Posts Tagged ‘Basinski’

INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2022

January 15, 2023

Hello no one! Hello everyone! It’s time to try this again for the sake of posterity. I mean, how else will I ever remember what the heck I listened to in 2022? Let’s crack on then….

Welcome to the 13th edition of INAUDIBLE’s end of year list!

FAVE 22 ALBUMS OF ’22

(click on album title to sample a track)

William Basinski and Janek Schaefer – … on reflection   (Temporary Residence)

Are you surprised to see a William Basinski album on my list? Somewhere on the internet, someone wrote: “Basinski’s been making music for 30 years now, but somehow managed to put out the best album of his career with this quiet alliance with Janek Schaefer.”

Spanning eight years of long-distance collaboration, Schaefer and Basinski assemble twinkling piano, waking birds, tape hiss and warm drones that play out peacefully for three quarters of an hour, leaving this listener at ease even in dark times.

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DJ Python – Club Sentimientos, Vol. 2 (Incienso Recordings)

Three tracks, 20 minutes of near perfect IDM/deep reggaeton, or to put it simply, good ol’ fashioned electronica. Brian Piñeyro aka DJ Python aka Luis aka DJ Xanax seems to only get better and better with each release. He’s had a prolific year putting out collabs with Ela Minus, releasing EPs under both Luis and Python monikers, and dropping some killer remixes, mastering the ability to mine emotion out of machines.

Every track on this EP is something to get lost in, but my personal fave is “Club Sentimiental Vol. 3” for those gorgeous synth lines that make you feel like you’re floating above it all for four minutes, above the stress, anxiety, exhaustion, tedium, above the storm, way up above the clouds where there’s only sunshine.

DJ Python is playing in Montreal in February with Anthony Naples and heck yeah I’m excited for the show, it is sure to be a good’n.

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Fontaines D.C. – Skinty Fia (Partisan Records)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Brit rock. Bands like Bloc Party and Foals blew me away when I first heard them. Silent Alarm by Bloc Party and Antidotes by Foals still kick ass fifteen (or more!) years later…

Even Oasis. I will never forget the first time I heard “Wonderwall”. I was 16, very stoned, and in the back of Dave Tedesco’s car driving around on a Friday night. The song came on 89X (local radio station) and when that drum kick came in, oh boy, my heart expanded three times its size. Still love that song, and I do not care what anyone says or how overplayed it is or how ridiculous those brothers are or how many open mic night hacks have sullied it’s wonder even further into shit.

I was late to the Fontaines party, not listening to Dogrel when it came out, despite or perhaps in spite of the hyperbolic reviews. But once A Hero’s Death dropped, I was immediately swept into their sound from the opening bass line and that album was a constant in 2021 during jogs and stroller walks with my son, Simon.

The Dublin lads third full-length, Skinty Fia, shows them opening up their sound palette a bit, adding more melody and harmony but still being total punk rock. Some listeners may not like the shift, but it totally works for me, and seeing their live show at Corona in Montreal this spring was just awesome. Their energy was infectious and seemingly limitless. Must be nice to be in your early twenties lol.

Fave track: “I Love You” – it reminds me of high school and a “they almost made it” local band called Soyl.

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Freddie Gibbs – $oul $old $eparately (Warner)

Yep, another list, another Freddie Gibbs album. The Space Rabbit dropped his major label debut and switched up his one producer format, working with an eclectic mix of musicians and achieved excellent results.

We’ve got Alchemist, Raekwon, Rick Ross, Offset, Kaytranada, Anderson .Paak, and the hugely underrated Scarface. Not to mention Pusha T, James Blake, Musiq Soulchild, DJ Paul, and more still. Yet even though it’s super varied, it flows really well, all tied together with voice messages from (some questionable?) guests. I’ve found myself getting happily lost in its vibe on many occasions, surprised even at how often I wanted to listen to it again and again.

I like Gibbs best when he gets personal (check “Grandma’s Stove”), and with each record he’s showing more and more vulnerability, talking about his actual life rather than just his thug lyfe — but don’t worry, there’s still plenty of that flex on $$$ for all y’all too.

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DJ Healer – Nothing 2 Loose (all possible worlds)

One of Traumprinz’s many aliases, this album was released in 2018, but I didn’t get into it until this year. High off the quarantine albums under his The Phantasy and DJ Metatron monikers, I decided to go back and give this record a listen, and I’m glad I did, because it is now one of my favourite electronic albums of all time.

No joke. Like up there with SAW2 and Music Has the Right. Nothing 2 Loose is that darn good. Beautifully melancholic, transformative, and able to transport its listener to places they never knew.

“We Are Going Nowhere” is my personal fave, an endlessly hypnotic pulsing heart of a song, goddamn it’s so visceral.

It’s incredible that Traumprinz’s identity is still unknown and that his music is sold only on vinyl and in very limited runs. There’s plenty of myth-making involved and maybe that’s part of the allure, but at the end of the day, he is an artist that has always allowed the music to speak for itself, and I love him for that.

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RAMZi – Hyphea (Music From Memory)

Montreal based artist Phoebé Guillemot aka RAMZi has been quietly building buzz for half a decade now releasing records on Mood Hut, 1080P, and Rvng Intl. With hyphae, RAMZi pushes her sonic boundaries even further, creating an album full of gentle beats and melodies to get absorbed in.

It is definitely an album I can put on and decide to listen to or not. It can comfortably fade into the background as mood music or open up as so much more for the careful listener. It reminds me of an album by The Irresistible Force on Ninja Tune that I loved from like 25 years ago (dang we getting old now, sheeeeit). It has a similar low-key vibe throughout.

hyphae was recorded between November 2021 and May 2022, and began as an attempt to transcend boredom and frustrations imposed by severe restrictions in Quebec during the pandemic (remember 8 pm lockdown for 6 months anyone?), and is based around sketches she originally made as a score for a documentary about mushrooms called Fun Fungi. I should probably watch it tonight.

I missed her free show at MUTEK this year, but I’m sure I will see her play somewhere in Montreal in 2023.

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MAVI – Laughing So Hard, It Hurts (Mavi 4 Mayor)

23 year old, North Carolina rapper, MAVI released his second album this year, and it finds him bringing a poetic, intellectual vibe to hip hop, different but not unlike Earl and MIKE, yet perhaps more easily digestible than Earl thanks to a less fractured delivery and smoother beats. Still, the whole album feels covered in a haze of weed smoke, and provides a perfect soundtrack for stoned head-nodding on the couch.

MAVI is a real Renaissance Man, because when he’s not writing rhymes he’s studying Neuroscience at Howard University in DC. I expect his star to only shoot higher in the next few years, and I was bummed to see he’s skipping Montreal on his upcoming tour. Oh well, maybe next time, svp Mav?

Fave track: “High John”

***

Romance – Once Upon A Time (Ecstatic)

Some of the best musical landscapes to get lost in this year, and all thanks to who? The Queen: Céline Dion.

Elusive UK group, Romance, use Céline as their muse, and take her music, slow it down, flip it upside down, pull it apart, grieve its loss, and then painstakingly put it back together again. And in the process, they somehow take the syrupy 90’s ballad format and transform it into a surprisingly emotional modern classical ambient album. Like OPN or Malibu, Romance can eke out all them sad-boy feelings.

Take the first track for example, a patient drone, an occasional reverb heavy piano loop, and Dion’s voice pushed into slightly irregular registers – either just too low or just too high – singing “Have You Ever Been in Love?” Sounds like a recipe for a cheesy disaster, but instead plays out like a Harold Budd slo-mo dream sequence.

The closing track, fittingly titled, “Crying is the Only Thing That Gets Me Through” is the clear show-stopper, working a Stars of the Lid vibe, but the whole album is worth checking out. And apparently, there’s a follow-up album now too.

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srwn – Saraswatinagar EP (Orion Arm)

There is virtually zero info about srwn online, except that they are a duo from Paris, France. I was tipped to this EP on a music site I frequent, and I liked it from the first track. It has that smooth lo-fi deep house vibe pulsing throughout that I am an eternal fanboy for.

Sample a track: “Wagon Pourpre”

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Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star (Big Dada)

Brooklyn musician, Yaya Bey, released my fave album of Badu-style RnB jams of 2022. I was a big fan of Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales last year, and North Star has a similar smooth neo-soul vibe, not to mention, a candid sexuality.

Effortlessly listenable, and perfect for the start of a party or the end of one. I am looking forward to seeing what Bey does next…

Track Sample: “alright”

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JID – The Forever Story (Dreamville/Interscope)

Atlanta’s JID releases his third proper album, and it plays out like a history lesson of hip hop music. Coming from the ATL, one of rap’s meccas (Outkast, Killer Mike, Migos, Young Thug, Playboi Carti, Future, 21 Savage, just to name a few), JID was my students most rec’d rapper of the year, and it was for that reason that I decided to check him out.

And I’m glad I did, because he’s got bars for days, slick production, and a smooth cadence to his delivery that I enjoy. He’s only going to blow up from here.

Check: “Crack Sandwich”

***

Bibio – BIB10 (Warp Records)

Stephen Wilkinson released his tenth album as Bibio, and offers up a sort of retrospective of the varied styles and genre flips he’s done in his career. The Bibio project has been shape-shifting for almost fifteen years now – from folktronica to glitch hop to yacht rock to ambient drone with many other deviations in between, and with BIB10, we get a smattering of it all.

That isn’t necessary a great thing, as there’s more than a few tracks I have to skip (bad jazz and cheese rock in middle of album) but there’s enough music on this album that I really enjoy. For example, the outro of “Rain and Shine” may be some the prettiest and wistful music of the year, and “Lost Somewhere” was ear-wormed in my head for weeks.

I really enjoyed his last two more pastoral folk leaning albums and so I find those type of tracks the strongest on BIB10. Still he’s one of the most consistent artists on Warp’s roster and never afraid to take chances — thank goodness he’s good enough to pull most of them off.

***

Kenny Beats – Louie (XL Recordings)

In-demand producer, Kenny Beats, has been on the upward trend for five years now, working with Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, Rico Nasty, and more.

This year he dropped his solo debut, Louie, and it’s bursting with smooth soul samples, warm emotions, and fire guests like JPEGMAFIA, Foushée, Dijon, and Benny Sings.

The album is a tribute to Kenny’s father, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the time Kenny was working on the project during the lockdown in 2020. It harkens back to the glory days of instrumental hip-hop albums by legends like Madlib and Dilla, and you can effortlessly listen to it from start to finish, and find yourself dancing in the kitchen while making dinner, and showing the kids how to do the two-step or the cabbage patch or some shit.

Bottom line: soul-heavy jams that are easy fun, and also hit that nostalgia nod for good measure.

Sample Track: “Last Words”

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Alex Albrecht – A Clearing (Mule Musiq)

I got into Australian musician Alex Albrecht’s album Campfire Stories last year, and enjoyed its classic jazz meets ambient music filtered through the rainforest aesthetic very much, but with A Clearing, Albrecht finds himself directly in my aural wheelhouse.

To quote the label: A Clearing is “Home listening elegant slow House Music”.

To quote some guy on Discogs: “I agree this is some serious magic on here. For context I’m hanging out here at 8:30am on a saturday morning, in my jam-jams and every track is hitting my ear perfectly. Coffee and an enchanted summer morning :)”

Some tracks remind me of long-ago Glasgow legend Pub’s music on the ampoule records imprint.

To quote me: “Immersive ambient jams with a steady pulse and infectious low-register bass swirls. So lovely.”

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Carmen Villain – Only Love From Now On (Smalltown Supersound)

Norwegian-Mexican artist Carmen Villain makes atmospheric music made up of tapestries of field-recordings, acoustic instruments such as flute, clarinet, piano, and electronics, all culminating into her own distinctive style that combines elements of fourth world, dub and ambient. 

I discovered her last year and listened to Both Lines Will Be Blue and Sketches For Winter IX: Perlita EP constantly. They are both unique ambient albums that seem to still get better with each listen. With Only Love From Now On, Villain has mastered her mélange of styles, and put out the best record of her career thus far. With the help of trumpeter Arve Henriksen, and flutist Johanna Scheie Orellana, this album plays out like a slow, soft, daydream.

Villain showcased the album this year at MUTEK, and there’s only one word to describe the set: sensual. Cloaked in darkness and smoke with minimal visuals behind her and flutist Orellana by her side, Villain created a sumptuous mood that I immediately was swept up in. It was an excellent live show that exceeded my expectations and the highlight of the festival for me. She is definitely on an upward trajectory and an essential electronic artist to check out.

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Alex G – God Save The Animals (Domino Recordings)

Indie darling Alex G is another artist on the big fat pile of musicians that I never really got into despite all le hype. But as I’ve said before somewhere on this blog, the way I see it, if a good band or artist puts out a good album, I will eventually get into it, and I really don’t care if I’m riding the crest of the hype-wave or not.

I’ve had a rule for the last few years that if an album makes me cry then it is good enough to own on vinyl, and God Save The Animals is on that list. This record caught me instantly to the point where I was listening to it pretty much exclusively for three weeks. I don’t listen to music like that anymore these days. When I was a teenager, and would buy CD’s and only have what I had, I’d listen to the same shit over and over and over, however, with virtually all music available somewhere on the internet, my listening habits have inherently changed. But with GSTA, I was back to my late 90’s on repeat ad infinitum.

The songwriting is so good, and I love how he’s not afraid to weird a song out with pitched or screeched vocals or a wall of distortion or change up a groove right in the middle and start something else.

And the lyrics are also fantastic. “Mission” was the first track to turn on the early morning waterworks on the subway one morning. “Aint gonna right you’re wrong with a stupid love song” followed by an absolutely lovely little guitar solo, oh yeah, that’s the stuff right there.

And then later, “my teacher is a child, with a big smile, no bitterness”, that line is powerful, as 97% of my life is consumed with my two children. And sometimes it’s really fucking hard to be the best Dad I can be without any bitterness, ya know? I love them so much, I am literally tearing up as I type this lol (hey, I’m an emotional sap, aight?), but man alive, it’s been one heck of a hard ass year raising two young kids without any family around to lighten the goddamn load every once in a while. So that line hits me.

And if that wasn’t enough, he does it again in penultimate track “Miracles”, when he sings “You say one day we should have a baby, well, God help me, I love you, I agree…” There’s something so joyful and innocent in his tone about the possibility of starting a family. A future as more than just a couple, but also as parents.

Having children has been without a doubt the greatest most challenging wondrous experiment of my life. I am shocked to realize how much I have learnt about myself in the process, many good things, but also many not so good things. All I know is I am still growing up and evolving myself, and slowly chipping off all the petrified shit that’s been there for way too damn long, and trying to let my children be my teachers, and to look at life wearing their “pure wonder” sunglasses as much as humanly possible.

And somehow, some 29 year-old bedroom producer dude from Philly has given me so much to think about, all thanks to his wonderful songs on God Save The Animals.

That’s what good music is all about isn’t it?

***

Sam Prekop and John McEntire – Sons Of (Thrill Jockey Records)

For ten years now, Sam Prekop has been releasing solo records where he noodles around with synths and tries to make electronic music. And for ten years, I’d give those albums quick skims, feel like he wasn’t quite hitting the mark, wish he’d put out a new Sea and Cake record, and then go listen to a quote-unquote “real electronic musician”. I’m such a hack critic lol.

He got close with Comma from 2020, which had some pretty solid songs on it, but it took until this year (in my humble hack critic opinion) for Prekop to finally release an excellent electronic record. Maybe he needed the help of Johnny Mac to get that percussion tight? Who knows? All I know is that Sons Of fires off on all cylinders, and even though it’s still full of some serious synth noodling, it totally works this time.

One night during the summer, I was staying at my in-laws and was lying outside of the room my son was sleeping in, waiting for him to fall asleep. To bide my time, I popped in my headphones and put this album on. After the first track or so, I dozed off, and woke up 15-20 minutes later and had no idea what on earth I was listening to. I would have never guessed Sam Prekop in a zillion years. In short, Sons Of sounds like nothing either of them have released up to now, and shows two artists who have continued to evolve and innovate for more than 30 years now.

Prekop also released the equally intriguing The Sparrow on German label TAL this year, further showing this listener that he’s found his electronic stride and is on a hot streak.

Also quick side note: I saw John McEntire play with Tortoise as part of POP Montreal this year and man, what a great show. Took me back twenty years but still sounded as fresh as ever.

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Conway The Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes (Shady Records)

As I’ve said earlier, I like my thug lyfe with a dose of vulnerability, and shit, if Conway The Machine doesn’t deliver exactly that.

Conway uses this album as catharsis, a platform to grieve, confess, and count his blessings. Take this quick verse from “Stressed” as an example:

And not too long after my cousin hung his self
I never told nobody, but I lost a son myself
Imagine bein’ in the hospital, holdin’ your dead baby
And he look just like you, you tryna keep from goin’ crazy
That’s why I drink a bottle daily
For all the shit I keep bottled in lately

As someone who has personally lived through more than one miscarriage with his partner, that shit hits hard, and is most welcome flanked by heavy boom bap beats. Guests like Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Westside Gunn, Benny the Butcher add flow to the album, but Conway can handle the record all on his own.

Great track: “God Don’t Make Mistakes” — the whole “what if?” idea is done so well here, gives me chills, and Alchemist beat killing it as usual

***

Leafar Legov – Mirror (Giegling)

This album came out in 2020 and I’ve been listening to it steadily ever since. Leafar Legov aka Rafael Vogel is a young producer from Germany, and he is skilled at creating mood using synthy ambience and 4/4 beats.

Mirror was one of my quarantine albums, and it helped me get through those early pandemic days at home with a newborn, and having to teach classes on Zoom during that seemingly endless winter. I remember thinking it was a perfect winter album, because it was dark but also had those moments of warmth and light that made you dream that the spring thaw and a return to some sort of normalcy couldn’t be too far away…

Definite hints of Boards of Canada at times and Kompakt-esque pop ambient and deep house, as well as, 90’s minimal techno. Legov is adept at sustaining a cohesive flow throughout as the album blisses out to a gentle climax.

Mirror is an underrated and understated soon to be classic and highly recommended by yours truly.

***

Cate Le Bon – Pompeii (Mexican Summer)

Yes, it’s true, dream pop heroes Beach House did put out an album in 2022, but for me Cate Le Bon’s Pompeii checks the same feels and does so more effectively.

She first popped up on my radar in 2019 with her production work on Deerhunter’s last album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? and the first four songs on Pompeii are so ear-wormy, I had to take listening breaks because I could not get the songs out of my head. A testament to her powerful songwriting no doubt.

Dreamy art pop with a slanted edge. Check it.

Sample: “French Boys”

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Lord Of The Isles – Whities 029

Lord of the Isles aka Neil McDonald lives in Scotland, and this EP came out in 2020. My friend Mike sent me a link to the closing track “Inheritance” while I was at the in-laws for an extended stay during the second wave of the pandemic. I remember he wrote something like: “Play it as loud as you can handle”.

I decided to listen while out for a jog, and it definitely is not good exercise music, because it stopped me in my tracks. Ellen Renton’s poetry and wondrous Scottish accent gave me pause. I slowly walked down the sidewalk, looked to the left of me and saw two deer grazing in the sunny afternoon grass (not an uncommon site in their neighborhood but still felt like some kind of omen).

When Renton says, “maybe the sun is knackered too…” I don’t know why, but it gets me every time, and the song’s beat-heavy climax is stunning. Definitely on my need to buy on vinyl list. “Waiting in Arisaig” is also fantastic. On the end of that trip to the in-laws, we were waiting at Dulles airport for our very delayed flight, and I was pushing Simon around in his stroller up and down the anonymous halls, and it was pretty much the perfect soundtrack for the moment.

Whities 029 has been on consistent rotation here for two years now. A unique vibe and an exceptional release that will be heavily sought after and imitated, for its peculiar results and new exploration of the intersection between electronic music and literature.

***

Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers (Top Dawg)

It’s been waaaay more than a minute since Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize winning album DAMN. And damn indeed, if every second of it hasn’t weighed down on Kendrick’s shoulders like the weight of all worlds.

Things have changed since DAMN. Pandemic, Artificial Intelligence, war, global political nightmares, conservatism, fake news, idiocracy, hell, even Kanye was still relevant back then (thank goodness Ye’s finally cancelled), and it’s all imploded and exploded in the span of five years.

The world is fucked, no doubt, and even though it may seem on the surface that Kendrick has some sort of Saviour complex, the only person he’s interested in saving with his fifth studio album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is his damn self.

Morale is no easy listen, and I’ll admit to letting myself be swayed by early underwhelming reviews, but this record is an ambitious and anxious beast of a double album. It definitely has some missteps (“Auntie Diaries” anyone?), but its highs are so much stronger than the lows.

Take “We Cry Together” for example. The first time I listened to it, I made it about 30 seconds in before rushing to turn the volume down as I was with my daughter, Sylvia. Definitely not a song to jam out to with a 5 year old, but when I finally had a chance to listen to it in its entirety I was wowed. Yin to Kendrick’s yang, actress Taylour Paige, gives an incredible performance throughout this song, as the duo play out an argument between a dysfunctional couple in a toxic relationship.

Another high, “Mother I Sober” featuring Beth Gibbons, has Kendrick in full Vulnerable Mode, rapping out traumatic moments and mistakes of his life — the whole song playing out like a confession about generational trauma and K’s own addictions and regrets.

As the song builds to its climax, Kendrick’s voice grows louder in the mix, above the swirling strings, and Gibbons’ haunted harmonies, and ends with him shouting: “This is transformation!” Gives me shivers every damn time, and as the song fades out, Whitney (his wife), says she’s proud of him, and then their daughter says: “Thank you Daddy”, and I usually have a few solid seconds of private ugly crying before I can move on.

Flawed but powerful as f, Kendrick shows us he is still the GOAT. And heck yeah, I’ll shed off my Osheaga retirement to see him at the festival in Montreal this summer.

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HONORABLE AUDIBLES

Big Thief Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Theo ParrishDJ Kicks

Bad BunnyUn Verano Sin Ti

Map.acheSo Oder So

DeepchordFunctional Designs

KokorokoCould We Be More

Andrew Tuttle Fleeting Adventure

Danger Mouse & Black ThoughtCheat Codes

FKA twigs – Capri Songs

BeyoncéRenaissance

UllaHope Sonata

Nala SinephroSpace 1.8

Jeff Parker Forfolks and Mondays at the Enfield Tennis Academy

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OK then, holy shit, I finished the list! Happy belated 2023 to all of you. Only good tidings to you and yours. Be vulnerable. Be honest. And keep on listening to good music.

Love ya,

ml