5 releases making 2011 amazing

William Cody Watson

Tim Hecker Ravedeath, 1972

Tim Hecker's Ravedeath, 1972

I know it's been a while since I've typed words for this blog, and I do apologize, but guess what? Shit happens. Also, I realize I did a few articles on some things I thought were going to make 2011 reallllllllllly rad. Well, guess what? Here's some shit that is making 2011 rad. Read on, brothers and sisters…

Tim Hecker's Ravedeath, 1972
I was so fucking stoked to check this record out, having been a fan of Hecker's music for several years now. Everything the man releases has immense potency. I mean, let's face it, he has a handle on the noisy, crackling, space-filling ambient-electronic vibe. He makes some of the most vibrant, emotional, and large-scale music to ever suck your soul from your chest.

Ravedeath, 1972 is, ugh, well… It's probably easily my favorite Hecker release. Why? It's so heavy. Everything he's done has been the kind of vacuumous affair that either greatens or lessens gravity, depending on how you look at it. Sure, Harmony In Ultraviolet is amazing; a total classic that will never forget. Ravedeath, though, just fucking puts me under the bed. It's a cinematic, wide-screen view of the disintegration of everything we hold dear. I love it for that.

Prurient's Bermuda Drain
Throughout 2010 and 2011, we saw Dominick Fernow join the ranks of Cold Cave, as well as drop a couple releases under the name Vatican Shadow—two projects that seem to have greatly influenced this new album. Lot of heads were scratched, namely in the noise community, in regards to Fernow's shift into the overdriven, highly anthemic world of Cherish The Light Years-era Cold Cave. I liked the album, personally.

Vatican Shadow showed a bit of a different side of Fernow, by dabbling more in arpeggiated electronics and minimal techno; vaguely resembling the horror-soundscapes of the likes of John Carpenter or something.

So, when Bermuda Drain dropped (what, like, yesterdaythe day before?), I asked myself why all the confusion? Were you paying attention? Fernow has been very adamant about his interest in minimal techno and has been easing his material in this direction for years. Check out the dark, buried synth work on anything from Pleasure Ground to Rose Pillar, and traces of the Bermuda Drain blueprints were in the works. The Cold Cave and Vatican Shadow works should've have been big, fat red road signs pointing us this direction as well.

This album is, let's not beat around the bush here, FUCKING EPIC. It's everything I could have hoped for, from the second I heard the early tracks showcased on the Many Jewels Surround The Crown 7″, only stepped up, cranked. He went to Hydrahead Records, a pretty big major label who's been responsible for releasing acts as diverse as Cave-In, Isis, Helms Alee, & Jesu. Did we really have any preconceived notions here? Did Prurient change his ethos that drastically? I'm sorry, I have to admit, I like the tiny bits of extra gleam—the cleaned up production of Bermuda Drain. I can only assume this comes, in some aspect, from the move to Hydrahead. Then again, maybe that had nothing to do with it.

Did he change his sound? Sure. Who wanted another harsh, feedback-laden album that would literally burn down the forest a mile from your house? Honestly, I did, sort of. What did I get? That… plus more. You want noise? It's still there, all over the place. God forbid Dom move into some newer directions. God forbid an artist progress. He's done noise better than any other artist in the game for years.

Personally, I'm glad he's moved into these new territories. Adapting his blend of blackened noise with harsh power-electronics, tempering it with moments of pure ambiance—leaning towards new age, minimal electronica, and EBM. Hands down, Prurient's new album, Bermuda Drain, is a classic, powerful, dark, sensual, penetrating album. It's not beating a dead horse, it's not more of the same.

Prurient has progressed to become something more than some people may care to accept. I'm here with open arms. I'm already starving to see where he goes next.

Belong's Common Era
Belong's new album, Common Era, like Tim Hecker's new one was an album I was absolutely salivating over since I heard it was coming, via Myspace, like ten-thousand years ago—probably even moreso.

October Language, to me, is one ofthe most gorgeous albums I've ever heard. They presented a band doing something I wasn't familiar with until that point. I hadn't yet delved into the worlds of Fennesz, William Basinski, or really even Tim Hecker. Their granulated, ethereal soundscapes put me in a place post-rock hadn't even come close to touching. It was something fresh, something special, majestic, fuckin' heavenly. I checked out and enjoyed their next couple releases, and all was right with the world, but I was horny for the next full-length.

Then, there was the peak… We all heard “Perfect Life,” I think it was. What is this?? Who is this?? There's vocals?? Beats??

Needless to say, this took some growing on me. Not because it was bad music, but because it wasn't what I expected from this band that had changed my perspective on “ambient music;” no fuck that, music in general. I just didn't know how to absorb it right away. However, I was lucky enough to get to review the record for another website, and so I sat with the entire album, start to finish, for some time. Then it hit me.

Common Era takes so, so, so many elements from things I already love and just merges them in a way I could respect them even more. The Cure, well they fucking rule… The Jesus & Mary Chain, well goddamnit, ok, I love them… Even going so far as to—dare I say—incorporate elements not too far removed from the likes of an Ariel Pink or John Maus. Then they swamped it up, added 17 levels of reverb, disintegrated the sound, and wham! Out came one of the catchiest, most blissful, night time records I've heard in years.

Common Era is a Belong record, 100%. Sure it wears some influences on its sleeve, but what album at this point doesn't do that? It's a beautiful, perfect album that no one could have made besides Turk and Michael.

Final verdict? Do I like it as much as October Language?

Short answer… Yes. Even more.

The Men's Leave Home
I'm going to make this one short and sweet. Why? Because honestly, I don't know that much about The Men. I used to see their name scattered on some hardcore and noise rock blogs and message boards. I picked this up on a whim and was simply blown away.

It's an album that sounds like… Fuck, how do I explain it? It's a raw rock and roll album. It's psychedelic, heavy, and urgent.

Basically, it's like a much, much, much better Pissed Jeans, but much, much, much better. That still does it absolutely no justice. Email Cough Cool, and ask him to describe it to you.

Sorry I don't have more to say, but get the record. It's one of the best things I've heard come out of Sacred Bones; that new Cult Of Youth record included.

Grouper's A I A: Alien Observer & A I A: Dream Loss
How could I possibly leave off the new double album from Grouper? I mean, it is a double-record right? Anyone complaining that there was 2 full records worth of Grouper material this year is out of their goddamned mind. There I'll say it.

Elizabeth Harris has made some of the most amazing, breathtakingly gorgeous music (of any genre) over the past few years. There's no one, and I mean no one, who has not been affected by her records like Cover The Windows & The Walls and Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill—no ambient artist, no drone artist, no stupid witch house artist, no indie rock jerk off, anything. Everyone has heard these records, in some fashion or another, and everyone loves them. AND FOR GOOD REASON—they are absolutely essential.

I would stray so far as to say Liz is making some of the best music of our generation, and if you have failed to put that music in your life, well, you're fucking failing. This is the soundtrack to everything you've ever felt; good, bad, sad, happy… This music is your dreams come to life.

The A I A double release follows in line as some of Harris' best work yet. She has found a niche for herself that is untouchable. No one can come close to creating these kind of billowing dreamscapes. There's something in her soft moans, reverb-soaked guitars, and tape manipulation that becomes the utter essence of art. Let's not break our entire brain trying to fathom its essence, its wonder into words. Let's just listen and be totally fucking astonished.

These are just five release that immediately come to mind. There's been so much infinitely stellar music this year that I've honestly been a bit flabbergasted. I have a defiant love/hate relationship with music. I've seen so much bullshit come and go in the past two years, and I've watched people flock to this bullshit and suck its dick for all three months that it was “extremely hip.”

This music, it has staying power. I don't care what you say. But that said, I need to at least drop a few other gems you should look into:

Iceage's New Brigade, the re-issue of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Shining Skull Breath, Kyle Bobby Dunn's Ways Of Meaning, Earn's Performance, Martial Canterel's You Today, Raspberry Bulb's Nature Tries Again, Bitchin' Bajas & Faceplant split 12″, Cult Of Youth's Cult Of Youth, Contrepoison's …Until Next Morning, everything Clams Casino-related, and about thirty-nine million more. Plus there's a lot of this year left, and I know of a ton of things coming out soon-ish—Cough Cool and Lee Noble's debut full-length vinyl rippers, Sleep Over's full-length, the new Balam Acab—that will rip your head off, so just you wait

I'm sure I'll eventually return to this blog to talk more about these very albums…

Ok, who am I kidding? No, I won't.

Until next time, in three years… I love you all.

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