I’m not generally the most up to date with new releases. Some of my favourite and most played albums of this year came out last year (hell, one of them came out in 1969.) Out of the 2007 releases that I did manage to catch, for whatever reason, the top five stand-outs are:
Somatik – Learning the Colours. I think I was reading reviews for Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (one of those 2006 albums) when I came across a beyond jazz review for Somatik. From there, I listened to some samples on his site and I was instantly hooked. Interaktion is quite possibly my most played track of the year.
Holy Fuck – LP. Hey, a local band! It was the wacky, animated video that introduced me to the band. I purchased the album on the strength of that one song (blind chance!) A kind of “flangey” electro-indie rock mostly instrumental band. The lyrics they do have tend to be distorted and distant, less about singing and more about texture. And at 36 minutes, the album is short enough to not overstay its welcome.
Frank Bretschneider – Rhythm Rhythm is a good name for the album because that’s about all there is. Everything else is stripped down to its bare circuit board essentials. Minimal computer music? Yes. Sterile? So totally not and I so totally can not explain why. Here’s a crappy YouTube video showing what to expect.
Venetian Snares – My Downfall. His last album, Rossz Csillag Alatt SzÃ¼letett was one of my favourites albums of 2005 and My Downfall is essentially a continuation and follow-up of that. It follows the same formula as Rossz — classical strings (and samples) mixed with intense bouts of broken gabber beats — but is a lot more low-key in its construction. The majority of the album (10 of 14 tracks) consists of short, somber interludes which make the occasional cathartic releases that much more impactful. It doesn’t dull you with constant pounding like Winnipeg Is A Frozen Shithole does but it never bores you either.
Burial – Untrue. Honestly, I still don’t know what makes “dubstep” dubstep. Classifying music into the multitude of genres, especially the electronic kind, is not a strength of mine. Not when the differences between the genres are so subtle and minute. “Untrue”, however, is entirely its own thing. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t fit into a genre but defines it. In some ways it reminds me of Massive Attack’s “Protection”, if it were recorded using Sound Forge on a laptop inside a dark, haunted cave. This is a good thing.
If anything, these kind of lists serve as good sign posts for where my tastes have been and where they’re going. This year has been more laid-back, more IDMish, jazzier, less aggressive and more minimal, rather than heavily layered, than previous years.