Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Top 50 albums of 2012: 40 - 31

40. Julia Holter - Ekstasis

Hoter’s 2011 debut album Tragedy draws comparisons to Laurie Anderson, her second album Ekstasis draws comparisons to Harry Partch. She’s very much an original artist in her own right, with musical experiments at the heart of her industrial and atmospheric output. Ekstasis re-kindled the original love of Holter’s debut album through Goddess Eyes I and Goddess Eyes II, she lit the flame with Marienbad and took Julianna Barwick to school with Moni Mon Amie. It’s a sensational follow-up to her debut album.

39. Dinosaur Feathers - Whistle Tip

 With 2010s Fantasy Memorial, Dinosaur Feathers made something of an impression by showcasing sun-drenched, catchy melodies supplanted with solid vocal harmonies--invoking a sort of relaxed hippie-commune feeling when listening to their music. Their latest effort trades the drum circle for electric guitars. And in doing so, it's less experimentation than it is a transition perhaps even more natural-sounding. Bouncy riffs and twangs complement the band's already summery-stylings as well as providing them the means of creating rawer, more rock-oriented tracks and capturing summer year round.

38. Saltillo - Monocyte

It may have taken six years for Saltillo, real name Menton J. Matthews III, to release the follow-up to his extravagant 2006 debut Ganglion, but the wait increasingly feels ever the more justifiable given how grand and interrogative in scale Monocyte's sounds divulge and devour us in. Carried by the American's conjuring of orchestral instrumentation, trip-hop influenced melodies and humane subject matter, Saltillo's follow-up was darker, gruesomer and yet, above all, even more enthralling and captivating... It was somewhat startling.

37. Kwajbasket - Science Fiction Soundtrack

American drone/ambient producer and guitarist Kwajbasket does a terrific job at creating evocative and complex structures whilst never letting go of his minimal sound. Bedroom Ambient to come home to after a hard day of work. 

36. Niki & The Dove - Instinct

While several of its tracks were previously released over the span of two years, Niki & the Dove collates them into one marvellously cohesive, yet thrillingly dynamic LP . The primal energy of "The Drummer" to the resolve of "Mother Protect" not only provide a sonic rush, but also a sense of reflection--best exhibited in the centerpiece "DJ, Ease My Mind." Instinct can easily possess the listener, just as well as it can nurture.

35. Plan B - Ill Manors

Ill Manors sees British rapper Ben Drew returning to his grime roots. Whilst the tracks serve as a soundtrack for the movie of the same name, it does an excellent job at being what it is: A well written and superbly executed spiritual successor to the music he started with back in the day.

34. Future of The Left - The Plot Against Common Sense

If sarcasm really was a British invention, then this was the album that took that notion of witty, bitter exchange and completely warped it beyond reasonable recognition. Fuelled by vocalist Andy Falkous' part-observation, part-parody vocals on the matter of culture, Future's third album packed as much a punch in its unfiltered state of roughening guitar textures as much as it did in its more melodic and punk-like of offerings. But above all, its rock aesthetic and social lyricism showed a brutal and quite uncalled for honesty to British life that had been a miss in recent years. 

33. Katatonia - Dead End Kings

The newest effort from doom metal royalty Katatonia sees them build on their established sound while still managing to bring enough to the table to make it sound interesting and fresh. Heavy and deep with introspective lyrics that seem to put to words what it's like to suffer from depression. I hope the lead singer is okay.

32. Stepdad - Wildlife Pop

With slight buzz generated from their bedroom-recorded EP, Stepdad had quite an order to fill in terms of a full-length album. But the trio took the challenged and ran with it--straight into the woods. The aptly-named Wildlife Pop puts an ambitious spin on synthpop, showcasing expansive songs as grandiose as nature itself (Treasure Hugs and a remastered Jungles) Their breakout single My Leather, My Fur, My Nails--while clearly added for audience appeal--still stands as their strongest piece, but nonetheless complements this whimsically adventurous work.

31. Connect.OHM - [9980]

[9980] is the debut collaboration between Cell and Hybrid Leisureland, released on the legendary French electronic label Ultimae. Very well produced and warm music that gives you a warm feeling on your tummy while it lulls you into sleep.

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