This year’s session cut by the greatest improvising rock trio of our times followed the huge leaps of yesteryears “ Imikuzushi” with an even more widened sense of sonic scope. Along with the blazing black lava screech they have perfected by now, came moments of still contemplation and fluctuating, fleeting flute fluidness.
Loyal to his simple yet complete style of American folk, Mr. Jones continues in his 5th solo album to create beautiful ragas on his 12string guitar and banjo. Melodies and rhythms overflow on every track, everything here is set to a calm state, full with emotions.
Harping back in time, O’ Dwyer painstakingly created an inviting epic, ethereal medieval-like world of her own Albion self reflection, full of feminine sentiments and philosophical questions and so kept her hermetic folk project very relevant.
With hints from the outer-limits folk of Ghedalia Tazartes and the coldness from experimental electronics such as Mika Vainio, Becker searches through decomposing the boundaries of the contemporary musical language. His conclusions are deeply hidden in this mysterious release and, believe me, they’ll reward you if you listen carefully.
In a completely unpredictable move Bryan Ferry conducted a group of eight fine young players to imagine his repertoire through the eyes of a smoky 30’s Dixieland jazz orchestra. In the precise imitation of that period’s sound the old Roxy melodies came alive again with an unprecedented zest. The tempos and instrumentation may have been costumed to the interwar jazz standards but the sophisticated sentimentality of classic Ferry songwriting shone above it all with a bright new light.
Disrupting their neutral electro europop formula by snatching in snippets of menacing beat blobs, chaotic loops and tranced out drones, the Swedish sisters dispensed a powerful progressive avant dance album to match up with their newfound leftist political rage.
The slow and hypnotic beginning drags your ears into a place of no return. A place where the visceral and cruel black metal of the two long-lasting tracks, will eat your skull. Or something like that. Subtle, grim, simple and, of course, totally amplified. Or just great.
This isn’t another album that sounds like John Fahey. It’s much more. Irish Cian Nugent teams up with a whole band that provides a jazzy, New Orleans’ wave into his American primitive folk. The tracks can surprise you at every corner, making a sudden turn from psych-folk to drone to blues to rock’n’roll. Truly a masterpiece.
Dystopian electronic soundscapes mixed with outstanding lyrics. Sometimes dark, sometimes bright, there are moments that you’ll find yourself lost in this deep and melted dub, others listening carefully the repeated words. Don’t miss it.
We could have picked any 2013 release by the prolific Rob Mazurek – so good was everything he adorned with his horn. Probably his more approachable project, the post-jazz Brazilian collaboration threw away any previously used hip hop elements for a rare cosmic, hot, tropicalia infused sound. Rare in the sense that how often you can find an experimental record with such stealthy dance grooves, turbulent vibe and extrovert positive force.
Second adolescence? Yo La Tengo returns to their roots, making the same music as they have been at early 90’s. If they weren’t that perfect, it would be nonsense. But with the best indie band it’s only pleasure for our ears.
Two mouth dropping performances of the same heavy and multilayered composition. 4 years gap in between. Hear how time can transform - or not - this noisy, chaotic, constantly changing and amplified beauty.
The 2013 fur collection was a gleefully, glittering dark synthetic one that was patched up by catchy pop elements, Coil-like brooding atmospherics and folktronic maneuvers. All in all it wore on our ears very nicely.
One of their best albums so far. “Earth” imitators have grown-up to a magnificent psych, ambient, sci-fi sonic construct; thick and solid, yet ethereal and foggy. Melodies are bubbling under an expanding noise spectrum - the atmosphere the two guitars are building will give you, with maximum volume, the creeps.
Most successful emission from the north England avant rock scene. Building up from where Volcano The Bear stood (minor the Nurse With Wound collages), the Doctors came up with a unique blend of spazz jazz, cinemascopic ambience , brit folk and neoclassical musak. No samples or electronics here to dull your brain, just analog dark hued elegance oozing out of every weird thematic twist.
Having Kieran Hebden in production and a polish, clean sound for this Middle East wedding party music, is, of course, a challenge. But Mr. Souleyman doesn’t have any problem at all. He can move traditional dabke music into western dancehalls in the blink of an eye – and he can do it perfectly.
Instrumental music that balances between modern classical, ambient and contemporary composition, based on cello. Vibrating with emotions and multi-layer melodies, this haunting and cinematic album necessitates many hearings.
This surreal collage of found everyday sounds, pretty little noises, instrumental embezzlement and demented ventriloquist vocalizations and linguistic anomalies in the end is, always in a weird way, Nyoukis most musical work to date and for that his most fulfilling.
with a starting point of noise-rock, and influences like Dead C; metal rouge are building a post-modern album, blending fake-kraut rock, endless blurry delays, de-synchronized loops, phych-rock, etc. You can love or hate them, there’s no other way around.
An up-tempo, post-punk praise to Captain Beefhart. Also a deformed, delusional feast of rhythmical dissonance - or an autistic experimentation. All these may sounds bad, but from the hands of Arrington De Dionyso, are absolutely mind-blowing.
The sound of seagulls at the beginning, introduce us to this supernatural journey over the sea. The warm and melodic sound of Call Back The Giants slowly haunts the air as the soundscapes crave the limits of the unknown; into this marine exploration.
A triumph of raw naked electric / acoustic guitar beauty by this year’s welcome surprise. The much- free travelled Anderson nurtured on road these desolate country folk/delta-blues fingerpicking adaptations to display one of the most dexterous and meditative albums of American primitive guitar since the departure of you guessed who…
Unique and wonderful. The circular notes flow from the saxophone of Mr. Steston grabs your ears from the first second. Every single track is evolving with the combination of many melodies-noises-sounds carefully stack up to a magical peak. The perfection in everything here can leave you speechless. This album is a total extraordinary listening experience.
An unexpected return to form for Martin Phillipps and his legendary Chills project was signaled with a casual live album recorded Dunedin. This time he seems to have picked up the right crew of kiwi rockers to waltz through the perfect pop back catalogue of the group. The guitars are murky and twiggy at the same time, the violin and keyboards at their most fierce, his nasal flow still fascinating and when the classic tunes are played with that pathos and force, who needs new ones anyway.
Four layered dried-out, eastern tinged, shamanistic inveterate drones for effective transportation to the other side. Helpful for those seeking a blissed out escape from the daily routine but are feed up with all the hypnagohipsters out there.
An hour filled with the hypnotic and majestic pelt’s improv. Banjo, violin, percussions, piano and harmonium take their place to this never ending psych music dialogue that captures the pure core of blues, folk and americana. Vivid, kaleidoscopic, smouldering, transcendent – or in one word: marvelous.
Simplistic musical snapshots of places you will never be taken through the smudgy lens of the legendary anti-natural noise mavericks. What sounds like amateurish hazy chamber music from a safe distance, reveals strangely resonating sonic textures if you follow closely down the gnarled avant-garde path.
Apart from the delicious “You Have Already Gone to the Other World”, the other good deed in 2013 was to track down and beautifully record the great gypsy Turkish clarinetist and his magical orchestra. A dazzling instant epiphany of an album, it showcased tradition Balkan music at its most forceful, imaginative and rebellious peak. The best non-western neo-ethnic treasure trove since Omar Souleyman.
Almost motorik, synth based, dance noise. Fuck buttons have the talent to take any sound available and misrepresent it to a melodic firecracker, creating aggressive tecnho-ish music build on many-many-many layers, which can – surely – blow your brains out. This album is certainly not slow, neither focused. But it is their magnum opus.
By feeding up naive 80s pop hits to the most reliable and yet voracious avant post-punk / electro pop machine ever , PereUbu transformed neon pink retro dreams to surreal sonic nightmares of David Lynch proportions.
Endless is the key word here. Endless phych-rock, endless amplified solos, endless energy, endless jam, endless pleasure. Testosterone floats in this delusional grotto filled with mud guitars, fuzz pedals, wah-wah and stubbornly repeated bass lines.
These beautiful electric guitar / voice renditions of French folk songs drift hectically and drone despondently to paint a flawless romantic portrait of pure pastoral champagne Normandy.
Like a fresh wild flower blooming the young polish trio specialized in a very poetic exploration of the Jewish jazz idiom. In an admirable low key recording they showed respect to the klezmer tradition with their delicate and thoughtful playing and at the same time tried to add dark post-punk futuristic colors that made things even more interesting.
Hearing this super-group is one of a kind incident. They drag you without your knowledge or will, to a new territory – they initiate you with their ritualistic music to a, dark and cloudy, reversed fairy tale. Melodic themes with many eastern influences are monotonously repeated, a ghost from the old western films is hovering over the album, heavy noises and epic rhythms compound this masterpiece. Five stars (in cryptic order, obviously).
The relentless explorers of ever shifting ambivalence presented a three-folded improvisation based on their usual sound palette of melodic pianissimo scales, polyrhythmic cymbal work and deep bass resonations. The result was another masterpiece of ingeniously smooth transition music that is thought absorbing, time stretching and finally mind alternating.
A slowly growing record of deeply affecting post rock by the astonishingly improved and matured English trio. Incorporating a solemn reeds ensemble and the Synergy Vocal Ensemble they manage to widen their sound palette with mysterious, interlocking stratums of endoscopic neoclassical passages and opened horn explorations that could have come from Coil if they took a more orchestral direction. Afloat on this vast dark ocean is the mourning flattened-out voice of Jack Barnett half singing half whispering and in this desperate way conveying emotions as richly human as in Mark Hollis earlier efforts with Talk Talk.
Crafted by lost lasting and well tested melancholic Scott pop ingredients, “Slow Summits” disarmingly straightforward emotional brilliance, stroke our most vulnerable indie rock reflexes.
The triumphant return of the American master of grandiose melodrama took place with this compilation of recycled songs and rethought vignettes where the exquisite arrangements meet with a profound political irony that dealt with all the recent controversies in the US of A.
Wonderful old school - old fashion Appalachian folk. If this doesn’t excite you, don’t listen to this diamond. If it does, this is a masterpiece that collides magically everything from West Virginia to Kentucky. Lay down to your hammock, with a wheat stalk hang out from your mouth. Cover your eyes with your hat and, simply, enjoy.
Stunning representation of Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian traditional music. From rousing Balkan dance music, to slowcore mellow ballads, Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost make a frantic album that sounds equally old and new. Needless to say that the times I listened to this beauty throughout the year, are uncountable.
Upon last Decembers merry wake our beloved bonnie lassie set out to record his most ambitious material in order to fuse the horizons of heartfelt Scottish folk with complex prog rock arrangements and his genius lyrical parabola. To no surprise the end breed was the cornerstone of his solo work.
Once again the Finn fuck ups hound a way to reinvent themselves. As soundtrack to a documentary for a 7 day one-mile paved track run, the sounds were just as frantic, with flashy prog keys, repetitive heart-stomping riffage and motorik steady-fast drumming to the point of physical and mental hyper-exhilaration. Now, that we have this perfect psychedelic non-stop jog on music there’s no excuse for all us weirdos to stay on our couch.
Warm and sentimental string melodies are followed by a moody clarinet. Middle-eastern tracks by slow ballads or dance Arabic themes. The album unravels with powerful tracks that can easily seduce you and, on top of that, the transition from and into the folk and ambient species is magnificent, the melodies and the build-up also – the result excellent.
This laidback and sunburnt psych country rock was a major attainment for the ever fecund Brooklyn guitarist. In a cool and unforced way he made contact with his hidden songwriting muse and delivered six circular, overt and self recycling finger picking motifs to lay upon his plain, soft vocals and for the rest of the group to jam around. The result was a new exceptional golden breed of American folk played with a rare sense of holistic purpose and rumbling freedom.
Interspersed laid back Americana with blues and jazz elements. The irresistible cool voice of Tim Rutili floats among blooming folk melodies – there’s no tension here, no sentimental passages, no peaks or troughs; only the enjoyable quicksand of a relaxed atmosphere.
Do you like post-punk? Electro-punk? Thug rap? Abstract drum machines and simple-rough samples/rhythms? Aggressive and mockery lyrics? Cynical and ironic political comments? Bands like The Fall or This Heat? Do you feel angry with the austerity in Europe? Pissed off with the economic crisis? Then your band is Sleaford Mods – you’ll hear Austerity Dogs over and over again. If not, then sorry, you really have a problem and you probably need professional help.
The tall, bold and twisted Arabo-lover promised an Egyptian super-rocking band and indeed delivered the best firmly structured, conceptual even straight catchy rock n roll album of the year. Possibly the only American in the Muslim world that is not a C.I.A. spy, Alan Bishop served more than ever his own homeland of 60’s garage and psychedelia in this double album. Here, his rare talent to twist and turn around every rigid western rock convention was passed over to the rest of the Invisibles. As a result, came this terrific Nile beast where his own dark yet humorous lyrical material was cooked together with the mid-eastern hot strings and drums of his friends from Cairo to produce a very special sonic cherry kebab.
Sam Shalabi’s large arabocentirc ensemble embarked on a Middle Eastern trip towards a fertile desert oasis where many disparate musical styles –free jazz, cool jazz, classic Arabic, classical, avant rock, female Egyptian pop- criss-cross, meet & breed a juicy, big psychedelic mango for us to feast upon. Hopefully, in years to come this grand statement will be hailed as the springboard for a New Weird Arabica.
Unexpected. The folk king returns to his roots. Dark and esoteric, the perspective we used to hear from Will Oldham almost 15 years ago – in his palace era. Leaving aside his last attempts with full band and colorful songs, he is using again only his detuned guitar and his voice as weapons to create hair-raising melodies with powerful lyrics that dig deeply to the core of existence. You can easily lose a week, a month, a year in this rare impeccable album.
This is a unique gemstone that explores a new and unknown land of sounds. Balancing between ambient and doom metal, melody and drone this group of strings conquers the impossible: to create something unaccustomed that can be cold and sentimental at the same time, dark and bright also. Its 32 minutes can be easily turn into an obsession – and had, for me. Or become a soundtrack for the chained and imprisoned state – the state into we all, now and then, feel trapped.