Sunday, December 26, 2010

My top 10 CD albums of 2010.

2010 another great year for electronic music, while the DJ charts and digital download stores where hyping up some rather dull flavor of the week techno and house etc but if you looked outside of these areas there are still artists and labels releasing some breathtakingly emotive music.

Ambient music in particular made a fairly healthy return, often popping up in well known DJ's podcasts and charts. My chart isn't in order and I emitted digital only releases from my top 10.

1)Thomas Köner - Nunatak • Teimo • Permafrost [Type]

Apologies for including a reissue in my chart but these three early releases from Köner have that timeless quality which sound like no other ambient from the early to mid nineties, no movie samples, twiddling bubbling synth sequences, water or whale samples, just pure unidentifiable drones shifting and morphing with hauntingly beautiful results..

2) A Guy Called Gerald - Tronic Jazz The Berlin Sessions [Laboratory Instinct]

Manchester's finest returns with another stunning collection of techno tracks with that unique Gerald slant, alien afro future funk of the highest order which truly separates him from the rest of the techno clones..

3) Bvdub - The Art Of Dying Alone [Glacial Movements]

Brock Van Wey, has been gathering a rather large underground following with his CDR releases on labels like Quietus and Styrax etc, with his brand of stunning soundscapes, The Art Of Dying Alone is truly breathtaking from beginning to end a modern ambient classic..

4) Anodyne - corrosion [Psychonavigation]

Ireland's answer to Aphex, Muziq etc returned after a lengthy hiatus with his blistering sonic assault of breakbeats and techno with a rather apocalyptic flavor throughout, 2010 also saw the release of the remixes 12" featuring remixes from Autechre and the Black Dog which really put Anodyne and Psychonavigation on the electronica map..

5) The Black Dog - Music For Real Airports [Soma]

The Black Dog venture into the ambient arena with a title that got tongues wagging about it being a statement to Brian Eno's "Music For Airports" while Eno's concept was more about creating a calming mood for the traveller while waiting to depart the black dogs approach was more about creating a soundtrack using field recordings, drones, and emotive compositions that captured all the emotions which can be experienced in such places, from anticipation, stress, sadness, anger etc.

6) Mark Van Hoen - Where Is The Truth [City Centre Offices]

A beautiful collection of deep shoegazing inspired songs and instrumentals with dubby and glitched electronics and warm synths with touches of Marks avant garde edges. The album also features Neil Halstead of Slowdive amongst other guest performers.

7) Pete Namlook and Lorenzo Montanà - Labyrinth [Fax]

Another prolific year for Pete Namlook and his Fax label, with great collaborations between Pete and Move D and solo works like his "Pearl" series and the melodic "Permutations" but his collaboration with Italian IDM producer Lorenzo Montana really stood out with Lorenzo's intricate beats and soulful melodies and Pete's trademark ethereal synths made this a serious contender for album of the year..

8) Loscil - Endless Falls [Kranky]

I'm not sure what it is about the seductivness of Scott Morgans music, but he really is a master of subtlety, the tracks slowly evolve to reveal a haunting beauty and this is probably Loscil at his very best ?

9) Atom™ - Music Is Better Than Pussy [Rather Interesting]

Uwe Schmidt returned to top form after the disappointing digital scrap book of "Muster" with a tongue in cheek look at minimal techno, minimal yet deeply funky and experimental techno tracks with often hilarious lyrical content. also worth mentioning was his experimental ambient Li3835tra3um3 which featured some great ambient tracks which returned to similar terrain explored in "Dots" etc..

10) Sage Taylor - Rain Time [Pronounce]

A truly essential release that only one hundred lucky people will get to hear and I'm happy to be one of them. Based around a theme of rain, each track shifts into the next with the sound of rain running against glass and other materials the album delivers a deep sense of melancholy and emotions that only those wet home bound days can sometimes bring, stunning!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Tron Legacy" Music by Daft Punk

On paper it may seem like an odd choice for Disney to pick popular french dance music producers Daft Punk to score their latest big screen epic "Tron Legacy", while its not Thomas Bangalter's first time to write and produce music for a full length feature, its certainly the first time he as been involved in a full on traditional score for a mainstream blockbuster.. In 2002 Thomas created a minimalistic score for Gasper Noes disturbing independent masterpiece "Irreversible" and recently for Noes latest "Enter the Void" mainly using uneasy drones to brilliant effect..

A few months back some previews of Daft Punks score hit the internet and one piece in particular sounded like a deeply atmospheric electro track in the vein of Anthony Rother/John Carpenter which really got my attention but hasn't actually featured on the soundtrack CD.

I was really hoping for maybe an almost ambient electro score from the french duo but as its turned out Daft Punk have had access to a full orchestra and have mixed it with moments of electronic minimalism, which may come as a shock or disappointment for those who were hoping for a full on Daft Punk album. While the score may not have the originality or stand alone listening experience of soundtracks like Thomas Newman's "American Beauty" or "Blade Runner" by Vangelis but it certainly has a few epic spine tingling moments.

A few of the traditionally orchestrated pieces worth mentioning are "Overture" and the deeply emotive yet short "Arrival" some of the purely electronic compositions that stand out are the rather excellent "End Of Line" which reminds me of John Carpenter and early Orbital. and the Lush mix of synths and strings on "Son Of Flynn" Other High points utilise a stunning blend of tough electro grooves and the trademark fuzzy Daft Punk acid sequences combined with stunning orchestral strings and horn swells on "Tron Legacy (end titles)

While most of the music fits safely into the Hollywood mould of action movies and at times you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between Daft Punks score or the work of say established Hollywood composers like Hans Zimmer etc, so there's no doubt that Daft Punk have succeeded in their first venture into traditional movie scoring and have blended the use of electronic sounds effectively to compliment the technologically advanced themes of the movie.

Overall the soundtrack stands up pretty well for a home listening experience with the exception of a couple of obvious action driven compositions which I'm sure will effortlessly blend in with the images depicted in the visually stunning movie and I'm sure that the score will certainly secure Daft Punk some future work in Hollywood but I wouldn't bring the "Tron Legacy" soundtrack to any party..