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)

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