Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top 50 of 2013: 30-21

Top Albums 30-21

Previous: 50-41; 40-31

Spontaneous Combustion
30) Decoy with Joe Mcphee- Spontaneous Combustion

The freejazzblog is a really great place.  If you have never been there, I suggest checking it out.  I have found quite a few great albums this year through there, and this was one of them.

When it comes to reviewing jazz, I am quite terrible at it.  I use the wrong words, clumsy expressions, and really just don't know enough to accurately talk about it.  I reread This review of this album and immediately knew my review would fall flat in comparison.  But, I will give it a few words anyway.

The drum set is definitely unique.  It and the saxophone (obviously) are what makes this album stand out.  Other than the snare, the majority of drums seem absent, instead replaced with cymbals, hi hats, and other metallic percussion.  It takes this album about 11 minutes to really warm up, but once it hits it goes fierce, with the organ and drums really sweeping up the sound.  After this surge finally slows, we get a really nice slow sax part. 

This album is good at staying in the free-jazz realm while still maintaining the 'jazz' aspect (unlike, say Albert Ayler).  If you are a fan of more traditional jazz, and want to venture into a wilder territory, this may be a good album for you.

Listen to a sample and pick it up Here.

29) Power of the Horns- Alaman

I actually didn't find this on freejazzblog (though they do have an excellent write up Here).  Alaman is some great Polish jazz that incorporates a combination of free jazz, hints of African styles, and the repetitious yelling of "Alaman", all within the first 7 minutes of the album.  From there, the track begins to find its groove as a more traditional jazz track, but as is often the case with albums like this, that quickly begins to become a strange mutation of its original tune.

There are only a few jazz albums I enjoyed more than this one this year, but this one is definitely up there for having the most energy.

I havent gotten a chance to check out the other albums on For Tune Records, but I liked this album and I like puns, so I probably will be working my way through their catalog.  Get Alaman Here.

wake up awesome
28) Yeh/ Lee/ Marhaug- Wake Up Awesome

I was unable to get ahold of two Marhaug albums that came out this year and have been unable to hear them.  Given how great this and Virginia Plane were, that is a real shame.  For Wake Up Awesome, Yeh continues to do her bizarre cello play style, while Lee drums and Marhaug plays the cup of water or whatever he does.

Really though, it doesnt matter what he is actually doing, because the end sound is great.  Of Yeh's 3 releases this year, i felt her solo album was the worst.  Her sound is overwhelming and really great, but often it feels like one piece of a bigger puzzle.  Here though, her sound feels a perfect fit.  Some of the tracks go pretty out there (it is improv after all), but overall, given the background of this album and the artists coming together for it, it is surprisingly accessible.

Try a sampling of the album Here.

Without Noticing
27) Fire!- (Without Noticing)

Gustafsson's music is a hit or miss for me.  When he is off (the collaboration with Stetson for instance), his saxophone is so overbearing with its bursts that it completely destroys the track.  On this, however, he is on point, delivering intensity to the sound while still creating a memorable sequence to the tracks.  I have talked to many who disagree with my opinion on Gustafsson, but they aren't writing this list, so too bad.

As far as (Without Noticing) goes, Gustafsson's band create a very similar sound to that of their Fire! Orchestra album of 2013.  Often a repetitious loop sets in that holds each track together.  "Would I Whip" really showcases this, and quite excellently.

Even when Gustafsson's saxophone is at its most outlandish, he still keeps it on a leash.  "At Least on your Door" has his sax sputtering out at the listener, but it a quieter, muddled manner.

Finally, Gustafsson's band rocks.  They end up being slightly on the backing band side of things on this release, but it is obvious the drummer has some talent.

Listen to a track Here, and if you can afford the massive shipping charges to the US, buy it from Rune Grammofon.

Exorcise Tape
26) Demon Queen- Exorcise Tape (Esorcizzare Nastro)

I was initially a little underwhelmed when I heard the first previewed tracks from Demon Queen.  But, I make a point to preorder my Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow albums nowadays, so I decided to risk it.

Boy am I glad I did.  Demon Queen is a real nice change of pace for Tobacco.  Sure, Zackey Force Funk isn't going to be remembered as some rap great, but his mix in the album feels right.  Rarely does he take the spotlight, but when he's on it sounds good and when he's absent his influence on the sound can still be felt (with the exception of "Love Hour Zero").

As far as the previewed tracks go, they feel great when listened to within the confines of the album.  As far as 'Satanic Stripper Music' (yes that is the genre it was tagged as when I used my download code) this album may be the best the genre has to offer.

Stream the album Here, and buy one of the beautiful hot pink records Here.

The Invisible Curse
25)  Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet- The Invisible Curse

I feel like I have told my readers that I dislike Lescalleet and Dilloway.  Yeah, I know, everyone likes em, Yadda Yadda Yadda...they just usually are a miss for me.  I still will check out some of their new stuff, and almost always I just end up disappointed.  Heck, even Lescalleet's collaboration, Photographs, was a huge letdown to me, despite the numerous high praises I heard it receive.

The Invisible Curse, however;  now this was an album I could get behind.  I haven't heard a Drumm album I cared for since 2012's Relief, so this album was just beyond all expectations for me.  Over its two tracks, this duo create a great sound that combines Lescalleet's minimalism with Drumm's intensity.  The end result being an album that keeps to lower pitches, leaves static to a minimum (it is definitely there though), and blends noise, ambient, and drone is a way that makes me glad I have given Lescalleet so many chances.  Sure, this is only 15 minutes long and I should probably just consider it an EP...well I never bothered to check which it is, and I really like it.

Glistening Examples has the whole thing for stream, so take advantage of that Here.

Urban Problems
24) Cavityfang- Urban Problems

I've Said it before, and I know I am going to say it again.  Table & Chairs Record Shop is on the ball.  Last year they released Kingtearsbattrip (which has only gone up in my book since last year).  This year, they released Cavityfang's Urban Problems.  This is one of the two most under-appreciated jazz albums of the year (not going to give the other away just yet).

Urban Problems has style.  I have heard many better jazz recordings as far as technical work goes, but this is not about that.  If this album was about technical work, they probably could reduce the number of drummers in the band from 3 to 2l; but it isn't.  Rather, Urban Problems is a great, fluid album that explores many different sounds, from the slower "Average Shopper" to the fast paced "Rara".  With these tracks, either drums are driving them or they are creating offbeat time signatures which work to restrain the pace.

"Droopy-Eyed Monster Shuffle" is a great closer for this album.

Don't believe me? Stream the album Here, and then support Table and Chairs so I can boast more about their releases in the future.

Endless Endings
23) Moshimoss- Endless Endings

One part Baths, one part Blue Sky Black Death, Moshimoss has found a nice niche within the downtempo realm.  Endless Endings is an album that sounds depressing, but feels uplifting.  Often the percussion is click and tap samples, yet some tracks feel quite percussive.  Really, the sound has an oxymoron feel to it at times, but in a great way.

My favorite track, as well as one of my favorite track of the year, is "Yellowish Green Experience".  It features almost bjork-like vocals (as fans of Baths probably have heard) and creates a great, uplifting sound.

If you like downtempo, like either Baths or BSBD, or just want to listen to a warm album with fantastic production, give this album a try.

You can here a sample Here, and get the album Here.

22) Jefre Cantu-Ledesma- Devotion

The first few moments of Devotion may be slightly offputting, given the swirls of static, but underneath them is a humming synth similar to one of the ones found on Tim Hecker- VirginsDevotion is very much about digging through the sound while you listen and picking out all the details mixed in layer-by-layer.

Technically, this was an EP, but it is relatively long (21 minutes) and was better than Gift of Tongues (though that was also good).  If anything, part of Devotion's strength is in it's short length.  This album is quite gripping and still ends sooner than I expect it to.

There is a warmth to the noise found within this album.  Maybe it is the strings layered in.

Listen to the album and buy it Here.

Melt urself down
21) Melt Yourself Down- Melt Yourself Down

London based Melt Yourself Down released this debut album this year.  Their sound is funk mixed with 'world' music.  I was a big fan of 2012 Funk Police- Hot we are, Funk we Play, and this album is pretty similar.  Also, if you are a fan of The Rapture this album may be for you.

While overall melt Yourself Down is a funk album, some of its strongest tracks are not actually funky at all.  "Free Walk" is one of the best tracks on here, and it is really quite mellow.

Honestly, I listened to this album probably ten times this week trying to figure out what I wanted to write, and the word "Good" was the only thing that kept coming to mind.  So I'm going with that.  This album was Good.

Buy and stream the album Here.

Continue on to 20-11

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