Monday, December 21, 2015

My Top 25 Albums of 2015

What a weird year: Donald Trump runs for president figurehead in what seems like an epic prank turned bad dream turned reality for 'Murica,  Kranky is all over my favorites list, Jim O'rourke shows up on here twice, Grouper started a rock band, cello and violin everywhere, so many ladies killed it this year, Popol Vuh reissues galore, and most importantly... Swans reissue my beloved "White Light from the Mouth of Infinity". Shew... exhausting. Without further adieu, here are my favorites.

25. Helen - The Original Faces (Kranky)

24. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (Aftermath / Interscope)

23. Kenneth Kirschner - Compressions and Rarefractions (12k)

22. Jlin - Dark energy (Planet Mu)

21. Ducktails - St. Catherine (Domino Recording Co.)

20. Oren Ambarchi / Jim O'Rourke - Behold (Editions Mego)

19. Colin Stetson / Sarah Neufield - Never Were the Way She Was (Constellation)

18. Julia Kent - Asperities (The Leaf Label)

17. Christina Vantzou - #3 (Kranky)

16. Scott Tuma - Eyrie (Immune Recordings)

15. Port St. Willow - Syncope (People Teeth)

14. Floating Points - Elaenia (Luaka Bop)

13. Goldmund - Sometimes (Western Vinyl)

12. Deepchord - Ultraviolet Music (Soma)

11. Fennesz / King Midas Sound - Edition 1 (Ninja Tune)

10. Shaidar Logoth - The Ritualist: Chapter II (Self-released)

09. Helena Hauff - Discreet Desires (Werkdiscs / Ninja Tune)

08. Sean McCann - Ten Impressions for Piano and Strings (Root Strata)

07. Lakker - Tundra (R&S Records)

06. Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete (Warp)

05. Valet - Nature (Kranky)

04. Jim O'Rourke - Simple songs (Drag City)

03. Zelienople - Show Us the Fire (Immune Recordings)

02. Steve Hauschildt - Where All is Fled (Kranky)

01. Nest Egg - Respectable (Bathetic)

Yup. No bias. Honest. It's simply the most interesting, catchy, intelligent, listenable and rockin' record of 2015. Too many folks sleeping on this one. It's the deepest. And, if you've not seen them live, figure it out.

Peace, Love, and happy 2016. Thank you all for reading. It means so much to me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Some Favorite Songs of 2015

My albums of the year list will drop within the week. Until then, enjoy this mixtape I made containing 23 of the best songs from 2015. Enjoy.

Jamie xx - Loud Places
Arca - Sinner
Nest Egg - Set the GPS for the Heart of the Sun
Scott Tuma - F. March
Zelienople - Sun in the Eyes
Steve Hauschildt - Vicinities
Oneohtrix Point Never - Ezra
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld - Won't Be a Thing to Come
Helena Hauff - Spur
Julia Kent - Terrain
Deerhunter - Breaker
Helen - Motorcycle
Goldmund - Sometimes
Mark McGuire - True Love (Song for Rachel)
Valet - Clouds
Nils Frahm - A Stolen Car
Lakker - Milch
FKA Twigs - Figure 8
Ducktails - Into the Sky
Sean McCann - Charade
Flying Lotus w/ Kendrick Lamar - Never Catch Me
Christina Vantzou - Robert Earl
Shaidar Logoth - Drink Thine Wretched Wine

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Goldmund - Sometimes (Western Vinyl, 2015)

This record is so good it inspired me to write my first post since June. It is sure to appear on some year end lists.

Keith Kenniff is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, and electronic music producer. He makes ambient/electronic music under the moniker Helios, post-classical piano music under Goldmund, and is a composer for film, television, dance and performance art).

His "Goldmund" project has always been stellar, but he outdoes himself here. Ethereal and sparse piano compositions just do not get anymore lovely and moving than this. Theses pieces are utterly beautiful.

Stream on Soundcloud here: Goldmund - Sometimes

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Homeboy Sandman - Hallways (Stones Throw, 2014)

Hip hop is alive. well and more interesting than ever. For real. Queens rapper Homeboy Sandman dropped this album nine months ago and I'm just now getting around to recommending it. Shame on me.

With difficult, educated, and challenging rhymes, he embodies a sort of verbal psychedelia that is few and far between in the rap world these days. His sense of reflection and light hearted-ness is both honest and refreshing. Intelligent, savvy and hip, both the lyrics and production make fun of you, me and him. The joke's on us all.

"I'm a vegan but they never stop callin' me big cheese."

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Villages - Procession Acts (Bathetic, 2015)

The decade long evolution of Villages (William Ross Gentry) has been a fascinating one. It's been a privilege to watch this personality unfurl. At an impressive fifteen releases, each has growth that is very apparent, one that is indicative of hard work, and a discerning ear.

His initial offering, the lovely and delicate "The Last Whole Earth" in 2010, seems homage to his heroes, a cold yet delicate droning piece that calls to mind artists such as Eno, Stars of the Lid, and Labradford. As his palatte refined, Villages moved in a less ambient / drone direction. At each moment, there is a subtle maturity. The Spilling Past showed leaps and bounds in production, Theories of Ageing sees a shift, not only to cinematic frontier, but a more rhythmic direction with clean piano, acoustic guitar, and banjo, signifying an attempt to distinguish his motif as an accessible music separate from the drone genre. He escaped the pigeon hole only to be dubbed "Appalachian Drone" by several writers.

With "Procession Acts", the ten year oeuvre seems to reach a pinnacle of emotion and individual characteristics. with a production excellence that would inspire all who make music themselves.

If you're a fan of classical music, you know that often it is possible to recognize imagery and incidents the writer was contemplating during the creative process. Gentry's subtleties and nuances are full forward, and he wears his influences on his sleeve: Jonny Greenwood, Cliff Martinez, and Nick Cave & Warren Ellis scores, Type Records artists such as Peter Broderick and Goldmund, western guitar drone and blues from Steven R. Smith to Mississippi John Hurt. All of these elements combine to make a perfect album, and the culmination of an excellent repertoire.

Act One

Beginnings in Dust
Devouring the Whole
The Luddite
Tell the Butcher
Coat of Arms
Pillars in Half Light

Act Two

Open in Reverse
Out of the Mines
Slow Successors
Endings in Rust

Purchase your copy from the wonderful Bathetic Records HERE. Vinyl will go fast!!!

Stream on Spotify HERE.

Listen to a mix he made of his influences for the latest album HERE

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Happy Birthday Jay Dee!

The music world will never stop lamenting the loss of one of the best beat makers / producers hip hop has ever known. A stellar musician loved by all, and one even now recognized by the Smithsonian Institute. His MPC will be on display soon.

Happy Dilla Day!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Klaus Schulze, German Genius and Hero: An Early Work Primer

Today I just want to take a moment to talk about one of my musical heroes, Klaus Schulze. For most music nerds, a mere visit to his Wikipedia Page is enough to stop you in your tracks and fall on your knees. Here are some highlights from his early career: Started Tangerine Dream with Edgar Froese, founding member of Ash Ra Tempel (the first record from them being my ultimate kraut rock record) with Manuel Gottsching, the father of techno, created over sixty albums over five decades, most of which are pretty good, several of which are considered ambient masterpieces. This resume makes my head spin.

Anyway, I reviewed my favorite of his solo records, Mirage, a few years ago, so I just want to post links to some of my other favorites from him. This is simply a primer to his early work, everything after is hit or miss, as anyone would be over fifty years of making music. I hope you take the time to really dig in. It pays off!

From his debut album, Irrlicht, 1972:

From Cyborg, 1973:

From Blackdance, 1974:

From Picture Music, 1975:

From Timewind, 1975:

From Moondawn, 1976:


From the soundtrack to Body Love, 1977:

From Mirage, 1977:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

John Luther Adams - Become Ocean (Cantaloupe Music, 2014)

This is one of the most beautiful modern classical recordings I've had the privilege to hear. John Luther Adams composes lush, sparse and epic tales of our relationship with nature. This sounds simple, but the complexity of his musical narratives are stunning, and this is his finest work. In fact, for this piece, he just received the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

I recently discovered Adams on  Q2 Music's Meet The Composer podcast, a program that is beginning to feel essential for me. I encourage you to explore it for yourself.

Listen to folks getting all emotional about things here:

And stream the full piece here:

Or here:

Please visit his website for more information on other recordings as well: