Best album of 2012

John Talabot - Last Land from Stroll TV on Vimeo.

 

Runner-up:

Matthew Dear - Beams

Matthew Dear - Her Fantasy from SonoroHelicoidal on Vimeo.

 

And  according last.fm, this is what else I listened to:

Grizzly Bear - Shields

The XX - Coexist

Cat Power - Sun

The 2 Bears - Be Strong

College - Northern Council

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

The Weeknd - Trilogy

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine Jubilee Edition

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn't

Rodriguez - Searching For Sugar Man

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Drake - Drake

Gotye – Making Mirrors

Incarnations – With All Due Respect

Active Child – You Are All I See

Glasser – Ring

Best of 2011

It's still a bit early to list the 10 best albums of 2011 as there's still a chance to release something brilliant, but I reserve the right to  shuffle things around before the year is over. In general, this year was a better year than most recent, and I made a few discoveries, as can be concluded from the list. There are quite a few newcomers, which pushed new releases by some of (previous?) favourites off the chart. Björk, Junior Boys and Jay-Jay Johanson all released new stuff this year, but their efforts never really took off and left me quite a bit disappointed. My all-time most frequently played artists list will be hard to budge though, since I tend to get tired of an album after just 10-15 plays, thus not allowing new artists to rise very high. I often find myself looking for the next big thing 3-4 plays down the line of an album I really like. Maybe also because I don't want to get tired of it so soon, and need to balance with something more difficult. Another sad thing is that I didn't go to ANY live show this year. Visits by big (and medium and small) artists remain scarce and the last show I saw was The Whitest Boy Alive in late 2011. There are a few venues for electronic music though, and occasionally some interesting names fly by for gigs. Come to think of it, didn't I see The Field in Dos Colegas? Nope, that was also last year...

Anyway, here's the list:

1. Planningtorock - W (DFA) This is definitely this year's biggest and most overwhelming musical experience. As a big fan of The Knife I was already sort of adapted to the dark twisted world of pseudo-gamelords and masked kidnappers with crow-bar nose jobs, but this shemale opened the door to a parallel universe, seemingly governed by a strange ageless dictator whose androgynous tunes stroked me just the right way. The songs just seem to come from a place I'm carrying around inside myself, but never been confronted with before. Extremely well composed and endlessly beautiful. Most raved-to song: Manifesto

Since I cannot make up the ranking order of my other most listened-to albums this year, I'll just list them and you can imagine which ones I like better. As if it mattered. But they're all not as excellent as Planningtorock.

Jay-Z + Kanye West - Watch The Throne

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise

Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs

James Blake - James Blake

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

Kate Bush - Director's Cut

SBTRKT - SBTRKT

Crystal Fighters - Star Of Love

 

I like Chopin

My ears are ringing a bit after I just spent half an hour playing with the game above. Just click on it and you will get hooked. I tried everything: Geometric patterns, Tetris shapes, stacks, letters...it all sounds great. And my leg started jumping up and down in the first minute. Found on Prejka, it originates on this site. Great work!

It's amazing when you realize how easy it can be to make music, as long as someone (tech-savvy musician) has set up the game for you to play. And because music is all about intuition, there is no way of going wrong.

Above is just one of the patterns that came up. Making it made me think about how I was alternating between thinking of the pattern and the music as I was playing. Sometimes it sounded better, but then the pattern was slightly irregular, but when I built a regular pattern, it didn't sound very interesting. Makes me think about architecture and the way we as architect often try to reduce and refine our drawings until they become regular and "correct". If it was music, it would probably be very boring to listen to. This makes me came to think about a lecture I attended this summer, with a Jan Henrik Hansen, a Swiss architect living in New York who has started to transform music into spatial objects; sculptures and patterns.

If the most interesting music is irregular, how come we keep defining irregular architecture as flawed and unfinished. I guess you need to be a master to master irregular and ambiguous space. Taking the example of a real master, Álvaro Siza Vieira builds in a modernist tradition using white rendered walls as his main material, yet he never reproduces the regular grid. The buildings always have irregularities and variations which make them pleasing to the eye in the same way you might enjoy Debussy rather than a regular scale.

Finally, a new song (Feist cover) from a young man whose music I am really enjoying at the moment:

James Blake - Limit To Your Love