Like the previously tasted Mighty Boosh sez, my musickal diggings travel through 'time & space', so I’ve never been one for the Best of…(fill in the year) Lists. I was reading one of trusty73s recent posts over at Wilfully Obscure & I was, like, "I can totally relate". I'm still discovering things I missed from 2013 (or 2003 or 1963 or 1969 or 1987 or 2007…well, you get it). I do try to check out new releases from bands I've heard about from reliable??? sources or bands I've enjoyed on some of their previous outings. But I always try to check out the myriad 'Best of….Lists' that crop up near the end of the year around the interweb to see what I might have missed that might be worth checking out, as well as seeing how I did compared to others also trying to keep a finger on the pulse of modern music.
2014 seems to have been a busy year for many bands & artists, both new & old. I can’t say that I’m very positive about the state of today’s musical creativity, but I bought a few things over the past year that gave me some hope (this is why I supplement my collection by mining the wide world & the infinite past: crate digging; boot shopping; thrift-shop diving). I noticed numerous releases I have been enjoying making many lists, so I thought I’d make up a sampler of some of the tracks I’ve been grooving on. I’ve tried to illuminate the artist’s strengths with the tracks I picked (or presented two tracks to highlight an artist’s diversity (featuring hard blues & deep Tuareg from Tinariwen...pure funk & pure protest from D’Angelo...a strong vocal track & a fiery guitar track from Noura Mint Seymali...like that).
Of all the music I purchased this year that seemed to hit the lists, only four left me going Meh! A Sunday in Glasgow – Sea When Absent, United Waters – Sunburner, Medicine – Home Everywhere, & Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – High Life were all, in my opinion, less than stellar (on a better note, also from 2014 Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – Someday World was almost "Baby's on Fire" quality Eno).
Sweeping 2014, a strong wind across the Sahel…fantastic vocal supremacy from Mauritanian griot Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni. Seymali’s vocals push an already supreme music to aethereal heights, coupled with the ripping electric guitar from Seymali’s husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly (the two pictured above).
& my beloved Sahel blues from Tinariwen – Emmaar. Tinariwen’s Radio Tisdas Sessions are near legend, but this new material might just be their best work to date.
Following closely on the winds of Africa are two strong Dub outings. Heir-apparent to the Kingship of Dub Prince Fatty meets Nostalgia 77 – In the Kingdom of Dub to claim his domain. The current reigning king (following King Tubby & Prince Jammy) Scientist releases The Dub Album They Didn’t Want You To Hear. Hear it now.
Others in this mix include:
Ava Luna – Electric Balloon challenges us with spastic cool until "PRPL" creeps into the mind through the earholes without our noticing & seduces in the most enjoyable way.
Brian Eno teamed up with Karl Hyde on Someday World to create some of the least ambient, most visceral tuneage he’s made in years.
Karl Hector & the Malcouns play some Afro-centric stylee that is Unstraight Ahead, which is always where I aim.
FKA Twig have issued two previous EPs (EP1 & EP2) & now give us an LP (LP1…what else?). If you don’t get the power of these vocals, roll over…then feel the spot-on musicianship takes hold. Oh yeah.
Fat White Family play so many variations on the thing they do that it was hard to pick a track, but being from Cali, I have to hope the Champagne Holocaust will "Bomb Disneyland".
The Heliocentrics have previously teamed up with Mulatu Astatke, Lloyd Miller, & Orlando Julius to great success. Now they have hooked up with Melvin Van Peebles of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song & Watermelon Man fame to present The Last Transmission. I hope it’s not the last. Van Peebles lays down some street poetry/philosophy over Heliocentric’s groove. Galileo was right. All Hail Heliocentics.
Midge Ure, he of the ultra voice (vox), has presented a Fragile offering. Don’t break it.
Being a fan of the Black Mountain crew (Stephen McBean, Brad Truax, Amber Webber, Joshua Wells, & Jeremy Schmidt), I was excited that Jeremy, the synth-scape/space rock one & Josh Wells, the pounding one, had recorded another release as Sinoia Caves (their last was 2006s The Enchanted Persuaded). Beyond the Black Rainbow is an official movie soundtrack that is strong enough to rule as a perfect stand-alone.
From the funkster behind Voodoo, many years in the making, comes the vital & immediate Black Messiah – D'Angelo & the Vanguard. Funk yeah meet Ferguson.
Right on, Rhyton! Some music that actually made me hopeful about the state of moderne musique. Sonic voyages originating from the great port city of Brooklyn, NY. Kykeon was a drink created by the ancient Greeks that had psychoactive properties. Good name for the radical concoctions they’re serving up here.
I find myself more familiar with night sweats or night wood, usually not The Night Terrors. But this one is, if not the greatest, at least an honest & perplexing attempt. This Spiral Vortex seems to grow on me the more revolutions I give it. I know I’ll be going back to it to further delve into its dark depths.
They said This would (Will) Destroy me (You) but it actually made me feel much better. Although it is Another Language, it seem less Destroyer, more Bardo Pond.
Benedic Lamdin or Nostalgia 77, an eclectic producer who switches between samples & live instrumentation with equal skill meets up with Prince Fatty In the Kingdom of Dub. Here the worlds of Dub & electric jazz collide in the Dubness of Dubhead.
Both Prince Fatty & Scientist have been featured prominently here in the past. I don't really need say more than this is The Dub Album They Didn't Want You To Hear.
I've added a bonus track, a single release I bought on bandcamp from Hepa-Titus, an old Cows (hey, Kevin Rutmanis has Hepa-Titus…pass it on) cover Chow featuring King Buzzo of Melvins fame as guest vocalist (did you hear the one about Kevin Rutmanis?).
Various - Nothin’s 2014 Sampler
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Hebebeb (Zrag) – Noura Mint Seymali
Toumast Tincha – Tinariwen
PRPL – Ava Luna
Strip it Down – Brian Eno & Karl Hyde
Girmas Lament – Karl Hector & the Malcouns
Weak Spot – FKA Twig
Bomb Disneyland – Fat White Family
Big Bang Reincarnation – Heliocentrics & Melvin Van Peebles
Let it Rise – Midge Ure
1983-Main Theme – Sinoia Caves
Another Life – D'Angelo & the Vanguards
California Black Box Vapors – Rhyton
Witness – Brian Eno & Karl Hyde
Force Field – The Night Terrors
Memory Loss – This Will Destroy You
Koud Edhaz Emin – Tinariwen
El Gusto – Karl Hector & the Malcouns
Lights On – FKA Twig
Special Ape – Fat White Family
El Mougelmen – Noura Mint Seymali
Skeletons Dub – Prince Fatty meets Nostalgia 77
Don’t Give Up Your Culture Dub – Scientist
Ain’t That Easy – D'angelo & the Vanguards
Chow (Cows cover) – Hepa-Titus
ps. - As I was checking for errors, one glaring omission came to light. I somehow completely overlooked Shellac - Dude Incredible. Have it. Dig it. Have to get back to it later.