Top 10 for 2010
Because I'm a traditionalist at heart here's my top ten of 2010.
It's not ranked in any way these are just the ones I remember particularly digging. Obviously there were many more that could be here - everyone who passes through these pages is worth a listen, it's the whole point of the exercise.
My sincere thanks to everyone who has sent something to me. I'm way behind with my listening and it's been a tedious last few months not getting to listen to much music. I'll get a new issue up early in the new year.
Andrew Chalk - Ghosts of Nakhodka
The first ever review written for WWR (or ECReviews as it was called then) was an Andrew Chalk album. He set my benchmark for what constitutes a perfect release and has subsequently exceeded it on numerous occasions. Let's be straight here if you've not listened to me yet about just how good this here fella is and gone out and sourced every one of his available releases then really what's the point in you reading me.
Andrew is at the absolute peak of his game at the moment. everything he lets us hear is another plateau, higher, grander and more panoramic than the previous. Ghosts of Nakhodka is a real showcase piece consisting of one longer piece of sumptuous drone music followed by a cavalcade of shorter instrumental sketches each of which throws out more moments of beauty, clarity and empathy than many musicians manage in a lifetime.
If you're not buying everything he releases then you're not buying anything that matters.
Chemins - cdr #5
Apparently this is the last we'll see of Chemins for a little while which is a damn shame. Their five little cdr releases have been one of the absolute highlights of the last year. The good news is thought that they're going away to concentrate on writing a full length album for release next year sometime.
CDR #5 continues where the 4 previous left off with Chemins luxurious soundworld of slow drones and introspective guitar interspersed with flickering electronic and rolling builds all present and accounted for. This time out though the lovely wee fellas have added a host of other interesting twits and textures to the mix. There's a vaguely lounge jazz air to one part and a distinctly middle eastern flavour to another before the whole thing rises for a euphoric conclusion.
It all adds up to yet another really rather wonderful 20 minutes spent in very good company indeed. I cannot wait for the album.
Mendel Kaelen - Remembering What Was Forgotten
Firstly my apologies to Mendel. I've had this fabulous album for a little while now and liked it so much I was carrying it around with me so I could keep playing it. Of course the inevitable happened and it got misplaced. Happily, earlier today it resurfaced so I can both listen to it again and also tell you all just how good it is.
Kaelen operates in the area of psychedelic drone augmented by field recordings which is nothing we haven't seen or heard before but the deeply ingrained sense of effortless beauty that runs through the four constituent compositions is just sublime, even at it's most bombastic - 'Light of Nature' - it is still beautifully poised with a distinct sense of implied melody behind the drawn out tones. I keep getting ridiculously lost in this album, only surfacing when the final chords die away and even then only long enough to press the play button again.
An exquisite album. Hugely and unrepentantly recommended for all lovers of the magic of the drone.
Sujo - Dimona
it's always a good thing when new Sujo drops through the letterbox. His heavy as hell grinding take on the post-rock monster is one of the most cathartic musical interludes I get sent here at WWR heights. 'Dimona' is a brutal half an hour of almost Godflesh levels of intense beauty. It's got a looser vibe than the erstwhile industrial - metal superstars but it hits the same level of uncompromising fuzzy and monolithic dystopia.
Undoubtedly this is one for the more 'metal' or 'rock' inclined among you and I pretty much guarantee you'll love it but in all honesty I'll happily recommend it to everyone cause it's ace!
(inamrecs AT yahoo.com)
Dead Shall Not Have Died In Vain / Dysthymia - split 7"
(Diophantine Discs n=23)
Two track, two act single on 7" vinyl (my favourite format) from one of the best labels around is always going to get me to sit up and pay attention. Both artists are new to me so we'll begin in the traditional manner with side A.
Dead Shall Not Have Died In Vain which sounds like one of those Canadian post rock outfits that were in vogue a few years back - Godspeed Thee Silver Pan Am Flames or somesuch - is the nom de guerre of one Marc Benner. Here he layers crashing metal over lush ambient drones. It's just the right mix of noisy and mellow and is way, way, way too short.
Dysthymia is my first exposure to the music of Diophantine label head Kyle Wright. Right from the off this is a very different animal from the one living on the flip side. The music here is a massive crescendo of grinding noise laced through with a looping siren call. It builds and builds before erupting in the inevitable money shot of screeching soaring sound. It's great fun.
To sum up - everything released on Diophantine is worth hearing - Everything!
Viosac - Dawning Luminosity
It'd be true to say I wasn't overly blown away by the previous Viosac albums that had kindly been passed my way. It wasn't that they were bad, they just weren't to my tastes. This time out though Graham Stewart has produced an album that is fully in line with what I love in my drone music.
'Dawning Luminosity' is a three song set of processed Moog drones that hover in the air and morph themselves into increasingly complex Venn diagrams. The music is distinctly electronic but holds a tactile warmth which you can almost feel as it swirls around you. I love this sort of vintage sci-fi soundworld that old tech just oozes so well and couple with some truly delightful and restrained musicianship this album is an absolute dream.
If like me you're a fan of the space drone of people like Tangerine Dream or Cluster then I really do recommend this one to you.
Hearts of Palm - Earth Headed Heart
(For Noises Sake)
An always welcome return from Cincinnati based experi-mentalists HOP who are here joined by C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core) on violin. Unlike their previous recordings this is a solid 30 minute block of unadulterated improv. It's noisy, chaotic, anarchic and fun. HoP are very much of the Faustian school of improvising and build their music from hard edged shards of metallic scree. All good improvisation is introspective in that it is reliant on the participants being fully focussed on their part in the whole but HoP's brand doesn't promote introspection on the part of the listener, at least not in this listener. Instead it promotes big cheesy grins as one becomes gloriously ensnared in their multi-layered tangle of textures, instruments and sounds.
Marsfield - The Towering Sky
(Faraway Press 16)
This album is like an octopus. It’s a many tentacled beast afloat in the murky depths manipulating it’s appendages in a manner that is not easily understood by onlookers but makes perfect sense to the octopus itself. It’s beautiful to behold, graceful beyond belief and you wish you could do it but you can’t because you‘re not an octopus. And yes I am drunk but that doesn’t stop me from being right.
Nurse With Wound - Paranoia in Hi-Fi (Earworms 1978-2008)
(United Dirter DPROMCD69)
It's been a while since I invested in a NWW album. She and Me Fall Together was the last one. I didn't think much of it and it catalysed a feeling that I'd been having for a while that the albums were just getting churned out and the quality had taken a nose dive. For a long time NWW had been my bench mark and I still dearly love many (and I do mean many) of the earlier albums but I'd gotten lost in the avalanche of releases and there was no way of carrying on so I didn't. Then the other week I was mooching around a little record store and spotted this little beauty with it's 99p price tag - yes that is right ninety, nine, pence. It had to be worth a shot.
PiHiFi consists of 4 long tracks of edited together highlights from the Nurse back-catalogue by Andrew Liles. Only a real obsessive would be able to spot where all the segments come from and I'm not even going to try but those bits you'll recognise and those bits you won't are married seamlessly with some of the deftest editing I've ever heard. It's an absolute corker of an album and I can't recommend it highly enough, especially at that price.
Darren Tate - Nature In The City
The ever wonderful Mr. Tate returns with another scorching set of Cluster style cosmic voyages melding keyboards, guitar and field recordings to create a set that from the moment you hit play heads straight through your third eye and drags your mind behind it on a whistle-stop tour of all the most colourful non-places it can find. I love it when he gets his synths out as I don't think there's anyone who can do the cosmic thing with the ease that Tate obviously can. This is well worth tracking down a copy of.(www.icrdistribution.com)