EOY Updates and My Solutions For Bad Lists
So I have a few more additions to the jumble list (2022 music blurbs presented in a randomized order every time the page loads). I've also created a grab bag that will give you a random selection of 10 albums I haven't written about just yet, since the pace of my writing is too slow but I still want to tell people about so many albums. It would be overwhelming to list the names all at once, I had a whole year to build a positive relationship with all this, nobody would have the time to repeat all of it on top of living their own life! So I think going 10 at a time is reasonable, there's a better chance for something to fit into a new life.
I think these randomizations are good innovations for the list format, but they're not enough. So I've developed a navigation tag system, using some idiosyncratic categories that I've assigned to the albums I've written about. I will probably define them at some point, but right now they are open to your own interpretations. If you click on one, it will take you to the next album with that tag. So if you only want the popular music that everybody likes, you'll just scroll around until you find a big one and then click on the "Widely Appreciated Music" tag, and then it'll take you to the next popular thing that I also like. I haven't written about any of the stuff that gets that tag yet, but there's categories like "Heady Dynamite", "Chug The Horn Of Plenty", and "The Austere Collection", among others. There's only 15 albums on the list so far, so it isn't really too significant to have this navigation feature, it's easy enough to read the whole thing straight thru. But eventually, there are going to be more words in this list than any one person would actually want to read. And so this will allow for a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience, where people can be actively engaged with forming the narrative, and play the list like it's a roguelike. I'm hopeful that this can lead to a greater capacity to get what you actually want from it.
This tag system also has the advantage of illustrating the connections that strengthen each album in my mind. I've been trying to come up with a term for an idea (temp title is "stacked listening" but I don't know if that is any good) about how I'm not *only* listening to the thing I'm listening to, I'm also listening to it through the previous experiences of other things that I've listened to. And these connections mean that listening to one of them can end up making the other one better. So this is a way of drawing out these stacks that I've formed in my head. Some of them might have no hope of ever making sense to someone else, but I still think there'll be value in showing them.
I'm curious to hear what people think about these approaches, it'll probably take me until at least July of next year to write about everything. So I'll be making little tweaks here and there, and maybe I'll even come up with some new twists. There's room for input! Also, since I'm going to be going slow with this, if anyone else wants to borrow from these ideas *at all*, please do! I'd love to see more intra-list connections and random orderings out there. If it's any help, you can even check the google sheets CMS I built for all of this, there's a lot of stuff in the formuals that is specific to my site, and also it's kind of a mess in general. It doesn't even put out all of the html. But I'd be happy to help make any adjustments if anyone actually wanted to use it themselves.
So here's the other new things I've added to the jumble, but for the full experience you should go to that link to check them out with the navigation tags!
I don't think you need to understand the ins and outs of just intonation to feel what this music has to offer. Which is a little self-serving, because I am not be able to explain how all this works on the technical side. But I find it so compelling. I've got a long history with Greg Davis' music, his Clouds as Edges 7" was an early favorite from back when I started to become more adventurously patient with my listening. The instruments on that recording were all Brita-filtered to their essence, which I found really helpful in priming me to hear a new kind of music, and to clarify Davis' intent within it. So I was psyched to see that this album would be working with sine waves, since that's about as unadorned as it gets. The activity is all happening within one larger whole rather than a more straightforwardly narrative sequence of distinct sound objects, but if you can get into that timescale, you can find so much on the inside. The increasing collisions between sines sometimes appear to slow everything down and highlights a moment's role in the sequence, like a projector error that shows the end and the beginning of the adjacent frames. The drift from clean harmonies to a rattling clash will happen so smoothly that the linear connection will be undeniable, but it still feels like it slipped in from an unperceivable dimension. There is a phenomenal physical world within these waves.
This is like Michael Bay without the sentimental parts, converted to sound. An incredible, unrelenting spectacle. Moments will pass that you may wish had been given more time to be developed, but the speed is more important than any of their potential futures. I have no idea how this kind of practice could be sustained, but in this moment, it is perfect.
You won't get much longer than two and a half minutes with the beats on this album, but they all make a great impression with the time they're given. Right off the bat you have 'placeholder' opening with a fake-out blast of sound before crashing the pitch down into the underwater zone, There's a really fun moment when that opening gets brought back for a second flash, but the slower motion moments have this dizzying quality from the way it develops, like there's the primary slow loop, but the right channel has these flashes of faster drums coming in at the end within the gaps, and the left channel mirrors this but in a blurrier and less defined manner. So it's all off-kilter, but then a higher frequency drone witth a uneven granular flutter to shuffle everything further. Those types of heady experiences are all over this album, but there's also the more straightforward moments like 'shOUT', which is by no means lacking in sonic character, but mostly seems focused on painting a nice melody over the rhythm. Just as noble a goal, rendered with the same level of care. It's all a great time!
Technically, this album came out in 2021 on Takuroku. But it's been expanded in this new edition, so I'll use that as an excuse to say that this phenomenal album is one of my favorites of 2022. On my first few listens, the form would only become clear for me well after it had already begun holding its shape. It was like I was staring at a landscape and only realized a dust devil had formed after it had torn up the place. When I experience that brand of hypnotism, combined with the sonic palette featuring odd strings, detritus, and field recordings across the fidelity spectrum, I'm reminded a little of all those bands in the early 00's playing in basements with at least one member hunched down on the floor over some odd assemblage of gear. I want to mentally file this album somewhere near the early Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice stuff, but with it's back turned to the parts where they break into discernable song. Rosso Polare stay committed to keeping it in nature, but their fingerprints are all over the wind. I think the track 'quattro_pioggia' is a great one to sample if you only have time for one piece. The way it introduces a dull bass throb and literally washes it away with recordings of rain that begin distorted and end up clear, gliding the momentum into the other sounds taking the lead, it's like an optical illusion where you're just as likely to see an image nature bending to the will of a human as you are the inverse.
I will never stop being impressed by the way that Carl Stone can strip away all semantic and causal sense from his source material in his plunderphonic mélange, until all that's left is the pure pleasure. If that was all he ever wanted to do, I'd be satisfied. But on this one, there's some substantial development. He's incorporating some tiny grain lengths, generating some noisy textures and warped resonance, flipping the samples like they're kitchen sponges and he's activating the abrasive side. The start of the album finds a familiar exuberance and weirds it into some amazing new heights with this technique, but then the second half zooms all the way in on an exploration of funhouse proportions. This is one of my favorite kinds of album structures, where it gives you the pop upfront, and then uses what's been introduced to take you into freakier zones. And I could not be happier to see Stone absolutely knock it out of the park with that format!
This is electronic music that's a step outside from "loosely tied together gestures", the kind of thing that eventually fashions a grid out of the best available twigs for the job. Everything within the music feels interconnected, but it's by a kite's string going from slack to taut. It's very flexible in the way it holds together, and this allows for the depiction of a solidification process. There's an excellent demonstration in the opener 'Vie', there's an introduction of a smattering of tones establishing a vocabulary of clanks and shimmers, some with amplitude flutters dropping or shooting upwards in speed, some playing with patterns contrasting stable frequencies against the equivalent of tv static. The shapes intially present themselves together, but everything is separating off from the shared root, the connections hold little bearing on the future of where the strands land. But then the music lands on a unifying drone, and all the booms, clicks and crackles start to snap into place, affirming all the expectations they set for each other. But I think my favorite is 'À lier', which pushes solidifcation from a much sturdier starting point, landing somewhere with hits like sheets of pavement. Quite satisfying, on so many levels!
I was a introduced to the late 80's Apple computers as a child, so the old black and white interfaces trigger a certain nostalgic quiet glee. You can be certain that I was delighted when I saw the screenshots of the software used for this album. But there are no attempts in this music to recapture some lost feelings of youth, this seems more like it's about the underexplored capabilities of the software that are long since buried under the rapid pace of technological advancement. There is still some infatuation with the sonic character of the time in these tunes, but it never strikes me as gratuitous. I've always been the type to love these types of synth sounds for everything that they are, rather than substitutes for the physical instruments they often wind up reflecting, so this is good news to me. But even if you don't share that affinity, there's still so much to get from material like the propulsive minimalist accumulation of Diablo III. It's majestic, and credit goes as much to the peak as it does to the road. I think this old software was necessary to carve out this path, and Roos deserves major accolades for seeing that it was possible.
These songs straddle the corporeal and immaterial worlds. The vocals are often reverberated to feel as though they perpetually come from the next room over, always just out of sight, no matter how much area the music runs through. The rest of the instruments suggest you could reach out and grab them, but then there'll be some kind of shift to disprove the notion. Like with the second track, it warms up with a long wash of tones before landing on earth with a cascade of delayed and overdubbed guitar, which becomes a singularly unfiied instrument once the first verse begins. The atmosphere evaporates in a sizzle, leading to a passage in which clashing delay patterns pull each individual element in different directions, it's all been smoke in the shape of something solid. Tremendous experiences like this are all over this album, some truly transportive music awaits you!
There was an album from Saskia back in 2019 on QTV Selo that was firmly planted in leftfield, I'd missed it at the time, but maybe you didn't? If you did, the more explicitly pop nature of this EP might be a shock. Fortunately, I had no such expectations, and was able to just get right into the excellent songwriting with no hesitation. There's certainly some oddly engaging choices, particularly with the tuba and rapid drum breakdown on 'Quarta Obra'. But I find the greatest delights with the more straightforward aspects, like the way the tiers of vocals develop upward in concert with the guitar on 'Quarta Rainha', it makes for such a beautiful ascent. I can't get enough, it's one of the songs I've come back to the most over the year. The rest of the EP has some really clever twists that I love, but this is the tune that hits me direct, every time.
Full disclosure, Jetski is a friend and I think he is hilarious on Twitter. So I might be a little biased here. But also, I've evangelized to many, many people on the brilliance of Wobbly - Wild Why and the twisted logic that emerges out of the onslaught of samples on that album. So this was always going to connect for me regardless of existing relationships, because Jetski is operating in a similar sphere. There's variety in the source material between each track, but it's never a jolt to jump between midwest emo, jazz, and metal. Because even when there are adjustments in the approach to best suit the material, there is a unifying sensation that I am witnessing a machine prove through its continued operation that it is not broken, in spite of how the output may come across. It simply has a new purpose. This is not a glitch, it's supposed to be happening, and it will all make sense if you let it.