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Sunday, January 09, 2005

DAMN 2004 was a music year

It has been a wonderful year music-wise. I had a real hard time putting this list together (I know this gets said every time but what the heck, let's enjoy these clichés). Music lists maybe should be allowed to be longer but let's keep it minimal shall we?

So let me first say a big sorry to those who didn't make it: Animal Collective, aMute, Black Forest/Black Sea, Devendra Banhart, Diplo, Efterklang, Joanna Newsom, Johann Johannsson, Laura Veirs, Mice Parade, Six Organs of Admittance, William Basinski, Xiu Xiu and everyone I'm forgetting right now or haven't checked out yet.

To put it in Stanly Cavell words: memories of music are always strand over strand with memories of my life. Cavell uses this example with movies but in my case it works much more with music. In choosing these ten music albums, this has been the deciding factor. This list is not about comparing technique. It's about the sublime and its impact.

It's about being my guide this year. That constant soundtrack in my life. This list is more about being there and will not be reviewed in the real sense of the word (check the link for that). Just associating a random thought or memory.

1. Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks

Max Richter. The essence of my daylight. What a find. Food for thought for six months and I still can’t get enough of it. The most touching, most groundbreaking work in years. Please Max, make more music, write, score a soundtrack, be there. I wish I could master my words the way the music twirls and drifts. I won’t forget. A whole year in one piece of music.

2. Hymie's Basement - Hymie's Basement

Whiskey. Spring. A lonely night, two men singing for you, a gulp, laughter, the genius of words and feeling content. Two utter fantastic weirdos making a record about masturbating your birthday parties and the 21st century. Most hilarious lyrics and pure angelic melodies. Pull this stunt and it’s my basement. An April Record.

3. Mirah - C'mon Miracle

The woman of the year. Last year the lovely Chan Marshall. Now Mirah who’s trying to take me from my sleep in summer. June was me trying to jump over that pool of philosophy. Would you promise to be kind? I’ll sure try to reach the other side.

4. Mum - Summer Make Good

I remember sitting in a choriatiki restaurant next to the hovering meteora after a long and tiring walk. And it was the last sunny place you thought you’d listen to Icelandic music. But it was so breathtaking and captured the endurance of a million year’s erosion. Fall made me good. This was October.

5. Viktor Sjöberg - "Never been closer to heaven / Never been further away"

Crackles, Hiss, Broken Windshields, Snow, August, Mills, Museums, My Name On a Record. A strange combination from a place between heaven and away. A place where you look up and see a still frame. A world not moving. A frozen memory that tells you everything. This EP is by far the most beautiful layered musical piece on this list. Its eye for detail and essence is so profound and astonishing it makes me want to go hide in Plato’s cave and just listen to it on repeat. This talent needs to get signed with a record company or we will not tolerate. A February and August album.

6. Tom Carter & Bardo Pond - 4/23/03

Drones on a rainy trainride. I watch landscapes and focus on what’s there. The green grass gets more pale as we approach the destination. I feel ideas sprouting in my bloody substance and wander on these sounds. It has a liveness and free form that’s truly appealing. Another collaboration between master minds that’s so raw you want to keep tasting. Here comes September.

7.Isis - Panopticon

December. It’s cold and I feel them watching. Yes, I dress in black and I’m listening to what you would call metal. Only it’s far beyond what’s there. Yeah there are these men howling and growling and we hear loud guitars but it’s not there. I don’t care really. These melodies are within bars and people watch you all the time. You move and they howl. You sniff and they growl. I sit in the movie theatre thrilled to see a sneak preview and I turn up the volume. The music has its flaws but it’s a wonderful and powerful album. December.

8. Jens Lekman - Rocky Dennis in heaven

I go and sit on a bench in a tiny airport in Gothenburg. I’m alone. I take my final picture. I hear a sweet voice telling me he will sing at my wedding and I burst out in laughter. I realize it’s been great. It’s early February and it’s getting warmer now. I know this voice will haunt me and will keep setting me on fire. I think the Maple Leaves EP is still my favorite but I adore this EP and the new album as well. I picked this one for the laughter. Cheers Jens.

9.Tom Waits - Real Gone

I’ll never know if this album would have made my list if it wasn’t for November 19. It was ok at a first listen. It was still good after a few listens but it never surprised me in a way a lot of previous stuff did. Until I saw you perform. I was angry and disappointed when I got up one morning in October at 8 and tried calling for five hours to get tickets for your show. Alas, I didn’t get any. Until a month later, a sweet soul informed she got me a ticket for Amsterdam. November 19. And it was monumental. By far the most enchanting concert experience ever. I screamed, I shouted, I banged my feet, I was so gone in that majestic hall filled with four musicians. I now understand. You all should hoist a rag. Thanks for the ever inspiring moments. November folks.

10. Fennesz - Venice

I like to listen. I’ve always liked atmospheres. Chiming in and focusing on what’s there. Fennesz’s sound has a lot to offer in that regard. Plus it’s an album that thrives on contrast. It feels warm, yet distant and bleak. I like to put it on and stare at my ceiling. Doing nothing, yet listening. Feels like spring is here again. March. Welcome!!

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