2015 was another wonderful year for compelling creative music. Here are a few of my favorite recordings from the year, divided along several different lines of musical activity. This post will also serve as a companion to the "Favorites of 2015" podcast, which you can listen to right here:
Follow the links on these lists to track down this amazing music for yourself:
25 favorites of 2015
- JOBS - Killer BOB Sings, New Amsterdam.
- Craig Scott's Lobotomy - War is a Racket, self-released.
- Blind Idiot God - Before Ever After, Indivisible Music.
- Upsilon Acrux - Sun Square Dialect, New Atlantis.
- Erica Eso - 2019, Ramp Local.
- Wei Zhongle - Nu Trance, Hairy Spider Legs.
- Noah Creshevsky - Hyperrealist Music, 2011-2015, EM Records.
- SCHNELLERTOLLERMEIER - X, Cuneiform Records.
- Holly Herndon - Platform, 4AD.
- Stavros Gasparatos - Expanded Piano, Ad Noiseam.
- Gong - I See You, Snapper Records/Mad Fish.
- BBJr - I Did What I Could With What I Had, Captcha.
- Joey Molinaro - I Who Will Forever Evil Yet Do Forever Good, self-released.
- Macula Dog - s/t, Haord (repress Ramp Local).
- Giant Claw - Deep Thoughts, Orange Milk.
- ARIADNE - Tsalal, Auris Apothecary.
- Twins of El Dorado - Verses, Prom Night Records.
- Zs - Xe, Northern Spy.
- Macho Blush - Firma
- German Army - Taushiro, Weird Ear Records.
- Matt Weston - Skate for the Lie, Tape Drift.
- ARVO ZYLO - Sequencer Works Vol. 1, Out-of-body Records.
- Voicehandler - Song cycle, Humbler.
- Coppice - Cores/Eruct, Category of Manifestation.
- Cinchel - Worry, self- released.
- The Silly Symphony Collection 1929-1939 box set, Disney.
- Steve Hillage - Madison Square Garden 1977, Purple Pyramid.
- Paul R. Marcano and Andre Martin - Valley Flutes / As it IS, Constellation Tatsu.
- Craw - 1993–1997 box set, Northern Spy.
- Frank Zappa - Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison, Zappa Records (RSD).
- Tools You Can Trust - Working and Shopping, Burka For Everybody.
- Miles Davis - Fillmore West: 15-10-70, Hi Hat.
- Richard Pinhas - Chronolyse, Cuneiform.
- The Contortions - Buy, Futurismo.
- Sun Ra - Planets of Life or Death: Amiens '73, Strut.
- G.S. Sultan - ad.sculpt tutorial, Orange Milk.
- Patrick Higgins - Social Death Mixtape, NNA Tapes.
- Noosphertilizer III: Strnglv/Pekltopia split tape, Aubjects.
- Ali Helnwein - Voyage, Spring Break Tapes.
- Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow, Primary Records.
- Cornered Yet Climbing Featuring Kelly Jayne Jones - Fevered Realities, Tombed Visions.
- Booker Stardrum - Dance and, NNA Tapes.
- PARTLI CLOUDI - Watermelon Cauliflower, Arachnidiscs.
- Ulrich Krieger - Winters In The Abyss, Pogus.
- Doc Wör Mirran featuring Conrad Schnitzler - Rojo, Tourette Records.
- Jon Mueller - A Magnetic Center, Rhythmplex.
- Augenmusik - s/t, Eiderdown.
- Wrest - Ingress, self-released.
- Andrew Bernstein - Cult Appeal, Hausu Mountain.
- The Gate - Chuck, Astral Spirits.
- I/OWAR - (silver tape), self-released.
- Stephen Haynes - Pomegranate, New Atlantis.
- Alan Sondheim / Azure Carter / Luke Damrosch - Threnody, Public Eyesore.
- Earth Tongues - Rune, Neither Nor Records.
- Tatsuya Nakatani - Confirmation, Taiga Records.
- Tredici Bacci - Vai! Vai! Vai!, Astral Spirits.
- Chef Menteur - III, Sunrise Ocean Bender.
- Guapo - Obscure Knowledge, Cuneiform.
- Many Arms & Toshimaru Nakamura - s/t, Public Eyesore.
- Tandaapushi - Fire Disposal, jvtlandt.
- Shit and Shine - 54 Synth-brass, 38 Metal guitar, 65 Cathedral, Rocket Recordings.
- le Flange du Mal - CARRION, MY WAYWARD SON, Resipiscent.
- Evening Fires - Where I've Been Is Places and What I've Seen Is Things, Sunrise Ocean Bender.
- Stern - Bone Turquoise, New Atlantis.
- German Army - Kalash Tirich Mir, Yerevan Tapes.
- Cremator - Phase Électronique, Extreme Ultimate.
- Polígono Hindú Astral - 00110010, Verlag System.
- Xua - Mekong Moon, Debacle Records.
- Bastian Void - No Dreams, Sic Sic Tapes.
- Jan Balsam & Hermon Cone - Pattern Dialect, Moss Archive.
- Three Fourths Tigers - Indoor Voice, Field Hymns.
- Grapefruit - Some New-Age Bullshit, Field Hymns.
- Panabrite - Disintegrating Landscape, Immune.
- Majeure - Union of Worlds, Constellation Tatsu.
- TALsounds - All The Way, Hausu Mountain.
Missed from last year
Unconscious Collective - Pleistocene Moon, Tofu Carnage
I heard about this insanely gorgeous recording near the middle of this year, when Tofu Carnage wisely chose to repress this near-perfect album that originally dropped mid-2014. From the composed, cinematic-feeling opener to the Z'EV-like percussion forays that close the album, and the many intense riffs and cutting improvisations in between, Unconscious Collective deserve a much wider audience. This pressing is quite remarkable in the packaging department, too, with wild swirled vinyl, spot-printing, foil stamping, and collodion prints of the band on linen. It looks incredible, and sounds better than it looks. Snag a 2nd pressing copy while you still can.
Favorite album art
The Snowfields - How To Get Good Sound from a Dead Ear, Field Hymns
I like a good album cover, but I've never been compelled to actually write about one until the new Snowfields tape arrived at my doorstep. I've always been smitten with the imaginative designs of Tiny Little Hammers
(and in the interest of disclosure, they've made my life a zillion times better this year by doing the design work for Tymbal Tapes), but DAMN. The colors, balance, movement, geometry: everything about this art makes my heart sing. And this music is no slouch, either--click that link above and check it out.
: New Atlantis Records
In struggling to put together these crazy lists, It would've made life a lot easier to simply include every single release from New Atlantis this year. In another incredible batch of recordings (2014 was also spectacular), the NA folks brought 14 essential recordings to our ears, documenting the best in hard-hitting avant-rock, heavy improvised music, and many exciting collisions in between. If the only music you had the opportunity to hear from the last year was exclusively from New Atlantis, your musical mind would remain a finely-tuned machine. Head over to their Bandcamp
page and get delightfully lost in an excellent and diverse discography.
Artist of the year: More Eaze
Marcus M. Rubio's new set of works under the More Eaze
moniker has absolutely demanded my attention throughout 2015. As diverse a set of music as you're ever likely to hear, these records reinvent songform from all directions: weighty electroacoustic textures give way to electronic pop, folk and Americana collide with vaporwave, and abstract/academic forms dissolve into gorgeous tonal narratives. Lord only knows where "the future of music" is headed, but I sure hope it takes some direction from More Eaze. Do yourself a solid and check these out:
More Eaze - stylistic deautomatization, Kendra Steiner Editions.
More Eaze - Abandoning finitude, Kendra Steiner Editions.
Thanks for listening and reading, and here's to a great 2016!