13: Shaking the Habitual by the knife
This is an incredible record, more eclectic than the super 'Silent Shout'. I'm not really sure who its anti-capitalist/conformity sentiments actively annoyed (as some have suggested) – Sweden's Donald Trumps tend to reserve their farts for more mainstream critics. I wish it had been analysed widely enough to do that, of course. Some seem to like the pop; others love the ambient sounds. I'm am digging both...spade held high.
12: Raise by adrian corker
Raise is a certified cure for the erectile malfunctions of Stars-of-the-Lid fans, though it is by no means a copy of their work. In order to create disparate sounds for different tracks, Corker dragged his orchestra everywhere from mammoth studios to his local pub for the recordings. Before you whack-out your pretension purgers, consider that this is bloody beautiful stuff.
11: Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol. 1 by rashad becker
I have no inkling as to what genre we are in for number eleven, but Lastfm has it tagged as 'electronic', 'experimental', 'noise', 'drone' and 'Berlin' if that helps. Look, it resembles a wet dream that one can experience wide-eyed; like each entry on this list, it is thrilling.
10: Borderland by Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald
Two pioneers of techno, though MVO (forget MBV) tends to drench his in jazz, this is infectious ****. Sometimes, the jazz pervading 2013 bursts in, but it is always techno.
9: Government Plates bydeath grips
Released 13 months, 13 days and 13 hours after the last instalment of shouty rap and dirty beats, they do it all again – though with less shouty rap and dirtier beats. It still surprises and packs an energy beyond all this year's crops.
8: No Answer-Lower Floors by wolf eyes
It is ten years since I first encountered a Wolf Eyes record. Back then, they were a little too experimental for the still youngish moo, only recently having come to terms with Kid A as a collection of songs. The volume control is lower this time, and 'noise' no longer seems an appropriate category, but the driving percussion and effects on 'Choking Flies' had me sold in seconds; the vocals are more considered – singing these days. When it one reaches 'Warning Sign', only maximum volume will do. At first it seems to remove one ears, and then doesn't...it goes deeper. My 2013 senses recognise that 'No Answer Lower Floor is not massively experimental, but that it sounds remarkable.
7: The Redeemer by dean blunt
Seeing Blunt live in September, it was clear that he has lots of ideas, but I'm not sure he could quite deal with visuals. On record, however, every sound (whether calming strings or breaking glass) fits. Perhaps this is prejudice, but I like the fact that he sounds nothing like one would expect form his photo. Demon is one of the songs of the year!
6: Excavation by the haxan cloak
After 2011's very good debut, Bobby Sands has become more ambitious sonically and conceptually. More strings, and as much drone, there is the supplementary narrative of an afterlife epic to contend with. After hearing this, he still me surprised live – managing to sound different from (and just as good as) the record whilst further highlighting how exciting 'Excavation' is. 'The Mirror Reflecting Part 2' is often in my head as I wake; I imagine it will remain there.
5:New History Warfare Volume 3: To See more Light by colin stetson
In the Quietus' end-of-year-poll blurb, this was classified as a 'calm' finale to a trilogy. I completely disagree! Not only is this easily the best of the New History Warfare trilogy, there really isn't anything calm about it. Yes, the bloke from Bon Iver sings on a few tracks, but away from Vernon, this is rocks harder and hurts more than I though saxophone could. Have you heard 'Brute'?. Until the live show, I had no idea that there was no drummer or bassist – all Stetson's sax and throat mike's work, but this isn't just an impressive trick. It is music as it should be.
4: Photographs by Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet
Intrigued by the idea of contemporary musique concrete (it's only this year that I realised how old that genre – and how ahead of its decades it is, I was delighted to discover Photographs. It remains ahead seventy or eighty years on from the genre's origins.
3: Exai by autechre
Autechre are back from Greater Manchester with another record that is so extraordinary it warrants its own genre. Ten-minute nightmares such as 'irlite (get O)' ought to be boring (holes in my head) by now, but this is different again. It really, really is. Like every record in the top five here (and almost all present) it really needs to have chat with the ombudsman to mount its justifiable challenge to be installed as record of the year.
2: Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile by matana roberts
Well, it is impossible to convey how excited I am by this record...but I think I will give it a go: free jazz in 2013 in the hands, or saxophone-soaked lips, of a woman? Yes, that was a sexist sentence, but free jazz (for all its brilliance) has always neglected the ladies. The same is true of most none-pop/singer orientated jazz – the fondness with which we remember Erica Dolphy, Alberta Ayer, Millie Davis, Joan Coltrane and Annette Coleman notwithstanding (if these joke names passed you by, incidentally, it is time to stop reading). Indeed, Matana Roberts herself has been reluctant to classify her music as 'jazz'. because so many men within the genre still question her right to participate in it.
Anyway, enough of the historical context that ignores this record's historical content. This record is part of ambitious series to chart the history of African-American women – breaking the experiential jazz mould not only because its by a woman, but because it's experimental jazz about women. The first Coin Coin record was about an anti-slave campaigner of that name, whereas this is chiefly about Robert's grandmother and the black women of Mississippi. Though largely instrumental and saxophone led, an interview with Robert's grandmother is relayed (without the questions) in segments. There are tales of a women being beaten brutally in a cell, but this is mostly a celebration of black women in America, rather than a condemnation of white oppressors. The final words, and indeed sounds, we hear are telling: “Do not weep for me”.
Furthermore, Mississippi Moon is a about black-American music. Roberts maintains that opera was never the preserve of the white middle-classes in America, and so an opera singer serenades us throughout.
Listen. It sounds incredible!
1: Long Story Short Curated by
So, 2013's greatest release is some six-hour (and five-disc) compendium of a 2011 free/avant-garde jazz festival collecting unholy collectives dragged over from Africa, Scandinavia, Japan and America and glued together by a German septuagenarian saxophonist? What else?
How does one listen to hour upon hour to this **** and want to start over again... every time? Brotzmann features heavily – though often not the only saxophonist in the hen house – and he's is joined by legends old and new (especially Bill Laswell, the boys from the The Thing! and the super Toshinori Kondo) – alongside some fuckers so obscure that one couldn't train a dog to return a stick to them. Whatever style of experimental (and sometimes borderline) jazz we are treated to (I'm told that we even venture into African trance), it vital sound after vital sound hour after hour.
Somehow, even though it commemorates a different year, it reminds me of how great this year and has been and that free jazz never really went away. Now it is the best stuff of the year once more. 2013 is the year jazz broke, because it feels like in the midst of the Davis/Coleman/Cherry/Ayer heyday right now. Right here - even though most of these chaps have been around forever.
Just click here and start life afresh: Various Artists – Long Story Short
Oh, this other stuff is fucking fantastic too...
26: The Island Come True by L. Pierre
25: Exit by The Fire! Orchestra
24: Dansktoppen Møder Burkina Faso I Det Himmelblå Rum Hvor Solen Bor, Suite by Frisk Frugt
23: Immunity by Jon Hopkins
22 Loud City Song by Julia Holter
21: Run the Jewels by Run the Jewels
20 R Plus Seven by Onehtrix Point Never
19: Character by Julia Kent
18: Boot! by The Thing
17 Music for Private Ensemble by Sean McCann
16: History of the Visitation by Guapo
15: Virgins by Tim Hecker
14 1/1 Moritz Von Oswald