The year in music? Hardly.
My year in music? Closer (esp. if you ignore all that Bon Scott-era AC/DC I listen to).
The 20 new recordings that have had most impact on me in 2017? That’ll do.
Wait, 20?! Yes. I could’ve whittled it down to the usual 10 and placed the remainder in a disingenuous ‘bubbling under’ category but really, why differentiate unnecessarily? They’re all bloody great. They all grabbed me in a way that lasted (i.e. I’m still listening to them after I’ve scribbled a review or posted a track on Facebook). Why make half of them ‘also-rans’ when they’re not? So, yes… this year, aJN has a Top Twenty.
In the proverbial no particular order…
“…instant compositions that draw you down into glassy darkness and unyielding pressure.” Full review here. (I could easily have chosen “Molar Wrench” or “Womb of God” – it’s been a good year for Dead Neanderthals!)
“Some of the actual sounds here are also quite astonishing – check out some of the descending runs on Hat and Beard.” Full review here.
Infinite Jar Space
Acoustic meditation becomes experimental drone and heavy mesmerism, think Sunn O))) but from India. One to watch – not because he’s ‘up and coming’ but because he’s good already.
JÜ promised much on their RareNoise debut with Kjetil Møster and this eclectic disc more than delivers – global influences, great dynamics; not just a collection of tracks but a real old-fashioned album.
“A strange, almost schizophrenic album, part anguish, part joyous and exuberant aggression, it beats you down and opens you up at the same time. ” Full review here.
“…this short album of five short improvisations is many things: assured, absurd, exuberant, tongue-in-cheek, engaging, but above all, it’s fun!” Full review here.
“…the kaleidoscope of patterns keeps you guessing with its nods to the past while the overall reality is anything but retro.” Full review here.
“Behind the Mist”
(Tall Guy Records)
“Inspired by the British Isles’ faery legends, Pyne has created a suite of instant compositions. Limpid, often sparse, esoterically playful, and appropriately capricious…” Full review here.
The Noise Eating Monsters
“Noise Eating Monsters”
Brooding, mean and quite frankly magnificent guitar-bass-drums improv – power trio of the year?
Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow, Bobby Previte with Iggy Pop
“…attention alternates between his [Pop’s] naked and well-worn voice and Saft, Swallow & Previte’s effortless invocations of time past through a present lens.” Full Review here.
Solo clarinets with a dash of piano and a touch of chair – exquisite follow-up to 2014’s “1680”, if anything the playing is more fluid than ever.
The tracks are on YouTube but unaccountably blocked in Bayer’s own country – try here: http://bit.ly/NiketchrinYT, you may have better luck!
“A veritable mass of slow-tempo pulsation made up of the twin layers of bass below and sax above, while the drums act as hammer and chisel…” Full review here.
(Multikulti Project Spontaneous Music Tribune series)
“…a no holds barred pleasurefest of soundplay, matching and contrasting tones and textures, introduced, layered and discarded in an unstoppable kineticism.” Gig review here.
“The Hundred Headed Women”
“…a deceptively straight and steady path that is likely to dissolve into murky distortion when you least expect it. ” Full review here.
A fearless (and fascinating) explorer of style and textures, the only predictable aspect of this fourth disc of improvisation is the new direction compared to its predecessors. Also worth checking out: his collaboration with Infinite Jar Space.
The sense of humour, ear for a killer riff, and penchant for exhilarating changes of direction are intact from the previous disc, “Bullsheep” but if anything, more so.
Han-earl Park, Dominic Lash, Mark Sanders, Caroline Pugh
“Sirene 1009 don’t so much push the envelope of improvisation as tear it into small pieces and eat them, just to spite any listener preconceptions.” Full review here.
Solborg, Skjødt, Dörner, Zach, Rexen, Kullberg, Heebøll
An inspired set of two improvised performances in which the locations themselves function as instruments – intimate and awe-inspiring in equal measure.
“…a dark, sweet morass of bass and synth drones, subterranean (stygian even) rumblings, metal scrapings, and subliminal saxophones.” Full review here.
Zero de Conducta
“…songs are being constructed on the hoof, with clear rhythmic sections and repetition, resulting in a fairly instant payoff for the listener while retaining plenty of room for spontaneity…” Full review here.
That’s all folks…