Tuesday, January 1, 2013

:::: ALBUMS OF 2012 ::::

The Caretaker  "Patience (After Sebald) - Soundtrack"  (HAFTW)
Demdike Stare  "Elemental"  (Modern Love)
Cut Hands  "Black Mamba"  (Very Friendly)
Thomas Köner  "Novaya Zemlya" (Touch)
V/A  "Air Texture Volume II"  (Air Texture)
Emptyset  "Collapsed"  (Raster-Noton)
KTL  "V"  (Mego)
SWANS  "The Seer"  (Young God) 
Charlatan  "Isolatarium"  (Type)
Splashgirl  "Field Day Rituals"  (Hubro)
Gultskra Artikler  "Abtu Anet"  (Miasmah) 
V/A "After The Affair" (Blackest Ever Black)
Jacob Ullmann "Fremde Zeit • Addendum"  (Edition RZ)
Broadcast  "Berberian Sound Studio" & Andrew Liles  "The Equestrian Vortex"  (Warp & Death Waltz)
Stian Westerhus  "The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers" (Rune Grammofon)
V/A "John Cage Shock Vol.1-3" (EM Records)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor  "'Alleujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!"  (Constellation)
V/A  "Touch: 30 Years And Counting"  (Touch)
Oren Ambarchi  "Sagittarian Domain"  (Mego)
Kevin Drumm  "Relief" (Mego)
Corrupted  "Garten Der Unbewusstheit" (Nostalgia Blackrain)
Pinkcourtesyphone  "Elegant & Detached" (Room40)
Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi & Jim O'Rourke "Imikuzushi" (Black Truffle)
Peter Brötzmann, Masahiko Satoh & Takeo Moriyama "Yatagarasu" (Not To)

Another extraordinary year of sonic adventurers, live sounds heard and albums released! This year's list is graced by a media encapsulation of some of it's highlights, brought to you by the Made Like A Tree podcast series: my Best of 2012 Mix overlapping significantly with the list above. Though I'm decidedly not a nostalgia-miner, the present in some ways couldn't compete with the past half-Century of Early Electronic Music that found it's way back into the world this year. A stunning, stunning crop of archival releases by not only the most significant names of that era, but some of the most undervalued; that of the female pioneers. Probably the single most momentous announcement of 2012 in my mind, was that of SUNN O)))'s Stephen O'Malley establishing his Recollections GRM reissue imprint. In the 9 months since it's initiation releasing the mathematically powerful expression of geometry and sound found in Iannis Xenakis' "GRM Works 1957-1962", early electronic's  organic aural engineer, Bernard Parmegiani and one of his many masterpieces, "L'Œil écoute/Dedans-Dehors", GRM Studio founder Pierre Schaeffer's classic  "Le Trièdre Fertile" and the studio's cinematic/sexual funnyman, Luc Ferrari and his "Presque Rien". Which makes a bit of an awkward bridge to the equally significant, substantially less-heard and distinctly their own work of the women pioneers that have seen light in the past 12 months. Modern Love's Young Americans imprint released gorgeous vinyl box sets of BBC Radiophonic Workshop founder Daphne Oram as "Oramics" and “The Oram Tapes: Vol.1”. American composer Pauline Oliveros' work was enshrined by the massive 12 CD (yes, twelve) "Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961 - 1970" set issued by Important Records. Laurie Spiegel's "The Expanding Universe" reissued with the now classic (legendary) essay "1970s Computer Music from Bell Labs". France's sound sculptor of the sublime and austere, Eliane Radigue now with not only an unreleased gem, "Feedback Works 1969-1970", but more works simultaneously in print than any other decade in my lifetime, again largely thanks to the work of Important Records. If there was ever a doubt to the innvations made, and massive debt owed to this era's sonic explorers, the past year in reissues and archival releases has gone some way to rectify that.

Not just a time for archival bounty, it was year of adventurous new sounds. Scandinavia the home to five? six? decades of some of the finest Free Jazz the world has seen/heard continues to crank it out. Much loved up north, Germany's brutalist practitioner Peter Brötzmann celebrated his 71st birthday with both a astounding documentary of his work and ethics, "Soldier of the Road" (curiously sharing much with another defining German voice in 20th Century art, that of "Gerhard Richter Painting") and a set of exceptional albums and touring and two lengthy interviews in the pages of The Wire. Metal was huge, Corrupted released their final album and SUNN O))) performed an immense set, their first in some years. Krautrock legends Faust reappeared after a 18 year hiatus from touring the west coast, delivering two days of theatrical, joyous, DaDa insanity. Speaking of legendary and Kraut, Can produced their distilled refinement of over 30 hours of unreleased recordings spanning the years 1968-1977, as "The Lost Tapes".  Modern Classical fared better than it has in something like a decade. There was the American Mavericks series in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, the "[untitled]: 1962" night at the Seattle Symphony with the International Contemporary Ensemble, a sprawling year-long series of events celebrating the John Cage Centennial, including Seattle Modern Orchestra's mini-festival and the immersive 5 hour realization of Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking of the Titanic" on the anniversary of the historic event. Lastly, Canadian pianist/composer Lubomyr Melnyk delivered a performance seemingly exceeding both acoustic possibility and physical endurance, a night redolent with melodic phenomena, it's no wonder he's since found a home on the UK's Erased Tapes label. The quality of some of the showcases heard/seen in the year's festivals was unparalleled, when Unsound Krakow brings The End to New York City in this coming year, you can bet I'm going to be there. Substrata had another year of surprises and reaffirmations of ambient and experimental music being far from static. Decibel produced a festival that far outshone the last few year's, with two showcases, the Raster-Noton and Modern Love on par with those of Mutek Montreal's now legendary nights. Jon Wozencroft's Touch imprint celebrated it's 30th extraordinary year of issuing the finest in sonic abstraction, theory and visual art, with showcases around the world. And speaking of global and far-flung, Otomo Yoshihide appeared on the west coast for the first time in nearly a decade, performing alongside his post-Onkyo compatriots, Akio Suzuki and Gozo Yoshimasu in the Aki Onda curated, Issue Project Room hosted, Voices & Echoes series.