2018: First Quarter Favorites From sheaves of harsh noise & asphalt batida to trap-rap hybridity & obscure Japanese video game music

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


Mount Eerie

Now Only

[P.W. Elverum & Sun]

[LISTEN · READ]

You know how it is: sometimes you just gotta talk out loud to yourself in order to work through something. Phil Elverum said a mouthful on last year’s haunting A Crow Looked at Me, and his 2018 opus (and companion album to Crow) continued the clear-eyed — if hopelessly circular — rumination. Inside the reaction chamber of Elverum’s brain/body, you could hear all the Big Stuff (pain, death, religion, pregnancy, war) colliding and fusing with all the small stuff (sleeping, reading, watching TV, eating, traveling) to create… what, exactly? Not “resolutions.” Not even logical discourse. This was pure nuclear energy; as bright as the sun and stars that pulse and flare and relentlessly spit their unhearable music (with zero fucks given about puny little you and me) into every soundless corner of the frozen universe and just as deadly to bathe one’s puny little earth body in directly.


Jean-Luc Guionnet & Daichi Yoshikawa

Intervivos

[Empty Editions]

[LISTEN · READ]

Down in the dirt, the firstborn’s new mind immediately detected the ubiquitous danger. Who was next to go? Going numb, she experienced a floating feeling as she was moved toward a distant flashing red light, the pulse of Calumet’s flame. When she grew up, she remembered that flame and the nightmares it brought her, and she remembered that day in 2014 when the flame spread uncontrollably, fueled by hydro carbon liquid and hydrogen, and consumed almost everything. The survivors were stranded and floating in perceived eternity and space, occasionally colliding into other objects, occasionally distressed by unrecorded warning systems, occasionally heading toward distant flashing red lights. Out here, between the living and something else, we feel a constant sense of panic, which is, to be honest, no different than the day we were born. Our lungs becoming a sort of timekeeper, like an hourglass, slowly filling up with dirt, one grain per full rotation. It’s hard to tell exactly if this sense of panic started in 2014 or the day we were born.


cupcakKe

Ephorize

[Self-Released]

[WATCH · READ]

You done the math yet? cupcakKe just couldn’t wait for anybody else, and so here’s Ephorize, yet another coup de maître of trap-rap hybridity and “drill concrète” (outs to Jazz) — the clearing of the site for bangers and anthems alike. These are the new horizons for her unhinged sex style, an extension of her audacious technique further away from the viral liminality of the past toward wholly consummate performance. And, the uncompromising lyrical plurality that made Queen Elizabitch such compulsive listening continues, as cupcakKe probes both herself (“Self-Interview,” “Single While Taken”) and the world around her (“Crayons”) with the same tenacity as her wildest fantasies and bluntest jibes. No slide into formalism here, then; from the top to the bottom, from casual boasting to wisened self-observation, this is Elizabeth Harris’s Address, the state of things — her voice, unbound.


Lost Girls

Feeling

[Smalltown Supersound]

[LISTEN · READ]

Like with the intimacy of Robert Ashley’s lilting intonation, intimating, the threadbare petal edge thrust against the sky, to the world behind them, too large to take in, sentences here never end nor contain themselves in their trite simplicity: they jut, drift, gesture, allude through their incompleteness. The world is too large to take in, so unravel it at its seams. Prefer transparency to the cloth that, repressing private parts, paints a spurious whole. Be threadbare, but spacious, unraveling in the interstices of the cloth the loss language that makes possible, the world. Prefer the body without end or appendage, the sexless body composed of parts that are themselves wholes, driftingly limitless. I’m not the same person I used to be, ends Ashley. I am limitlessly multiple, continue Hval and Borden, the “Blue” Gene Tyranny to her Ashley. I wonder. I accept. I am spacious, singing flesh, says Cixous, traversed by Eros. I am lost, says no one knows which I, and perhaps we just want to feel more lost.


Dedekind Cut

Tahoe

[Kranky]

[LISTEN · READ]

Tahoe has been sitting in my head, somewhere between the back of my brain and my skull, emerging at unexpected times and yielding cerebral results. The brass sounds of “The Crossing Guard” ring in my ears as hot shower water runs down my neck. “Equity” lays flat, churning, during the morning queue. “MMXIX” is reborn when someone steps in a puddle. The title track exists in the spaces where the others don’t, unattached to anything, able to lay over everything. I don’t have the means to experience Tahoe in any of the locations written on the cover; instead, it floats through my mind, rarely leaving since it entered. I think of that figure casting something to somewhere when I’m alone, in groups, and asleep. There’s something brooding about Tahoe; I can’t figure it out, and I don’t really want to.

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features 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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