The owners and DJs of the radio station Anti-Gravity Bunny Radio airs on, BFF.fm, collectively decided it would be cool if DJs wanted to share their favorite records of the year. Since I already did my Top Drone list, I figured I’d do a Top Non-Drone list.
The list I made (which you can see here, with a little writeup of each) is officially a Top 10, but since 10 songs couldn’t fill up the show, I added a few more that probably would’ve taken the 11-13 spots if they existed. Anyway, I ended up being completely head over heels for a bunch of records this year that weren’t drone (which is not uncommon, contrary to what I review on AGB, I actually have somewhat rounded music taste), so I was more than happy to make this list and shower these records with even more praise.
Update: Thanks to Carr down there in the comments, I had no idea Andy Stott had so many records. Dude’s been recording since 06 and he’s got like 20 records, so ignore my comments during the show about the Luxury Problems full length and the We Stay Together/Passed Me By EPs being his first releases.
AGB Radio 2014/12/15 – Top 13 Non-Drone Countdown
Background music: Ak’chamel, The Giver Of Illness – Head Of Acante, Talking Tree (from Fucking With Spirits)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:01:19 Benjamin Booker – Always Waiting (from Benjamin Booker)
00:03:37 Cody Yantis – Brightness IV (from Resonant Memory)
00:07:58 Horseback – Chanting Out The Low Shadow (from Piedmont Apocrypha)
00:24:39 Jackie McDowell – Golden Fields (from Baptisia)
00:29:58 Talk break
00:31:21 Wold – Spiral Star Inversion (from Postsocial)
00:45:38 Panopticon – Where Mountains Pierce The Sky (from Roads To The North)
00:58:16 Talk break
00:59:37 Andy Stott – Violence (from Faith In Strangers)
01:06:10 Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – What We Loved Was Not Enough (from Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything)
01:17:32 Mamiffer – Enantiodromia (from Statu Nascendi)
01:33:46 Talk break
01:34:43 Rivulets – Summer Rain (from I Remember Everything)
01:40:19 Have A Nice Life – Burial Society (from The Unnatural World)
01:46:55 Dama/Libra – The Chant (from Claw)
01:53:29 The Body – Our Souls Were Clean (from I Shall Die Here)
01:58:36 Talk break
Jordan De La Sierra – Music For Gymnastics (Numero Group)
There’s kind of an unofficial rule that I don’t write about reissues on AGB (for too many reasons to go into here) but this record is a perfect example of why that’s not an official rule. Jordan De La Sierra should be spoken about in the same breath as Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Lubomyr Melnyk, but he only put out two records (in ’77 and ’88), so he was destined to fade into obscurity under the New Age revolution. I never heard of De La Sierra before this Numero reissue of the original 2xLP, and that’s just a fucking travesty. This music is absolutely stellar, 100 transformative minutes spread out over 4 soft piano pieces, looped melodies creating meditative rhythms, slow ambient keys soloed out and resonating in your soul, nothing but harmony and sober trances, the delicacies of hypnotic piano ambience laid out in the most masterful and endearing way, everything about this says “fucking classic” and hopefully Numero has been the catalyst for that. And since this is a bigger label, no song download from me, but that “Music For Gymnastics” link up there goes to a Soundcloud stream of the full 24 minute song, so dive in, then throw your money at Numero.
One song from each of my 20 favorite drone records this year, starting with Aires at 20 and ending with The Number One Ian William Craig.
AGB Radio 2014/12/08 (Top 20 Drone Countdown)
Background music: The Fun Years – Sun Blackened Field Daisy / Decapite El Mirlo (from One Quarter Descent)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:48 Aires – Orgânico II – Monolítico (from Aires)
00:07:44 Tecumseh – Final Light, Last Light (from Violet)
00:11:20 Faures – Orogenic Uplift (from Continental Drift)
00:14:53 Siavash Amini – Maria Timofeyevna Pt. 1 (from What Wind Whispered To The Trees)
00:17:25 The Fun Years – Sea The Shroud / Janice Was Into Recovery (excerpt) (from One Quarter Descent)
00:22:18 William Cody Watson – Whitegirl (excerpt) (from Seafoam)
00:27:13 Lawrence English – Guillotines And Kingmakers (from Wilderness Of Mirrors)
00:29:16 Talk break
00:30:40 David Andree & Josh Mason – (in) (from Call, Response)
00:34:21 Kyle Bobby Dunn – La Failure Et La Chance (from Kyle Bobby Dunn And The Infinite Sadness)
00:37:56 Skullflower – Autumns Trinkets (from Draconis)
00:43:58 Jumalhämärä – II (from Resitaali)
00:51:57 Billy Gomberg – Certain Words Again And Again (excerpt) (from Certain Words Again And Again)
00:56:56 Talk break
00:58:07 Sublamp – The Leaf Chorus (excerpt) (from Lianas)
01:03:06 Rvnes – Relief (excerpt) (from Rest/Relief)
01:08:03 Æther – Like A Wisp Of Smoke, A Glowing Butterlamp (excerpt) (from Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring)
01:12:58 Saåad – Valley Of Quartz (from Deep/Float)
01:18:30 HolyKindOf – Requiem, Et Cetera (from Stay/Sea)
01:28:12 Talk break
01:29:39 Nicholas Szczepanik – Not Knowing (excerpt) (from Not Knowing)
01:35:43 Hellvete – Ode II (C-221) (from Ode)
01:53:29 Ian William Craig – The Edges (from A Turn Of Breath)
01:58:33 Talk break
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I fucking love making my Top Drone Records list. Not only do I get to listen to all of my favorite drone records from the past 12 months basically non-stop for a month, I also get to re-share all these fucking amazing records that you may have overlooked or never even known about.
This year’s list is a bit stricter on what I considered “drone.” Except that was entirely unintentional. It just so happens there weren’t a lot of “sorta kinda mostly drone” records that were as outstanding as these 20. And while this list does cap out at 20, know that every other drone record I reviewed is tied for the 21 spot. I love each and every one of them for their own unique qualities. (Here would be some terrible joke about how all drone records sound the same which I hear all. the fucking. time.)
And for those of you new to my Top Drone list, know this is a list based on emotion and how these records affected me. I don’t try to make any objective statements of “best record” or anything like that, and when I do, it’s purely subjective and hyperbolic. These records are my personal favorites because they resonate with me in ways that are frequently indescribable.
So as not to clog the front page, the 20 jaw dropping drone records are after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
William Cody Watson – Seafoam (self released / No Kings)
William Cody Watson is easily one of the most underrated and underrepresented bliss droners, and Seafoam is his final release, not as in he’s going on to make music using another moniker, he’s just done, no more music as WCW or Pink Priest or Gremlynz or Malibu Wands or any other name, but he’s going out on the fucking top with this one and he corralled thee High Aura’d to contribute some field recordings and piano, so this is a fuckin brilliant piece of sound, with gorgeous cascading harmonies and slow shifting tones that glow like angel choirs descending from a cracked open Cecil B. DeMille sky, the light of the world shining straight into your heart, and low sober minimalism, pulled out from your deep aching core and rapt in endless sorrows, melancholic & resigned, not admitting defeat but acknowledging reality, with long stretches of unsteadiness, the trembling anxiety before plunging into the unknown, and hoping it turns out ok, this is tender and glorious and just absolutely fucking magnificent, and you get your choice of digital, which Watson released back in January, or tape, which No Kings just dropped.
Pascal Savy – Ghost Echoes (Eilean)
While Pascal Savy has a few releases under his belt, this is the first I’ve heard of him, and holy shit am I glad I finally did, this record is fucking outstanding, a slab of dark drone “mythical seascapes,” using foreboding static swells and washes of minimal thrum to evoke images of desolate fog-cloaked seamen lost in the middle of an oceanic world (yeah that album artwork is fucking spot on for this one), super bleak, super beautiful, this is all about the taste of salty air and the serenity of calm waters while slowly suffocating under the impenetrable gloom above, slow & meditative with moments of overwhelming squalls, I feel myself drowning and it’s a welcome respite.
Eilean Records is a brand new label that started this year and already has 11 (almost 12) releases out, all of them 100% amazing. Can’t get enough of this label. They’ve released some of my favorite records this year and they plan on releasing a total of 100 records, each a point on a map of an imaginary island, so we’ve got plenty of awesomeness in store.
AGB Radio 2014/12/01 – Label Spotlight: Eilean Records
Background music: HolyKindOf – Ceremonial Magnet (Part 1) (from Stay/Sea)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:03:11 Twincities – Evenings Wait; The Morning’s Break (from Variations For The Celesta)
00:11:04 HolyKindOf – Nocturne; In S Major (from Stay/Sea)
00:28:53 Talk break
00:30:12 Danny Clay – Untitled (from Archive)
00:43:14 Xu – Ghost Boy (from Butterfly Meets Mountain)
00:51:11 Sublamp – Bramble And Thorn (from Lianas)
01:08:19 Talk break
01:09:24 Vhr-1.7 – Meon (from Lost Angle)
01:17:11 BMRN – Shoreline Flights (from Immersion / Drift / Accretion / Shift)
01:25:07 Miguel Isaza – Oda Al Diente De León (from Uji)
01:36:10 Talk break
01:37:06 Nathan McLaughlin – Flow (from Nothing To Be Sad About)
01:40:19 Pascal Savy – Aurora (from Adrift)
01:48:11 Aaron Martin – A Figure Falls Still (from Comet’s Coma)
01:53:08 Leigh Toro – The Grand Union (from L’Espirit De L’Escalier)
01:57:51 Talk break
Siavash Amini – The Wind (Futuresequence)
This Iranian dude has only a handful of releases to his name (although he’s been making music for a while with other bands and such) but from the sound of What Wind Whispered To The Trees I’m pretty sure he’s already at the top of his game, this record is jaw droppingly beautiful, full of overwhelming moody drone accompanied by a tender & sincere violin by Nima Aghiani, from the moment the opening track starts swirling in a dark & stormy cloud of gorgeous melancholy, you know you’ve chosen the right path, and it just gets better & better, walls of hissing static and long stretches of gloom, this is full of heartache, the brooding drone and a crying violin bringing back all the grief you’ve experienced all at once, a slow rush of pain to the head, smooth but devastating, the kind of sounds that I live for, this is just absolutely fucking fantastic work, I can’t wait to see where Amini goes next.
Black To Comm, you guys. Fuckin unreal.
AGB Radio 2014/11/24
Background music: Mark Mcguire – Astral Protection (from Noctilucence)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:34 Bing & Ruth – Postcard From Brilliant Orange (from Tomorrow Was The Golden Age)
00:07:31 Cory O’Brien – Vector #3 (from Denser Materials)
00:12:29 Jean D.L. – Xanela, Pt. 1 (from Early Nights)
00:21:30 Sarah Louise – Late Summer Seed Collection (from Field Guide)
00:29:58 Talk break
00:31:03 Nick Hoffman – Gilded Pomegranate (from Barbarous Tongues)
00:41:35 Wolf Maps – Nowhere (from Endless)
00:47:27 Charlie Parr – I Dreamed I Saw Paul Bunyan Last Night (from Hollandale)
00:58:12 Talk break
00:59:38 Andrew Weathers – Last Light At Sonora Pass (from Raised High In Badwater Basin)
01:14:17 Ulaan Markhor – Rolling (from Spiral Horns, Black Onions, et al.)
01:20:14 Aaron Martin – Widow’s Walk (from Comet’s Coma)
01:28:23 Talk break
01:29:52 Loscil – Sea Island Murders (from Sea Island)
01:37:58 Black To Comm – Is Nowhere (from Black To Comm)
01:57:48 Talk break
Skullflower – Sunset Dreams (Cold Spring)
The masters of chaotic drone are back with their first solo full length since 2011’s Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses, and this time it’s a double CD overstuffed with a total fucking maelstrom of gloriously harsh drone, and some might balk at the drone label here but make no mistake, this has all the makings of the most perfect fucking drone, overwhelmingly loud with a thousand layers going at once, each seeming like they’re totally independent from each other, doing their own thing, but they work in a discordant unison and form a cohesive slab of destruction, at a distance, this sounds like an impenetrable waterfall of noise, but the closer you get, the clearer it becomes, patterns emerge and harmonies rise from the static, this is an unequaled transcendent experience, and I know I’ve been throwing around “transcendent” a lot lately, but it’s always been appropriate, and here even more so, Draconis takes drone to new heights, this is a spiritual rite, the majestic mess of sounds conjured are not only the conduit to a greater truth, but themselves are an element of the Holiness that Skullflower embrace, they’ve created an altar of tumultuous bliss and call you forth to take part in the worship, you can’t fucking deny this.
Trepaneringsritualen – He Who Is My Mirror (Cold Spring)
This dude is one of my favorite dudes, his work as Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words was incredible and Deathward To The Womb from 2012 is one of the most uniquely horrific records ever, and he’s ever evolving into newer and more painful sounds, finding a groove in evil rhythms and going full on death industrial on Perfection & Permanence, a wholly unique decrepit ritual rooted deep in Christian mythology, growled distorted vocals that couldn’t possibly be coming from a human, gurgling “Father, why have you forsaken me?” with a mouthful of puss, the monstrous atomic bomb beats and throbbing synth balanced perfectly with walls of caustic static and ethereal gongs, the blackest most wretched ambient that will make your blood curdle, bleak as fuck sounds from beyond the post-apocalypse, where the remaining humans have taken up arms against angels, this is beautifully disgusting and absolutely fucking enthralling, the rotting remains of a human corpse that you can’t turn away from. Limited vinyl from the UK, currently available stateside at Forced Exposure. This is not something you want to miss out on.
Northumbria – The Ocean Calls Us Home (Consouling Sounds)
Mega doom drone from these two Toronto dudes, and on their second full length they make it seem like they’ve been doing this forever, a timeless maximal minimalism that carves new neural pathways in your mind and tears rifts in the fabric of the sky, shifting feedback & reverb as supreme as it gets, a wall of drone that demands only that you bask in its majesty, this is the call of gods, truly epic revelations with overwhelming buzz and toothy crackle, the kind of scorching bliss that turns amps white hot and parts oceans with its limitless power, this is absolutely fucking gorgeous, not black and occult like that other doom drone band you’re thinking of, more drone, less doom, Northumbria journey down their own righteous path of monolithic euphoria and leave us with tragically perfect records such as this. A fucking plus.
The new Skull Defekts doesn’t have Daniel Higgs singing which to be honest makes me kinda happy and the new Nazoranai is actually amazing, unlike the first one which didn’t do too much for me. So, goodness all around.
AGB Radio 2014/11/17
Background music: Node – Shinkansen West (from Node 2)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:33 Razen – Errant Traces Of A Caravan (from Reed Bombus LFO)
00:15:00 Ryan Huber – Ashlar (from Ghost Box Radio Dark Ambient Compilation Vol. 1: Telephone To The Dead)
00:20:32 The Skull Defekts – Holy Drums Are Singing (from Street Metal)
00:30:46 Talk break
00:31:53 Andrea Belfi – Roteano (from Natura Morta)
00:40:27 Joseph Hammer – Scenic Loop (from Roadless Travel)
00:48:54 Horse Lords – Macaw (from Hidden Cities)
00:59:21 Talk break
01:00:15 Nazoranai – The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already… ? (from The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already… ?)
01:18:50 Clint Takeda – Momonohime (from 2014 European Tour CDR)
01:29:18 Talk break
01:29:59 Parashi – Pulverized Concrete On The Rim Of A Coffee Cup (from Pilot’s Salt)
01:45:49 Gábor Lázár – EP5 (from EP16)
01:48:20 Vladislav Delay – Vihollinen (from Visa)
01:59:07 Talk break
Sun Splitter – Desistance (Sun Splitter)
These Chicago dudes aren’t gettin the love they deserve. They’ve been at it for years (check out reviews of II and III) making consistently awesome dark demented psych doom, and their newest is a beast of a record, charging through the emptiness of space, destroying everything in its path, seeking Truth, this is some heavy weirdness that takes from industrial, noise, and drone just as easily as it does Lovecraft and Hawking, long riff heavy grooves that build into swirling chants, methodical and explosive arcs of abyssal rock, creeping, plodding, fuckin ugly, and heavily spiritual, worshiping the almighty Infinity, these songs are the mystic rituals aiming to cross through dimensions, reaching that which is unknown, and fuckin dooming it up real hard along the way. This will be primarily a digital release (available next week, along with a poster if you’d like) but there’s going to be a super limited CD-R version available only at the release show in Chicago at The Empty Bottle on January 5th. So, you know, that’s probably worth the hike if Chicago is in your general vicinity.
Billy Gomberg – The Present Until It’s Tangible (Sunshine Ltd)
This is one of those instances where I know the artist, I’ve listened to him before, I’ve even reviewed a record of his before (Waiting In Poor Lighting), and while the name has stuck with me, I was never really hooked or anything. So if you’re maybe in the same boat as me in regards to Mr. Billy Gomberg, do yourself a favor and put this one on the top of your listening pile. Certain Words Again And Again is 40 minutes (45 if you’re listening to the digital version) of brilliantly beautiful minimal tender drone that effortlessly floats in the air, light & delicate, yet substantial enough to completely wrap your senses in a cloud of bliss, glowing shades of warmth that shift oh so slowly in a gorgeous display of silent transcendence brought to life, a stunning presentation of restraint and precision perfectly balanced between overworked and underdeveloped that can be so hard to achieve in minimalism, Gomberg has made something truly fucking exquisite, I just want it to swallow me whole and not have to care about anything else. And back to that time difference thing I mentioned before, the track listing differs between physical & digital versions, the physical has 2 long and 2 short songs, the digital drops the 2 short songs and adds another long one, so you’re actually treated to almost an hour of music here, wholly worth the $7 price tag.