Decisions on music should never be hasty and so for the 2017 selections we let them mature, like a corpse in a ditch. The zeitgeist caught the last bus home and we were still at the ponder bar. Now the doorman has asked us to leave and twelve months later it’s a list. Here, at last, is our guide to 2017. As usual, two lists, one of new albums and then one for reissues, EPs, odds and sods.
1.Ulver – The Assasination of Julius Caesar
This album has a bad effect on music journalists, making even the most down to earth of them suddenly sound like Melvyn Bragg. My own review was shit too. Let’s dumb down this time – Ulver made a fucking great balearic electropop album with uniquely Ulver undercurrents.
2.Wooden Wand – Clipper Ship
JJT was so prolific at one point that the sudden pause in releases felt like the awkward silence of when your nearest and dearest won’t talk to you. “Clipper Ship” came like a joyous reconcilliation with both beautiful melancholy and some very sweet jams courtesy of yet another killer backing group.
3.Lejsovka & Freund – Music For Small Ensemble & Computer
Technically a reissue/compilation of two albums but just so stunningly essential that I had to class it as an album in its own right. The most beautiful small classical ensemble accompanied by some extrodinary electronics. Wonderful doesn’t even come close as an adequate word to describe this.
4.Slomo – Transits
If, like me, you hold “Cluster II” as one of the high points of 20th Centruy culture then you’ll fucking love “Transits”. The dense, cosmic abstraction of the classic album married to modern high end technology and a low end so big you could park a car on it. Not an album for mp3 or LP, it needs CD or Flac to do its mighty sounds justice and a big old set of speakers.
5.Alavarius B – WIth A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven
Available as three seperate LPs or for a lower price than one LP, a double CD set. I’m from Yorkshire so I plumped for the latter and it means I only have to change it over once. A real tour de force taking in soul, rock, folk and another staggering cover of Morricone. Bob Dylan should write him a humble thank you letter for the kick up the arse he gave to his song “Wanted Man”. The misanthropic humour is just the icing on the cake.
6.Sunn Trio – Sunn Trio
An eagerly awaited studio debut from the best kept secret in Arizona. Few out of the state will have had the pleasure of their head-bending live shows so its great to find their Arabiancosmicsurfpunkjazz cut to wax in a way that perfectly captures what makes them so explosive.
7.The Slowest Lift – The Slowest Lift
The perfect marriage of pop and experimentation. Songs you could sing your kids to sleep with set to the strangest, most disorientating arrangements. A testament to the power of a well-matched duo.
8.Dean Hurley – Anthology Resouce Vol. 1: △△
Angelo Badalamenti may have been the undisputed sound of the original Twin Peaks show but more than him or any of the bands in the Bang Bang Room, Dean Hurley was the true sound of ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’. Enormous but cinematic crunches of discordance and abstraction were just what this extreme revival needed because Lynch was going further than ever before and he needed the sound to do the same. This discreetly titled download-only release captures the finest moments
9.The Myrrors – Hasta La Victoria
The third Arizonan act in our end of year list but something was just happening this year. Wide-eyed heavy psyche with huge bass lines and a hypnotic haze that defied geography. Not an album that will ever age.
10.Circle – Terminal
Full-blooded NWOBHM via Finland with a fine sense of camp and an experimental edge. Circle’s formula has made them a formidable live band but for many fans, the studio experience has never done them full justice. The digital version has some kind of distancing effect but the vinyl really does bottle the lightning
REISSUES, EPs, SINGLES AND OTHER ODDS N SODS
1.Lal & Mike Waterson – Bright Phoebus
Pretty sure this must have been reissue of the year for everyone else that heard it too. A genuine lost classic. Too whacky, psychedelic and dark for the folk purists of the day but in 2017 it sounds so contemporary and wonderfully bloody Yorkshire.
2.Popol Vuh – Sei Still, Wisse Ich Bin
Possibly my all-time favourte PV LP. Originally released on Klaus Schulze’s label, this one features a choir and includes classic tracks used in “Fitzcaraldo”.
3.Raising Holy Sparks – Search For The Vanished Heaven
A sumptious trans-European banquet of synths spread across two cassettes with a bonus third cassette for early adapters containing both a foreward and epilogue. It’s all magnificent.
4.Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Akira Symphonic Suite
A welcome reissue of the percussive delights of Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s score for Akira. The soundtrack album was finished after the film, making this the ‘directors cut’ of the score. Let loose on double vinyl and mastered beuatifully, its hard not to blast this one out very, very loud.
5.Sasha Mishkin – Pastoral Breakfast
Cosmic Winnetou is a German treasure of a label always consistently putting out reliabaly good releases but this one really kicked it out of the park with the Russian artist letting loose on a church organ and creating his own version of baroque pop.
6.Psychic TV – Pagan Day
A weird little home demo recorded on Christmas Day, capturing Gen and co in a lo-fi but poppy mood. Surprisingly sweet and cheerful. Not what you would expect at all.
7.Jarboe & Father Murphy – self titled 10″
Side one sees Father Murphy backing Jarboe on one of her songs and side two sees Jarboe accompanying Father Murphy on one of their compositions. Its a meeting of minds with each act given a side to express themselves with the others assistance.
8.somesurprises – Serious Dreams
A dream EP which sees an intersection between MBV at their most feminine and Grouper at her most spun out. somesurprises create a beguiling world of spectral songs and haunting, drifting sounds.
9.Worst – MMXVII
Wild, rowdy rock n roll power at its weirdest and baddest.
10.Carlton Melton – Hidden Lights
More multi-coloured psychedelic guitar dreams from San Francisco’s current kings of dreamrock.