Tuesday, March 5, 2013



0/ The Streets --Original Pirate Material
1/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - The Doldrums
2/ Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner
3/ Vampire Weekend - s/t
4/ The Focus Group - Hey Let Loose Your Love
5/ Daft Punk - Discovery
6/ Various Artists - Run the Road
7/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Worn Copy
8/ Belbury Poly - The Willows
9/ The Good The Bad and the Queen - s/t
10/ Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer
11/ Radiohead - Kid A
12/ Mordant Music - Dead Air
13/ The Advisory Circle - Other Channels
14/ Black Moth Super Rainbow -- Dandelion Gum
15/ Burial- s/t
16/ Micachu and the Shapes -- Jewellery
17/ Jay-Z - The Blueprint
18/ Moon Wiring Club - An Audience of Art Deco Eyes
19/ Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
20/ Blectum from Blechdom - Haus De Snaus
21/ Panda Bear - Person Pitch
22/ Kanye West - The College Dropout
23/ Isolee - Rest
24/ The Avalanches - Since I Left You
25/ Joanna Newsom - Ys
26/ Hot Chip - Coming On Strong
27/ The Dirty Projectors -- Bitte Orca
28/ Terror Danjah - Gremlinz
29/ J Dilla - The Shining
30/ Lady Sovereign - Public Warning
31/ Zomby - s/t
32/ Portishead - Third
33/ Villalobos - Alcachofa
34/ J Dilla - Donuts
35/ Blectum from Blechdom - The Messy Jesse Fiesta
36/ Dolphins Into the Future - Mountains Saturnus
37/ Animal Collective - Here Comes the Indian
38/ Pulp - We Love Life
39/ Cannibal Ox - Cold Vein
40/ Sally Shapiro - Disco Romance
41/ Clipse - Lord Willin'
42/ Lily Allen - Alright Still
43/ Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
44/ High Places - s/t
45/ Infinite Livez - Bush Meat
46/ Pitman - It Takes a Nation of Tossers
47/ Juana Molina - Son
48/ Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
49/ Avey Tare, Panda Bear & Geologist - Danse Manatee
50/ Boards of Canada - Geogaddi


1/ Dizzee Rascal, "I Luv U" b/w "Vexed"
2/ Daft Punk, "Digital Love"
3/ Vampire Weekend, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
4/ Big E.D., "Frontline (Terror Danjah Remix)"
5/ Outkast, "Hey Ya"
6/ Missy Elliott, "Get UR Freak On"
7/ Lethal B featuring Fumin, D Double E, Nappa, Jamakabi, Neeko, Flow Dan, Ozzi B, Forcer, Demon & HotShot, "Pow (Forward)"
8/ Usher feat Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah”
9/ Ludacris, "What's Your Fantasy"
10/ Vampire Weekend, "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance"
11/ Kanye West, "Thru the Wire"
12/ Vybz Kartel, "Sweet To The Belly"
13/ Jammer featuring Wiley, D Double E, Kano & Durty Doogz, "Destruction Remix"
14/ Wiley featuring Dizzee Rascal, "Ice Rink"
15/ Truesteppers featuring Victoria Beckham & Dane Bowers, "Out of Your Mind"
16/ TS7 featuring Tonia, “Smile”
17/ J Dilla, "Won't Do"
18/ Styles, “Good Times"
19/ Micachu and the Shapes, "Golden Phone"
20/ Kano, "Boys Love Girls"
21/ MC God's Gift versus Teebone, “Tribute to 32 MCs”
22/ Outkast, "The Way You Move"
23/ Jammer featuring D Double E, "Birds In the Sky"
24/ The Blackout Crew, "Put a Donk On It"
25/ Oxide & Neutrino , "Bound 4 Da Reload"
26/ Terror Danjah featuring Kano and Katie, “So Sure”
27/ Kelis, "Milkshake"
28/ Wonder featuring Kano, "What Have You Done"
29/ The Streets, “Let’s Push Things Forward/All Got Our Runnins”
30/ Lady Sovereign, “Cha Ching (Cheque 1, 2 Remix)”
31/ Terror Danjah featuring Hyper, Bruza, D Double E and Riko, "Cock Back"
32/ Genius Kru, “Course Bruv“
33/ DJ Marky & XRS featuring Stamina MC, "LK (Carolina Carol Bela)”
34/ Terror Danjah, Industry Standard EP
35/ Junior Boys, "Last Exit"
36/ Kano featuring D Double E and Demon, “Reload It”
37/ Burial, “Southern Comfort”
38/ Kanye West, "Love Lockdown"
39/ Villalobos, "Dexter"
40/ Clipse, “When The Last Time”
41/ The Dirty Projectors, "Stillness is the Move"
42/ Flirta D, "Warpspeed"
43/ The Libertines, “Can’t Stand Me Now”
44/ Musical Mob, "Pulse X (VIP Mix)”
45/ Teebone feat MC Sparks and MC Kie, "Fly Bi"
46/ J.O.Y, “Sunplus (DFA Remix)”
47/ Common, "The Light"
48/ Nelly Furtado, "Say It Right"
49/ Pitman, “Phone Pitman/Pitman Sez”
50/ Ludacris, "Southern Hospitality"

(originally posted on Blissblog in January 2010)

if i was to do it now... I'd probably put  Discovery equal #1 with The Doldrums, and "Digital Love" equal first with "I Luv U"

And why aren't there at least two more DP singles from Discovery?

Also, I would possibly retroactively shove "TiK ToK" by Ke$ha in at #3 in singles even though I didn't fall for it or maybe even hear it until late 2010 ...

What else? I would shove Pinch "Qawwawali" in there somewhere in the mid-20s...  Black Eyed Peas, "Boom Boom Pow", ditto... seems like there should be some Lily Allen songs in there, although i didn't hear them as singles (not being in the UK) but on the album... and what about Dizzee, "Bonkers"?...  And then there's The Killers's "Mr Bright Side" (one of the few real radio rock anthems of the 2000s)  - but in truth I didn't love that until I moved to LA and heard it as radio fodder (same goes for Jet, "Are You Gonna", "Litzomania", Miike Snow "Animal")

As for the 2010s, singles-wise so far it's something like 1/ "We R Who We R" 2/ Dev "In the Dark" 3/ "Rack City" 4/  "Locked Out of Heaven"  5/ Gotye 6/ Flo Rida + Etta "Good Feeling" 7/ "Faded" 8/ Shorty put it down on me sh-shorty put it down on me 9/ never feelin mercy your chick she's so thirsty

Maybe radio is like Spotify (i don't know, never used Spotify or other streamy things) but i find listening to the radio a lot, flicking back and forth between the channels in your car -- it has an insidious poptimizing effect in so far as you start responding to music purely as units of pleasure and surprise, with less and less interest in context, intent, meaning, resonance, etc... and that this is also retroactive effect, wreaking its de-rockism-ification effect back through classic rock, abolishing any different between The Clash and Steve Miller Band, ZZ Top and The Cars.... it's all just tunes! there's pluses and minuses to this, new potentials in old music get realised by juxtapositions or by hearing them out of historical sequence.  But you become a shallower, more restless listener, easily amused and easily bored...

Monday, February 25, 2013

end of year commentary for The Wire, 2012

I’ve always been more about records, not so much about live. So perhaps it’s a sign of the times, or a sign of something,  that the music experiences that affected me most this year weren’t artifacts but performances. When the prevailing modes of distribution and consumption have the effect of at once reifying and insubstantialising music into units of decontextualized data, there’s much to recommend being forcibly reminded that actual living beings made the sounds you’re hearing.  So the moments that linger in the memory at year’s end mostly involve the presence of the performers (and, of equal analogue-flashback importance, an audience). The imposing ludicrousness of Mayhem, at By:Larm in Oslo, and of Laibach, at Incubate in Tilburg. Also at Incubate: the frangible exhilaration and frayed nerves of Maria & the Mirrors; Chris & Cosey, thick and wet and absolutely stunning; Raime’s rhythmic stealth and lustrous monochrome;  the charisma of Carla Bozulich; Buzzcocks blasting down memory lane, even with Diggle’s daft guitar heroics;  getting coerced into conga-ing to the schlager-tastic De Deurzakkers.  Ariel Pink’s peculiar hissy-fit of a show at the Fonda Theatre, LA.  Totally nowtro: Skrillex’s digi-maximalist audio-video barrage at Hard Summer;  Kode 9 slaying a Berlin club crowd and showing that post-step eclecticism needn’t be tepid and diffuse.  Totally retro:  Go  Gos at Hollywood Bowl;  Nightingales in St. Gallen (bizarrely sounding closer to Family and Groundhogs than a shambling-band nostalgia act). Some records did manage to sneak through the numb info-overload anomie and make an impression: Ariel’s Mature Themes, especially the gorgeous last three tunes, and “Steviepink Javascript” off Ku Klux Glam; Death Grips; the brave move of Woebot’s Hallo; Maria Minerva; Mark Van Hoen’s Revenant Diary, particularly the astonishing “Holy Me”; the Sun Araw/Congos communion; Hyperdub women Cooly G and Laurel Halo.


albums (new)

Ariel Pink, Mature Themes (4AD)
Mark Van Hoen, The Revenant Diary (Editions Mego)
Death Grips, The Money Store (Epic)
Woebot, Hallo (Hollow Earth)
Traxman, Da Mind of Traxman (Planet Mu)
Maria Minerva, Will Happiness Find Me (Not Not Fun)
Cooly G, Playin Me (Hyperdub)
Ariel Pink, R. Stevie Moore, Ku Klux Glam (Stroll On)
The Congos/Sun Araw/M. Geddes Gengras, Icon Give Thank, Rvng Intl.
Laurel Halo, Quarantine (Hyperdub)

albums (archival)

David Cain, The Seasons (Trunk)
A.R. Kane, The Complete Singles Collection (One Little Indian)
Laurie Spiegel, The Expanded Universe (Unseen Worlds)
Disco Inferno, The Five EPs (One Little Indian)
Daphne Oram, The Oram Tapes Vol. 1 (Young Americans)
F.C. Judd, Electronics Without Tears (Public Information)
Various, Personal Soul (Numero Group)
some of my favorite 2012 things for The Thoughtfox, Faber & Faber blog

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes (4AD)
Ariel Pink, R. Stevie Moore – Ku Klux Glam (Stroll On Records)
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, live at the Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, October 5th 2012

I didn’t get on with Mature Themes at first, I must admit.  Found it goofy and throwaway and a bit fussed-over-sounding. The herky-jerky whimsy of opener “Kinski Assassin” had me flashing on bubblegum psych like Strawberry Alarm Clock and New Wave novelties by Split Enz and Cardiacs.... minor league stuff, you dig.  I did seriously wonder if Ariel Pink’s reign as my favourite musician of the last eight years had finally fizzled out. But Mature Themes snuck up on me, and now I love not only “Kinski Assassin” but even  more slight and silly ditties like “Schnitzel Boogie” (inspired by a favorite fast food joint) and “Pink Slime” (an ode to that meat-derived colloid used to bulk up burgers).  

Masked by the archness and frivolity of some of the material is the fact that this album is Ariel at his most open-hearted and forlorn.  Several of these songs—including the exquisitely melodic title track and “Farewell American Primitive,” which at one point was also going to be title track until “Mature Themes” displaced it—seem to address his break-up with long-time partner and pop performance artiste Geneva Jacuzzi, albeit with varying degrees of obliqueness and directness.

So, I suspect, does the gorgeous “Baby”, a romantic-erotic reverie (“holding hands and making love”) whose elegaic afterglow vibe suggests that the beloved is attainable only in memory.  That song’s slow Seventies soul mode and raspy vocal is a departure for Ariel. It shows how he uses other styles and other voices to express his own feelings. Pop as ventriloquism or costume-play, maybe. It verges close to the parody zone:  comedy-with-music-elements shows such as Mighty Boosh or Flight of the Conchords, whose mock-loverman “Business Time” isn’t so far from “Baby”. 

But that’s been part of pop from the start: the way that comedy and seriousness, authentic feeling and caricature, can coexist and commingle in a performance or recording without cancelling each other out.  Ariel revels in the stylization of emotion, but he’s venting real stuff, at least some of the time.  Not so much on Ku Klux Glam, though, his collaboration with hero and DIY role model R. Stevie Moore.  “Steviepink Javascript” (actually recorded back in 2001) is hilarious: a seemingly improvised-in-the-studio comedy-duet,  in the tradition perhaps of that Dexy’s album nobody bought, or Jah Wobble and John Lydon goofing off on PiL’s first album, or even  Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Derek & Clive. The two cult heroes stroke each other’s ego and make with the daft FX-processed  voices. But the music is actually amazing, a glistening glide of psychedelic  disco defaced with gouts and gashes of noise.

Joking aside, it’s a fine example of Pink’s experimental side, which also crops up on Mature Themes with the slinky ghost-funk of “Live It Up” and the swirling ambient  kaleidoscape of “Nostradamus & Me”.

Seeing Pink and his Haunted Graffiti bandmates at the Fonda Theater in LA was an odd experience: a gig that wasn’t very good, but that stuck in the memory much more than if it had been a straightforward, well-played rendition of the songs.  There was something off about the sound, a grating edge, exacerbated by Ariel feeding his voice through a battery of FX much of the time.  He seemed to be in a foul mood, and every so often would literally snarl at the crowd through the FX, like a cat having a hissy fit.  But perhaps this is just his technique, to put the audience on edge (the other time I saw him perform, in New York circa Before Today, he stormed off stage). There seemed to be a desire for the concert to be more than just another show by a middling-level indiepop band, watched with impassive pleasure by its dedicated but compact audience.  Towards the end Ariel muttered darkly that the gig we were witnessing  was “Winterland, 1978.... Kezar Pavilion, 1981.” In other words, the last ever gig by a legendary band that immediately afterwards split up (in those cases, the Sex Pistols and Throbbing Gristle). (Both of whom actually reformed much later, but that’s by the by).  What struck me again was the  ventriloquistic or play-acted aspect: someone trying to express himself, his authentic, innermost desires or frustrations, through this second-hand language, in this instance all those  read-about and handed-down Myths from rock history.

 A fascinating, conflicted figure. “Step inside my timewarp” he sings, on one Mature Themes song, and I’ll be doing that for a good while to come, I hope.

Friday, November 23, 2012

faves of 2011 for Faber's blog the Thoughtfox

The Music of 2011
(The Thoughtfox, December 9th 2011)

The biggest thing for me this year was rediscovering the joys of listening to the radio. Living in Los Angeles like I do now involves being in the car a lot. So there’s much flicking back and forth between stations in chase of the next thrill (or in flight from something repugnant or just  overplayed-and-stale). Because, shamefully, I’ve not learned to drive yet, I’m free to listen immersively, without distraction (apart from the rolling cityscape of LA through the passenger seat window) and to hear new things in old familiar tunes I’ve heard many times before.

In our car we tend to flit back and forth between the absolute Now (the Top 40 stations) and a  jumbled out-of-sequence Then (classic rock stations, Eighties-formatted stations, Shuffle-mode oriented stations like Jack FM which span Seventies, Eighties and Nineties). If we’re feeling in the mood for something  improving and horizon-expanding there is also KCRW, the publicly funded station in LA that pioneered the influential ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’ template and whose taste profile is what you could call ‘mature hip’ (i.e. alternative/experimental but always well produced and easy on the ear). But I find that after a half-hour of music  that’s precisely oriented to my demographic niche, I’m usually craving a harder, coarser hit of thrill-power, which means heading quickly back to either the  imperishable riffs of classic rock or the hooks and banging beats of modern pop, most of which sounds like Nineties club music from Europe with rapping and R&B-ish singing added.

My favourite tracks of the year are almost all from US Top Forty radio: Dev’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’, whose slinky vocal and parping digi-sax makes me flash on UK garage circa 1997;  Ke$ha’s ‘We R Who We R’, a classic youth-cutting-loose anthem on a par with ‘School’s Out’; the rolling thunder of Rihanna’s ‘Cheers’; the Roland 303-powered Right Said Fred-ism of ‘Sexy and I Know It‘ by LMFAO, not forgetting their irrepressible ‘Party Rock Anthem’; and many others including Nicki Minaj’s ‘Superbass’, Britney Spears’s ‘Till the End of the World’, New Boyz featuring The Cataracts & Dev’s ‘Backseat Driver’, Afrojack featuring Eva Simons’s ‘Take Over Control’. Martin Solveig & Dragoneette’s ‘Hello’, Etta James featuring Flo Rida’s ‘Good Feeling’, Big Sean’s ‘Dance:…

My favorite albums come from another world entirely, a left-field, blog-driven zone of electronic music that’s hardly ever danceable and guitar music that doesn’t exactly rock: Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica, James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual,  KWJAZ’s self-titled tape, Woebot’s Chunks, Ekoplekz’s Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1, Rangers’s Pan Am Stories, Moon Wiring Club’s Clutch It Like A Gonk, Kuedo’s Severant.

Among my faves the only convergence zone between clubby nowpop and ethereal underground electronica was Rustie’s Glass Swords, a monsterpiece of digital maximalism, and the woozy lo-fi  house of Maria Minerva’s two LPs (Tallinn at Dawn and Cabaret Cixous) and two EPs (Noble Savage and Sacred and Profane Love) this year.

Finally, there was Metronomy’s The English Riviera: nothing to do with either tendency (too tuneful and Mercury-’middlebrow’ for undergroundists, too English and out-of-time for chart action) but the record from 2011 I played more than any other.

Friday, April 2, 2010

end of year pros/cons comments for The Wire 1994 to 2009 (plus some ballots for albums of the year)

1994 (jan 95 issue)

1995 (jan 96 issue)

1996 -- The Wire did not do contributors pros and cons

1997 (jan 98 issue)

1998 (jan 99 issue)

1999 (jan 2000 issue)

2000 (jan 2001 issue)

2001 (jan 2002 issue)


UK garridge goes gabba and gangsta: gutter rhymes, sick noise, grimy bass and skullcrusher beats from Dizzy Rascal, Musical Mobb, Black Ops, et al. Britrap finally sheds its “lost cause” reputation with The Streets and Extra Yard, plus Genius Kru, Horra Squad, More Fire and approximately 1000 hungry “garage rap” crews close behind. Not forgetting MC Pitman. Electronic: Blevin Blectum’s Talon Slalom, Casino Versus Japan’s Whole Numbers, BOC’s Geogaddi, Horsepower Productions. Electroclash/Nu-wave: better in theory than practice, glorious exceptions being Tiga’s Gigolo mix-CD, Vitalic, Ghostly’s Disco Nouveau comp (especially Legowelt and Solvent). Liars live. Summer in London (DJ Marky & XRS brings the sunshine with drum’n’bossanova anthem “LK”). A day in Sheffield. The British Library’s National Sound Archive. Meeting old heroes and liking most of them (give or take the odd embittered fuckhead). EMP conference in Seattle. Rereading Ballard. Hanging with Kieran.

The geopolitical precipice looming ahead.

1/ The Streets – Original Pirate Material (Locked On)
2/ Blevin Blectum –Talon Slalom (Deluxe)
3/ Casino Versus Japan – Whole Numbers Play the Basics (Carpark)
4/ The Future/Human League – The Golden Hour of the Future (Black Melody)
5/ Recloose – Cardiology (Planet E)
6 / Boards of Canada – Geogaddi (Warp)
7/ Liars – They Threw Us All in A Trench and Stuck A Monument On Top (Blast First/Mute)
8/ Position Normal – Goodly Time (Rum Records)
9/ Horsepower Productions – In Fine Style (Tempa)
10/ Soul Center – III (Novamute)

1/ American Gigolo: the Best of International DJ Gigolo Records (K!7)
2/ Garage Rap Vol 1 (Eastside)
3/ Tangent 2002: Disco Nouveau (Ghostly International)
4/ Extra Yard (Big Dada)
5/ Playgroup mix-CD (K!7)

Critical beats
1/ Dizzy Rascal – “I Love You” (white label)
2/ Musical Mobb – “Pulse X” (white label)
3/ Genius Kru – “Course Bruv” (Gutter)
4/ DJ Marky & XRS – “LK (‘Carolina Carol Bela’)” (V Recordings)
5/ Something J/DJ Maximus -- Mercedes Bentley Vs Versace Armani [Warp]

1/ Blevin Blectum –Talon Slalom (Deluxe)
2/ Casino Versus Japan – Whole Numbers Play the Basics (Carpark)
3/ Vitalic – Poney EP (Gigolo)
4/ Boards of Canada – Geogaddi (Warp)
5/ Panytec – Ponyslaystation (Perlon)

hip hop
1/ The Streets – Original Pirate Material
2/ MC Pitman – “Phone Pitman” b/w “Pitman Sez” (Pitman Records)
3/ Styles – “Good Times” (Ruff Ryders)
4/ The Clipse – “When The Last Time” (Arista)
5/ Dizzy Rascal – “I Love You” (white label)

1/ various -- Verschwende Deine Jugend: punk und new wave in deutschland (1977-83) (Ata Tak)
2/ The Blue Orchids – a Darker Bloom (Cherry Red)
3/ Ludus – the Damage (LTM)
4/ Ultramarine – Every Man and Woman Is a Star (Darla)
5/ Palais Schaumburg –eponymous debut (Tapete)


Dizzee Rascal--"Vexed", Boy In Da Corner, uncanny and unprecedented alignment of Mercury Prize Committee and my taste. Grime and 8bar: Kano’s "Boys Love Girls"; productions by Wiley (especially "Ice Rink"), N.A.S.T.Y.’s Jammer and Bigga-Man, Social Circles/Sticky. Androgynous pressure: Junior Boys’ "Last Exit"--a kinder, gentler direction 2step could have gone. Other: Villalobos, Vybz Kartel, Animal Collective, LFO, Michael Mayer, Sean Paul. Retro-junglizm: Soundmurderer, The Redeemer, Remarc anthology. Vintage: Cabaret Voltaire’s Methodology ‘74/’78, Pyrolator, Blue Orchids' The Greatest Hit + EPs on LTM/Darla, 23 Skidoo, British Hustle, Factrix, Essential Logic, King Sunny Ade, Black Chiney mixes, Metal Urbain, Home T/Cocoa Tea/Shabba Ranks's "Pirates' Anthem". Live: Lightning Bolt, Avey Tare & Panda Bear. Reading: TWANBOC/Woebot, K-Punk, Heronbone, Astronauts/Worlds of Possibility, Somedisco, Tufluv, loads more blogs and webzines; Morley's Words and Music.

The war. The even more shameful "reconstruction". The general across-the-culture vibe of cowed-ness, keeping your head down, settling for less.

Dizzee Rascal, The Boy In Da Corner (XL)
Cabaret Voltaire, Methodology ‘74/’78. Attic Tapes; (Mute)
Animal Collective, Here Comes The Indian (Paw Tracks/Carpark)
Junior Boys, Birthday EP (Kin)
Villalobos, Alcachofa (Playhouse)
LFO, Sheath (Warp)
The Redeemer, Hardcore Owes Us Money (Force Inc)
Michael Mayer, Fabric13 (Fabric)
Wiley featuring various MCs, "Ice Rink" (three white label 12s)
Vybz Kartel, "Sweet to the Belly" (VP)

Wiley featuring various MCs, "Ice Rink" (white label)
Kano, "Boys Love Girls" (white label)
Vybz Kartel, "Sweet to the Belly" (VP)
Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz featuring the Ying Yang Twins--"Get Low" (TVT)
Soundmurderer + SK-1. I<< (Rewind Records)

Villalobos, Alcachofa (Playhouse)
LFO, Sheath (Warp)
The Redeemer, Hardcore Owes Us Money (Force Inc)
Michael Mayer, Fabric13 (Fabric)
Mark One versus Plasticman "Hard Graft 1/Hard Graft 2" (Roadblock)

Animal Collective, Here Comes The Indian (Paw Tracks/Carpark)
Blue Orchids' The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain) (LTM/Darla)
Metal Urbain (Acute)
Essential Logic, Fanfare in the Garden (Kill Rock Stars)
VA-- British Hustle: the Sound of British Jazz-Funk from 1974 to 1982 (Soul Jazz)
Remarc, Sound Murderer, Planet Mu

Soundmurderer, Wired for Sound (Violent Turd)
N.A.S.T.Y. mix-CD mixed by Jammer, free with Deuce magazine july 2003


Music seemed trivial for much of 2004, for reasons private as well as geopolitically, but affixing a forced Yuletide smile to the face, here’s my list of saving graces:
---Grime’s third terrific year in a row. Voices: Kano, D Double E, Bruza, Lady Sovereign, Wiley, Durty Doogz, Riko, Dizzee. Producers: Terror Danjah, Wonder, Ruff Sqwad, Lethal B, Jammer, Wiley, Target. Tracks: “Pow” a/k/a “FWD rhythm,” “Destruction,” “What Have You Done Lately,” “Chosen One,” “Frontline,” ”Creep Crawler,” “Cha Ching,” “Cock Back,” “S.T.D’s,” “So Sure,” “Pum Pum Riddim.” Albums: Showtime, Treddin’ On Thin Ice.
----New York ferment. A transcendental performance from Animal Collective at Bowery Ballroom, supported by the gorgeously peculiar Gang Gang Dance. DFA’s two best singles yet-- J.O.Y.’s “Sunplus,” Pixeltan “Get Up/Say What”--and Compilation #2.
----Disparate treasure. Usher, “Yeah;” Britney, “Toxic;” Beenie Man, “Dude;” The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come For Free; Infinite Livez, Bush Meat; Kanye West, College Dropout; Junior Boys, Last Exit; Ying Yang Twins, “Salt Shaker,” Nina Sky, “Move Your Body,” Kiki, “Luv Sikk Again,” jungle and drum’n’bass resurrection courtesy Ripley @ Volume and DJ Clever/Offshore Recordings’ Troubled Waters mix, Lizzy Mercier Descloux reissues.
----Words: too many bloggs; Philip Roth, The Plot Against America
--- Downsides: whining about cultural perniciousnesses really does seem trivial, but there did seem to be an inordinate amount of death this year--the saddest of the public ones, for me, being Peel.


Hauntology and memory work from Ghost Box (The Focus Group/Belbury Poly/Eric Zann/The Advisory Circle), Ariel Pink, Boards of Canada, Mark Fisher’s London Under London. Grime exhausting its narrative arc with three perfect scene-reflexive tunes for a crossover that never came: Kano’s “Reload It” and “Sometimes”, Lethal Bizzle’s “Against All Oddz”. Stratford Circus urban music festival; Ruff Sqwad and Roll Deep live at Rinse FM studio; meeting D Double E, grime’s Ian Curtis, and witnessing him enter the zone live; the voice of Bruza, anywhere, on anything; Lady Sovereign, in person and on record; Wonder’s refix of SKL’s “Hype Hype”; Imp Batch’s “Gype Riddim” with or without Crazy Titch. Animal Collective; Kudu, live; Hot Chip; Art Brut; Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice; DJ Koze; Kanye West’s “Addicted” and “Crack Music”; Three Six Mafia’s “Stay Fly”; Analord, intermittently. Reissues of Comus, Orange Juice, Van Der Graaf Generator, Talking Heads, X-Ray Spex, Robert Wyatt & Friends. Non-music: Penguin By Design, Saint Etienne Presents Finisterre, Paglia’s book on poetry; Green Wing and I Am Not An Animal.

albums of the year

1/ Ariel Pink, Worn Copy (Paw Tracks)
2/ The Focus Group, hey let loose your love (Ghost Box)
3/ Belbury Poly, The Willows (Ghost Box)
4/ Animal Collective, Feels (fat cat)
5/ Lethal Bizzle, Against All Oddz (V2)
6/ Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, XIAO (Troubleman United)
7/ The Advisory Circle, Mind How You Go (Ghost Box)
8/ Kano, Home Sweet Home (XL
9/ Boards of Canada, The Campfire Headphase (Warp)
10/ Kanye West, Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella)


It was as bleak and bereft a year for music as any I can remember. Most folk I know responded to the dearth and deadlock either by bunkering down in some contemporary micro-genre and pretending it was the size of the universe or burrowing deep into an arcane crevice in history. But there are always glimmers, tantalizing glimpses of futures possible or lost. Foremost: Scritti Politti’s luminously lovely comeback, Burial’s woundingly elegaic debut, the delicious confusion of mixed emotions infusing infuses Hot Chip, the provoking spirit of play and erudite mischief animating Ghost Box and Mordant Music. More glistens in the gloom: Ys (a record it’s best to know as little about its making, or indeed its maker, as possible--just bathe in the sound); the gaseous languor of Juana Molina; the second half of Jarvis and the most Pulp-like parts of the Arctic Monkeys debut; moments from Booka Shade, Ariel Pink, Kode 9/Spaceape, Matmos, Various, Scott Walker, Johnny Dark; exhumations from Ike Yard, Byrne/Eno, Broadcast, and especially Jake Thackray. Overall though, a year in which music couldn’t compete with joys personal (March 7th) and public (November 7th), birth and rebirth.

albums of the year
1/ scritti politti, white bread black beer (rough trade)
2/ burial, s/t (hyperdub)
3/ jake thackray – jake in a box (emi)
4/ mordant music, dead air (mordant music)
5/ juana Molina, son (domino)
6/ joanna newsom, ys (drag city)
7/ hot chip, the warning (astralwerks)
8/ arctic monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (domino)
9/ broadcast, the future crayon (warp)
10/ belbury poly, the owl’s map (ghost box)


Pros: Against the backdrop of blank bleakness, these shone so hard: Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Dandelion Gum (missing link between “Strawberry Fields Forever” and Daft Punk), The Good, the Bad and the Queen (Britpop ghostified and dub-hollowed), Sally Shapiro’s Disco Romance (more Scando than Italo, a snowblind Saint Etienne gone trance), Burial’s Untrue and Neil Landstrumm’s Restaurant of the Assassins (shimmering rave memorials), Wyatt’s Comicopera, Panda Bear’s lovely Person Pitch. Pulse-quickening: bassline house, the North’s mutation on UK garage. Absorbing: The Focus Group, Battles, Dirty Projectors, Fulborn Teversham. Diverting: Enter Shikari, Klaxons. Excavated treasures: Daphne Oram, Dinosaur L, Nico, Harmonia, White Noise, Creel Pone label. Control: visually ravishing enough to make you barely notice it barely touches the mystery of Joy Division’s music. Personal highlights: meeting Robert Wyatt (and “performing” together onstage) at the Hay Festival; participating in the launch at Dallas Museum of Art of Phil Collins’ the world won’t listen exhibition--a reminder of the power of pop music in general and The Smiths in particular. Meeting Malcolm McLaren after an outrageous "music industry pep talk" he gave chez the British Consulate in New York.

Cons: RIPs (non flesh-and-blood): webmag Stylus; New York’s left-field dance space SubTonic. RIPs (flesh-and-blood): where to start? Legends seemed to shuffle off this mortal coil at a rate of one a week: Richard Cook, Joe Zawinul, Anthony H. Wilson, Lee Hazelwood, Uwe Nettelbeck, Alice Coltrane…

albums of the year
1/ Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum (Graveface)
2/ The Good, the Bad and the Queen --The Good the Bad and the Queen (Honest Jon’s/Parlophone)
3/ Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
4/ Robert Wyatt, Comicopera (Domino)
5/ Burial, Untrue (Hyperdub)
6/ Sally Shapiro, Disco Romance (Paperbag)
7/ Neil Landstrumm, Restaurant of the Assassins (Planet Mu)
8/ Battles, Mirrored (Warp)
9/ The Focus Group, We Are All Pan’s People (Ghost Box)
10/ Pinch, Underwater Dancehall (Tectonic)

1/ Daphne Oram, Oramics (Paradigm)
2/ Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth (Domino)
3/ Nico, The Frozen Borderline: 1968-1970 (Rhino)
4/ Harmonia, Harmonia Live 1974 (Crowland)
5/ Sun Ra, Disco 3000 (Art Yard)
6/ Dinosaur L, 24/24 Music (Sleeping Bag)
7/ Black Dog -- The Book of Dogma (Soma)
8/ Various, Now We Are Ten (Trunk)
9/ White Noise, An Electric Storm (Island)
10/ Betty Davis, Betty Davis (Lights in the Attic)


For much of the year, music was totally eclipsed by the rollercoaster ride of dread and euphoria that was the US election. Nor did music put up much of a fight. (As for "rise to the occasion", are you kidding?). Looking back through the long tingling afterglow of 11/4/8' s orgasm of relief, a few Moments glisten dimly. The hauntological trip hop of Portishead's Third and Moon Wiring Club's two superb albums (Art Deco Eyes and Shoes Off). Grime's comeback year they say but nothing from it impacted me like Giggs's Walk In Da Park: genuwine South London gangsta , eerie and surprisingly musical. Digital decay: Crystal Castles, Kanye's "Love Lockdown," Dangermouse's greyhaze glitch-psych production on Beck's great Modern Guilt. Pure musical pleasure: Backyardigans, Quiet Village, the rhythmic verve and melodic delicacy of Vampire Weekend. Blackout Crew's chavtastic tune/video "Put A Donk On It." Gang Gang Dance go pop with Saint Dymphna. Old: Gas box, Lily Greenham and other vintage text-sound, the Lines, John Baker, Warner Jepson, Creel Pones. Live: seeing John Martyn for the first time, with Danny Thompson too; Rip It Up tour of Germany. Other: Cold War Modern at the V&A, especially Corbusier's slide projections for Poeme Electronique and Nicolas Schoffer's rotating metal-mirrored sculpture-machine; Mad Men and catching up with four series of this magazine's televisual namesake.


Micachu's Jewellry brought unexpected life and joy to the somewhat tired notion of "noise-pop". Dirty Projectors's Bitte Orca answered the question "why do we need our beauty to be progressive?" Banner year for the hauntological crew with superb records from Belbury Poly, Roj, Broadcast/Focus Group, Mordant Music, Leyland James Kirby, Woebot, Moon Wiring Club, Position Normal. Entranced by hauntology's American cousin hypnagogic a/k/a glow-fi a/k/a New Age Noise (Ducktails, Oneohtrix, Gary War, Ferraro/Clark, etc) but my absolute fave in this Balearic bliss-drone zone is actually Belgian, Dolphins Into the Future. Enjoying the post-dubstep/post-grime/post-funky diaspora (Martyn, Cooly G, Zomby, 2562, Joker, Raffertie, Soule Power/Scratcha DVA, et al) and enjoying even more the irony that all this only goes to prove the continued fertility and relevance of the hardcore continuum. As indeed does Dizzee finally, deservedly, becoming one of Britain's biggest pop stars.

albums of the year
1/ Micachu and the Shapes, Jewellry (Rough Trade)
2/ The Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca (Domino)
3/ Dolphins Into The Future, On Sea Faring Isolation (No Not Fun)
4/ Broadcast & The Focus Group, Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (Warp)
5/ Belbury Poly, From An Ancient Star (Ghost Box)
6/ Terror Danjah, Gremlinz (Planet Mu)
7/ Roj, The Transactional Dharma of Roj (Ghost Box)
8/ Oneohtrix Point Never, Rifts (No Fun)
9/ Woebot, The Two EPs (Hollow Earth)
10/ Ducktails, Backyard (Release the Bats Records)