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) 2002 Pros 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. Cons The geopolitical precipice looming ahead. Votes Albums 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) compilations 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] electronica 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) reissues 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) 

  2003 PROS 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. CONS The war. The even more shameful "reconstruction". The general across-the-culture vibe of cowed-ness, keeping your head down, settling for less. RECORDS OF THE YEAR 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) CRITICAL BEATS 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) ELECTRONICA 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) OUTER LIMITS Animal Collective, Here Comes The Indian (Paw Tracks/Carpark) REISSUES 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 COMPILATIONS Soundmurderer, Wired for Sound (Violent Turd) N.A.S.T.Y. mix-CD mixed by Jammer, free with Deuce magazine july 2003 

  2004 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. 

  2005 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) 

  2006 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) 

  2007 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… votes 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) reissues 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) 

  2008 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. 

  2009 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)