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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

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2014 Year in Review, Pt. 1 (Dusted in Exile)

Normally I’d post a lengthy year in review here, but this time around I’m just going to link to the Dusted and Brainwashed year-end lists I was a part of, then maybe cap it off with a list of last minute records I heard or ordered that I think deserve some attention.

So, here’s a snippet from my Dusted writeup. Much more after the link. And take some time to look at what the other writers had to say about their 2014 favorites. There is lots of good stuff from everyone involved:

This year was filled with great music from start to finish. There wasn’t a single month that didn’t see the release of something exciting. As winter approached, the continuous flood of exceptional recordings became increasingly hard to follow. By June, keeping up had become little more than a laughable daydream, never mind everything that came out between October and December. Lots of people probably feel this way every December, but 2014 was the year I was swept away. 

Looking back at the time line, it’s easy to see why. Tara Jane O’Neil and Damien Jurado released their records in January, Anne Guthrie’s Codiaeum Variegatum bowled me over in February, and the Toshiya Tsunoda/Manfred Werder collaboration landed in March. Politiken der Frequenz rolled out in April and Carl Hultgren’s first solo album won me over at the end of May. I married my wife in June and shortly thereafter started new work, where listening to new music every day wasn’t part of the job. Erstwhile had already put out the Jürg Frey and Radu Malfatti 2CD by that time, in July. Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet’s The Abyss came out with it and a month later the new FKA Twigs was on the shelves. That one was less impressive than I had hoped, but it still spent a lot of time inside my head. 

And these are just the first albums that come to mind. Coppice, Florian Hecker, LCC, Machinefabriek, Poemss, Protomartyr, Sun Kil Moon, SunnO)))/Ulver, and Nicholas Szczepanik all issued new music in that same period, all worth hearing.

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The Monthly List: 2012 in Review, Part Two

satantango_owlPart two of December’s Monthly List features my favorite movie of the year, which wasn’t even released in 2012, plus a few thoughts about a couple of books I read, one or two of the live shows I saw, and a brief reflection on visiting the Museum of Modern Art for the first time.

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