Category Archives: Best of 2012

End of The World Roller Disco: Best of 2012 M-X

Featuring : Best of 2012

8211054745_82346391c9_o

(art is by akira otani)

Scraping our inconsolable selves together after the cataclysmic non-event that was the Mayan’s calendar running out and not obliterating the multiverse with… something… we present to you the final part of the 20JFG guide to 2012. These people died: Whitney Houston, Davy Jones, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Tony Scott, Neil Armstrong, Patrick Moore, Ravi Shankar. On the plus side: we discovered the God Particle! Yay humans.

Although this isn’t quite the almighty celestial xylophone disco raga jam that is no doubt unfurling in the heavens, 20jazzfunkdave has shunted together a party mix from some humans in 2012 who are not dead and who didn’t identify the Higgs-Boson but who are still quite good.

20jazzfunkgreats – End of The World Roller Disco

May it soundtrack breaking all of 2013’s resolutions in the space of one desperate, unholy hour.

Until then, here are some portals to new worlds we stumbled across this year. Enjoy rabbit-holing!

matthendon

Matt Hendon (Being friends w/ & receiving best of year summaries from/):

 2012… not the smoothest of years on a personal level at all but of course the shitty times are always greatly helped by the continuing healing power of sound… the pinnacle of 2012s cathartic darkness needs to be awarded to Raime who dropped the magnificent musical A-bomb ‘a quarter turns over a living line’, throwing a cashmere blanket over our eyes to help us prepare for the end… This black strand of impeccable industrial electronic shuffle held hands with heavy hitters from Actress, Andy Stott, Ital, & Shed… PAN records shone a slight ray of light onto the slanted dancefloor with stunning works from Lee Gamble, Heatsick & more, excited to see where on/off earth the label takes that sound into 2013….Liars switched it up and went electronic drone punk with mesmerising effect… long running OG brighton crews Cold Pumas & Sauna Youth both dropped accomplished & glorious debut full lengths of blown out weird punk… sun araw, m. geddes gengras & the congos made me want to start smoking again… I subconsciously learnt every word on the frank ocean album…I wasted when I could in the sun to albums from Ty Segall, The Men, Thee Oh Sees & Dinosaur Jr… I bonded over the David Kilgour reissue… Solange made a perfect pop song in ‘losing you’ that actually spoke to me (holler at me Solange)… I learnt that no matter how good a release is people really just aren’t into cassettes after all – next Where To Now? release will be vinyl.

 2012. Another year of hard work, a year of unrest and loss, a year that has bought me closer to some people than ever before, and has pushed others far further away. Another year that we are thankful that the things our eyes & ears soak up in our casual time still have that fresh ability to make us smile inside & out. The following are streams that made that happen for me…

 LABELS… Italian Beach Babes, PAN, Blackest Ever Black, Faux discx, Modern Love, Honest Jons, RVNG, Spectrum Spools, Numero, Light in the Attic, Hippos in Tanks, Sacred Bones, Awesome Tapes from Africa, Kindred Spirits, Soundway, Analog Africa, Death Waltz, Ghost Box, Pressure Sounds.

 OTHER MUSIC…Julia Holter, Dean Blunt, Grimes, Goat, John Talabot, Daphni, Sun Kil Moon, Six Organs.., Quakers, Van Stonholdt, Mark Leckey, Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin, Sealings, Cut Hands, Silent Servant, Mirroring, Vision Fortune.

 COMPS / REISSUES…Country Funk, Josef K, Can, Southern psychadelic moment, Personal Space, Robert Turman, Suzanne Ciani, Shangaan shake, Peter Zummo, Ruff Sqwad, Donnie & Joe Emerson, Flaming Tunes

 2013… start looking forward to new full lengths from Haxan Cloak, Dam-funk, Grouper, Factory Floor, & Mazes to get the year rolling. Ye Ye Fever continues to shake dancefloors on a more regular basis. Where To Now? Grows. I take more holidays.

Dress as you feel, feel good.

Matt Hendon. (Resident Music (www.resident-music.com) / Where To Now? / Ye Ye Fever.)

blackest010-packshotdraft

We have chosen one slab from the excelsior list which Matt produced above. It is the Kingston Black Metal Fanfare of:

Cut Hands – Black Mamba

Buy Black Mamba form: Blackest Ever Black.

max-payne-3-soundtrack

Max Payne 3: Max Payne 3 represents the moment when we started to get tired of the bleak & nasty narrative trajectory of mainstream games, whose culmination was the ghastly Hitman: Absolution. Nevertheless, Max Payne’s 3 shooting was top notch, the Sao Paulo Penthouse discotheque level was stroboscopically ace, and the soundtrack by long-time 20JFG faves HEALTH a brutal delight.

HEALTH – COMBAT DRUGS

Buy the Max Payne 3 Soundtrack: From iTunes.

mazes_bodies

Mazes: “Mazes‘ Bodies is the will to transcend, and the power to do so over a fierce vector of motorik repetition, and through a shimmering vortex of guitar melody. There are important echoes here – episodes of levitation in the Feelies’ Crazy Rhythms, flashbacks of Television’s graffiti of NYCs celestial map, at least two W-bands’ summoning Rother & Dinger into an unholy bad-land/spider-land, and Sonic Youth, always. 

This is our kind of humanity, and Mazes are its champions.”

Mazes – Bodies

Also listen to the excellent Hookworms remix. Here.

Mi Ami: In Decade, Mi Ami render unnecessary that pilgrimage to Ibiza you feel you should have made in your youth. They act like tectonic shift masters / codeine disco incantators to bring you the best imagined versions of that island and more places – the Warehouse, an imaginary Roulé club space, and the Loft, all of them void of all toilet hassles, never-ending queues and dodgy drug shenanigans. Quite simply, an important edit of heaven.

Mi Ami – Time of Love

Buy: From 100% Silk.

damon

Bonus & post-script to our “dance item” yesterday. This is what Mi Ami’s (& Magic Touch’s) Damon Palermo rocked to during 2012.

You Should Be Dancing, Roland Dance Module, Gino Soccio Dance to Dance, Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit, Voyage I Love You Dancer, Dance Hall Dave Manchester, The Taxi-Dance Hall, Beth Lesser’s The Rise Of Jamaican Dancehall Culture, Disco Dancer I Am A Disco Dancer, The New Dance Show, PPU Video Party, Fiorucci made me Hardcore, Dance Mania, Dance Energy BBC2.

It looks very good to us:

Mind Over Mirrors:  We like Mind Over Mirrors rather a lot. The heavily treated harmonium at the heart of everything, somehow managing to bridge the gap between the strange sounds of our 8-bit youth and the strange sounds from the analogue synthesisers that were being ritually abused a few years before. All while being produced by an instrument far, far older than that.

Mind Over Mirrors – Second Nature 

Buy Check your Swing: From Hands in the Dark Records

moebius

Moebius (Heroes): This year, the range of possible vistas into which mankind can gaze was narrowed by the Quiet Bouncer. Or maybe not, as the doors that open once can be crossed many more times, infinite like the Möbius strip symbolises,  and the wonders of Information Economics & Boundless imagination allow. This is how new branches in the Tree of Wisdom are spawned.

Paraphrasing John Maynard Keynes, Dreamers who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct seer. Madmen who peek into the future, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some Engineer of New Worlds of a few years back.

Of these engineers, Moebius is one of the greatest. We acknowledge our debt to him, and Ray Bradbury too, he also passed away this year.

MSOTT

Motion Sickness of Time Travel: Much like Bersarin Quartett, the success of the Motion Sickness of Time Travel album outside of the blogosphere and DIY scene was hugely encouraging. One half of the brains behind yet another brilliant tape label, Hooker Vision, Rachel Evans made a beautiful piece of sound-sculpture with her the eponymous MSoTT album – at times resembling digital shoegaze.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp6x_Lbinsw

Buy Motion Sickness of Time Travel stuff: at Bandcamp

Single insert Artwork - by Carmen Burguess

Mueran Humanos: Culpable — a song so good it was given as a Christmas present between two of the 20JFG heads.  A song so strangely euphoric we played it at the end of a rare DJ set this year and everyone danced.  A song so disconnected from the beautiful horror of the rest of Mueran Humanos’s discography that we’d point to some violent unexplained event having driven them over the edge (if the B-side hadn’t brought us back to Ballard-ian apocalypse territory – phew).  If Solange hadn’t turned up with Losing You this’d be a lock for single of the year.  As it is, I’m torn.

musicforprogramming

Music for Programming: Every morning we flip a coin – if it’s heads, we go around our day with a Music for Programming mix in our personal stereo. If it’s tails, then we listen to some other music (randomly selected itself, from our music library).

We can now confirm that our productivity during the Music for Programming treatment days displays a statistically significant increase compared to the control – and this is only  what is measurable. If our intangible benefits were realised, we estimate we would already rival the Internet Behemoths of the Valley for profitability & market cap. You should be thankful these benefits remain unrealised, least we pull a Hank Scorpio on your material infrastructure.

The Music for Programming mixes contain items like these, stitched in phantasmagorical sequence:

Go to  Music for Programming to listen to the mixes.

neneh

Neneh Cherry & The Thing: This was an odd one, because it seemed to simultaneously excite and disappoint everyone. Fans of The Thing’s Nordic death jazz were let down by how reigned in they were on the tastefully-delivered, surprisingly ‘smooth’ renditions of Suicide and other hipster standards, while when we saw the collaborative troupe perform in Shoreditch, Neneh fans seemed confused by the droning improvisations that alternated with the more uptempo party tracks. But taken on its own terms, the resulting album, The Cherry Thing, was pretty damn cool. Neneh hasn’t lost an ounce of star quality, and her voice slides so beautifully around The Thing’s slippery bass, drums, and sax.

Neneh Cherry & The Thing – Accordion

Buy The Cherry Thing: from Boomkat

thisismyjam

This Is My Jam: A lot of people quibbled over the name. Well, not so much ‘quibbled’ as ‘pathologically hated’. But TIMJ was manna for music geeks. Basically a Twitter of music – with pop videos and soundcloud clips instead of flaming and narcissistic trivia – at least 70% of all the really cool stuff we found this year was floating around our networks on This Is My Jam first. Our ally kicking_k rightly described it as “a radio station programmed by your friends” or “playing a DJ set at the speed of plant life”. You can (and should!) follow dave and juan by clicking the links.

theBusyTrap

image by Brecht Vandenbroucke

The Busy Trap: Every once in a while the stars align so that our lives cross some sort of zeitgeist motorway and for a brief moment share kinship with some hitherto invisible hive mind.  Earlier this year an article went up on the NYT beautifully describing the self defeating busy trap we’d fallen into.  Many plans were made to escape.  But how could they succeed when we’re all so frightfully busy.

You can read it here

oc_cat

Outer Church: Another 2013  resolution at 20jazzfunkgreats is to attend the Outer Church more regularly. This Strange Attractor is a sorcerous flash in the lurid pan of Brighton’s Night, a lightning bolt from the dome above entangled with mineral muscle from the pit below. Find out about their forthcoming shenanigans here, and check out their swell site too.

Yves Malone hasn’t yet played at the Outer Church, but he could well have.

Yves Malone – Standing On The Ruins

Find out more about him: in Bandcamp.

pst

Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art 1945-1980A coffee table book is a gatefold double LP for art dilettantes. This has everything from Rodia’s Watts Towers to the poster for Herman Nitsch’s 1978 “Orgies Mysteries Theatre” (an event attended by members of the GERMS)…a wealth of inspiration.” (Edmund Xavier)

Buy: from Amazon.

Edmund Xavier has himself given us several moments this year through the projects he is involved with, that is:

  • FWY, who with San Clemente has done for the high-tech North Californian sprawl what Basil Kirchin once did for the abstracted industrial North, voiding it of all life and movement (except his own), & revelling in its disturbingly reticulated, digital-dream haunted psycho-geography to transfix our senses with a gentle, sad warmth.

FWY – Subdivision

  • Horrid Red‘s Nightly Wreaths, another slice of a Valhalla that heat-glimmers like Mojave. Or an iteration of Fallout designed by a romantic genius. Or a Borderlands where our existential heroes rummage for counter-cultural artefacts at the bottom of craggy mausoleums for Can, Neubauten, The Fall and the 4AD records staple.

Horrid Red – Heavy Night of Eyes

Paco Sala: Paco Sala’s ‘Ro-me-ro’ deduces abstract truths from the personal epic of the people of the city, and re-codes them into bass, pitch, riddim and ululation, like Balinese shadows projected at the back of the discotheque by a light that cannot be found.

Paco Sala – Legacy Edition

Buy: from Boomkat.

Peepholes: Imagine us playing a sandpit first person shooter in a level concepted by Andrei Tarkovski, implemented by James Cameron and fucked up by China Mieville. Playing it on legendary, rocking those checkpoints.

First a culturally complex discotheque whose air renders the trajectory of drum-beats visible, and their sound distorted in a way that optimises their feverish dance allure. Then, into the bottom of a cliff  where the pop tribes hurl their misfit spawn, mutant wolf children who whistle the sweet melodies of utopia while surviving a constant night which is red in tooth and claw. We end at a clearing illuminated by the last embers of a dying bonfire, stalked by presences big and lumbering like spillage from a Maurice Sendak nightmare. 

Are these leviathans on the prowl, imperial dreadnoughts, godly ectoplasms or riotous inmates at the EBM asylum?

We cannot see, but we can hear. Their bellowing and sirens, oscillations and chanting mark the steps of Peepholes’ geometric progression. A curve which bounds this weird region where we are now trapped, its psycho-geography an embodiment of all we look for in music = Myth & Trance; Home.

Peephpoles – Marimba

Buy The Overspill! From Upset The Rhythm.

Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984: Chocolate Industries excellent ‘Personal Space’ compilation contains many magically topical ephemera from Jeff Phelps and Spontaneous Overthrow, or The New Year’s My Bleeding Wound below. Like Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland after them – these guys brought much needed love and soul to a contemporary trope that’s almost as worn out as the tapes this compilation was recorded on.

The New Year – My Bleeding Wound

Buy Personal Space: From Chocolate Industries.

RxGibbs: RxGibbs‘ Proxy falls through the hazy memories of a Kompakt future: a land of brushed metal and milk.  Where reclaimed architectural units of the past; are put into service as the unblinking backdrop; to the entropy of elegance into decadence.  The crisp frame to the final moments of a 48 hour binge. Straight through the part 4AD , part Gainsbourg ecstatic/mournful signing of a female voice.  Falling back to the ghostly wireframes of piano house — a dubby place now populated by breeding pairs of Minimal House-oids (a northern European species). Falling through the synth strains that sound rather like a choral rendition of the metal on metal of banking trains.  Falling through the glorious repetition.  Falling eventually to a pillow soft stop that belies its mechanical reproduction.  

Blissful.

RxGibbs – Proxy

Buy Futures EP: From Cascine.

royalLimp

Royal Limp: the musical form of the incomparable Andy Auld, popped up on these pages in 2012.  Both writing a post for us and in demo form.  None of that quite prepared 20JFG for the hook drenched Velvet Underground baiting Garage Rock that rolled forth from the Royal Limp — now a full band — that played first at Fitzherbert’s and then the Green Door Store in a cold damp Brighton winter.  Joyous surprise of the year.

Royal Limp – New Ennui

Sam Rosenthal:  Sam Rosenthal’s 1980s homemade ‘electronic mood compositions’ rise like Sim City quarters from a polygon plot whose apices are Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Wendy Carlos and others. Up they go in their architectural race, describing with geometry the emotions of their residents –  an inescapable nostalgia and an unquenchable curiosity, always hope, and loneliness at the end, perhaps reduced by the sentient machines who keep them company in this no-place/post-place which Sam Rosenthal imagined.

They are his agents, and they sing this song.

Sam Rosenthal – Year 90 10

Buy Tanzmusik: From Mannequin Label.

scott-walker-bish-bosch

Scott Walker: Something Wicked That Way Lies. Look at our Scott walk there to look it in the eye most defiant, learn its song & sing it into oblivion, weave himself an Arab carpet of its gut & offal, & fly back, like a Satanic Silver Surfer from the most abyssal depths.

Watch & listen & be thankful, he’s done it so you don’t have to.

Buy Bish Bosh: From 4AD.

130_rervng02_cover_digital_500x500

Sensations’ Fix:  RVNG continue dredging the depths of the Sea of History, and deploying the treasures thus amassed as blueprints for the constituent countries of a utopia inoculated against invasion and decadence through a division of labour between knights and bravos and prophets of a cosmic gospel that blooms within everyone who listens. Italian progressive avatars Sensations’ Fix are clearly part of the last tribe, in communion with other masterminds of the transalpine Head (or Brain, rather) movement, Ash Ra most particularly. They produce infomercials for this utopia. Imagine the promo videos for Rekall Incorporated but directed by Terrence Malick – exploding with vistas to lure pilgrims from the overworld, & keep the locals enthused by the sustained prospect of adventure and discovery.

As the late Ray Bradbury stated in his introduction to the Martian Chronicles, ‘It is good to renew one’s wonder. Space travel has again made children of us all’. Hear hear, we have our rockets.

Sensations Fix – Dark Side of Religion

Buy Music is Painting in Thin Air: From RVNG International.

Suzanne Ciani: Suzanne Ciani, legendary composer, new age diva, artificial intelligence translator. She also made music for commercials, perhaps most famously (in 20jazzfunkgreats’ pantheon) for Atari. Eight Wave is not billed as such in the track list for ‘Lixiviation’, the first output in her collaboration with Finders Keepers, but it actually is – an advert for Mentat School. Tune into the right reality, and you will see.

Suzanne Ciani – Eighth Wave

terragen above clouds

Terragen 2.4: A piece of software as arcane ritual.  Fiendishly complicated, sparsely documented.  An incredibly powerful and beautiful world builder.  So computationally intensive that it forces you to wait as it painstakingly builds up each image, first as a pointillist GI pass then shards of the final image brutally blink into view, first in low-res then high until the many fragments of your image make the whole.  So you sit and wait and watch and pray it doesn’t hang on an obscure bit of maths, nestled within a node you barely comprehend.  As near to magic as a point release of software got this year.  [2.4 streamlined the use of render farms and thus placed animation within reach]. Planetside Software

 

The Slaves – Spirits of the Sun: Four tracks of the sublime, unnerving and apocalyptic.  As if Herzog was knocked out of phase and Popul Vuh had to soundtrack it.  Instead of allowing the physical world to reflect the inner chaos and madness of his anti-heroes, he instead partly submerges in the abstract terror at their heart; half burning reels of film and generally losing his mind instead of constructing epic vistas of pathetic fallacy.

The Slaves – 111

seekers-international

The Transmolecular Compendium & Outerbound Sound (via Brad Rose from Digitalis): 

“My discovery and involvement in the above-mentioned grops was spawned from a random, almost throw-away tweet last year by the inimitable (and incredible) Suzi Analogue.  She mentioned something about Betawave X and it sent me searching for information on this project, curious to hear some sounds.  A few bits of email correspondence, a gap in time, and an eventual reconnection and the rest is history.  As conversations progressed, more bits of information came out.  After that initial blast of Betawave X (in the form of Ghetto Hymns of the Earth Bound & Weary), I was down the rabbit hole and wouldn’t be the same. 

Next came the introduction to SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL (easily my favorite artist of 2012 and one that influenced me in so many ways, not just musically) and from there the entire Compendium blossomed forth.  I still can’t quite get my head around how much great stuff this one group of artists in Vancouver has their collective hands in, but it is immense and beautiful.  There’s the instrumental hip-hop stylings of Jolin Ras; the beat tapes from Hashbrown; smooth electronic ambience from wzrdryAV; the heft of Galaxaburn; and there’s Astrx and MX7 and Mysterforms and more and more.  Each has a singular vision that adds a different branch to the collective whole and Transmolecular is certainly a case where the sum is greater than the individual parts. 

Take a ride and get lost because this is only beginning.  The sun has just barely begun to shine.” (Brad Rose, Digitalis).

SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL – HumbleWe

Buy The Call from Below: From Digitalis.

sun-araw-m-geddes-gengras-meet-the-congos

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, the Congos and Raw Power Band at London (as witnessed by Matt RVNG):A moment that left an ecstatic stamp on my soul was between the sun araw, m. geddes gengras, the congos and raw power band set and encore at the village underground in london – the four kings / congos were bouncing off the wall like youth, riveted by the reception – blanketed under my own swathe of euphoria having just left the stage, i couldn’t imagine my heart swelling any more, but this did it.” (Matt IGETRVNG)

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras and the Congos – Happy Song

Buy FRKWYS Vol. 9: Icon Give Thank & Icon Give Eye: From RVNG International.

TheFurryTrapCover

The Furry Trap & Jonny Negron (and that Howl in the Head): “What made my 2012? That’s tough. It was all palm trees and scouring winds and clocks that don’t work properly, wasn’t it? I’d say that Josh Simmons’ The Furry Trap and Jonny Negron’s self titled book harmonized best with the howl in my head this year.” (Matt Colegate from Teeth of the Sea, L’Incal C lub & many other great things).

Buy The Furry Trap.

Buy Jonny Negron.

TurinHorse

The Turin Horse: Bela Tarr’s ‘final’ film painstakingly stages the end of the world, pivoting it around a apocryphal passage of Nietzsche’s later life where a beaten horse stands in for hope in humanity.  Which seems awfully glib in the face of the primal fury behind every elongated silence and blistering apocalyptic gale.  Making a choice between hope or despair seems pointless in the face of the cleansing natural cataclysm that eventually blocks out the light.  Which I guess is its own form of nihilism.

toddterje-main1

Todd Terje (at Sonar, as reported by Sam Wander): I have 8,174,099 neighbours. We fight our best fight: against bleak fog, acute disinterest, heedless eye-contact. That kind of thing. London sprawls, we swarm around. Sometimes forgetting anywhere you might drop a geo pin holds the most splendid secrets. Sometimes forgetting every inch is, y’know, a bit remarkable. We know it contends with all the greats but we still chase ourselves into listlessness. And then we need to escape.

I escaped mid-year to Sonar, and escaped once more to ‘off-Sonar‘. Walking miles to a village on the outskirts of Barcelona, seeking some form of Inner Visions. Amongst all the deadpan house, Todd Terje stepped up and went a little off-piste. John-Paul-Young-off-piste. Here is 1:50 minutes of shaky footage (not mine). I felt I should file it, a citizen journalism report: ‘Six young Londoners found at Poble Espanyol experiencing suspiciously human connection to nearby strangers via 1977 disco song’.

One of those other humans then gave me labyrinthitis. Back to keeping as far away from strangers as physics allows.” (Sam Wander)

And of course, there was this:

Buy It’s the Arps: From Boomkat.

vf_promo_1_rs

Vision Fortune (having your retina semi-detached by, as described by James Hines): ‘2012, for me, has been a bit of a lost year when it comes to music. I didn’t keep up to speed with things online/in print and in concert, and I certainly didn’t have the money to buy records.

So when I was asked to contribute to this list I wasn’t going to talk about a band or a record, I was going to talk about the artist Jeremy Deller.

But he will just have to be happy with the mention, because last night I saw Vision Fortune again, for maybe the sixth or seventh time this year. My right eyeball still hurts a bit. The assault on my Retina, and the subsequent rally on my Occipital Lobe, I fear, has left me with permanent damage; all thanks to the industrial strength strobe light, that V.F insist on playing with throughout their set. This is the sort of professional bit of kit that they use in movies to replicate lightning. It is relentless and brutal and beautiful.

The V.F sound is just that….a brutal, beautiful, merciless assault; its the sound of light and cells going to war. The allied forces of light and sound attacking, in wave after wave, throbbing and piercing through lens and drum until you can swear you felt your brain recoil and retreat to some safer recess if you skull. Apparently last night’s show will be their last with a full line-up for some time, but I’m pretty sure they will still be just as vicious live, perhaps even more so, like a wounded animal. That is a frightening proposition’ (James Hines)

Buy Vision Fortune: From Italian Beach Babes. 

xanderHarris

Xander Harris – New Dark Age of Love & The Driver: Xander Harris brings us the banging spectral harmonies and Night Drive wet dreams.  An over-saturated and over-stimulated Theme from Blade Runner.  Plunging through a Los Angles of 2019 raised not on the ashes of Noir but the the amphetamine death of Akira.  Drums that only form a guide for the synths; a silk lattice for the superhighway of light that surges up and around and all over this track.

Xander Harris – The Driver

The album New Dark Age of Love is also included here because we’ve listened to it an inordinate amount of times this year but it’s not out until next.  Something to look forward to.

walpurgis_night

XXJFG Nameless Mixes: Let us finish our celebration of the 2012 that was with some self-indulgence, and therefore true to the reasons why we started this page in the first place – to share songs and the landscapes that they inspire with each other first, and with everyone else second.

The Nameless mixes that Stuart 20JFG has produced have greatly animated the year elsewhere in the Hive Mind, which looks forward to many more  in 2013.

But hold on, there are still many unexplored areas of this mix which kicked off the series in June 2012.

Stop being silent cartographers & share your information on the wall to the side.

20jazzfunkgreats mixtape – Walpurgis witch

The Playlist of Babel: Best of 2012 D-L

Featuring : Best of 2012

LibraryofBabel

We continue our hunt among the cultural pillars of 2012.  Today we find, standing proud like the Brontosaurus from Jurassic Park, letters D-L.  There, munching happily on some leaves while 20JFG gawp at them from a Jeep.

As with A-C this is a loose collection of bands, records, games and films and anything else that has demanded its share of our time in 2012.

Enjoy and muse deeply on why we seem biased towards culture from the start of the alphabet — when sorting is digital and instant, is there an evolutionary drive to appear at the top of lists when choosing a name?  All these musings and more in 2013…

…but not before M-Z.

SILK038

Dance

Dancing: One thing we sadly didn’t do enough of this year is dancing. Yet dancing is one of the cornerstones of this blog, and a re-vitalising force that brings us all together, as this video by Adam Curtis which also made our 2012 shows. Let us make another resolution for 2012, to dance more.

It won’t be for lack of sweet ordnance such as this provided by Magic Touch in their bonus instrumental version of ‘Just Wanna Feel’, Chicago bounce cycles, Parisian filtered glitter and discombobulated synthetic strings evoking the manic body-strobe of a dancefloor approaching its perihelion.

Magic Touch – Just Wanna Feel (Bonus Instrumental)

Buy Just Wanna Feel: From 100% Silk.

Dean Blunt: Over 2012, we have continued spacing out over the sloppily beautiful jams of the new ectoplasmic soul quasi-movement, and their soundtrack for that Cyberpunk future where the machines leave us all physically stranded in a post-favela urban reticule, taking pot-shots at each other across the future-shell-shocked streets of the informal economy. A soundtrack which is – apologies – exotic, harkening to the East which overlays Bladerunner’s Angelino bustle, creole, rough like bootleg mixtapes hot off some fast-food joint backroom, delirious like uneasy nights stabbed by helicopter lights. Also, unfinished, done on the run, recreating the Darwinian hustle of that future underground.

Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland – 5

Buy Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland: From Hyperdub.

Demdike Stare: Demdike Stare’s Elemental is a probe exploring a planetary system once inhabited by a civilisation whose culture we cannot fathom, it pans past strange rama-like cylinders enveloping the crimson sun, it zooms into the surface of one of its deserted planets, and follows a circuit of cyclopean autobahns across which advance brutal crab-looking trucks in mysterious autopilot. All is quiet, save for a furious wind, and their dubby rumble.

Demdike Stare – Ishmael’s Intent

Buy Elemental: From Boomkat.

Diamanda Galas performs on the opening night of Antony's Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall

Diamanda Galas at Meltdown: Hard to describe why this was so good, really. Though even though we were at the back of Royal Festival Hall, Diamanda’s voice seemed to be reaching everywhere, curling around us, splitting in two, a big double-helix of sound. Although the programmes provided gave biographical and lyrical details of the funeral poetry she was setting to sound, really, we were switching off and just listening to the sine waves of improbability that is Diamanda’s voice. Sometimes it burst into a flock of metal birds, sometimes it was knives. The best vocal performance we heard in 2012 this side of Attila Csihar’s weird oscilloscope of a voice opening up a wormhole in Mayhem’s black metal at Primavera Sound.

Dinosaur on Fire: We listen to Dinosaur on Fire and glide over the library of sci-fi which we believe it was inspired by, or otherwise it unwittingly cites with Mentat intuition – viz. our approach to the Orbital, shining like one of God’s many misplaced bracelets over the deep matte of Space, our bloodstream tour of sub-atomic cathedrals erected by a nanite proletariat, our jacking into the consensual hallucination through which information becomes mass (and Mass), and of course, the spectacle of C-Beams glittering in the dark, near Tanhäuser Gate. 

All these things and more we think of, parallel events in a multiverse criss-crossed by an army of heroes in their abstract journey, cosmic roadtrips for which Dinosaur on Fire has to be the soundtrack – Tangerine Dream, Harold Grosskopf, Laurie Spiegel and Vangelis could do it, but tonight, it’s gotta be Dinosaur on Fire.

Dinosaur on Fire – Out of Orbit

Buy Sleep Moon Voyage: From Bandcamp.

Dishonored

Dishonored: One of the highlights of this year was the day after Dishonored was released, which we spent tremendously hangover, trapped indoors while the clouds battled mankind outside.

But we were outdoors too, blinking across the roofs of sinful Dunwall, hunting for mementos whose story was their own reward in plague-massacred alcoves, staring mesmerised at the manoeuvring of the armies of rats in the streets below, and their interactions with the rest of the system whose resilience we were testing, with silence & blade. Totally awesome stuff, we will be replaying it in the New Year, the pacifist way this time.

The feeling of sad purpose & eventual oblivion in the blur of the moment could have been accompanied by The Slaves’ choral harmonies, ranging over a submerged city hammered by the static rain of feedback, corrosion and sickness.

The Slaves – 111

Buy Spirits of the Sun: From Digitalis.

william-basinski

Disintegration Loops live at Meltdown: The other show we HAD to see from Antony’s excellent Meltdown programme. William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops is rightly recognised as a landmark of sound art. The idea that it could be bettered in any way seemed unlikely, the notion that it could be performed live, frankly, absurd. But it honestly was fantastic. Performed live by a small orchestra, Disintegration Loops live genuinely felt like fragments of the greatest cadence in music ever, played over and over in a loop, endlessly turned over and marvelled, like the players themselves couldn’t quite believe how great the tones were they had stumbled upon. We almost couldn’t bear it to stop.

Buy the Disintegration Loops box set: from Boomkat

dustin wong

Dustin Wong: This had to be the real surprise gem of the year, from Ponitail guitarist Dustin Wong. Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads is sort of a mix of African hi-life, E2-E4-grade krautrock, Durruti Column and assorted minimalism, but even that seems to be reducing it somehow. It just sounds like magic to our ears! Listen to it once, and it will loop forever in your head. (This is a good thing.)

Buy Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads: from Thrill Jockey

echo-lake-wild-peace-cover_1000

Echo Lake: Echo Lake‘s debut album Wild Peace came out earlier this year.  One of 20JFG was honoured to be asked again to make a video for it…which quickly turned into the Hearts of Darkness of music videos (minus the money).  The results of which can be seen below.

All of this was tragically cast into relief by the sad death of Pete Hayes, Echo Lake’s endlessly affable drummer. That he’d contributed to such a great record can be but a small piece of solace for those that knew and loved him.  Revelling in the beauty that encompasses his metronomic beats seems a scant but fitting tribute.

Buy Echo Lake’s album: from No Pain in Pop

Ex Vivian: Ex Vivian’s ‘Big Planes and Sharks’ slips into the turntable of that anonymous selector who soundtracks the travails of long-haul freighters, runaways and bank-robbers. She soars above the broken syllables of an Ash Ra Tempel haiku, motherly like Stevie Nicks, in her understanding of our failure and our fall, wicked like some recidivist Coyote Goddess, in her conviction to keep it up until she runs out of luck.

Ex vivian – Big planes and sharks

Buy Ex Vivian’s debut: from WT Records’

img-fati1_160021604589

Fatima Al Qadiri: Throughout all of the relentless exhumation of pop cultural ephemera from our pre-internet youth that coloured in movements like chillwave/vaporwave/etceterawave or the Wire’s nebulous hypnagogic pop/hauntology equivalent, there was a frustrating lack of any kind of artful playing with context – most artists content to just fall back on exaggerating a perceived unintentional psychedelicism in the source material (cartoons, adverts, exercise videos from the 80s and the like). One notable exception to this was the multi-disciplinary artist Fatima Al Qadiri. If we’re honest, the first thing that piqued our interest was the title of her EP, Desert Strike, and vague memories of the Gulf War-themed Megadrive game.

Al Qadiri was 9 years old when Kuwait – where she is from – was invaded. As a Sega fan she owned the Desert Strike game and experienced intensely conflicting feelings while playing it. Fatima and her sister escaped into gaming, as their father was held as an Iraqi prisoner of war: “Children can block out disgusting adult realities and invent their own worlds; and that’s really what this record is about, it’s about mine and my sister’s reality that we created. We made war games against each other all the time, to try to somehow be included in the adult reality, or participate in the adult reality, because we weren’t part of it, we weren’t active participants.”

Creating an alternative soundtrack to the game more than 20 years later, Fatima tries to reclaim Desert Strike, making it somehow more innocent than the slightly sinister, commercialised repackaging of her real life experience of war that the game proffered.  

Buy Desert Strike: from Fade To Mind

fez

Fez: Never was loneliness cast in such primary colours. 

Disasterpeace – Fear

Buy Disasterpeace’s OST for FezFrom Bandcamp.

(Julien Pacaud illustration sourced from here.)

German Army: German Army are the proverbial roman slave walking behind us as we stroll down the beautiful malls of late-era cognitive/cultural capitalism, whispering in our ear, you will decay, you will decay, to the beat of a Crash Course in Science and Brian Eno bio-mechanical abortion. We have posted them thrice this year because they are one of our favourite bands in the world right now.

German Army – Wilson

Group Rhoda: At the Dark resembles Pop in as much as Polish Cinema posters resemble their source material.  The forms are there and vaguely recognisable but you’re constantly left with the feeling that you’d rather see the films theses posters presented than the often mundane inspirations.  Group Rhoda’s world of Pop winds a world around the voice.  A world of of bassy oscillations and conspiratorial melodies.  A private version of Pop that owes much to her Minimal Synth progenitors.

Group Rhoda – At the Dark

Buy Group Rhoda’s album, Out of Time: from Night School Records

dark-knight-rises-movie-image-tom-hardy-bane-hi-res-01

Hans Zimmer’s The Dark Knight Rises score: As fetishistic as we are about the obscure, the occult, the lo-fi… sometimes nothing pushes the right buttons like a blockbuster does. And that’s exactly what Zimmer’s awesome score for The Dark Knight Rises is. You can practically smell the money that went into crafting this future-noir epic. It is beautifully produced and arranged and meticulously mapped-out – the work of a master craftsman with Hollywood-grade resources. This is unique sound for a blockbuster too – massed chanting and the percussive slamming of metal-on-metal used to brain-beating repetitive effect, even better than Swan’s The Seer! When the head-crunching ebbs away there are the most minimal, dark, and delicious strings, and a throbbing undertow of Gothamian synth.  

It’s not that we wish more Hollywood soundtracks were like this. We wish more musicfullstop was like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QthReoB7YNo

Buy The Dark Knight Rises: from Amazon

Holly Herndon: Herndon’s album is brilliant.  You should get it.  It’s bold experimental music that doesn’t offset its difficulty with layers of analogue nostalgia or a monolithic unification of tone.  It’s often banging, basically.  Especially when it shatters the world and leaves only processed voices and voids.

Fade is techno like Gavin Russom’s music is techno.  The first hand experiences of German clubs having perforated the American skin and entered the blood — the concerns of home, fascinatingly filtered through this.  Fade contains Herndon’s processed voice; more concerned with abstraction than Karen Andersson‘s similarly techno-backed modulations.  Fade manages to weave Acid into its very fabric while still bending all its allusions to its will.  It’s torch song techno: the confessional and technology colliding through the unification of the instrument.

Holly Herndon – Fade

Buy Holly Herndon’s album Movement: from RVNG

 

Hotline-Miami-Vita

Hotline Miami: We must admit we haven’t yet played the apparently sensational Hotline Miami due to system incompatibilities and/or lack of time. We are however convinced – in fact kn0w – we’d utterly love it. Ultraviolence perpetrated by dudes wearing animal masks in lurid 1980s apartments while listening to banging italo body music?

Gimme. 

Jasper Byrne – Hotline (Analogue Mix)

Buy Jasper Byrne’s Hotline Miami EP: From Bandcamp

a-horrible-way-to-die

Horror that isn’t Horror: “A Horrible Way to Die (written by Simon Barrett, directed by Adam Wingard) is my top film of the year.  It’s a couple years old now but it just showed up on Netflix recently.  What I love about this movie is that it feels like something new.  It’s like a horror movie, but I feel like it might be a little insulting to call it that.  It’s more like a drama or psychodrama with elements of horror – but those elements are so strong that it catches you off guard.  It isn’t as violent or gory as the standard horror movie (a good thing), but it’s unpredictable, and that makes it feel way more dangerous.  Great acting as well.” (Steve Moore)

We similarly loved the slow creep of Berberian Sound Studio, and were inspired by it to terrorise our significant others with impressions of a ‘dangerously aroused goblin’. We also wished the Equestrian Vortex had got made.

Innergaze: Innergaze levitate over the turgid sea of the modern dancefloor like an enigmatic Joan of Arc possessed by the same man machine dancing ghosts as Chris and Cosey and other chasers after the essence of the night and why it contains love, most pointedly operational in1970s New York and 1980s Chicago

But Nostalgia, no matter how exquisite, is not enough. Innergaze are their own men & women, uniquely motion-blurring, focusing & defocusing their songs into an etiolated space of no-lines, mesmerised swooning & liquid moves, a seance whose poltergeists and stigmata are distant & muffled echoes of a wondrous party happening elsewhere. We have no other option but to try to get there, through this mirror, darkly.

Innergaze – Autumn

Buy Mutual Dreaming: From Cititrax/Minimal Wave.

killer-mike-r.a.p.-music-cover-straightfromthea

Killer Mike: A few years ago Simon Reynolds was bemoaning its death as an artform, but 2012 proved a powerful year for hip-hop. New classics arrived from Kendrick Lamar, Aesop Rock, Death Grips, El-P, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Nas, and arguably best of all, the El-P-produced R.A.P. Music from Killer Mike. In a year in which progressive/post-rock was still pre-occupying guitar abusers (Anathema, Om, Godspeed, Deftones, Isis, Ne Obliviscaris, Rush, Devin Townsend, Astra, Ihsahn, Enslaved, Sigh, etc, etc) Mike’s album rocked harder than any rock music. Conscious, political, but still neck-snapping stuff.

Buy R.A.P. Music: from Amazon

Led_Er_Est

Led Er Est & Mushy show in Valencia, 2012: “I think im going to pick up the Led Er Est and Mushy show in Valencia…this was a blast.. 100 people all on MDMA ahahahhaahha” (Alessandro, Mannequin Label, Regarding the moment that made his 2012]).

We wish we had attended this show. As it is, we danced across collapsing halls, and past psychic abbatoirs, to the pre-holocaustic doom-boogie of the tremendous ‘Turriptosis Blues’, one of 20JFG’s jams of the year.

Led Er Est – Turritopsis Blues

Buy The Diver: From Sacred Bones.

Liars-WIXIW1

Liars: It’s easy to forget that Liars released their first album over a decade ago. Since then they have been the most consistent and nutritious (and good looking) three-headed avatar of those twin obsessions we mentioned in our Marlowe entry above, a.k.a. ‘Rhythm and Ritual’, or ‘Sweat and Sorcery’ if you prefer. We have grown up with Liars, and we owe them, but they don’t get in this list because of that (although it would be enough). No, they get in this list because WIXIW is fucking awesome.

Liars – The Exact Colour Of Doubt

Buy WIXIW: From Mute.

sixcupsof

Lindstrøm: It’s easy to forget that Lindstrøm released his first 12’’ almost a decade ago. Since then he has been the most consistent and nutritious (and good looking) avatar of those two twin obsessions we mentioned in our Marlowe & Liars entry above, a.k.a. ‘Rhythm and Ritual’, or ‘Sweat and Sorcery’ if you prefer. We have grown up with Lindstrøm, and we owe him, but he doesn’t get in this list because of that (although it would be enough). No, he gets in this list because Six Cups of Rebel is fucking awesome.

We don’t know how we would have got through the hard bits of 2012 without it. We thank Lindstrom and the psychedelic dance gods he channels, that we didn’t have to try.

Lindstrom – No Release (Owen Pallett Remix)

Buy Six Cups of Rebel: From Smalltown Supersound.

427167_10150546194911175_639556174_9063629_936165998_n3

Lone: Galaxy Garden was the best dance music had to offer this year outside of the formidable Actress LP. Matt Cutler first became fascinated with electronic music when he noticed parallels between the hardcore stuff his older sister was listening to and the soundtracks to the Megadrive games he was bashing away on his room, like Streets of Rage. Galaxy Garden is a time-distorted memory of rave, but made ultra-vivd, each sonic detail EXPLODING with colour. Synaesthesia is the best kind of psychedelia, and this is synaesthesia you can dance to.

Buy Galaxy Garden: from R&S

Lord Boyd – Shark Dad: What would have made for a very respectably brief running length for a 60s pop single here contains all your dance music food groups.  A beautiful intro a danceable series of peaks and troughs a breakdown and a triumphant return.  An impressive feat for a track barely out of 2 minutes.

In hindsight Shark Dad wrote cheques 2012 sadly couldn’t cash.  Hopefully the resurrection of the 20JFG mobile disco will provide the euphoria this music deserves.

Buy Lord Boyd’s Beyonce EP: from Bandcamp

lorenzo-senni

Lorenzo Senni: We got stupidly excited a few months ago about his EP as Stargate, but Lorenzo Senni’s Quantum Jelly LP was even better. This was deconstructed dance music – a beautifully-realised thought experiment examining the exposed architecture of nineties trance. No beats, everything recorded using one synth in real time with no overdubs. What a hero.

Buy Quantum Jelly: from Editions Mego

leviathan-mostre-chitauri-avengers

Lovecraft-type aliens in Avengers Assemble: Actually not so much the aliens themselves, as the amazing worm-spaceship things they descended upon the humans with, which moved almost aquatically and scanned like magnificent, cosmos-barnacled Old Ones swimming through space. The  name of the aliens is Chitauri, which is also the name of a race of ancient shapeshifting aliens described to David Icke by a Zulu shaman in his nine hour-long film The Reptilian Agenda.

CLICK HERE FOR BONUS AVENGERS-ILLUMINATI CONNECTION.

Reading the Runes of 2012: From the A to the C.

Featuring : Best of 2012

moebius-grand

 

As 2012 comes to an end, the 20JFG creatures gather the runes that animated the year, and scatter them grimly across the courtyard of their decrepit castle. They examine the shapes thus created, and attempt to read in them the meaning of the year that was, discern the silhouette and decrypt the wail of the mythical creature that is its logical conclusion, and the blueprint for the its future evolution.

Which is?

Hard to tell from the mists of history unfolding.

The sting of an scorpion with which hope is forlorn and we all drown, or a crack in the cocoon from where a beautiful butterfly surges boldly, leaving all Gramscian morbidities behind? We can only hope that the latter.

The creative energies flowing through our account of 2012 provide reasons to be optimistic, but also certainty that improvement won’t happen if we don’t pull our collective weight and replace cynicism with energy and bitching with doing, and support the things that deserve it in kind and  in cash.  Neutrality is practically indistinguishable from Nihilism. We can’t not get involved. That is our new year resolution, make it yours too.

This time, we have organised our list alphabetically in three posts, of which this is the first. Our list includes music, as well as other things, which reflects the convergence of culture where we sail. We proudly feature guest entries from a group of friends, family members, fellows and associates. Many of them are themselves items in our lists. You should interpret this as a sign of community, and luck.

And without further ado, let’s get on with it. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. Pow Pow.  

2 Ways 4 Speakers: 2 Ways 4 Speakers act like the black sheep of a German Engineering dynasty, designing, manufacturing and installing a stainless steel elevator that takes Neubauten’s modern classic from a dark and brooding basement into a skyline-branding penthouse of Michael Mann blue and Environ pink, in whose central swimming pool we watch a coterie of beauties swim, kiss, sink, drown.

2ways4speakers – Ume&meU

Buy: The release of ‘Honest & Liars has been delayed by the unfortunate collapse of Tsunami records.We’ll keep you posted.

IMG_6366aurora train

(Discovering) Actress: I had heard his music before but never spent time with it until taking a train ride this June through the French countryside on my way to Paris during the Innergaze tour. Hazyville was on my iPod & I listened as I dozed. the shifting textures & micromelodies took the shape of my half dreams, brought me into their world but also influenced mine. Since then I’ve gone deep w RIP and the rest of his catalogue, and put it on repeat whenever I want to spend a day in my head.” (Aurora Halal from Innergaze, portrayed above during the moment described by

the text) Actress – Serpent Buy R.I.P. from Honest Jon Records

. alanturing

Alan Turing: This year was of course the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, marshall of laborious algorithms who, with their processes, define our present, and inceptor of digital universes we have only started dipping our pinkies into. We visited his exhibition at the Science Museum, and read the account of the construction of his (and Von Neumman’s) cathedral from George Dyson

We also imagined what could have been if it hadn’t been for the intolerance of his times & cruel dumbness and opacity of his government – perhaps Silicon Valley would be in Yorkshire instead of the West coast?

We watched with amusement our spam filtering guardians foiled by droning bots who are clearly getting closer to passing the eponymous test, which was also a dance by Ed DMX in newcomer label Voltaire Records.

DMX Krew – Turing Test

And we were also made rather emotional by Hidrogenesse’s lovely recital for Alan (a song which is a kiss to awake him from his slumber)

Altar Eagle: New dawn fades in Altar Eagle’s Nightrunners, over blue concrete husks.  The sort of dawn that causes one of Ballard’s pulp Sci-Fi heroes to remark on the clockwork madness of their own universe — whilst barely concealing their sexual desire for whatever is left alive.

Altar Eagle – Digital Gold Futures

Buy Nightrunners: From Digitalis

ashleymarlowe

Ashley Marlowe:  Ashley Marlowe continued bridging feral fuzz and exuberant dance geometries which are 20jazzfunkgreats’ twin & complementary obsessions with a smile, and the opposite of pretention.

While his Well Rounded label and related imprints are being rightfully celebrated across the land, he’s similarly comfortable interfacing with the analogue sources of sound, say through Soul Punch, who have delivered the prettiest Kraftwerk cover version we can remember, and will be playing at the Green Door Store tomorrow (Tuesday the 19th).

His presence is one of those things keeps Brighton interesting.

Now, flip a coin: (Dance face)

Donga Very Friendly Mix

(Wood face)

Either way, you win

asylum of the daleks

Asylum of The Daleks: It’s become somewhat fashionable in the grumpy old universe of Doctor Who fandom to take pot shots at Steven Moffat wherever possible, but let’s face it, even bad Moffat-era nu-Who trumps the wacky campfest that was RTD-era nu-Who (with some exceptions – the RTD-written Midnight is a masterpiece). That said, the latest series has been a bit of a non-starter thus far, though this opening episode promised good things. 1) it got rid of Mark Gatiss’ dreadful Ikea Daleks, 2) it made Daleks SCARY again, this time by making them sick, unhinged, and unpredictable. 3) it snuck in a bizarre appearance from the new assistant months ahead of schedule, 4) wait THE NEW ASSISTANT IS ACTUALLY LIVING INSIDE THE MIND OF AN INSANE DALEK. It would have been so cool if the new assistant actually just was a confused Dalek trundling about after the Doctor but what thinks it is a sexy lady, but that probably won’t happen.

Also, Daleks listening to opera, and being scared by it.

George Bizet – L’amour est un Oiseau Rebelle

 

. balcombe

Balcombe (tripping past): “The Arcadian landscapes of Balcombe are the last true sight of green we enjoy before the embrace of the Big Smoke where we  commute at ungodly hours. The inebriating kinaesthesia of soft pagan dawns (downs) and hauntological or kosmischeikal vibes invigorates us for the face-off against the pale & flabby mobs of the megalopolitical underworld”.

Food Pyramid & Roy Orb D. MT. – Visualizer

Buy Arp Navigators: From Moon Glyph.

Bersarin-Quartett

Bersarin Quartet: Dark ambient is one of those genres that people tend to be quite sniffy about nowadays (although it’ll probably be the vanguard of a new Wire genre by 2013), and some of its proponents do tend to err on the douchey side (Boyd Rice). But what it lacks in humour and melody dark ambient more than makes up for in glacial, doomy atmospherics and slowly-revolving (grinding) soundworlds. Bersarin Quartett’s II got an awful lot of attention this year for a record that seemed so musically at odds with current trends. More than anything, it reads like a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. Yep, not the imaginary soundtrack to a John Carpenter or giallo film – an imaginary Hans Zimmer soundtrack. The guy who did the music for Days of Thunder, The Lion King, and The Da Vinci Code. This is no bad thing. II’s mix of dark ambient, cinematic theatrics, and modern composition sat beautifully alongside Zimmer’s The Dark Knight Rises in a moody black hole, frozen out of the vagaries of cool, and so timeless.

Buy II: from Denovali

Black Rain: Black Rain render William Gibson’s Night Town as an emergent colossus bootstrapped into escalating levels of complexity, its texture map of metal, plastic and gomi crawls with life visible at an infrared wavelength, connected by sodium vectors of information exchange that activate ramshackle muscles against the twin chains of entropy and scarcity. We watch it trash, grow, collapse upon itself, dumbly unhinged like Tetsuo in his final rapture.

Black Rain – Lo Tek Bridge

Buy Now I’m Just a Number: From Blackest Ever Black (or rather, wish you had, for its sold out now).

Blue Tapes: In 2012 dave xxjfg had his first taste of making records, recording three albums’ worth of improv rock with Medicine & Duty‘s Andy Pyne and releasing the results on the Foolproof Projects label. Making noise can be cool, but the bit dave liked the most was doing the artwork for the CDs. Still smarting from the sudden demise of the brilliant Stunned tape label, and brain fired by the aesthetic purity of The Tapeworm, dave founded his own tape label – Blue Tapes. All of the tapes are blue. It is nothing to do with porn.

Hammering out a coffee-fuelled mission statement, dave decided that all artwork would be generated using ancient pre-film photography techniques, that the packaging would reinvent itself totally with each release, the label would put out one release per month, and that none of the releases would contain ‘songs’ or work as albums, but instead be weird little bedroom-concocted mini-epics. In 2012 this meant gorgeousness from former-Ninja High School frontman Matt Collins, Japanese minimalists Leedian and Cherry, Laurent Chambert of The Other Colors, and the skill-named The Fractal Skulls.

Cherry – 1969

You can buy Aanother Fractal by Cherry: at Blue Tapes

DFW

Both Flesh and Not (David Foster Wallace): Our 2012 has been bookended by the meticulous unpicking of diverse phenomena by the ghost of an intellectual force that could have helped us make sense of the mediated & bewildering present, and compose a more robust moral attitude with which to face its challenges.

We began the year with The Pale King, and are ending it with his collection of essays, ‘Both Flesh and Not’, including the very excellent ‘The (as it were) seminal importance of Terminator 2′, a lament for James Cameron, creative Jesus nailed to the CGI cross of modern film economics. At least DFW didn’t have to visit Pandora.

We grieve for DFW with  Black Sky Chants’ beautiful Strobe Glide, which encodes a melancholy epic like the mysterious melody that lured Warlord Shingen to his death in Kagemusha, but playing across the colossal battlefields of a stellar siege, a melody knowingly converged upon by its victim, for, as we now realise, life isn’t all that rare in this vast universe of ours. Beauty, ah, beauty, that’s a different affair.

We miss you David Foster Wallace.

Black Sky Chants – Strobe Glide

Buy ‘I will Sleep Until I see the Moon': From Aguirre Record

. breakingbad

Breaking Bad: We have spent the last couple of years watching men turn into insects (imagine Gregor Samsa if he had been awake throughout that fateful night), and junkies turning into pros. It’s all going to end in tears because, throughout, it’s all been in tears. We know it’s awful, but we can’t stop looking.

buildingstories

Building Stories (Chris Ware):  One of the many great moments in Chris Ware’s ‘Building Stories’ is when he gives us a glimpse of the future where pre-post-humans in white wander the ruins of Chicago hunting for memory fragments, the sympathy shift experienced by the actual protagonists of the intimate present that is the subject matter for Building Stories. 

It doesn’t look pretty – pre-post humans in white jacked into an augmented reality where they spam each other with text-spelt offers and demands for sex, these add up into a heat-map of physical transactions above the ruins of Chicago.

Ominous references are made to the change in the pornography paradigm (‘here comes everybody?’) that finally led to the discovery of the Godwave. We can but hope that Ware will explore this verisimilar future in the future In the meanwhile, we will skirt the event horizon bounding that weird no-place where J.G. Ballard would have tried to make sense of Chatroulette (or whatever’s the equivalent nowadays), listening to James Ferraro‘s romantic assembly language.

James Ferraro – Baby Mitsubishi

Buy Sushi: From Hippos in Tanks

.

Cabaal – Emanations [album]: Maya arrives halfway through the album.  A chopped and screwed, Euro House casualty – 4am slow, dragging its melodic, synthetic self through the pre-dawn.  It manages to pull in Eno’s lunar ambience alongside the cloudy, pitch blended synths canonised by Board of Canada.  All introspection between the towering thud of hulking drums and reverberating bass.

Cabaal – Maya

Access Emanations: From Bandcamp.

CarterTuttiVoidAlbumFront5001

Carter Tutti Void: “The remorseless throb: endlessly sinister.  Like some totalitarian womb ready to birth primal horror upon the bobbing audience.  Triggered incantations from their Norfolk lair ring out over this ceremony.  An alter of MacBooks and patch cables between them, a suitable visual metaphor for the New Throb.”

Buy Transverse: From the Mute Bank

.

Claps – Glory, Glory [album]: A slow, burning beast.  A torch song at the end of the world (as most good torch songs are).  

Claps‘ Strain, rolls the credits on their Glory, Glory album.  This is the same genus that birthed Regan-era nuclear-fatalism-wave  – or whatever you’d like to call what minimal synth absorbed and mutated into as the resuscitated corpse of the Cold War shuffled along.  As deathly sad and beautifully constructed as Mushy’s energetic (but equally mournful) Child of Light Will Burn.  Its layers of synths and drum machines help us to sink into the helpless, impossible funk of East London capitalism.  

The wide boys have mugged the world and we simply want to sit at dawn and gaze at the Shard.

Claps – Strain

Buy Glory, Glory from Moon Glyph.

artworks-000030084878-nr4ank-crop

Cloudland Canyon: “The barbarians invaded the empire, and in doing so they destroyed the empire, but also were destroyed by it. Something else lived on, it splays in the shadows of ruined patios, stretching its limbs, ogling the rapidly healing scars where the graft was done, cooing. What was an angelic ambient harmony has become fierce praxis, like relativistic equations applied into nuclear fission. The cybernetic drone that used to announce massacre elevates into a chant of communion.

Cloudland Canyon – Born Blonde (edit)

Buy Born Blonde: From Trensmat Records.

cold-pumas-album

Cold Pumas: There is a cosmic radio station we unconsciously tune in during particular moments of beauty, awesomeness, wordless yet perfect communication, and so forth. They play Cold Pumas Trans-Pacific Express a lot in there.

Cold Pumas – Fog Cutter

Buy A Persistent Malaise: From Faux Discs.

Constellation Tatsu: Another tape label launched in 2012, Constellation Tatsu worked at quintuple the productivity rate of even Blue Tapes, putting out a bundle of four or five consistently excellent tapes each month. This included work from xxjfg favourites Food Pyramid, Samantha Glass, Pleq, and Prayer. Also like Blue Tapes, Constellation Tatsu arrived with a fully-formed aesthetic, in this case beautiful, beautiful collages!

Mitchell Turner – Cascade 1a

Buy Cascade by Mitchell Turner: from Constellation Tatsu

(TO BE CONTINUED…)