So, it’s the end of 2011, and everyone are making lists right?
So I made one. The order is random and is not important, I love them all. Well, I love Glenn’s even more.
Of course there were couple of albums I should have heard and I didn’t, but you know, so little time.
Shameless self promo: In February I’m releasing a new album World Behind Curtains. Here’s ‘It’s Not The Heat (It’s The Humidity) to get started.
Fire is a Swedish supergroup, led by iron lungs man Mats Gustafsson. They released an album two years ago and this is the new one. This time, they teamed up with legendary Jim O’rourke. The result is a stunning piece of psych-jazz with four powerful tracks that made this album to be a definitive highlight this year.
[Audio] Are You Both Still Unreleased
I love these guys from Rllrbll (formerly known as Rollerball). This is a band that presents exactly what I look for in music and does it brilliantly – fusion of worlds. This is a new EP, available for a free download. I wrote about it here.
[Audio] Rllrbll – Coffee With Donnie
3. The Necks – Mindset
Every time I’m in the mood for a light, quirky kind of darkness, away from melancholy but deeply inside sonic mysteries (and I’m often in this mood), my first step will be a Necks album. Mindset is their new album, with two long piece in their own style of composing and sound weaving. Here’s the post about them.
Every new album by UK songwriter and singer Steve Tilston is good news. This guy has the skills to craft those 12 perfect folky songs in each of his albums, since he began in 1969 with An Acoustic Confusion. Now, 40 something years later, he released another stunning solo album that reminds the world again, just what a brilliant songwriter he is. Here’s what I wrote about The Reckoning
[Audio] Steve Tiston- The Reckoning
Now this album is really of one of 2011’s best albums. I didn’t know Chuck Johnson before, but this solo guitar album, A Struggle Not a Thought, made in the Takoma school of music as an inspiration while remaining truthful to himself and his own style – really hit me by surprise. In short, one of the most interesting guitar albums of the year. Wrote about it here.
I was listening to Congo about half a year before it was released on Bo’Weavil records, and at first I though it’s a strange album in a sense that I wasn’t sure it was focused, or that I could understand the theme behind it. But as time passed by, I was completely hooked by it, and got to know its ‘strangeness’. I hate to use the phrase ‘it grows on you’. But it does. Work And Worry blog has a nice interview with Joynes, about the new album and other stuff, you should check it out.
[Audio] C. Joynes – Ghosts Of The Field
Simply one of the best boxsets I have in my collection, thank god my friend Einat bought it to me when I was in the US. Wouldn’t forgive myself if it would have ran out of print without having one. I wrote about it here, you can find a good explanation of why exactly you need it.
[Audio] Steve Gunn – The Lurker (Extended)
8. Jim Sullivan – UFO (Reissue)
One of the best reissues of this year is Light In The Attic‘s reissue of this classic singer/songwriter album UFO by Jim Sullivan. It’s one of those ’70’s’ albums, with the right sound and production that you really can’t go wrong with. Here’s what I wrote about it.
[Audio] Jim Sullivan – Jerome
9. John Fahey – Your Past Comes Back To Haunt You (Boxset)
Now, this is the most important album, or a boxset, or reissue (call it whatever) in the last couple of years. These are Fahey’s recordings at Fontone records in his early (early) days, when you could hear an artists searching for his path and own personality. 5 cd’s, amazing book, rare photos and liner notes. Glenn Jones produced that, and aside for his brilliant masterpiece that was also released this year, he did a really amazing job. This box was praised all over the web but I would you suggest you’d read Glenn’s post about the production of this boxset.
10. Glenn Jones – The Wanting
Glenn is my personal hero. I was lucky enough to meet him when we both played in Irene Trudel’s show in WFMU, and after years of admiration and listening to his music with Cul De Sac or solo, I found out that there’s a truly nice, humble man behind the great artist that he is. His new album, The Wanting, released via Thrill Jockey, and his first for this label (after three albums with my US home Strange Attractors Audio House) is probably his best to date. His playing is precise, the melodies are beautiful and serenity is everywhere. A break from this noisy world. More cents about this album.
11. Nels Cline/Tim Berne/Jim Blake – The Veil
I said it before and I’ll say it again – Nels Cline is good. Don’t mind sound like a teenage, but when this guy touches the guitar, be it with Wilco or in one of his solo/collaboration efforts, he’s just brilliant. Stuck in a constant search for the new sound, the new concept, new ways to leverage his energies, he is always interesting. The Veil is a collaboration with Tim Berne and Jim Blake and it’s a mind blowing circus of jammed pack energies. My other two cents about this album here.
12. Matt Baldwin – Night In The Triangle
I know Matt Baldwin since his 2008 Paths Of Ignition album. That was a beautiful showcase of his acoustic guitar skills. Now, in Night In The Triangle, he released a double LP with ecstatic electric guitar works, Fans of kraut, Popol Vuh, E2-E4, this is a must have.
Couple of words about the album.
Ralph McTell, the veteran singer/songwriter is another British gem. For years, he’s been releasing beautiful albums, mixing his traditional British roots with jazz/blues elements. Killer guitarist, and one of my fav vocalists. Whenever I listen to him, his voice sends serenity and compassion through my body, and it feels warm. He released a beautiful album this year. You ought to listen to it.
Cian Nugent is another key figures in the ‘new circle of Takoma followers’. He released one album in 2008, and with Doubles, his new release on VHF Records, he made his best album to date. Two long pieces, full of themes and improvisations, colors and moods. Beautiful stuff.
Sun Araw and Eternal Tapestry, two bands that know how to make walls upon walls upon walls of reverbed, delayed, filtered guitar tones. They define the sounds of the new, heavy psychedelia, I’m surprised no one came up with a genre name to that (neo-acid-psych?). Their album together is a rush of blood to the head, if I may quote Coldplay. (won’t happen again).
I learned about Aussie Slug Guts through WFMU’s Brian Turner . Their punk-sutf-psych guitar sound had capture my ears from the very first second, then I rushed and bought their album Howlin’ Gang. It’s a killer rocknroll album that you should have.
[Audio] Slug Guts – Cold Bones
17. Barn Owl – Shadowland
Shadowland is a fabulous 24 minutes EP by Even Caminti and Jon Porras that really felt like someone hit me in the head with a big hot pan. Dark ambiance, made by fuzzy guitars and other studio effects, a monster threatening to kill us all.
[Audio] Barn Owl – Shadowland
18. Wire – Red Barked Tree
I’m sure that Wire’s Red Barked Tree was my most played album this year. Something in that fusion point between their sound and brilliant songwriting, calls me back to repetitive listening. Got no idea how they do it, but the magic is just there. Oh yea, and the front cover is my 2011’s fav.
[Audio] Wire – Two Minutes
Another stunning reissue that made 2011 a great year. Fabulous collection of Indonesian psych and funk. There are many compilations that documents obscure scenes from around the world, like the three parts of the Cambodia Groove Club, but These Shocking Shaking Days is really something else, a lot due to the beautiful packaging and artwork.Who would thought that in this part of the world, there was such a great scene? Oh what do i know, I’m from Israel, which is planet Saturn to many people.
20. David Kilgour – Left by Soft
21. Tape – Revelations
Swedish group Tape is the perfect soundtracks for many of my after hours. Their analog sound made by old synths and guitar, in their melodic tiny compositions, makes every record of their a sonic festival. They released several albums so far, including a beautiful collaboration with Bill Wells. Revelation is their new album via Immune Recordings and it’s beautiful in its entirely, just like what you hear in the sample here.
[Audio] Tape – The Wild Palms
22. Hayvanlar Alemi – Guarna Superpower
Discovering Turkish psych-experimental trio Hayvanlar Alemi was one of this year’s highlights for me, and thanks you freemusicarchive.org for having so much music by this band. Their new album Guarana Superpower, out via Sublime Frequencies continues their journey in the Sun City Girls meets Dick Dale paths. Superb album and a great band. Wish they’ll play in Tel Aviv sometime when politics and all that shit won’t stand in the way.
23. Arborea – Red Planet
For years that me and Buck Curran from folk duo Arborea are writing to each other from other sides of the world. Meeting Buck and Shanti (and their lovely kids) in the US in September was really a fabulous time and a great fun. Besides making beautiful music, they are beautiful people. And yea, Red Planet is THE folk album of the year. No doubt at all. Wow.
[Audio] Arborea – Arms and Horses
24. Six Organs Of Admittance – Asleep On The Floodplain
It’s Ben Chasny’s new album and I think that sums it.
25. SYCH – S/T
I needed some time to digest this powerful album by Sych, Lunar Roulette (released via Strange Attractors Audio House). But it totally grew on me and now I eat if for breakfast. Just kidding. This is a free-jazz/exp supergroup with (check it out – ) Chris Corsano, Wally Shoup, C Spencer Yeh, and Bill Horist. This album, like so many great albums, was a result of one night collaboration (in an experimental music fest) that left the players with a desire for more. Super brilliant.
26. Cleared – S/T
One of the best experimental albums of this year for me, was the Immune Recordings release of Cleared. Brainchild of Steven Hess and Michael Vallera, this is an interesting, melancholic and thoughtful work by drums and guitars, filtered till there was nothing left, and a new mutation was created.
[Audio] Cleared – Nests
27. AKA Galbert – Please Please Me
Discovering that the Israeli musician Gelbart had released an fuzzed out covers album to the Beatles’ Please Please Me, was a nice surprise. A beautiful edgy pop homage to the band’s debut album, shows no mercy and drop acid on Ringo, and he feels fine. It’s free, download it today and enjoy it.
[Audio] AKA Gelbart – PS I Love You
28. Quetev Meriri – Qsamim Lasevel
Quetev Meriri is one of those bands that would never get the respect they deserve in their hometown (Tel Aviv) but every experimental music fan with good ears (like Julian Cope, who said “Quetev Meriri’s massed accordions, post-punk guitars, slapped banjos, percussion devices and triple voices conspire to create an amazing stew of sound the like of which I’ve never before encountered“), will understand that there’s something very interesting about their music.
They create soundscapes, broken compositions, twisted sounds, together with poetry by some of the finest poets of the new era in Israel. Qsamim Lasevel, their third album, is the best album of 2011 by an Israeli musician, and I suggest you’d go listen to it entirety.
[Audio] Qetev Meriri – Evel Ahavati
29. Psychedelic Horseshit – Laced
Speaking of over the edge fuzzy pop, Psychedelic Horseshit had a new album out called Laced where they redefine pop aesthetics and show me that I can enjoy contemporary pop after all.
30. Pikara – Constellations
Constellations by Pikara featured classical instruments going through studio effects, which is something I really like.
A brilliant, mostly instrumental album of looped violins, echoing through the deep corridors of classical music and gloomy experimental edges.
[Audio]Pikara – Carina
31. Michael Chapman – Trainsong
When I got the email from Tompkins Square that there’s a new Michael Chapman album coming up, with new recordings by him, and a 70’s birthday celebrations, I was thrilled as I love Chapman deeply.
I have many albums of his and his music has inspired me. I decided, in honor of his birthday, to review all the Chapman albums that I have. I think it makes 14 albums. I sat one Saturday and wrote all day. I did it mainly for me, listening to his albums one by one, and listen to his progress as an artist. It was fascinating. The Trainsong compilation is Chapman in his best, returning to old wonderful tunes.
It was a great year for Chapman, with a vinyl reissue of his classic Fully Qualified Survivor , his Ecstatic Peace release Death Of The Clayton Peacock and a renewed public recognition. Now, I’m waiting for someone to reissue his Life On The Ceiling album as everyone should know it.
[Audio] Michael Chapman – Fahey’s Flag
I’m sorry, this is a bit of self promotion.
In September 2011, I joined my friends Yoni Kretzmer and Ido Bukelman and we started a new label called OutNow Recordings. We want to release new, improvised music, free jazz and beyond, electronic, avantgard and other genre-less music. We released six albums upon starting the label and there are more to come soon. Here’s a track from Yoni’s album Overlook and our sampler. If you like what you hear, make sure to add yourself to our mailing list in the website and get a free sampler.
Don’t know anything about these guys, but it was free on bandcamp and it was brilliant.
[Audio] Doctors – Heaven’s Gate
34. The Soft Moon –Total Decay
A new EP by The Soft Moon, called Total Decay that fusion krautrock, new wave and psych? Yes, this is definitely for me.
[Audio] The Soft Moon – Repetition
35. Primordial Undermind – Last Wordly Bond
Last Worldly Bond by Primordial Undermind was released in early 2011 and maybe that’s the reason it didn’t appear in too many end of the year lists, otherwise, there’s no way this was left out. Stunning piece of postrock, experimental guitars, jazz and noise. I enjoy listening to it on vinyl with such volume that my dog stares at me with a fuzzy look. Sometimes it’s really funny.
36. The FMP Reissues
2011 was THE year of jazz reissues, and mostly it’s thanks to the wonderful blog Destination Out.
Aside from being a really wonderful blog and aside for their monthly radio show in WFMU’s Give The Drummer Some, they take the FMP catalof and release it digitally. FMP was an excellent, probably the most important, free jazz label in 70’s Europe. Many of the albums were not reissued before, and Destination Out gives the public a chance to listen to some of the best albums made in experimental jazz.
I just loved EVERYTHING they released but if I had to pick some, I’d go for three best releases of 2011.
1. Peter Brotzmann’s 14 Love Poems (if you’re brave enough)
2. Pearls (the terms Supergroup would fit well here)
3. Steve Lacy’s Follies
I truly think that the FMP reissues are the most exciting jazz news of the year. Aside for our new label, of course 😉
37. Parasites Of The Western World
Parasites Of The Western World was playing on my computer for couple of months, after I discovered it in Mutant Sounds. De Stijl reissued it, after years of obscurity, and the poetic justice was somewhat made. This album is an early (early) DIY album, and most bands today will work hard to get that lazy, unattended sound.
Two guys in the 70’s recording themselves at home and create a beautiful rock/electronic album. Patrick Burke is behind it, and while I never heard of him before, I learned he has great solo albums. I heard one of them, see couple of lines below.
[Audio] Parasites Of The Western World – You Must Be Jo King
38. Patrick Burke – Silence and Timing
…And this is De Stijl‘s reissue of the beautiful album by Patrick Burke. There’s another one that I’ve read good things about, but haven’t listened to it yet.
The Parasites’ album and Burke’s Silence And Timing is amongst the finest reissues of 2011.
[Audio] Patrick Burke – Target Atoms Tirades
Wasted by Vernon Wray was another worth noticing reissue this year.
Originally released in 1972, this album is maybe forgotten but it’s nothing less then a classic gem of country-folk album. Vernon’s brother, guy called Link, is playing guitar, maybe you’ve heard of him, he’s cool.
[Audio] Vernon Wray – Tailpipe
La Catacomb, the fourth album by Ulaan Khol, one of the many stage names used by Steven R Smith, was released recently by Soft Abuse. As much as I loved the three records of the Khol trilogy (very much), something in this album makes it even better. Don’t know why and I can’t really find good words to describe guitar drones, but it doesn’t matter, lend your ears and listen by yourself. This was released on cassette in an addition of 200 + digital download.
41. Steven R. Smith – Old Skete
The new album by Steven R Smith, Old Skete was release in parallel with his new Ulaan Khol album. Not sure how this guy succeeds to make so many albums, each one of them feels like it was written specially for me, but he just does. The new album is really a stripped down Smith. On Fender Jazzmaster, two overdrive pedals and an amp. That’s it. No loops, no studio effects, just him with his guitar, and obviously, this is his most personal record that I’ve heard.
[Audio] Steven R Smith – Old Skete 8
I lost Bill Callahan somewhere along the way in the last couple of years. But every time there was a new album out, I immediately ran to listen to it. When Apocalypse was released, it was a ‘welcome home’ feeling. This is undoubtedly one of the best records, mature and sincere albums of his career. This is played over and over in my ears and I still find new depths lyrically and musically all the time. I’d vote for the record of the year for this album, but we agreed to ditch these titles right?
[Audio] Bill Callahan – Drover