Archive for December, 2011

Best of 2011

Top Singles of 2011
1. Andy Stott Passed Me By 2×12″
2. Leather Sterile 7″
3. Andy Stott We Stay Together 2×12″
4. Burial Street Halo 12″
5. The Haxan Cloak Observatory EP 12″
6. Dum Dum Girls He Gets Me High 12″
7. Jon Convex Convexations EP 12″
8. Holy Other With U 12″
9. Darkside Darkside EP 10″
10. Shackleton Fireworks 2×12″
11. Crazy Spirit Remastered Demo 12″
12. Regis In A Syrian Tongue 12″
13. Yves De May Counting Triggers 2×12″
14. Shackleton Deadman 12″
15. Martyn Masks / Viper 12″
16. Holy Balm Hand Over Fire / Strange Water 7″
17. Protect-U World Music 12″
18. Wolfgang Voigt Kafkatrax 1.1 12″
19. Silent Servant Hypnosis in the Modern Age 12″
20. Raime Hennail 12″

Honorable Mention:
Actress Rainy Dub 12″
Innergaze Shadow Disco 12″
The Soft Moon Total Decay EP 12″
Leather Wretch 7″
Hoax Hoax 7″

Top Albums of 2011
1. Iceage New Brigade
2. Morphosis What Have We Learned
3. Royal Headache Royal Headache
4. Kitchen’s Floor Look Forward to Nothing
5. James Blake James Blake
6. Ford & Lopatin Channel Pressure
7. Nicolas Jaar Space Is Only Noise
8. The Field Looping State of Mind
9. Total Control Henge Beat
10. Prurient Bermuda Drain
11. ASAP Rocky LiveLoveA$AP
12. Tin Man Perfume
13. Call Back the Giants The Rising
14. Psychedelic Horseshit Laced
15. Lil Wayne Tha Carter IV
16. Luomo Plus
17. John Maus We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
18. Cold Cave Cherish the Light Years
19. Pinch & Shackleton Pinch & Shackleton
20. The Weeknd House of Balloons

Honorable Mention:
Rank/Xerox Rank/Xerox
Folded Shirt Folded Shirt
Emptyset Demiurge
Antonym Revile
OBN IIIs The One and Only

Lots of great records came out in 2011, and these are my favorites. Gotta hand it to the full-lengths – competition was far stiffer than the singles, if primarily because a lot of great albums came out this year. It was tough choosing the number-one spot for each category (the Morphosis and Royal Headache albums were indispensable, as was Leather’s Sterile 7″), but after some solid contemplation, and a whole lot of reflection, I’ve concluded that Iceage and Andy Stott made the records that impacted me the most this year.

Andy Stott Passed Me By 2×12″ (Modern Love)
Both of Andy Stott’s double 12″ EPs shook me to my core this year, as he stepped away from the familiar patterns of bass-heavy dubstep toward a new sound – something entirely his own. Passed Me By, the first of the two, came out on top, though – there are some truly incomprehensible moments here, and the demonic vocals on “Execution” still freak me out. It’s a slow, gnarly, and often quite evil EP, as if your favorite dub techno records were waterboarded and this is the resulting recording. One October night, I was out on the street, and a teenager came up and threatened me, telling me he had a loaded gun in his pocket. I shrugged it off, and made it to my car unscathed, turning my radio back on, mid-Passed Me By, as I drove away. It was the perfect soundtrack to the realization that I very well could’ve been shot and killed, the mix of fear and adrenaline building up as my brain processed what had just happened. You don’t need to get mugged to enjoy Andy Stott, but his music certainly amplifies that thrilling, frightening sensation.

Iceage New Brigade (Escho / Dais / What’s Your Rupture?)
I know, just what you wanted, another internet music-critic going off about Iceage. I didn’t pay close attention, but what, there was the initial hype, and then the backlash, and then some more hype, and then a re-re-pressing, and then another backlash, and now no one cares? They have probably broken up and already booked their Coachella reunion gig by the time this is published. If you can’t get outside of the indie world’s hype-fueled echo chamber, I’m putting the blame on you, as Iceage’s New Brigade is a truly fantastic debut album. I don’t care if they made it just for me, or if they become the next Green Day, Iceage have managed to meld these disparate influences (youthful snot, gothic melodrama, melodic punk rock, gritty noise) into a sound that couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. I’ve heard them compared to The Wedding Present, Crisis, Mars and black metal, and while I don’t necessarily support any or all of those, it’s a great band that can pull people in so many directions at once. Plus, songs like “Broken Bone” and “Remember” have been etched indelibly into my brain at this point. They’re young, and very well might break up before another record ever comes together; I have already made peace with that fact, as New Brigade is a more substantial offering than most other bands could ever hope to create.

Andy Stott

I know I’m not alone in my 2011 discovery of Andy Stott, as nearly every decent year-end
best-of list seems to feature him in one form or another. I suppose I’d been listening to
his music under his “Millie & Andrea” alias (with Demdike Stare’s Miles Whittaker) for a
bit, but Passed Me By was a revelation, and We Stay Together the confirmation – Stott
reached out into uncharted electronic territory and came back with something frightening,
malevolent, imposing and entirely his own, like a surfer realizing the wave is about to
topple over them, that powerful moment somehow captured in slow-motion. If you haven’t heard
Andy Stott by now, you absolutely must. Some of these electronic dudes can be hard to track
down, but I was able to get in touch with Mr. Stott and briefly rap about his personal style
and approach to music. Fingers crossed that his Pantera remixes are forthcoming.

Was there any particular thought put into releasing music under your own name,
rather than an alias? I know you’ve worked with aliases in other cases…

There wasn’t a great deal of thought about the choice of name. I did have some names I
had in mind which I can’t remember now. They would probably be really cringeworthy anyway.
But in the end it was just far easier going with my own name.

Is this music more personal than music you’ve made previously? Does that play
into it at all, as this is the music of “Andy Stott” and not some other moniker?

This is completely more personal. I think my previous stuff has been influenced, I think
you can here that over some of the releases. I’m not that knowledgeable about tunes really…
what I mean is, I’m not a huge record collector or vinyl digger. So when I was getting
introduced to new things, you could here it in my own music, some styles more obvious
than others. But this time ’round I have hardly been listening to anything, so I think
this latest batch has been very un-influenced, with more of me in there.

When you were working on Passed Me By and We Stay Together, did you feel like
you were onto something new and special? Could you feel that you were onto something
totally unique and different?

Working on the latest stuff did feel different, partly because I had started to doing things
differently, working differently, approaching tracks differently. This made the whole
process feel kinda special, just that discovery of new ways of doing things sparked new ideas.
Of course, I wasn’t sitting there listening to these new tracks thinking, “Wow, this is
special and amazing.” It’s not until you start to show people and gauge their reactions you
realise that you are doing something different and unique.

Was this evolution due to new software or hardware, or just a new philosophy on
how to put together a track yourself, or something else entirely?

It came through getting more into a certain bit of software and being able to understand it
and how to get it to do what I want. Also, on top of that, I started slowing my tracks down
and pitching things down. It all just came together at the same time. My tracks were slowing
down anyway, but the tempo really fits with this new way of working. Anything above 110 BPM
with the way I work lately, just sounds a bit silly to me at the minute.

What do you expect people to do with your music? Do you want people to dance?
Haha, God knows! I just hope people feel it the same way I do when it’s getting written.
That they have the same kinda sensation when they hear a certain loop or sound, for the first
time as when I first heard/made it. Just hope it translates the same. As for dancing, I have
played the latest stuff to crowds where they’re all going for it, and yet I have played to
crowds where no one has barely moved but still received the same reaction. It’s just down to
how you perceive it I think.

Do you feel a particular camaraderie with the Modern Love roster? How often do
you bounce musical ideas off each other, if ever?

I do, yeah, maybe because there aren’t a lot of artists coming and going within the label and
we’re all fairly local lads. It’s not that we bounce ideas off each other, it’s more of a friendly
competitiveness thing! From my part it is anyway, you hear things that other people are up to
and think that’s amazing! It’s not like you go away and then try to better them, it just inspires
you to get your head down and write.

Do you approach collaboration differently than you do your own work? Do you have
any collaborations planned for the future?

It’s rare I’ll collaborate, the only thing I do is the Millie and Andrea stuff along with Miles
Whittaker. The whole process behind that is totally different from my solo output. It is treated
in a totally different way, there is totally a different vibe, poles apart in fact.

I’ve seen the word “evil” used to describe your music… what do you make of that?
Do you think your music is evil?

That’s quite funny actually, over the passed two releases it would be quite common to hear
me say “that’s fucking evil” about a track I’m working on, or “brutal” is another common one…
yep, I talk to myself a lot when writing, haha. I think parts are dark enough to call “evil”,

What is it that draws you to use these dark and “evil” sounds? Why not make happy-
sounding music?

I seem to like tracks best when there is something nasty going on, whether it be a hook, or a
texture, sound, a line that is too high in the mix, anything basically that makes you scrunch
your face up and think “fuck!!!” It doesn’t have to be mashed and distorted, just anything that
has that… thing. I guess that’s what I’m after in my own tracks. If I pull the face and start
telling myself it’s evil or brutal, I know I’m onto something, haha.

How often do you listen to rock music? Are there any guitar-based groups that
have inspired your work?

I don’t listen to rock that much, at the back end of last year a friend of mine got me into
Pantera… I seriously doubt that has had an effect on my later stuff. Maybe more melancholic
stuff has had more of an influence over the years.

Have you ever considered working with a vocalist?
I have thought about it a few times, I’ve just never found anyone to work with. Plus I have
no idea how it’ll work. But you never know what will happen.