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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » listening


Get your acid workout, virus be damned, with Detroit-Berliner DJ T-1000’s “Body Signal”

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 7 Aug 2020 1:50 pm

A lot of the hardest-working DJs and most loving dancers are grounded now in the fight against the pandemic. But don't let that mean you miss your workout. This is the EP we need right now.

The post Get your acid workout, virus be damned, with Detroit-Berliner DJ T-1000’s “Body Signal” appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Don’t miss the visceral electroacoustic performances of Rojin Sharafi

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Wed 22 Jul 2020 8:26 pm

Tehran-born, Vienna-based artist Rojin Sharafi plays electroacoustic music that's kinetic, complex, and grippingly powerful. But just watch.

The post Don’t miss the visceral electroacoustic performances of Rojin Sharafi appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Jaranan techno: Raja Kirik is the mad sound of resistance from Indonesia

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 19 Jun 2020 6:39 pm

This sonic mayhem assaulting your speakers is battle music - ancient folkloric resistance, exploding out of the Yogyakarta home base of YES NO WAVE MUSIC.

The post Jaranan techno: Raja Kirik is the mad sound of resistance from Indonesia appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Electronic virtuoso Thomas Piper’s insistent voice delivers in honest, powerful “Permission to Live”

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Sat 6 Jun 2020 1:01 am

Thomas Piper's Permission to Live is a powerful, personal statement. It comes from one of the few people who plays Ableton Push like his main instrument, from an artist who draws from a hundred skills.

The post Electronic virtuoso Thomas Piper’s insistent voice delivers in honest, powerful “Permission to Live” appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Music lovers are sharing black artists, labels, and causes today on Bandcamp

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 5 Jun 2020 9:42 pm

Alongside protests and conversation, it's a moment for black artists and labels to make themselves visible to one another - and for allies to amplify their voices and help organize, too.

The post Music lovers are sharing black artists, labels, and causes today on Bandcamp appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ballroom energy, in a beautiful film about Shaun J. Wright, and more EPs

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 Jun 2020 9:17 pm

Speaking of musical inspiration and radiant humans, we’re really lucky to have people like Shaun J. Wright. This short film is worth a watch (or re-watch). Alinka reminds me of this, Shaun’s often musical partner. (Alinka is Russian-born but has lived in and I think of as deeply connected both to Chicago and Berlin.) The […]

The post Ballroom energy, in a beautiful film about Shaun J. Wright, and more EPs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ballroom energy, in a beautiful film about Shaun J. Wright, and more EPs

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 Jun 2020 9:17 pm

Speaking of musical inspiration and radiant humans, we’re really lucky to have people like Shaun J. Wright. This short film is worth a watch (or re-watch). Alinka reminds me of this, Shaun’s often musical partner. (Alinka is Russian-born but has lived in and I think of as deeply connected both to Chicago and Berlin.) The […]

The post Ballroom energy, in a beautiful film about Shaun J. Wright, and more EPs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Chilled, trippy live sets and albums from JakoJako, Lucrecia Dalt, more

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 Jun 2020 8:12 pm

While clubs are empty, we've been getting an intimate look at how people play and imagine ideas. And one of the best sets from FACT's new Patch Notes series features the excellent JakoJako - just when you might need some music that lets you calm your head.

The post Chilled, trippy live sets and albums from JakoJako, Lucrecia Dalt, more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Explode your face with Detroit Underground’s AR mask, melt it with these releases

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 29 May 2020 7:24 pm

Being a label - hell, being a human - can feel pretty virtual these days. So let's lean into that, huh? Face exploded - filter, check. Face melted - music, yes.

The post Explode your face with Detroit Underground’s AR mask, melt it with these releases appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

From Mexico and around the world, music mixes as salve to anxiety and loneliness

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 11 May 2020 7:24 pm

Dimension Series is broadcasting mixes again from its Mexico City home base, in a tour around the world of every groove and ambiance. It's mood elevation through music - for "Each Other."

The post From Mexico and around the world, music mixes as salve to anxiety and loneliness appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Pairing mode: Autechre to ayrtbh, Tehran to Shanghai, wonderful new music

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 1 May 2020 6:40 pm

Some predicted that pandemic would mean less music, fewer releases – creative shutdown. Instead, sounds are one of the things most effective in fighting feelings of isolation. David Abravanel is back with more picks for CDM. -Ed.

Welcome to another Pairing Mode! As it were, my knockoff Bluetooth airpods are on the fritz, but I’ve been enjoying some deep listening with the Campfire Audio Andromedas – look forward to another post in the future about making music ITB with those.

As always, if you’ve got new music that you’re working on, please feel free to contact me at david[at]dhla[dot]me. And I’m on Twitter if you need to tell me to shut up.

Now let’s jump into it!

Cover: 0N4B.

Ae (Autechre endless)

Has any label ever done as much for the digital reputation of a non-label act as Ghostly Intl. has done for Autechre? Fellow #GhostlyAfterDark heads will be well familiar with the strange turn the Ghostly Twitter account takes at night, including satirical conspiracy theories and over-the-top devotion to the prolific (and still on Warp) duo. Honestly, I imagine we could at least see a Gescom EP on Ghostly before all of this is over (and if this is Ghostly’s goal, let me be the first to get #GescomOnGhostly #GOG trending). 

Anyway, Autechre are back, champs, with a slim 25-minute mini-album. JK of course, it’s nearly 8 hours of new live soundboard recordings from 2016 and 2018 gigs. IDM’s own Grateful Dead continue to excavate the sweeping breadth of their sound design prowess here; many of these shows are slow burners with a deep focus on murky moods and shiny percussive clangs. 

While Ae’s 2015 shows were a bit more rhythmically focused, there’s a lot more use of space this time around. It certainly suggests interesting things, given that the pair – who’ve been broadcasting and interacting again on their Mixlr channel – have also promised two albums to be culled from over 20 hours of studio recording. Given that their last “album” release was the 8 hours of (stunning!) NTS Sessions, I’m just going to pre-emptively buy another external hard drive. 

I can’t be more eloquent about this massive amount of music, but my personal favorite of the new sets is from Nijmegen. Maybe start with that one?

https://autechre.bleepstores.com

Temp-Illusion. Photo: Aslan Mohammadpour.

Temp-Illusion and painful realities

For some of us in wealthier countries, it might be hard to remember that there were enormous insecurities and threats on earth before COVID-19. For Tehran-based duo Temp-Illusion, the threat of war has sadly been all too present for years now. In response to escalating violence and instability, Shahin Entezami and Behrang Najafi produced the aural cold sweats of PEND, their latest release on the fantastic Zabte Sote label. 

Photo: Arash Bolouri.

I can feel my fists clench with some of the beats on PEND. “Construction of Insomnia” comes on and I’m immersed in the icy shiver that comes with staring at night become dawn. This is a funky nightmare the likes of which I’ve previously heard on albums like Skinny Puppy’s Too Dark Park, only this industrial glitch is a reflection of reality, not the fantastic – all the scarier. The dark knocks and surprising machine lurches of “Caustic Surface” squeeze out adrenalin like a sponge. Comfortable this is not – but compelling it certainly is.

Braille Brings Joy

Getting some respite from the darkness, there’s also the defiance of hope. It’s also now time for us to count our blessings and remember that this, too, shall pass. Praveen Sharma aka Braille (also ½ of Sepalcure) provides a wealth of sunny uptempo numbers on Too Much. We may not have social interaction, but we can still look up into the sky and dream, and wonder, much like the sample in “Constellation Conversation” encourages before an Amen break and steel drum melody takes us straight to Blisstonia. By the time “Do It Right” comes on, I feel the happiness of an outdoor shower in the sunshine, and love for humanity. Somehow only jungle does this, and damn if Praveen doesn’t kill it on this outing.

Digital Acid from ayrtbh

Our old friend Wang Changcun aka ayrtbh has a new mini album out, HTTP 508. Changcun’s Instagram feed provides a constant tease of his custom Max for Live tools that fuel his dense sound, in full display on such digitally-tinged acid workouts like “lcCc”.

While it’s the incessant acid lines that take center stage, HTTP 508 (which is, cheekily, the Loop Detected error code) also showcases some dynamite FM sound design as on “plPl”, and a case study in clanging intensity with closer “Lc7bm”.

Stew in it with Radere

Despite what influencers would have you believe, many of us are not able to maintain 100% smiles and sugar during an unprecedented pandemic. And sometimes there’s something oddly calming about dark and chaotic work – “oddly calming” being how I would describe my reaction to I Do Not Want What I Have, the latest from Carl Ritger aka Radere. 

Chronicling a tumultuous time for Ritger, I Do Not… continues with a temporary switch from guitar to modular synthesizer as a primary instrument. “Spitty Kisses,” the first of two side-length pieces here, is constructed from equal parts beautiful background reverberated melodies, and foregrounded, brutalized synth drones. “You’ve Been a Ghost Yr Whole Life”, on the other hand, feels simultaneously weightless and yet oppressive. An exercise in Lucier/Niblock-style minimalism, it’s a triumph of space that always seems to find me staring intently at a wall late at night.

I Do Not Want What I Have feels so wholly realized that it’s difficult to match it with the five bonus digital remixes, many of which can’t help but densify the formula and thus evoke very different moods. Though perhaps that’s the best way to approach taking on such challenging material – Ultraesthetic’s “jungle rework” of “Spitty Kisses” turns the original into fodder for a half-time atmospheric workout that would sound at home on Hyperdub or Samurai/Horo.

Listen on Spotify

https://boomkat.com/products/i-do-not-want-what-i-have

see also: https://radere.bandcamp.com

0N4B Keep it Deep

One of my favorite discoveries last year was 0N4B, the collaboration between Egyptian musicians Onsy and Abadir. In a year like 2019 that saw a lot of ambient contenders, 0N4B’s Supra/Infra/Intra really repainted the possibilities and depth of ambient for me. Follow-up bar(a)ca is equally lush but on the dubbier side, with sticky rhythms underlying many of the tracks. It’s a headphone treat for sure, featuring incessant rhythmic backbones and glitch ephemera which remind me of Terry Riley jamming with Phoenecia. Close your eyes, empty your thoughts, and let this one take over for a bit.

…Then, there’s a hard left turn. The final tracks on bar(a)ca – “bar(aaaaa)ca” and “bar(aaaaaa)ca” – earn the extra “AAAAAAAAAA”s with an onslaught that approximates a Commodore 64 imploding from a recursion and an incessantly nagging yet superbly sound-designed app notification. We can’t get uninterrupted peace right now, can we? At least we have great albums.

C. Lavender. Photo: Chris Woz.

C. Lavender Occupies Space

Field recording is the kind of thing that sounds simple on the surface, but in practice becomes something of a dark art. There’s the simple joy of listening back to natural recordings – see Annea Lockwood’s Sound Map series – and then there’s the alchemy of processing sounds and spaces to something familiar yet alien.

C. Lavender’s Myth of Equilibrium, in addition to featuring a perfect title for the current time, pulls some amazing aural landscapes from recordings within a geodesic dome. At times reminiscent of Lustmord’s subsonic space exploration and Ben Frost’s overdriven ambience, Myths also carries the spacious thrill you might have from listening to a bootleg concert recording of Suicide or Throbbing Gristle from the late 70s. 

Perhaps most fascinating is how much of the sound on Myths was derived with relatively little processing. As C. Lavender tells me: “The album had relatively minimal post-processing in my DAW. The combination of utilizing a binaural microphone, the geodesic dome’s unique natural reverb and my hyper-editing (as far as making cuts and moving sounds around) technique created a synthesized-sound to what was predominantly acoustic percussion. Some of the tracks also feature synthesizers (including a Doepfer modular system), electronics and my custom electric bass.”

Cosmin TRG Swims in Solitude

Moving from natural to unnatural atmospheres, we have the immense swells on “Proactive Synergasm”, my favorite track from Cosmin TRG’s recently-released Remote EP. Over his career, Cosmin has moved from the dubstep/bass mutations of his early work through to techno and then serene satirical sound on last year’s Hope This Finds You Well. Remote definitely has an active pulse, but the reverb and background hiss have things feeling like an old forgotten 45. 
To be frank (and basic), I like a happy ending, and “Having Said That” ends Remote with some defiantly hopeful pads. We’re alone, but we’re together. And we still have music.

Stay tuned for our next episode and more listening.

The post Pairing mode: Autechre to ayrtbh, Tehran to Shanghai, wonderful new music appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A four-way, cross-genre music improv format – watch and hear the results

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 30 Apr 2020 2:48 pm

Electronic music – pandemic or no – can often become a solo endeavor. And people working in different genres get to interact even less frequently. A series out of Hamburg has been delightfully messing up that order.

Yes, isolation is a good reminder of what we miss in sharing a space with other people. But I notice the general diet of streams and online videos has tended to shy away from more experimental, avant-garde pairings.

4fakultät not only bends to the adventurous but does so by creating scenarios where people play together who otherwise might not. (“Konzertreihe für stilübergreifende Improvisation.”)

Robert Lippok; visuals by Alexander Trattler and Artur Musalimov. Photo: Maik Gräf.
Ah, audiences. Episode #8; photograph by Phil Struck.

There’s a structure, set up to ensure balance and encounters, for two and a half hours of combined improvisational and compositional trajectories. “It really puts a focus on the interaction between the most different people and musical styles,” says Konstantin Bessonov, who co-produces the events.

Twelve sessions have taken place so far in Hamburg – with Derya Yildirim, Kate NV, Anna-Lena Schnabel, Svetlana Maraš, Robert Lippok, FOQL, Jimi Tenor, Andrea Belfi, Andrew Pekler, Yves de Mey, Nika Breithaupt, Sven Kacirek, Jawad Salkhordeh, Fee Kuerten, and various others.

Episode #13: Yves de Mey, Goran Lazarević, Eva Zöllner, Visuals: Alexander Trattler and Artur Musalimov. Photo by Philipp Schewe.
Photo (and cover): Fee Kürthen, Tellavisio, Derya Yıldırım. Photo: Konstantin Bessonov.

And if you’ve been missing experimental concerts, now you can stage one whenever you like for yourself. Pour yourself a glass of wine or a tea, sit back, and for now you can get video (of two) and high-quality audio (of all twelve). It’s all free – good for the impoverished purveyors of experimentalism – though if you do have some pockets, of course donations to the artists are encouraged.

Video:

Streaming audio – there’s a full playlist:

Konstantin Bessonov · 4fakultät

Konstantin Bessonov · 4fakultät

And there’s more – one of the best ways to explore is to page through the Bandcamp offerings, which are available as high-quality downloads and broken down by track:

There are love songs, too, which in these isolated times have some deeper beauty, somehow:

For instance, I adore this song by Lena Geue, listening to it on repeat:

Lovely lady, how does it feel /
to know that distance is a spinning wheel

It has me feeling wistful. Certainly, finding some way to play together from a distance is necessary. But I also realize we may need to use some of this time to try to imagine and build the connections so we can be in the same room again. Maybe that was what mattered most.

A.K. Klosowski’s Walkman. Photo by Phil Struck.
#14: John Eckhardt, Davide Tomat, visuals: Alexander Trattler / Artur-Musalimov. Photo: Maik Gräf.
#9: Irene-Kepl. Photo: Phil Struck.
John Eckhardt, Davide Tomat, visuals: Alexander Trattler / Artur-Musalimov. Photo: Maik Gräf.
#12 Jimi Tenor, visuals Alexander Trattler / Artur Musalimov. Photo: Philipp Schewe.

Full info:

https://4fakultaet.de/
https://4fakultaet.bandcamp.com/

The post A four-way, cross-genre music improv format – watch and hear the results appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bandcamp will repeat their Friday give-backs to artists in May, June, and July

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Mon 27 Apr 2020 9:18 pm

It was a simple idea, but it sent a message. And now Bandcamp is set to repeat the experiment, promoting the idea of buying from artists directly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 20, Bandcamp waived their revenue share on purchases. But the result was seismic: on that one date, people purchased US$4.3 million in music and merch, a fifteen-fold increase on normal Friday sales, the company says.

Now they want to do the same on the first Fridays in May (end of this week), June, and July – that’s May 1, June 5, and July 3. (Midnight to midnight Pacific USA time – so until 9AM Saturday here in Berlin.)

I don’t want to be overly Polyanna-ish here. First, it’s a little scary to talk about “helping artists cover rents, mortgages, groceries, medications.” The need there is too big for $4.3 million to be anything other than a drop in the bucket in groceries alone in a single small country, let alone worldwide. And that sets up lots of independent artists for failure – it wasn’t uncommon for people to see one or two sales, so maybe enough for a couple of packages of instant ramen. You don’t have to be a socialist to see that there’s then a need for government-level intervention.

Second, there’s the fact that Bandcamp’s server got hammered. That may have cost sales. It also likely generated some further attention, but … that particular detail is probably not a good thing to try to repeat.

That said, for some artists, anecdotally, this really did pay rent and groceries – buying some critical time. I heard that not just from big-name artists but on a case-by-case basis from some fairly underground electronic creators. If you were in the one sale/no sale category, you were in good company – no reason to feel bad. But this did help at least some artists reach some critical mass, and that’s a good thing.

And there’s another way to look at this. As a way of marketing the idea of supporting artists directly and valuing their work, this was a knockout. That’s something the rest of the industry could do more – talk about actual individual artists, and simultaneously stop underestimating their fans. This wasn’t just an economic crisis for the arts, but for the planet. And it demonstrated that people wanted to pay to own music and get that money directly to the artist. That just isn’t the kind of concept we hear about in the music business – and that’s, frankly, insane.

Case in point: labels like Polyvinyl are following Bandcamp’s lead and passing on those revenues directly to artists:

So now is the test: if Bandcamp can build on this idea, keep their servers running, and keep spreading this notion, it could send some ripples through the business. And that message needed to go (cough) viral long before the pandemic arrived.

There’s more, too. Bandcamp have some resources in their blog post both for fans wanting to make a difference and artists wanting some advice on how to survive:

https://daily.bandcamp.com/features/bandcamp-covid-19-fundraiser

Specifically, you’ll want to read through this if you’re an artist releasing music:

https://bandcamp.com/guide

Bandcamp are also transparent about their revenue share when they do take a slice – and quite frankly I’m happy to see sales on any day, with or without their share. (I think the main thing here is really the message.)

And they’re doing a nice job of highlighting new music, too, at a time when the music press are also seeing cutbacks. So see, for instance, their latest experimental guide:

COVID-19 is triggering some great compilations, like Stamp the Wax’s rich outing:

https://stampthewax.bandcamp.com/album/isolation-therapy

Electronic fans won’t want to miss this superb compilation from Rome’s Enisslab, running from Alessandro Cortini and Dino Sabatini to Erika and BMG and Caterina Barbieri and Lucy and Mike Parker and Shifted and TM404 and Tobias and Wata Igarashi – and basically every contributor is a who’s who. Fundraising goes to The Red Cross.

https://enisslab.bandcamp.com

I’ll be highlighting some other compilations this week leading up to Friday and … well, you know, all the time. In case you missed it, for instance, there was this Bandcamp release of music from the late Mike Huckaby, via Pacou, as covered over the weekend right here:

Oh, also I’m really excited to be part of this compilation. Self-promo alert, but since you can’t hear mine at the moment anyway, let me talk about how much I love Femanyst’s latest tracks!

Supporting artists is easy. Buy downloads from Bandcamp, or Bleep, or Beatport – well, that’s just the ones starting with the letter ‘b,’ but buy them.

And tell them. Leave a review. Leave a note on their page. We can tell each other that we care, as artists. Heck, most artists are really glad if you just listen to their free promo.

Music making is something a lot of us do when alone, but it doesn’t mean we want to feel alone when doing it.

So stay strong out there, and I hope I get to listen to and support lots of music, too.

The post Bandcamp will repeat their Friday give-backs to artists in May, June, and July appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get Asymmetric with a ton of back-catalog Inigo Kennedy downloads, free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 9 Apr 2020 10:36 am

Another world, another time, in the age of … well, back when MP3 encoding still seemed like a pretty neat idea. Discover years of back-catalog goodies from Inigo Kennedy, and have a dreamy asymmetrical day.

Thanks to the amazing Kevin Kennedy aka FBK for the find – and, seriously, you should use the money you saved here to grab FBK’s latest on Bandcamp.

But Inigo Kennedy’s full spectrum of delicious production, introspective tunes, and easy-flowing odd-phrased grooves and frenetic futuristic machine creations produce just the kind of reveries a lot of us could use right now. I’m just beyond happy to have found this. And yeah, I’m enough of a fan that I went in with DownThemAll so … before you all hammer the server here, if you’re that sort of person, contact me.

I hope this gets more people into Inigo’s music / stick him into an envelope that says “open for booking contact when social distancing is over.”

You can pencil drop the collection – for instance, I just blindly queued up this beautiful track. “A Rune for Amelie”:

http://www.asymmetric.co.uk/mp3/Inigo_Kennedy_ASY_MP3_011_Beyond_Foundations_03_A_Rune_For_Amelie.mp3

Or speaking of “entertaining accidents,” – here’s “Entertaining Accidents.” (Again, picked at random.)

http://www.asymmetric.co.uk/mp3/Inigo_Kennedy_ASY_MP3_004_Entertaining_Accidents_03.mp3

Of course, I got just as much of a kick reading the vintage 2004 press release launching the platform. Ah, those innocent days. Of course, in 2004 they would have been really grateful that today we have moved beyond primitive 192k MP3 to … ugh, actually, yeah, we’re all streaming worse quality stuff over dodgy Bluetooth connections. 2004, we’re really sorry. Also, you’ll be surprised to … actually, just don’t ask. About a bunch of things.

Asymmetric|MP3 001 – In Parallel – 5th January 2004

Inigo Kennedy announces the launch of Asymmetric|MP3 – a new project to take advantage of the freedom of electronic distribution and make available MP3 releases of his distinctive music.

Free MP3 releases will regularly be made available via the Asymmetric website at www.asymmetric.co.uk

The title of the first release is In Parallel and this outlines the aims of the Asymmetric|MP3 project. The MP3 releases do not substitute for the vinyl or CD releases but will run alongside as both projects should inspire, support, strengthen and reinforce one and other. The MP3 releases are planned to perhaps introduce different ideas and may, in the future, also include alternative versions of tracks that have been or will be released on vinyl or CD.

The first release In Parallel consists of four new tracks. All of which touch on, and build upon, the distinctive elements that have made Asymmetric releases stand out in the past.

The MP3s will be encoded using LAME at an average bit rate of 192Kb/s in full stereo mode. Alternative versions will not be made available. The aim is to release MP3s of high quality to do justice to the music rather than compromise for the sake of small file size. The quality of the MP3s as they are released should be sufficient to sound good on anything from headphones to a large sound system via Final Scratch, etc.

(Final Scratch was the pioneering digital vinyl control system that helped lead to … uh, just ask your grandparents, kids.)

The post Get Asymmetric with a ton of back-catalog Inigo Kennedy downloads, free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The best music of 2019: as genre erodes, new gems emerge

Delivered... David Abravanel | Scene | Tue 31 Dec 2019 5:43 pm

Sure, years are arbitrary markers. But the annual ritual of listening to selections from guest music aficionado David Abravanel makes it worthwhile.

And this is a perfect producers’ list – music that dissolves genres, bears up to repeated deep listening, and suggests still more possibilities could lie ahead. Here’s David with his latest selections to round out a year in digital music. -Ed.

The 2010s went out with a bang, musically. If the silver lining to turbulent times is interesting art, then we’ve been spoiled during this anxiety-ridden, transitional year. I can’t remember the last time it was this difficult to narrow down my top albums to only 52 choices (arbitrary number!), and still left myself with legitimately great albums that didn’t quite make the final tally. 

As per usual, these are in alphabetical order, though if pressed, I would say my favorite album of the year was Synkro’s Images, favorite EP was Alis’s Papercuts, favorite track was Floorplan’s “So Glad”, and favorite reissue/compilation was The Residents’ Eskimo (pREServed Edition).

Synkro – Images.
Alis – Papercuts.

We’re Floating

I heard more than a few people ask exactly what “ambient” now means as of 2019. There’s no question that the popularity of ambient music resulted in some more reserved and beautiful releases. I spent loads of time exploring the crevices of electronic sound with 0N4B (another excellent release on the Kaer’Uiks label), spacing out with Richard Norris’ Abstractions series (inaugurating his Group Mind label), going to space with Yehezkel Raz’s minimal 9 Moons, and exploring the political economy of “relaxing” music with the reissue of Ami Shavit’s heart-tugging Yom Kippur 1973. And then Fennesz returned with Agora, astonishingly his finest hour yet.

The sparseness of ambient music spread to a number of musicians more well known for techno. Peter has previously covered Barker’s incredible Utility; anonymous label-mate Pom Pom also took a more ambient techno dip with the appropriately-titled Untitled 2. Meanwhile, TM-404 & Echologist quietly updated the sparse template of dub techno with Telomic Ghosts, and Deadbeat provided a master class in dub techno atmospheres with the welcome compilation of his Echocord releases.

The blurring of jungle breaks into house and techno productions (along with great proper jungle) remains an ongoing story. Lapalux, Chrissy, Stenny, and Konx-Om-Pax all released stellar full-lengths which saw the spirit of early jungle and rave merged with everything from R&B songwriting to disco to cavernous techno.

Inimitable Voices

With the proliferation of digital music and the near-complete erosion of clear genre markers, there are more artists than ever who are hard to exactly pin down. 2019 was full of such unique voices: Coppé explored grief and classic opera with her “Martian” electronic style on Na Na Me Na Opera, Tralala Blip made the best dance-pop I’ve heard in a while and straddled the line between agonizingly heartfelt and playful, Andrew Pekler took me to a false memory of exotica parties from decades before I was born, and Elon Katz defied convention between electro, techno, and experimental styles with Pneumania on San Francisco’s underrated Left Hand Path label.

Speaking of genre-blurring, let’s take a moment to appreciate Robert Lippok as an essential collaborator with modern classical musicians. From his beautifully understated work with guitarist Takeshi Nishimoto a few years back, to this year’s touching Kubus with Kaan Bulak (on Bulak’s wonderful Feral Note label), Lippok has proved that rare electronic musician who can work in traditional realms without showing the seams on either side of the equation (if you dig Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborative work, Kubus is well worth your time).

Lastly, I’ll embarrass Peter by saying that Intimacy In A Fluid World is the best thing I’ve ever heard from him. If Hardy Fox from the Residents hadn’t died in 2018, I suspect he would have been bowled over by this ethnographic look at a world that doesn’t (yet) exist.

Hard Hits

To be honest, after a decade that saw techno going harder and darker with each hour, I wasn’t expected to hear hard/dark techno in 2019 that would really wow me. Enter veteran Paula Temple, whose Edge of Everything managed to make 909 rushes sound brand new, and Canadian newcomers minimalviolence, whose thrilling take on EBM/industrial/rave sounds scratched a real itch.

minimalviolence – InDreams.

The Return of…

2019 saw some excellent new releases and reissues from veteran artists. It’s nice to see new appraisals of past classics (Nexus 21 and The Connection Machine back in print! The Chemical BrothersSurrender remains essential! The Mad Professor dub versions of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine at long last!), but perhaps even more thrilling to see what established artists can do to still surprise us.

Special mention is due for Cosey Fanni Tutti, whose self-titled Tutti served as an incredible statement of purpose and captured the exploratory and unsettling voice that she’s carried through Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey, and as a solo artist. After the engrossing read of her 2017 memoir, Art Sex Music, Tutti felt like a fitting musical summation and sequel.

If Cosey Fanni Tutti’s album felt like a summation of her powers, Kim Gordon’s No Home Record arrived as a pleasantly shocking left turn. Maintaining the attitude and social commentary of Sonic Youth, but shifting to electronic beats and a hip-hop framework, No Home Record is the kind of album that surprises you, then makes perfect sense as it becomes a quick favorite.

The returns came one after the other this year. Future Sound of London brought back their acid electro alias Humanoid in fine form. After a series of reissues of his material as As One, Kirk DeGiorgio resurrected the alias for Communion, one of his all-time best albums. The Cinematic Orchestra returned after a long absence to strike the same emotional chords with friends and styles old and new. Mira Calix made a very welcome return to Warp, where we’ll hopefully see a new LP from her in 2020 alongside fellow sublime Warp legends Seefeel. Rod Modell pushed the tempo on his Deepchord formula and ended up with some of the most exciting fast-paced techno this side of ASC. 

Speaking of ASC

Was there a more prolific artist than ASC in 2019? I’m pretty sure ASC released more tracks than the number of times I changed my pants in 2019 (make of that what you will). Carrying on the fast techno style he led with the Realms series, going back to the eerie well for an EP on Samurai/Horo, finding inspiration from sci-fi classic THX-1138…and that’s not even covering his album on A Strangely Isolated Place. The dude’s prolific and deserves your ear!

If there was a challenger to ASC’s release schedule in 2019, perhaps it was Amon Tobin. Coming back from a hiatus, Tobin released three albums and an EP, indulging in pseudonyms new and old (the return of Cujo!) and exploring everything from garage rock to autoharp lullabies. 

The Reality of our Surroundings

As I mentioned earlier, 2019 was a year of much anxiety. While it’s easy for us to sit back and enjoy some of the art, the realities – from climate crisis to rising fascism to the dehumanizing of refugees – are impossible (and selfish) to ignore. Music is a healer, but it’s also a galvanizing force. Listening to Meemo Comma’s Sleepmoss and Lamin Fofana’s Black Metamorphosis – two of the year’s most deeply affecting and tough to pin down releases – I’m struck by the ability of music to be both a salve and a reminder of our complex reality. Zonal’s Wrecked – a collaboration between The Bug, J.K. Flesh, and Moor Mother, and perhaps the heaviest listen of the year – provides no easy comforts, but screams for hope in the midst of desolate situations.

I’ll leave things on a simple and positive note, with “Ende #2”, the beautiful closer to Robag Wruhme’s gorgeous Venq Tolep. Over a simple ambient soundscape, we hear greetings from collaborators and friends from around the world. It’s a difficult world, but we do have each other.

And that brings us to this year’s selections – even this extensive list covering just a fraction of some of the best of this year’s bounty, some well recognized, some not so much. We’ve certainly missed music, so let us know if there’s more to hear in comments – including your own work. Thanks as always to David for providing his singular point of view – a human algorithm, as we believe in the users.

Now give these a search on Bandcamp and support the artists and labels. -Ed.

Top 52 albums

Rod Modell – Captagon.
Patten – Flex.

0N4B — Supra/Infra/Intra (Kaer’Uiks)

Amon Tobin — Long Stories (Nomark)

Andrew Pekler — Sound from Phantom Islands (Fatiche)

Andy Stott — It Should Be Us (Modern Love)

Artefakt — Monsoon (Semantica)

As One — Communion (De:tuned)

ASC — Realm of the Infinite (Auxiliary)

Barker — Utility (Ostgut Ton)

Blato Zlato — In The Wake (self-released)

Chrissy — Resilience (Chiwax)

The Cinematic Orchestra — To Believe (Ninja Tune)

Coppé — Na Na Me Na Opera (Mango + Sweet Rice)

Cosey Fanni Tutti — TUTTI (Conspiracy International)

Cosmin TRG — Hope This Finds You Well (Fizic)

E L O N — Pneumania (Left Hand Path)

Fennesz — Agora (Touch)

HTRK — Venus in Leo (Ghostly Intl.)

Humanoid — Built by Humanoid (FSOL Digital)

I Am Snow Angel — Mothership (self-released)

John Shima — The Lonely Machine (Firescope)

Kim Gordon — No Home Record (Matador)

Konx-om-Pax — Ways of Seeing (Planet Mu)

Kyle Bobby Dunn — From Here To Eternity (self-released)

Lamin Fofana — Black Metamorphosis (Sci-Fi & Fantasy)

Lapalux — Amnioverse (Alpha Pup)

Lisieux — Psalms of Dereliction (Steelwork Maschine)

Meemo Comma — Sleepmoss (Planet Mu)

minimalviolence — InDreams (Technicolour)

patten — FLEX (555-5555)

Paula Temple — Edge of Everything (Noise Manifesto)

Peter Kirn — Intimacy in a Fluid World (Kotä)

Pixies — Beneath The Eyrie (Infectious)

Plaid  — Polymer (Warp)

Pom Pom — Untitled 2 (A-Ton)

Richard Norris — Abstractions Volume Two (Group Mind)

Robag Wruhme — Venq Tolep (Pampa)

Robert Lippok & Kaan Bulak — Kubus (Feral Note)

Rod Modell — Captagon (Tresor)

Stefan Goldmann — Veiki (Macro)

Stenny — Upsurge (Ilian Tape)

Stephen Mallinder — Um Dada (Dais)

Synkro — Images (Apollo)

Thighpaulsandra — Practical Electronics with Thighpaulsandra (Editions Mego)

Thom Yorke — Anima (XL)

TM404 & Echologist — Telomic Ghost (Kynant)

Tralala Blip — Eat My Codes If Your Light Falls (Room 40)

Various Artists — ШЩЦ/SHITS (ШЩЦ)

Vilod — The Clouds Know (Mana)

Wang Changcun — As Plausible As Anything Else (play rec)

Xeno & Oaklander — Hypnos (Dais)

Yehezkel Raz — 9 Moons (Artlist.io)

Zonal — Wrecked (Pressure)

Top 15 EPs 

Galcid – Galcid_s Ambient Works.

Abstract Thought — Abstract Thought (Clone)

Alis — Papercuts (Astral Plane)

Claro Intelecto — Forgotten Wasteland (Delsin)

Fanu & Infader — One Thing And Another (Lightless)

Floorplan — “So Glad” / “Feel Him Moving” (M-Plant)

Galcid — Galcid’s Ambient Works (Detroit Underground)

Goiz – Green (Open Space)

Hyusfall — Folsdune (self-released)

Kero & Valence Drakes — Abstract Thought (Detroit Underground)

Kiefer — Bridges (Stones Throw)

LFO — Peel Session (Warp)

Mira Calix — utopia (Warp)

Ras G — Dance of the Cosmos (Akashik)

Seefeel — Sp/Ga 19 (self—released)

Substance — Rise and Shine (Ostgut Ton)

Top Reissues / Compilations

Solar X – Xrated.

Ami Shavit — Yom Kippur 1973 (Sub Rosa)

Deadbeat — The Echochord Sessions (BLKRTZ)

F.U.S.E. — Dimensions (Plus 8)

Gramm — Personal Rock (Faitiche)

Happy Mondays — The Early EPs (London/Factory)

Massive Attack — Mezzanine (Deluxe) (Virgin)

Múm — Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Is OK (Morr)

Nexus 21 — The Rhythm of Life (Blue Chip)

Osamu Sato — LSD Revamped (Ship to Shore)

Prince — 1999 (Warner Bros.)

Slava Tsukerman, Benda Hutchinson, Clive Smith — Liquid Sky (Death Waltz)

Solar X — Xrated (Galaxiid)

The B-52’s — Cosmic Thing (Rhino)

The Chemical Brothers — Surrender (UMC/Virgin/Freestyle Dust)

The Connection Machine — Painless (Down Low)

The Residents — Eskimo (pREServed Edition) (Cherry Red)

The post The best music of 2019: as genre erodes, new gems emerge appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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