So, here it is….
I’m not usually prone to ‘end of year’ charts and musical reflections, but an email from Boomkat asking for a 2012 Top Ten prompted me to rifle back through my record boxes and remind myself of various purchases over the last 12 months. It’s fair to say that it’s been an absolutely great year for music. I suppose every year is, on reflection, but this is the first year I’ve had since leaving Asia where I’ve been able to monitor (not to mention purchase!) a year’s music as it unfolds.
It’s true that it might be harder to sell the same quantity of units than it used to, but in a strange way this has almost freed up people’s creativity, and risk taking. Maybe if there isn’t the same commercial pressure, people are left to focus on their artistry. This in turn produces a more integral product, and overall, a more satisfying musical landscape when viewed with hindsight. It might be a bit tougher to make a living, but if quality and imagination soar as a result, maybe this is something we can deal with in the long run.
You can check the Boomkat chart here:
I focused on new releases, although some of those are archival. In addition I’ve drawn up a ‘vintage’ Top Ten of new discoveries of old tracks that peppered my DJ sets this year, whether playing with my spar Maft Sai at Paradise Bangkok, or elsewhere.
10 That Brightened Up 2012 x 10 Paradise Bangkok Burners
1. ‘Ekstasis’ – Julia Holter (RVNG Intl. LP)
2. ‘Hello Skinny’ – Hello Skinny (Slowfoot LP)
3. ‘Strange Passion’ – Various (Finders Keepers LP)
4. ‘Raw Money Raps’ – Jeremiah Jae (Brainfeeder LP)
5. ‘The Jeb Loy Nichols Special’ – Jeb Loy Nichols (City Country City LP)
6. ‘Otherwordly’ – The Pyramids (Disko B LP)
7. ‘Din’ – Fay (Time No Place LP)
8. ‘Voix’ – Egisto Macchi (The Roundtable LP)
9. ‘Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar’ – Dariush Dolat-Shahi (Dead-Cert LP)
10. ‘Ondatropica’ – Ondatropica (Soundway LP)
1. ‘Pai Na Pai’ – Sroeng Santi (Paradise Bangkok 7″)
2. ‘Samba’ – Balla Et Ses Balladins (Syliphone 7″)
3. ‘Love Won’t Come Easy’ – The Heptones (Rockers 7″)
4. ‘Pal Men Jane Kaya Hojaye’ – Akhlaq Ahmed, Nahid Akhtar & Others (EMI Pakistan 7″)
5. ‘Lam Plearn Me Mia Lean Pai’ – Angkanang Kunchai (Lepso Studio 7″)
6. ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – Masud Rana & Rubina Badar (EMI Pakistan 7″)
7. ‘Ney-Ney Woleba’ – Alemayehu Eshete (Philips 7″)
8. ‘Working To The Top’ – Marcia Griffiths (Studio One blank 7″)
9. ‘Youba’ – The Sway Machinery feat. Gawad Teriamou (Electric Cowbell 7″)
10. ‘Keleya’ – Kante Manfla (Djima 7″)
Julia Holter’s ‘Ekstasis’ LP is pretty far removed from my usual listening fare, but there was something about its musical simplicity and haunting poetry that kept it on heavy rotation throughout 2012. It’s impending re-release on Domino will doubtless introduce Holter’s talent to a deserved wider audience. ‘Strange Passion’ on Finders Keepers was definitely my comp. of the year. This collection of post-punk Irish music had a freshness, innocence and honesty about it that belied its age. The backstory of how the music was created in the difficult local landscape of the 70s and 80s, added to its weight. ‘Din’ by Fay pretty much sounded like nothing else, like a fevered compression of post-Timbaland rhythmic reductions. And even if you’re not into Columbian music, you should check the ‘Ondatropica’ LP. Simply put, nothing else sounded as good as this, this year. Recorded at the Fuentes studios in Medellin using vintage equipment, it’s direct mastering to vinyl with minimal overdub work, created a warmth and presence rarely witnessed in so many modern productions. That has to be a lesson for us somewhere as we head into 2013.
You can never squeeze everything into a chart, so I’d also cite Raime’s ‘Quarter Turns Over A Living Line’, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend Ascend’ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Can Tapes, Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’, Mark Ernestus & Jeri-Jeri, ‘Spiritual Jazz’ 3 on Jazzman, ‘The Hired Hand’ on vinyl, Pole’s rerubs of Roll The Dice, early glimpses of Jai Paul, the Sun Araw/Congos project, ‘Secret Enigma’ on Finders Keepers, Getatchew Mekuria’s latest outing with The Ex, ‘Neph/Phi’ by Klaus, and of course the new Burial….lucky for us listeners, the list goes on.
New ‘old’ music wise, I’ve documented some of my finds on preceding blog posts, but in 2012 I was lucky to be turned onto great selections from Pakistan, East Africa & Indonesia, some new Thai gems from Maft Sai’s massive stock (check http://www.zudrangmarecords.com for the full picture) as well as lovely W.African LPs from City Boys Band, Kyerematen Stars, and too many reggae 45s to mention. And of course, it was a thrill to get the ‘Paradise Bangkok’ label started.
Some of the tracks mentioned in the chart and above are played in my last show of the year for ZudRangMa radio. Part 1 is here:
and the full tracklisting is below:
Hard Times – Jeb Loy Nichols
Love Won’t Come Easy – The Heptones
Happy Song – Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, The Congos
Cloud Rider – The Pyramids
Mor Khaen Ha Khu – Prasai Jaekankeo (Paradise Bangkok 45 PB001)
High Cost of Living – The Threat (from ‘Strange Passion’)
Lir Saalir – Tina & Soetedjo
Opening – Bruce Langhorne (from ‘The Hired Hand’ Soundtrack)
Chozi Lanitoka – Black Star Musical Club
Abrabo Ye Ntoboase – City Boys Band
Dhinak Dhin Dhin Tana – Ahmed Rushdi
Four Gardens – Julia Holter
Knot Blue – Hello Skinny
Greetings – Jeremiah Jae feat. Tre
People Are Changing – Joe White
These charts and the accompanying radio show aren’t definitive, just a glimpse into some of my personal highlights this year. If it introduces you to some sounds that hitherto passed you by, then that’s all to the good. Merry Christmas, and a prosperous and healthy 2013.