2015: Electronics

Thu Feb 04 2016

I’m not sure if it was a slow year in this category or if I was lazy in seeking out new musicks. Or, if the combination of electronic and live instrumentation somewhat overshadowed the work of traditional DJs. You’d be better off checking out this page for DJ Screendoor's recommendations in this genre, but here are some of my faves…

The popular vote in this realm went to the Jamie xx album In Colour. It became the perfect soundtrack to the Europe adventure that my wife and I went on in late spring. After that I felt like I'd gotten about all I could out of it, though. Or maybe listening to it now just reminds me that I'm not in Belgium, marooned instead in a dystopia of clownish political extremes vying for control of a dying capitalist oligarchy. Not like Belgium is a paradise but at least they have monks who make amazing beer. And the mayo! Also, the stupid record didn't come with a download code, so AAHHH, the sweet, warm analog sounds of computers on the off chance that this ever makes it onto my turntable again.

I'm just being a dick; In Colour is a really good album.

I didn't keep up with Sacred Bones as closely as usual in 2015, but I haven't heard any convincing raves about anything the label put out aside from Blanck Mass's Dumb Flesh, which is front-to-back fantastic and probably my favorite straight-up electronic release of the year. I'm a big fan of Fuck Buttons (Blanck Mass is the solo incarnation of FB’s Benjamin John Power) so my love of Dumb Flesh was perhaps inevitable. I sort of hate listening to this album at work because my body wants to be thrashing around like it's being electrocuted and I don't have the kind of job where you can do that. But I listen to it anyway. I still get shivers during the peaks of "No Lite" and "Cruel Sport" (my fave, just a brilliant collage of sounds) and "Detritus", and through pretty much the entirety of "Double Cross". And my brain dances, at least.

Dan Barrett from Have A Nice Life has apparently been working on this solo electronic project for at least a couple years, and its debut, Black Wing Is Doomed, is similarly desolate and uncomplicated to his more well-known band...lyrically, anyway; the music is, well, kinda bubbly. The opening track, "Luther", I would almost call euphoric, and the same goes for "My Body Betrayed Me", although the lyrics are predictably morose. "DSA" is a total shot of adrenaline. Come to think of it, the only track that's really dark, musically, is "Unemployed". I'm not complaining; I love the juxtaposition of cheerful and glum things. It’s just kind of funny how uplifting Black Wing’s music can be. The best track is "Death Sentences", which is at least woozy if not dolorous; Barrett sings "Can't relate to anyone" over a gorgeous cascading theme. It makes me happy.

Oneohtrix Point Never: I'm starting to get over your awful band name. I'm to the point where I can envision myself not hating it some day. It has definitely prevented me from taking your music seriously. I'm jumping on your bandwagon now, though. Garden Of Delete is really really good, and I can't wait to see what you do live at Levitation next month. You are clearly one of the most versatile and imaginative DJs (ONLY IF THAT'S WHAT YOU AND THE REST OF THE DJ COMMUNITY CONSIDER YOU DEAR GOD) currently making music. If you happen to decide that a name change is in order, I'm pretty sure Clownpenis Dot Fart is still available.

Surprisingly, I can only pinpoint one thing that I discovered straight from Dr. Fell on the Jing Jong Triple Play this year, and that was I Need New Eyes by Larry Gus. This almost belongs more in a ‘world music’ category, since it was made in the world, but I’m going to assume everything organic I hear is a sample. It’s certainly a kitchen-sink aesthetic; it seems no sound or geographic region is off limits for Larry Gus’s aural stew, and while it does tend to sound frenetic at times, I find it engrossing throughout. You relish the quieter moments like “A Set Of Replies” and “Belong To Love”, and otherwise you feel giddy that you get to be alive during a time when music like this is possible.
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