January 31st, 2012 | Published in Blog
Well, i’m not sure I have too much to say really; the last year seems to have been one marked by increased hermitry…
On a personal level, its been equal parts grief and joy; but I feel like 2011 has been a year of building foundations for myself and my activities. I’ll take that.
For BTB, I’m glad that we’ve found a new venue for Bang The Bore, and such a great one, too. I had to miss the John Butcher/Alvin Lucier extravaganza, in one of Southampton’s medieval vaults, early in the year; and that’s probably my main regret of 2011.
Peeking out into the wider world, I think the event of most resonance to me, was the August rioting. The State’s response to this, raised serious questions regarding the relationship between individual and State; it seemed to suggest a lurch towards a more overt authoritarianism. The subsequent policing of the student protests was, at times, bizarrely draconian; leading to moments like this:
to be followed immediately by moments like this:
2011 has been a funny year for me, in terms of musical consumption. I’ve found myself buying a lot more new releases – but it just so happens that those releases are often re-issuing old or ancient recordings. I’ve also started regularly trading again, too; and that’s been a source of frequent joy. Here’s the customary, and arbitrary, Top 5…
1. The Skull Defekts – Join The True
(I bought this album on the strength of seeing the incredible Daniel Higgs live for the first time. I remember very clearly putting this on, with a fellow Higgs fan present, and then sheepishly lifting the needle up after two songs, out of embarrassment. I used the download code and forgot about it. About a week later, I found I was listening to it constantly… This isn’t a remotely ground-breaking album, but i love it. “Join The True” just builds and builds…)
2. Tyler the Creator – Goblin
(“Goblin” is probably the album i’ve listened to most this year. Why? I’m really not sure. I’ve mulled over this for a long time, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply haven’t heard anything as angry as this for a long time. It just bristles with energy and attacks anything in sight (not that I agree with all of these attacks), and yet at other times its incredibly vulnerable. It feels like a detailed case study in male adolescence/arrested development.)
3. Various – Brass Pins and Match Heads compilation
(This comp, on Mississippi Records/Canary Records, was maybe the pick of the “re-issue comps” I bought this year. Its a selection of 78’s from across the world (India, Iran, Anatolia, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Macedonia, Spain, America…), and frankly its included here because of an incredible yodelling track from Switzerland. Alas, this could not be found for your pleasure, so instead please revel in the beautiful tones of the above…)
4. Corrupted – Garten Der Unbewusstheit
(Well now, I couldn’t let things pass without mentioning this. As I dare say I’ve mentioned a billion times, Corrupted hold a special place in my blackened heart. To be even more precise, its the gutteral tones of the vocalist Hevi that have this hold. It was thus with horror that I greeted the news that Hevi had left Corrupted – I now count myself incredibly lucky to have seen them when they toured here. This was his last recording with the band; and, whilst it isn’t their best work by any length, the sheer emotional power of the pieces, coupled with the knowledge of Hevi’s departure, makes it a very sentimental album for me.)
5. The Bored Bear Richard Ramirez Subscription Series
(This is included here, not just because of the music, but also because of the subscription idea. Way back in 2010, an excellent label called Bored Bear announced the Richard Ramirez Subscription Series: for an advance payment, subscribers would receive a new, very limited, mini-cdr of one of Ramirez’s projects every month of 2011. Richard Ramirez is most famously known in his Werewolf Jerusalem guise, but the series gives an insight into eleven of his other static noise projects. Each disc I’ve received so far has been great and some of them have been amazing – definitely a case of being in the hands of a master. Thus every month, i’ve had a little disc of joy pop through my letterbox. I think this is a nice way of conducting the artist/audience/consumption relationship. (Remember the Main “Hz” box set? – a series of cd singles recorded and released monthly…) It might even prove to be a way forward… I couldn’t find any of the Subscription Series to charm you with, so here’s a old snippet from Werewolf Jerusalem.)
Music in 2011 for me:
How did i neglect them for so long?! Utterly abrasive, in all ways.
This was the year in which I sold a fair portion of my soul to Harsh Noise Walls.
3. Seeing other places
Touring has its ups and downs, but seeing places like Bamberg and Genova for the first time was frankly heart-stopping. The latter, in particular, was straight out of “Invisible Cities”.
4. THE BLUES!
As mentioned already, 2011 was a year in which i spent a lot of time listening to very old recordings – often “folk” recordings made around the world. These encompassed everything from old blues recordings, to african 78’s, to the demented works of a confused elderly lady… Listening to a recording made over a hundred years ago, by people long gone and forgotten, opens up all kinds of questions in the brain.
Try it – these have been particular joys in 2011:
Opika Pende – Africa at 78rpm (Dust To Digital)
This May Be My Last Time Singing – Raw African-American Gospel On 45rpm 1957-1982 (Tompkins Square)
To What Strange Place: The Music of the Ottoman-American Diaspora, 1916-1929 (Tompkins Square) – couldn’t be more recommended. Just edged out of my Top 5 by “Brass Pins…”
Various – In The Storm So Long (Mississippi Records)
Various – Fanafody: A Collection Of Recordings And Photography From Madagasikara, Volume II (Mississippi Records)
Fred McDowell – The Alan Lomax Recordings (Mississippi Records)
Orchestre Rail-Band De Bamako – Orchestre Rail-Band De Bamako (Mississippi Records)
Khansahib Abdul Karim Khan – Khansahib Abdul Karim Khan (Mississippi Records/Canary Records)
Skip James – The 1931 Sessions
Bollywood Bloodbath (Finders Keepers)
Leona Anderson – Music To Suffer By (Trunk Records)