5/12ths down

Well, the year is almost officially 5/12ths down. Lots of pretty good stuff has arrived (although not as much stuff has blown me away as I thought it would), and a lot more to come.

Are you feeling more excited than usual, just about normal, or somewhat disappointed in terms of music in 2008 so far?

Commenting has been closed on this article.

Jon
I agree that this has been a sub-par release for music. That being said, I've enjoyed the new Shortwave Set album, and Ane Brun's new one is beautiful as well. Also check out Pattern is Movement, which is what Dominique Leone SHOULD have released.

Michael
having a listen to dieter schoon carl. 'Mary Jane' kind of reminds me of the moody blues or love, but yeah its quite a mix.

Sam
Thanks for those Moroccan recommendatons Mike - I will look forward to checking those out. The titles sound enticing!

Carl
I am totally OVERWHELMED by Dieter Schöön.

The guy must be heard to be believed.... Labkaza is an astounding record.

Here's the link to his myspace:

www.myspace.com/dieterschoon

Let me know what you think!

All the best, Carl

almostcool
Sorry about that, I fixed it on your other set of links as well.

This is completely random, but my favorite stuff that I've discovered lately is the 5EPs and "In Debt" by Disco Inferno. Absolutely killer stuff that some label should pick up and re-release. It's amazing.

weis
Thanks for cleaning those up. However, the first link is wrong, your linking up the second album on the list. The correct link for the Gnawa album is http://www.amazon.com/Gnawa-Music-Marrakesh-Spirit-Masters/dp/B000000GAI/
This album is incredible, unfortunately I think it's out of print, that's why it's $30 on Amazon.

almostcool
Thanks for those links Mike. I hope you don't mind that I cleaned them up a bit. They still link to the same items, I just whittled them down to the basics and added my referral code (although if anyone doesn't want me to have it, all they have to do is peel off everything after the product code in the URL).

I was actually really curious about that Moroccan stuff myself, so I'm going to hunt down a couple of them for sure before they all reach insane out-of-print prices.

weis
hey sam, sorry for the late reply to your inquiry about Moroccan music. I too was enthralled with that book and it also inspired me to check out some Moroccan sufi music. Shit, my life hasn't been the same since. Stunning stuff here to explore. Here are few suggestions...

Various Artists - Gnawa Music of Marrakesh: Night Spirit Masters
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000000GAI/almostcoolmusicr

Master Musicians Of Jajouka - Apocalypse Across the Sky
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000000GAO/almostcoolmusicr

Bachir Attar - The Next Dream http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000008D17/almostcoolmusicr

-mike

Jon
Hey all,
Just an interesting article by David Byrne here that I thought some of you might enjoy:

http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne?currentPage=all

All music industry stuff, but interesting nonetheless. There's a link to a good conversation he had with Thom Yorke as well...

Also, has anyone here heard of Shugo Tokumaru? Kind of like a really really upbeat Japanese Sufjan Stevens. Really pretty stuff...

http://www.myspace.com/shugotokumaru

Oh yeah, if you haven't heard it already Aaron, you should really check out Carla Bozulich's newest, really really awesome in a controlled chaos sort of way...

Th' Exceptional Child
I've not had the chance to buy or listen as much this year as in previous years, but there have been a few standouts...

Portishead: 3 (best of the year so far)
Oakeater: Molech (creepy)
Scott Tuma: Not for Nobody (acheing, heartbreaking)
Valet (peyote blues)
Atlas Sound (experimental pop perfection)

Niklas
Paavoharju has made one of the best albums this year so far! Besides their Laulu Laakson Kukista I hold the following albums as favourites:

Nico Muhly - Mothertongue
Quiet Village - Silent Movie
Jacazsek - Treny
No Age - Nouns
Scuba - A Mutual Antipathy
Our Sleepless Forest - S/t
Claro Intelecto - Metanarrative
Natural Snowbuildings /Isengrind/Twinsistermoon – The Snowbringer Cult
Beach House - Devotion
Why? - Alopecia


Jon
Yeah, Ólafur Arnalds sounds really lovely, need to get a hold of that...

Has anyone heard of Paavoharju? Just checked out some of their sample tracks on boomkat, from their new album, which were really intriguing. More so than what's on their myspace. Anyway, think I'm going to have to pick that one up some time soon...

http://www.myspace.com/paavoharju

Headphone Commute
I'm currently preparing my top 20 of 2008 (half way) and I think Ólafur Arnalds' Variations of Static is at #1. The Abbassi Brothers is up there along with Barry Lynn, Kettel, Bitcrush, Hammock, Clark, Balmorhea and the new Hecq...

Andy
woah, forgot about Bruno Pronsato's Why Can't We Be like Us. Good stuff indeed.
I'm hoping that Shearwater album grows on me. The last one didn't so much.

matt
oh, and also...

why? - "alopecia"

matt
i agree with a lot listed already (beach house, paavoharju, xiu xiu, dodos).

i've been also digging:
clark - "turning dragon"
dj donna summer - "panther tracks"
food for animals - "belly"
el guincho - "alegranza"
mi ami - "african rhythms"

oh and good call on lukewarm dominique leone review. i think my assessment of it was even more harsh than yours, but yeah...i wasn't a fan.

Sam
This is going to sound like a curveball, but since the Abdel Hadi Halo has been reviewed here, I thought I'd ask. Having just read Paul Bowles' amazing novel The Sheltering Sky I decided to try some Moroccan sufi music and I'm really loving the part-Bowles curated volume Morrocan Trance Music. Honestly, some of this is as chunky as Achso-era Villalobos! Can anyone recommend some other key recordings?

john
beach house and ruby suns are the only albums doing it for me this year.

i look to the new 'music tapes', grandaddy frontman solo, and a possible circulatory system album as I'm sure I will enjoy those 3.

Sam
Oh, and I nearly forgot, Bruno Pronsato's Why Can't We Be like Us - a seriously great techno record.

Sam
Oh, and I nearly forgot, Bruno Pronsato's Why Can't We Be like Us - a seriously great techno record.

Sam
I'm a bit lost this year too, though I probably haven't been listening to as much new stuff as I should. Blame the Alex Ross effect. However one new record that has got me listening is the new Nico Muhly - the opening Mothertongue sections are compellingly strange and beautiful.

Justin
M83 is the biggest disappointment of 2008 so far...

almostcool
Oh anonymous one, you are correct about the Pia Fraus label. Thanks for catching that, I fixed it.

Jason
I feel like this year has indeed been slow, but the quality of releases from established bands has been fantastic:

Shearwater's Rooks
A Silver Mt. Zion's 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
The Mars Volta's The Bedlam In Goliath
Xiu Xiu's Women as Lovers

There are also several highly-anticipated releases slated for the next couple months:

Sigur Ros' Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
Detektivbyrån's Wermland
The Notwist's The Devil, You + Me
Okkervil River's The Stand Ins.

me
Aaron, Pia Fraus was released by Clairecords, and not Darla, wasnt it?

kilas99
This has been a REALLY down year for music, in my book.

My tastes range from electronic (the Field) to ambient (fennesz) to indie (Built to Spill), I always play New Order on the Juke Box...

And this year, only two albums have really stuck with me.

-Headlights "Some Racing, Some Stopping"
-Foals "Antidotes"

Headlights may appear super boring at first, but their indie-pop seems to be filling in where Stars have failed with their last couple albums. Also reminds me a lot of Kevin Drew's 2007 album.

And Foals, are great. Pitchfork got this one wrong. They remind me anywhere from Bloc Party, Love is All, Battles.....I know, not too unique or special, but the songs are really cool and have great energy and stay with you for a while.

Well, here is to some better albums coming out in the final 7/12th's of the year:)

Ryan
@bubbachups: "Paêbirú" is indeed a great album. I forgot that it was getting reissued. I need to pick up a copy of it soon. I think I missed out on the vinyl reissue, though.

Justin
First off, that Gregor Samsa record is terrible. Like being so bored you fall asleep. But Philip Jeck's "Sand" is incredible. I think it's been a great year for music, just less releases I really like which is fine with me and my bank account.

Best of 2008 so far:

Philip Jeck - Sand
Grails - Take Refuge In Clean Living
Jacaszek - Treny
Xela / MGR split
Our Sleepless Forest
Earth - The Bees Made Honey...
Pocahaunted - Island Diamonds
Souvenir's Young America split with City of Ships
Trees - Lights Bane
Touch 7" Series

Dan S
I've been enjoying the 2 recently released albums by Fluxus artist Yoshi Wada, "Lament For The Rise And Fall Of Elephantine Crocodile" and "The Appointed Cloud", which use his voice and his homemade bagpipes as sound sources. Beautiful...

weis
Been awhile since I've checked in here. Glad to see the reviews are still reliably pouring in every friday! Kudos to you Aaron.
Mp3 Blogs got me excited about old and rare stuff that I was too hesitant to take a chance on in the past because of the high expense. So, I suppose I haven't got a list of new stuff just some old shit that's blowing my mind...
Nurse With Wound
Hototogisu (not old, but OOP)
Einstürzende Neubauten
Bill Dixon
Experimental Audio Research
Keiji Haino
Les Rallizes Denudés
and those Gas albums that have been out of print. I own Pop but the others were gone before I was clued into their majesty. Holy Shit, best techno work of the 90's! (well, Basic Channel is pretty close).
That said, some '08 releases have been spending time on my stereo...
Aethenor - Betimes Black Cloudmasses (love the addition of the free-percussion)
Autistic Daughters (really like the 'room' feel of the recording)
Valet (nice and druggy)
Six Organs of Admittance (hated this at first for some reason, but it's slowly become my fav of his work. What's her name from Magik Markers sounds surprisingly gentle and pretty!)
Ilyas Ahmed - Vertigo of Dawn
Scott Tuma - Not for Nobody (finally, a new solo album and he's better than ever)

Andy
In terms of 08 releases I am loving:
Tape
Jacascek
Prolyphic and Reanimator
Benga
Dodos
Beach House
Borko
...that said, there seems to be alot of stuff that hasn't lived up to the hype.

bubbachups
For those looking for some electronic music I would recommend the new Kangding Ray on Raster-Noton called "Automne Fold".

bubbachups
Natural Snow Buildings is great indeed. I was in the same position as you Darren, trying to get my hands on the original pressing for a long time. And then later in 2007 "When Stars Glide Through Solid" was gone (edition of 32 or something) before I even knew it existed in the first place. Digitalis and Students of Decay are doing a good job right now at releasing a lot of their stuff, I especially liked "Laurie Bird". The reissue of "The Dance of the Moon and the Sun" is still not available though, lots of delays on that one. I'll be getting the 4 disc special edition which also comes with two additional 3" cdrs. That's a lot of music...

My favourite reissue of the year so far has to be the 2lp edition of "Paêbirú" by Lula Cortes & Ze Ramalho though. Amazing album, the flagship of Brazilian '70s psychedelia. Mr Bongo Records did a great job on this reissue that also comes with new liner notes by Lula Cortes himself.

Jon
"Au - Verbs [Aagoo]"

I second that Michel! Everyone should go check out their new single on their myspace or pick up the first album. One of the first things that I've heard in a while that actually felt like a breath of fresh air...

I really like Carla Bozulich's new album, especially the latter half of the A-Side. Besides that there haven't bee too many things that I've been too excited about...I agree about the sigur ros single Aaron! Exciting direction for them to be taking, but don't know how to feel about that name! Or the album cover, now that I think about it :P

Darren
Best cd re-issue of the year:
Natural Snow Buildings: The dance of the moon & the sun
I have been trying to track it down for two years. 1st pressing 42 copies world wide 2nd pressing 55 copies world wide. 3rd pressing 1000 copies with two additional cds. For fans of Godspeed, Sigur Ros, Rachel's et al...
I would recommend it to everyone that reads this site.
2nd best re-issue is all of the Gas records everyone that reads this site needs to hear them too.

Alex
This has been a crazy year for me:

Autechre - Quaristice plus the Quaristice.quadrange.ep.ae digital release
Subtle - ExitingARM
Grails - Take Refuge in Clean Living
Kayo Dot - Blue Lambency Downward
Gregor Samsa - Rest
Meat Beat Manifesto - Autoimmune
Dosh - Wolves and Wishes.

Not to mention the live scene so far this year, the highlight so far being Stars of the Lid at the Masonic Temple in Montreal.

I'd say this is shaping us to be an above-average year.

Michel
Some albums that are pushing my buttons this year and don't seem to be getting much praise:

Au - Verbs [Aagoo]
Blanks Dogs - On Two Sides [Fuck It Tapes]
Factums - The Sistrum [Sacred Bones]
The Goslings - Occasion [Not Not Fun]
Indian Jewelry - Free Gold! [We Are Free]
Lau Nau - Nukkuu [Fonal]
Paavoharju - Laulu laakson kukista [Fonal]
Paul Metzger - Gedanken Splitter [Roaratorio]
Shearwater - Rook [Matador]
Woods Family Creeps - Self-Titled [Time-Lag]

almostcool
I'm feeling somewhere in the middle myself. As I mentioned, there has been some amazing stuff, but not quite as much as I had hoped for. I was more than pleasantly surprised by some things (Portishead, Autistic Daughters, Dodos) and genuinely love others (Dosh, Mae Shi, Fuck Buttons), but also thought there would be more that tripped my trigger at this point.

In terms of upcoming stuff, I can't wait to hear the Gas - Nah Und Fern box set, the upcoming Sigur Ros (the new single, although unfortunately titled, is very intriguing), the forthcoming Wolf Parade, the Burial DJ Kicks, and the Notwist.

Oh, and Tompkins Square Records is putting out a bunch of James Blackshaw albums that have been out-of-print for some time.

I'm sure there's some stuff I missed, right? :)

almostcool
If anyone is reading this and has spent even a touch of their economic stimulus checks (United States readers will know what I'm talking about) on amazon.com goods after clicking through here, I thank you... I only mention it because it seems like I have sold a couple more things than usual and the checks are the only logical conclusion I could come up with. :)

Elwin Rijken
Hey Aaron, thanks for the Dosh review. Dosh is really one of those bands that you made me find out about and I'm enjoying Wolves and Wishes quit a bunch right now.
Thanks! Keep up the great work

Headphone Commute
I've been a long fan of Hymen Records (the German label doing darker IDM), but the latest Hecq release, "Night Falls", is an absolutely stunning orchestral masterpiece (and totally beatless). In terms of dark ambient sound, this is where I think it excels. You should check it out.

Was not much impressed by Ellen Allien's Sool (makes me question how much work was really contributed by her to Orchestra of Bubbles).

Neil
Some interesting observations about the "Young Team" re-issue. I haven't heard it myself yet, but I've long been wary of remasters and extended editions in general anyway. It's well-known that "Young Team" is the band's least favourite album (lack of studio time, shortage of money, etc.), so this extended re-release has presented them with the opportunity of getting it to sound the way they perhaps intended. Here's hoping so.
And to think there's the possibility of a 10th anniversary edition of "Come On Die Young" in 2009 - now that would be something that could be very special to me.

almostcool
I haven't even heard the new M83 yet, but I have plans to get it soon and review it here. The songs I've heard have been soaked in a sort of cheeseball 80s nostalgia, but that's not _necessarily_ a bad thing. :)

Neil Cheyney
So far, I've been enjoying:
Pocahaunted - everything I've heard by them is wonderful;
Quttinirpaaq - "Dragged Through The Streets" is breathtaking doom-type stuff
Adam Lygo/Invisible - amazing CDRs of treated guitar - "The Somnambulist" (under his Invisible alias) is a very special record;
Nadja - there's always Nadja

Apefar
Hi, I was just wondering if you've heard the new M83 album? It's an absolutely killer album in places and my addiction this spring. It would be great to see it reviewed here. Cheers!

bubbachups
The new Philip Jeck is definitely one of my favourites this year. Even though so much of its detail is hidden beneath the blur and dust I still feel this album is wildly expressive. The whole concept of time and mortality that runs through every second of its duration is so powerful that it feels as if we are listening from the inside of an hourglass or clockwork. The inclusion of a segment of Emily Dickinson’s “The Chariot” on the inside of the artwork therefore makes perfect sense. I enjoy reading the full poem while listening to this album, it definitely heightens the experience of both. Of his previous work I only have the “Sinking of the Titanic” album so I can’t make any real comparisons but Sand definitely makes for an intriguing listen.

Other albums recently bought that I really like are:
- Brendan Murray - Commonwealth
- Graham Lambkin / Jason Lescalleet - Breadwinner
- Bonnie Prince Billy – Lie Down in the Light
- Scott Tuma – Not for Nobody
- Kawaguchi Masami’s New Rock Syndicate – Cat vs. Frog

But so far my two favourites still remain “April” by Sun Kil Moon and “Gunpowder Temple of Heaven” by Birchville Cat Motel.