2018: Favorite 50 Songs Jams and non-jams for EVERYONE in EVERY COUNTRY on EARTH

We celebrate the end of the year the only way we know how: through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the year. More from this series


GYM · VOID · CLIFF · ALLEY · COUPE

Open your mind to our mysterious and mind-bending VOID mix. 2018 luminaries like Grouper, Sunun, and the rest of this mix’s entries make world-class meditation gurus, but it’s still up to you to do the work. Start by pressing “play” and simply breathing through whatever emotions arise. Your next personal breakthrough awaits.

PART 2: “VOID” mixed by Evan Coral


Grouper

“The Races”

[00:00]

[Kranky]

In the hiccup of the anacrusis, Liz Harris let a hymn dribble out. “The Races,” with the prescience of a divining rod, led us with arcane certainty to a certain source (from French: “a rising, beginning, fountainhead of a river or stream”) of dowsing sensibility and dousing sensitivity. It smelled like rain. It was raining. And then it stopped, way too soon. And we dripped there, sluiced and remaindered, limned with the tickle of the gasp — that sticky lick of evaporation. And all that was left was muggy, gloaming: whiff of petrichor, burnished beckoning.


Housefire

“Magick Mirror”

[00:42]

[Hot Releases]


Riding the lightning in the cosmic rodeo like Victoria flying chariots into fires, Luciann Waldrup wrangled the elements with true grit, unruffled by the cascades of shattered glass caught in the swirl of the conjurer’s stampede. In “Magick Mirror,” she captured a sense of magnitude by herding EVP and other strange phenomena, leaving them to roam in analog fields of high density and depth, while she monitored the illusive line between chaos and control. These sorts of psychic round-ups only serve to strengthen the spirit.


Debit

“Audiacious”

[08:12]

[N.A.A.F.I]

The N.A.A.F.I label celebrated its first full-length release this year with Debit’s Animus, the perfect record to showcase the mutant sounds for which it’s become known. From gritty, ambient studies to pensive, tribal numbers, Debit delivered something for every electronic explorer. “Audiacious” was the cut that gripped us by the teeth, an aggressive barrage of sucker punches squeezed into less than three minutes — essential for those nights when you want to get all apocalyptic.


Mint Field

“Quiero Otoño De Nuevo”

[10:44]

[Innovative Leisure]

Staring into the vastness of the year gone by, appropriately a pair of 21-year-old women from Tijuana are looking back. Amor Amezcua and Estrella Sanchez are sending us a message from the future’s past telling us the autumn of our discontent is passing for something strangely new lurking just beyond our event horizon. “Quiero Otoño De Nuevo” borrowed from the time capsule of shoegaze and motorik — whether they are truly Wyld Stallions, transporting their music of unity and harmony, has yet to be determined — yet I hear the future, and it is brightly shining through our black hole of discord.


Messa

“Leah”

[15:22]

[Aural Music]

Sit back. Cast your mind. Let it rip. Initially, Messa evoked a 70s psychedelia/doom vibe on the epic 15-minute “Leah,” yet they soon transitioned into something unexpectedly ethereal, adding a new sheen of occult varnish to their sound. Here, rhythm was carried by voice and what sounded like a Rhodes, Sara’s harmonies gingerly hypnotizing us before heavy distortion and drums returned, laying the groundwork for entry into what lies beyond. The pace of this ritual may have been slow and steady, but we were consumed in full by the flame.


Ian Isiah

“Bedroom”

[23:18]

[Self-Released]

In simplest words, “Bedroom” was a song about having sex with two people at the same time — not that there isn’t something inherently complex about that. But Isiah is a truly talented minimalist songwriter, a genderless Afro-Caribbean futurist beauty-shop David Byrne, tying his saliva-covered cherry stems in subtle and revolutionary ways. The bedroom is a place of radical self-love, and Isiah’s lovers, “hoes” — What do we know about these people? They’re smart and they have ponytails — they “got no clothes in my bedroom.” On them? In the drawers? To their names? “Bedroom” punched its way around unexpected turns, as it dressed itself with molecular vocal riddim. It was a song about checking in on your partners, loving without gender, the holy trinity, and being fucking horny. Isiah recently said to Pitchfork, “I always want to make music that other musicians can study.” No one could say he hasn’t done exactly that.


Sunun

“Ishe Roots”

[25:57]

[Bokeh Versions]


But roots of whom or what? The city? The underground? Where abandoned tunnels twist and swell like varicose veins, sidewalk throngs avert their gaze repulsed by the blood that drew them here in the first place. Ishe saying “roots don’t grow (t)here? “Is-he-is-he-is-he dead?” Transmitting proto-[genre] from CB radios: the crackle of pirated bandwidth, the groundswell breach, the OriGinal riddims heartbeats and earthquakes. Ooid drops the V like ital, for oohs and ahhs, spellbinding, blurb spinning mantrachanics. We’re all under now.


ELUDEM

“Cold Water”

[29:57]

[HIT+RUN]


An easy target for the proud beat head is the emergence of “chill lo-fi” hip-hop radio. The pervasive 24/7 playlists invite ridicule, because many are by design inoffensive, peripheral complements to one’s environment. They tend to ford and avoid plunging into the beat ravine’s muddied depths. At TMT, we dug and let “Cold Water” in, but weren’t immediately drenched. We submerged gradually, as our shut eyes learned that the rickety crib, the swampy pad, and the blown-out bass were there to displace our own comforts. We gulped for the hearth, and before long, we dilated darkly.


Noah Creshevsky

“Lisa Barnard Redux”

[33:27]

[Orange Milk]


A compilation of Noah Creshevsky pieces composed and recorded since 1986 attested to what the folks at Orange Milk were probably thinking: the guy was way ahead of his time. “Lisa Barnard Redux” was one of the newer songs featured therein, and lest we be inclined to understate the instrumental versatility of the human voice, utterances from vocalist Lisa Barnard Kelley were edited and recorded in a way that demanded the shadowing of everything else. A futile light seemed to enter toward the end. And a whine.


Kanye West

“Lift Yourself”

[39:07]

[G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam]

Kanye had a big year (does he know how to have any other?), but one of the standouts was this three-part slapper from April. The first two parts, which demonstrated how Kanye hasn’t lost his talent for morphing and combining disparate samples into a cohesive whole, were arguably (and unjustly) overshadowed by the third: a flow exercise utilizing a childish euphemism for excrement. It could be read as a middle finger to his haters, as trolling, as political statement, or perhaps most fittingly — it could be not read at all, only heard.

Click to the next page to hear the “CLIFF” mix by Colin Fitzgerald.

We celebrate the end of the year the only way we know how: through lists, essays, and mixes. Join us as we explore the music that helped define the year. More from this series


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