2016 ARTISTS' PICKS
As was done with last year's installment, the 2016 roundup of artists' picks supplements the notion of favourite musical choices with things that made life worth living and brought the individuals in question joy. We are deeply indebted to those who contributed to the article and thank them not only for their generosity but for the countless hours of pleasure their music brought us in 2016.
On a personal note, 2016 saw textura flirt midway through the year with site closure, come to its senses a month later, and return refreshed in August with a modification in site design plus a move from monthly posting to regular updating. Supplemental to that, there is much for which we're thankful: exceptional recordings that filled our days (see the 2016 year-end selections here), as well as countless books (Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen, William Sloane's The Rim of Morning, and Arthur Lubow's biography of Diane Arbus three of many), concerts, and films (most memorably, Yasujiro Ozu's Late Spring at the Film Forum in NY).
anthéne • The Big Eyes Family Players • Matt Borghi • William Brittelle • bvdub • Channelers • Buck Curran • Lara Downes • Elektro Guzzi • Anne Garner • John Gregorius • Jason Kao Hwang • Akira Kosemura • Bruce Levingston • Daniel Lippel • littlebow • Deborah Martin • James Murray • orchestramaxfieldparrish • Michael Robinson • Jeffrey Roden • Carl Stone • 36
anthéne (#8 compilations / cassettes / reissues: repose, Polar Seas Recordings)
(Brad Deschamps) Although 2016 was generally a pretty miserable year considering all the great musicians we lost (not to mention the US election...), there was still much to enjoy, and most of this enjoyment stems from music. This year I really loved connecting with artists through my label Polar Seas, which led to a few releases in 2016 and others coming in 2017; I also bought more records this year than any other that I can remember. There was a seemingly impossible amount of great music released this year: Marissa Nadler's Strangers, Mamiffer's The World Unseen, Ian William Craig's Centres, Angel Olsen's My Woman, Willamette's Diminished Composition, Julianna Barwick's Will, and so many others that really resonated with me. There were also reissues of some all-time favourite albums: Rachel's' Systems/Layers, William Basinski's 92982, and Deaf Center's Pale Ravine. Outside of music, one thing that really made 2016 a great year is the vegan food in Toronto; my wife and I have frequented new restaurants like Doomie's and Planta among many others that offer exclusively vegan menus, and there's even a new vegan grocery store close to our house! 2016 certainly had its moments…
The Big Eyes Family Players (#31 album: ‘Oh!,' Home Assembly Music)
(James Green, on behalf of The Big Eyes Family Players) 2016: Shirley Collins' return after thirty-eight years, worth the wait, for sure; hearing The Raincoats live for the first time, and Cate Le Bon twice; getting a new piano, one that you can actually play without the keys getting stuck, and hearing my young son learn to play it; painting a great big fibre-glass elephant for the Herd Of Sheffield project; going on a mini-tour with Alasdair Roberts (we released an album together this year, too)—I don't think I know a more talented and modest musician; the Stanley Spencer exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield; spending some time in Utelle in the French Alps with family and friends; drinking too much coffee and wine and properly relaxing for the first time in ages; reading Our band could be your life by Michael Azerrad.
Matt Borghi (#40 album: Ambient Guitar, Matt Borghi)
It's a bit of a philosophical Pandora's Box to sit and think about something as broad as what makes my life worth living in given year, or any time for that matter, but ultimately and always, I come back to the creative process. Being inspired and the process of being creative is what makes my life worth living and gives me a daily sense of purpose.
There are other layers here, too, such as the external influences that inspire me and stoke the embers of my creativity; those are things like textura and SOMA FM creator Rusty Hodge, who created, curates, and manages my favourite internet radio station, Drone Zone. As a creative person, these are things that make a difference; as the Buddhist koan asks: ‘Does a tree that falls in the woods, without anybody around to hear it, make a sound?' So, too, do I ask: ‘Does a sound recording that's put into the universe that nobody hears or knows about make a sound?' I know how I would answer that question, and it's that perspective keeps me grateful and thankful for folks who support the work.
In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus wonders aloud whether life is worth living in an absurd world—a timeless question, really, and as relevant now as ever. Camus comes to a variety of conclusions, but there are a couple that stick out, one the idea that ‘What is a good reason to live is just as good of a reason to die' and the other ‘If life weren't absurd then art wouldn't exist.' There isn't much poetry here, but I feel like the underlying sentiment is that life is messy, and while art or creativity may not clarify it or even fix anything absolutely, the process of acknowledgement leads towards acceptance and ultimately peace.
Now, I'm taking a very long way around here, but for me, it's the encouragement of folks like textura, Rusty, John at the Hypnagogue Podcast, Chuck van Zyl at Star's End, and so many others that continue to make life worth living for so many, and, on some level, don't each of us share that responsibility for each other...
William Brittelle (#3 eps / singles: Dream Has No Sacrifice, New Amsterdam Records)
What makes life worth living: meditating, Arca, the desert, Oneohtrix Point Never, John Luther Adams, nesconsole.com, Murakami, Chris Marker, and Daniel Wohl's Holographic.
bvdub (#16 album: A Thousand Words, bvdub)
(Brock Van Wey) 2016 was, quite honestly, one of the worst years of my life, but through the worst times, you are always reminded of the people around you that make it worth living. So for that, and for them, I have been grateful every day, and reminded of why I moved myself literally halfway across the world to be back with them. As with so many years before, I'm fortunate to have so much amazing support for my music, and I want to thank each and every person for that, and for helping me remember what matters when I came so close to forgetting. On the one hand, life seemed to have less meaning for me this year than it ever has. And on the other, so much about those experiences have showed me how much I cherish it, and those I am lucky enough to share it with.
This year I have, quite honestly, listened to barely anything, concentrating on silence over sound in my life, and have, as psychotic as it sounds, spent the majority of time simply sitting in complete silence in my house. Silence was something unattainable all those years in China, and lately I revel in the ability to immerse myself in a complete lack of sound... though that in itself doesn't come without its price on your sanity. This tumultuous year has thrust me into a new relationship with my life, my surroundings, and the soundtrack to that life, both internal and external. It has been complex, to say the least.
When I have invited external stimuli into my life, it's been in the form of binge-watching way too much TV, like the fantastically fantastical (yes) Strike Back, the horrifyingly perfect, panic-attack inducing The Fall, the genius examinations of Black Mirror, or the far-too-underrated Humans, among many others.
And then there are of course my three great loves—beer, video games, and cats. Yes, in case you didn't know, I love cats.
Channelers (#9 compilations / cassettes / reissues: Essex, Inner Islands)
(Sean Conrad) Here are a few of the things that brought me joy in 2016. It is incredibly empowering to see so many folks respond to tragedy and to fear-mongering with love, support, and swift action. It is beautiful to hear the sounds of people following their dreams and awakening to their potential. Over the summer I was in awe of the energy that lingers around the abandoned native dwellings of the four corners area and the vastness of the desert sky above them. And in the fall I experienced my first geothermal pool, absolutely sensational. Throughout the year it brings me great joy to watch my plants grow; it makes me smile to see them thrive. I am grateful for human and non-human friends and the connections we can all share.
Buck Curran (#11 album: Immortal Light, Obsolete Recordings / ESP-Disk)
2016 was an intense and creative year often overshadowed by the nightmares of American politics (US Presidential race) and the horrific human rights violations at Standing Rock in North Dakota, in Syria, Philippines, etc. The positive side of Standing Rock was the solidarity shown among tribes and people from all over North America and the support of the 2000 US Veterans who made their way there in December to act as human shields for the Water Protectors (standing up against the police and security hired to protect the DAPL and Corporate, who perpetrated unbelievable abuses for months). There was also the terrible loss of life at the Oakland collective space the Ghost Ship, due to a horrible fire. And far too many renowned musicians passed away: Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, etc. I also lost two dear friends this year, both of whom passed away far too young (Harmony Gagne from Maine and blues musician Chris Aaron from Wisconsin), and sadly the wild old growth was cut down along the riverside in Maine where I conceived a lot of the music for my debut solo album Immortal Light.
Musically I thought the best recordings came out of the underground or from independent artists: Italian musician Adele H, whose single Dogmas I recorded in Maine and with whom I did a brief East Coast tour this past summer; Devendra Banhart's song “Middle Names”; Six Organs of Admittance's Burning the Threshold; Johanna Warren's Gemini I; Richard Osborn's Endless; The Nashville wife-and-husband duo The Rushings, whose Nashville West EP I recorded while traveling to Tennessee this summer; RY X's Only; Ryley Walker's song “The Great and Undecided”; Doyle Bramhall 2's new album Rich Man; Mariee Sioux's song “Black Snake” (dedicated to Standing Rock); Meg Baird-led Heron Oblivion and their self-titled debut album; Allysen Callery's The Song the Songbird Sings; Bitchin Bajas and Bonnie Prince Billy's Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties, which was the perfect road trip album as Adele and I traveled from Lousiville to Asheville, up the Appalachian trail to Maine; Glenn Jones's Fleeting, the self-titled release by the UK project Twelve Hides (led by guitarist Ben Tweddell), and Deserts of Youth by Maine's Lisa/Liza are three other great albums released this year; and, finally, I revisited all of Chris Whitley's brilliant albums and Daune Allman's recordings.
This year's publication of Jesse Jarnow's book Heads: a Biography of Psychedelic America was another highlight, and Adele and I attended Jarnow's great book discussion event in Portland, Maine in June. As well 2016 saw the genesis of my own label Obsolete Recordings and first release Basket Full of Dragons: a tribute to Robbie Basho Volume 2 along with the release of Immortal Light (a split between Obsolete and ESP-Disk), my first recording project outside of Arborea. 2016 also marked the ten-year anniversary of Arborea's first album, Wayfaring Summer (2006).
Arborea landed its first major film trailer for the movie Into the Forest (filmed in Canada) staring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, and I played some of my favourite concerts this year with my musical partner Adaya (from Switzerland), whose debut album The Other Side (on which I play electric guitar) will be released in 2017. The most beautiful moments of 2016, though, were the times spent with my two children, Liam and Shylah (in Maine), this past spring and summer, and all the days with Adele in Italy and America (the two countries, where I spent most of my time in 2016 when not touring). I always love experiencing the blossoms in spring on the cherry trees in my backyard in Maine, and this year was exceptional. And I dearly loved the beautiful but all too brief moments spent relaxing this spring and summer in my backyard, and waking in the morning to the sound of birds singing.
Lara Downes (#2 album: America Again, Sono Luminus)
2016 tried and tested the spirit—such a very divisive and troubling year here in the US. But I have been so lucky to have lived this difficult time in the companionship of American music. I've grown and learned so much, traveling around the country, to audiences in large cities and small towns, sharing music that represents the best of our American story. I've been lucky to witness my music creating bridges across political and cultural lines and bringing about some astounding moments of conversation and understanding.
I've found joy and comfort this year in my crazy family, some thrilling new artistic collaborations, late nights with old friends, a big bottle of Diorissimo, TSA Pre-check (lifesaving!), breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria, lightning storms off the Riviera Nayarit, impromptu dance parties in the kitchen, my mom's challah, the music of Leonard Bernstein, the words and wisdom of Harry Belafonte, the art of Kerry James Marshall, and the beautiful new friendships I've made on my travels, in this musician's life of mine.
Elektro Guzzi (#4 eps / singles: Parade, Denovali)
(Bernhard Hammer, Bernhard Breuer, Jakob Schneidewind) What remains of 2016 is a year full of great musical encounters: fantastic musicians, lovely audiences, and music-lovers, great music festivals organized by ambitious promoters, and so much positive feedback regarding our work. 2016 has definitely been our most productive year, and it has been never so easy to be creative and to work together as a unit. To name a few highlights (in chronological order): a magical tour trough Germany, Italy, and Switzerland together with our brothers of RocketNumberNine, Ben and Tom Page; releasing the first Tourtape on the small cassette label we started this year; returning to Japan to meet, enjoy, and party with these enthusiastic music aficionados to witness a concert of YOLZ IN THE SKY, which definitely was the discovery of the year; to compose, rehearse, record, and perform with three incredible trombone players: Hilary Jeffery, Martin Ptak, and Daniel Riegler; releasing Clones, our latest album, for which we had so much support from our friends, colleagues, label, and agents; having one of the easiest-going recording sessions in our whole lives (again) together with RocketNumberNine (there will be a release sooner or later), and finally at the end of the year releasing the EP Parade.
Not even to mention all the sessions, jams, releases, and concerts each of us had besides Elektro Guzzi: Bernhard Hammer started to play live as a solo artist and released his first record as Buenoventura; Bernhard Breuer released another splendid EP with his band Tumido; the Monochord duo of Jakob Schneidewind and Bernhard Hammer released their debut EP Spatial Stereo. So a year full of touring, rehearsing, recording, performing, traveling, meeting people, gaining experience—one more year of enjoying our work, and hopefully many years to follow!
Anne Garner (#2 compilations / cassettes / reissues: Be Life Relived, Slowcraft Records / Unperceived Records)
Overcoming a challenge always makes me happy. I've loved the freedom and confidence of becoming more technically involved in producing the new album. Another challenge this year has been starting a book about the strange creatures I draw. I've had to endure endless little gremlins on my shoulder whispering I can't do it; it's taken a while, but I'm finally getting the better of them!
Unexpectedly recording vocals with family, collaborating with newfound artists, walking the cliffs of the North East with my husband—these things have all given me inspiration and exhilaration this year and high hopes for the next. I'm happy to be where I am.
John Gregorius (#7 album: Still Voice, Spotted Peccary Music)
There were quite a few things that brought joy to this past year. First was getting married to my best friend. It's a blessing to share life together and know we are for each other. I turned fifty and enjoyed playing music with a group of old friends to benefit Isaiah House homeless shelter. After much searching, I found a home in Tucson. I love the mystery of the desert, and that it's filled with life from birds to butterflies, bobcat to deer, and of the course the saguaro cactus. Hiking has been a big part of my life and this continues in these amazing canyons. Also, I've played a few concerts with strings, percussion, and Kimberly on piano and vocals, which were very moving and powerful for me (and hopefully the audience) to hear Still Voice come to life live.
Jason Kao Hwang (#38 album: VOICE, Innova)
The Music From China's Youth orchestra led by Wang Guowei at Drew University was thrilling. I expected, y'know, a kids' concert, but their playing blew me away. For middle and high school musicians to love Chinese music is incredible. My performances throughout the year with choreographers Patricia Parker and Yoshiko Chuma, musicians Taylor Ho Bynum, Andrew Drury, Patrick Brennan, William Parker, Tomeka Reid, Karl Berger, and Ayman Fanous, were inspiring. Got joy from my octet Burning Bridge's premiere of my new composition “Blood” at Edgefest. The release of VOICE and the positive reception by textura was deeply gratifying. While hooping at the Y sinking the occasional three is always a happy event! Cooper-Moore gave me the David Ware CD Birth of a Being, a phenomenal recording of David, Cooper-Moore, and Marc Edwards originally released in 1977. Finally, the performance of Connie Crothers at the Vision Festival is a memory I will treasure. Though she was quite ill from cancer, her spirit miraculously rose to towering heights to create music of profound love and infinite beauty. The audience exploded, giving her a long, loud, and joyful standing ovation. Sadly, she passed away a few weeks later. I am grateful to have experienced her courage, brilliance, passion, and generosity.
Akira Kosemura (#29 album: Momentary: Memories of the Beginning, Schole; #10 eps / singles: Buddhists, 1631 Recordings)
2016 was a really important year for me. In the spring, I released my sixth album; I had been working on it for the past five years, so this release brought me relief and gave me fresh energy for my next. In the summer, I recorded an improvised solo piano album in a day and released it as my seventh album, and I also composed the film score for a Japanese teen movie at the same time; I really enjoyed doing both, because their colours are very different. In my life, I spent a great deal of time with my tiny boy (one-and-a-half years), who has had a huge influence on me, and the time with my family focused my mind on composing work with enhanced curiosity. The things that happened in 2016 will add to my creative life in 2017.
Bruce Levingston (#20 album: Dreaming Awake, Sono Luminus)
In this complicated, disconcerting year of division, incendiary rhetoric, and bloody warfare, I returned again and again to the thought that kindness, beauty, wonder, and joy remain. Music that brought sustenance and peace: Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, haunting mazurkas of Chopin, tender intimacies of Schumann, and always, Schubert and Debussy. For sheer joy: creating sounds for the astonishing arabesques of Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo, and sharing a mic with old Chelsea Hotel pal Ethan Hawke to bring Glass and Ginsberg's timely message of love and peace to life again. Jazzed to find our recent album on textura's ‘Top 20 Albums' list alongside lovely Sono Luminus colleague Lara Downes and exquisite musical partners and friends Chris Tignor and the Brooklyn Rider maestros. Found inspiration and comfort reading George Eliot and George Orwell (odd pairing!) and the moving poetry of Kevin Young and Beth Ann Fennelly; dazzled by Bill Eggleston's stunning photography, and paintings of Valentin de Boulogne, Francis Picabia, and Kerry James Marshall at the Met and MoMA; shared hopes, sorrows, losses, and triumphs with families of friends and blood; and celebrated other fantastic creatures sharing this planet: a funny little turtle named Cecil who came to stay for awhile, a joyous little terrier named Harper Lee, some hilariously clever feral pups encountered in Chile, and the menageries of hare, squirrels, deer, and birds that congregate near my door and that constantly remind me of the mysterious, fragile, sweet gift of life.
Daniel Lippel (#9 eps / singles: Electric Counterpoint, New Focus Recordings)
I think 2016 was a tough year for a lot of us in the arts, but it's been reaffirming and inspiring to see my colleagues and friends respond to disheartening developments with passion, commitment, and redoubled love for reaching people through music. What we do is one small but essential part of a functioning society—at its best, art reminds us why we're alive and elevates our experience. I'm lucky to be around so many artists who get that and do it from the depths of their being, and if I have any hope in the future, it's thanks to those brave folks who continue to believe in the value of what we do, and inspire others to keep getting that message out (that includes you, textura!).
littlebow (#8 album: Three, Rural Colours)
(Katie English) I went to the Paul Klee museum in Bern, which was stunning. So rare to see a real artist with a sheer love of experimenting and making pictures for their own sake. The new Kate Tempest album is still on heavy rotation. Absolutely fantastic work that says so much in such a short space of time. I got to play some brilliant gigs this year including a live soundtrack to the Jean Renoir version of The Little Match Girl at Other Worlds Film Festival and taking a week off my day job to soundtrack some aerial artists in Bristol. And although I've not released so much this year I've been busy recording for lots of amazing projects that will probably all come out on the same day, some time, next year!
(Brona McVittie) Things that brought me joy in 2016: Walking in the Mournes. Gathering apples from the orchard and making the most amazing apple juice I've ever tasted. Watching the birds on the feeder in my back yard. Discovering Jun Miyake and Lisa Papineau's The Here and After, Jherek Bischoff's Cistern, Graham Fitkin's Gordon, Jono McCleary's Age of Self, and DJ Maestro's remix of Nina Simone's “Plain Gold Ring.” Reading H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau for the first time. Recording in my friend's vintage studio in the south of France. Discovering Valencia. Best live gig was either Lisa Hannigan at Soma Festival or John McSherry's Seven Suns album launch in Castlewellan.
(Keiron Phelan) I'm an old school sort so, as a musician, I shall stick to music and leave the beauty of the year's glistening cobwebs to the spiders. First highlight, for me, was a mind-blowing staging of Alban Berg's (too rarely seen) Lulu at ENO, London, where the orchestral performance, vocal deliveries, and set design were near as damn faultless. Papernut Cambridge's excellent, early-‘70s tinged album, Love The Things Your Lover Loves, made me smile hugely and remember all the good things about being a Glam Rock-loving twelve-year-old. Lastly, being a small vocal part of a rendition of Pauline Oliveros' Tuning Meditation, led by the late composer herself, at St. John's, Westminster, was quite an experience and something of an honour. All three members of littlebow, among a host of other talents, will appear on a Pauline Oliveros tribute album being composed and compiled for spring 2017.
Deborah Martin (#6 eps / singles: Etched Into Memory, Spotted Peccary Music)
I welcome this time of year and am thankful for many blessings—friendships old and new, simple pleasures of home and family, and anticipation of what the New Year may bring. With all the changes occurring in the world, it's sometimes challenging to keep focus on what the real values in life are. For me value is the opportunity to be of service to others. I wish for everyone the beauty and tranquility of the season and may each of you find the joy and peace in your value.
James Murray (#27 album: Eyes to the Height, Ultimae; #5 eps / singles: Ghostwalk, Ultimae)
I'm starting to understand just how much the shine on this and every other year comes from the trust, generosity, and sincerity of others. The Tetherdown album with Mark Beazley and Anne Garner is a beautiful example; respecting and enjoying each other's musical company made recording together an appealing, rewarding and altogether obvious thing to do. Coming back to Ultimae after all these years was a big deal for me, too; we presented such strong work this year and collaborating again was a genuine treat. The show in the summer with Home Normal and the ongoing goodness of that friendship is treasure. Firming up family, igniting new collaborations, friends in the north, and the company of my wonderful wife complete what I have to call a pretty fine year.
orchestramaxfieldparrish (#12 album: A Midsummer's Night, Faith Strange Recordings)
(Mike Fazio) 2016 had some challenges for me but by finding the strength to resurrect orchestramaxfieldparrish from its hiatus and issue two new albums at the same time has made me move past them and find joy in revisiting this project again. While working on these albums during a physically difficult time and thankfully getting to the point of being an avid cyclist once again, which is my greatest joy and achievement this year, has given me the renewed strength and conviction to persevere in the uncertain waters of independent music as well as given me many ideas to move forward, for the live stage, as well as in the recording studio. To be able to produce music and come from a position of strength and conviction of what I do and not be concerned about commercial gain or ego in today's increasingly disturbing times in the USA is a blessing and hopefully an inspiration to other DIY artists who also reject the mainstream and to persevere and block out the negativity that has befallen here and turn it into constructive creativity for change. I do wish brighter skies for all. I've always had the intention for my music to open some hearts along the way, to make others reflect within themselves and find the strength to think in much deeper and expansive terms of what can and should be. Art is not a mirror—it is a hammer. It is a gift that I am incredibly grateful for and I am deeply thankful for all that I have achieved in life.
Although I have heard very few new artists and their works this year due to time constraints, I have reacquainted myself with some old favourites such as Stephan Micus and Dead Can Dance and find great inspiration from revisiting their discographies.
As far as favorite new recordings for 2016 go, I would have to say Andrew Chalk's Everyone Goes Home When The Sun Sets, Fovea Hex's The Salt Garden 1, Alio Die's Seemlessly Bliss, Fennesz's Mahler Remixes, King Crimson's Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind), Harry Bertoia's reissued Sonambient box collection, and Bowie's Blackstar are the ones I return to most.
Sincere thanks to textura for choosing to remain amongst us in 2016 and for shining a golden light onto my small part of the universe. Cheers.
Michael Robinson (#13 album: Celestial Crocodile and Honu Morning, Azure Miles Records)
One absorbing pathway for augmenting ourselves with foreign culture is through culinary experience. Along those lines, I have been utterly razzle-dazzled by the Foods of the World Series of twenty-seven books originally published in the late sixties by Time Life, now available on Amazon. Together with sublime colour photographs depicting myriad dishes, raw ingredients, and distant regions, the elegant, engaging writing brims with stories and facts that provide clues into the essence of what makes each culture distinct and inspiring.
Here are just a few specifics that were all revelations for me: It is the deep and powerful Japan Current that prevents ocean minerals from settling to the bottom in the seas around Japan, helping to explain why seafood there has traditionally been the finest tasting in the world, including their genius for uncooked preparations. Germans traditionally ate five meals a day, as opposed to the three a day common here in America. Recent studies seem to suggest this concept is healthier. The most exquisite German white wines came about after it was discovered that overripe grapes covered with mold were beneficial because the mold eats away the skin, causing the water to evaporate, and yielding a richly sugared juice that eventually becomes those coveted wines. I was also struck by a number of subtly complex descriptive passages in these fine volumes presenting ideas and explanations about food and drink that are conceptually relatable to music in surprising and delightful ways.
Another rare balm is the phenomenally rich reservoir of American comedy from the mid-twentieth century and on, now found on YouTube, Pandora, and other platforms. Many of the names are very famous, but now we are able to actually explore the contributions of these individuals in some depth, including how their improvisatory flights of imagination and lightning reflexes parallel jazz musicians.
Jeffrey Roden (#5 album: Threads of a Prayer Volume 1, Solaire Records)
2016 would have to rank as one of the happiest years of my life. I had a chance to meet and become friends with Dirk and Anna Fischer; take a long train ride with Tobias Fischer along with my wife and their shared horrible sense of humour; record Threads of a Prayer with an amazing group of musicians, including the master musician Sandro Ivo Bartoli; read the reviews of the work from critics and listeners and have the intense throat-tightening feeling that the work had purpose, value, and understanding; to be at an age where one might be tempted to look backward and instead see a future that has yet to be fulfilled, a wonderful happy year unlike any other for which I am grateful beyond expression. Thank you, textura, for being a part of this incredible year.
Carl Stone (#1 compilations / cassettes / reissues: Electronic Music from the Seventies and Eighties, Unseen Worlds)
As we reach to the end of 2016, it's hard not to be amazed at what a strange and discomforting year it has been, not only in global politics but also in the more rarified world of experimental and electronic music. In just the past few months we have lost several giants in our midst, such as Jean-Claude Risset and Pauline Oliveros. While I was a great admirer of Risset's music and enjoyed the several times I met him in person, it is Pauline with whom I, like many others, felt a tremendous bond and now a tremendous loss. At eighty-four, she was vital and active up to the very end, passing away peacefully in her sleep on November 24th. In death as in life, she always exuded a kind of gentle power, in control of her own destiny.
And on the political front—ugh. It seems that almost the entire world is starting to spin counter-clockwise, and we're all being thrown against our will to the right. Sometimes I wish someone would show me the capsule ejector button.
On the sonic front, I had a few great experiences, some of which I have outlined in other forums. Hearing Phill Niblock perform in a church in the French countryside. Wandering the streets of Hong Kong where karaoke clashes with Cantonese opera right out in the open. A huge amassing of crows in the midst of a Los Angeles park.
On the personal front, while for the most part I'd like to throw 2016 into the trash, I have to say I have taken much comfort in the warm acceptance of my new album on Unseen Worlds among the public and press, including in these quarters at textura. Much gratitude for these things!
36 (#30 album: Seconds & Forever, Mystic & Quantum Records)
(Dennis Huddleston) 2016 wasn't the best year for the world at large, but personally speaking, it was a highlight for me, simply because I got to release an album, The Infinity Room, on a label that is home to some of my musical heroes, whose very music inspired me to create my own, all those years ago. I feel blessed to be in their company, and I'd like to thank Ryan at A Strangely Isolated Place for the opportunity.