Was last year´s music a proof that contemporary art and culture have entered a crisis of quality, or is it that the prevalence of this opinion just confirms the deafness of the society towards its highest achievements?
Do the most remarkable pieces of music created by artists of most unique points of view have to end as the least noticed or the hardest to get? Do they have to require more patience to be understood in comparison to the one- dimensional aggression of superficial songs? Or are these just some pseudo-intellectual excuses for the fact that marginalised music is simply boring?
Are there still artists whose goal is not just to multiply their production, attract attention and contribute to the general encouragement of narcissism? Do any of the musicians actually want to make a contribution to the development of spiritual worlds of their listeners? Or does the idea of an artist propelled with unselfish, altruistic reasons seem too ridiculous and naive in today´s world?
The following chart presents my top 2011 albums which I find the beacons of last year. this selection is based on over 420 albums released and listened in 2011.
experimental electronic, IDM, genre crossover
For me, the author of the greatest music adventure of this year is Brazilian Amon Tobin, sound designer and visionary of contemporary electronic tehnological music. Not only does he surpass his shadow, but daringly transcends the horizons and limits of the genre. The fruits of his work dont have a parallel in music yet. at first The novelty of this piece causes dizziness and it is difficult to find some coherent pattern, but at first sight is not enough when you look on something new like this. The abstract, epic pieces repleted with sounds has the ability to evoke remarkable, tasteful whole. If you have enough calculated originality, ISAM and its „sound sculptures“ prepare the future by means of laying foundations of the present. Paraphrasing Edgard Varese: ”Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but is the only one who doesnt get left behind the present.” Those who know how is the ISAM live show, know that Tobin is a pure manifastation of the idea, both in musical and visual way.
experimental, multimedial, songwriter, singer, electronic
Ambition of Biophillia, along with multimedial educational background, does reach the same level as ISAM. In the songs, the idea and message of unity and mutual integration of men, science and nature is demostrated through the code of pythagorical vision of the world (mathematical harmony of microcomos and macrocosmos) with gorgeous skill and ease. Bjork is irreplaceable not only as a musical pioneer, but also by gift of her voice which enables her to (mediate) the most subtle emotions and this talent of hers has been shown the best since the Vespertine album.
post-modern art music, vocal ambient, minimal, singer, composer, epic
In my opinion, this album is hardly accessible and literaly anticomercial. It combines elements of delicate vocal ambient(Sylvians vibrato), chamber music (Dai Fujikura), masters of improvisation(Arve Henriksen, John Tilbury…) and minimal electronics(Fennesz, Jan Bang, Erik Honoré). Challenging, detailed, open songs, sometimes feel like warm coat, in other moments feeling as thorns. Yet, they are still breathing, peaceful, life and world loving in its unpredictability. That’s why this minimalistic, tender, post-modern piece of art demands patience and participation of the listener.
contemporary classical, traditional
Contemporary classical music in its traditional form is probably the only music genre, which supposes perfect handling of music skills and is very hard to get and very overlooked.
It took 23 years for Slovak composer Vladimir Godar to compose all 3 parts of oratorio trilogy. The third one – Querela pacis is a deep meditation about the most honorable thing in human beings, about the life of „peaceful mind and pure heart“, – as Othar Ciladze once said. The title Querela pacis = The Complaint of Peace refers to the nature of war, the paradox that our civilization is probably since the WW2 still paving its existence by means of honorable kiling in endless wars somewhere on Earth ‘ (booklet). Godars effort to liberate the humankind from this bloody ilusion, which communicates with baroco music is authentic and if you listen to it with attention, it is unbelivably touching, like an unselfish prayer, like an arrow aimed to God, which is almost physical.
tender ambient, modern classical, instrumental
Along the year, there always comes an album that connects presence, quality and brilliant observation of human emotionality so genuinely, that it enthrals the listener immediately. Adam Wiltzie(1/2 Stars of the lid) and Dustin O’Halloran created a project ‘A Winged Victory For The Sullen’ where they invited 2 guests, Hildur Gudnadottir and Peter Broderick. 7 final instrumental songs abound with elegant beauty, intimacy, nostalgy and tenderness and they the treasure of modern, slow-growing ambient classical music.
electronic, dance floor dubstep, IDM,
According to 2-songs-long vinil Ego-Mirror, since the 2-track vinil ‚Moth‘ from 2009, a rare collaboration of Burial + Four Tet was revived. They inviteed Thom Yorke and they just validate the compositional ripeness, innovativness and sound inteligence of this two phenomenons. In total it is enough to show that there is still a lot of fresh blood and creative potential pumping in the veins of dance floor dubstep.
Radiohead maybe didn‘t unfold wings as other times, but their album as a whole sounds very convincing and again actual, new. They are a bit darker, maybe more monotonous, but they let theirselves overwhelm by dessert and they sound like fire in the windstorm.
new classical, soundtrack, art-rock, instrumental
Again, a pair of excelent emotive songs, in total 30minutes long. It is a romantic soundtrack for old-aged movies evocating nostalgy of the 1920s New York and suggestive 1924s French dadaistic comedy.
These Brits prove that film music doesn‘t need to be just a movie decoration, that when you don‘t really notice the music it means the movie is good. They prove that sensitive music can make much more than just potentiate film impression.
IDM, artrock, experimental electronic,
In my opinion, this album belongs to the most consistent pieces of last year and at the same time it is the most riped, most intensive and most intimate album of the electronic pioneer Sasha Ring yet. His instoppable innovativence dropped anchor in the waves of melancholy and romanticism by the tools of harmonization of hypnotic electronics and band sound. The mentioned sadness can be answered by the cover of the album.
The idea of “The Devil’s Walk” is inspired by the romantic period; the melancholic dark Berlin portrayed by Caspar David Freidrich; and the Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada whose artwork motivated the album with its cover of a salesman as the devil’s puppet. “Posada’s work and the Shelley piece are basically about the same thing – people with power that get along with the devil very well. Even these days it feels like nothing has really changed.” Dark demon has beaten his march across the planet far too long. http://snipelondon.com/music/apparat-a-journey-from-east-berlin-and-bryan-ferry-to-electronic-romantism
altrock, indie rock
The theme of PJ Harvey‘s most accessible and hit rock album is also the lyrical need to belive that we can no longer be seduced by the false promise of dark demon, whose name we don‘t really know. She blended its soul by courageous metaphors, tender songwriting and rough political message(- as gloomy666 said).
11-25, by categories:
! folk, songwriters,singers, indie folk, lofi:
Puzzle Muteson – En Garde [bedroom comunity]
Soley – We Sink
Jono McCleery – There Is [ninja tune]
Teebs – Collestions01 [ninja tune]
Balam Acab – Wander – Wonder [Tri Angle]
The Field – Looping State of Mind [kompakt]
SebastiAn – Total [Ed Banger Records]
Modeselektor – Monkeytown [Monkeytown Records]
Gui Borratto – III [kompakt]
! altrock, indie rock, post rock, art rock, hard rock:
Wild Beasts – Smother [domino]
Zola Jesus – Conatus [Sacred Bones]
Low – C’mon [sub pop]
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact [4AD]
tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l [4AD]