Richard Dawson: Weaver (Weird World)
Part Comus, part Morricone, part Cardiacs but mostly just Richard Dawson. As with most of Richard’s work this is epic, local, universal, hilarious, tragic, glorious and completely unique. As if Robert Wyatt was raised on the moors by a herd of wild black metallers. On top of all of that Richard is an absolute joy to work with and one of the funniest people you’d ever meet.
Pan Daijing: Act Of The Empress (PAN)
At the start of the year I was idly speculating about how much undiscovered musical gold must exist in China and not just presently but since the dawn of the inglorious revolution. 12 months later two of my favourite records of the year are by Chinese artists while communism has completely collapsed in China and all of this was because of my social media post. This Pan Daijing track on the Pan label (no relation) is dark as bejaysus and heavy like being lost in space while trapped in a spacesuit with hysterical bees. Excellent for children’s’ birthdays and chill out rooms
Meridian Brothers: Entra El Ritmo Antillano (Soundway Records)
Colombia’s Meridian Brothers are criminally unknown especially given how much unfettered joy infuses their music. This track is Cumbia Tropicalia (if such a thing exists (I just checked, it doesn’t)) with extra-fuzz fuzzy guitar, poly-rhythms & euphoric vocals but then you could say that about most tracks on the album.
Percolator: Squishy Future (Penske Recordings)
I don’t generally subscribe to notions of good and bad years in music as they usually say more about the notioner than the musical year. Having said that in an industry under grave threat from tech dullards and on an isolated North-Atlantic island that just appointed an erotic legal fiction novelist as its minister for the arts I think the depth and range of Irish leftfield releases over the last couple of years has been a total revelation. It was a toss-up between two ridiculously biased favourites for this one (Lankum being the other) but I went with Squishy Future because that’s why. Special shouts out to Davy Kehoe, Crevice, Clang Sayne, Fixity, The Bonk, Deviant & Naive Ted, Brigid Mae Power & loads more
DEAFKIDS: Lâmina Cortante (Neurot Recordings)
I should be including Circle but then Circle release an album every year so maybe someone else should get it a look in. This is Brazilian experimental hardcore/not-hardcore. The featured track is reminiscent of ‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste’ era Ministry but heavier and more insistent and also less insistent because at times it feels like the entire track is going to collapse in on itself. This is sandwiched between a percussion instrumental and a noise track from a wonderfully chaotic, unpredictable, bloody-minded & brilliantly executed record.
Gig Of The Year
Magma/Sunn o)))/Circle/Big Brave, Melkveg, Amsterdam
Magma need to be seen to be believed. Saying that they’re possibly better live than on record are not words that I thought would ever cross my lips but I think it might be true. Also my first time seeing trombone-era Sunn which was both glorious and one of the most punishing 60 minutes on my ears since Otomo Yoshide’s turntable noise set in Andrew’s Lane many moons ago. Circle were magnificent as always. I haven’t seen a band constantly light up a room like that since my days of going to see Cardiacs in the late 90s. Pure unadulterated joy.