josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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28 Feb '24 10:32:02 PM

Autechre, AE_LIVE 2022 (Warp)

Afterbirth, In But Not Of (Willowtip)
Agriculture, Agriculture (Flenser)
Anachronism, Meanders (Unorthodox Emanations)
Anti-God Hand, Blight Year (American Dreams)
Autopsy, Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts (Peaceville)
Cannibal Corpse, Chaos Horrific (Metal Blade)
Elitist, A Mirage of Grandeur (Indisciplinarian)
Horrendous, Ontological Mysterium (Season of Mist)
Moral Collapse, Divine Prosthetics (Subcontinental)
Nothingness, Supraliminal (Everlasting Spew)
Suffocation, Hymns from the Apocrypha (Nuclear Blast)
Sarmat, Determined to Strike (I, Voidhanger)
Krallice, Porous Resonance Abyss (self-released)
Ulthar, Anthronomicon / Helionomicon (20 Buck Spin)
Wormhole, Almost Human (Season of Mist)

Sama’ Abdulhadi, Fabric Presents (Fabric)
Ada, Connecting the Dots (Kompakt)
Colleen, Le jour et la nuit du réel (Thrill Jockey)
MoMa Ready, Faith in Us / Headlock (HAUS of ALTR)
Packed Rich, Warp Fields (Ilian Tape)
Purelink, Signs (Peak Oil)
Rezzett, Meant Like This (Trilogy Tapes)
Shed, Towards East (Edition Dur / Kultur ManuFaktur Dussmann)
Surgeon, Crash Recoil (Tresor)
Dario Zenker, Reflection (Ilian Tape)

Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, and Shahzad Ismaily, Love in Exile (Verve)
Bex Burch, There Is Only Love and Fear (International Anthem)
EABS Meets Jaubi, In Search of a Better Tomorrow (Astigmatic)
Illegal Crowns, Unclosing (Out of Your Head)
Steve Lehman and Orchestre National de Jazz, Ex Machina (Pi)
Thandi Ntuli with Carlos Niño, Rainbow Revisited (International Anthem)
Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the Garden… (Constellation)
Sissoko Segal Parisien Peirani, Les Égarés (No Format!)
Rajna Swaminathan, Apertures (Ropeadope)
Emilio Teubal, Futuro (Not Yet)

Aesop Rock, Integrated Tech Solutions (Rhymesayers)
DJ Shadow, Action Adventure (Mass Appeal / Liquid Amber)
JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown, Scaring the Hoes (AWAL)
Luidji, Saison 00 (Foufoune Palace)
Noname, Sundial (self-released)

Janelle Monáe, The Age of Pleasure (Wondaland Arts Society / Atlantic)
Aya Nakamura, DNK (Rec. 118 / Warner Music France)
Niecy Blues, Exit Simulation (Kranky)
Jorja Smith, Flying or Falling (Famm)
Tinashe, BB/ANG3L (Nice Life)

Chepang, Swatta (GCBT)
Day Job, The Auger (Hex)
Filth is Eternal, Find Out (MNRK Heavy)
Geld, Currency // Castration (Relapse)
Thin, Dusk (Twelve Gauge)

Blush, Supercrush (No Sleep)
Frog, Grog (Tape Wormies / Audio Antihero)
Feeble Little Horse, Girl with Fish (Saddle Creek)
Nabiha Iqbal, Dreamer (Ninja Tune)
Lewsberg, Out and About (12XU)
Lifeguard, Crowd Can Talk / Dressed in Trenches (Matador)
Parannoul, After the Magic / After the Night (Poclanos / Topshelf)
Speedy Ortiz, Rabbit Rabbit (Wax Nine)
Marnie Stern, The Comeback Kid (Joyful Noise)
Yo La Tengo, This Stupid World (Matador)

Daniel Bachman, When the Roses Come Again (Three Lobed)
James Elkington, Me Neither (No Quarter)
Horse Lords, Live in Leipzig (RVNG Intl.)
Bill Orcutt, Jump On It (Palilalia)
Sourdurent, l’Herbe De Détourne (Bongo Joe)

Tim Hecker, No Highs (Kranky)
Kali Malone, Does Spring Hide Its Joy (Ideologic Organ)
Moufang & Czemanski, Recreational Kraut (Source)
The Necks, Travel (Northern Spy)
Keith Fullerton Whitman, A Stable Environment (Going In)

Vikingur Ólafsson, Goldberg Variations (Deutsche Grammophon)

Deafheaven, Sunbather (Deathwish)
Bob Dylan, The Complete Budokan 1978 (Columbia / Legacy)
Ricardo Villalobos, Alcachofa (Perlon)

Junior Boys, Waiting Game (City Slang)
Cloud Rat, Threshold (Artoffact)
Ellen Arkbro & Johan Graden, I get along without you very well (Thrill Jockey)
Spoon, Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador)
Bombardement, Le Futur Est Là (Destructure / Symphony of Destruction)
Oneida, Success (Joyful Noise)
Horse Lords, Comradely Objects (Rvng Intl.)
Sam Prekop & John McEntire, Sons Of (Thrill Jockey)
Vladislav Delay, Isoviha (Planet Mu)
ZZ Top, Raw (‘That Little ‘Ol Band from Texas’ Original Soundtrack) (BMG)
Makaya McCraven, In These Times (International Anthem / Nonesuch)
Etran de L’Aïr, Agadez (Sahel Sounds)
Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death)
Horsegirl, Versions of Modern Performance (Matador)
Krallice, Psychagogue (self-released)
Undeath, It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave (Prosthetic)
Escuela Grind, Memory Theater (MNRK Heavy)
Horace Andy, Midnight Rocker (On-U Sound)
Tangerine Dream, Raum (Kscope)
Oren Ambarchi / Johan Berthling / Andreas Werliin, Ghosted (Drag City)

Stereolab, Pulse of the Early Brain (Switched On Volume 5)
Guns N’ Roses, Use Your Illusion I and II

Lewsberg, In Your Hands (12XU)
Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast)
Madlib, Sound Ancestors (Madlib Invazion)
Skee Mask, Pool (Ilian Tape)
Shawn Rudiman, Flow State (Pittsburgh Tracks)
Myriam Gendron, Ma Délire (Feeding Tube)
Meek Mill, Expensive Pain (Maybach Music Group / Atlantic)
Summer Walker, Still Over It (LVRN / Interscope)
Vladislav Delay, Rakka II (Cosmo Rhythmatic)
Jawbox, Live at Metro Chicago 2019 (Arctic Rodeo)
Caterina Barbieri, Fantas Variations (Editions Mego)
MoMA Ready, BODY 21 (self-released) / AceMoMA, A Future (Haus of Altr)
Jana Rush, Painful Enlightenment (Planet Mu)
Nice Girl, Ipsum (Public Possession)
Mess Esque, Mess Esque (Milk! Records / Remote Control)
Grouper, Shade (Kranky)
Jeff Parker, Forfolks (International Anthem / Nonesuch)
The Chisel, Retaliation (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Wanderer, Liberation from a Brutalist Existence (Entelodon)
Obsolete, Animate//Isolate (Unspeakable Axe)
Wau Wau Collectif, Yaral Sa Doom (Sahel Sounds)
Pelt, Reticence / Resistance (Three Lobed)
Les Filles de Illighadad, At Pioneer Works (Sahel Sounds)
Benoit Delbecq / Mark Turner / John Hebert / Gerald Cleaver, Gentle Ghosts (Jazzdor Series)
Thou, Hightower (Robotic Empire)

Dinosaur Jr., Live in the Middle East (self-released)
Various Artists, Tresor 30 (Tresor)
Stereolab, Electrically Possessed (Switched On Volume 4) (Warp / Duophonic UHF Disks)
Gang of Four, 77–81: Live at American Indian Center 1980 SFO (Matador)
Sonic Youth, Live in Austin 1995 (self-released)

Dogleg, Melee (Triple Crown)
Autechre, Sign / Plus (Warp)
Hum, Inlet (Earth Analog)
Erik Hall, Music for 18 Musicians (Western Vinyl)
Deerhoof, Love-Lore (Joyful Noise)
Vladislav Delay, Rakka (Cosmo Rhythmatic)
Jeff Parker, Suite for Max Brown (International Anthem / Nonesuch)
Pallbearer, Forgotten Days (Nuclear Blast)
Drain, California Cursed (Revelation)
Haim, Women in Music Pt. III (Columbia)
Wizkid, Made in Lagos (Starboy / Sony Music International / RCA)
Bardo Pond, Adrop / Circuit VIII (Three Lobed)
The Necks, Three (Northern Spy)
Jim White and Marisa Anderson, The Quickening (Thrill Jockey)
Aya Nakamura, Aya (Rec. 118 / Warner France)
Stay Inside, Viewing (No Sleep)
Flo Milli, Ho, why is you here? (’94 Sounds / RCA)
Boneflower, Armour (The Braves)
Nuvolascura, As We Suffer From Memory and Imagination (Zegema Beach / Dog Knights)
Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia)
Lous and the Yakuza, Gore (Columbia)
The Strokes, The New Abnormal (RCA)
MoMa Ready, Deep Technik (self-released) / Gallery S, Gallery S (self-released)
Various Artists, Soul Jazz Records Presents Black Riot: Early Jungle, Rave And Hardcore (Soul Jazz)
Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, III (Smalltown Supersound)
Horse Lords, The Common Task (Northern Spy)
Theo Parrish, Wuddaji (Sound Signature)
Róisín Murphy, Róisín Machine (Skint / BMG)
Joey Nightcore’s 8-Bit Adventures, Emperor Tomato Ketchup (8-Bit) (Dracula’s Necrophobic Actions)
Carlota, The Bow (Trip)
Krallice, Mass Cathexis (self-released)
Caetano Veloso & Ivan Sacerdote, Caetano Veloso & Ivan Sacerdote (Universal Music)
Moodymann, Taken Away (KDJ)
Aksak Maboul, Figures (Crammed Discs)
Thou, A Primer of Holy Words (self-released)
Ariana Grande, Positions (Republic)
Container, Scramblers (Alter)
Darkstar, Civic Jams (Warp)
Gerald Cleaver, Signs (577 Records)
Burna Boy, Twice as Tall (Atlantic)

Cloud Rat, Pollinator (Artoffact Records)
Steve Lehman Trio & Craig Taborn, The People I Love (Pi Recordings)
Otoboke Beaver, Iketoma Hits (Damnably Records)
Car Bomb, Mordial (self-released)
Petrol Girls, Cut & Stitch (Hassle Records)
Kali Malone, The Sacrificial Code (iDEAL Recordings)
Floating Points, Crush (Ninja Tune)
Prins Thomas, Ambitions (Smalltown Supersound)
Summer Walker, Over It (LoveRenaissance/Interscope)
Burna Boy, African Giant (Spaceship Entertainment/Bad Habit/Atlantic/Warner Music International)

Floating Points, Crush (Ninja Tune)
Special Request, Vortex (Houndstooth)
Stenny, Upsurge (Ilian Tape)
Madteo, Dropped Out Sunshine (DDS)
Shed, Oderbruch (Ostgut Ton)
Karenn, Grapefruit Regret (Voam)
Octo Octa, Resonant Body (T4T LUV NRG)
E-Sagglia, My World My Way (Northern Electronics)
Earthen Sea, Grass and Trees (Kranky)
HVL, Rhythmic Sonatas (Bassiani)
ERP, Afterimage (Forgotten Future US)
Andre Bratten, Pax Americana (Smalltown Supersound)
Efdemin, New Atlantis (Ostgut Ton)
Moodymann, Sinner (KDJ)
Function, Existenz (Tresor Records)
Nathan Micay, Blue Spring (LuckyMe)
PTU, Am I Who I Am (трип)
Shanti Celeste, Tangerine (Peach Discs)
J Majik, Full Circle (Infrared)
Basic Rhythm, On the Threshold (Planet Mu)
Christoph de Babalon, Hectic Shakes (Alter)
Acronym & Kali Malone, The Torrid Eye (Stilla Ton)
Kornél Kovács, Stockholm Marathon (Studio Barnhus)
Barker, Utility (Ostgut Ton)
Lowtec, Light Surfing (Avenue 66)

Cloud Rat, Pollinator (Artoffact Records)
Car Bomb, Mordial (self-released)
Noisem, Cease to Exist (20 Buck Spin)
Oozing Wound, High Anxiety (Thrill Jockey)
Coffins, Beyond the Circular Demise (Relapse Records)
Blood Incantation, Hidden History of the Human Race (Dark Descent Records)
Magic Circle, Departed Souls (20 Buck Spin)
False, Portent (Gilead Media)
Dödläge, Hostile Regression (Phobia Records)
Candlemass, The Door to Doom (Napalm)

Junius Paul, Ism (International Anthem)
Steve Lehman Trio & Craig Taborn, The People I Love (Pi Recordings)
Anna Webber, Clockwise (Pi Recordings)
Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan, Epistrophy (ECM)
Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (Constellation)
Ahmad Jamal, Ballades (Jazz Village)
Camila Meza & The Nectar Orchestra, Ámbar (Sony Masterworks)
Izumi Kimura, Barry Guy, & Gerry Hemmingway, Illuminated Silence (Fundacja Sluchaj)
Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, & Tony Orrell, BleySchool (577 Records)
Detail (Frode Gjerstad, John Stevens, and Johnny Mbizo Dyani), Day Two (NoBusiness Records)
Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, To Whom Who Buys a Record (Odin)
Brad Barrett, Joe Morris, & Tyshawn Sorey, Cowboy Transfiguration (Fundacja Sluchaj)
Alexi Tuomarila Trio, Sphere (Edition Records)
Dave Douglas, Uri Caine, & Andrew Cyrille, Devotion (Greenleaf Music)
Mark Lockheart, Days on Earth (Edition Records)
Melissa Aldana, Visions (Motéma Music)
Nérija, Blume (Domino Recording Company)
Aki Takase, Hokusai – Piano Solo (Intakt Records)
James Brandon Lewis, An Unruly Manifesto (Relative Pitch Records)
Kyoko Kitamura’s Tidepool Fauna, Protean Labyrinth (self-released) ***

Summer Walker, Over It (LVRN / Interscope)
Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell (Polydor / Interscope)
Burna Boy, African Giant (Atlantic)
iLe, Almadura (Sony Music)
Kehlani, While We Wait (Atlantic)
Bill Orcutt, Odds Against Tomorrow (Palilalia)
Erika de Casier, Essentials (4AD)
Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby (Dreamville / Interscope)
Alasdair Roberts, The Fiery Margin (Drag City)
Telefon Tel Aviv, Dreams Are Not Enough (Ghostly International)

Prins Thomas, Ambitions (Smalltown Supersound)
Keith Fullerton Whitman, Late Playthroughs (self-released)
Brighde Chaimbeul, The Reeling (River Lea)
Sunwatchers, Illegal Moves (Trouble in Mind)
Sarah Louise, Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars (Thrill Jockey)

Kali Malone, The Sacrificial Code (iDEAL Recordings)
Michael Pisaro, Nature Denatured and Found Again (Gravity Wave)
Kim Kashkashian, J.S. Bach: Six Suites for Viola Solo BWV 1007–101 (ECM)
Eva-Maria Houben, Erwartung 1 und 2 (Second Editions)
Oren Ambarchi, Simian Angel (Editions Mego)
John McCowen, Mundanas I–V (Edition Wandelweiser Records)

Stereolab, Dots and Loops (Warp / Duophonic UHF Disks)
Stereolab, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (Warp / Duophonic UHF Disks)
Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Warp / Duophonic UHF Disks)
Stereolab, Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (Warp / Duophonic UHF Disks)
Autechre, Warp Tapes 89–93 (self-released)

• • •


I started 2019 enjoying myself, really enjoying myself, thanks predominantly to the older jazz and techno I was exploring. My fascination with it moved me to write freely about music, and made me feel like I was really listening, for the first time in a long while. I was on the move a lot, or what passes for moving for me, and what pleased me most was the fortuitousness of the rhythms of listening, the way a handful of records can fill your day and send you from one day to the next, reverberating with remembered impressions and sharpened attention for what’s new. Records in the morning, records on the bus, records after class. I remember when I was reading Against the Day in 2006, being stunned by so apt a phrase for some inner apprehension a character had, that I carried it around with me for days, not writing it down, looking sidelong at it, thrilling at my own capacity to respond to just a handful of words, and above all at the privacy of the response, like a secret or a private joke: look at that, how fantastic. I never wrote it down, I forgot what it was. Maybe I’ll come across it again someday. But listening at the start of 2019 was a bit like that, senses awakened, thoughts active, on the lookout for anything and everything.

I suppose that’s reflected in the expansiveness of my lists for 2019, which is where this post began. I forget when I started using categories like that in my year-end lists, even when I never settled on final versions of them, but it’s no accident that I reach for them when I start feeling like I’ve heard a lot of music. The categories help me form more definite attachments to records, partly because I focus more on the contrasts between records in the same category. But they also help me later, when the fact that I said that five or ten records went together preserves some trace of what they sounded like, what they meant. That’s true even when I get antsy and delete files, or when the natural roving of my attention leads me to let even records I heard five or ten times slip into indifference.

I’ve never been happy making lists like these, and only the formal critics’ polls that I started skulking around the outskirts of twenty years ago ever really gave me a strong incentive to commit to lists. Without that, I have a hard time sanctioning my feelings toward the records I hear in any given year. Sometimes, while I can identify ten or twenty records that I think were good and that I listened to a lot, I don’t so much feel compelled by them, thrilled by them, or by the prospect of proclaiming them. Other years, a record that I play over and over, a record absorbed into the structure of my everyday life that textures my subsequent memories, becomes so much more important than a year-end-list entry (like, say, Dogleg in 2020) that it seems a little unfair to the other records, the ordinary good ones, to have to compete with it for spots in this sort of personal chronicle.

Still I’ve kept making lists, and sharing them with friends or posting them on social media, even when I wasn’t as involved in the year-end critical ritual. One thing that was eventually apparent enough about my process is that it doesn’t so much codify the judgments I make for others as it documents me, for myself. I see this especially in the way that my attention stays shaped by loyalty to artists I’ve already known a while. I suppose that makes me like the Pazz & Jop critics of decades past who could never be too generous to, for example, mid-career Dylan albums that in some objective sense seemed out of place when put next to the music of the moment. Sometimes it becomes a sign of hope, sometimes a sign of tolerance for disappointment, sometimes a marker for listening still to come. For instance, I don’t as much like the most recent Krallice albums, but the early run of releases I discovered with Diotima was important enough to me for a decade’s worth of listening that they acquire a relative privilege over other records I might hear in the same year. I’ll keep wanting to pay attention to what they do for a long while. Similarly, the fallibility of my lists is sometimes that they express aspirations more than convictions, most so in the lower rungs. I always wish to hear everything, more, forever, until I’m sure; I imagine someone who was sure could enumerate with authority. I hold out for as much conviction as I can find until it seems like the list must be done. The aspirational entries acknowledge the truth, which is that I’ll be catching up privately for however long that takes.

I also fell away from the ritual of list-making because it just takes me so long to settle sometimes that I can’t keep up, even granted all these qualifications. Usually that’s just natural (you can see that reflected in my 2016 list, which I never really got anywhere with until the records I went on to hear months or years after that year was over ended up making more of an impression on me than much of what I heard during the calendar year—so I made that list by adding some records, marked with asterisks, very belatedly). But it’s sometimes exceptional; I started writing the present entry for this blog’s 20-year anniversary in 2019, and I let it get away from me until the pandemic.

I didn’t hear as much music in 2020, especially because I happened not to actively seek out records in quantity (it takes work to hear a lot). All the same, I was lucky enough to find records I could love, lots of them. The top half of my list is full of things that made an impression even despite the exceptional pressures on everyday life. Much the same is true of 2021, when I probably listened more to ‘Simple Headphone Mind’ (from the latest installment in Stereolab’s rarities/EPs compilation) than to any of the new records of that year. And more than anything else, what brought 2022 around for me was a number of records by old favorites (like the Junior Boys album) that transformed my sense of the year, gave it stronger strands of continuity with the past.

Dogleg, Melee (Triple Crown)
During the pandemic I acquired a new phone that had a digital radio tuner built in, and when for a time I was still feeling sick and taking walks at night, something about the confinement and the isolation led me to play the radio rather than my own music on my walks (I hardly ever listen to the radio otherwise). Weirdly so, since what I most liked to listen to was the local college station, which wasn’t even staffed at the time. The DJs were off campus like everyone else, so the station broadcast robo-playlists cut in with prerecorded station IDs. I think a few of them might have been recorded over the phone, but some were probably not even current. It was more like the imagination of radio, virtual radio, than the actual thing. Even still, the thrill of one night hearing Dogleg ‘on the radio’ made everything seem more connected, more real. The album had been released almost simultaneously with my getting sick, right at the start of the pandemic, and I endured an extra long quarantine period in uncertainty over when my symptoms would ever subside and what they meant, much of it rasping and wheezing and trying whatever breathing exercises the geniuses on various hospital websites could come up with, whole-body sick yet alert enough to desperately need something to occupy my mind (that’s when I started learning French, for example). So every morning, nowhere to go and nothing to do and needing to do it not in bed, it came to be Melee that marked the beginning of the day. It’s a short, catchy, driving record, loud guitars and careening tempos, only 36 minutes, so it lent itself all the more to repetition; I played it several times some days, nearly 200 times total, probably most of them in that first year of knowing it. I don’t have a lot of use for new rock music anymore, and Dogleg tends enough toward emo that they wouldn’t normally elicit strong sentiments from me, being the sort of thing I like to check in on now and then, but really music for a younger age, where everything demands to be yelled so it can surge forth the way that so many youthful feelings overtake you. But it took on the character of a private ritual, or semi-private, depending on how loud it was—until that night I heard them ‘on the radio’.

Hum, Inlet (Earth Analog)
Hum, Downward is Heavenward (RCA)
Hum, ‘Stars’ , from You’d Prefer an Astronaut(RCA)
And the same year, of all the things I never thought to expect, a new album from Hum more than twenty years after they disbanded was among the least expected. Reunion albums from rock bands are disappointing, in my experience. I have trouble even understanding what some listeners with otherwise good judgment can hear in them, I guess you could say, how they can hear them for what they are, assess their merits. They always seem lesser to me, as if condemned to it—it doesn’t matter how beloved the band. For instance Soundgarden’s reunion album, which I’d just as well let be. It can’t just be that bands who disband come apart in other ways, as actors who return to roles can find that they don’t quite remember how to play them right anymore, losing their feel for a character. Perhaps I always import some story, however abstract, into my understanding of what I hear; when there’s a break in the story, when a band themselves have no longer continuously lived out the time in which they’ve made their records, maybe they lose touch with something that animated the records that defined their music. (Of course, musicians like to shrug that kind of definition off, always becoming something else, while fans always love them as they unchangingly were.) Anyway, Hum were safely housed in my most precious memories, since I experienced the nineties firsthand as a teenager and was hit with such force by their one-hit-wonder radio single ‘Stars’ that I bought their albums and followed them as far as I thought they went. They had an earlier album that in my indie rock years I learned to associate with the UIUC scene that put them in proximity to or rivalry with the more successful Smashing Pumpkins in Chicago, whose sound was not dissimilar to theirs. And in this period I had an office job that had me, for some summers, commuting to and working in downtown Des Moines, in a few different locations, one of which had me taking my lunches in the skyway system that was dangerously convenient to a record store I would visit on my lunch breaks, where I bought their commercially disappointing followup, the shoegazey-er Downward is Heavenward. Radio didn’t like it but everything about my life at the time made their music lodge somewhere important in my heart. I thought of them as, in a way, nerd-rock, and not just for the intangible affinity of their sound for that of Rush. They had songs about astronauts, space, benzene rings, pods—not novelty shit but just the sort of things you’d get if scientifically literate people took it upon themselves to use the matter of science as images, naively, to express themselves. I was a mathematician at the time, I had a biologist girlfriend, I liked heavy guitars and staring abstractedly off into the distance. I felt like this was mine. Which meant that, as the group disbanded at the turn of the millennium and the world and I moved on, listening to their records made me something like a votary of my younger self. ‘People might remember ‘Stars’ warmly, but they could never remember it the way I remembered it’, that kind of thing. Until Inlet came out of nowhere, that is, and I was touched to hear so much testimony of the deep and abiding love so many others had for the band. The album spared me disappointment, I think, by not really being a reunion album. Compare it to, say, the third album that My Bloody Valentine fans were waiting for for about as long (though with more protracted promise of its imminent arrival). I like them but I’ve never had the enthusiasm for them that some have; all the same, when I heard m b v and wouldn’t have thought I was all that attached to it somehow ‘being the same’ (as Loveless, basically), I couldn’t help but think: this is not the same. Inlet isn’t, either, but I had not spent decades with an intense fixation on Hum’s earlier records the way the world had with MBV’s. Or, I should say, the public had not, since it didn’t care either way, which freed me up to have my private, imperceptibly changing relationship to the records, to have it change as I changed, unbothered by what I thought the world thought. I suppose what I heard when I first played Inlet was a band that had changed as I had changed, so that somehow we had the fortune to meet in the same place.

Stereolab, Pulse of the Early Brain (Switched On Volume 5) (Duophonic, Warp)
Stereolab, Electrically Possessed (Switched On Volume 4) (Duophonic, Warp)
Stereolab, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (Duophonic)
Stereolab, Dots and Loops (Duophonic)
Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Duophonic)
Stereolab, Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (Duophonic)
One of the rhythms I like most is one least at my disposal, which I suppose has always made me slightly self-conscious about the possibility of finding it again, falling into it. I mean that everyday rhythm, the one that comes of repetitions spread over weeks or months that start to fall naturally, but fortuitously, into synchronization with the locally orienting events and moments of life. Repeated sounds, sights, and feelings coalesce to form moods that mutually reinforce the moments and lend them meaning on the least conspicuous levels. Back whenever I first started writing this, I found myself leaving a coffeeshop, putting on the last track, my favorite, on an old Stereolab album reissued that year, so that it would play first but loop back to the beginning for my walk home—as I had many nights already, and days. ’Come and Play…’ does have that archetypal last-track charm to it, the one that feels like an ending but leaves you wanting more despite ending artfully enough, I mean so as to end, to let you leave off there if you wanted, feeling no less sated. But it also has a loping snare beat and a gently oscillating rising-and-falling contour that make the speed of walking recall the comfortable subway car jostle of a Velvets song or a cruise on the highway, so you move you move you move, cheered at the prospect of being on your way. This time, as I moved I couldn’t help but think of a book I must have been reading in about the same era of my life twenty years ago when I was first listening to lots of Stereolab, Cortazar’s Hopscotch—one I never really read properly, and I don’t even mean if you can (the choose-your-own-adventure format, etc.), I mean I just couldn’t get on the right track with it. I did spend a lot of time thinking about it and reading about it back then, though, and I’m sure one thing that preoccupied me was the recurring scenes, or just the sense of recurrence, because who knows, of those Parisians and Argentinians sitting around drinking yerba mate, listening to records over and over. That’s life, I’m sure I thought. Not the activity, nor the idleness, ha, but that as a source of that texture of ordinariness, the everyday rhythm that folds into everything else that occurs, weaves everything else into it, actual, anticipated, and remembered. I suppose Stereolab’s arch, emotionally cool, stylish songs have always encouraged that for me: E., a sometime musician who spoke French and always claimed what was her own with an ardor, an intensity, sang Stereolab songs like they were proper songs, the kind that mean something, say something; but with their singsong ba-bas and bilingual evasiveness I have always ascribed even less verbal meaning to them than I am usually able to patch together in the music I am, all the same, privately attached to. That’s not to say I felt outside Stereolab songs, though no doubt there’s something considerable I’m missing in the lyrics (even with a little newly acquired French, they are elusive). It’s more that they deliberately use distance to sustain their playful, sometimes teasing character, to keep moving. (A whole rhetorical mode they affect to save themselves from needing to speak truly rhetorically, i.e., with the directness, the immediacy, of action.) More so than so many other, lesser bands, Stereolab have always seemed pleased to appear to keep no secret about how their music works, which is maybe why many fans automatically pick a long track like ’Jenny Ondioline’ as the apotheosis of the band (groop): an eighteen-minute piece reduced (so you remember) to such basics to sustain its running time as guitars tremolo picked or strummed in agitated eighth notes, cooing, chanting, and a motorik beat—that could not seem to more candid about how little it takes to get you going. I suppose when I was twenty the offputting aspect of the monotonous, that ancestral affinity of theirs with the avant-garde, was a source of mildly perverse pleasure, the kind one generally ages out of (as one learns how superficial, how transitory, it is to freak out a square, or to be a square so freaked). You forget, though, how busy and tricky ‘Ondioline’ is in its construction, how it mobilizes a whole architectonic, a grand symphonic rhetoric, with entrances and shifts upward and downward in gear and returns and finally even an exit, throwing every device at their disposal at you, as if to make the monolith stand in your memory. Or at least I often did forget, having mostly set Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements aside until the groop’s reissue campaign. For years, though, I never stopped listening to Dots and Loops, for me a nearly perfect album, which I’ve always been inclined to remember as a monolithic block of experience in its own right, a whole. Perception of it as their most pop(pish) album seems to have to do with their relative abandonment of a certain rhetorical austerity to their music, or of the ancestors even, on account of which it comes across like an embrace of sounds that, perhaps because coding as more contemporary to certain ears, seem to say more, speak to the now (even if, yes, in a retro mode). I only came to realize after a long time that for me it was perhaps that I couldn’t hear a band, didn’t hear all the music I was hearing as if it were being made moment-to-moment by the actions of musicians, that was really doing it for me, putting the record in a space where sonic events are produced rather than played, making it more of a peer of its contemporaries than anything else in their catalogue. (An impression connected with the feeling of total ease, of moment passing into moment free of the scrape and pull of merely human coordination.) The sound on the remaster has tipped ever so slightly away from that, maybe, sounding more bandlike now, but it’s full and welcome all the same, and as I’ve been paying closer attention to the other reissued albums around it, my impression has been gently subsiding the more I listen for affinities with the playing and composition and production on the other records. My memory for ’Refractions in the Plastic Pulse’, that album’s longest number, is thoroughly inaccurate, I’ve found, I think a side effect of its capaciousness and of all the quiet seams and fuses of disparate parts and the sequencing and composition of the album’s last two tracks (which revisit the Mouse on Mars production additions), which make me lose track of what’s where. But sometimes it’s nice not to know where you are and just go on from wherever it is.

Autechre, AE_LIVE 2022 (Warp)
Autechre, Sign (Warp)
Autechre, Plus (Warp)
Autechre, NTS Sessions 1–4 (Warp)
Autechre, elseq 1–5 (Warp)
Autechre, Exai (Warp)
Autechre, Move of Ten (Warp)
Autechre, Oversteps (Warp)
This year, Autechre, aka Rob Brown and Sean Booth, released nearly eight hours of live recordings from their 2022 tour, another installment in the oceanic output of their past decade or so; several years earlier, there were eight hours documenting their monthlong NTS Radio residency, and before that, the four hours of the elseq series. I’ve wanted more and more the whole time to write about what all their music has come to mean to me, but this year in particular was the gift that made it feel overdue.

My curiosity this year was rewarded by what it seems is a more curated release, possible to encompass, easier to familiarize yourself with. During the past decade, the duo also released another thirty-five live sets documenting three earlier tours. I’ve only ever sampled those. They can be abrasive and uninviting on first approach, and obviously, they’re too much. In contrast, the seven shows of AE_LIVE 2022 quickly manifest a loose pattern, something you can follow. Each show, a more exploratory commencement, similar each time, becomes more and more involved before peaking much later in the show. The movement between is familiar yet unfamiliar, with recognizable zones of sound recurring in unpredictable places across shows. For a long time the duo has generated their music, both on record and live, with a rat’s-nest rig of hardware and software they call ‘the system’. Close observers know that one effect of the system is the surprising audible affinities that can sometimes be found (and that the duo sometimes marks with track names) between otherwise distinct pieces of music. This is not at all unprecedented, for them or for electronic music—as far back as Quaristice and associated releases they were employing their appropriation of dub ‘versioning’ in order to multiply records deriving ever more obscurely from sources—but in more recent output the system gives the duo such command over their music’s elements that at every moment everything you hear, everything, seems to break down something old and constitute something new from it.

The 2022 sets came in the wake of the pair of 2020 albums that were received as something of a return to restraint, owing to their (conventional) brevity and especially to the spare, classical sound of the first of them, Sign. Though Plus is audibly a companion to its predecessor, it clouds the singularity of Sign somewhat by reverting to the duo’s customary pattern of producing and sequencing a release for maximal variety, like a beatmaker does (recalling always the hip-hop/electro roots they tout, and honor). What’s striking about Sign is its sense of sustained mood, of somehow working amid and working out just one thing. (It’s one thing, fragile, but a thing with duration, dynamic, a multiplicity of textures. Perhaps I hear it this way because I listen on repeat, always patient for the exquisite opener ‘M4 Lema’ to come back around, so that the ten subsequent tracks feel like that beginning held in abeyance.)

One of the many remarkable things about the 2022 sets is the way they achieve a kindred effect, at scale. Rhythmically, though, they’re much more energetic than the Sign sound, which borders on sedate, yet that energy never becomes heavy, the rhythms rarely stalling or degenerating into the plods or awkward slogs the group sometimes have liked to explore. On the whole the motion is fleet, the rhythm light. Every set starts going and then keeps going, goes somewhere. And in each show a passage, or a family of passages, recurs that is honestly one of the most remarkable things I have ever heard. The featured sounds are themselves indescribable; the best I can do is suggest that the tones resemble a kind of sculpted chirping, but in many instances quite massive, using the whole scale, or several staves, as if the earth itself were percolating. Even the lowest tones, which verge on beats, though everything shares in a percussive effect, are brief and light-footed, but the similar involvement of tones higher and higher up the scale contributes to something like a choral effect, as if a song were about to emerge from a totality of sounds.

And in each show it’s different, yet the passage occurs in a predictable way at a meaningful point. It’s about fifty-four minutes into the Milan and Helsinki shows, and similarly in the Athens show, which runs ten minutes longer. There were two shows on the same day in London. In the A show, the passage occurs about forty-five minutes in, with the high end of the scale noticeably filtered out. The B show is the most singular of the set, presumably because Brown and Booth wanted not to follow their general pattern for what would probably be a repeat performance for many in the audience. In the B show, a scratching effect starts at about forty minutes. In the Bergen show, the passage starts earlier than usual, at about forty-three minutes, but by about the fifty-five minute mark it seems to be extended in a continuation that is masked somewhat like the London A show, but now with anything fast suppressed, so that what does get through is elongated, smeared, fatter. The passage forty-three minutes into the Turin show works somewhat similarly, but that version seems to feature the continuous shaping of a middle voice that somehow pulls at the percolations like taffy.

Of these memorable moments, the one from the London B show is the most memorable, an interval of music unlike anything Autechre has ever made. At first vocal samples, turntable scratching, the sound of a beat amid deconstruction are audible—an acknowledgement of their hip-hop inheritance. I’ve read online that it was all a product of the system, no turntable to scratch. But that’s what those sounds mean, so that’s what you hear. As the passage starts and stops, gains coherence and lets it lapse, it eventually finds a groove, goosed by squirmy farty synth tones. Then, a sequence of high tones that ring out like bells, uneasily situated sonically somewhere between calls to attention and calls of alarm, not quite intentionally, but as if the sound just does what it does and there remains something dangerous in it. As time passes the chime motif slots the music into a repeating two-bar descent punctuated by a unison re-attack at the start. The next several minutes assume an almost symphonic aspect as the system-synthesized turntable works everything up into a rolling mass. The sound is ceremonial, ritual, sacred.

I say ‘most memorable’, because the others seem to belong to a different order of experience. I would like to remember them. I feel some affinity for them, feel a way to stay in touch with them when they aren’t playing. But they’re so unlike anything that I really want to hear them playing, need to hear them playing so that their recreation is not left to my inferior power over sound. Something new was created, and I just want to listen to it. In the Helsinki show, now, what I notice is the saturation of the change that is ongoing, the way that so many different components of the sound are in motion and stay in motion in their own ways. Music is a delight but it is predictable; it depends on being predictable in order to delight. Rarely, music can seem to leave predictability behind, even if you know it hardly does, hardly could. In this family of late passages, though, the delight is in predictability being suspended, canceled: it’s replaced by a second-to-second flux of sound that moves, stays moving.

Though they didn’t make it onto my lists that year, ever since Oversteps and its companion Move of Ten were released in 2010, I had taken back up with Autechre’s music more than I ever had since Confield a decade earlier (whether put off them by that notoriously offputting record, or the unaccountable drift of life, I can’t say), and I was still getting better acquainted with the intervening records. But it wasn’t until the elseq EPs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (typically for Autechre, LP-length affairs) in 2016 that all of their music assumed a permanent fascination for me, and my listening could become rapt, sometimes even take on an almost spiritual fervor, like the best listening.

At first, and for a long time, I experienced the opener ‘feed1’ as an annihilating blast, eleven and a half minutes of arhythmic juddering subsumed in a barrage of static. I don’t know when I began to hear the delicacy of the voices that could be found amid that noise—I say ‘voices’ as a technical convenience, they are all noises—or of the lyrical arc that seemed to shape itself out of nothing but distortion. Now my experience of the track is of something over too soon, as if I’d had the sense that its lines could have been extended much further but for some external choice to end it there. Autechre had worked at length before this—see some material versioned out of the Quaristice album—but generally seem to have hit a comfortable limit at around half an LP side, which I gather is due to the song-sized starting point they might long have had in mind. On elseq more than elsewhere their tracks can seem to possess a logic, from who knows where, internal or external, and perhaps that has something to do with the explosion in track lengths, as if it were now possible for something else to determine when, once started, they should end. I referred earlier to their ‘process music’, something that often seems evident from the ways their tracks change, gradually, moment to moment. That’s no less true on elseq, but there’s something else at play here, sometimes a sense that once provided with its materials and its logic, once the process is begun, the duo simply lets it play out, as if to see what happens.

Which, of course, implies, contrary to the idea of ‘a logic’, that they don’t know and are going to find out, as if they and we will find out together. That again diminishes the sense of design, though I feel it to be stronger on this release than in the NTS sessions. Here the patterning in series is more important, each entry despite its length being ‘EP-sized’ in accommodating only a small number of tracks, five, three, three, five, and five again.

If ‘feed1’ is something of a miniature monument, the opening of elseq 2 is the first full-fledged one of the set, the twenty-seven minutes of ‘elyc6 0nset’. It owes its length, again, to not knowing where it will or must end up, to its unforeseeability, which is funny because it reveals, early enough in (around four minutes), that it will essentially be a process of decay. Yet once the first voices (‘voices’, again) have dropped out, the ones that remain eventually reveal themselves to bear more than enough interest to sustain the track on their own. The track retains enough of its elements to still recall the bouncy, jaunty vivacity with which it set out, so the feeling of loss is offset somewhat, but by the halfway point (if you’re not watching the clock) there just doesn’t seem to be anywhere left to go. But even decay decays, and half of twenty-seven minutes is still a long time to listen.

At elseq’s center are its other greatest monuments, bookending the six minutes’ dead-air stomp of ‘TBM2’ that seems meant as a respite, a breather. The first, ‘eastre’, is formed around a simple alternation of two dissonant chords, ebbing and subsiding again and again, voiced to sound like something on the order of the higher end of a cello’s range. I can’t say how I might have described the track’s other elements years back, but since Sign I’ve learned to hear them as ancestors of ‘M4 Lema’. As ‘eastre’ drones on it’s augmented by a variety of sounds that are perceptibly slow, their manner of production declaring some distant kinship with breakbeats and the techniques contemporary with them for sampling, yet still with a texture and a tone akin to that of the ebbing and subsiding figure, so that as the augmentations accrue the track seems to take on a depth, as if some under-surface is constantly under revelation. It’s not uncommon, when listening to recorded sound playing back at an unfamiliarly slow speed, to catch notice of all kinds of little details one had presumably only really felt the presence of before, however much the majority of the sounds simply sound obviously drawn out. Here it’s as if Autechre’s production technique is instead gesturing at an experience of sound, of music, below an ordinary threshold, not just beyond noticing but beyond unaided perception, where one might think only to find unmusical accidents and meaningless artifacts.

The other monument, ‘mesh cinereaL’, is the more radical of the two, though its basic pattern appears to fuse the two aspects of ‘eastre’ into what one would call a single inseparable whole, did it not seem to be a coherence continually at risk of falling in on itself. Again, there is a breakbeat somewhere in its ancestry, but here it is as if the rhythm of a breakbeat not itself heard provides the template for a mask for the slowly pulsing mass of sample-matter or synth-module output, the masking of which brings an inner rhythmic involutedness out from an unheard center, a source. The track’s movement, which occupies nearly twenty-five minutes, is impossibly gluey, digging in on the bass end around eight and a half minutes in to become a kind of nunc stans funk. Two thirds through, ‘mesh cinereaL’ has a false ending that comes on about as precipitously as the real end of ‘eastre’, but its recommencement turns out to be a transformation, with all the preceding elements still lingering somewhere within range but as if at a distance, as if having cleared a space for a number of busy new voices that now crowd the remainder of the track on their own terms.

One of the great pleasures of this music, of decades of Autechre’s music now, is not quite its unknowability, but its capacity for not yet being known. In this it truly repays listening: you can trust that you will be surprised, something will be happening, you can always pay more attention and find the world transformed. There are still two EPs’ worth to go in elseq. On the surface they seem more conventional in sound design, their scales more graspable, their methods more akin to the hip-hop beatmaking and techno track-construction that are Autechre’s roots. I gather that they function as demonstrations, incorporations of the advances in technique and the fruits of experimentation, showing their compatibility with full-dress arrangement, orchestration if you will, and their capacity to extend Autechre’s always under-credited emotional power into unexplored regions. The briefest of intervals arbitrarily selected from ‘foldfree casual’ or ‘latentcall’ are likely to contain fragments of music more remarkable than entire records by other artists. That they occur end to end, in fully conceived tracks laid down in Autechre’s established—if continually evolving—idioms, makes the wholes something like hiding places, places where this dust of technique or technology, finest-grained byproduct of the system, can hide in plain sight, there to be heard once you’re there to listen.

It’s the low end that attracts me most at the end of the record, the twitchy slams that come to dominate the long gradual flowering of ‘foldfree casual’ or the irregular footwork kicks that see ‘latentcall’ out. Autechre are avowed classicists, and the end of elseq seems to me established most in the penultimate track (the final reserved for the formal comedown of ‘oneum’), ‘freulaeux’, whose eleven-minute span is provided an epic shape from its first moments by its ample soundstage, seemingly filled by a billowing, distant echo, and its driving, low-end kicks. The track is filled with activity very much akin to a number of other Autechre album closers, captivating on its own, but I find myself drawn most to the hi-hat, or what would be a hi-hat, if it weren’t something else: lighter, finer, more obscure, like a shaker, not metallic but something like the faint noise of insects in the distance, if they coordinated amongst themselves to fabricate this component of the track’s beat, perhaps swinging between trap rolls and triplets, who can say. It enters before anything else, it runs throughout, or not throughout, but a little over halfway, at which point it drops away. Though many of the more obvious elements continue for the most part as they were, the absence marks a change in the quality of time, something that the hi-hat or hi-hat substitute had indicated, or been doing, some touch of incipience called for up to the point where the eventual end was on the horizon.

Even with all that, 2013’s Exai was still kind of disagreeable to me, until recently, when I finally played it hundreds of times over. So it took a decade of intermittent listening before it opened up for me. Imagine: a decade!

28 Feb '24 10:29:53 PM

Autechre, NTS Sessions 1–4 (Warp)
Skee Mask, Compro (Ilian Tape)
Rezzett, Rezzett LP (The Trilogy Tapes)
Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour (MCA Nashville)
KEN Mode, Loved (Season of Mist)
The Ex, 27 Passports (Ex Records)
James Brandon Lewis & Chad Taylor, Radiant Imprints (Off)
Will DiMaggio, At Ease (Future Times)
Ashley Monroe, Sparrow (Warner Records)
Thou, Magus (Sacred Bones Records)
Container, LP (Spectrum Spools)
Miles Okazaki, Work, Vols. 1–6: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk (self-released)
Julian Lage, Modern Lore (Mack Avenue)
Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas, Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas (Smalltown Supersound)
Trygve Seim, Helsinki Songs (ECM Records)
No Age, Snares Like a Haircut (Drag City)
Horrendous, Idol (Season of Mist)
Meek Mill, Championships (Atlantic/Maybach Music)
G Herbo & Southside, Swervo (Machine Entertainment Group/Epic Records/Cinematic Music Group/150 Dream Team/808 Mafia)
Tyshawn Sorey, Pillars (Firehouse 12 Records)
Various Artists, The Black Book (iDEAL Recordings)
Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Craig Taborn, & Ches Smith, Uncharted Territories (Dare2 Records)
Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (Pi Recordings)
The Jamie Saft Quartet, Blue Dream (RareNoise)
Tierra Whack, Whack World (self-released)
Mark Fell, Intra (Boomkat Editions)
Nadja, Sonnborner (Broken Spine/Daymare Recordings)
Jürg Frey, 120 Pieces of Sound (elsewhere)
Vanligt Folk, Hambo (Kontra-Musik)
Mammoth Grinder, Cosmic Crypt (Relapse Records)
Noname, Room 25 (self-released)
Oren Ambarchi & Konrad Sprenger & Phillip Sollmann, Panama / Suez (A-TON)
William Parker, Voices Fall from the Sky (Centering Records)
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (Rise Above Records)
Donato Dozzy, Filo Loves the Acid (Tresor Records)
Rosalía, El Mal Querer (Sony Music)
Sunwatchers, II (Trouble In Mind)
Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain (Svart Records)
Daniel Bachman, The Morning Star (Three Lobed Recordings)
Kikagaku Moyo, Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain)

Converge, The Dusk in Us (Epitaph/Deathwish)
Spoon, Hot Thoughts (Matador Records)
Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard (Spinefarm Records)
Julie Byrne, Not Even Happiness (Ba Da Bing Records)
Brooklyn Raga Massive, Terry Riley In C (Northern Spy Records)
Rosalía, Los Angeles (Universal Spain)
Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13: Trouble No More 1979–1981 (Columbia)
Horse Lords, Mixtape IV (Northern Spy Records)
Karen Gwyer, Rembo (Don’t Be Afraid)
Maalem Mahmoud Gania, Colours of the Night (Hive Mind Records)
Prins Thomas, 5 (Prins Thomas Musikk) ****
Power Trip, Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord)
Sheer Mag, Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns Recording Company)
Cannibal Corpse, Red Before Black (Metal Blade)
Krallice, Go Be Forgotten / Loüm (self-released)
Suffocation, … Of the Dark Light (Nuclear Blast)
Meek Mill, Wins & Losses (Maybach Music/Atlantic)
Kehlani, SweetSexySavage (Atlantic)
Miguel, War & Leisure (RCA)
Shed, The Final Experiment (Monkeytown Records)
Lee Ann Womack, The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone (ATO)
Jürg Frey, L’âme est sans retenue Ⅰ (Erstwhile Records)
Lil B, Black Ken (BasedWorld)
Tombs, The Grand Annihilation (Metal Blade)
Eleh, Home Age (Important Records)

Autechre, elseq 1–5 (Warp)
Coffin Dust, Everything is Dead (Unholy Anarchy Records)
Sheer Mag, I–III (Wilsuns Recording Company)
Heron Oblivion, Heron Oblivion (Sub Pop Records)
Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald present Borderland, Transport (Tresor Records) ***
Schoolboy Q, Blank Face (Interscope/Top Dawg)
Horse Lords, Interventions (Northern Spy Records)
YG, Still Brazy (4Hunnid/CTE/Def Jam)
Moodymann, DJ-Kicks (!K7 Records)
Jeremih, Late Nights: Europe (self-released)
Daniel Bachman, Daniel Bachman (Three Lobed recordings)
Prins Thomas, Principe Del Norte (Smalltown Supersound) ***
Prins Thomas, Principe Del Norte Remixed (Smalltown Supersound) ***
Blood Incantation, Starspawn (Dark Descent Records) ***
Mats Eilertsen, Rubicon (ECM Records) ***
Wolfgang Muthspiel, Rising Grace (ECM Records) ***
Isaiah Rashad, The Sun’s Tirade (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Oren Ambarchi, Hubris (Editions Mego) ***
Trygve Seim, Rumi Songs (ECM Records) ***
Krallice, Hyperion / Prelapsarian (self-released)
Camila Meza, Traces (Sunnyside Records) ***
Posthuman, Back to Acid (Balkan)
Stephan Mathieu, Radiance I–XII (Schwebung)

Horrendous, Anareta (Dark Descent Records)
False, Untitled (Gilead Media)
Black Breath, Slaves Beyond Death (Southern Lord)
Yellow Eyes, Sick With Bloom (Gilead Media)
Miguel, Wildheart (RCA)
Speedy Ortiz, Foil Deer (Carpark Records)
Tinashe, Amethyst (self-released)
Kehlani, You Should Be Here (self-released)
Deafheaven, New Bermuda (Anti-)
Christian Mistress, To Your Death (Relapse Records)
Yasuaki Shimizu & Saxophonettes, Goldberg Variations for Five Saxophones and Four Contrabasses (Avex Trax) ***
Floating Points, Elaenia (Pluto/Luaka Bop) ***
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti (Swan Song Records)
Meek Mill, Dreams Worth More than Money (Maybach Music/Atlantic)
Coffins, Perpetual Penance (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
Future, DS2 (A1/Freebandz/Epic)
Young Thug, Slime Season 2 (self-released)
Krallice, Ygg Huur (self-released)
Jeremih, Late Nights (Def Jam)
Noisem, Blossoming Decay (A389 Recordings)

YG, My Krazy Life (CTE/Def Jam/Pushaz Ink)
V/A, Studio One Rocksteady (Soul Jazz Records)
Coffin Dust, This Cemetery, My Kingdom (Unholy Anarchy Records)
Spectral Lore, III (I, Voidhanger Records)
Tinashe, Aquarius (RCA)
Lee Ann Womack, The Way I’m Livin’ (Sugar Hill Records)
Moodymann, Moodymann (KDJ)
Spoon, They Want My Soul (Anti-)
Horrendous, Ecdysis (Dark Descent Records)
Thou, Heathen (Gilead Media)
Dead Congregation, Promulgation of the Fall (Martyrdoom Productions/Profound Lore)
Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)
Mare Cognitum, Phobos Monolith (I, Voidhanger Records)
Theo Parrish, American Intelligence (Sound Signature)
Tony Allen, Film of Life (Jazz Village)
Lee Gamble, Koch (PAN)
Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
Vladislav Delay, Visa (Ripatti)
Exordium Mors, The Apotheosis of Death (Iron, Blood & Death Corp.)
Midnight, No Mercy for Mayhem (Hells Headbangers)
D’Angelo & The Vanguard, Black Messiah (RCA)
Gunnar Haslam, Mirrors and Copulation (L.I.E.S. Records)
Panopticon, Roads to the North (Nordvis Produktion)
Stargazer, A Merging to the Boundless (Nuclear War Now!)
V/A, Guruguru Brain Wash (Guruguru Brain)

Carcass, Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
Magic Circle, Magic Circle (Armageddon Shop)
Aeternus, …And the Seventh His Soul Detesteth (Dark Essence)
VHÖL, VHÖL (Profound Lore)
Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park (Mercury Nashville)
Chance The Rapper, Acid Rap (self-released)
Laura Marling, Once I Was an Eagle (Virgin)
Daniel Avery, Drone Logic (Phantasy Sound)
Ulcerate, Vermis (Relapse)
Paysage d'Hiver, Das Tor (Kunsthall Produktionen)

Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)
Black Breath, Sentenced to Life (Southern Lord)
Christian Mistress, Possession (Relapse Records)
Krallice, Years Past Matter (self-released)
Daniel Bachman, Seven Pines (Tompkins Square Records)
Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes (Warp)
Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore)
Steve Lehman Trio, Dialect Fluorescent (Pi Recordings)
Ricardo Donoso, Assimilating the Shadow (Digitalis Recordings)
John Cage, James Tenney, Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (hat[now]ART)

Tombs, Path of Totality (Relapse Records)
Krallice, Diotima (Profound Lore)
Psychic Paramount, II (No Quarter Records)
Ebo Taylor, Love and Death (Strut Records)
Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres (Constellation Records)
Handsome Furs, Sound Kapital (Sub Pop)
Marisa Anderson, The Golden Hour (Mississippi Records)
Eleh, Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis (Important Records)
Joe McPhee's Survival Unit III, Synchronicity (Harmonic Convergence)
Tilbury & Duch & Davies, Cornelius Cardew Works 1960–1970 (+3DB)

Spoon, Transference (Merge Records)
Electric Wizard, Black Masses (Rise Above)
Pan Sonic, Gravitoni (Blast First)
Bardo Pond, Bardo Pond (Fire Records)
Joanna Newsom, Have One on Me (Drag City)
Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Young God Records)
Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma (Warp)
Mary Halvorson Quintet, Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12 Records)
Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Simon Halsey, Kate Royal & Magdalena Kozená, Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (EMI Classics)
Eleh, Location Momentum (Touch Music)

26 Feb '24 05:04:16 AM

'Being in Crimson is a little bit like having a low-grade infection: you're not really sick, but you don't feel well, either.'

3 Feb '24 01:17:39 AM

'Ideas are by no means essences. In so far as they are the objecs of Ideas, problems belong on the side of events, affections, or accidents rather than on that of theorematic essences. Ideas are developed in the auxiliaries and the adjunct fields by which their synthetic power is measured. Consequently, the domain of Ideas is that of the inessential. They proclaim their affinity with the inessential in a manner as deliberate and as fiercely obstinate as that in which rationalism proclaimed its possession and comprehension of essences. Rationalism wanted to tie the fate of Ideas to abstract and dead essences; and to the extent that the problematic form of Ideas was recognized, it even wanted that form tied to the question of essences—in other words, to the 'What is X?'. How many misunderstandings are contained in this will! It is true that Plato employs this question in order to refute those who content themselves with offering empirical responses, and to oppose essence and appearance. His aim, however, is to silence the empirical responses in order to open up the indeterminate horizon of a transcendental problem which is the object of an Idea. Once it is a question of determining the problem or the Idea as such, once it is a question of setting the dialectic in motion, the question 'What is X?' gives way to other questions, otherwise powerful and efficacious, otherwise imperative: 'How much, how and in what cases?' The question 'What is X?' animates only the so-called aporetic dialogues—in other words, those in which the very form of the question gives rise to contradiction and leads to nihilism, no doubt because they have only propaedeutic aims—the aim of opening up the region of the problem in general, leaving to other procedures the task of determining it as a problem or as an Idea. When Socratic irony was taken seriously and the dialectic as a whole was confused with its propaedeutic, extremely troublesome consequences followed: for the dialectic ceased ot be the science of problems and ultimately became confused with the simple movement of the negative, and of contradiction. Philosophers began to talk like young men from the farmyard. From this point of view, Hegel is the culmination of a long tradition which took the question 'What is X?' seriously and used it to determine Ideas as essences, but in doing so substituted the negative for the nature of the problematic. This was the outcome of a distortion of the dialectic. Moreover, how many theological prejudices were involved in that tradition, since the answer to 'What is X?' is always God as the locus of the combinatory of abstract predicates. It should be noticed how few philosophers have placed their trust in the question 'What is X?' in order to have Ideas. Certainly not Aristotle. … Once the dialectic brews up its matter instead of being applied in a vacuum for propaedeutic ends, the questions 'How much?', 'How?', 'In what cases?' and 'Who?' abound—questions the function and sense of which we shall see below. These questions are those of the accident, the event, the multiplicity—of difference—as opposed to that of the essence, or that of the One, or those of the contrary and the contradictory. Hippias triumphs everywhere, even already in Plato: Hippias who refused essences, but nevertheless did not content himself with examples.'

31 Jan '24 10:11:29 PM

'… intervals that can't be erased…'

29 Jan '24 10:46:25 PM

'… when he finally wraps his arms around his forbidden lover, he realizes that she, like him, like all of us, knows almost nothing.'

25 Jan '24 12:21:47 AM

'… high culture, which really ought to be called sanctified culture, and what’s sometimes called popular culture, but ought to be called everyday culture…'

16 Jan '24 05:24:52 AM

'… the subordination of the haptic to another kind and degree of proximity, a social mode of temporality—simultaneity…'

14 Jan '24 05:11:50 AM

Seven Wafer-Thin Slices of Life (French)