Favorite Albums

These are my favorite albums of 2017.

Tarkovsky Quartet - Nuit blanche (ECM)

soft and contemplative, moving between the composed and the improvised, hauntingly pretty, drifting through ephemera

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. (TDE)

Sure I might have had enough of a few of the songs on the radio, but it's another great album with songs to immediately enjoy, rapping to relish, content to think about. Another entry in a catalog of outstanding releases that are also broadly popular.

Justin Walter - Unseen Forces (Kranky)

Directional flotation, serenity without stasis. Atmospheric without limiting itself.

Natalia Lafourcade - Musas (Columbia)

These songs are great. The performance is great. Los Macorinos are great. Her live performance was great. The videos are great:

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - On the Echoing Green (Mexican Summer)

das erhabene

Sote - Sacred Horror in Design (Opal Tapes)

electro-acoustic magic

milo - who told you to think??!!?!?!?! (Ruby Yacht)

milo's works are better each time. banks is not the future milo the future

Sylvain Chauveau - Post-Everything (Brocoli)

very electronic music pop

Post-Everything by Sylvain Chauveau

Lee Gamble - Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub)


Kassel Jaeger - Aster (Editions Mego)

Atmospheres, buzz evolutions, interruptions, darkness. Kind of scary. That release with Jim O'Rourke was also a good one.

Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music Group)

I appreciate the layers and ambiguities, listening to it again and making more of it, reading interviews and making more of it. Some great quietly-spoken, close-mic moments.

Anouar Brahem - Blue Maqams (ECM)

quiet fire, need live, Y2B

Claire M Singer - Fairge (Touch Records)

where was this in the blade runner movie

Bjork - Utopia (One Little Indian)

blissing me


I went to many music performances this year. Here's my top dozen, in chronological order... there's actually lots of singing.

Devendra Banhart @ The Mayan

Devendra Banhart is someone I hadn't really paid attention to ever, but whenever a song of his would show up somewhere, Diana would make note of it. So as a Christmas present I bought her tickets to this show and in the meantime familiarized myself with some of his music. For a weeknight about a week after the inauguration (which was addressed in a few ways at the concert), it was a moment of escape and comfort. The Mayan has seating on the balcony, so that's a plus.

Moderat + Hypoxia @ The Mayan

I think comfortably sitting at the front of a balcony might be the key here. In any case, for a few years I was resistant to Apparat's singing, not crazy about Moderat and its... singing, but eventually let it break through to me. Moderat is an expertly-crafted pop act by people who have a deep understanding and facility with some of my favorite music. Show is solid. Visuals are good. For the opening I finally got to see Moe perform as Hypoxia, which was moody and fantastic.

Bjork @ Walt Disney Concert Hall


Ojai (Music Director Vijay Iyer)

This is kind of cheating, since this included several concerts over a period of a few days. I can't choose specifics from it, but I'll say it's the best music festival I've ever attended with an amazing program (the programming of material but also the actual physical program), and I'm looking forward to returning this June.

Planetarium @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Planetarium is a kind of strange concept work from Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and Sufjan Stevens, another person I sort of ignored until recently. This was my first time doing the whole cemetery picnic thing (though I had been to some shows at the lodge/hall), and again it was another kind of weeknight escape. I particularly liked the encores (Somewhere over the Rainbow, Space Oddity) done in the strange style of the project. Also enjoyed the opening performance of Angelo de Augustine.

Solange @ FYF

This performance was an outstanding realization of A Seat at the Table and a few additional songs. She got up close (arm's length) during F.U.B.U., which was cool.

Kendrick Lamar @ Staples Center

Have seen him a few times over the years, and this was the best. No full-song-recorded backing vocal. No rock-style band. A great album to tour with a catalogue to pull from. Adoration of a hyped arena.

St. Vincent @ Paramount

Have wanted to see her for awhile. First half a review of past work with new versions of the songs, 2nd half a play-through of the new album. A tightly produced show without a live band, in keeping with some of the themes of its promotion and the fun-and-weird setting, which was Paramount's NYC backlot. So it was like a fake block party. Kind of strange. We had to stand around for too long.

Natalia Lafourcade @ Walt Disney Concert Hall

This was so good. She is great. More magic.

Busdriver @ Zebulon

Busdriver deserves greater recognition/celebration for his art. This was a dynamic, fluid show with The Underground Railroad jazz ensemble. Cool to hear his songs in such a different context from the electronic presentation I saw at the Aesop Rock opening show last year. Also enjoyed Kenny Segal's beat set, and Jerry Quickley is awesome, both the writing and delivery. Zebulon has a good setup.

Bill Frisell Beautiful Dreamers Trio @ Moss Theater

Lovely music. Fits in with the name. I Loves You Porgy wins. Encore included What the World Needs Now Is Love.

Interface 58

This is a bit of an honorable mention. While I was there everything was on point. Everything I saw from afterward showed that it went off and went strong through the morning. Left early due to a disturbance in the force.


There was a time when I seemed to think offensiveness or lack of propriety correlated with how funny something was.
Awkward doesn't have to be offensive.


Claro Intelecto - Exhilarator (Delsin)

melodic drop on Through the Cosmos says it best, but in any case this is cool and dubby somewhere in between a lot of things

Obsequies - Organn (Knives)

super computer music
so knives has been been pretty awesome so far


I am really looking forward to this break.

home stretch

although there are sure to be a few more posts between now and then, I've started reviewing the year's favorites

in any case, a few recent releases I'm really liking:

Carlos Niño & Friends - Going Home (Leaving Records)

soft ritual, shimmering sunrise, lazy ascension, cloudmorph

Thomas Demenga - J.S. Bach: Suiten für Violoncello (ECM Records)

sublime woody bach recordings

Schumann Quartett - Landscapes (Berlin Classics)

great program of material

Rabit - Les Fleurs Du Mal (Halcyon Veil)

We start out with some sharp, saturated bowed strings and eventually crumble into beatless murk, from the discomforting samples of Dogsblood Redemption to the guided nightmare of Elevation.
what's with that cover

Les Graciés - Low Doses (Firecracker Recordings)

crazy samples, good balance of motion and stasis, crazy staging (how many times did I take off my headphones because I thought something was happening around me?), this album is great

Armanda Hammer - Rome (Backwoodz Studioz)

rhythms, rhymes, all good


1. today while shaving I considered a complex fanfic scenario in which chris jenner is guilty, oj figures it out while in jail, and upon his release uses mind control techniques to get her to confess it to a journalist

There's a lot more to it than that, but I think that summary will suffice.

2. On my way to work there's an area on the street, in front of a red light and a business, that says "keep clear." I used to keep clear. Then I realized that it's there for this one particular business that is not going to be open or even have employees present for hours. I stopped keeping clear. Then today I thought... what if that's not the reason. What if there's something with the road and what's below it that makes them not want to have resting weight on it all the time? (This sounds really implausible.) What if there's some other reason that I'm just totally not considering? I've decided I'm just going to follow the directions, even though I'm pretty confident that it's there for this particular business and totally irrelevant at 6AM. These are not the thoughts of a revolutionary, in case there was any confusion there.


To be fair, regarding that final remark, it's not like it's really inconvenient for me to keep clear.

cut short

hotel near airport
high, corner
cabinet angles
rivoli shops
peach hemisphere on red
buried in white down comforter
crying into sleep,
but never again

some stuff

Claire M Singer - Fairge (Touch Records)

a kind of magical dawn, like a contemporary version of das rheingold's overture

Rødhåd - Anxious (Dystopian)


Invisible Church & Marie Davidson - Whatever Makes You Feel Safe (Yerevan Tapes)

heavy and voice and beyond what came before

wait so

are there two different rap battle shows premiering this week?

- - -

I've thought, said and done awful things that I didn't think were awful at the time.
I think about it constantly, and I'm sorry.

caught up

I'm glad we can finally agree on something.

Ben Frost - The Centre Cannot Hold (Mute Records)

And now we get the whole thing, inaugurated with a terrifying breath. Surely the second coming is at hand.

Booms and twinkles.

While I'm glad this is an album rather than another soundtrack of sorts, it does make me think we have a missed Blade Runner soundtrack opportunity here (among others, including the one that was dropped).


Anouar Brahem - Blue Maqams (ECM)

Look at the team. Mastered, beautiful cross-cultural ECM music. This group needs to come here. It will be awesome live.

Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music Group)

keep pushing, style and content

Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference (Young Turks)

Emotional suite of memorable melodies and a unique sound informed from many directions.


weirdo rhythms from everynowhere going hard just look a that coverman

AnD - Social Decay (EDLX)


Kelela - Take Me Apart (Warp)

90s r&b from the future makes a lot of sense warp records


everybody's messing up


Can't we change things without getting ridiculous, insincere and ultimately dishonest?
Probably not.


Technology is frightening.
I'm moving in a box at 90 MPH.
I look up and see hundreds of people flying through a box in the sky.
Do you remember when we had to walk across the land?
We once struggled to light fires.
Instant communication, machine learning.
When does the future end?

six for a thursday

Kassel Jaeger - Aster (Editions Mego)

A thin fog approaches, slowly obscuring horizons, allowing hints, memories, flashes and threats of drama. A range of environments develop, from a near-static floating transparency punctuated by crumbling snowflakes to an organ elegy buried 100 feet down. Padded enough for decompression, active enough for attention, detailed stereo for the headphone bonus.


Sylvain Chauveau - Post-Everything (Brocoli)

I'm liking everything he puts out. In the vein of Fennesz, Sakamoto, and of course Sylvian (kind of weird given the name nearness). Emotive use of drones, saturated noise, melody and vocals for what are finally songs.


The National - Sleep Well Beast (4AD)

It's a mostly-mellow rock album. Not usually my thing, but I keep coming back to it. They're good, resonant songs.


astrïd & Rachel Grimes - Through the Sparkle (Gizeh Records)

careful magic


Antwood - Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

Of the moment. Builds from last year's Virtuous.scr, this time with an excess of machine-gunned bass instead of constant breaking glass (IIRC). Also significant this time around is the heavier thematic conceit woven throughout, from the titles to the painful (for me anyway) samples, to the final “human” robotic ballad juxtaposing saccharine piano-chord-over-pad progression against frenetic happycore arpeggios. On the Planet Mu press info the artist describes it as "honest, flawed, with a little humour, and slightly up its own ass." I love I.T.


Lee Gamble - Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub)

in a few days early, idmish junglish shamer really good. I think this will make it to the end.

why excluded

Lanark Artefax - Whities 011

I thought this made it here the first time around.

Well I ended up listening to it again recently and its absence is undeserved.

Great stuff.

"defend daca"

I wonder about the phrasing of "defend DACA," used often this week and associated with a march this weekend.
I tend to prefer "defend DACA recipients" or "defend Dreamers," meaning it would be great to have something legislated rather than another flimsy executive renewal.
No, I'm not someone who argues that Trump's point around this differentiation are fair. Complete double standard, given all the executive orders.
That said, congress should act, and in that case it probably wouldn't actually be "DACA" that's defended.
Right? I of course don't know what I'm talking about.


It's wild what he was able to do as a deaf composer (as Kissin's performance of Sonata 32 closes out the new DG release in my headphones).


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