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Moka’s Top 10 Albums 2011

1. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions)
Listen: Anteroom

Martyrs are not victims. There is no self-pity or cool detachment to their pain. This is the mantra by which Erika M. Anderson lives in her songs. Past Life Martyred Saints is an intimate but uncomfortable album, it will make you feel guilty for the hearts you’ve torn apart and it will make you feel weak for all the times you’ve been hurt and felt victimized for it.

2. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation)
Listen: Fear of the Unknown and the Blazing Sun

The first time I heard Colin Stetson he was the opening act for Godspeed You! Black Emperor and it was absolutely mind-blowing. Some of us mistook him as a sound engineer and were caught completely by surprise when he started playing. One by one we fell into a silent trance as he created out of thin air the most magnificent, heartbroken beasts I’ve ever heard from a one man band. Recorded in one take with no overdubs, Judges captures the thrill of hearing him live with precision. Not only is the record technically impressive and conceptually novel but also highly compelling at a musical level. Inspired by post-rock and electronic pioneers, Stetson favors sonic aesthetics over experimentation, every deviation sounding calculated enough as to not scare the feeble away but smart enough to hook the most demanding listeners.

3. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)
Listen: Swerve… The reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)

Experimental hip-hop that finds its roots on avant-garde jazz acts such as Sun Ra instead of disco and funk. I’ll be completely honest, english being my second language I have a hard time trying to understand hip hop lyrics, so I suck at appreciating the genre for one of its defining features and yet the multiple twists and turns in Black Up give it a replay value like few other albums I heard this year. Breezy, psychedelic and extremely unpredictable.

4. Braids – Native Speaker (Flemish Eye)
Listen: Lemonade

Native Speaker feels to me like an erotic reinterpretation of Animal Collective’s ‘Feels’; on one hand it has the same approach in creating pop music: Loops of haze, rock instruments stretched to odd realms and cryptic lyrics; on the other one, we’ve never heard Animal Collective create songs as deeply personal and carefully constructed as the ones in Native Speaker. There’s a definite streak of innate sensuality and maturity which gives the music a whole new level of influence and meaning.

5. Robag Wruhme – Thora Bukk (Pampa)
Listen: Wupp Dek

It’s always a treat to hear a producer who is proficient and well known around the techno community turning away from the dancefloor to release music that borders outside of their usual field of expertise. Thora Vukk is Wruhme’s exploration of his music’s more melancholic, contemplative side, while keeping the sense of tension and attention to detail that he has perfected as a techno producer. The result is warm, gorgeous album that is fascinating, at least on an aesthetic level. Chillroom microhouse.

6. Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania (In the Red)
Listen: I Need Seed

Of all the indie bands that have adopted the garage rock influence, Thee Oh Sees are, in my humble opinion, one of the most fun around. At 16 tracks, Castlemania is their longest album to date yet there isn’t a single song in here that outwears its welcome. Every track keeps things fresh by throwing a wild, eccentric touch into the mix which makes them sound like a forward thinking, modern band that isn’t particularly concerned with revisionism.

7. Vinicius Cantuária & Bill Frisell – Lágrimas Mexicanas (E1)
Listen: Aquela Mulher

One of my favorite discoveries this year was Vinicius Cantuárias’ music; an elegant sort of Brazilian jazz that seems to fit all my moods and seasons. On ‘Lágrimas Mexicanas’ he is joined by guitar-virtuoso Bill Frisell and the result is a very colorful sound that switches between Frisell’s heavily geared, atmospheric stylings and Cantuaria’s Brazilian sensibilities. Although it doesn’t quite bring anything new to the table this album is an absolute pleasure to listen to.

8. Chain & the Gang – Music’s not for Everyone (K)
Listen: Why Not?

Chain and the Gang frontman, Ian Svenoniu comes up with an upfront, snobby attitude and the unruly approach of a punk star, rocking out unironically while critiquing the very own genre’s conventions. Mordant and unusually funny, the enjoyment of this album depends on how much you appreciate tongue in cheek sloganeering and cynicism.

9. Crystal Stilts – In Love with Oblivion (Slumberland)
Listen: Through the Floor

While Thee Oh Sees sound like they are pretending they’re a 60′s garage band that travelled in time to use today’s technology, Crystal Stilts behave like gravekeepers. They think of their dead idols as purveyors of a sound now rotten and decomposed, creators of long forgotten anthems that are now bathed in a ghoulish atmosphere. Do not, under any circumstance, attempt to undig them. The dead should remain buried deep underground. Leave them be. Hear what their spirits are whispering and reinterpret it for any of us living that might still be listening.

10. The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries)
Listen: Ready To Go Steady

I remember being annoyed by the songs in ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike‘ when I first heard them back in 2004. It took me 4 years to finally understand, digest and admire the band, nowadays it has become one of the most treasured pieces of my music collection. When ‘Rolling Blackouts’ came out earlier this year I already knew what to expect, the energy of a horny, raging bull charging into a room filled with cheerleaders, brass-blasting walls of sound and a complete lack of subtleness. If this sounds like your thing, then it is as amazing as it sounds.

Note: I’ve had this post ready for months now, almost thought of killing it and storing it in the fridge… I mean it’s probably a bit late for best-of lists but maybe it will help you discover something you missed out. Hope you enjoy.
Also: Schils Favourite Albums 2011 & his Top Mixes and Compilations.

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Category: Best Of, Electronica, Hip hop, Motel de Moka, Pop, Rock

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)
Free

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)
Porcelain

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)
Lucidity

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)
Chinatown

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

Top 200 Tracks of the 2000’s Pt. 1

(There have been several readers experiencing problems due to server overload. At the end of this post you’ll find a link to download the whole set via mediafire as well as a link to hypem to stream the songs. Please help us save some bandwith.)

I

  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted GraffitiCan’t Hear My Eyes
    Can’t Hear My Eyes 7″ (Mexican Summer, 2009)
  • DungenFredag
    4 (Kemado, 2008)
  • Of MontrealLysergic Bliss
    Satanic Panic in the Attic (Polyvinyl, 2004)
  • Super Furry AnimalsJuxtaposed With U
    Rings Around the World (Epic, 2001)

II

III

IV

V

  • Ricardo VillalobosEasy Lee
    Alcachofa (Playhouse, 2003)
  • Adult.Hand to Phone
    Hand to Phone (Clone, 2001)
  • LegoweltDisco Rout
    Disco Rout (Coccoon, 2002)
  • Bot.oxBlue Steel
    Blue Steel (I’m a Cliché, 2009)

[Stream].
[Download the whole set].

This one ended up all over the place as I started running out of space in the list. Some weird style contrast for sure; opens with warm-bellied psychedelic pop and closes with robotic new-wave. Of course I couldn’t find a way to make them work together. It’s barely works if you really take each section as separate playlists.
Seems to me it took forever to compile and publish this list so I’m feeling a great relief now that it’s finally over. Back to the sweet and tidy motel routine at last. It’s been a really fun exercise, tho. Hope you’ve enjoyed the series as much as I did compiling them.

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Category: Best Of

Top 200 Tracks of the 2000′s Pt. 2

Photo: Kinosport.

(There have been several readers experiencing problems due to server overload. At the end of this post you’ll find a link to download the whole set via mediafire as well as a link to hypem to stream the songs. Please help us save some bandwith.)

I

  • Clinic - The Second Line
    Internal Wrangler (Domino, 2000)
  • ElectrelaneThe Valleys
    The Power Out (Too Pure, 2004)
  • BeirutScenic World
    Gulag Orkestar (Ba Da Bing!, 2006)
  • Kurt VileFreeway
    Constant Hitmaker (Gulcher, 2008)
  • The Beta Band - Assessment
    Assessment (Caroline Music, 2004)

II

III

IV

[Stream].
[Download the whole set].

Summer sensations are non transferable. There’s music and fragrances and photographs, all emblems of perfect happiness which appear in summertime which are harder to confront as time passes. The way things were, and how we had wasted time as though there was nothing to do. These memories taste much better when left less rich, less clear.
How I learnt to swim or how I learnt to kiss are all very good stories I’ve forgotten. I did not listen to music the first summer.

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Category: Best Of

Top 200 Tracks of the 2000′s Pt. 3

(There have been several readers experiencing problems due to server overload. At the end of this post you’ll find a link to download the whole set via mediafire as well as a link to hypem to stream the songs. Please help us save some bandwith.)

I

II

III

IV

  • ChromaticsIn the City
    In the City 12″ (Italians Do It Better, 2007)
  • Crystal StiltsConverging in the Quiet
    Crystal Stils (Woodsist, 2008)
  • The American Analog SetHard to Find
    Promise of Love (Tiger Style, 2003)
  • Piano MagicIncurable
    Incurable Ep (Important, 2006)
  • Young GalaxyWailing Wall
    Young Galaxy (Arts & Crafts, 2007)

[Stream].
[Download the whole set].

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Category: Best Of

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]