Adam Richards runs the Buffalo-based label House of Alchemy with his wife Katheryn. His recording project is called Chapels. He also records in the groups The Circle and the Point and Air Loom. Tune in to hear Adam guest host The Upstate Soundscape tonight (wed., 12/26) on 91.3FM WBNY at 8pm. Stream at WBNY.org.
David Kilgour- Here Come the Cars (De Stijl- reissue)
Of anything on my list, I definitely spun this the most in 2012. Perfect song craft, pure and simple. It’s so unassuming, it kind of just nudges you here and there until you realize that you’ve spun it four times in a row and you’re ready for another go.
Vanessa Rossetto- Exotic Exit (Kye)
Following up last year’s excellent Mineral Orange is this astounding piece of work. Her deft handling of sounds both random and exacted is dazzling. It all melds together to create 3 sweeping and engaging pieces of music. Field recordings mixed with hunks of composed sound, or so I guess. Either way, dive in. It’s intoxicating.
Henning Christiansen- Fluxid Behandlung Op 189 (Kye- reissue)
Major reissue of late 80’s Fluxus sound works. Jarring, odd, engulfing soundscapes. Unpredictable, mildly erratic and totally compelling. Essential.
Aaron Dilloway- Modern Jester (Hanson)
Aaron Dilloway/Jason Lescalleet – Snakes and Grapes (Pan)
Modern Jester is pretty much perfect. From start to finish, you are treated to some of the finest electronic quackery I have heard. Abrasive, gritty, elaborate and spot-goddamn-on. Probably the best thing I have heard all year.
Riding shot gun with that substantial album is a heavy collaboration with Jason Lescalleet. His set here in Buffalo this summer was above and beyond. This album gets deep and murky. These are two of the best modern sound composers out there right now. It’s a menacing slow burn. Wow.
Josh Mason/Nathan McLaughlin – “3440” split (Tape Drift)
What a tape. Mason’s side is liltingly cyclical, minimally evolving with minute, subtle flourishes. Piano, then some guitar. Deliriously just outside of repetitive. Something tiny is added with every lap. Coma sounds. Perfect coma sounds. McLaughlin offers lonesome banjo plucked with menacing deep bass looming behind. Plaintive, then dark until distortion washes it all out. It goes from minimal to sub-minimal and then turns to disorienting. It’s a puzzling and remarkable tape through and through.
Can- The Lost Tapes (United Artists- reissue)
It’s not very often that an essential band opens their vault and comes out with 3 CD’s of unreleased material that ranks amongst their finest. Vibrant, visceral, urgent. We now live in a world with three more CD’s of Can. That’s a damn good thing.
The Congos/Sun Araw/M. Geddes Gengras- Icon Give Thank (RVNG Intl)
This record is the soundtrack of a dream. I find myself in a trance within the first few minutes of dropping the needle, every time. It’s a magical hybrid of different worlds. Reggae vocal lay over outer limits psych grub. It’s like jumping into warm ocean water.
Venn Rain- multiple releases
The soundtrack of 2012 for me. In and around everything else on this list and all the other great recordings from this year, I was listening to Venn Rain. Half a dozen glimmering, mournful, hazy, cassettes: each one a comfort, an escape into tranquility. Get all of it.
Pedestrian Deposit- Kithless (Arbor)
They played a breathtaking set here in Buffalo this spring, on edge from beginning to end. This record rides from terse, tense minimalism to cathartic release with lots of space in between. Skin-crawling and beautiful. Essential sounds.
Hanel Koeck- Piano Music (Robert & Leopold)
Not only is the music fantastic but this has the packaging and concept of the year for me. Improvised piano, every aspect of the piano. After the recording the piano was disassembled and a piece of it is included with each cassette. Completely engrossing.
Work/Death- Phone About to Ring (Three Songs of Lenin)
He played a devastatingly good set here in Buffalo In July. A batch of new releases came out this summer as well. They’re all great but this one is astounding. There is a good amount of menace here. The electronic yelps slowly build to a crowd of howling. Everything is vibrating. Drone and sound at its finest.
Scott Walker- Bish Bosch (4AD)
Wow. Intimidating, bizarre, hilarious, entrancing, puzzling. Magnetic. Rattling saber blades. Amazing.
Labels- All Killer, No Filler: Tape Drift, Robert & Leopold, Cave Recordings, cae-sur-a, Imminent Frequencies, Hooker Vision, Tranquility Tapes, Skell, Obsolete Units, Desire Path Recordings, Kye, Numero, 905 Tapes, Dais Records.