Best of 2015: 25 More Great Albums

Bestof2015edit

I hear a lot of great music almost every day, and it really adds up. I might not be rich or famous, but my life is wealthy with incredible music. I want to make everyone else as wealthy, too. Every single year, there are so many great albums that I’d recommend anyone, far more than I’d feel comfortable putting on a top ten list.

So here we are, my “honorable mention” list of 2015 albums. Every one of these albums are worth your time. Unlike my top list, they appear in the order that I heard them.

After you’ve checked this out, make sure to see the 17 Best Albums of 2015 here.

Read on to hear the best of the rest of 2015:

Continue reading

Oneohtrix Point Never – Ezra

oneoh1

This is the final bit of Oneohtrix Point Never news before the new album, Garden Of Delete, drops tomorrow.

OPN, aka Daniel Lopatin, has finally released the first real song, Ezra, as a single on Soundcloud. I really want to share this with everyone because it’s not only a great introduction to the new sound; it’s a layered world of sound unto itself. Enjoy:

Please allow myself to quote… myself here:

“Ezra, the first proper track, leaps from the midi-fired dreams of the previous album, reaching speed behind sheets of Philip Glass-like shrill arpeggios. It appears to crest before the two minute mark, suddenly projecting the nanomachine-clogged cyberpunk future of 2000’s Deus Ex in silhouette. Maybe it’s a sample?”

I think it is a sample. Decide for yourself.

Speaking of this game, the original Deus Ex is both an action-RPG masterpiece, and a definitive work in the cyberpunk canon. It’s the precursor to modern games like Fallout. It’s got a great soundtrack too. Sounds like Lopatin might have played it, too. It’s about $7 on Steam if you’ve never played it.

So I’ve written a lot about Lopatin’s work lately, partly out of excitement for this work, and partly out of a desire to connect with what I see as the most forward-thinking, interesting music being made today. If this is the first piece on the site you’re reading, you might want to see these:

Review of Garden of Delete

First single: “I Bite Through It”

Oneohtrix Point Never “Mutant Standard”

Oneohtrix Point Never’s Mindbending “Sticky Drama” Video

Garden of Delete drops tomorrow! It’s his first full length in 2 years, so be sure to check the album out on Spotify or wherever, if you’ve been a good kid and ignored the leak. I’m just hoping that gorgeous 2LP vinyl arrives on time.

Oneohtrix Point Never “Mutant Standard”

So Oneohtrix Point Never has dropped a huge single today in the lead up to his new album release next month. The new song is called Mutant Standard and it’s one of the best tracks he’s crafted yet.

Don’t worry about the grey “no video here” backdrop, the song will begin as soon as you click play. I suppose that’s Oneohtrix, aka Daniel Lopatin, having a little fun with the youtube-as-audio format.

What I love about this 8 minute juggernaut, cresting the center of the album’s running time, is that it finally cracks open that experimental edge of Lopatin’s sound and reveals an earnest dance beat, if only for a moment. When I reviewed the upcoming album, Garden Of Delete, I wrote the following:

“Mutant Standard bursts out clad in minimal techno, snowballing into a close cousin of last year’s kaleidoscopic (and near-perfect) Syro. The tune expands, bursting at the seams with a ragged midi arpeggio before fading into new age bliss. It wasn’t until the song ended that I realized it’s the most straightforward “dancey” track Lopatin has ever recorded.

The song reaches a skidding, frantic momentum that reminds me of nothing so much as the most mind-shredding moment from Aphex Twin’s noisy classical/techno masterpiece, Drukqs. I’m thinking Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michael’s Mount. The ending quivers and bows out, shuffling offstep like a particularly warm Autechre song.”

I still feel pretty much the exact same way, so there’s that. Enjoy the tune! The album drops November 13, 2015, and you can preorder from Warp already. Since it leaked nearly a month ago, a lot of us have had time to become very familiar with the sound, so this monster of a tune might not be news. If that’s the case, I hope that if enjoy it like I do, you’re paying for the real deal when it’s out. It’s important to encourage progressive, adventurous music like this.

Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete

oneohtrixpointnever2323

Oneohtrix Point Never has returned with a massive new album you can call G.O.D. It peels up the corner tiles of a thousand realities over 45 minutes, blooming micro-worlds of sound and immediately dissolving in head-on collisions.

For the first time in years, OPN – real name Daniel Lopatin – hasn’t completely restructured his sound, yet I’m feeling the same sense of dizzying vertigo that he’s made a career out of conjuring. In a real sense, the strongest component of his appeal has always been that daring sense of surprise, the act of an artist venturing over the edge of the known music world and bringing back sounds that I’ve never even anticipated, much less heard.

More than a style, it’s an idea, a philosophy. In the wrong hands, it can become a cheap trick. This is something far more substantial.

Continue reading

Oneohtrix Point Never has a new song, first single from Garden of Delete

If you follow this blog at all, you’ll know that Oneohtrix Point Never is one of my favorite living artists. Every time he releases new material, it’s a shock to the system, a completely unexpected delight.

This time is no different. Here’s the song, I Bite Through It:

Supposedly he’s been on an industrial tip after crafting a special set of abrasive material for his tour in support of Nine Inch Nails, but this sounds, typically for OPN, like an utter mushroom cloud deconstruction and reconfiguration of the genre, if anything. It’s too early to fully process this, and like every album of his, we’ll need the full context to truly understand. I’m just jazzed we’ve got something new to enjoy!

opn8

The album comes out November 13 on Warp (WARP266) and you can preorder it from Bleep. I’m doing that right now because I’m a hopeless addict.

Shabazz Palaces – Live on KEXP

I must begin with a heartfelt thank-you to Kevin for sharing this with me.  Thanks, Kevin!

Shabazz Palaces crafted possibly the best hiphop album of the new millennium with Black Up, something I’ve documented here and here.  Aside its status as a masterpiece of songwriting and innovative production, engaging places of the heart and mind which hiphop rarely acknowledges, the album serves as the blueprint for increasingly thoughtful and fun live appearances.  This particular video is the most professional and high fidelity recording I’ve seen, so despite its brevity there’s no better place to start expanding your view of the group.  Familiarity with the songs is not required for enjoyment – they’re evocative, head-nodding creations in any format  – yet the pleasures multiply when contrasting the live interpretations of such meticulously sculpted album cuts.  The hiphop I’ve seen in person tends toward one end or another: preformed backing tracks to emulate the recorded experience, or stripped down live-band approaches.  The latter are often more fun yet distance the performers from what we hear at home.  Shabazz Palaces seem to cut not a middle ground, but a third path to live nirvana, mixing the laptop histrionics and physical instrumentation with an experimental eye toward carving the feeling into something as disorienting and psychedelic as the album itself.

If you haven’t heard the album you owe it to yourself to check out my writeup and listen to the full stream here.

Demdike Stare – Elemental

Demdike Stare hit my radar when a friend insisted I listen to The Stars Are Moving because it was totally my sort of thing – and a massive understatement.  Liberation Through Hearing was not only on my Best of 2010 list, but part of the Tryptych compilation serving up a universally praised 160 minute slab of deep nocturnal bliss across three albums and discs.  Having so much aural brilliance to chew on felt like an embarassment of riches before the craving for new material hit well before a year had passed.  Thankfully the duo of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty were busy interlocking the pieces on an even more audacious free fall into the abyss with a 4 EP / 2cd set which stretches their sound in increasingly hypnotic new directions.

The music here is given more space to move and to sit still.  There are great leaps beyond their established spooky dub dream style into riots of kraut percussion, melodic poems buried in noise fields, and climaxes of bloody tribal warfare.  This is nothing short of the full realization of their shamanistic trance ritual ethos, both more explicitly sculpted and expansive than all prior work combined.  Songs cover wildly varying grounds – from beatless waves of digital grain to mountains of swarming disembodied vocals – while retaining a unified identity that would make the cover artwork jealous.  Elemental strikes this perfect duality of technical bass mastery and unhinged manace, igniting every dark pleasure center in my auditory complex.  It’s a soundtrack to my strangest apocalyptic dreams and the kind of art we could only wish more artists knew how to craft.  This is a self contained cult in album form, a ritualistic palate cleanser which will make other music obsolete for a while.

Elemental, in its 2cd form, is fully streamable on soundcloud, right here:

For those lacking time or attention span, a couple highlights:  cinematic Mephisto’s Lament and steamrolling Erosion of Mediocrity both destroy worlds and illuminate vastly different aspects of this set.

The fidelity is great but buy the real thing to fully absorb the meticulous near-chaotic detail in Demdike Stare’s work.  If you’ve got the fetish and the cash seek out the extremely sold-out 12″ vinyl set from sellers on discogs or ebay.  If you want to hear this masterpiece in optimal form for a reasonable price, grab the 2cd set, featuring alternate edits and new cuts fleshing out the experience; believe me, they’re essential and can’t be considered bonus.  Keep in mind that this is selling out quickly as well!

For fans of: Shackleton, Actress, Oneohtrix Point Never, Coil, David Lynch, Joseph Conrad, exciting nightmares