The great choice list of 2012 continues…..


M.


MayMay ‘And So I Place You In THe Setting Sun’ (Flau)

More a statement of intent than an LP title, the indolent diaphanous MayMay (Laurel Simmons) and her sweetly cooed homesick odes, hope to encapsulate the twilight hour atmosphere in song. A palatial countryside of escapist longing and pinning awaits, as the singer drifts languorously through the seasons changes, hinting at fey touches of a more pastoral Blonde Redhead and Beach House.

Subtly brillent in its beatific execution, And So I Place You In The Setting Sun, is a lilting but peaceable experience.


Metamono ‘Tape EP’ (HoHum) / ‘Parcel Post’ (Instrumentarium)

With hardly a fag papers width in it, both this years Metamono releases share equal billing. The electronic trinity of Jono Podmore (Kumo and aided tenure with Irmin Schmidt of Can fame), Paul Conboy (Bomb The Bass collaborator) and artist Mark Hill set out to inject some soul and energy into the ‘intelligent techno’ genre.

Starting out on this journey with the HoHum Tape EP of throbbing acid gargles and bleeps of gaseous labelled tracks, ‘XeF4′ and ‘H2NS’, their revitalised worship of all things analogue evoked the sound of Basic Channel and R&S.

By the time they reached Parcel Post, the triumvirate had launched their very own label, Instrumentarium, producing another EP of motoring acid-techno and magnetic-charged minimalism that began with the dub floating 11-minute trip Mattressphere.

The future looks at least partially bright with this lot at the helm


N.


ninetails

Ninetails ‘Slept And Did Not Sleep’ (Superstar Destroyer Records)

With a band name borrowed from Japanese folklore, and a exotic cooked-up sound, the Liverpool quartet cast their net wide and far for inspirations. Omnivorous and experimental throughout, their second EP of 2012, Slept And Did Not Sleep, traverses Afrobeat, 80s art school pop, Eno & Fripp-esque ambient vistas, and surf twanged psychedelia to produce a surprisingly modern take on polyrhythmic indie.


Ninetails look set to become one of 2013’s most classy and critically heralded acts.



O.


Outlands ‘Outlands EP’ 

An aquatic resonance of shimmering chillwave permeates throughout this duo’s recent sound clash EP. Both languishing in a wash of hypnotic R&B and dreamy churning loops, Outlands lead the rest of the ‘glo-fi’ pack with their swaddled lyrics and mournful inquisitiveness. They also do a mean moody Italo-house cover of Marianne Faithfull‘s disco-noir ‘Broken English’. Another one to watch in 2013.


P.


 People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz ‘The Keystone Cut Ups’ (Illegal Art)

Renowned sound artists and music collage magi People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz (firm Monolith Cocktail favourites) once again create a poignant but well humoured visual/audio suite. Previously a special performance for the Berwick Film And Art Festival in 2010, the ‘slapstick on the Freudian couch’ tribute is now finally available on DVD and CD.

Paying homage and exploring the relationship between the surrealists and early vaudeville comedy of the silent movie and burgeoning ‘talkies’, our hosts set their enchanted ditties and plaintive semiotic odes to a choreographed treat of knock-about sketches and strange symbolic gesturing. Bringing the era back to life, and relevance, the erudite partnership’s project matches Laurel & Hardy with The Bonzo Dog DooDah Band; the poignant death of movie starlet Thelma Todd with a Beryl-cream coffered voiced lament; Jacques Cousteau with the Silver Apples; and an ominous limb-ballet of mannequins and statues with the ‘motorik’ sound of Germany.

Perhaps my overall highlight of 2012.


Pindar’s Apes ‘The Eternally Recurring Band’

Turned-on, so to speak, by Bill Cummings at GIITTV, Pindar’s Apes are a curious duo from East Anglia, whose references and moniker derive from a host of antiquitus sources. Their heavily acoustic guitar driven musings and deliberations evoke the more promising tones of early Dire Straits, Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen, yet they don’t really sound quite like anyone I’ve ever heard before.

Casting a mid-life viewpoint over a range of subjects, from religion to loss and reflection, their poetically poised songs are engaging and finely attuned to the present times. Whether it’s part of their recondite strategy, they remain a rare undiscovered talent.


S. 


Sergeant Buzfuz ‘Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself’ (Blang Records)

The history of the Catholic church contains a gluttonous orgy of ripe material for anyone who wishes to bring attention to its misdeeds and hypocrisy. London based agit-troupe Sergeant Bufuz have set all these heinous misdemeanours to music on the foul-crying ‘Got To The Devil And Shake Yourself’.

A schism, or album of two halves, the main theme cycle of ‘Here Comes The Popes’ runs through a litany of the pontiffs tardy practices to a charming backing of folk and indie rock, whilst the second chapter highlights the many woeful breakups and divisions that at one time split the church into competing power bases of conflict, to a soundtrack of Earl Brutus, The Fall and PiL.

Despite its pious subject matter and rhetoric this experience is an enjoyable listen; more ‘Antifolk meets Horrible Histories’ than political rant.


Sproatly Smith ‘The Minstrel’s Grave’ (Folk Police Recordings)

Though not entirely enchanted or drawn to the plaintive awakenings of witch trails, erst folk band Sproartly Smith have connected with that whole tumultuous period in English history – the third band just in my 2012 list to do so. Tales of yore are brought back from their dusty retreat, submerged back in the annals of time, as the troupe awaken esoteric pagan yearnings (‘The Fabled Hare/Isobel Goudie’) , yield mysterious laments to mermaids (‘The Mermaid Of Marden’), and go Hawkwind stellar (‘Elysium’).

This is an album about immortality, or rather a pinning collection of poetically, heart-aching sonnets and eulogies to the passing of time and how it quickly runs out.

Traversing the moods and sound of Pentangle, Amon Duul II and Fairport Convention, the Sproatly players produce a pastoral acid-folk soundtrack to an imaginative mythological land.


Swords Of Texas ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die’ 

The fifth horseman of the apocalypse, Schmoog Lebowski, throws down a storm of psych-doom heavy lightning bolts upon the cowering unwashed with his guttural seizures EP, Too Weird To Die, Too Rare To Die. Under a miasma of noise and strangulated primal muffling vocals, the grand magi of Swords Of Texas conducts a real morbid trip through the mind of Catholic Spain’s saviour El Cid, whilst preying to the funereal pyre of Wagner’s Valkyrie.  Hell, it’s a lot more fun than listening to Arabrot that’s for sure: file under albums to listen to whilst the decadent west burns.


David Sylvian ‘A Victim Of Stars: 1982 – 2012’ (Virgin/EMI)

At last a career-spaning collection that does the former Japan frontman justice. Never a massive fan of the metaphysical crooner, the expansive ‘A Victim Of Stars’ catalogue let me know what a fool I’d been to dismiss his work all these years. Like a road-to-Damsucus enlightenment, Sylvian’s musical career really began to make sense and open up to me.

Inherently guided, imbued and inspired by the triumvirate of David Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Scott Walker – the only artists who can lay claim to producing such a similar oeuvre of thought-provoking, brooding, introspective and textured genius as Sylvian – the sheer quality on display is mesmerising. From those early neon-romantic days of the early 80s, working alongside the erudite Ryuichi Sakamoto, to spells as a solo artist and collabartions with Robert Fripp, Holgar Czukay and Stina Nordenstam, this 32-track suite sucks in electronica, jazz, agit-pop, oriental swoons, and funk.

Every single Sylvian period is represented, right up to his latest release ‘Where’s Your Gravity?’ – released after a three-year hiatus -, proving that into his fourth decade, the swooning sensitive artist can still match his past brilliance.


T.


Tomat ’01-06 June’ (Monotreme Records)

Dropping his christian name, Davide, Italian musician and one-time member of N.A.M.B,Tomat adopts a new sonic, particle buzzing electronic pathway on his solo debut, 01-06 June. Charged with conceptually soundtracking a series of astronomical key events from the last couple of hundred years that all took place within the date frame of the 1st to 6th June, he creates a sonorous and escapist body of musical narratives.

Using his own voice throughout as an instrument alongside the fuzz, rasping and shimmering synth effects, Tomat builds up layers and textures for a cosmological survey, and tribute to the pioneers of astro-science.



V.


Various ‘Diablos Del Ritmo:The Colombian Melting Pot 1960-1985’ (Analog Africa)

Turning his attention away from the African continent, Samy Ben Redjeb’s erudite label of choice, Analog Africa, now exhaustively surveys the sound of Colombia.

Shipped-in via the port of Barranquilla, the musical permutations from Africa couldn’t help but be soaked-up and absorbed into the South American music scene. Colombia enjoyed its polygenesis relationship with Africa and the Caribbean, with Cuban rhythms rubbing against the Nigerian Delta, whilst the native salacious Latin grooves added a certain sway.

Redjeb has really excelled himself this time.


Various ‘Jukebox Mambo’ (Jazzman)

Building on the success of his London club nights, DJ Liam Large under the banner of the Jazzman label, picks a selection of dynamite dance-floor jiving and carnal temptress numbers from the golden age of Mambo for the Jukebox Mambo compilation.

This pick of rare grooves and previously overlooked singles from the late 40s and 50s encapsulate an era when the burgeoning American R&B and jazz scene was influenced by African and Rhumba rhythms. Guaranteed to add swing and a sizzle of coitus heat to any party, Jukebox Mambo is as alive today as it was then.


Various ‘Spiritual Jazz Volume 2: Europe’ (Jazzman)

Beyond any doubt London’s Jazzman label continues to persevere with its committed and assiduous roster of re-issues, purviews and occasional championed new talent. No other label this year has managed to release so many delights. Aficionados of all things jazz, and the genre’s multifaceted branches of sub, affixed, scions.

Jazzman have not only excavated such mystical treasures as Azanyah‘s The One; compiled a ‘best of’ the Nordic liturgy That’s Why; and followed-up the debut success of the Greg Foat Group’s ‘future past’ Dark Is The Sun with an equally lamentable space suite, Girl And Robot With Flowers; but they also continued to survey the rich spiritual jazz landscape with volumes 2 and 3.

There isn’t much in it, but the second tome somehow made more of an impact upon your humble reviewer. Covering Germanic hymns, Byzantium reverence, and Spanish plaintive eulogies, European jazz can be heard loosening itself from the influence of Coltrane to go its own reverent way.


W.


BishBosch

Scott Walker ‘Bish Bosch’ (4AD)

Suffering from a pessimistic malady for the past 50-odd years, the malcontent conductor and crooning observer of life’s harsh realties returns with another modernist Baroque-odyssey.

Keeping to the avant-garde serialism of both Tilt and The Drift, Scott Walker‘s epic brooding suite covers familiar ground – Dictators, plagues and torture – but also features some twisted sardonic humour and sneering put-downs. From vivisectionists juxtapositions to Attila The Hun’s dwarf, there’s no silver lining to these dark clouds gathering on the horizon.

Melancholy, profound, bleak, majestic, alien even, Bish Bosch is one of hell of an achievement, and proves that the haunted aloof spirit of Walker (now nearing his 69th birthday) is still more provocative, original and experimental than his closest competitors.


Z.


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Zacht Automaat ‘Bags Inside Bags’

From the deck of the kosmiche-charting Battleship Ethel, Carl Didur and Michael McLean cast their eyes over a ‘topographic ocean’ of acid rock, Wendy Carlos Baroque soundtracks, Afro-jazz, communal Krautrock jams, and electric kool-aid psychedelia to produce the Zacht Automaat template.

An extension of their previous musical incarnations the Zacht goes beyond the call of exploratory duty. Not so much songs, tracks or even suites, the unregulated instrumental odysseys go were their navigators take them: passing through every conceivable musical genre on route. There’s never a dull moment, as the ennui band mix Roedelius with the Soft Machine, or Love with Ornette Coleman.

Monolith Cocktail salutes those on board the Automaat. We can’t champion them enough.

One Response to “Choice List Of 2012 M – Z”

  1. […] pop electronic innovator David Tomat (he of the Monolith Cocktail praised solo album 01-06 June) and Gabriele Ottino have returned, with what might just be their most experimental outing yet […]

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