Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Halfway Review [Part 1/5]

I hear a lot of records these days. 2009 is a bit over half over (already? I know - time passes these days, doesn't it?), and I've heard nearly 100 albums; not all as deeply as I'd like to, but enough to have a rough idea of what's really sticking. So, I'll be posting a series of updates, five at a time, counting down what, at the moment, are my top records of 2009 so far. Starting now with 25-21:

25. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion (Paw Tracks)

This one has been a difficult grower on me. Upon first listen, it sounded like a meandering sprawl of beauty in need of some more structure to really gel. I’m still not as sold on it as I am other Animal Collective records, but moments like “Also Frightened” are some of the most beautiful twisted psych-pop this year.

24. Moderat - Moderat (BPitch Control)

The collaboration between Apparat and Modeselektor has fantastic potential, and almost always delivers greatly. It’s interesting to hear Sasha Ring’s glitchy ambience tempered with the fat basses of Modeselektor. “Beatswaysick,” featuring California MC Busdriver, is a clear highlight.

23. Tyondai Braxton - Central Market (Warp)

I’m still getting used to this one, and boy is it something different from Ty Braxton. While previous solo efforts have found Braxton in an insular mode, focusing on the layered structures of his vocals and guitar, the upcoming Central Market sounds like Stravinsky collaborating with Braxton’s post-rock group, Battles. A fully-orchestrated affair, Market still maintains Braxton’s quirks - notice the omnipresent kazoos and whistling.

22. Benjy Ferree - Come Back To The Five And Dime, Bobby Dee, Bobby Dee (Domino)

A concept album about child stardom - wait, did Cory Feldman actually get a record deal? Naw, this is just an intriguingly dramatic little tale of the life of Bobby Driscoll, one-time number-one Disney kid actor (he was the voice of Peter Pan in the animated classic), who ended up dead at 31 to an overdose, long forgotten by the shady cast of characters who had supported his pre-pubescent rise to the top. “Fear” and “Pisstopher Chrisstopher” excellently capture the mix of anger, sadness, and crippling paranoia at play.

21. Kyle Bobby Dunn - Fervency (Moodgadget)

It’s been a good year for ambient so far, to say the least. Still a young composer, Kyle Bobby Dunn’s rapid, genre-bending development pauses here to focus on lushly resonant drones. This is music for deep thought and indescribable emotion, icily shiny yet warmly embracing at the same time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WIR #7

Should I even bother calling these "week in review" posts anymore? I can't seem to get in the pattern of actually posting them weekly. Well, it's Monday, it's been a couple crazy weeks of turnover in my life, and here's some stuff that's gone up:

Score: 8/10
It took almost eight years, but we finally have another collaborative effort from Caroline Herve and Michael Amato. The icily passive sexuality from First Album is still present on a few tracks, but it's no longer the dominant theme. Herve is more emotional and Amato is more lush, for a more naked experience. Also, bangin' chunes.

Score: 70/100
After remaking Play with diminishing returns and then throwing a curveball in last year's NY disco-themed Last Night, Wait for Me is a return to sad, ambient, symphonic Moby. Only this is sadder and more personal and soul-baring than he's ever been, really. For someone who included all those essays in his earlier records (none of that here), that's saying something. A consistent portrait of longing and malaise, plus a lot of tracks that sound kinda like "G-d Moving Over the Face of Waters."

Look - it's a new color! Big Shot Magazine orange! While I'm pretty sure that most of my stuff for Big Shot will only appear in the glossy print form, apparently a few articles get posted to the website over time. So, here's my profile of acid ace Cylob, and his uniquely coded DJ program, the Kombine BeatHarvester.