2007 ARTIST PICKS
As a complement to the 2007 Top 10s and 20s article, textura asked artists whose works comprise the top thirty albums to select a favourite 2007 recording (or pre-2007) and write a sentence or two explaining what made it special. Here's what they said:
Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie • Cinematic Orchestra • Cokiyu • Colleen • Deepchord Presents Echospace • Terrence Dixon • Do Make Say Think • Erdem Helvacioglu • KILN • Marissa Nadler • People Press Play • Pole • Portable • Glen Porter • Quosp • RF & Lili De La Mora • R/R Coseboom • Sawako • Skull Disco • Slow Dancing Society • Slow Six • Strategy • Take
Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie (Before The Day Breaks / After The Night Falls, #30 album)
(Harold Budd) Pan Sonic's Katodivaihe.
Cinematic Orchestra (Ma Fleur, #6 album)
(Jason Swinscoe) Radiohead's In Rainbows. Inspiring and a Radiohead original. That's why they are one of the best rock bands of this era.
Cokiyu (Mirror Flake, #25 album)
My favourite recording of 2007 is Shugo Tokumaru's Exit because it is like a picture book.
Colleen (Les Ondes Silencieuses, #13 album)
I've opted to select three favorite concerts of 2007 as opposed to choosing records, because somehow I relate more easily to today's music in a live setting than on record. Three totally different bands who share an ability to really create a special atmosphere for their concerts while delivering music of the highest level:
1. This year the concert that really sent chills down my spine and actually made me shed a few tears was by Glasgow-based trio Nalle, playing in Glasgow at the Panopticon on a show that was actually the closing date of my English tour in June. It is difficult to do justice to Nalle's sound world and songwriting for they are a complex and unique mixture of many influences (traditional folk songs, Middle Eastern music, improv, etc), so the best thing is for you to wait for their new album which will come out in 2008 and which will no doubt include a lot of the songs that made that set so very special, and of course not to miss them if they play near you.
2. Efterklang also gave a mesmerizing set in Paris, at the Divan du Monde in October. For technical/noise level laws reasons, they had to play a really low set in terms of volume, which at first really frustrated them and probably the audience as well, but as the concert went on it took on a truly surreal quality because of that low volume, and coupled with the complex and delicate music they played and the special costumes they donned that night, it felt like a show from another time and space.
3. Finally and for the third time in my life, I saw Animal Collective play in Paris at the Maroquinerie in July, and once again I felt the exhilaration I've never failed to feel whenever I've seen them live. They still are the perfect band in terms of reconciling the often irreconcilable: experimental and pop, harsh and melodic, and never trying to cater to the audience's expectations in terms of which songs they're actually playing.
Deepchord Presents Echospace (The Coldest Season, #8 album)
(Rod Modell) My choice is definitely Untrue by Burial. It's the first album that I truly completely enjoyed in five years. I was in Germany for five weeks during November and December 2007 and it was my soundtrack for walking around Berlin, and was in my iPod constantly. There are some revolutionary techniques in that album, such as basically using vocals as synths. They're heavily filtered in some of the tracks, and you can't even make out the words, but they carry the track like a filtered synth-line. It's not overdone either; brutally effective and fresh, and unexplored sonic topography, which is amazing to find in 2007.
(Steve Hitchell) Rod Modell's Plays Michael Mantra (Silentes). The reason I have selected this release has nothing to do with my association with Rod; honestly, to me it has to be one of the best recordings of 2007. Its type of drone-driven ambient music is really what Rod does best; it possesses all the depth you would expect from a Tangerine Dream album yet somehow manages to fuse that magnetic ethereal state with the soul of the motor city. The epic journey really starts with “BaB” in which a hyponotic analog arpeggiation evolves into a world of its own, a subtle evolution in which time stands still. I couldn't imagine this sparse analog seduction getting any closer to your heart; it's just spellbinding. Near the eight-minute mark, a chord skank evolves just at the right second moments before you're almost asleep and dreaming. In that moment, the rhythm starts and you're left haunted by its subtlety. Nothing happens and everything moves in slow motion—evolution without process. This body of work comprises what I feel is the best ambient output of Rod Modell to date, without question.
Terrence Dixon (Train of Thought, #12 album)
My choice is Infiniti's Game One 2007 Remixes Part One. This release is very intelligent techno with the spirit of Detroit; the world needs more music like this and its great vision by Orlando Voorn.
Do Make Say Think (You, You're a History in Rust, #20 album)
(Justin Smalls) My favorite record is Fucked Up's The Hidden World. It may have come out late last year, but fuck it. It rules and I've listened to it all year long. Absolutely crushing!!!! I also can't stop listening to Big Business's Here Come the Water Works. If there is a better song than “Grounds for Divorce,” then I haven't heard it: big and ballsy and full of melody, this record absolutely kicks ass!!!
Erdem Helvacioglu (Altered Realities, #19 album)
The two works that I have chosen are not from 2007 but have been a great inspiration for me. The first one is the album De Tijd by Louis Andriessen, a 42-minute masterpiece of contemporary minimalism. Andriessen has such a unique style, a great ear for timbre, and superb control over form. The second album that I have listened to a lot lately is the album Vikings of the Sunrise by Stephen Scott. I never realized that playing inside the piano could be so inspirational. I am still trying to figure out how all those great timbres were created.
KILN (Dusker, #10 album)
Fenton's Pup. This is a project that Dan Abrams (Shuttle 358) released on the Japanese imprint Plop in October of 2005. It's composed of mainly simple acoustic/electric guitar figures, arranged as patterns and loops with deliciously spare counterpoint, overdubs, and no percussion.The entire record hangs and rotates like a gorgeous neon mobile that's slightly disrupted and arcing on the surface. It's not entirely gentle, though. The coda of this masterwork is perfectly sculpted, a massive chordal freight-train that somehow defies standard aggression in its hugeness. We've been proponents of the Shuttle 358 catalog for years and have no idea how we missed this release for almost two years... happy to have found it.
Marissa Nadler (Songs III: Bird On The Water, #24 album)
My top five albums of the year: James Blackshaw's The Cloud of Unknowing (Tompkins Square): the best; Phosphorescent's Pride (Dead Oceans): amazing; Mariee Sioux's Faces in the Rocks (Grassroots): honey voice; Orion Rigel Dommisse's What I Want From You is Sweet (Language of Stone): death songs; St. Mary's' Oh Tremble (Mon Petit Fantome Recordings): pure reverby creepy goodness.
People Press Play (People Press Play, #27 album)
(Thomas Knak) When not discussing with the other members of People Press Play news on Holger Czukay, the second Burial album, and the pros and cons of Band of Horses / Iron and Wine, I like to think that 2007 was a good year partly because of:
1. Flying Lotus: 1983: A fine producer's album that takes hip-hop beats and electronic sounds and ideas farther into the future.
2. Colleen: Les Ondes Silencieuses: Few people dare to keep acoustic instruments looped this simply. Even fewer do what Colleen does.
3. Efterklang: Parades Album: Friendly and fellow Danes got even more ambitious to great effect. Layers upon layers of tons of guest musicians and their instruments helped expand the sound spectre, but still without losing that specific Efterklang feel.
4. The Bug feat. Flowdan: Skeng 12-inch: Having heard this played by Loefah to eight hundred ecstatic fans at DMZ in London in May, it was evident that it would be a future anthem and help Dubstep cross over to new audiences.
5. Peverelist: Roll The Punches 12-inch: A simple and banal loop, a steady beat, and then that extra haunting melody to prove that sometimes that's just enough and also what makes Dubstep sound so refreshing.
6. Bernard Parmegiani concert in Copenhagen: Quite stunning to watch the hands of an eighty-year-old legend of musique concrete mixing his more than thirty-year-old pieces to twenty-four speakers. It's not hard to see why he has been so highly regarded by Autechre and the likes, when “L'Instant mobile, Capture éphémère” pan from speaker one all the way to speaker twenty-four.
Pole (Steingarten, #18 album)
It isn't easy to name just one record of the year as my favourite one, but I will make a selection and hope that others not mentioned will be not too sad about it. I really like Skull Disco's Soundboy Punishments a lot—a great overview of the possibilities in Dubstep and Beyond. Mainly the word Beyond is important since Shackleton and Appleblim are showing the possibilities of this new genre but being already a step ahead.
Portable (Powers Of Ten, #11 album)
My favourite piece of the year: Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations. I listened to this piece almost every morning; it's quite a magical set of notes. Apparently written for an insominiac merchant who needed a piece of music to sleep fall asleep to, I find it awakens the sleeper in me.
Glen Porter (Something Glue, #21 album)
My favourite album of 2007 was either Mr Cooper's Amongst Strangers or Free The Robots' Free The Robots. Both are amazing instrumental albums with great melodies and drums that will take you to an amazing place from beginning to end.
Quosp (Soundscapes 1, #29 album)
The favourite piece of music I've heard this year is “Music For Twin Peaks Episode #30 Part I” by Stars of the Lid. It's a stunningly beautiful track and one of the best pieces of music I've ever heard. The sounds in it are just amazing. Not new by any means but it's one of the few tracks I've heard by them, and I'll definitely be seeking out more.
RF & Lili De La Mora (Eleven Continents, #15 album)
On constant rotation at the De La Mora residence in 2007: Panda Bear's Person Pitch. Simultaneously poppy and abstract, this album is a symphony of parting clouds and sun-drenched harmonies. You feel the warmth pouring out of the music! Also, Wendy & Bonnie's Genesis (Skye, 1969; Sundazed Reissue, 2001). The Flowers sisters were thirteen and seventeen when they recorded this soft-psych gem! Beautiful jazz-tinged harmonies and arrangements that had me hooked after the first listen.
(Ryan Francesconi) One of the favourite albums I bought this year was Vetiver's To Find Me Gone. Andy Cabic has an amazing tone, both in his voice and songwriting; great dude as well. I've also enjoyed the Efterklang albums that came out this year: Under Giant Trees and Parades. Another group of super nice guys who are stretching song forms into something wonderful!
R/R Coseboom (Beneath Trembling Lanterns, #23 album)
(Ryan Coseboom) Lots of good stuff released this year but our favorite record is Pluramon's The Monstrous Surplus, a brilliant composite of early ‘90s shoegaze guitar, contemporary electronics, and great vocals/melody particularly from Julee Cruise. Maybe our favourite of the year because, in fact, in the early ‘90s we were listening to Julee Cruise and Slowdive (“If Time Was On My Side” is probably my favourite track of the year).
Sawako (Madoromi, #26 album)
Though I am not a person who chases new music very much, my favourite music for the year has been João Gilberto's João Gilberto. I still vividly remember how he could create an intimate atmosphere with just his voice and guitar in front of 10,000+ people when I went to his concert in Tokyo several years ago. I also like the fact that he has done a recording in his bathroom. As for new music, there have been many debut releases in 2007 that I've liked. Among them, I want to mention two of my favorite J-girls' albums: Mirror Flake by Cokiyu (we've known each other since the late ‘90s!) and xtoyourmilkyhair by Nobuko Hori (she is also a talented visual artist who is working for Christopher Willits, etc.). In addition, I am very happy about the debut of Anticipate Recordings, Ezekiel Honig's label (even if I hadn't released an album from there, Anticipate would be my favorite!).
Skull Disco (Soundboy Punishments, #1 album)
(Appleblim) T++'s Allied / Tensile (Erosion): T++ hails from the Hardwax / Basic Channel crew, and is behind some of the finest techno of the last ten years in my opinion (go and get digging, he's behind some sick releases). Having not heard him for quite a few years, I accidentally made contact with him via the glorious interweb, and linked up. “Allied” is on the CD he sent me and I immediately went out and cut it to dub. It's a weird slowed-down, swung-out techno breakbeat fusion; it really doesn't sound like anything else around at the moment. I had to pitch it up a lot to play it in sets, but it sounded great. He's remixed my “Vansan” and I'm remixing “Allied” for him. Also keep an eye out for his remix of Shackleton coming soon on Skull Disco....
Slow Dancing Society (The Sound Of Lights When Dim, #14 album; The Slow and Steady Winter, #28 album)
I tend to be a bit “behind the times” when it comes to artists and their new music. So this is especially difficult for me to state what album(s) I really enjoyed in 2007 because it usually takes some time for the work to grow on me or for me to even get around to listening to it. However, that being said the following albums are ones that I listen to quite a bit and inspire me. For the most recent piece of work I would have to choose the film score to the movie Stay by Asche & Spencer. This score is so beautiful and mysterious and from another world, all while using the most common of instruments. If it weren't for guys like Eno, this would probably have never been what it is, but I reckon Eno would've loved to have written this album.
The next would have to be Azure Vista by Manual. Jonas Munk managed to take all that was cliché and all that was great and progressive about the ‘80s and put it into the piece of work and did it in such a unique and not so tongue-in-cheek way. To me it sounds like The Cure had lunch with Def Leppard and then went back to the studio to jam while Brian Eno happened to be in the producer's chair with Robin Guthrie sitting in on guitars, Phil Collins for some proper percussion work, and all the while John Hughes writing a script for a new movie in the lounge. Praised by a lot of Manual fans, although highly underestimated by the entire music industry.
Slow Six (Private Time in Public Places, #5 album; Nor'easter, #16 album)
(Christopher Tignor) Like a lot of people, I was really impressed by Battles' full-length Mirrored. Those Don Caballero records were a big early influence, and this record really extends those ideas for me, combining the mesmerizing effects of minimalism with an ethos that is at all times adventurous rock. You can really hear the players at work behind the songs and I've always been excited by music that lets you into the process like that. The songs become about the musicians' ears and their commitment to a specific way to make music.
Strategy (Future Rock, #3 album)
My favourite recording of the year: Vladislav Delay's Whistleblower. It's no secret that Delay is one of my all-time favourite artists. In any case, I was absolutely floored that he came back this year with one of his best outings yet. Reminding me of some of his earliest work, this is a beautiful, suspenseful study in rhythm, un-rhythm, pulseless percussive expressions, the free jazz of the electronic music world. Relaxing at low volume, pummeling and intense turned up loud.
Take (Earthtones & Concrete, #22 album)
2007 was a strange year in music to me. Many of my favourite groups or producers released sophomore efforts that I had a hard time getting into. After letting them seep in and giving them thorough listens in various mind states and different demographic locations, I came to the conclusion that about half of them hit the spot for me and the other half kind of fell flat. But hey, one man's garbage is another man's gold, right? In choosing my favourite release of 2007, I picked my brain and thought; “Hmmm, what single album changed my world this year?” I couldn't do it, so instead I made a list of records from 2007 that I kept in rotation for more than a week, albums that actually acted as the soundtrack and re-occurring themes to my life in 2007. In no specific order: LCD Soundsystem's Sound Of Silver; Beat Dimensions Compilation Vol 1; Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha; Little Brother's Get Back; Tunng's Good Arrows; Victor Bermon's Arriving at Night; Dimlite's This is Embracing; Lukid's Onandon; Cold War Kids' Robber and Cowards; Adventure Time's This Dome is Our Home; Ras G's CDR; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Architecture in Helsinki's Heart it Races; White Rainbow's Prism of Eternal Now.