2017 Music: The Most High Exalted

2017 – what an absolutely ripping year for music. Probably the hardest to write about because of the sheer volume of incredible shit out there. On a personal note, I spent most of it traveling, began working at boxout.fm, had the privilege of playing New Delhi’s first Boiler Room and re-did my whole apartment (among other fun stuff). Most of my listening time was spent on the fringes of weirder electronics, rap, metal and a lot of synthesiser stuff. If you’re into maybe half of that, there’s a chance you might find something in here worth your time. Lastly, if you’re one of those people who, living in 2017, with access to the Internet and a wealth of amazing music literally a click of a button away, is still going on about how “music isn’t the same anymore” and “there’s no more great bands”, please FUCK OFF and never talk to me again. Thank you, have a great NYE blackout, and I’ll see you somewhere in 2018.

Surachai – Asymmetry Codex / Temple Of The Weakening Sun
Managed to catch some of this in fragments at the BLK__NOISE post-NAMM showcase in January so it’s safe to say my year began on a very high note. Hands-down my favourite piece of electronic music (and videography) from 2017.

Ziur – U Feel Anything?
Ziur is a monster, a force-to-be-reckoned with. U Feel Anything?, out on Planet Mu, flips club music over its head a few times, climaxing in things like this…

Second Woman – S/W
Probably the finest Second Woman record till date and still pushing forward into computermusik spaces few artists would dare to wander.

The Delay In The Universal Loop – Esplendidos!
At least one San Nazzaro native has been charting a path of his own for about half a decade, putting out genre-defying records on the regular and touring as often as possible between the United States and Europe, building experiences that go on to cement a fearless, non-conformist creative vision.

Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
And finally, the ’80s done right.

William Basinki – A Shadow In Time
On possibly the greatest ambient tape of 2017, demi-God William Basinski comes forth as gold with a piece worthy of multiple repeat listens (in addition to a fitting tribute to the late Ziggy Stardust).

KONSTRUKT & KEIJI HAINO – A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire
You’ll never look at Turkish disco the same way again. Fought for place on this list with the new James Holden and won easily I should add.

Cornelius – Mellow Gold
“effortlessly blurs the lines between organic, electronic, acoustic, downtempo and funky and gives new meaning altogether to pop music in 2017”

The art alone would disqualify this from most top album lists, but hey, you gotta look hard to unearth real shit (I guess). Dark, dark, dark electronics for late night drives through terminally fucked up cities.

Kaitlyn-Aurelia Smith – The Kid
More timeless synthesiser work from the throne.

Visible Cloaks – Reassemblage
Still going strong from early on in the year, exemplary ambient work from Visible Cloaks and a highlight of the decade for sure. Yes, the decade.

Pan Daijing – Lack
The absolute dread of letting this record wash over you on your toughest day is only matched by its all-encompassing beauty on your best. As evident from her live show at the Atonal this summer, Pan Daijing is truly a performance artist in a class of her own.

Investigations of a dog x Spankeol – Investigations of a dog x Spankeol
Spellbinding collaborative album between auteurs and experimentalists Investigations of a dog and Spankeol with some help from Silent Nerves and Infinite Jar Space. Nothing out of the home country has EVER come close to this in depth, space and variety. As usual, our finest visionaries operate under the radar, away from the soul-sucking machinations of the mainstream.

Belief Defect – Decadent Yet Depraved
I was there, right up front taking it all in. Barring an Abul Mogard performance that reduced me to tears, Belief Defect was the highlight of my Atonal. Buy the record here.

Félicia Atkinson – Hand In Hand
A dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within.

Ex Eye – Ex Eye
IMHO, this is what post-anything that has to do with guitars-drums-bass should aspire to be. A confluence of metal, jazz and experimental music like no other in 2017.

Godflesh – Post Self
Beautifully unforgiving through its runtime, Godflesh are on a whole new level with Post Self. Worth listening to over and over again in all settings humanly imaginable.

Primitive Man – Caustic
The kind of electronic doom that’ll suck all the air out of the room once it’s finished, leaving you with a void that only a repeat listen can fill. In other words, perfect.

Tetragrammacide – Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix
Strictly no fucks given here. This is the black metal record I’ll be measuring all black metal records up against.

Roc Marciano – Rosebudd’s Revenge
Tell me once again how your favourite rapper is Kendrick Lamar and how the hottest thing in hip-hop is a group of art-school millennials who call themselves a boy band. Then listen to this and shut the fuck up forever.

Conway – Reject On Steroids
While a string of releases from Westside Gunn, Benny and Conway (in addition to a hyped Shady Records co-sign) made all the news in 2017, nothing comes quite close to this heater from The Machine. My rap AOTY by a mile and then some.

Apollo Brown & Planet Asia – Anchovies
Another blinder from MMG after a prolific 2016 spent putting out some of the year’s best in hip-hop. Apollo Brown is on a mission, clearly.

Sean Price – Imperius Rex
Sean P setting the record straight from beyond the grave. The hype, in this particular case, is very, very real.

Muggs & Meyhem Lauren – Gems From The Equinox
Instant uplifter of spirits with instant-recall beats and some of the strongest features of the year.

Emptyset – Borders
100% Bristolian banger fare for DJs living on the edge.

Damien Dubrovnik – Great Many Arrows
There’s a fine line separating great noise music slash power electronics from wankery and it’s usually the one that helps winnow truly thought-out compositional nerve from the widespread amateurism romanticised by so many for the sake of supporting the subculture. Damien Dubrovnik are progenitors of the former, archers of the highest order taking aim studiously, prolific at hitting the target and bringing home the prey.

Caterina Barbieri – Patterns Of Consciousness
Forgive such largesse on my part. Yes, I have talked the hell out of this record since it came out. And I’m happy to do it again for Patterns Of Consciousness houses some of the finest synthesizer compositions ever created, every second committed to tape like its the last second of music that’ll ever be recorded; a masterclass in sonics and a lesson in minimalism but most importantly, full of heart. I wish her the absolute best.

Alessandro Cortini – Avanti
Rich in meaning and intersected by vivid memories through thought-provoking visual accompaniment, proving once and for all that this is some of Alessandro’s best work since starting out. Separate the electronics, dig for the soul and you’ll find yourself swimming in it.

Jlin – Black Origami
Absolutely biblical mind-body-soul stuff from the Atlanta native, transcending the already future-proof experimental footwork that she owned on Dark Energy. Pity I wasn’t in Bangalore when she was around; I’d have given a lot to be able to pick her brain.

Dopplereffekt – Cellular Automata
News of a new Dopplereffekt record arrived early on in the year and shortly thereafter, I had the privilege of watching them perform most of it live (albeit with more assertive beats) in Berlin just before the Superbooth. Been on rotation since.

Lee Gamble – Mnestic Pressure
Got just one word for this one and the word is ‘wow’.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – On The Echoing Green
The morning ambient record to end all morning ambient records. Dominated my Light Drinker playlists for most of the year.

Fret – Over Depth
Christmas came rather early this year when Mick Harris returned as FRET with a HUGE full-length record that you really ought to be into. Like seriously, if you don’t come up to me the next time I see you and say ‘No Rain’ made you want to break stuff and that you actually went ahead and broke some stuff, you can f**k right off because there’s no chance on earth we’re gonna be friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *