Best Songs of 2012, part 2: “N.E.W.”

This will loop indefinitely over the Elysian fields of an afterlife of my design.

Actress (aka Darren Cunningham) redefined ambient beauty with this piece, lighting the spiritual wires from the organ works of Camille Saint-Saëns through Brian Eno’s Discreet Music while sparking fresh air to flame.  Blooming the color of Arvo Pärt’s devotional tilt in an exploratory space odyssey from the dreams of Oneohtrix Point Never or Stanley Kubrick, N.E.W. is uplifting and warm, alien and awestruck.  We’re inside a nebulous pipe organ riding the cusp of a singularity, dancing on the membrane between ascension and obliteration.  Let it repeat.

I should mention the video:  I have no clue where the footage is from, but it strangely works.  This copy was chosen mainly, however, because it can be set to 720p, so the sound quality is superb.

Death Grips – Hacker // The internet can be pretty cool.


If you’re looking for a single tune to define how weird music is in 2012, you’ve come to the right place. This is easily my favorite track on Death Grips’ breakthrough album The Money Store. It’s called Hacker.

This frantic burst of nakedly violent energy feels like it’s on the verge of exploding from the get-go, yet impossibly doubles down on its momentum, throttling away like a madman in absolute command of his vehicle. The spliced-digital-ADD edit of Ghost in the Shell footage is a stroke of genius pairing, as far as I’m concerned. Work like this is what the youtube age is all about. It’s also a great example of how copyright laws are outdated.

While the album was loved and acclaimed by many of my friends, it was this track alone that completely enthralled me. It’s the kind of song that punches first time listeners in the face. I feel like a rocket every time I hear it.

Andy Stott – “Numb”


I can’t stop this ringing in my head.

With new album Luxury Problems, Andy Stott effectively rendered his previous pair of groundbreaking dark techno EPs irrelevant. It takes all of ten seconds for this, the opening track, to signify a giant leap. Siren vocals cut into shards and raining from above, resonating like a Tibetan singing-bowl. A Mariana trench of low-end crunch erupts like a basket of poisonous snakes, twisting through every crack in every direction. It feels like a glass house shattering from the round up, each piece hanging in the air a little too long.

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Demdike Stare – Erosion of Mediocrity

This video.  This massive tune.

I don’t really have anything to say about this today.  Just…

Edit:  Ok, I will at least mention that this is one of my favorite moments from one of the best albums of 2012.  I will also note that this video is fucking brilliant.  You’re welcome.

Atlas Sound – Te Amo (live on KEXP)

I’ve been depressed lately.  Melancholic.  In this state I gravitate toward music that either obliterates with minimalism or force, for the most part.  I can drown myself in a long piece from Oren Ambarchi or Klaus Schulze or even Swans.  I can really get lost in something wordlessly spiritual like Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders.  But occasionally I just crave the kind of song designed to wallow in heartache.  Spiritualized is an obvious go-to (I have two albums in my car at all times now) but Bradford Cox is nearly as adept at tapping these feelings, albeit in a less direct manner.  In other words, this song pops in my thoughts often.

The album version is fantastic, inverting his usual icy claustrophobia, wrapped inside a warm blanket of sad love spiked with hope.  This take opens the song up with fresh air and light, without ever leaving the bed.  Lay down and enjoy.