As we were saying the other day, if our life had needed saving during 2007, it would have been saved by music.
As it is, it didn’t, but knowing we had this bad-ass aural bodyguard watching our spiritual backs, ready to run in our support should we start feeling disheartened by the state of affairs, or assaulted by the evil sounds churned by moribund entertainment conglomerates and the toxic cloud of their go-getting me-too trend-chasing wannabe hipster lackeys/scene equivalents, was reassuring.
If we were the last embattled remnants of humanity in William H. Hodgson’s ‘The Night Land’, gathered inside a colossal silver Pyramid besieged by monsters, giants, watchers, and the evil vibrations of he House of Silence, then music would be the Earth-current fuelling the Energy field that keeps such hell-spawns without- Music, You are the Earth Current that succours our souls, WE HEART THEE.
Because you ran alongside us across the roads, and held our hands when we began flight like a non-creepy equivalent of E.T. the extraterrestrial, and your baying and howling reverberated in the darkening skies like savage echoes of the mythical wild hunt
This year had its share of awesome acts gatecrashing the halls of perception with crooked metal rulers that establish the distance between the now and the all that lies beyond, measured in Rothers. The best example were perhaps No Age, with an astonishing string of releases of which their Upset The Rhythm published Get Hurt might well have been the highlight, sunny East Coast melodic budgies spiked with shards of ribcage expanding distortion flying into the stratosphere like right-stuffed experimental jets. Mexican teen garage psyche sensation Los Llamarada cut a similar blazing path.
Deerhunter kept speeding up towards teh krautgazing vanishing point, a glimpse into the rear view mirror to confirm that the 90s are closing up from behind fast, in a good way. Fucked Up’s Year of the Pig was 2007’s larger than metal prog epic (Black Mountain are next year kids), while Fuckbuttons’ satellite of synth grind ambient love encapsulated in a pretty ATP picture 7 holds great promise that we look forward to see fulfilled in 2008.
We hear through the Nascent/Nuneatonian grapevine that Circle were the best gig we didn’t attend this year, so we wallow in angst while their fantastic Katapult blasts in our stereo. Liars were also incredible at Release the Bats and their Brighton gig, although their S/T album is a bit weaker than previous incandescent efforts, even their failures piss all over 99% of the competition, because they always shine with wild-eyed ambition, we could have placed them inside any of the themes around which we have organised our Best of The Year, sheer proof of how portentous they are.
Wooden Shjips are another act that has kept our feeble bodies shaking like we were speleologist dweebs descending with great courage inside the belly of a leviathan turbine forever spinning in a masthodontic cycle powered by greenfuzz, sleaze, coyote mashed brains and peyote on a mission to steal a hippie relic off Sky Saxon’s mummified body, the dark might of their brainfried psychedelic spirit manifests itself invincible in the humming vibrations of this Summer of Love workout covering both sides of the SOL07 7” released for charity, buy it for several good causes, and turn on, tune on, drop on, everything on, til the sun comes out to chase us back to our lair, deep inside the rainbow coloured crack created by a freudian psyche earthquake.
Because you tore out hearts asunder with sick serenades of love and doom like some Aztec priest offering our carcasses to the cruel Gods so that our spirits may sleep forever with heads lying peaceful in turgid pagan bossoms.
Art for Spastics have continued broadcasting steady transmissions from the trenches of the US DIY underground, every inch of the wavelength delivered a yummy morsel of excitement, the population of lo-fi children roam fiercer than ever through corn fields of melody brandishing blunted scythes of abrassion, the harvest is blood-drenched and most nutritious, some ace outcomes of this creative shitstorm was delivered by Times New Viking, Magik Markers, Blank Dogs, Factums, Psychedelic Horseshit, or Tyvek, who bring to mind the greatness of Pere Ubu and Rockets from the Tombs in that efortless way which is the only way.
Labels such as Siltbreeze, Deathbomb Arc, Not Not Fun, Lovepump United or Gilgongo, and many others we are forgetting, that underground network of loving & caring receive awed kisses from the phosphorescent caves where the 20JFG goblins sleep, perchance dream.
Sic Alps constitute another instance of the sort of noise-damaged fucked up balladry we are referrng to as part of this life-affirming yet death-aware theme, their ‘Pleasures and Treasures’ album seems to arrive to our ears after a long and harsh journey through devil-ridden land it crosses like a weak and thin long string of silver tying up a heart-shaped box overflowing with blood, the presents this kids are giving you is their guts, take them and squeeze.
Because you kept us spinning and revelling with precise hits of a drumstick and a heartbeat
You know how 20JFG have always been adherentes of the eternal truth of surf new wave viz. ‘Dance this Mess Away’, and of the eternal truth of pumping off-kilter acid house viz. ‘Mess this Dance away’, not so much of the reality of eternal cookie-cutter techno raves, ‘Mess away at this Dance’, which is what we witnessed in the early hours of Sonar, in a spectacle worthy of Hyeronimus Bosch / George A. Romero in a bad way which sent us reeling away from the dancefloor and into a catatonic spiral of which we about recovered by the hand of Fuck Hugo at the frankly fantastic Aftermath Disco party in Berlin this December, of which we were proud participants.
However, we shall be zeroing on the disco in the third part of this Best of 2007 string of posts, let us focus for now on the harder drum sounds, first made with machines and exemplified by the Heavyweight champions of heaviness Trouble and Bass Massive, Drop the Lime representing in multiple occasions, particularly the murderous skrunking chugging of ‘Come 2 Life’, also the Tigerbass power moves of Luke’s Anger and, coming up next year, geekbeat wiz & 20JFg dearest associate G₤nuin₤ Guy.
It seems that the digital French House revolution has run out of steam, and distorted basslines are on the way out (for a long time in 20JFG’s hall as you know), I guess everyone needed Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 to show the kids how to get down, chrome robots are still the daddies and the Ed Banger lot should work harder if they want to avoid becoming the new filtered disco- Not much to say about Justice’s + album save that it contained the most annoying song of the year, and the most cringe-inducing rap. Phantom was great, but then we like Goblin a lot… This year we partied harder, better, faster, stronger to Benga and Coki’s Night, dupstep tune of the year, M.I.A.’s astounding Kala and a handful of killers, particularly Pussyhole, from Dizzee Rascal’s occasionally brilliant Maths and English.
On a darker, pulsating note/tone/hum the best mix of the year (disclaimer: we haven’t listened to that many), was Optimo’s (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) Walkabout, another demonstration of what dance music and mixing should be about, or a trip into the Night Lands in the shape of minimal dubbed out techno mechanic/sensual carousel climbing up and down a range of obsydian crags ending propelled into outer space with Black Dice’s Manoman, if only all parties ended up like this.
Dan Nixon tells us there are lots of hot minimal stark german funk tings flying around, we should have asked him to write something for us…but we haven’t, so the only thing we can say is, go to Allez Allez’s Kompakt’s parties and dance hard to Supermayer’s ‘Two of Us’.
Then onto drums that people bash, there have been a few gems of percussive mayhem shaking our 2007 away, particularly HEALTH’s absolutely awesome s/t album, also a witchtastic pagan bash performance at that Do when we gave up because no-one seemed to care (big up it’s reincarnation, 13 Monsters, though), feral party antics with Racoo-oo-oon’s most excellent Not Not Fun releases (cool gig too), Aa, These Are Powers, Pre’s primeval griend shriek and shake your head in totemic circles thanks to Soft Circle and Telepathe’s ghostly transmissions in one of the best 12” of the year, Sinister Militia. A mention apart to Silver Daggers, whose New High & Ord rattles, shakes and spits in the contorted fashion first established by one Mr. James Chance who made Brighton sweat , regretfully not enough people were there to check it out.
Talking about bashing onto things, few outfits out there manage to reach the sheer heights of tribal percussive intensity of 20JFG faves Mahjongg, they were one of the first bands to talk to up at our beginnings and we love them for it, but then we would love them anyway, how could we not after being subject to such tasty slices of trascendence through stomping ‘Animal from the Muppets and his extended furry family bang on every drum tin and pot in the strobed-up cave while Doc fucks about with all sorts of weird equipment in the lab’ progressive exhilaration?
‘Tell the Police the Truth’ pushes Talking Heads on the way of OOIOO with fierce good natured energy, the rest of their forthcoming album KONTPAB is total party and will be making kids orphaned by !!! (who went on a silly funk rock trip) rocks theirs ball off in true Fela style. Following a similar vibe we expect to watch Ebony Bones get big as in Bootsy big in 2008.