Wednesday, January 1, 2014

:::: ALBUMS OF 2013 ::::

Tim Hecker  "Virgins"  (Kranky)
Ben Frost  "Black Marrow"  (Ethermachines)
Mika Vainio  "Kilo"  (Blast First)
Boris  "Präparat"  (Daymare Recordings)
Emptyset  "Recur"  (Raster-Noton)
V/A  "The Outer Church"  (Front & Follow)
Chelsea Wolfe  "Pain is Beauty"  (Sargent House)
True Widow  "Circumambulation"  (Relapse)
Kevin Drumm  "Earrach"  (Hospital) 
Autechre  "Exai" Japanese Edition (Warp)
Metasplice  "Infratracts"  (Morphine)
Fire! Orchestra  "Exit!"  (Rune Grammophon)
Mats Eilertsen Trio  "Sails Set"  (Hubro)
Arve Henriksen  "Places of Worship"  (Rune Grammophon)
Christian Wallumrød Ensemble  "Outstairs""  (ECM)
Éliane Radigue  "Ψ 847"  (Oral) & "Adnos" Reissue (Important)
Bernard Parmegiani  "De Natura Sonorum" Reissue (Recollection GRM)
Edward Artemiev  "Solaris - Soundtrack" Reissue  (Superior Viaduct)
V/A  "...and Darkness Came"  (Headphone Commute)
Pye Corner Audio  "The Black Mill Tapes Vol. 1-2"  (Type)
Forest Swords  "Engravings"  (Tri Angle)
My Bloody Valentine  "mbv"  (MBV)
Grouper  "The Man Who Died in His Boat"  (Kranky)
V/A  "The Great Beauty" - Soundtrack  (Decca)
Rafael Anton Irisarri  "The Unintentional Sea"  (Room40)
The Stranger  "Watching Dead Empires in Decay"  (Modern Love)
Vatican Shadow  "Iraqi Praetorian Guard"  (Blackest Ever Black)
Demdike Stare  "Test Pressing Vol. 1-4"  (Modern Love)

Another extraordinary year of sonic adventurers, live sounds heard and albums released! Like 2012, the past twelve months saw more significant works past half-Century of Early Electronic Music found their way back into the world. Probably the single most momentous announcement of last year in my mind, was that of SUNN O)))'s Stephen O'Malley establishing his Recollections GRM reissue imprint. In the second year since it's initiation he has since released the mathematically powerful expression of geometry and sound that is Iannis Xenakis' "GRM Works 1957-1962", early electronic's organic aural engineer, Bernard Parmegiani and one of his many masterpieces, "De Natura Sonorum" and François Bayle's "L'Expérience Acoustique". We also saw the first time in the west, official release from the master recordings of Edward Artemiev's striking scores for the mid-period masterpieces of Andrei Tarkovsky. Both "Solaris" composed on the one-of-a-kind visual synthesizer The ANS, and the dual soundtracks for the allegorical science fiction of "Stalker" and autobiographical, "The Mirror". The reissue bounty continues for France's sound sculptor of the sublime and austere, Eliane Radigue now with not only an unreleased gem from the era of her feedback compositions "Opus 17", but more works in print thanks largely to the work of Important Records, including one of the highlights of her whole recorded career, the powerful and austere "Adnos" trilogy. And early Buchla Modular Sythesizer pioneer Morton Subotnick returned again just years after witnessing it's previous iteration at Unsound for a sublime performance of his still evolving "From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur".

Of course it was a year of contemporary of-the-now sounds as well. Significant among them, Tim Hecker has taken a substantial leap into pure electroacoustic composition with his newest, "Virgins". A application of his usual array of effects and software manipulation of acoustic and electric sounds, this time in relation to a full-bore chamber ensemble including Iceland's Ben Frost. It's a powerful tide of sound that was made that much more thrilling for it's surround sound realization as part of the touring Immersound series. Frost himself was busy globally touring in various collaborative contexts, from Random Dance's "FAR" to acting as both composer and director with Mirella Weingarten on their adaptation of Iain Bank's groundbreaking science fiction novel, "The Wasp Factory" for the stage. My Bloody Valentine reappeared after a 15 year hiatus, finally releasing the album that has been promised since the genre creating "Loveless" of the 1990's. Decades now outside the context of it's initial conception, "mbv" was still a preeminent expression of their singular sound. Seattle Symphony's new conductor Ludovic Morlot and his late night [untitled] series have brought modern composers into symphony's lexicon after almost a decade of being remiss in their performance of contemporary works. To date the series has seen played host to a who's-who of 20th Century Modernism including György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Terry Riley, Giacinto Scelsi and Olivier Messiaen's massive (exceedingly rare in it's performance) symphonic work, "Turangalîla".

The Tri Angle label had another year of delivering some sensuous, warped atmospheres and beats, what's being called the 'drag' sound best epitomized by Holy Other's hazy rapture, his live set exceeded expectations by far. Haxan Cloak's deeper exploration of stripped down minimalism and bass on "Excavation" and Evian Christ's set in the XLR8R showcase were other notable transmissions from the imprint. The pinnacle of their year came with Forest Swords' weighty, lumbering beats and disembodied choral chants on "Engravings", which marked a very welcome return for Matthew Barnes. The label find of last year, London's Blackest Ever Black figured largely in two of the year's best live events, that of the return of William Bennett's Cut Hands project after his bludgeoning set of last year in the Modern Love label showcase, and the "Black Noise" showcase in the 10th Annual Decibel Festival featuring Oren Ambarchi, The Sight Below and a absolutely crushing, immense, audio-visual performance by the UK's Raime in collaboration with Dakus Films. Substrata had another year of surprises and reaffirmations of ambient, neoclassical and experimental music being far from static, the perfect fusion of all these forms was heard in Jacaszek's performance for harpsichord, bass oboe and electronics. Japan's formost heavy rockers, Boris returned to the 'states with a tour of double-headers, many cities being graced with multiple-day performances of their bipolar Psych Rock and Pop hits and heavier Metal and Doom, atmospheres and a gorgeous tour only album to boot! Post-Punk legends Wire chose one city to recreate their Drill festival and curiously it was Seattle, New York's Issue Project Room celebrated Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plane with a month of the world's premier Modern Composition, Improv, Jazz and Experimental artists and Chicago's Kranky label had their week of 20th Anniversary celebrations in their home town.