Best Albums of 2017

In the 70s music critics had an edge on the fans – if Richard Meltzer is to be believed, they got free records, invites to parties studded with stars, drugs and other party favours. In 2017 it is becoming increasingly common to not get sent the biggest new releases at all, never mind before they come out. (I note the dry irony in Taylor Swift’s album cover art appropriating newspaper logo fonts – several critics I know still haven’t received the promo.) In the mid 2000s I used to keep stacks of CDs in my desk, ordered by release date. When you opened the drawer, they stared back at you – imploringly, for less known artists, and reproachfully for the big names. Now digital promos from the majorspo arrive in dribs and drabs, sometimes expiring before you have a chance to hit ‘Play’ on track one. You can hear practically everything on demand via streaming, which is not new, but for me the landscape has finally flattened into a featureless horizon – your access is limited only by your time management. Everything is available, and everything is passing you by.

The effect on my listening is two-fold: I focus on genres I know I like, because there’s no force pushing me to engage with pop – it isn’t playing in the bars I go to, it doesn’t cross my twitter feed, I never hear commercial radio. (Pour one out for the major label marketers.) But I also feel perpetually behind, listening to records only once or twice because there’s an endless supply of new records being pushed by my genre outlets of choice (media content farms and ever-scrolling social feeds) and the FOMO is real, y’all.

So aside from the emergence of two new sounds, ‘weightless’ beat-deprived grime and dusty electro-ish drum machine industrial funk I’m dubbing CabVoltCore – neither of which I’ve seen trend pieces about so I’ve just guessed they exist – my listening this year roamed in a vast but fenced-in auditory landscape. And really, aside from the FOMO, it’s all good. I don’t miss what I don’t know exists (or don’t put at the top of a playlist). For what I didn’t miss, read on.

1. Jlin - Black Origami (Planet Mu)

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I really liked Jlin's debut, but I was a little suspicious of it being named The Wire's disc of the year - arriving amid the explosion of footwork at the time it seemed more like they wanted to celebrate the idea of experimenting with its rhythms than the actual result. Now I think they were just more perceptive than me - Black Origami is not conceptually that different from 2015's Dark Energy but it hit me like a bolt of lightning, maybe not coincidentally because the micro-bubble in radically strange footwork albums seems to have burst. With the field now largely to herself, Jlin's vision comes across as truly her own - a haunted landscape of reptilian hihats and shakers snapping menacingly over sand-blasted vocal snippets. If David Lynch remade Dune this would be the perfect soundtrack, all alien tones and martial snares conjuring a frightening yet fascinatingly unique planet ruled by huge worms. I don't know what worms sound like but they're in here somewhere, I'm sure of it.

 

The List

*Canadian
*** Not on Spotify

1. Jlin – Black Origami (Planet Mu)
2. Kendrick Lamar – Damn. (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
3. *Sinjin Hawke – First Opus (Fractal Fantasy)
4. Floating Points – Reflections – Mojave Desert (Luaka Bop)
5. Richard H Kirk – Dasein (Intone)
6. Eric Copeland – Goofballs (DFA)
7. Peverelist – Tessellations (Livity Sound)
8. Gnod – Just Say No To The Psycho Right Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine (Rocket)
9. Fjaak – Fjaak (Monkeytown)
10. Errorsmith – Superlative Fatigue (Pan)

11. Pissed Jeans – Why Love Now (Sub Pop)
12. Ekoplekz – Bioprodukt (Planet Mu)
13. Blondes – Warmth (R&S)
14. Wolf Eyes – Strange Days II (Lower Floor)
15. Kingdom – Tears In The Club (Fade To Mind)
16. Claude Speeed – Infinity Ultra (Planet Mu)
17. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory (Artium/Blacksmith/Def Jam)
18. Sampha – Process (Young Turks/XL)
19. Delia Gonzalez – Horse Follows Darkness (DFA)
20. Bjorn Torske and Prins Thomas – Square One (Smalltown Supersound)

21. Yo Gotti and Mike Will Made It – Gotti Made-It (Gotti Made-It/EMPIRE)
22. Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains (Matador)
23. Mura Masa – Mura Masa (Polydor/Interscope/Downtown/Anchor Point)
24. *Drake – More Life (OVO Sound/Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money/Republic)
25. The Mole – De La Planet (Maybe Tomorrow)
26. Future – HNDRXX (Epic/A1 Recordings/Freebandz Entertainment)
27. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (DFA/Columbia)
28. ***Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Kulthan (Latency)
29. Farbror Resande Mac – Farbror Resande Mac (Horisontal Mambo)
30. Kelela – Take Me Apart (Warp)

31. Sherwood and Pinch – Man Vs. Sofa (On-U Sound)
32. Dizzee Rascal – Raskit (Dirtee Stank/Island)
33. Joakim – Samurai (Tigersushi/Because)
34. Gas – Narkopop (Kompakt)
35. Clap! Clap! – A Thousand Skies (Black Acre)
36. *Egyptrixx – Pure, Beyond Reproach (Halocine Trance)
37. *Daphni – FabricLive 93 (Fabric)
38. Sote – Sacred Horror In Design (Opal Tapes)
39. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy (Columbia)
40. *Jacques Greene – Feel Infinite (Arts & Crafts)

41. Special Request – FabricLive 91 (Fabric)
42. *Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers (Constellation)
43. ***Craig Taborn and Ikue Mori – Highsmith (Tzadik)
44. Circle – Terminal (Southern Lord)
45. Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time sndtrk (Warp)
46. Ikonika – Distractions (Hyperdub)
47. ***Weightless Vol 1 (Different Circles)
48. ***Weightless Vol 2 (Different Circles)
49. The Horrors – V (Wolf Tone)
50. ***Jay-Z – 4:44 (Roc Nation)

New mix: Weaving

Astute readers will notice that I haven’t posted a mix since March. I’ve been… busy? I moved continents (which required giving up freelancing music writing – so, blogging’s appeal is somewhat renewed), broke my spleen and tried to make some music of my own. Time to get back to other peoples’. Expect more regular updates again, starting with this simple little thing I threw together and continuing with my best albums of the year roundup as soon as I can relisten to about 60 albums…

Click here to download from Mediafire

Mixed 22 Nov 2017 by deemo for a-void.ca

1. Zomby – GASP! – GASP! EP (Big Dada)
2. Loleatta Holloway – Stand Up (Pangaea Mix) – Two Mixes (Hadal – Devotion17)
3. Blackdown – Ridge (XLR8R)
4. Martyn – Matt Hensley – GL Outakes (3024)
5. Chip, – Scene f Jammer, D Double E, JME, Miraa Mae and Wiley
6. Klein – Arrange – Joy Orbison Selectors 004 (Dekmantel)
7. Mala – Alicia – white label
8. Equiknoxx – Congo Get Slap (Mark Ernestus Remix) – Mark Ernestus Remixes (DDS)
9. Simo Cell – Storm Steven – Pogdance EP (Brothers From Different Mothers)
10. Phon.o – CLU5T3R – Schutt Und Asche (Cold)
11. Tessela – Hackney Parrot [10 Ton Mix] – Hackney Parrot (10 Ton mix)/Headland (Poly Kicks)
12. Boylan & Oil Gang – MurderOn – BOXED004 (Boxed)
13. Pinch & Mumdance – Control – Control/Strobelight (Tectonic)
14 . Om Unit – Despite It All – Self (Cosmic Bridge)
15. Untold – Watton Res – Tear Up The Club/Watton Res – Hemlock)

New mix: Calling Card

Oh, but this was a fun one. It must be spring if there are this many bubbly tracks fighting for space in one mix — minds turning to knuckles-in-the-air outdoor raving and such. I’m a little late with the goods this time but I promise there will be another mix soon. Tracks are coming fast and furious, from the Stormzy album to various newcomers I’m enjoying like Tuckz. For now, enjoy, and play with the windows down.

Download from Mediafire

1. Alex Coulton – Radiance – WSDM004 (Wisdom Teeth)
2. Abra Cadabra – Money Haffi Mek Feat. Stefflon Don – NEW GEN (XL)
3. Facta – Scotch Mist – Alsatian / Scotch Mist (Bloc)
4. Gold Panda – Your Good Times Are Just Beginning – Your Good Times Are Just Beginning (City Slang)
5. Yamaneko – Gala Helipop – Project Nautilus [Keygen Loops] (Local Action)
6. Maribor – Bodybag – Keysound radio dubs 001 (Keysound)
7. FJAAK – Spnd Ballett- Fjaak (Monkeytown)
8. Via Maris – Tempora – Swarm / Tempora (Dnuos Ytivil)
9. Blackdown – Keysound Sessions Anthem (8bar Mix) – Rollage Vol.2: Keysound Sessions Anthem (Keysound)
10. Unknown Archetype – Tripp – Tripp (R&S)
11. Lil Silva – Cyrup – V1 / Cyrup (LS Whites)
12. Rabit – Intrepid – Excommunicate (Self-released)
13. Clams Casino – Back to You feat. Kelly Zutrau – 32 Levels (Columbia)
14. Mophono – Lump Sum Slum Lord – Lump Sum Slum Lord (CB Records)
15. Zgjim – Riddim – RIDDIM ALL STARS (Liquorish Records)
16. Macabre Unit – Neurotik – Neurotik EP (Nomine Sound)
17. Wiley – Name Brand (Feat. JME, Frisco & J2K) – Godfather (CTA Records)
18. Lethal Bizzle – Round Here f. Giggs, Flowdan – Round Here (Dench)
19. Jammz – Warrior – Warrior EP (I Am Grime)

Recorded Feb 20, 2017 by Deemo for a-void.ca