Tag Archives: Richard Dawson

Favourite albums of 2017

RICHARD DAWSON – Peasant (Domino). A departure from his previous work, in that he’s accompanied by a band, but Dawson’s ramshackle weirdness and Beefheartian tendencies are intact. ‘Soldier’ is my favourite song of the year, and includes my favourite lyric too: ‘Let’s betroth without delay / Pack the horse and ride away / Find some better place / Where we might raise a family / My heart is full of hope / I am tired, I am afraid / My heart is full of hope’.

BILL ORCUTT – Bill Orcutt (Palillia). Orcutt goes electric! Shimmering and abstract covers album with melodies I can never quite fathom. ‘Christmas on Earth’ is my favourite.

ROB NOYES – The Feudal Spirit (Poon Village). A traditional Fahey-style fingerpicking counterpart to Orcutt’s out-there album.

DEAN HURLEY – Anthology Resource Vol. 1 (Sacred Bones). Not only do they recall the happy, woozy weeks of David Lynch’s mind trip masterpiece, these soundscapes from Twin Peaks: The Return are incredible in their own right.

DEDEKIND CUT – American Zen (Ninja Tune). Wonderful washes of noise and hints of techno.

F INGERS – Awkwardly Blissing Out (Blackest Ever Black). Barely-there dark dreams.

BLUE IVERSON – Hotep (World Music). Twenty minutes of Dean Blunt’s soul and R&B doodlings. Far more compelling than that might sound.

HANNAH PEEL – Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia (self-published). Is it my imagination, or has there been a glut of albums featuring synths and colliery brass bands this year? This was the best.

VESSEL – Nyt Alfabet (DME). Shakily soporific in the best possible way. And that voice! I’m melting.

ALDOUS HARDING – Party (4AD). Speaking of voices… I predict that next year Aldous Harding will conquer the world.

Favourite tracks of 2014

Firstly, it’s been more a year for albums rather than individual songs. Even though my longlist is 41 tracks and 4.5 hours, I’m being strict with myself for this list by not including tracks to represent albums I love, if the track doesn’t stand alone. So nothing from Oren Ambarchi’s Quixotism (Part 3 came close, but is far more glorious in the context of the album). I’m also disallowing tracks from compilations and rereleased albums, therefore it’s a no-show for the Soul Jazz Gipsy Rumba or Strut Haiti Direct compilations, Finders Keepers’ Lewis album, or the rerelease of Aby Ngana Diop’s Liital.

So it’s a pretty pared-down list. Only eight tracks remain, though two of them are well over the 10-minute mark:

  • I Have Walked This Body by Jenny Hval & Susanna
  • Advice to Young Girls by Copeland ft. Actress
  • CIRCLONT6A[141.98][syrobonkus mix] by Aphex Twin
  • Hidden Thieves by Eyes & No Eyes
  • Nothing Important by Richard Dawson
  • Body Sound by Holly Herndon
  • Pretending by Mice Parade
  • Speech Spirits by FIS (The Nagger remix by Oren Ambarchi)

Here’s a Spotify playlist:

The numbers

OK, so I keep a log of all the new stuff I listen to. Doesn’t everyone do that? Up until today I’ve listened to 589 unique albums, 98 EPs and 41 singles this year – that’s 728 releases in total.

354 of these titles were released in 2014. This chart shows the release years, ordered by listening date:

Listening years
254 releases were by artists from the USA, 204 from the UK. Germany’s next in the list with 37 releases, then Australia with 23, then Sweden with 18. I listened to artists from 55 different countries in total.

But that’s just the releases that were new to me. I don’t log everything I listen to. That would be crazy.

Most of my listening was via Spotify. The site’s ‘Year in Music’ tells me that my most-listened genres were experimental, drone, glitch, warm drone, post-rock. Sounds about right.
Apparently I’ve listened to 38,739 minutes of music on Spotify this year, which certainly justifies the £10/month payment.
That’s 645 hours. That’s 27 whole days.

Finally, Last.fm tells me my most-listened artists this year. Given that many Oren Ambarchi tracks are longer than 10 minutes, he’s even more of a clear winner:Last.fm 2014 listening

Favourite albums of 2014

meshes_of_voice-27626501-frntl_1408276585Meshes of Voice by Jenny Hval & Susanna
Plotting a course between pretension and striking beauty, this album features more exquisite moments than any other this year. Jenny Hval’s impossibly high falsetto weaves in and out of Susanna’s warmer tones. Contrasting hummable melodies, the most unexpected elements are the unsettling drones, reaching a pinnacle in ‘I Have Walked This Body.’

 Richard-Dawson-Nothing-Important-300dpi

Nothing Important by Richard Dawson
The title track is the single most exciting song I’ve heard all year. It’s folk music for this century. It’s punk music without the posturing. It’s the short story I wish I’d written.

 Quixotism

Quixotism by Oren Ambarchi
Every so often I revisit a location important to me during my childhood. Each time, when I arrive, I worry that the magic won’t remain. Each time, I’m surprised all over again. Quixotism works in just the same way. Its simplicity seems mundane at first, until you begin to notice all of the irregular elements. Then it becomes hypnotic, even when the thump segues into jerky techno. It’s my favourite 2014 album for driving in the dark, occupying a similar place to Carter Tutti Void’s 2012 album Transverse.

 Other albums fan

Everybody Down by Kate Tempest, for its genre-busting storytelling. Pipes by Katie Gately, an artist who’ll no doubt produce something even more astounding in the near future. La Isla Bonita by Deerhoof – an unexpectedly direct and fun return to form. Wilderness of Mirrors by Lawrence English, for soundtracking my writing in 2014. And possibly, although it’s a bit soon to tell, Shadow of the Monolith by Lawrence English and Werner Dafeldecker.

Compilations

Compilations

My absolute favourite is Gipsy Rhumba: The Original Rhythm of Gipsy Rhumba in Spain 1965-1974 from Soul Jazz, strange and diverse and loved by my son. Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra: In The Orbit Of Ra on Strut is outstanding. The French Avant-Garde in the 20th Century on LTM is terrific, too.

2014 reissues

ReissuesAnthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1 by Craig Leon – astounding proto-techno from early-80s Takoma label. Money by Nath & Martin Brothers, the funkiest ride of the year. Furia by The Fates, a weird folk/post-rock diversion from 1985.

Favourite record labels

Thrill Jockey (new releases by Skull Defekts, Man Forever, OOIOO), Hospital Productions (Vatican Shadow), Exotic Pylon (Time Attendant, Isobel Ccircle), Editions Mego (Oren Ambarchi).

Favourite albums overall, new to me, from any year

Even before the release of Quixotism, 2014 was, for me, the year of Oren Ambarchi. I heard 14 of his albums for the first time, five of which I adore (Connected, Grapes from the Estate, Intermission 2000-2008, In the Pendulum’s Embrace, Quixotism). The combination of The Glass Trunk and Nothing Important puts Richard Dawson in close second place. Free jazz was another predominant theme – I love Karma by Pharoah Sanders and World Galaxy by Alice Coltrane. Hillbilly Tape Music by Henry Flynt is an eye-opener. What?? by Folke Rabe was on constant rotation for a while, during writing stints. Material by Emptyset is terrifying and exhilarating. Inspiration Information by Shuggie Otis features killer tunes. I felt embarrassed I’d never before heard Slates by The Fall. And Go Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley is another of my son’s favourites and therefore mine too.