Mare Smythii - Full Moon 150 - 12/12/08
Tim's 10 Favourite Albums of 2008
Low fat, high groove
1. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore - Dolores (Pias)
It's very rare to hear music that totally transforms how you listen. Prior to Dolores I'd never heard any Bohren & Der Club Of Gore; just read their name as an influence on other bands. And now I know why - this is some seriously awesome shit. The instruments themselves are familiar from a million-and-one jazz and jazz-influenced albums: Rhodes, vibraphone, saxophone, bass and drums. But have you ever heard them wielded with such power and precision? This music resonates within me in a way that is too crushingly sad for words. Slower even than Earth (see no. 8), this album has such a gorgeous sense of space and weight that it never feels overwrought. Musical levitation for sad nights alone.
2. Deerhoof - Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars)
Another year, another great Deerhoof album. With the addition of Ed Rodriguez on second guitar, it's no surprise that the main draw of this album is the ripping riffs ("The Tears and Music of Love", "My Purple Past", "Jagged Fruit"). But as with all Deerhoof albums, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, with enough complex compositional flavour-balancing to nestle the sweet ("Family of Others"), the silly ("Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back") and the simply stunning ("Fresh Born") against the peerless six-string attack.
3. Pivot - O Soundtrack My Heart (Warp)
I was a little hasty in declaring this album of the year back in August, especially when I knew there was a Deerhoof album on the way... Although it hasn't quite made my number 1, it's still a mighty record, stacked ozone-layer high with angular guitars, swooning synths, Laurence Pike's peerless tub-thumping, and a naggingly emotive song cycle that promises great things to come from this revitalised band. One of the best live shows of the year, too.
4. Svartbag - Svartbag (Rump)
The first time I heard this I was knocked sideways. Who are these guys? How have they managed to combine so many of the genres I love - post-rock, krautrock, psych, drone - into such a perfect album? However they've done it, it keeps me going back for more, my head nodding in a hypnotic trance. Now, when's the next one?!
5. Motorpsycho - Little Lucid Moments (Rune Grammofon)
Rock album of the year, no question. After heaps of line-up changes and albums in various six-stringed styles over the years, Motorpsycho have finally found their perfect sound: big, proggy, and more powerful than a juggernaut. Grow long hair and a beard, roll up a fat one, and cruise the cosmos to this little beauty.
6. Portishead - Third (Go Beat)
Who ever thought that after a Stone Roses-length wait, these Bristolian mainstays would trump their previous albums with an even darker, more individual sound? It's always a pleasant surprise when a band this popular and influential can deliver the goods, but this is just brilliant. Beth Gibbons sounds sadder than ever, Adrian Utley makes his guitar sound like its malfunctioning, and Geoff Barrow eschews the decks in favour of some wondrous beatwork on a live kit.
7. Fennesz - Black Sea (Touch)
Although Christian Fennesz has been busy with collaborations of all kinds, his solo albums cast his formidable talents and much-aped sound in the best light. Here he combines the engaging song structures of his masterful Endless Summer with the delicious textural details of Venice to create an album that can leave the listener adrift in washes of sound or poised in anticipation of what the sound will morph into next. "Glide" is worth the price of admission alone.
8. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull (Southern Lord)
Slow, beautiful, and with some seriously deep, dark grooves, Earth's latest is easily their best to date. If nothing else it's a satisfying lesson for legions of lack-lustre post-rock bands on how to do repetition well: with the blues.
9. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer (Sub Pop)
Their debut Apologies To The Queen Mary may have created all the buzz a couple of years ago, but this whips its ass. There may be a couple of mis-steps along the way, but when Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner strike gold with "Kissing The Beehive", they've co-written one of the best songs of the year. More please! Krug's "California Dreamer" is the shit too.
10. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles (Warp)
With its atmospheric funk crunch and dance swoosh, Flying Lotus has produced one of the best-sounding records of the year. Like a party record melting on the turntable as it plays, this is wonky and groovy in equal measure, getting you up to dance before you realise you don't know how the hell to dance to it...
And these were pretty great too...
All India Radio - These Winter Dreams (Inevitable)
The Alps - III (Type)
Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker - Fantasma Parastasie (Alien8)
The Drift - Memory Drawings (Temporary Residence)
Windy & Carl - Songs For The Broken-hearted (Kranky)
Copyright © 2008 Tim Clarke