2007: Eureka! Albums of 2007
I Am Sitting On a Broom

"In many ways, the work of the critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and theirselves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of The New. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The New needs friends." --Anton Ego from the film, Ratatouille

With that, we're proud to say that we've made some new friends this year, and some of these friends are reflected in our fourth annual Eureka! list. Think of this list as complementary, not supplementary, to our other 25 favorites of the year. (Remember, the year-end Eureka! lists highlight albums that were NOT already reviewed on the site.)

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Wold

Screech Owl

[Profound Lore]

by S. Kobak

Although their lyrics — like most of their peers' prose — deal with natural and Dark Age imagery, the three members that comprise Wold are peerless. Their dense, sometimes lysergic black metal soundscapes exist in a league closer to the 4-track feedback wonderlands of the Dead C than Darkthrone clones. The band shifts genre shapes too often to be calculated. Lead singer/sound-monger Fortress Crookedjaw howls over a throbbing noise blaze, while Opex and Obey throw molten industrial sounds over the forest fire. The pulse demons even morph their method of attack to a dark shoegaze sound, smearing sample-warped guitar and splatter-painted synth sounds over a hammering, rusty drum machine. Wold's cracked and crooked sound casts a spell through the other side of the My Bloody Valentine mirror. The band even updates the classic Whitehouse sound, merging super-distorted guitars into a wall of cackling noise and screeching orders to the listener. The band ends the disc with “Undying Fire of Urian,” a composition that fits perfectly in black metal confines wherein a looped and corroded keyboard line mutates as it moves further into the dusty throes of lo-fi recording. Like most of the album, “Undying Fire” explores territory other alleged black metal pioneers fear. Screech Owl is a masterful black metal album that truly frees the music from the conventions other bands rail against.

Profound Lore

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Pulga

Pulga Loves You

[Fire Museum]

by Leveer

Oh, the lines this album walks. Deft performance on traditional musical instruments complemented by electronics, yet it's a far cry from the dry and lifeless domain of electro-acoustic improvisation. Wandering, opulent, woozy songs with a broad array of instruments, but not at all free/freak-folk. The soulful wails and tortured squeals of a saxophone, yet by no means jazz. Droning, but not drone. Noisy, but not noise. Avant-garde, but not pretentious. The album negotiates through the musical garden, plucking off what it will, and completely ignoring the trappings usually bundled therein. The resulting gumbo is an amalgamation of (almost) all my favorite musical things, and, unsurprisingly, it's one of my favorite listening experiences of recent memory. It's not like the common album that drifts so far from the mentally linked first impression that I'd forget what it is I'm listening to. And certainly not with the natural ease in transition found here. Any listener with even the most slightly of open minds should be able to appreciate the sheer musicality found on Pulga Loves You.

Pulga - Fire Museum

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Otomo Yoshihide

The Prisoner [Ost]

[Headz]

by Mr P

Although director Masao Adachi's The Prisoner specifically depicts the Japanese New Leftist movement of the 1970s, you wouldn't need to see the film or read the synopsis to piece together the soundtrack's political subtext. And I'm not talking mundane sound clips of appropriated propaganda from talking heads or politicians. On nearly every level, the music -- ranging from Otomo Yoshihide's turntable and Tetuzi Akiyama's electric guitar, to Sachiko M's sinewaves and Yasunao Tone's CD sound sources -- signified the struggle, the tension, and the horror with which the film engages. But as much atonality as there was, they were offset (not anchored) by Jim O'Rourke's acoustic melodies. Signifying more humanistic qualities -- individualism, temporality -- the listener was suspended in a curious limbo between theory and practice, and it all felt uncomfortably transitional. In an interview, Adachi said, "I tried to design the entire soundtrack without differentiating between background noise, music, and dialogue/monologue, and I also never held back from only using these background noises as part of the film." It seems the line was blurred from the get-go.

Otomo Yoshihide - The Prisoner (film)

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Tigersmilk

Android Love Cry

[Family Vineyard]

by Jspicer

Tigersmilk has magically combined the sparse worlds of 21st-century avant jazz with classic bebop and soul elements to create an album from the outer reaches of space. Android Love Cry envelopes all in its supermassive black hole, and as you press play and sink into the dark warmth of Tigersmilk, you become a willing participant to the whirlpool of stars, rocks, and dust. This is the soundtrack to the Big Bang; to the ever-expanding universe in which the dying is swallowed, digested, and regurgitated to form bigger and brighter entities.

Family Vineyard - Rob Mazurek - Jason Roebke

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Fond of Tigers

Release the Saviours

[Drip Audio]

by David Nadelle

Very quietly in Vancouver, British Columbia, Jesse Zubot is building his empire with Drip Audio, a label that releases an odd contingent of jazz, ambient, and experimental bands, many of which feature the master violinist himself. In Fond of Tigers, Zubot is one part of a seven-strong post-rock, experimental jazz juggernaut. I enjoyed the debut Fond of Tigers release A Thing To Live With, but its follow-up has moments that break my mind. “Hebvark” is a short blast but sums up what is so great about Fond of Tigers: the eager embracing of both the unhinged and the entirely conventional. From this opener, we go to who the hell knows where. The sound on Release the Saviours is often larger than life, with long periods of delicious, pulsating noise broken by ultra-violent displays of disorder. With a rock core of bass, guitar, and two drummers, as well as piano, Zubot's violin, and JP Carter's stunning trumpet work, the band invites comparison to Tortoise, especially on offbeat monsters like “Pemberdunn Maple Wolfs,” “A Long Way to Temporary,” and “Dreaming of Betrayal, Awakening Refreshed.” Ridiculously gifted and impossible to shove into any classifiable corner, Fond of Tigers was a beacon of hope in a year plagued by an excess of dull music.

Fond of Tigers - Drip Audio

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Horatiu Radulescu

Intimate Rituals

[Sub Rosa]

by Urban Guerilla

Intimate Rituals is yet another striking document of Romanian-French composer Horatiu Radulescu's work. Unapologetic and uncompromising to the last, this document of four viola compositions, written between 1984 and 2003 and released on the brilliant Sub Rosa label, assertively engages the listener with every tonal rasp and squeal in the wake of bows drawing across strings. Opening piece Das Andere opus 49 is itself a spiritual seismic shift channeled through masterful explorations of extreme harmonics that Radulescu details as "a continuous descent, a register 'downhill.'" And while it may seem a daunting request to those listeners who might feel "uninitiated," Das Andere is an exhilarating experience, justifying alone the conservative leap of faith the purchase of this release requires.

Horatiu Radulescu - Sub Rosa

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Burning Star Core

Operator Dead...Post Abandoned

[No Quarter]

by Paul Haney

The obvious double-edged sword of being a prolific avant explorer is that, while a series of concrete experiments can give way to a successfully diverse catalog rich in daring departures and perfected strengths, it more often than not makes for an arduous treasure-hunt for high points among piles of practice demos, half-finished ideas, and self-satisfied noodlings. Thankfully, violinist/vocalist/electronic maven C. Spencer Yeh has been a great self-editor since he began performing under his Burning Star Core moniker, even surprisingly enough when it comes to his handmade CD-R and cassette releases. Taking that into consideration, it's no shock that his higher profile vinyl and CD explorations have broken forth some of the greatest unrelenting experimental creations we've seen in the noise underground in recent memory. Operator Dead was his second CD release of the year, and focusing solely on his quartet setup with two-thirds of Hair Police (Robert Beatty and Trevor Tremaine) and laptop sound strangler Mike Shiflet, this quartet of immensely probing and bleak sonic explosions drove home the Kraut-like free-jazz powerhouse Burning Star Core fleshes into when Spencer finds himself exploring cohesion. The title track is one of the most powerful creations Yeh and company have yet hit upon; with Tremaine's spastically contained drums clanging out a complicated pace, Yeh, Shiflet, and Beatty's grand wash of strings, synth, and other distorted fragments meld into a cacophony of gut-wrenching transcendence that bears the fruits of a more sinister and formless Can colliding with one of Tony Conrad's more ominous raga drones. One of the most consistent Burning Star Core releases in execution and intent, this full-band behemoth further enriches Yeh's uncategorizable legend in the often stuffily finite realms of harsh noise, modern improv, and drone exploration.

Burning Star Core - No Quarter

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Alessandro Bosetti

Her Name

[Crouton]

by Julie

Her Name is undoubtedly the weirdest, prettiest, most unsettling thing I heard all year. The album is built on voices; whether they're mumbling, moaning, reciting, yelling, or recounting a brother's experience as a comedian in Ivory Coast. The voices are complemented by Bosetti's solitary drones and electronic manipulation. “Mask” finds him mining abstract jazz while “Ivory Coast” features saxophone and clouds of guitar. “Idiot” even finds itself in an almost-groove. The strained voice and barely-there acoustic guitar of “It's Me” recalls Neu!'s immortal closer “Lieber Honig,” while the album's closer “Fumatore Non Fumatore” finds Bosetti reciting lines in Italian with an almost funereal tone over backward squeals. It's remarkably somber, despite when you catch him mentioning farfalle pasta. And that's one of Her Name's strongest factors: the voices and what they're speaking here would almost border on goofy if the whole thing weren't so strange. As it stands, they can be chilling. I grappled with this album for a long time, trying to figure out where exactly it was coming from. How am I supposed to view these songs? Bosetti is a saxophonist coming from a background in new music, but the tracks on Her Name don't really feel like ‘pieces' per se. Nor are they neatly ‘songs.' Ultimately, they somehow straddle that divide; and that's far more disorienting than I ever thought it would be.

Alessandro Bosetti - Crouton

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Sic Alps

Description of the Harbor

[Awesome Vistas]

by Squeo

Sic Alps' Description of the Harbor arrived a little too close to the end of 2007 for me to do much beyond cower before its glory, slap it atop my year-end list, and sing a one-word paean: yowza. Side A sports the title track and nothing else, a woozy piano lullaby that puts itself to sleep and leaves the four-track on to record its nightmare, a pitch-black rooting around in the scrap yard, instruments looking for psychedelia and only finding the kind that points down, down, down. Flip the record over and you'll find nine (!) tracks that are so instantly catchy in that together, Nuggets kind of way that the whole thing could really secretly be a lost singles comp from the mid-‘60s.

Sic Alps

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Anthony Pateras

Chasms

[Sirr]

by Split Foster

“Revolution” – overthrow of tradition/turning in a circle. “Avant” - in front/before. Before -- “I listened to John Cage before I heard Anthony Pateras”; “It is thrilling to watch Anthony Pateras play the prepared piano before you.” We often call our experimental musicians “avant-garde” – they stand before the rest of the pack. Delightful then how cleverly Pateras earns the label -- he stays before the pack by de- and re-constructing experiments that have been done before. Before Pateras, Cage started preparing pianos in the (be)forties, but it's hard for a Cage fan to be prepared for Pateras' appropriation of the idea. Each of his pieces exemplifies the conservative revolution one hopes to find in experimental music: the discovery of multiplicity hidden in the most basic elements. Basic elements: wood, metal: Pateras reminds us the piano is both a percussion and a string instrument; his panoply of bolts, screws, and junk reminds us that the instrument is also a built object, like a kitchen sink. Kitchen sink: his play gushes, splatters, drains, curves out from a center in the shape of drone, minimalism, free jazz, noise, and wonderfully broken sonatas. So not a circle: breaks, gaps, avant tout: chasms.

Anthony Pateras - Sirr

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John Wiese

Soft Punk

[Troubleman Unlimited]

by Joe Davenport

John Wiese is definitely not known for subtlety. Most of his catalog is filled with records that start out louder than full-blast and then increase the volume exponentially. At first, it would seem that Soft Punk follows this blueprint as well. The only thing soft about this record is its three-track, mid-album suite of ambient drone. The rest of the album is filled out with Wiese's best attempts at frustrating the listener. One second you get teeth-drilling, cut-n-paste violence, only to have it stopped dead a few seconds before reaching climax. Sometimes Wiese literally counts off with snare rim cracks that lead to utter silence. It's strangely effective and oddly infectious. There are also the unusual shades of texture that shine brilliantly in both the maximal and minimal moments. Then there was the hilarious assertion that Soft Punk is Wiese's “first full-length” album, only trumped in that it effectively rendered every other noise record in 2007 pale by comparison.

John Wiese - Troubleman Unlimited

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Lexie Mountain

Boys

[Heresee]

by Papaya

Hot dog! My vote for 2007's best sounds this side of an instrument goes to Baltimore's Lexie Mountain on Boys. She's mostly solo on this record (not supported by the Lexie Mountain Boys, the full group which she fronts, natch), but even without the backing, she's never sounded better. The most striking aspect of Boys is the way the sounds presented often spiral into lives of their own, taking on unusual qualities that make it difficult to believe the album is primarily a cappella. But focusing on these elements alone would betray the fact that, at its heart, Boys is very playful and refreshingly unpretentious. I can safely say I don't know moment-to-moment what's coming, from Lexie's droning vocals on album opener “Ruiner” to her narration in “Dream of Producer,” which I assume is a dream sequence (though with Baltimore you never know). Nonetheless, the album reminds me of a teenage Yoko Ono from the East Coast having a slumber party, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Lexie Mountain - Heresee

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Group Doueh

Guitar Music from the Western Sahara

[Sublime Frequencies]

by Lars Gotrich

Just when you think psychedelic-rock/noise/folk/freak-jazz/whatever music has become too "out" even for your hardest hallucinogens – and really, at this point in the psych spectrum, are drugs even necessary anymore? – the trippiest sound-mongers always seem to find a way to be trippier. The man known as Doueh and his crew make totally weird, psychedelic electric desert blues. It's as rooted in their traditional Sahrawi forms as it is Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. Doueh's guitar is a rusty buzzsaw, whirling and whirring above wild vocals that perfectly accentuate his spindly style. And who else but the globe-trotting Sublime Frequencies dudes are gonna find such interesting treasures? Sun City Girl Alan Bishop and Hisham Mayet discovered the group on Moroccan radio and went on a months-long search for the man behind these Hendrix-on-a-serious-transcendental-trip jams. This ain't polished like desert blues legend Ali Farke Toure and sure ain't got the production of Tinariwen. In fact, some of the tracks culled from the ‘80s sound like downright shit. But the bootleg quality only seems to magnify the blistering heat of the Sahara, Doueh's sweat greasing the fret board for maximum soul.

Sublime Frequencies

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Slicing Grandpa

Chaos Midnight

[Scatological Liberation Front]

by Leveer

If Smegma embraced the nihilism endemic to their absurdo-collages and wasn't so hippy-dippy about everything, there's a good chance they'd be Slicing Grandpa. Both feature singularly off-putting names and swirling tableaus of sound cloaking half-heard, half-discerned, quarter-cogent utterances. And insofar as the latter is the foundation of the music of both groups, quantitatively they're remarkably similar. Slicing Grandpa, however, tacks decidedly for the dark and ominous. Darkwave industrial tormentors invite a flurry of airborne shrieking on one hand, while in the other hand is a power drill maladroitly performing delicate dentistry. Where Smegma give their creations the spacious luxury of hypno-drones, Grandpa's jams are afforded only anxiety-inducing claustrophobia. Neither is particularly tidy, but illustratively we can think of Grandpa as Smegma run through the trash compactor. It speaks to the potency of this record that 12 minutes is entirely sufficient to powerfully resonate with the listener. Slicing Grandpa tends to work in the shorter form that's popular in the American avant-garde, but with their mastery of many textured sounds and the tension-release dynamic, an equally well thought-out release with some expansiveness would be warmly welcomed.

Slicing Grandpa - Scatological Liberation Front

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Circle

Katapult

[No Quarter]

by Mangoon

Finland's Circle could possibly be the worst nightmare for a snotty rock critic trying to pin a band down to a single genre. Past releases have seen them conquering Klaus Schulze-styled synth epics, political speedcore, thrash metal of the early ‘80s, repetitive kosmiche noodling, tribal drumming, fractured funk-folk, and dark psychedelia to name a few. One of their five albums released this year, Katapult throws all of these ingredients into a boiling cauldron to create this cosmic witch's brew. Self-branded as the new wave of Finnish metal, Circle are too unique to be clumped in with more pure Finnish Metal bands like Moonsorrow and Satanic Warmaster. The emphasis on metal (black, thrash, doom) that critics and they themselves have imposed is far too limiting. Yes, the crunching Judas Priest and Celtic Frost riffs are still here, but to pin them down to one style doesn't properly evoke the dark Nordic fantasy Viking ship ride to Valhalla this album really is. With Katapult, Circle no longer cross genre -- they transcend it.

Circle - No Quarter

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Blank Dogs

Diana (The Herald)

[Sacred Bones]

by S. Kobak

Take the catchiest parts from underground power pop of the past 30 years, add a smattering of lo-fi charm, psychedelic phrasing, and adventurous post-punk song structures and one can almost approximate the joyous sound of Blank Dogs. The prolific quartet released two 12-inches and three 7-inches in the past six months, living up to the hype lumped on No Age with consistently high-quality albums. From the infectious jangly groove and multi-layered vocals on “Leaving the Light On” to the waltzing proto-new wave of “Planets,” the phantom rockers created their high-water mark thus far in their career. The boogie lasts through the album, as the band creates songs like a more focused Ariel Pink, each containing the quality of a lost and corroded regional punk classic. With a slew of releases rounding out the year and beginning the next, Blank Dogs promise to sharpen their sound further and perfect the art of quality control.

Blank Dogs - [Sacred Bones-> http://www.myspace.com/sacredbonesrecords]

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The Michael Flower Band

The Michael Flower Band

[Flowerhouse]

by Jspicer

There was a time when raw rock ‘n' roll — no matter the style — was worshiped from on high. We drank rocker's sweat, blood, and tears like Ambrosia and devoured albums like fatted calves. Michael Flower and his assembled mass take us back to the time when it didn't matter how big (or short) your hair was -- image was last on the totem pole to rock immortality. It takes Michael and company just 3 tracks and 30 minutes to become the new kings of the mountain, with guttural guitar anthems rife with psychedelic skronk. It's time to surrender to the riffage and remember the days when rocking just to fuck with mom and dad was all the musical satisfaction you needed.

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Kevin Shields

The Death Of Patience

[Deathbomb Arc/Experimental Musical Research/Entropic Tarot]

by Paul Haney

Snagging your stage alias from a musical sacred cow will automatically push the buttons of those with a distinct sense of devotion and a distinct lack of humor, and more than a few My Bloody Valentine die-hards who may stumble into The Death Of Patience may actually cry for the head of its maker, Eva Aguila. After the two-piano pluck of “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” discharges post-haste into a spine-shattering wash of harsh electronic splatter, Aguila leaves little room for subtlety, and the few coherently melodic moments (the keyboard sprinkles on “Nothing's Ever Ending,” for instance) become broken by the knives lurking in the approaching static. Sure, to many unaccustomed to such a pure release of atonal sound, this harsh noise free-for-all will simply register as fuzz-damaged incoherence, but Aguila's construction and overjoyed clumps of cacophonous glee are impeccably executed, multifarious, and, most importantly, sonically damaged with the cathartic nether-regions of ruined sound. Refreshingly devoid of the harsh-noise genre's various self-serious and sometimes misogynistic clichés, The Death Of Patience is noise distilled down into the fearless, visceral, and impulsive tantrums that drew every pedal-pounding fan into the movement in the first place. No image, no pretension, no inhibition, just overdriven madness.

Kevin Shields

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Archipelago

Images of Popular Deities

[Backporch Revolution]

by Split Foster

Archipelago avoid all the clichés that come to mind when you hear the “free-folk improv” label – their rich, muddy pieces unspool over quarter-hours without pretense or indulgent drugginess, somehow evoking playfulness and doom, lightness and density. The songs wander and let the imagination do likewise, always maintaining a balance between the ethereal and the rugged – a chain of tech-savvy swamp mystics in torn-up boots: they've got one foot in the pirogue, one on the stompbox. Voices purloined from scratchy radios chatter and then melt, like tape left out in the Gulf Coast sun. Silver clouds of glockenspiel tone waft upward, while earthy textures rub against each other; you're looking up at a sky thick with sun and storm, while you scrape your cheek against bark, crushing dirt through the gaps between your fingers. Something rotten and promising blooms amid the rambunctious drumming -- it's a sunflower with yellow petals and an acetate 7-inch in the middle. Making icons is usually a practice of rigid traditionalism; Archipelago turn that approach on its head, smearing and spackling and drumming, drumming, drumming, letting you connect the dots; it's synaesthetic, it's pop, it's sorta religious, sorta twisted, and it's definitely worth a listen.

Backporch Revolution

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Lasse Marhaug & Nils Henrik Asheim

Grand Mutation

[Touch]

by Joe Davenport

Two masters of sonic architecture team up on Grand Mutation, Jazzkammer's Lasse Marhaug and Norwegian composer Nils Henrik Asheim. Utilizing the organ in Norway's Oslo Cathedral, the duo plays off the sound of the cathedral itself in constructing landscapes of gorgeous, blossoming noise. Asheim's organ work is epic and glacial with Marhaug ramping up the level of electronic assault over the course of the piece. Presented in five relatively shorter pieces, Grand Mutation was originally recorded in one long improvised take and only slightly edited after the fact. The outcome is one of the most fascinating albums to come from the Touch camp in awhile. Similar in nature to the Spire compilation that featured Fennesz, BJ Nilsen, and Phillip Jeck, Grand Mutation grafts electronic noise onto the frame of an archaic acoustic instrument. This makes it easy enough to tell what's being contributed by each artist, but the skill and precision with which Marhaug navigates Asheim's layers of crystalline drone carves out a singular space for both performers.

Lasse Marhaug - Nils Henrik Asheim - Touch

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Christina Kubisch

Five Electrical Walks

[Important]

by Urban Guerilla

To this day, the interdisciplinary practice of sound art still searches for greater representation in contemporary art spaces. Perhaps it is due to the ephemeral nature that many projects exhibit, rarely allowing it to be collected, hung on a wall, or displayed as trophy. Perhaps it is due its defining parameters remaining blurred, plagued by historian and art theorist debate. Whatever the case, Christina Kubisch, who is now greatly considered to be one of the first generation of this practice, presents a fixed object document with Five Electrical Walks, from a recent cycle of a series that she began in the ‘70s. The collection of compositions, the raw sounds remaining unaltered, are taken from various walks using wireless headphones to detect and make audible electromagnetic fields that exist around us even now. The complex array of frequencies are physically and mentally arresting, in instances overwhelming; the evidence of your surroundings whispering their inner ghosts. It is a powerful argument for curatorial dialogue regarding the increased presentation of like-minded works, where the effect is equal to both the artist and viewer.

Christina Kubisch - Important

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Jean-Francois Laporte

Soundmatters

[23five]

by Julie

Mr. Laporte composes music from unidentifiable sources. Sans liner notes, you'd be hard-pressed to figure out that “Electro-Prana,” after its first few minutes, is processed wind noise or that “Dans Le Ventre Du Dragon” is made of horns helped along by the natural reverb of an out-of-commission ship's cargo hold, practically granting them a grasshopper buzz. Starting out with three shorter pieces before moving into its bulk with two long-form tracks, Laporte's lasting impressions are made over time. Never have air compressors sounded as incredible and threatening as they do on “Mantra.” This is actually the first release of the track in its true form, having been previously shaved to fit a 3-inch CD, and even a couple more minutes of the compressor's chopped drone is a blessing. Elsewhere, “Plentitude Du Vide” starts with minuscule scrapes and vibrations and gradually accumulates sound until it peaks with a bizarrely harmonic drone. Soundmatters can either be thought of as a compilation of Laporte's most notable pieces from the last few years or a debut. But rarely do musicians came out of the gates this strong. One of the year's very best minimal releases.

Jean-Francois Laporte - 23five

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Deathspell Omega

Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum

[Anja]

by Lars Gotrich

With most black metal bands centering more on self-hatred, general paganism and hellish mythology, and general misanthropic vibes (with an oddball environmentalist or two), fewer black metal bands – at least in America – hate on God and Christianity as much as their Norwegian forbearers. Well, Satan curse the French, Deathspell Omega not only hate on God and Christianity but do so in (what at least the liners tell me – the lyrics are indecipherable) an extremely (extreme!) intelligent, philosophical discourse. Now, the mysterious band hasn't unconverted this Protestant, but Deathspell Omega has recorded one of the most innovative black metal albums in recent memory. The second part in a trilogy on humanity's relationship with God and Satan, Fas – like many of the best BM albums of late – infuses a post-rock sentiment to breakup the blazing monotony of buzzing guitars. Fas also has an element of the avant-garde, employing Bartók-ian interludes, thus advancing the notion that black metal really is the strangest of all metal that has descended from Black Sabbath. But by far the most daring aspect of the album, especially given its lyrical content, is the use of a mass choir. It's absolutely heretical (and Wagnerian, I suppose): These haunting voices could very well fill a cathedral, providing fodder for Deathspell Omega's aural argument.

Deathspell Omega

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Flower-Corsano Duo

The Radiant Mirror

[Textile]

by Carla Sierra

Chris Corsano and Mick Flower make fire. That no-need-for-an-introduction drummer and the founding member of UK's Vibracathedral Orchestra inaugurated this year with an explosive three-song album, with humorous track titles “Earth,” “Wind,” and “Fire.” Far from joking, The Radiant Mirror is an immeasurable magnetic flux reduced to ashes and returned to life again. With the sitar-like shahi baaja, some kind of electrified Japanese auto-harp/banjo (reminding me of Vibracathedral's song “Japan Banjo”), Mick Flower tackled ritual free-jazz so distortedly that any image you might have of the shahi baaja would probably be wrong. Meanwhile, Chris Corsano continued to forge his own personal style, expressing himself with all the usual chaotic (perhaps magical?) virtuoso tricks that made him a household name in the first place. Recorded live at Les Instants Chavirés and released on French label Textile, The Radiant Mirror was a mystical ecstasy violated by pedals that guided you -- or not -- into the most obscure sound tunnels. This year felt like we were nearing the end of the world, but this duo gave me faith in humanity like nobody else could.

Chris Corsano - Textile

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