up as if in a dream. ‘The Missing Hour’ reminds me of sitting under a tree on Madison Womble Road, NC, with sunlight glinting on my banjo, safe in the knowledge that nothing is fucked forever. The same sunlight’s trapped in Mike Gangloff’s banjo & fiddle, spilling free over Virginian soil. I had the good fortune to live with some of these songs when Mike first toured Ireland & so this album is particularly special to me, as rooted to me in the Irish landscape as it is in the local, rural traditions that Mike drew upon when he set them down. You often read about the rawness of Old Time music, as though it’s something that has been & gone. Well, here it is, kicking & screaming across eternal hollers. Have to mention the beautiful artwork by Jake Blanchard too. The Cloisters album is similarly beautifully decked out, the cover photo reminding me of Iceland & a nearing Spring. Whatever landscapes Micheal Tanner is drawing upon are cloaked in the dew of memory. This is numinous music, an Other Albion… Hiking the hills to abandoned villages, the smoke rising from cottages on a Winter’s evening & time speeding up, slowly, slowly, slowly…. Essential, life-affirming stuff!
10. Ash Borer – Bloodlands (Gilead Media)
Like the wheezing of a great blackened lung, breathing out into vistas of endless chiming emptiness & sucking back into suffocating darkness over & over again, Ash Borer are a collapsing force of raw buzz & anger. This is a howl into the void I need to see live. By turns droning, squalling & cleanly shimmering, this is some otherworldly blackness. Reading about a gig they played at night, in a forest under a star scattered sky, it makes utter sense. Emissaries of the Abyss. Get staring….