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: Exercise

exercise-square

It’s January! And I didn’t give you a year end list, because really, year end lists are like fruitcake – they always just show up unannounced and unrequested. Instead I give you a mix, though the title may be misleading. It’s not really what you might call gym-appropriate; in my mind, it was about Exercise because a) Kelela has made that word a double-entendre that I heartily enjoy, and b) this isn’t the easiest mix for your poor ears, but then, no pain no gain. It’s grimy, noisy in spots (hey Russell Haswell), melodic in hardly any spots, but a good workout in terms of exploring the dusty corners of the grime and electronic world that might not get too many rinses in clubland yet that deserve attention nonetheless. Enjoy.

Click here to download from Mediafire

Deemo – Exercise by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Howie Lee – Cloud Lamps – Mù Chè Shān Chū (Alpha Pup)
2. Chevel – Loop #42 (Minor Science Remix) – Blurse Remixed (Stroboscopic Artifacts)
3. Russell Haswell – Heavy Handed Sunset (Autechre ‘Conformity Version’) – As Sure As Night Follows Day (Remixes) (Diagonal)
4. Creta Kano – Skyway Motel (Lurka Remix) – Versions (Happy Skull)
5. Redshape – Paper Blades – Bleep Repeat (Bleep)
6. Acre – Holding Hands – Better Strangers (Tectonic)
7. Lord Real – Printed Mon3y – Kvlt Acid (Clan Destine)
8. Frisco – 1. 2. 3. – s/t (Frisco/Swindle)
9. Special Request – Tractor Beam – Modern Warfare (Warp)
10. DJ Sotofett – Breaking Set Of The Jungle Fantasy – TDD-DDRR-IPP MIX (Laton)
11. Jamie xx – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) [Skepta Remix] – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) [Remixes] (Young Turks)
12. Kelela – All the Way Down (Air Max ’97 Remix) – Hallucinogen Remixes (Warp)
13. Darj – The Edge – FKOFd022 (Fat Kid On Fire)
14. Chevel – Stranded (Paula Temple Remix),Blurse Remixed (Stroboscopic Artifacts)
15. DJ Madd – Peng Teng (feat. Redders) – Peng Teng (Roots & Future)
16. Rustie – Your Goddezz – EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE (Warp)
17. Gypsy Mamba – Herro – Da Feenux (Stones Throw)

Mixed by Dave Morris a.k.a. deemo on Jan 15, 2016 for a-void.ca

New Mix: In Country

deemo-incountry

Post-Polaris, I’ve been pretty occupied with some family stuff, so the writing is naturally sparse. As is the listening, I must confess – aside from a few standouts, my year-end list will be tilted towards the beginning of the year I think. But! Mixing is always a bit of relief from what ails, hence this one. Turn it up and enjoy.

Click here to download from Mediafire

Deemo – In Country by Deemo on Mixcloud

 

1. Kowton – On Repeat – On Repeat / Holding Patterns (Livity Sounds)
2. Martyn – Ahmadiya – Falling For You (Ostgut Ton)
3. Alex Coulton – Concealed Weapon – Hand to Hand Combat / Concealed Weapon (Tempa)
4. Ipman – Technicolour – Depatterning (Tectonic)
5. Nomine – Zen Force – Inside Nomine (Tempa)
6. AFX – umil 25-01 – umil 25-01 (Warp)
7. Chip feat. D Double E & Jammer – School of Grime – School of Grime (Cash Motto)
8. J*me – Test Me – Integrity> (Boy Better Know)
9. Novelist x Mumdance – Shook – 1 Sec (XL)
10. Zomby – Bloom – Let’s Jam!! 2 (XL)
11. Faze Miyake – Yung Sneyga – Faze Miyake (Rinse)
12. Rabit – Black Gates – Communion (Tri Angle)
13. Royal T – Shotta (Kahn & Neek Remix) – Shotta (Remixes) (Butterz)
14. Wiley – Send Me The Riddim – Send Me The Riddim (self-released)
15. Jammz – Final Warning – Final Warning (Local Action)
16. Kelela – Gomenasai – Hallucinogen (Warp/Cherry Coffee)
17. Kode9 – Void – Nothing (Hyperdub)

Mixed Oct. 24, 2015 for a-void.ca by Dave Morris (deemo)

New mix: Maps

tree-sq

Click here to download from Mediafire

The Polaris-ization of my listening time has almost come to a close, which means hopefully more posts on this here blog. So many great records to gab about this year – Pixelord, Kamasi Washington, Earl Sweatshirt among them. In the meantime, you have this mix, which will sound nice – okay, vaguely threatening, but still fun – coming out of your subwoofer. Enjoy.

Mixed May 15, 2015 in Toronto for a-void.ca by Dave Morris a.k.a. Deemo

Deemo – Maps by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Dubspeeka & Visionz – Floorshow – Floorshow (Dext)
2. Salva – Move Dat Doh – $$$ SECRET STASH $$$ (unreleased)
3. Wen – Backdraft – Finesse (Tectonic)
4. Peverelist & Hodge – What Your Heart Knows – 21 Versions / What Your Heart Knows (Livity Sound)
5. Kelela – Keep It Cool (prod. Jam City) – 14 Tracks: Compute: Soul (Beatport)
6. Peverelist – Roll with the Punches – Roll with the Punches / Die Brücke (Punch Drunk)
7. Arovane – Il_Eth – Aarlenpeers EP (Touchin Bass)
8. Model 500 – Electric Night – Digital Solutions (Metroplex)
9. Cristian Vogel – Spectral Jack Climes – Werkschau03 (Shitkatapult)
10. Shackleton – Cast The Die – Deliverance Series No. 2 (Woe To The Septic Heart)
11. S-Type – Fire (feat. Yung Gud) – SV8 (LuckyMe)
12. Future – Coupe – Adult Swim Singles Program 2014 (Adult Swim)
13. Freddie Gibbs – White Range – Pronto – EP (ESGN)
14. Lee Bannon – The Muse – Cope (Chillectro)
15. Mike Gao – Thirst (feat. Mr. Carmack) – Migamo (Alpha Pup)
16. Aby Ngana Diop – Michael Ozone’s Liital Rhythm – Aby Ngana Diop Remixes (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
17. Ras G & The Koreatown Oddity – 5 Chuckles – 5 Chuckles (Leaving Records)
18. DJ Clent – Let’s Get High – Last Bus to Lake Park (Duck N Cover)
19. Zed Bias – Chokehold – Couch Life (81)
20. Jamie xx – Gosh – In Colour (Preview White Label)
21. Bok Bok & Sweyn Jupiter – Papaya Lipgloss (Club Mix) – Papaya Lipgloss (Night Slugs)

Top 25 Singles of 2014 so far

You better stop, children what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
No but like, seriously, what the fuck was that? It was hella loud, yo
– Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”

There have been a lot of records this year in the burgeoning BANG! BOOM! CRASH! subgenre, where the samples and/or drums are so loud they feel like they’re jumping out of your speaker and hitting you in the face, even at low volume. But the best of them remain undeniably musical, and even catchy. Evian Christ and Bok Bok are tops in this department, through different approaches; the American upstart is relentlessly melodic even with his noisiest bits (a skill he shares with Skrillex, of all people) while the Brit turns even the rawest repetitions into R&B, whether it’s with 80s quiet storm synths or the very Aaliyah-like vocal stylings of Kelela.

Looking down the list, melody is the thing, however subtle. It’s there in Martyn and Four Tet’s twinkling kalimba samples, Toronto’s Jex Opolis’ Zither EP (especially “On The Cliffs” with its stabs of vocal “aaaahs” and gently burbling drums), DMX Krew’s oddly compelling lounge-pop and even H-SIK’s amped-up breakbeat science. I used to think a hummable tune was optional, even quaint, but maybe the years of minimal tech – and the waning of the prog house sound in favour of who knows what in EDM-land – have made it more palatable, if not outright necessary.

You’ve got your grime-oriented and just plain weird producers in there, of course – Mumdance coming with a couple of collaborations (with Logos and Pinch respectively) that make it sound like there’s a vacuum cleaner and/or a rogue mobile phone behind the boards, as well as Phon.o, Lakker and L-Vis 1990 all delivering sides that are more not-there than there. But the tunes predominate, however simple — from Vitalic’s uncharacteristically pop-oriented take on Paul Kalkbrenner’s “Altes Kamuffel” to the chugging grooves from Melchior Productions Ltd., Todd Terje and KHLHI (a.k.a. Four Tet).

*Oh, and in light of the Polaris Music Prize short list announcement, it’s worth remembering that – without taking anything away from Jessy Lanza’s accomplishment – there’s plenty of Hot Canadian Electronic Action happening outside the album sphere. Jex Opolis, Tiga and Hobo on this list, plus Adam Marshall’s New Kanada label (and Graze alias), Guillaume and the Coutu Dumonts, Caribou’s Jiaolong imprint, Lunice, Kaytranada etc. Don’t sleep on the frozen north.

1. Evian Christ – Waterfall (Tri Angle)

2. Bok Bok – Your Charizmatic Self EP (Night Slugs)

3. Martyn – Forgiveness (EP) – (Ninja Tune)

4. Jus Now – Bare Wine (feat. Swappi) / Vodou Riddim (Gutterfunk)

5. Jex Opolis – Zither EP (Good Timin)

6. H-SIK – Sonic Rage / No Promises (Black Acre)

7. Sam Russo – To The Brink / Wanderer (Air London)

8. Jamie XX – Sleep Sound (Young Turks)

9. Mumdance & Logos – Legion / Proto (Tectonic)

10. Alex Coulton – Murda / Break Pressure (Black Acre)

11. Gerry Read – Shrubby (Aus Music)

12. KHLHI – Percussions (Text)

13. Komon and Appleblim – Jupiter EP (Aus Music)

14. Paul Kalkbrenner – Altes Kamuffel (Vitalic Remix) (Paul Kalkbrenner Music)

15. Juju & Jordash – Waldorf Salad/Third Planet from Altair (Dekmantel)

16. DMX Krew – Hot Punch / My Metro (Fresh Up)

17. Pinch & Mumdance – Turbo Mitzi / Whiplash

18. Melchior Productions Ltd – The Return Of The Cosmic Kids (Aspect Music)

19. Lakker – Containing a Thousand (R&S)

20. Todd Terje – Spiral (Full Pupp)

21. L-Vis 1990 – Ballads EP (Night Slugs)

22. Tiga & Audion – Fever (Remixes) (Turbo)

23. Flava D – Home / Hold on VIP

24. phon.o – Cracking Space Pt. 1 (50 Weapons)

25. Hobo – Mind Games (Soundz)

Mix: Get Bodied

deemo-getbodied

Haven’t had time to do much in the way of posting lately, but I’ve got a couple of mixes on deck to share, starting with this one. That Evian Christ track in particular is a stormer. Get up on it like this.

Click here to download from Mediafire

 

Deemo – Get Bodied by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Bjork – Virus (Hudson Mohawke’s Peaches & Guacamol remix) – Bastards (One Little Indian)
2. French Fries – U.M-An – Kepler (Clek Clek Boom)
3. Evian Christ – Propeller – Waterfall (Tri Angle)
4. Gladiator – Assembly Line (Original Mix) – Assembly Line (Fool’s Gold)
5. JT The Goon – Eski Moment – Twin Warriors EP (Oil Gang)
6. Mumdance & Rabit – Square Wave Shell Down – Boxed Vol. 1 (Boxed)
7. Arctic – The Sicilian – 14 tracks: Nexx Level Grime (Boomkat)
8. Bok Bok – Melba’s Call (feat. Kelela) – Melba’s Call (feat. Kelela) (Night Slugs)
9. Machinedrum – Back Seat Ho (Rustie Remix) – Fenris District (Ninja Tune)
10. Mark Pritchard – Makin a Livin’ – Bleep: The Top 100 Tracks of 2013 (Bleep)
11. DJ Clent – Don’t Leave Me (Baby) – Hyper Feet (Planet Mu)
12. Henry Rodrick – Hey Baby – Don’t Believe (Studio Barnhus)
13. Umbertron – Jackmi – Chicago Tek (Loose Squares)
14. Ital Tek – Universal Decay – Mega City Industry (Civil Music)
15. DJ Earl Heavee & DJ Taye – RubbaBANDZ – Audio Fixx 2 (Ghetto Teknitianz)
16. H-SIK – Sonic Rage – Sonic Rage / No Promises (Black Acre)
17. A Tribe Called Quest – Stressed Out (Bjork’s Married to the Mob Mix) – Stressed Out (Jive)

Mixed April 12 by Dave Morris a.k.a. Deemo for a-void.ca