Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


Leave a comment

Year in Review, Pt. 2 (Brainwashed)

The Brainwashed.com “best of” list is a reader’s poll now in its 17th year. Rather than have the writers pick their favorites of 2014, Brainwashed asked that they comment on what the readers select in the polls. Records are broken up into album, single, reissue, various artist, and boxed set categories (and a worst album of the year category too). Artist, new artist, and label of the year awards are then calculated by how reader’s vote in the other categories. The Lifetime Achievement Award is determined by the staff alone.

I’ve posted some of the records I commented on below, but not all of them. Click through the link to see the entire list. Writers usually comment on what their favorites were and Brainwashed readers have a great way of remembering excellent albums that other publications forget.

5. Sunn O))) & Ulver, “Terrestrials” (Southern Lord)

Out of the two Sunn O))) collaborative albums (more on the other one should you cast your eyes downwards), this was my favourite. Short and sweet, this covered all the bases (and basses) that I would hope for from Sunn O))) and Ulver. About 10 years ago, Ulver remixed a track for Sunn O)))’s White1 which always hinted at possible greatness and Terrestrials has more than been worth the wait. – John Kealy

This was a great year for Sunn O))) though they passed through it quietly. LA Reh 012 isn’t something I’ve given much attention yet, but both of their collaborative records were very good. Odd to think of them playing the backing band, but I think that is the case on both Terrestrials and Soused. Sunn O))) are extremely flexible and I continue to enjoy listening to everything they touch, whether they’re in the spotlight or not. – Lucas Schleicher

7. Aphex Twin, “Syro” (Warp)

There is a lot that could be said about Syro but everyone has already said it ad nauseum. It’s fine, it’s nothing amazing but it’s listenable. The hype didn’t kill it but it did try my patience. You would think electronic music didn’t exist before (or after) Richard James. – John Kealy

The actual album was totally overshadowed by its announcement by blimp for me.  I still liked it though.  Of course, I expected to LOVE it, but James cannot really be faulted for failing to blow my mind at this late stage in his career.  – Anthony D’Amico

I was surprised at how much I liked Syro. It’s a pleasant reminder at how good RDJ is at riffs, however it’s a reminder at how terrible he is at “experimental” fluff. Some of the album’s dead weight could have been easily been relocated to single B-sides to form a far stronger record. – Jon Whitney

Syro is the first Aphex Twin record on which Richard D. James sounds as if he is following someone else’s lead. It’s a fine record that doesn’t even come close to cracking my favorite records list for 2015. – Lucas Schleicher

23. Klara Lewis, “Ett” (Editions Mego)

For a first statement, it’s an exceptionally remarkable fully formed concept. Klara has an undeniable talent for composition and construction as well as an intuitive ear for depth and space. I look forward to her artistic trajectory as it almost feels like she’s holding back a little still. – Jon Whitney

I suspected that Lewis had backed herself into an impossibly constrained stylistic corner with her first EP, but she managed to find a way to expand and improve upon her unusual collages with Ett.  This was a delightfully strange, inventive, and unpredictable debut.  – Anthony D’Amico

Klara Lewis’s music is very subtle and imaginative and this is probably the most underrated album in the top 25. – Lucas Schleicher

38. Valerio Tricoli, “Miseri Lares” (Pan)

Here’s another candidate for one of the best, most over-looked records of 2015. Valerio Tricoli has produced and recorded with numerous people in the past ten-plus years, including 3/4HadBeenEliminated, Thomas Ankersmit, and Autistic Daughters. He has also contributed to recordings on Die Schachtel, Room40, and Tochnit Aleph. Miseri Lares isn’t Tricoli’s first solo full-length, but it’s a great introduction to his dark, looping, pseudo-concrète work. – Lucas Schleicher

(Read More)


1 Comment

Song of the Day: Bill Fay, “Time of the Last Persecution”

bill_fay_persecution_bannerBill Fay’s Time of the Last Persecution has been on my turntable a lot in the last few weeks. It was first released in 1971, the same year that Marvin Gaye put out What’s Going On? The song below was apparently penned in response to the Kent State shootings in 1970, but the album isn’t as overtly political or public as Gaye’s.

Persecution’s political message, whatever it is, comes mingled with the Biblical themes suggested by the title. And those themes are delivered through surreal, half-mystical images and poetic phrases. Fay internalizes everything and uses personal visions to convey desperation, disbelief, fear, and finally exhaustion. There’s no mention of parties, particular leaders or events, or of social reform. Instead, Fay writes about soldiers, factories, pollution, the coming Messiah, Christs, Hitlers, Caesars, and the death of nations. He sings about harbors floating away, and an anonymous force removing the sun from the sky.

As Jo-Anne Green explains: “While the Beatles flew off to meet the Maharishi, Fay fell under the spell of a 19th century compendium of commentaries on the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelations…” What he took away from those commentaries looks only vaguely Christian, but it can sound absolutely apocalyptic. Ray Russell’s awesome guitar playing contributes to that, as do the inclusion of various horns and reeds. On the title track, Fay stacks them all on top of each other until they transform into a raucous wave of noise.

It’s a great record, and this song in particular blows me away each time. Check it out: