Friday, 31 December 2010

Exhaustive Review of the Year

I'll be honest and upfront, and admit that just the other day I was having a good old moan that this year had been an awful year as far as 'ambient' music goes with a good friend of mine. Yet oddly enough, when asked to make a list of my favourite releases in the past year, I found myself with literally hundreds of records which have blown me away. Getting married and playing music loudly in our apartment has meant I have had less time for typically long-form experimental / ambient work than I used to sit down with, which is a shame...but then again a lot of what I have heard sounds like drivel so there you go. What has stood out is that which is a little more thoughtful than we have typically heard in the past year in my honest opinion. NO, I haven't heard everything and wish I could be more open to other works, many of which I have no doubt forgotten (which says enough right?) Also, I decided to not include anything from Home Normal as it would cover the top of the list, and quite frankly I find it quite bizarre that label heads can openly rate their favourite releases within their own label. Still, I digress...this year has seen a handful of labels from the UK really evolve beautifully, with Under The Spire, Hibernate and Fluid Audio really impressing immensely in particular. As well as these, the Audio Gourmet netlabel has proven to be an enormous hit (with 2 releases in my top 50 of the year) whilst the continual development of the electronica label Acroplane continues to impress. My favourite release of the year was a very tough choice indeed, and to be honest I had a very hard time ordering the top 10. However, for everything it represents, with its experimental nature (but not in a shit avant-garde way), typically gorgeous packaging, and quiet soul (oh so different from the line-up of 'look at me' releases of the year) was The Humble Bee's 'Morning Music' on the rather superb Cotton Goods label. I remember the artist telling me about the project in person and thought it was a lovely idea, but I had no idea quite how unique and beautiful it would turn out's how The Humble Bee described the project: "each day for four weeks I recorded one song, I allowed myself one hour to write, record and document the song. I worked between the hours of 6:00am - 7:30am at which time I had to set off to get to work. The result was 28 songs, lots of drawings of the tape looping systems and each day a photograph of the set up and the view out of my window into the snowy january sky." For everything it represents and is, The Humble Bee 'Morning Music' is my album of the year. (Ian)

1.) The Humble Bee - Morning Music (Cotton Goods)
2.) Hummingbird - Our Fearful Symmetry (Fluid Audio)
3.) bvdub - The Art Of Dying Alone (Glacial Movements)
4.) Maps and Diagrams - Tintinnbulate (Audio Gourmet)
5.) Demdike Stare - Voices Of Dust / Forest of Evil / Liberation Through Hearing (Modern Love)
6.) Danny Saul - Kinison - Goldthwait (Hibernate)
7.) Part Timer - Real To Reel (Lost Tribe Sound)
8.) Andrew Hargreaves - Defragment (Lacies)
9.) Herzog - Small Loves (Audio Gourmet)
10.) Field Rotation - Acoustic Tales (Fluid Audio)
11.) Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose - Bridge Carols (Baskaru / Headz)
12.) Happenstance - Mobeer: 010 (Mobeer)
13.) Rafael Anton Irisarri - The North Bend (Room40)
14.) James McDougall - Mountain Upon A Phosphorescent Sky (Impulsive Habitat)
15.) Federico Durand - La Siesta Del Ciprés (Spekk)
16.) Nicolas Bernier - Strings.Lines (Cronica)
17.) Pausal - Lapses (Barge Recordings)
18.) Christopher Hipgrave - Slow With Pages Of Fluttering Interference (Low Point)
19.) Alice Cohen - Walking Up Walls (Olde English Spelling Bee)
20.) Nest - Retold (Serein)
21.) Forest Swords - Dagger Paths (No Pain In Pop)
22.) He Can Jog - Songbook (Listening Party)
23.) James Ferraro - Night Dolls With Hairspray (Olde English Spelling Bee)
24.) Emeralds - Does It Look Like I Am Here? (Editions Mego)
25.) offthesky -iterate i. (Acre Records)
26.) Vertical67 - Wicklow House (Acroplane)
27.) Yellow Swans - Going Places (Type)
28.) Keith Fullerton Whitman - Disingenuity (Pan)
29.) Pawn - Above The Winter Oaks (The Land Of)
30.) The Sight Below - It Falls Apart (Ghostly International)
31.) Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect (Kranky)
32.) Shackleton - Fabric 55 (Fabric)
33.) Jasper TX - A Voice From Dead Radio (Under The Spire)
34.) Library Tapes - Like Green Grass Against A Blue Sky (Auetic)
35.) Thomas Fehlmann - Gute Luft (Kompakt)
36.) Seaworthy & Matt Rösner - Two Lakes (12k)
37.) Upward Arrows - Upward Arrows (Under The Spire)
38.) Konntinent - Arev Benn (Sweat Lodge Guru)
39.) Chihei Hatakeyama - Ghostly Garden (Own)
40.) Hype Williams - Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Gettin' Reel (De Stijl Records)
41.) Actress - Splazsh (Honest Jon's Records)
42.) Andrea Ferraris/Matteo Uggeri with Mujika Easel & Andrea Serrapiglio : Autumn Is Coming, We're All In Slow Motion (Hibernate)
43.) Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush Recordings)
44.) Milieu - Our Blue Rainbow (I, Absentee)
45.) BJ Nilsen - The Invisible City (Touch)
46.) Derrick Hart – Fall Asleep To This (Resting Bell)
47.) Erik K Skodvin - Flare (Sonic Pieces)
48.) Flying Lotus - Cosmogranna (Warp)
49.) Clem Leek - Holly Lane (Hibernate)
50.) Celer - Salvaged Violets (Infraction)

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