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Moka’s top 12 albums 2007

1. Panda Bear – Person pitch (Paw tracks)
MP3: Take pills

Despite its psychedelic density and abuse of looping techniques and reverb, Person pitch rarely sounds willfuly complex or menacing and is ultimately a frothy and gorgeous pop record that keeps on revealing the more you dive into it. Noah Lennox has achieved something magical with this album and it’s truly worthy of every accolade heaped upon it.

2. Radiohead – In rainbows (self released)
MP3: Reckoner

It would be unfair to place this album up here without a disclaimer: I’m an old school Radiohead fan and I’m clearly biased towards this recording. I really cant remember the last time I was this excited for an album release and I’m even ashamed to admit that once I finished hearing it for the first time, I started calling friends from around the world just to tell them that I had just heard the most gorgeous album of 2007. I could have even placed it on my top albums of the year just for allowing me those 10 perfect days of dewy-eyed fanboy anticipation, but fortunately In Rainbows contains some of the most sincere and cathartic songs Radiohead have ever crafted. All that and the whole issue of distribution as a reflection on the value of music in the digital age.

3. Tenniscoats – totemo aimasho / Tan-tan Therapy (Room40 / Hapna)
MP3: Aurora curtains
MP3: Umbarepa!

After releasing earlier this year the avant-pop masterpiece of Totemo Aimasho (wrapped up in which I’d consider my favorite sleeve of the year), Tokyo’s Tenniscoats teamed up with folktronica pioneers, Tape, to record Tan-tan therapy, picking up the drift where Totemo Aimasho leaves off, this time exchanging the intimate and subtle soundscapes of the former for fuller dynamics and a richer use of instrumentation. Tenniscoats are responsible for two of the most welcoming and enjoyable releases I came across this year.

4. The Field – From here we go sublime (Kompakt)
MP3: A paw in my face

Probably one of the most controversial records of the year, From here we go sublime is a collection of 10 deceptively simple, kinetic four-to-the-floor techno tracks. Axel Willner proves to be one of the most talented ears on the electronic scene by tossing in a masterful matter, layers of corrosively beautiful soundscapes on top of an ever-present heart-pounding beat and blending them all like an eiderdown comforter wafting down.

5. Burial – Untrue (Hyperdub)
MP3: Ghost Hardware

Untrue is an album which gives me mixed feelings. Burial proves that he can dazzle with the most minimal tools as long as he rides good samples and melodies, but the problem in here is that he rides the same sort of samples and musical palette throughout, giving the album a somewhat tiresome and homogenous emotional range after several listens, and yet, I find my ears contradicting my thought as there has yet to be a day since its release that I haven’t heard at least part of this record. Untrue is a landmark for electronic and british music of 2007, a record responsible for pushing the boundaries of an otherwise restrictive genre and for sowing the seeds for a new generation of musicians to draw inspiration from.

6. Dolorean – you can’t win (Yep Rock)
MP3: Heather remind me how this ends
MP3: Buffalo Gal

“You can’t win” is a convincing collection of wise, world-weary observations on the vulnerable aspects of human nature set to exquisite folk-rock arrangements. Simultaneously sad and uplifting yet never self-pitying nor artificially cheerful.

7. Fursaxa – Alone in the dark wood (Eclipse)
MP3: Birds inspire epic bairds
MP3: Clé Elum

Working on different levels of symbols and allegory, Fursaxa’s music is like being allowed to gaze into someone else’s narcotic dream, abstract and enchanted yet scornfully aggressive and haunting. A timeless and unsettling psych-folk masterpiece.

8. James Blackshaw – the cloud of unknowing (Tompkins Square)
MP3: Running to the ghost

James Blackshaw, a young 12-string guitarist from London, is a true talent capable of evoking a traditional sound while retaining an uncompromised exploration of his instrument and this album is perhaps his most inspired and radiant work yet. Coming from an artist that has not yet peaked, The cloud of unknowing is a stunningly mature piece of work and if this album is any indication, there are  great things still waiting in his path.

9. Gui Boratto – Chromophobia (Kompakt)
MP3: Beautiful Life
MP3: Terminal

With Chromophobia, Gui Boratto presents us an unusual & colorful pop approach to the minimal techno meanderings for which the german Kompakt label is well-known. As good an entry point into the genre as anyone could ask.

10. Group Inerane – Guitars from Agadez (Sublime Freq.)
MP3: Tenerte
MP3: Kamu Talyat

A very interesting document of the guitar style called “Touareg guitar” which is seemingly inspired by rebellious movements in Nigeria and Sunny King Ade’s meshed guitar riffs. Group Inerane’s songs all smoothly drive on infectious electric guitars, ecstatic voices and all kinds of percussions echoing one another’s tone and pulse so as to become indistinguishable. The wailing, reverberant mix of oddly tuned electric guitars and the under-produced and unashamed sound gives Guitars from Agadez an affecting charm, one that can be related to some hazy, distant dream of a family-like gathering, singing and dancing along.

11. Paper – as as (states rights records)
MP3: Love Attack

One of my favorite places to listen to music is bed. Sitting on the doorstep of sleep with a good album is one of the greatest luxuries for me, the sun always shines on that country. And this album continuously provided the ideal soundtrack for this late night astral projections. The honest reason I like “As as” so much is, simply put, because it happens to be heavily inspired by some of my favorite music genres: Krautrock, shoegaze, dreamy space pop and droning ambient. All there, represented in such cohesive and pleasant ways, you wont even notice when the whole thing is over.

12. Mirt – oh! you are so naive (Monotype)
MP3: Helo / robert!2

Despite the horrendous artwork and the fact that the record seems to have been under-promoted by the label, there is a certain beauty in every track from “oh! you are so naive”. Mirt coaxes incredibly warm and intricate drones from several instruments to creat pure sonambulant bliss. One of the most refreshing ambient albums I’ve heard in quite some time.

Further reading:

2007 so far
Largehearted boy’s 2007 year-end music lists
Moka’s top 12 albums 2006
Bubbachups top 10 albums 2006
Moka’s top 5 albums 2005

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Category: Acoustic, Motel de Moka

22 Responses

  1. shane says:

    nice one, moka. i look forward to listening to these :)

  2. squashed says:

    tee hee. how long did you work on this Moka? I am surprised Radiohead is not #1. The folks part in the list is full of surprise. And I must say the field is ………….ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

    :D

  3. Mp3 says:

    Wow! Panda Bear :) My favorite! :)
    Panda Bear mp3′s : http://www.mp3tape.com/panda-bear/art17045/

  4. fk says:

    Gui Boratto really digged into my ears, in a good and pleasant way of course

  5. chris says:

    Love to see Group Inerane on your list. and of course I feel the same way as you about Person Pitch and Untrue. I can’t wait to check out Tenniscoats, based on these two songs. great choices.

  6. James says:

    Thanks for turning me on to Paper and Group Inerane. The Field’s LP is definitely one of my favorites of the past few years – just curious: how was it controversial?

  7. Amy says:

    Great list, Moka! Thanks for introducing me to Paper–that track is lovely. And I’ve been meaning to listen to Tenniscoats. Now I have a very good reason to do so. Best holiday wishes!

  8. Bubbachups says:

    Great list Moka, especially nice to see Dolorean and Group Inerane on there! I was a big fan of Dolorean’s “Not Exotic” but only got “You Can’t Win” two weeks ago. So I can’t say how it’s going to rank on my list yet. Love the lyrics already though, with “Just Don’t Leave Town” in particular. There’s a nice Group Inerane video on YouTube btw.

    As for listening to music in bed, there’s a small new Belgian label called Slaapwel (which literally means “sleep well” in Dutch and is used to wish someone goodnight) which is specialized in music to fall asleep to. You might quite like them. Their first release by Wouter van Veldhoven was really nice and their second release will be by none other than Soccer Committee & Machinefabriek.

    So what do you think, overall, was it a good year for music?

  9. Dudeasincool says:

    The most interesting Best of list I’ve seen this year.

  10. moka says:

    Thank you all for your kind comments so far. I’ll post some of the records that were being considered but didn’t make the top 12 list here in the comments section right after a brief pause.

    sq: The field is aaah…mazing?

    James: I find it controversial for the polarizing and strong opinions it generates. The problem I have with “from here we go sublime” is that it sort of has diminishing returns after first listens, which might explain why music critics were cutting rugs to it when it was released. If reviewed nowadays I’m sure it would receive much lower scores.

    The inclusion of it on my top list all the way to #4 is not intended to cause any stir as sq might believe but because I was honestly addicted to that album, specially during the first half of the year, but then, I’m not someone to thrust when it comes to techno or house recommendations (a job you do quite splendidly, imho) and I’m sure there were far more interesting and compelling Lp’s on the genre that I might have overlooked this year.
    By the way, are you making a year-end list? I’d love to see it.

    Bubbachups: Thanks for the recommendation and the group inerane video! It’s almost as good as I pictured it in my head.

    About your question: I don’t think I’ve had this much second thoughts and difficulty when compilling a year-end list in the past. When I did the lists for 2005 and 2006 I knew exactly what my favorite records were and their place on the list, whereas for this one I was pretty unsure about most of them… which probably means it was an excellent year for music. I don’t know… are they honestly any bad years for music? (well asides 1999)

  11. Moka says:

    Originally I was thinking of making this a top 20 list but it was taking me too much time to do so, so I had to reduce my list at the end of the day. Here’s to those other 8 records that I enjoyed greatly this year but couldn’t make it to the final list (in no particular order):

  12. Paviel says:

    You guys are way up there on my list of sites to Seefeel. Thanks to you, just because I’m nowhere near a cool college radio station doesn’t mean I miss out on what’s going on out there in the “Out There” world of music. Thanks so much for continuing what you are doing. . .

  13. Joel Shaver says:

    When I read your description of Group Inerane, I was expecting them to sound pretty much the same as Tinariwen (my favorite personal discovery of last year), but the difference is striking, even though the style is the same. Inerane’s production is completely different. Have you heard Tinariwen? I’d recommend them, if you haven’t.

  14. [...] Register « Moka’s top 12 albums 2007 [...]

  15. [...] Two of my favorite bloggers have extolled the virtues of Tenniscoats‘ Tan-Tan Therapy, the Japanese duo’s new collaborative LP with Swedish outfit Tape. It’s sort of unlike anything I’ve ever heard; Raven Sings the Blues says it recalls “wide-eyed children at play in a room full of instruments,” which is the best possible way to describe the wonder and spark in these songs. “Oetsu to Kanki no Nanoriuta” in particular displays how gorgeously Tape’s electro-acoustic arrangements frame Tenniscoats’ impossibly delicate and fragile pop melodies. Highly recommended winter listening. [...]

  16. James says:

    Hey Moka, thanks for explaining The Field controversy (and for the kind word) – yeah, I played that album to death when it first came out, then put it away for a few months, and now I’m somewhat addicted to it again. It digs in a bit deeper with each listen.

    Yep, I’m working on my own humble 2007 Top Ranking list and it should be live next week . . . and Bodzin’s ‘Liebe Ist’ will be way up at the top (be sure to check out his Rekorder alias, if you haven’t yet).

    Thanks again for all the top-rate recommendations!

  17. squashed says:

    Wire: Vocals were always central to your sound, but they have become even more important on this album than they were on your first LP.

    Burial: I was brought up on old jungle tunes and garage tunes had lots of vocals in but me and my brothers loved intense, darker tunes too, I found something I could believe in… but sometimes I used to listen to the ones with vocals on my own and it was almost a secret thing. I’d love these vocals that would come in, not proper singing but cut-up and repeating, and executed coldly. It was like a forbidden siren. I was into the cut-up singing as much as the dark basslines. Something happens when I hear the subs, the rolling drums and vocals together. To me it’s like a pure UK style of music, and I wanted to make tunes based on what UK underground hardcore tunes mean to me, and I want a dose of real life in there too, something people can relate to.

    So when I started doing tunes, I didn’t have the kit and I didn’t understand how to do it properly, so I can’t make the drums and bass sound massive, no loud sounds taking up the whole tune. But as long as it had a bit of singing in it, it forgave the rest of the tune. It was the thing that made me excited about doing it. Then I couldn’t believe that I’d done a tune that gave me that feeling that proper real records used to, and the vocal was the one thing that seemed to take the tune to that place. My favorite tunes were underground and moody but with killer vocals: ‘Let Go’ by Teebee, ‘Being with you remix’ by Foul Play. Intense, Alex Reece, Digital, Goldie, Dillinja, EL-B, D-Bridge, Steve Gurley. I miss being on the bus to school listening to Dj Hype mixes. Sometimes some other kids would get us tunes, I’d record off of pirate radio all night.

    http://www.thewire.co.uk/articles/347/?pageno=1

  18. Mark says:

    Great selections, Moka! Can’t wait to give them a listen. I’ve never heard of Tenniscoats before; thanks for the exposure. They tickle my eardrum.

    A few of my personal faves from this year: Stars of the Lid, Marco Mahler, Dan Deacon, and Dirty Projectors.

    The rest were covered in your list.
    All the best!

  19. Dave Allen says:

    That’s an interesting top ten and I see we share a liking for Burial and Radiohead. My top ten is over at my blog here – Pampelmoose Top 10

  20. [...] See also: Moka’s top 12 albums 2007 2007 so far Largehearted boy’s 2007 year-end music lists Moka’s top 12 albums 2006 Bubbachups top 10 albums 2006 Moka’s top 5 albums 2005 [...]

The song makes its imprint
in the air, making itself felt,
a felt world. Here, there,
the stunned silence

of knowing I will not remember
what I heard;

futures that will never happen,
a fluidity we cannot achieve
except as a child
creating possibility.

This is the untranslatable song
hidden in the earth.

-Untranslatable Song [1]