2017: Third Quarter Favorites From Avey Tare & Angelo Badalamenti to White Suns & White Poppy

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For each of the first three quarters of every year, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter lists are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series


As we stumble into the final quarter of the year, TMT would like to temper the political incoherence and informational carelessness of the last few months with another transmission from our trusty quarter-list propaganda machine. And you, dear reader, are invited!

Whether it was transcendental smackdowns (Young Thug) or moonlit ruminations (The National), unlistenable prayers (Lingua Ignota) or symbol play (Giant Claw), 2017’s summer sounds found our bodies trembling (Pan Diajing), swiped like a shoe along concrete ($3.33), and glowing with deceitful charm (White Poppy). It didn’t matter if it was coming from the Dar Es Salaam underground (Nyege Nyege Tapes), a modded 70s Speak & Spell (White Suns), or Jack Rabbit’s Palace (Twin Peaks); it didn’t matter if it was evinced by lurker auteurs (Nmesh), sonic ecologists (Avey Tare), or one Pretty Bitch (Lil B). In the face of an ever-increasing shitshow, the last three months of music carried on like if often does: with a mix of hope, absurdity, and some exquisite world-building, with hearts both heavy (death’s dynamic shroud) and gentle (Mark Templeton).

The full list can be found below, but first check out our ridiculously long list of releases that didn’t make the feature proper. And thanks, as always, for reading!

Shortlist: Yves Tumor’s Experiencing The Deposit Of Faith, Nate Scheible’s Fairfax, Tzusing’s 東方不敗, Jay Glass Dubs’s Glacial Dancehall, Shabazz Palaces’s Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, HKE’s HEEL AESTHETIC, Windy & Carl’s Blues For A UFO, Shabazz Palaces’s Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, woopheadclrms’s Meeting Room + Rare Plants (Ukiuki Atama), Youngboy Never Broke Again’s AI YoungBoy, Costanza’s George, Mount Kimbie’s Love What Survives, Femminielli Noir’s Echec & Mat, I am just a Pupil’s CRYSTAL PAIN, Léo Hoffsaes & Loto Retina’s Early Contact, Arve Henrikson’s Towards Language, Schneider Kacirek’s Radius Walk, S.W.’s The Album, Damien Dubrovnik’s Great Many Arrows, Alan Vega’s IT, chris†††’s social justice whatever, and Ariel Pink’s Dedicated to Bobby Jameson.


Nmesh

Pharma

[Orange Milk]

[WATCH · LISTEN · READ]

With Pharma, lurker auteur Nmesh has both legitimized and destroyed the vapor-non-genre, virus-like, from within. Now entombed in some lo-poly pyramid, we can see the ‘wave for what it was: a dig through the garbage-dump archives of the 1990s to recover, warp, and recontextualize whatever memories got lost beneath the pile. The samples and annotations would be nothing, though, without the music, and lucky for you Pharma delivered well on this front. Not only is this Nmesh’s best album to date, but these 26 tracks (plus many remixes) ran rings around an entire micro-era of electronic music, wearing it out until the soul within was revealed. Plus, how brazen is that Ferris Bueller sample?


Pan Daijing

Lack

[PAN]

[LISTEN · READ]

Abstract music, even “noise” if you want, is too often discussed in relation to absence. Absence of harmony, of “form,” of the philosophy of separation underpinning musical tradition per se. I imagine that, in witnessing a performance by Pan Daijing, who discusses her music along the lines of embodiment and the “acting out” of sound, it becomes difficult to persist in this manner of speaking. With Lack, a document of that performance practice, she rattles the consciousness of the home listener from its critical distance back to where it belongs: the wanting, lurid presence of the body. “Practice of Hygiene” breaks words — “above, below,” “excuse me,” “why do I have to” — into moaning, groaning, and almost-human creaking, cradled in the bleed of a low, repeating piano note. A dissonant arpeggio dances for five minutes across “The Nerve Meter,” a synthesized pattern that seems to shake the receiver as if having passed through air from a nearby amplifier. At the climactic moment of “Lucid Morto,” the final track, delayed vocals combine with the unsure, three-note melody of a meaty trance lead. In different and captivating ways, this album takes advantage of the notion that sound is a physical encounter; its Lack is not of form or substance, but the one that lives in all of our hungering, trembling bodies.


Milo

who told you to think??!!?!?!?!

[Ruby Yacht/Alpha Pup]

[LISTEN · READ]

Ghiath Matar is dead, roses are not armor,” goes the first rapped line, and if you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that Milo’s strictly a “college rapper,” you might also be assuming that Ghiath Matar is the name of some ancient Eastern deity or protag of a Russian fantasy novel. But it’s not. He was, I know now, a Syrian activist who gave flowers to soldiers, then was arrested, tortured and killed. The next line goes, “In my neighborhood, it was become a poet or a farmer.” Writing amazing, beautiful, weighty verse is part of Milo’s job, as is performing. But geeky flights of fancy aren’t gone, they’re just getting pointier. Also in the first song, he says, “Hold the self like J’Zargo in Winterhold,” referring, of course, to the fictional cat wizard and mage college in Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Did I mention this is the album’s first verse? It goes deeper still, metaphors atop one another like racks. I haven’t cracked the seal on my vinyl copy yet, because it looks so snug sitting in its shrinkwrap beside Down With People’s self-titled album. One more unsolicited thought: if Nostrum Grocers ever drops, there are going to be a lot of professional poets out there burning their own chapbooks.


Avey Tare

Eucalyptus

[Domino]

[LISTEN · READ]

Ever since Campfire Songs we’ve known Avey Tare is a sonic ecologist, attuned to the environments and relationalities that bloom and burble through his terraformed recordings. Lately, though, his work has dripped somewhere Down There, somewhere murky and suffocating, goopy and fecund. But, aerated and sun-drenched afresh in the Eucalyptus, Avey Tare sounds like he can breathe again. Awash but not overwhelmed, the atmospheres that populate Eucalyptus oxygenate the expansive melodies Portner has always nursed — from “Chocolate Girl” to “Amanita” — only this time, they can photosynthesize something delectable out of the coral, salt, soil, air that have always permeated, always tickled, always snickered. There’s a spaciousness in the hebetic sonic environments here, room to snuggle and inhale. Like the calyx that protects the budding eucalyptus flower, Eucalyptus chaperones us into a nourishing amnion. We can’t help but curl up and sink in.


Various Artists

Twin Peaks (Music from the Limited Event Series) / Twin Peaks (Limited Even Series Soundtrack)

[Rhino]

[WATCH · WATCH · WATCH]

IRRATIONALLY ESSENTIAL. There’s no other way to put it. For Twin Peaks fans, this was the Summer of Frost/Lynch. We watched, listened, pondered, argued; we breathed it, ate it, shit it, and then sniffed the shit for more clues. By the time the 18-part series that first infected us back in May fully metastasized at the beginning of September, we were zombies. Our gray matter was hollowed into cheese by Dougie-Cooper’s Disease, characterized by the frenetic drive to bathe ourselves in anything connected with the story in any way — e.g., these two albums, featuring Angelo Badalamenti’s iconically eerie scores, plot-pregnant songs from each of the show’s Roadhouse bands, and a few of Lynch’s maniacal manipulations. Even now with the series in the spooky, Lynchian rear-view, the obsession lingers. The past dictates the future. There’s no going back.

For each of the first three quarters of every year, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter lists are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series


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