(The Muses: Clio, Euterpe and Thalia, Eustache le Sueur, 1652-55)

2005 Artist Picks

As a complement to the '2005 Top 10s and 20s' article, textura asked artists whose works appear in those lists to select a favourite 2005 recording (some opted for pre-2005) and write a sentence or two explaining what made it special. Here's what they said:

Accelera Deck {a}pendics.shuffle Audion Caro Colleen Deaf Center Eluvium Enduser Jim Fox Maximilian Hecker Hieroglyphic Being Ezekiel Honig Innerstance.beatbox Kill Memory Crash Malcom Kipe Brian McBride Dave Miller Miskate Eliot Lipp Morgan Packard Portable Prefuse 73 Run_Return si-cut.db Strategy The Timeout Drawer Andy Vaz The Village Orchestra Windy & Carl

(photo: tbtmo.com)

Accelera Deck (Chris Jeely)

“Lungfish: Feral Hymns (Dischord): The first time the group has recorded outside of Inner Ear studios using an outside producer and the change suits them perfectly. This group to me is rock solid and Feral Hymns is another installment in its wonderful body of work.”

(image: orac.vu)

{a}pendics.shuffle (Ken Gibson)

Onur Özer is an astronaut from outer space who makes sounds that tickle my brain and rhythms that fry my feet. His 2 releases on Vakant (Envy EP) and FAT (Freude-am-Tanzen) (Freak Disco) are at the top of my 2005 list of best techno records. They snap, crackle, and pop right around my head!

“On a mellow ambient tip in 2005, I really love the Brian McBride record (When the Detail Lost its Freedom) on the kranky label. It's perfect for making love to your girlfriend or wife or a good record to come down to. Makes me feel warm inside, like a baby sipping warm milk from a mother's left breast. Delicious.”

(photo: Will Calcutt)

Audion (Matthew Dear)

“Matt John's “The Rising Scope” from Joker Family Park One EP (Perlon): “The Rising Scope” plays like an endless loop of harmonic perfection. One of the most hypnotic techno releases in years, this track has held its ground for the better half of 2005 since many DJs just can't stop playing it.”

Caro (Randy Jones)

“The Gossip's Standing in the Way of Control is one of my favorite new records. I've been diving down into early Chicago House for a while because there's a spirit and a love in those early records which is rarely encountered in today's dance music. Partly this is because energy like that only happens in very special intersections of places and times, so it's sometimes hard to see how to get there without getting lost in retro fetishism. Standing in the Way of Control is great dance music with so much heart and zero posing.”

(photo: nim.over-blog.com)

Colleen (Cécile Schott)

“John Coltrane: My Favorite Things: I kept being drawn again and again to it this year, even though I had heard it before, but somehow, quite unexplainably, had missed its particular beauty. In moments like this, when you hear a record for the first time even though you had already listened to it, you really feel like you must have been deaf all along.

“Leos Janacek: String Quartet no. 2: An incredible string quartet by a Czech composer, which i first heard more than ten years ago on the radio; I recorded it on tape at that time but the quality was poor, and I gradually stopped listening to my tapes as years went by, so when I stumbled across the CD this year I immediately bought it and it sounded as incredible to me as the first time I heard it, original yet still melodic enough to be immediately endearing.

“Claude Debussy: Arabesque no. 1: A wonderful piano piece which I've often had in my head since I first heard it; it really does sound like what its title implies.

“Harry Partch: Two studies on ancient greek scales-2: I love this very short piece; it's very close to what I try to do in my music and the man's endeavour to build instruments himself has me all the more impressed.

“Ustad Vilayat Khan: The Music Room (OST): The amazing soundtrack to the no less amazing film by Satyajit Ray about the fall of an Indian aristocrat in love with music but also with himself a bit too much. This film deserves to be seen by any music lover, and not just people interested in Indian music or culture.

“Hossein Alizadeh, Homa Niknam and Madjid Khaladj: Birds: Iranian music for setar (a lute-like instrument), tombak (percussion) and voice, and of the highest beauty.

“Ostad Elahi: The Celestial Sounds of Ostad Elahi: An Iranian master of the tanbour (another lute-like instrument from that area) whose life was totally amazing (not only did he renovate the repertoire and technique of his instrument, he was also a philosopher and a magistrate!).

“Shivkumar Sharma: Scintillating sounds of the santoor: Like the previous one, this one also does what it says on the cover. The santoor is a kind of hammered dulcimer, very close to the cymbalum of Eastern Europe and of Gypsies, and the way Shivkumar Sharma plays it is just amazing.”

(photo: typerecords.com)

Deaf Center (Erik Skodvin, Otto Totland)

“Paavoharju: Yhä hämärää (Fonal): This is my (Erik Skodvin) definite find of the year, and a truly amazing piece of combined weirdness. I would describe it as an alternative Bollywood soundtrack paired with old computer game music. It's sad, happy, cinematic, atmospheric, mystical, weird, fun, folky, ... and just appeals to every part of my body!”

Eluvium (Matthew Cooper)

“1.—morning / waking / standing—Arthur Russell's World of Echo—(I think this came out in January; I could be wrong)

“2.—day / walking / headphones / light / recognition—Odd Nosdam's Burner—(I found this in my mailbox the other day—attention needs to paid to this work—there is something important in here)

“3.—sunset / traffic / too many people / clutter / frustration /
beauty—Amina's Animamina—(everything is making sense, I think—slowing down—speechless)

“4.—evening / reading / wine / conversation / cooking / composing—Colleen's The Golden Morning Breaks—(rediscovery, passion, and most important ... honesty)

“5.—daydreams / nightdreams / hope—Susumu Yokota's Symbol—(contagious happiness and wonder—continue, continue)”

(photo: Daniela Knuth)

Enduser (Lynn Standafer)

“Well, to be honest I really don't listen to too much music; it's hard to do when you work on it all the time. When I'm walking around, traveling, etc., I usually listen to something like the Swans (calmer stuff like The Burning World, Love of Life, White Light From the Mouth of Infinity), Peter Gabriel, or some random drum and bass mp3s that someone sends me. The only thing that I really listened to this year (which won't be out until next year) that really sounds like something new and exciting is the upcoming Method of Defiance CD (The Only Way to Go is Down) on Sublight. It's the NYC punk/jungle/jazz/whatever collab project of Bill Laswell, DJ Submerged, and Live drummer Guy Licata. I've only heard the rough mixes of this record and even they sound amazing. You can definitely hear the drum and bass side of things through the tempo, drum patterns, insane stabs, etc., and the punk/rock vibe with Bill's bass playing. But the one thing that floors me are some of the really melodic, chilled-out breakdowns. And it all flows together so well; the arrangements are so amazing, I can't wait to hear the finished product. This is the sort of thing that can take d'n'b/electronic music to a new audience, plus it's got plenty of attitude, which is wonderful.”

(photo: soundnet.org)

Jim Fox

“What to choose? What to choose? I've certainly enjoyed a good number of individual pieces and a few discs, including 2005 releases by Gavin Bryars and Marc Ribot. But I'm gonna make a left turn here...

“A simple pleasure: The aptly-titled Petra Haden and Bill Frisell is delightful, unpretentious fun—and quite lovely at times. It draws together a few standards, a couple of folk songs, and some more recent tunes. Haden's intimate, young-sounding voice crooning Mancini's old torch song “Moon River” is worth the price of admission in itself. And it adds a unique flavor to “I Don't Want to Grow Up” (Tom Waits), “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and “I've got a Crush on You”” (Gershwin). Frisell's accompaniment is unassuming and just right throughout the disc.”

(photo: Alexander Obst)

Maximilian Hecker

“My favourite album of the year is Digital Ash In A Digital Urn by Bright Eyes. Genius production. Very good musicians. I love Oberst's broken sad/angry voice. The thing we have in common is a girl that appears in both our videoclips (in his “Bowl Of Oranges” and in my “Help Me”).”

(photo: star67.com)

Hieroglyphic Being (Jamal Moss)

“Top Favorite 2005: Hassan Hakmoun's Gift of the Gnawa (Healing Records): Hassan has worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, and Don Cherry. Sufi music is comprised of energy-charged tones, rhythms, and chants that can manifest spiritual healing and induce serious trance states in the musician and listening audience. Sufi music gives precedence to love for humanity above everything else, and is music that connects with the heart. These are goals that I strive for and follow when I'm creating electronic music.”

(photo: tbtmo.com)

Ezekiel Honig

“Tim Hecker's Mirages (Alien8): I love this man's music. He has a really specific sound, yet manages to make that sound just different enough with each release and, frankly, he could do the same thing over and over and I would still listen attentively. This album simply hits the right notes for me. It's extremely warm and yet has an element of something else as well, darkness maybe, detachment maybe, but not in a cold way. It's an emotional subtlety which is extremely difficult to capture, and makes it more beautiful because of that balance, the light with the dark, the loopy with the random, the sparse with the full, the noisy with the quiet. It's amazing when the same piece of music can resonate with heartfelt emotion or simply enhance your environment, depending on how you listen to it.

“Colleen's “Everything Lay Still,” The Golden Morning Breaks (Leaf): As the title suggests, what grabs me about this song is its moving stillness. It changes in such a slow and composed manner, yet is never boring or slow in any way. The instrument choices are also great—the way they complement each other, and especially the way she uses them as ambiance as much as melody. Another thing that truly grabs me about it is the way it plods and then all but stops, and then just starts up again. It could be too self indulgent in the wrong hands, but it really works and simply feels right in this instance, especially as an album closer, to end and then have a new ending instead, and because of its warmth I welcome that return.”

(photo: consumerslabel.net)

Innerstance.beatbox (JTodd)

“There is always so much music, but I would have to say that one of my favorite albums of 2005 is by drummer Ferenc Nemeth, titled Gilfema (Obliqsound). He teams up with West African guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke for a very modern, intimate set of incredible afro-jazz that is very fresh sounding and full of sunlight.”

(photo: killmemorycrash.com)

Kill Memory Crash

Alex: “Dive's Behind The Sun (Alfa Matrix): Kick-ass album from a great artist who's been pumpin' out seriously dark shit since I was old enough to take a piss standing upright.”

Adam: “CircleSquare's Pre Earthquake Anthem (Output Recordings): The saucy sex album of 2005.”

(photo: Nicole Ungier)

Malcom Kipe (Skyler McGothlin)

“A small list of albums I'm well into right now:
Mr. Ozio: Moustache
Soul Jazz Compilation: In the Beginning There Was Rhythm
Soul Jazz Compilation: New York Noise
ADULT.: Gimme Trouble
Snake Fingers: Greener Postures
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets
Broadcast: Tender Buttons
Maggotron: Best of Maggotron: "Early Maggots" (12")
Dungen: Ta Det Lungt
The Rapture: Echoes
LCD Sound System: LCD Sound System”

(photo: kranky.net)

Brian McBride

“I wouldn't trust myself to pick anything from the current year given the glacial pace of my musical knowledge. But if we could pretend that 2005 was determined by my sense of the calendar, I'd pick Alexander Desplat's score for Birth from late 2004: there's precision, separation, and fidelities so rarely found in modern filmic compositional work that one cannot help but delight in its solemn and arresting melodies.

“Otherwise, I'd have to give my props to the man who can't give it up: Harold Budd, who along with Robin Guthrie, has decidedly returned to score the film Mysterious Skin. Budd thankfully extends his musical stay to remind us through a fusion of fidelities reminscent of The White Arcades and The Pearl that the swell does have meaning. Sometimes the best is the biggest surprise, and knowing that Harold Budd is still sending us his beguiling sounds, is pretty darn good.”

(photo: thebodyraft.com)

Dave Miller

“Jamie Lidell's Multiply (Warp): A tough call, but my favourite album of the year would have to be one of the most divisive albums of the year (strange that it's called Multiply, eh?). It's obviously heavily influenced by Jamie's soul and funk idols, but he puts a new twist of things: the backing track for his vocal sounds like Timbaland's and Prince's love-child. It seemed that most people either loved it or hated it, but for me, it was the 'on the road' album that would always make me feel good—a quality that is rare for me with any form of electronic music in recent years. Other mentions go to Battles, Benny Sings, Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto, Daedelus & Steve Reid Ensemble.”

(photo: minlove.net)

Miskate (Kate Iwanowicz)

“The Suffragettes' Homework (unfoundsound): The Suffragettes are favorite new artists of mine because they select seemingly contrasting soundscraps and sew them together with elegant
line and form into a magnetic pattern, which emerges as a wobbly-kneed dancefloor experience and a beautiful mysifying puzzle for which your hypnotized mind begs to unravel.”

(photo: heftyrecords.com)

Eliot Lipp

“Sebastian Tellier's “La Ritournelle” is a bomb-ass song. I bought the 12-inch knowing nothing about it at all. I noticed he had a great beard on the cover so I picked it up and was totally blown away.

“Ceephax Acid Crew is pretty dope too. This shit is all drum machine and synths and it was definitely an inspiration to my 'all breaks & synths' style on Tacoma Mockingbird.”

(photo: frogwosh)

Morgan Packard

“I'm woefully unqualified to give any sort of definitive response to the 'Top Album of 2005' question. On the other hand, I'm quite qualified to answer the 'Top Personal Musical Inspiration of 2005' question. I was terrifically inspired by a live Monolake/Robert Henke show at Tonic in New York this summer. Everyone knows (and complains) that the laptop is a supremely boring performance instrument, but Henke is a special case. Hunched in front of his screen, fingers splayed over his keyboard, he seemed to be trying to physically interface with the machine through as many physical points as possible. The result of that unnatural union was more precise and immediate control over sound and rhythm than I'd seen before. Henke twisted his beats in a dozen different ways, giving the impression of conjuring textures out of thin air almost as quickly and deftly as he could imagine them. His connection with his computer, his ability to approach it as an instrument, rather than just a sophisticated playback device, brought him in to the present, in to the crowd, in to the performance in a way that made his electronic music seem as real, immediate, and live as all but the supplest instrumental music.

“When I discard all notions of keeping current with my listening (which is most of the time), I often gravitate toward the ECM label, notably Arvo Part's Tabula Rasa and Gavin Bryars' After the Requiem. They're my gold standard of musical beauty.”

(photo: Mia Moilanen)

Portable (Alan Abrahams)

“Firstly, I listen to a lot of Bach, almost every day and every morning. I find it (especially his piano works) really gets my mind going and motivates me to get things done, whether it's tidying my place or arranging future gigs.

“I also listen to a lot of Cocteau Twins, especially their earlier works, primarily as their music reminds me of my ex-boyfriend of eight years and now best friend. In a way it's a reminder that I was given the opportunity to experience true and unconditional love.

“And as my favourite track for 2005, it would have to be Sigur Rós's “Andvari” from Takk. Strangely, I always find myself listening to it when in need of some kind of consolation or when I'm landing back in London after a little trip. It brings to mind the infinity of life and love and music and the soul...”

(photo: bcnconcerts.com)

Prefuse 73 (Guillermo S. Herren)

“There is a tie between two Swedish acts.... One is José González's Veneer (Peacefrog) due to the fact that his music is simply honest and stripped down to its core the way I like. He doesn't flaunt an external style or mystique to make up for his music. He's just José, straight up. It sounds so familiar but remains original in its style. It'll never get old and will age like wine as long as the cork isn't left off.

“The other is all the output from the band Dungen; whether it's new or a reissue, it sounds 'old' or vintage but not desperate in its attempts. I played a festival just so I could see them live this year; they were good but I ended up DJing after one of their shows later in the year and they were twice as incredible. Sweden is on some hot shit right now...”

(photo: runreturn.com)


“In 2005, we (Tommy Fugelsang, Raj Ojha, Kevin Dineen) found tons of inspiration in Scandanavian music. From Norwegian disco producers like Lindstrom, to indie bubble-gum acts like Annie, this region has turned out a lot to dig on in the club and on the dance floor this year. However, we found ourselves constantly returning to Ta Det Lungt by Dungen, a very cerebral album better suited for headphone listening in the bedroom. The songcraft, performance, and production are tops. It's a milestone in recording because it flawlessly resurrects the aestheic values of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s psych rock bands, yet it was recorded entirely with digital technology. Gustav Ejstes' singing in his native Swedish tongue only adds to the mystique for our anglocentric minds.”

(photo: mutek.ca)

si-cut.db (Douglas Benford)

“My choice is Sakamoto & Fennesz's Sala Santa Cecilia (Touch). To be honest, I haven't listened to it enough—I get very behind with releases—but my brief glimpses of it reminded me that my two favourite gigs of the year were Fennesz at the ICA in London, and Sakamoto & Alva Noto at the Barbican... wonderful concerts!”

(photo: Annie Feldmeier)

Strategy (Paul Dickow)

“Sawako: Hum (12K): Sneaking into the #1 spot during the last several weeks of the year, this album from an old friend marked her greatest work yet. Hum is a confluence of tonal ambient music, sound art abstraction, and the very real everyday combinations of humor and seriousness that comprise a human experience.”

(photo: timeoutdrawer.com)

The Timeout Drawer (Jason Goldberg)

“I'm one of those guys in his early 30s chasing hardcore vinyl from the ‘80s on eBay. The closest thing to 2005 I have are 2004's Leviathan by Mastadon and The Real New Fall LP by The Fall. Leviathan gives you all the best elements from the last 20 years in Metal; a concept record with art you can look at stoned, Maiden-esque vocal and guitar harmonies, and melodies as important as those on Master of Puppets but without 20 years of dueling solos. The Real New Fall LP does what the rest of the Fall's 30 or 40 other records do: gives you dizzying moments of nonsensical genius envy, the kind of feeling you get when you understand nothing and love every moment of it (e.g., your very first non-ejaculatory orgasm circa 4th grade—like, what happened? but you want it again).”

(photo: Andy Vaz)

Andy Vaz

“Madvillain's (MF Doom & Madlib) Madvillainy (StonesThrow): As there were so many titles in “minimal electronic music” I enjoyed this year (which makes it impossible to pick one specific release), I'd say Madvillainy by Doom & Madlib has definitely been a big record for me this year. Madlib's the shit anyways and this one in particular has really pushed hip-hop further.”

(photo: highpointlowlife.com)

The Village Orchestra (Ruaridh Law)

“Hmmm, my pick of the year.... I guess it has to be Born Again, the Sutekh remixes (2xCD/4xLP). I've loved Sutekh since I first heard Periods.Make.Sense and although I enjoy him in the visceral techno way I enjoy his contemporaries (like Twerk and Safety Scissors), there's a really fascinating hidden depth to his stuff, and that come out really strongly in the remixes. They are are so often soul-less re-transcriptions but each one of these sounds like a really personal take on the material. It's music that I love and at the same time am envious of!”

(photo: kranky.net)

Windy & Carl

“Six Organs of Admittance's School of the Flower: I (Windy Weber) like Ben's voice and I like the drums. Good guitar sounds.

“Animal Collective's Feels: The lyrics scare me, so I try to not hear them, but I like the sounds of their voices and the way the music makes me move when I listen to it. I hum it for hours after, a sure sign to me that I've enjoyed a record.

“Brian McBride's When the Detail Lost its Freedom: I put it on and knew by the first three notes that I would love the whole thing. I suppose this is the one I would pick of them all; it is modern classical music to me, written, metered, composed music of great beauty. It has purpose and meaning and I just love it. It is somehow sad and hopeful at the same time, encompassing many emotions. It is really pretty and puts me in a thoughtful and relaxed mood.”

January 2006