Needles is the host The Upstate Soundscape radio show. Here are 10 releases that he dug from 2012.
Sax Tape, S/T
This insane 60-minute romp came from Guelph’s Bry Webb. An unbelievable collage of looped beats, sonic twirls, and honking saxes. Funky, twisted, and psychedelic, this one hit all the right notes for me.
Alfred Brown, Music for Moving in Slow Motion (Asthmatic Kitty)
Probably one of the most graceful records of 2012. It could easily serve as the score for one of Terrence Malick’s majestic films.
Cinnamon Aluminum, We Ate the Wrong Crab Spirit (Level 4 Activated)
This Buffalo trio (now a four piece) perfectly straddles the line between experimental and pop. The songs on this album are as catchy as they are whacked out.
Venn Rain, Bioharmonics (House of Alchemy)
It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly I like about this cassette, but I just found it totally compelling. Four very simple recordings, all of which are mesmerizing.
M. Mucci, Days Blur Together
60 minutes of true drone bliss from Guelph-based M. Mucci. One of the most patient and refined pieces I have ever heard. Very few pieces present listeners with this type of challenge and subsequent reward for committing to it. Basinski-esque.
Phillips-Borden, System Vandross
A really discombobulating listen. Following the intersection of Borden’s crazed cello and Phillips’s turntable manipulation is like trying to walk on shifting ground in the dark.
Tony Conrad and HangedUp, Transit of Venus (Constellation)
Such a simple formula. Big sloppy drums combined with thick vibrating drones. The result is what I always imagined the Theater of Eternal Music would have sounded like. Great for both sitting in a chair and zoning out to or flailing around the room and breaking shit.
Damian Valles, Non-Parallel (in Four Movements) (Experimedia)
I am a sucker for any sample-based drone. Valles’s re-use of classical avant-garde sounds from the Nonesuch label is a fantastic example of the possible directions sample-based sounds might go in the future (even if they don’t sound at like sample-based works).
Thoughts on Air, Random Tandem (Old Frontiers)
I had the pleasure of hanging out with Scott Johnson (ToA) one night in Hamilton this past summer. We traded some tapes, and this was one he gave me. The art work immediately blew me away but it wasn’t until driving home the next day hung over with the window’s down and music blasting that I actually heard this amazing double cassette. The graceful tones poured out my windows down the QEW. Then I got stuck in traffic on top of the Rainbow bridge in 90 degree heat with no air conditioning. A faint mist from the falls blew over me ever so often. I just sat there listening in a sweat induced trance. This tape will always run through my mind whenever I cross that bridge.
Loud and Sad, Fales Intimacy (cae-sur-a)
At times, there is so little going on in this cassette, which is what I love about it. You can really only absorb this by listening with all your might.