Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best of 2008

It was another good year for music, a lot of which made it's way into the mixes posted here. I put up about 14 mixes this year which is a good number, I'd like to post at least one per month. I already have two in the can which will be posted in January. I'm sure there will be another field mix this year, as well as a new shortwave mix & Sustain & Decay part 2. If anybody has any requests or ideas pleae let me know.

I lack the mental discipline to limit my year end list to a top ten list. So somehow this year I ended up with the random number of 24 in my "Best of" list. What are some good albums that I left off this list? What does your list look like? Here is the 2008 list in alphabetical order...

  • Alio Die - aura seminalis - alio die released some great music this year. I guess I could group all of them together here but I'll list this as my favorite. The cd "tries to recreate the solemn atmospheres of the courts of the Italian Renaissance", and amazingly it comes off as transcendent instead of cheesy. Stefano Musso's recent releases all do this very well, like his collaboration with vocalist Martina Galvagni, Elusian Lullaby. He takes concepts, that would not work in the hands of another, and makes them work beautifully.
  • Arve Henriksen - cartography - a beautifully layered recording from trumpeter henriksen. Texture is more important than virtuosity here. A melancholy, tranquil landscape works perfectly with Henriksen's vocal-like trumpet.
  • Belong - Same Places (Slow Version) - crushing, shimmering drones dissolve & decay in a wonderful wall of sound.
  • Bersarin Quartett - bersarin quartett - actually this is a one man show of cinematic music. Strings, ambience, some occasional beats combine for a lush, melancholy trip.
  • bvdub - dreams of red chambers - a release that is more ambient than the usual dubby sound form bvdub.
  • David Tagg - Waist Deep Seas Of Milk - gorgeous, expansive guitar-based drones. His “Stele” split release was excellent as well.
  • Deaf Center - vintage well - More great cinematic music. I guess there was a lot of fantastic cinematic music this year.
  • Disturbed Earth - Butterfly - An excellent ambient release from Atmoworks. From a live "living room" concert in August 1977. The album
  • was recorded live with no overdubs using a double neck guitar
  • and a violin bow on the 12-string and playing the 6-string. He
  • used two tape decks set up about 8 feet apart in a continuous loop. A classic ambient feel that is even more amazing knowing how & when it was recorded.
  • Elbow - Live from London – Beautiful, intimate, live iTunes only release. Any fan of Elbow MUST own this.
  • Elbow - the seldom seen kid – There isn’t any other band that evokes beauty, melancholy & joy like Elbow. This is an absolutely fantastic recording.
  • Eluder - the most beautiful blue - deep layers that never get too dark or too light. A just right mixture of drifting textures & aquatic sounds.
  • Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill - a good collection of eerie folk songs wrapped in reverb & hazy ambience.
  • Hakobune - melting reminscence - an excellent release for lovers of guitar-based drone.
  • Hans-joachim Roedelius & Tim Story - inlandish - I love how this release sounds old & new at the same time. Some of the tunes just have this indescribable retro Roedelius feel to them, like the song "Beforst". A warm, melodic beauty.
  • Jacaszektreny – Real instruments played by real musicians with some electronic manipulation make this a stellar release in a year filled with great cinematic music.
  • Jeff Pearce - Rainshadow Sky – I know this one is a bit too close to New Age for some regular forumites, but I found it to be beautiful without being too sappy.
  • Johann Johannssonfordlandia – This cd from Johannsson takes the cinematic/orchestral theme of this year to another level. He does it with a 60 piece orchestra, piano, organ, choir & electronics. The music is lush and intense.
  • Marconi Union - a lost connection – more dubby ambient music. I listened to a lot of dubby stuff this year & Marconi Union does this style wonderfully.
  • Martin Grech - march of the lonely – this one actually came out in 2007 but I discovered it right at the beginning of this year and I listened to constantly from then on. From an online review “…a moody acoustic delicacy, dreamlike calm and layered vocals which recall monastic plainsong or a lovelorn choir.”
  • quantec - unusual signals – great dubby ambient-ish beats.
  • Rameses IIIBasilica - A double cd of live recordings & remixes, the two discs contain some beautiful, quiet, and moving instrumental compositions.
  • Rod Modell - incense & blacklight - noisy, shifting dub rhythms, and way deep bassy goodness.
  • Steve Roach - a deeper silence – I played this for days all through the house, the slow washes & low bass hum rumbling from room to room. I felt like I was on some inter-stellar spacecraft. Great sleep music too.
  • the caretaker - Persistent repetition of phrases - Similar to his other releases in that it sounds like he is channeling the haunting atmospherics of The Shining. However, this one is a bit more ambient.

---- I know these don’t count as actual releases, but I think I listened to the guitar mixes of Alan Lockett more than anything else this year. You can find them here…] . These mixes are a great collection of ambient guitar meanderings that introduced me to a lot of new artists & music.

Honorable mentions :
stephan mathieu – radioland
Bohren & der Club of Gore – Dolore
taylor deupree - sea last
The Winterhouse - Lost
jasper tx - this quiet season
the caretaker - recollected memories from the museum of garden history
emanuele errante - humus [2008]
Richard Skelton - Marking Time
Hammock, ‘Maybe They Will Sings For Us Tomorrow
sigur ros - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Sans Serif - Tones For LaMonte


Jim said...

Here are the 2008 releases I liked most, in order:

1.) Jacaszek, Treny.
2.) Arve Henriksen, Cartography.
3.) The Boats, Faulty Toned Radio.
4.) Con_Cetta, Micro.
5.) Emanuele Errante, Humus.
6.) Alps, III.
7.) Fennesz, Black Sea.
8.) V. Sjoberg New Jazz Ensemble, Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me
9.) Kangding Ray, Automne Fold.
10.) Gas Reissue

Top Mixes:

1.) Sea of Stars
2.) Sustain and Decay

dave said...

Great list Jim! The Arve Henriksen release gets better every time I listen to it.

Sustain & Decay is one of my fav mixes from this year too. My other top mix may be Motion for Relief.

bvdub said...

thanks :)

Paul Smith said...

What does my list look like? I will share it with you sooner or later! Thank you for the 2008 list in alphabetical order! It's unfortunately not easy to cope with all articles; so you may forward your writing request to spring writing paper services!