Amoeblog

Best of a Rapid Decade: One per year plus a few too good to not mention...

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, January 6, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment

In recently trying to fill in a friend on what I'd spent the last year or two listening to, I realized that my personal taste tends to gravitate towards some element of either Folk form (any hint of hill-folk finger-pickin' or Ozark/Appalachian melancholy and I'm in), Psychedelia or the tendency to extend a theme for a good long jam (a category in which I include a lot of the Jazz that I like), or just a great, funky groove.

With those qualifiers in place, the following is a year by year review of the last decade which somehow got past me with out noticing it. I mean, really?!! 2010?!!!  I didn't see it coming: 

2000: Album of the Year

Air's enjoyable and wacky Moon Safari had been on the decks for a couple years before they contracted for the soundtrack to Sofia Coppolla's Virgin Suicides. The resultant score is absolutely sublime and marked the French electronauts as contenders to watch.

For myself, it was the defining sound of the millennium's new year.
















Shelby Lynne released a killer country-soul gem, I Am Shelby Lynne, that echoed early material from the likes of Bonnie Raitt. Thinking that it was a brilliant debut from a talented 32yo unknown, I was eventually shocked to find that it was her 6th album. I listened to it for months.

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Belong's October Language: 2006 treasure of static and buzz

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, March 13, 2009 02:07pm | Post a Comment
belong october language
I get a strange thrill out of stumbling upon albums that sound exactly like what their cover suggests -- in this case, the ancient decaying photo of a pioneer-era buiding, probably from Belong's hometown of New Orleans; the spaces where the color saturates and the many spots where all color and image have been wiped away by time and the elements. October Language is the aural equivalent.

Compared to electronic frontiersmen like Fennesz and William Basinski, Belong (composed, for this recording, of conspirators Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones) make sounds that seem to be in the process of disappearing even as they first appear. The opening track, "I Never Lose. Never Really." begins with a tone like hearing an orchestra muted through the walls of a building, as if the swelling adagio would come through crystal clear if someone would just open the right door. Then it all begins to descend beneath an increasing tide of swirling static.

I find the whole album to be, essentially, meditational. There is a profound silence at the center of it, not unlike modern classical compositions by the likes of Arvo Part, Toru Takemitsu or Henryk Gorecki. The focus on electronics and instruments more often associated with Rock makes October Language more immediately reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless than anything within the Classical tradition.

There are very few vocal tones on the album, another factor that pulls it away from the Rock genre, and the pure focus on the build and wane of the sound and atmosphere places it among my favorite listens of the last few years.

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