Talaboman is a collaboration between acts Axel Boman and John Talabot, who’s album fin, released in 2012, is still one of my favorites to this day. Its mix of field recordings with deep house, which favors sound design and atmosphere over dance floor vibes, makes for a fantastic listen and comes highly recommend. Since 2012 I have anticipated a sequel to this album and The Night Land is the closest to it yet.
The album shows its hand on the opening track Midnattssol. It broods with unusual organic instrumentation, especially the percussion, which bubbles underneath the drones, pads and recordings from around the world. It hints at the dancefloor, providing space for the a power and drive that never arrives. It’s a style that continues throughout the album creating tracks that hold your attention through anticipation until they become hypnotic fluid soundtracks to dark nights. A musical comedown to harder club music.
This style of dance music can be hard to do because it doesn’t have the abrasive push that forces people to sit up and listen. Without talent it can easily disappear into the background but Talaboman manage to keep it fresh with a mix of interesting design that blends original and traditional sounds associated with dance music. These sounds continually evolve throughout the tracks allowing the repetitive rhythms and melodies to anchor the track without getting stale.
Whether The Night Land will have the same effect on me as fin does five years later is still to be seen. However it has held its place in regular play for me for the past nine months making it a must as one of my favorites for the year.
Oh Sees under many different names and members have a prolific portfolio of albums over the past 15 years. Their dedication to making and playing music shows for all the right reasons on their latest album Orc.
They have always had a garage rock sound but rather than becoming a stereotype of the genre they treat it more as an aesthetic. A fairly traditional rock band set up is then stretched to its very limits over the playtime of Orc as they skip across many genre with ease. The reason the band can go from prog to punk in 16 bars before switching to metal is because the sound design and choice of instrumentation provide the glue that holds the experimentation in place. It’s done so skilfully that on first listen you may miss its creativity completely, but take a minute to analyse the tracks and you’ll soon be amazed by how many styles and genre they play with throughout the albums ten tracks.
Of course this would only be an interesting intellectual exercise if it wasn’t backed up with great music to prove its worth. Orc has it in spades. Catchy, instantly recognisable guitar melodies fill this album with massive blues riffs and intricate fast soloing. These are accompanied by a verity of keys and synths to provide texture and tight precise bass, mixed with a unique double drum section, creating drive and direction.
On Orc, Oh Sees are showing a band with years of experience using the same equipment. Equipment that punches way above its weight with the skills involved. In a musical world where it’s so easy to buy new, cheep equipment to solve issues, this is no mean feat. You can hear the craftsmanship. The hours of training, blood, sweat and tears put into wringing every last potential out of their existing instruments and effects. It goes to show that elbow grease and learning your tools is always more effective than a bigger toolbox and for that they have to be applauded. Creating an album that shows what hard work can achieve and one of the best albums of the year.
I was a little apprehensive at the start of picking my favorite 5 albums this year. At the beginning of last month I was struggling to think about 5 albums that really resonated with me. However once I started to look back on the year in music and listen to a few albums that I had missed it became the exact opposite.
The level of quality in music this year has been really exiting as acts have merged genre and pushed styles and sounds in more experimental ways across the board. From the most mainstream pop to the avant-gaurde, music is being more effected by the Internet age. A world where anyone can hear almost anything ever recorded and be influenced by it. This leads to more diversity and creativity across all forms of music.
I have boiled down the list to the five albums that have had the most effect on me personally throughout the year. However there are many albums that I could be persuaded to swap on the list with passionate discussion. The acts that I have left out but still love will work their way into my Track Of The Week segment so hopefully they will get the fair shake in the long run:
Visit tomorrow to find out the first runner up in my list. This will continue each day until the announcement of my album of the year on new years eve.
Hope you’ve all had a merry Christmas and great music can continue on into the new year.