It’s been a good year.
Actually, it’s been an extremely good one, since earlier this year Sounds Of A Tired City didn’t even exist.
However, these last eight months have been more than significant, and we would like to thank YOU, dear readers and listeners who became faithful citizens of this imaginary city while we have published a total number of 36 interviews, 22 guest mixes and 20 highly personal insights into film, literature and travel.
Summarizing facts is not a complicated task, but epitomizing a year in music is a damn difficult one. We loathe to love and love to loathe end of year lists, since everything is so relative, highly personal and subjective, no one can argue with that. Even so, it can be a wondrously inspiring journey to sink into a list full of – supposedly – impressive, powerful, substantial [insert optional number of eulogistic adjectives] releases. If someone manages to discover at least one record they haven’t heard before, it was already worth all the effort. Especially because we don’t write reviews or rate releases otherwise.
Enough of ranting, the following 50 records are going to speak for themselves anyway. We will reveal the whole list day by day, ten by ten, reaching the climax on Friday.
If you ever get to discover Babe Rainbow’s music, your main reason for checking it out probably won’t be this cover. However, once you get over it you can find yourself in a secret dimension where Harold Budd satisfies the needs of cheerful souls. Cameron Reed hadn’t really made electronic music before starting this project, he was way too busy making angular punk music in Vancouver. His 1080p debut in cassette and digital form comes as a surprising parallel to his main body of electronic work but aligns closely with the labels ethos as a space for casual experimentation and genre exploration.
Stripping instrumentation back to solely piano reveals crystalline and oblique meditations on residual influences from Phillip Glass, Erik Satie, and Terry Riley to Keith Fullerton Whitman and Nils Frahm.
It’s highly intriguing to watch Nine Inch Nails’ Alessandro Cortini, one of the pre-eminent Buchla masters in North America finding his own medidative voice during these last years. His debut on Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions consists of nine analogue synth pieces blended with various field recordings and ambient sounds. It was recorded in hotel rooms, using a Roland MC 202 through a delay pedal, recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system.
“I liked to walk around the room with a handheld recorder to hear where the sequence would sound better, turn on faucets, open doors or windows to see how the ambient sounds would interact with the MC 202/delay/speaker sound. It was very relaxing and liberating to make music this way…”
Listening to ‘Sonno’ triggers the same sensations: it’s very relaxing and liberating.
Almost 10 years after releasing the first part of ‘The Sleepover Series’, the builders of brumal soundwaves and installers of musical wallpapers, Hammock are back with the second installment of their experimental sleep music project. Losing their recognisable post-rock touch, this ambient record stripped-down to endless drones and lush soundscapes is the perfect companion during the night. However, we would recommend that you stay awake and get immersed in their beautiful silent treatment.
“We did our best to just ‘follow the sound’ and stay out of the way, attempting to leave space and texture as opposed to specific and linear melodic phrases […] This work would probably not exist if it not for the ongoing search for peace and stillness. So if this collection helps ease the mind or assist in lulling one to sleep then all the searching has not been in vain.” (Marc Byrd)
TJ Hertz’s debut album on PAN was definitely worth the wait. While working on numerous singles during the last three years, releasing split 12″s with SBTRKT, Cosmin TRG and Dopplereffekt, Objekt spared the best bits and pieces recorded between 2012 and 2014 for his grand manifesto. ‘Flatland’ is a playful dark experience, drifting further and further away from conventional electro and techno narratives – for the best.
“This is an effervescent body of work, its sound design evoking vivid imagery and conveying the same unmistakeable sense of detail and movement for which Objekt has become known. On his first attempt, Objekt has constructed a mature and multilayered album with its own story to tell, from whichever angle you choose to approach it.” (PAN)
Rainer Veil’s second EP for Modern Love is a rave-soaked, jungle-scented exploration, a sacred obeisance to England’s electronic past, present and future. If we would be fond of the term ‘dub rave’, would most probably use it in this case. But we won’t.
“The five tracks of ‘New Brutalism’ are a product of their Northern environment, making pointed reference to the kind of deep-rooted rave heritage documented in Mark Leckey’s ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’ soundtrack through a prism of angular, vulnerable club music. Conceptually, it adopts a similar perspective on British nightlife to Burial or Lee Gamble, surveying the ‘floor as if during an out-of-body experience or through closed eyes from a corner of the club at 5am.” (Modern Love)
Hope the UK will survive though.
Mohammad is the project of Coti K, ILIOS and Nikos Veliotis, working on the principles of inter-modulation between electronic and acoustic sources using contrabass, oscillators and cello. Mohammad are also the best thing that happened to the Greek music scene these last years. As much as last year’s brilliant ‘Som Sakrifis’ (released on PAN) was praised around the world, ‘Zo Rèl Do’ was just as much neglected and overlooked this year.
Highly inspired by traditional Greek music, religious overtones and dissonant patterns, Mohammad’s forth full length album is the first volume of a trilogy that explores the sounds of the geographical area between 34°Ν-42°Ν and 19°Ε-29°Ε. In this new adventure they further enrich their monolithic, resonant and deep-dark melodic sound with rhythmic shreds, seismic vibrations that echoes past and future rituals. The second volume ‘Lamnè Gastama’ was released in October, while the last part will see the light early next year. Something worth looking forward to.
Lumisokea is a Belgian-Italian duo consisting of Koenraad Ecker and Andrea Taeggi. Their music is highly physical and rich in texture, using both acoustic (cello, prepared piano) as well as analog hardware to create a dark and introspective listening experience. Their influences range from dub to noise, bassmusic, techno, musique concrète and contemporary classical music, while remaining focused on the key elements in their music: to induce trance-like states, to move bodies and to emphasize the tactile qualities of sound.
Their second release on Stephen Bishop’s Opal Tapes lives up to all expectations, delivering an even deeper understanding of how the ideal mixture of noise and techno should sound like. The term ‘apophenia’ originally denotes the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data, and this is exactly what this record is about. Once you found the patterns in Lumisokea’s chaotic imaginarium, it’s going to turn into a rather comfortable place to live in.
Emma Ruth Rundle is a Los Angeles based singer-songwriter, guitarist and visual artist who just released her first official solo album after many years of participating in various music projects (Marriages, Red Sparowes, The Nocturnes). ‘Some Heavy Ocean’ is profoundly heavy indeed, emotionally exhausting yet sensitive and cathartic on all levels.
“I hope to never be stuck in any one world, as I feel often happens to bands and artists, but would like to create in an uninhibited fashion or act in whatever way is honest. I am just a person making noise – sometimes it’s folk sometimes it’s not.” (Emma Ruth Rundle)
Combining modular synthesis, Max/MSP programming and live instrumentation, Mark Nelson, Steven Hess and Robert Donne made a splendid attempt to amalgamate the world of Pan•American with Labradford (we were secretly hoping for a hint of Aix Em Klemm atmosphere as well). The result is a pleasant mixture of washed out noise and warm ambience with a somewhat menacing tinge.
“Guitar, bass and Steven Hess’ (Locrian, Fennesz, Pan•American) live percussion give the eight pieces an immediacy and create a framework for the more abstract sounds of digital and analog synth programming. The product of twenty plus years of friendship, Anjou is refined and challenging. An extension of the Labradford sound-world but no mere victory lap, Anjou represents Donne and Nelson stepping out and forward, their eyes firmly focusing on the future.” (Kranky)
All seasons are cyclical, like real life shit. We adapt and venture through each phase with intentions of engagement, embracing mistakes and chances that eventually become the foundation of identities and roles we take on in life. All pain is temporary, as in joy, anger, doubt and all human emotions. Nothing is forever. Just a constant cyclical randomization processed in patterns and algorithms. We can’t predict life, but we can try to brace ourselves for the ever changing tides of time.
Some dreams, are worth breaking your limbs for.
Dedicated to ALL the young gods out there.
Alex Zhang Hungtai
June 13th, 2014. Lisbon, Portugal”