Posts Tagged ‘la equidistancia’

INAUDIBLE’s BEST OF 2017

December 22, 2017

Hello everybody! Welcome to INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF LIST: EDITION #9! Without further ado, let’s get down to the nit and the grit and reveal INAUDIBLE’s favourite musical moments of 2017.

FAVE EP’S, SINGLES, 12’s of 2017

click album cover to sample a track

Grant - No Lights EP

Grant – No Lights EP

See Other - Linda EP

See Other – Linda EP














Lobster Theremin is a fantastic record label. Head Lobster, Asquith, and his team released 30 records in 2017, and Grant and See Other are just two highlights among many. Grant is my favourite house producer of last year, as I love his earlier releases on Mork and Lauren Bacall, and See Other’s propulsive 4/4 beats have continually had me coming back for more. Check ’em.

Ozel AB - Workshop 24

Ozel AB – Workshop 24

D. Tiffany - Blue Dream

D. Tiffany – Blue Dream












 

Ozel AB has also put out music with Lobster Theremin, but 2017 sees him releasing Workshop’s 24th release, and it’s a real good one. Deep, introspective, eyes-closed head boppers for those in the know. While Vancouver’s D. Tiffany keeps up the Van City hype and drops another four solid tracks of eclectic bass-leaden house music.

HONORABLE AUDIBLES OF 2017

click album cover to sample a track

There was a ton of excellent music this year that I enjoyed from all different genres. From hip-hop to rock to ambient, 2017 showcased some great highlights and guilty pleasures…

Lotta Sea Lice

Courtney & Kurt – Lotta Sea Lice

Galcher Lustwerk – Dark Bliss

The opening track on a Kurt Vile album is always fantastic, and it’s no different here with “Over Everything” on Lotta Sea Lice, his fun collab with Courtney Barnett. The two musicians compliment each other really well, and the album is full of straight ahead good ol’ blue collar rock ‘n roll. Kurt and Courtney version 2017! Very easy listening.

Galcher Lustwerk is one of the chillest dudes in techno and although nothing will ever be able to beat his sumptuous 100% Galcher mix from 2013, his much-anticipated proper debut Dark Bliss still offers up a set of deep and trippy house numbers featuring smooth beats and his hypnotic vocals. It’s club music for those favouring their vape pens over their mixed drinks and I be diggin’ it.

Colleen - A Flame

Colleen – A Flame, My Love

Kelly Lee Owens

Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens

I’ve been listening to Colleen since her debut on The Leaf Label in 2003, but seeing her live at last year’s Mutek, made me really see what an accomplished musician she is. Her set had me mesmerized. With A Flame, My Love, A Frequency, she abandons her oft-used viola de gamba for synths, and the result is just as immersive as her earlier work, and shows a musician always willing to embrace the new.

Speaking of new, Kelly Lee Owens was a relative unknown at the start of this year, until she released her debut album on Smalltown Supersound, and she now finds herself on many best of lists. Reminiscent of early Grimes, Owens makes moody electronic music and uses her voice to anchor the listener in. Great stuff.

Bibio - Phantom Brickworks

Bibio – Phantom Brickworks

Bing & Ruth

Bing & Ruth – No Home






 

Bibio has constantly reinvented himself over the course of a decade and a half-dozen records – from lo-fi folktronica, to hip-hop beats, to leftfield and even to yacht rock – and he’s worn each hat well. But with Phantom Brickworks, his first ambient album, the hat’s never fit so damn comfy and snug. The music on this album feels effortless. It’s soothing and haunting and makes for a great vibe to wake up to in the morning or zone out to at night. Well done, sir.

Bing & Ruth aka David Moore has produced my favourite piano-based ambient record of the year. Unlike Bibio’s more languid and improvisational approach, the tracks on No Home Of The Mind feel composed and intellectual, but that doesn’t mean they’re not emotional. The album is modern classical in its execution, and as soon as opener “Starwood Choker” begins, the listener is immediately swept in. Highly rec’d.

Kelela - Take Me Apart

Kelela – Take Me Apart

Vince-Staples-Big-Fish-Theory

Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

Kelela is the low-key Solange for 2017 and with Take Me Apart she further refines the future R&B sound she’s been developing over the last five years. Working with hot ticket producers like Arca, Kingdom, and Jam City, Kelela is in full on sultry mode throughout. Whether the tempo is fast or subdued she keeps the sensual vibe running from start to finish. Insert fire emoji here.

With Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples leans hard on electronic dance music producers like SOPHIE and Flume and successfully crosses genres, popping out club bangers and tracks to bop yer head to while you sink heavy-lidded into the couch and a cloud of smoke. I was a bit surprised at Vince’s corporate sponsorship with a soda company, but in our current hyper-branded culture, why wouldn’t a young musician want to supplement his cash flow and rep the same soft drink as Lebron James?

Mac Demarco - This Old Dog

Mac Demarco – This Old Dog

Nick Hakim - Green Twins

Nick Hakim – Green Twins

At 27, Mac Demarco is already feeling wise and grown up, and it shows on This Old Dog, his most straight-forward and easy listening record to date. Some longtime fans have said they miss the young nutso Mac, with his weird tunings and goofy stage antics, but I like this new old cur. It’s a good look on him and he knows it.

D.C. native, Nick Hakim could easily find himself on a bill with Mac and fit right in. Mixing the stylings of Conan Mocassin and Unknown Mortal Orchestra with a 1970’s soul vibe, Hakim’s debut Green Twins makes good on his earlier EP’s and shows a young musician truly stepping into his own. His live show at Bar Le Ritz in Montreal this April was excellent, and I look forward to further evolutions of his laidback sound.

Gas - Narkopop

Gas – Narkopop

DJ Sports - Modern Species

DJ Sports – Modern Species

Seventeen years after Wolfgang Voigt put out his masterwork Pop, he returns with variations on the same theme avec Narkopop. If someone put a gun to my head and screamed: “Tell me your favourite album of all time, NOW!” and in that moment I blubbered “Pop by Gas”, I could die happy with that choice, as I’ve been listening to it consistently enough over the last fifteen years. So then, a new Gas record is a pretty big deal, and as expected Narkopop is just as visceral as his earlier work, but it walks a much darker path. It’s moody and consuming and worthy of about seventeen years worth of listens. Sounds good to me.

I don’t know a goddamn thing about DJ Sports. All I know is that his name is pretty stupid, and his music is pretty awesome. It’s as if I found an old burnt CD from Uhfska in a box somewhere and discovered a classic electronic album from twenty years ago. Modern Species is a throwback to late 90’s house and jungle, but it also features some very nice beatless moments, and there’s a track that reminds me a lot of Arovane too. Definitely worth a few spins in your Discman.

GUILTY PLEASURES OF 2017

the xx - I See You

The xx – I See You

Drake - More Life

Drake – More Life

The first time I listened to I See You, I thought it was The xx’s flattest record yet, but then their hooks and melodies started to get lodged in the old noggin’ and before I knew it, I was playing “Replica” six times in a row everyday for a fortnight. Jamie xx is a formidable producer and while I still think In Colour is his strongest release to date, apparently there’s still a little space left for some angsty songs about heartache in my life.

Is Drake a good rapper? Negative. Is he a good singer? Not at all. But is he a taste maker? Without a doubt. His ‘playlist’ More Life, features more guests, more genres, more samples, and more producers than you can shake your booty too. And it sure has its share of fun moments. More tune for your head top, indeed.

INAUDIBLE’S TOP NINE ALBUMS OF 2017

9. William Basinski – A Shadow in Time

William Basinski is up there with Wolfgang Voigt in my books as one of ambient music’s living legends. Like Voigt, Basinski’s catalogue has been on consistent rotation in my quiet morning moments for the better part of a decade. But as much as I enjoy his music, I always thought Basinski (not unlike Herr Voigt) was probably a pretentious jerk that took himself way too seriously, but thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumptions.

I finally saw him live this year at POP Montreal and man, what a cool and down to earth dude! He played the two new pieces from A Shadow in Time to a packed and sweaty audience, and in the end, he slowly faded the music out for a very long time, and as hushed as it got, you could still hear everything perfectly amongst the burps and whispers of the crowd.

William Basinski may be a down to earth guy, but he’s got his eyes clearly fixed on the goddamn stars! I love him.

8. Beach Fossils – Somersault

I was under the impression that the guys in Beach Fossils had moved on to new things, since there hadn’t been a peep from them since 2013’s excellent Clash The Truth. So I was quite happy to see a new record from the Brooklyn band to help kick off the summer.

Less derivative (and douchey) than DIIV, and more varied in their songwriting than Real Estate, the songs on Somersault, reveal the Fossils at their most mature, and provides a suite of emotional and melodic indie rock tunes. The addition of strings and horns throughout the album also helps give their sound a sonic boost. In my opinion, after Real Estate’s rather stale, In Mind, it’s safe to say that Beach Fossils have usurped their place for fave ‘indie’ band.

7. Freddie Gibbs – You Only Live 2wice

Gangsta Gibbs rises from the ashes of a drive-by, jail time, and an acquitted rape charge, and returns with You Only Live 2wice, his hardest and most accomplished collection of tracks yet. Gibbs and I couldn’t be more opposite, but I’ve been fascinated with his rhymes and flow for a long time now, and it seems like he just keeps getting better.

Seeing him live at Theatre Fairmount in Montreal this summer was an absolute treat. Like a total pro, he blasted out his complicated raps for well over an hour and didn’t seem to take a breath the entire time. Plus he was humble, quietly thanking his fans for sticking with him through all the muck, before cranking the bass back up to eleven. More Kane, more Gibbs!

6. Fresco & Irisarri – La Equidistancia

For a half decade, Leandro Fresco released one song a year on Kompakt’s annual Pop Ambient compilation, and they were always highlights to my ears. He finally released his first solo album in 2015, and it’s really good, but teaming up with Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka The Sight Below) seems an inspired choice. La Equidistancia is my favourite ambient album of the year, because it creates the perfect soundscape to get lost into while writing, reading, studying, thinking …

The entire album can swirl by in a blip until final track “Un Horizonte en Llamas”, which sounds a lot like Boards of Canada, but also creates the sensation of the clouds lifting and clearing, allowing you to zone back in to your world, and wake up back to your reality. It’s an impressive effect and I doubt it was done on purpose, but it’s some really great stuff all around. Let’s hope they keep this partnership up in 2018.

5. Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

Grizzly Bear return after a five-year hiatus with the excellent Painted Ruins, yet another collection of intricate and impressive songs. There was a lot of talk about how a new Grizzly Bear album would fit in the current music streaming landscape? As if our collective attention spans have become so short no one can even listen to an hour’s worth of music from the same band anymore.

My response: a new LP by Grizzly Bear fits just fine thank you very much. Music is music is music. And I for one think a suite of music from one band (aka an album) still works just as goddamn well as it did when Robert Plant was howling about getting his lemon squeezed. Music is timeless. Period. And Grizzly Bear are an excellent example of this.

With Painted Ruins they have written the record they wanted to, and it is an album that rewards with repeat listens, as their compositions are rich, chaotic, melodic, and vocally fantastic. I’ve listened to Painted Ruins countless times and it’s still revealing itself with each spin.

Seeing them play a sold out show at Metropolis this year showcased a band still at the height of their powers and still very relevant in our current music culture.

4. Tyler the Creator – (Scum Fuck) Flower Boy

Tyler the Creator grows up and releases his most cohesive and strongest musical statement to date with Flower Boy. His gravelly voice and penchant for sleek production mixed with infectious samples finally take centre stage, because Tyler decided to let the music speak for itself and himself, allowing listeners to shake off some of his more polarizing moments of the past.

Lead single “Who Dat Boy” is a straight-up banger, and the entire album is chock full of catchy hooks and pleasant earworms throughout. It also acts as somewhat of a cathartic statement for Young T, as he (sort of) claims ties with the LGBTQ community, and attempts to explain his obsession with cars and attention-seeking antics stem from loneliness and boredom. Guests like Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, Kali Uchs, Jaden Smith, and Lil’ Wayne help round out the vocals and bolster the album’s overall appeal.

Like Vince, Tyler reps consumer culture, but thankfully none of it overshadows what we’re really here for: the tunes. Flower Boy is definitely the hookiest album of the year, and one that I can play while at the gym just as comfortably as when having friends over for dinner. Let’s see where Dat Boy will go next…

3. Four Tet – New Energy

It’s been 16 years since Four Tet aka Kieran Hebden released the groundbreaking Rounds, and in the span of almost twenty years, he’s put out consistently excellent music while never pigeonholing his sound. Over the last seven years or so, Hebden has moved his musical aesthetic from couch to club, and with New Energy he presents all his strengths in one record, from new age chill to dancefloor banger, with all the little ambient nooks and eclectic crannies in between.

Lead single “Two Thousand and Seventeen” is possibly Hebden’s most moving track since “Angel Echoes”. It could easily be an unreleased track from 2003’s Rounds, and is a perfect example of the cyclical nature of electronic music. Unlike any other genre, there’s a timelessness to electronic music, and I predict “Two Thousand and Seventeen” will sound just as heartbreakingly on point in 2022 as it does now.

New Energy works your head, your mind, and your dance moves, as showcased on the top notch track “SW9 9SL”. Hebden is a class act and continues to show he’s one of the most accomplished and varied musicians in the electronic music scene.

2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

Kung Fu Kenny drops his fourth LP DAMN. with the precision and discipline of a martial artist and leaves all of his contemporaries in the dark.

The production on DAMN. is stripped down and raw in comparison to Butterfly’s intricate live arrangements, and like A Tribe Called Quest’s excellent album from last year, DAMN. is a brilliant combination of the timeless and the modern, the old school and the next-level. And for the most part it bumps HARD.

Does he miss the mark here and there trying to be a bit too radio-friendly? Perhaps. But he more than makes up for it with tracks like “DNA” and “FEAR”. “DNA” has gotta be 2017’s most undeniable fight song, while “FEAR” is probably the most complete song in his discography, the perfect culmination of who Kendrick Lamar is as a rapper and storyteller in 2017. It’s emotional, personal, and a clear standout on an album full of standouts.

But all this talk of Kendrick as the GOAT seems a bit hasty. Let’s wait a bit, no? Let’s see what he does next, and let’s see if after all the nods, and reps, and hype and success of this album, he actually does remain humble.

1. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

Bet you weren’t expecting this one, eh?

Earlier this year, maybe around March or April, I listened to Come On Die Young for the first time in close to ten years, and I couldn’t believe how perfectly it suited my current mood, as well as, how much I used to fucking love this band. In the early aughts, me and Mogwai were pretty goddamn tight.

The first time I ever heard them I was driving home, listening to Brave New Waves on CBC, and the great Patti Schmidt played “Burn Girl-Prom Queen”, a ten minute slow burn of a song, that had me goose-bumped and chain-smoking, and driving past my house for another spin around the neighborhood.

Perhaps more than any of the ‘revered’ bands from my early twenties, Mogwai were able to envelop me like no other, they knew how to absorb my mind completely, whether they were playing at a sensitive hush or with the angsty urge to make my ears hum and ring. They wrote the music I wanted to make. Soft, loud, dark, introspective and volatile, met with occasional moments of quiet beauty.

But somewhere along the last decade and a half, I tossed Mogwai and their post-rock kin aside for all things electronic. And yet, my musical tastes are somewhat cyclical, and after listening to their newest record “Every Country’s Sun” as a soundtrack to autumn, I was surprised to hear that Mogwai were still on top of their game. And now, instead of just being loud for loud’s sake, their sound grows outwards rather than just up up up. Their guitars sound like synths, their synths like guitars, and the bass and drums are as driving as ever.

Opener “Coolverine” sets the mood immediately, and draws the listener into a set of comfortably claustrophobic tunes that mix electronics with guitars, art-rock with grit, and volume with ambience, all to emotional effect.

I saw them live at The Corona in Montreal in early December and I’m still thinking about the show. It was special for me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’d somehow never seen them in all the years I’ve been a fan, secondly, it’s probably going to be my last concert for a while, since I’ll soon be singing lullabies to a newborn instead of bopping my head in a club, thirdly, it was a rather cathartic experience after a tumultuous week at work, and finally, they were absolutely stellar live.

They showcased most of the new album, highlighting how strong the new songs really are, but they also played “Cody”, “Mogwai Fear Satan”, and opened with “Hunted By A Freak” (a personal favourite), which had me fighting back tears as I sat on the balcony in the dark by myself. Earplugs were a necessity, but it wasn’t until the encore where they really aurally assaulted us, and I truly loved every single minute of it.

As I write this, I’m listening to the title track of the new album on vinyl and it’s soundin’ real heavy and real nice, and so for these reasons Mogwai’s ninth LP, “Every Country’s Sun” is INAUDIBLE’s favourite album of 2017.

Yes! I made it to the end!

Thanks for reading, happy 2018 to all y’all! I’m looking forward to all the craziness my 40th year will bring….

Big Love,

ml