Moka’s Top 10 Albums 2010

Aboombong – Asynchronic (Self released)
Never Been to Konono

  • June 20, 2009: Four revered avant garde genres – Drone, Freejazz, Musique concrète and Krautrock – set out into the heart of  Central Africa armed with nothing but DAT recorders to make an audio documentary on the lost land of Konono.
  • June 22, 2009: Local witnesses reported they saw the genres wandering around the city of Kinshasa.  They were asking for a place called Konono, but were met with perplexed and elusive looks. The only attentive response they got came from a Bandundu fisherman who explained to them that the word konono roughly translates as ‘stiffness of the body’, but that he had no knowledge of an actual place with that name. Consumed by the silent frustration of what was apparently a failed expedition they appeared cold, lost and haunted for the rest of the day.
  • June 23, 2009: A French-Canadian exchange student reported Drone and Freejazz were asking for directions on how to get into the heart of the Congolese rainforest. The genres left Kinshasa early in the morning and were never seen again.
  • June 27, 2009: An exhaustive 100 men search which lasted for 12 days was conducted but no trace of the genres was found.
  • October 5, 2009: The case is declared inactive and unsolved.
  • November 25, 2009: Students from the University of Congo’s anthropology department discover a duffel bag labeled as ‘Aboombong – Asynchronic‘ containing four DAT tapes, a bloodied volley ball, a Punjabi ektara, a Vietnamese jack fruit danmo, bone cymbal mallets and several other unusual ethnic instruments. The duffel bag was buried under the foundation of a secluded cabin deep inside the rainforest. The bag is examined by the local authorities who announce they were the property of Drone and its crew.
  • January 1, 2010: With permission of the genre’s families select pieces of the tapes are publicly released with the purpose of attracting the international media’s attention towards the case and help raise donations for private investigation.

Available for download HERE.

Alessandro Bosetti – Zwölfzungen (Sedimental)
Laida and Mikel looking for rhymes. (Basque)

The prosody of unknown languages as music. The premise is simple: Zwölfzungen is a recollection of  twelve different languages that were unknown to the artist and which he felt had enough aural significance to be interpreted into songs. Of course, a collection of impenetrable dialogues would certainly not be worthy of the admission price alone, in this album, however, Bosetti dissects and scrambles every language in musical terms before sneaking himself into conversation by way of subtle electroacoustic arrangements. The effect created is, for the most part, stunningly rewarding – specially for linguistic voyeurs as myself – and it’s a concept I seriously wish to hear explored further into the future.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4ad)
Bright Lit Blue Skies

Before Today is a lesson for every artist in how to appeal to a broader audience without sacrificing any of your personal aesthetics. Ariel Pink’s music continues to play with the manipulative power of conscious nostalgia but in a more structured and enjoyable form; less concerned with the eccentric production techniques and awkward experimentation than with the unstoppable, zany pop moments on which he has always been quite proficient.

Graffiti6 – Colours (NWFree)

Created amidst tight schedules as a side project to provide creative relief for everyone involved, Colours was always meant to be direct, unfussy and economical. It’s this sort of approach that shapes the band’s sound nicely – polished for sure – but with a keen sense of spontaneity that comes from not dwelling on their musical statements too long, helping their open air, soul pop to blossom while leaving some welcome untempered edges.

Jatoma – s/t (Kompakt)
Little Houseboat

I’m not even sure why I care so much for this album. It’s delightful for sure, but in a borderline hedonistic sort of way -  pleasant but vacuous.  Why, then has it kept me coming back for more? For starters I know I love a particularity about their production methods: in a similar fashion to artists like Matmos and Herbert, Jatoma take pride in using their own field recordings of mundane objects as samples and blending them into more traditional  sound patches – a practice I’d definitely adopt were I an electronic artist -  and which concedes every song in here a very discernable breath and gravity of its own.
On the other hand, the album keeps running like a mirage or a soft drug -  I have trouble remembering any of its contents after I’m well done with it but when I’m actually hooked the experience is so strong and hallucinatory it demands undivided attention. Its subtle sensorial beauty will find a way to creep under your skin and keep you begging for more.

John Roberts – Glass Eights (Dial)

The silky flow and carefully constructed narrative of Glass Eights is one of the best treats I’ve heard inside  the house genre. At turns blissful and gloomy Glass Eights‘ ambivalence and attention to detail might be its most important assets: It exhibits a marked dancefloor functionality with its pristine highs and its inclination towards sensory pleasure but it’s equally engaging and satisfying when keeping you company at home.
A great album to add to any music collection regardless of how clueless or disinterested you feel when it comes to house music.

Monster Rally – Coral (self released)
Color Sky

Monster Rally is the sound of remnants of long-forgotten records crunched down – through sampling wizardry – to perfect bite-sized Bacharachian miniatures as addictive and melt-in-your-mouth delicious as chocolate M&Ms.
Each song is perfect, as far as plagiarism goes;  forever lost in a time and place between 60′s AM radio and the offbeat pop experiments off the 90s. The idea of breaking down the sounds of a lost era into a personal style might feel  increasingly depleted nowadays but it’s remarkable how consistent and effective Monster Rally’s music is. I find it hard to listen to Coral and not feel an intense desire to live in an alternate universe where its always summer and we never have to get old.

Available for download HERE

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Modular)

Where some bands fail miserably at evoking old school rock with a unique personality, Tame Impala succeed in sewing their influences together into an enveloping listening that doesn’t feel derivative. Innerspeaker never economizes on the riffs and the production details and it’s all the better for it.

Wild Nothing – Gemini (Captured Tracks)

The 80′s art school bedroom experience for those of us who weren’t there. Jack Tatum apes the most memorable acts from the anglopop indie scene from the late 80′s and early 90s with undeniably and provoking ease. A noteworthy exercise in style, which more often than not goes beyond the feats of the great music era he’s lovingly trying to evoke.

Zs – New Slaves (The Social Registry)
Acres of Skin

I don’t really listen to a lot of noise music but New Slaves consistently blew my mind throughout the year. Zs play loose not out of limitation but out of confidence, they enjoy looking around at the destruction they create around them. Like someone suffering from uncontrollable rage and OCD at the same time, they clean the room and arrange everything in perfect order before breaking everything in their path the next minute. Violent smart fun for the whole family.

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Category: Best Indie Albums, Best Of

Naive Melody

The fact there is massive social repression that has an enormous
effect on desiring-production in no way vitiates our principle: desire
produces reality, or stated another way, desiring-production is one and
the same thing as social production. It is not possible to attribute a
special form of existence to desire, a mental or psychic reality that is
presumably different from the material reality of social production. - Deleuze and Guattari. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. pp.30.


Desiring and Past Images

01. Joy DivisionTwenty Four Hours
Closer (1980) (wiki)
02. Trans AmCocaine Computer
Futureworld (Thrill Jockey, 1999)
03. C.A. QuintetSleepy Hollow Lane
Trip Thru Hell (Sundazed Music Inc., 1968)
04. The MonkeesWords (Single Version)
Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (1967)
05. The SeedsRollin’ Machine
A Web Of Sound (Diablo Records UK, 1966)
06. 13th Floor ElevatorsSlide Machine
Easter Everywhere (Snapper UK, 1967)
07. Captain Beefheart & The Magic BandPlastic Factory
Safe As Milk (Buddha, 1967)
08. Talking HeadsThis Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
Speaking in Tongues (1983) (wiki)

note: A retro list. A prop for DMC for track no.2 with which this list was based. The rest? Enjoy and let it flow.

image: Julie Dennis Brothers

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Category: Best Indie Albums, Rock

Moka’s Top 10 Albums 2008

1. Paavoharju – Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal)
MP3: Ursulan Uni

Laulu Laakson Kukista feels like gazing into the global subconscious, like finding a damaged film reel filled with some of the most beautiful and mysterious images you’ve ever seen, while a silent frustration overcomes at all those cigarette burns and missing scenes. The story might not make any sense, but you cannot resist the urge of watching it unfold. This is what Paavoharju does best, weaving together all sort of disparate musical elements to make one loveably pastiche whole.

2. Jacaszek – Treny (Miasmah)
MP3: Walc
MP3: Powoli

Aided by a small string ensemble and inspired by a series of writings renaissance poet Jan Kochanowski wrote after the death of his three year-old daughter, Jacaszek has created in Treny one of the most gorgeous sounding albums I’ve heard in years. Despite the mournful nature of the poems which could suggest a dismal and wearisome experience, Treny is remarkably cohesive. Jacazsek’s adept sense of pacing and stark attention to detail, allows each of the album’s 11 tracks to unfold as if they were blossoming into a living, breathing entity. It’s easy to become deeply engaged with the sound, discovering new intricacies and small features in the music with each further listen. This is season fruit, one that grows best in cold weather and cabin fever.

3. Scott Tuma – Not For Nobody (Digitalis)
MP3: Tiktaalik

On Not For Nobody, Tuma creates structureless pieces consisting mainly of acoustic guitar and then plays with the tape speed and pitch all over the album without ever sacrificing the pungent nostalgic sound that made his last albums so memorable. Ideas only stick around as long as they’re interesting, many times giving the feel of 3 different songs condensed into one, when it’s actually the same guitar figures continously evolving, falling off a cliff and coming back even more striking than they did before.

4. Shed – Shedding the Past (Ostgut Ton)
MP3: Estrange

My soundsystem is far from being perfect, speakers are blown and some of them are apart in construction by decades. Basically all I did was take every speaker from every stereo there was in my house and see what happened when assembled together. I’m telling you this because this was my favorite record to test my faulty soundsystem to. Shedding the past loves the speakers, it licks every sound with its steely-hued tongue and touches every corner of the room filled with glimmering vigor and energy. Not an inch is left unmoved. Shedding the past is a stud. You can tell my speakers loved him too.

5. Tape – Luminarium (Häpna)
MP3: Moth Wings

Tape’s blending of electronic and acoustic instruments are steeped in a consistency and elegance that only few artists can master. Luminarium sounds at many points weightless but it wraps around you like a warm blanket, making it my album of choice for the many sleepless nights I spent this year. This is a slumber-inducing album with a subtle erotic pulse and of course I say this with the utmost respect and adoration for their music. To paraphrase Brian Eno, sometimes falling asleep to an artist’s music can be the greatest compliment a listener can give.

6. Fleet Foxes – fleet foxes (Sub pop)
MP3: White Winter Hymnal

For me, this is all about the vocal harmonies, underpinned by slowly building melodies sometimes embellished by winds, strings and piano, these Fleet Foxes chant in a gorgeous mixture of southern baptist and sunshine pop choirs which seem to lift every sound around to a higher level. The production is unfortunately soaked in reverb in all the wrong places, but the overall product is so good on the ears that it is easy to overlook its minor flaws. One of the strongest and most refreshing debuts of the year.

7. Bruno Pronsato – Why can’t we be like us (Hello? Repeat)
MP3: At home I’m a tourist

In a genre mostly known for its mechanical precision and a desire to erase any traces of humanity, Bruno Pronsato’s unconventionaly erratic execution and his ability to give some undeniable psychedelic characteristic to the album’s production separates ‘Why can’t we be like us’ from the rest of its techno counterparts, achieving what many others aspire to, but ultimately fail at: creating an album that seeps into your subconscious with subtlety, but still leaves a lasting imprint.

8. Grouper – Dragging a dead dear up the hill (Type)
MP3: Travelling Through a Sea
MP3: Heavy Water / I’d rather be sleeping

After her previous album efforts which had a heavy emphasis on atmosphere and texture rather than on fully formed melodies, on ‘Dragging a Dead Deer’, Liz Harris reduces her style to a singular approach of layers of guitar and voice, finally allowing her songs to breathe and drown everything in sight with their unsettling melancholia, a testament to the power of simplicity in music. Listening to this record is a disorienting experience, like stuffing on barbiturates and attempting a 90 mile nocturnal drive on deer-crash season. You’re free to guess how that story ends.

9. Lykke Li – Youth Novels (LL)
MP3: Little Bit

In a year where I felt most of the mainstream pop became too cynical for its own good, Lykke Li was like a breath of fresh air. Ingeniously produced by Bjorn Yttling, the arrangements in every song on ‘youth novels’ are disarmingly minimal, all charmingly simple melodies and genuinely naïve lyrics that are hard to unglue from your brain. One of the most immediate and enjoyable albums of the year.

10. Zdzislaw Piernik & Piotr Zbrodzki – Namanga (Vivo)
MP3: Lekcja Chemii
MP3: Perły Przed Kruki

Perhaps it is because I don’t listen to enough jazz, but hearing Namanga for the first time was a bewildering experience for me. Piernik’s tuba slobbers and gurgles out of control like an epileptic alien form while the rest of the ensemble follows along in a commonly restrained and melancholic fashion, as if they were trying to calm this hyperactive creature down. At times menacing, at others playful, you can’t help but feel ambivalently confused and amazed at all of the different emotions Namanga keeps bringing up and down in such a short time span.

See also:

Moka’s top 12 albums 2007
Bubbachups’ top 10 albums 2007
Moka’s top 12 albums 2006
Bubbachups’ top 10 albums 2006
Moka’s top 5 albums 2005

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Category: Best Indie Albums, Motel de Moka

China Red


“ Fleeting, like smoke. (No.2) ”

01. The HolliesKing Midas In Reverse
Butterfly (1967)
02. The Dead ScienceBlack Lane
Villainaire (Constellation, 2008)
03. Can - Vitamin C
Ege Bamyasi (1972)
04. Bert JanschPoison
Birthday Blues (Castle Music UK, 1969)
05. Moby Grape8:05
Moby Grape (Sundazed Music Inc, 1967)
06. ZombiesTime Of The Season
Odessey and Oracle (Big Beat UK, 1968)
07. Amon Duul IiLuzifers Gnom
Phallus Dei (Inside Out, 1969)
08. FaustPicnic On A Frozen River, Deuxieme Tableux
Faust IV (1973)
09. H.P. LovecraftElectrallentado
H.P. Lovecraft II (Radioactive, 1968)
10. Bo DiddleyNursery Rhyme
Road Runner: The Chess Masters 1959-1960 (Hip-O Select, 2008)

note: Second part of series. I actually enjoy this. (more note later)

A beautiful blows, I stay at the corner, She is living in and out of tune. Hey you, You’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing your vitamin C. [can] This list begins as simple construction looking for meaning. Put material together in 60′s style, fit them together in best MdM’s fashion, start with Black Lane. Let it all flow. Then things grew strange, everything sprout out of control the tighter I arrange them. A little like Lucid Dream. You are suddenly flow inside a whirlwind of strange images, yet you know everything is yours to control. Each turn and twist contains a segment of your imagination with completely different texture, but the voice and the actor are the same. There is unity, but the narrative is scattered despite coming from story book. It has time stamp, but no chronology. It has beat, but scattered rhythm flow…

So probably, it’s like a puzzle the series and mode are correct and controlled, but the lyrics and imageries are dramatic, fleeting, tightly wounded and dream like. “The Eight horses were wearing trapping as black as the night. ” [the Dead Science] Think, China Red. Heroin. So much for late modernism idea in rock n’ roll eh?

see also: Acadian Purple, Faded Love in Time of Malaise.
image: Siri by Chadwick Tyler

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Category: Best Indie Albums, Folk, Rock

Our Moment Our time 1

In Justice as fairness, then, the equal basic liberties are the same for each citizen and the question of how to compensate for a lesser liberty does not arise. But the worth, or usefulness, of liberty is not the same for everyone. As the difference principle permits, some citizens have, for example, greater income and wealth and therefore greater mean of achieving their ends. When this principle is satisfied, however, this lesser worth of liberty is compensated for in this sense: the all-purpose means available to the least advantaged members of society to achieve their ends would be even less were social and economic inequalities, as measured by the index of primary goods, different from what they are. The basic structure of society is arranged to that it maximized the primary goods available to the least advantaged to make use of the equal basic liberties enjoyed by everyone. This defines one of the central aims of political and social justice. – John Rawls. The Basic Liberties and Their priority. (pp.23)

Five Days till Voting day Reminder

01. Captain Beefheart & His Magic BandMoonchild
The Legendary A&M Sessions (White Label Edsel Records, 1966)
02. Bratmobile - Panik
Pottymouth (1993)
03. MinutemenShit You Hear at Parties
The Politics of Time (Sst Records, 1984)
04. The Jesus LizardWhirl
Liar (Touch & Go Records, 1992)
05. ShellacMovement 4
Futurist (self-released, 1997)
06. Husker DuPink Turns to Blue
Zen Arcade (Sst Records, 1983)
07. Dressy BessyWho’d Stop The Rain
Electrified (Transdreamer, 2005)

note: Reminder that voting day is next Tuesday.

image: january20th2009

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Category: Best Indie Albums, Rock

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down. [1]

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?' she said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think--' (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) `--yes, that's about the right distance--but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?' (Alice had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say.) [2]

O long-silent Sybil,
you of the winged dreams,
Speak out from your temple of light
as the serious constellations
with Greek names
still stare down on us
as a lighthouse moves its megaphone
over the sea
Speak out and shine upon us
the sea-light of Greece
the diamond light of Greece

Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden,
Come out of your cave at last
And speak to us in the poet's voice
the voice of the fourth person singular
the voice of the inscrutable future
the voice of the people mixed
with a wild soft laughter--
And give us new dreams to dream,
Give us new myths to live by! [3]

So our princes who have lost their principalities after many years’ of possession shouldn’t blame their loss on fortuna. The real culprit is their own indolence, going through quiet times with no thought of the possibility of change (it’s a common human fault, failing to prepare for tempests unless one is actually in one!). And when eventually bad times did come, they thought of •flight rather than •self-defence, hoping that the people, upset by conquerors’ insolence, would recall them. This course of action may be all right when there’s no alternative, but it is not all right to neglect alternatives and choose this one; it amounts to voluntarily falling because you think that in due course someone will pick you up. If you do get rescued (and you probably won’t), that won’t make you secure; the only rescue that is really helpful to you is the one performed by you, the one that depends on yourself and your virtù. [4]