Archive for December, 2007


themilkman on Dec 20th 2007 11:24 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

2007 is coming to a close, and with it comes legions of ‘best of the year’ lists. 2007 was also the year themilkfactory came back to life, so it is only fair to add to the background noise with our very own selection of the essential albums of 2007. 20 albums that you shouldn’t have missed. And don’t forget to check out the individual top 20 albums for each of the site contributors for a comprehensive overview of what 2007 was made of.

Burial: Untrue1.


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THE 2007 REVIEW: Eleventh Volume

Colin Buttimer on Dec 20th 2007 11:23 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

These are the releases that’ve rocked my world this year. It’s felt like a bumper year, but looking over my list, I’m not quite so certain. Perhaps that’s because, like most people, I’ve also been listening to a lot of music released at other times, lots of world, reggae, pop and minimal (precious little Indie, though). One more reason to throw hands up in horror at this list: none of these releases appears in Q magazine’s top 50 albums of 2007 (though Rihanna’s Umbrella does appear in their top 10 tracks). Now I’d be alright, if I could only shake off the feeling that I’ve missed lots of stuff that I should have included – I do intend to check out the new ones from Radiohead when I get a chance.

Underworld: Oblivion With Bells1.

Oblivion With Bells

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THE 2007 REVIEW: Joe Muggs

Joe Muggs on Dec 20th 2007 11:23 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

In the year when Dubstep proved its staying power and went international, it still produced few artist albums: the mainstream of the sound still with its heart in the mixtape – but London’s Burial, Bristol’s Pinch and Nottingham’s Geiom produced absolutely brilliant spooky, soulful and brooding (respectively) takes on the sound. Further dub variations came with fizzing post-Basic Channel stuff from Germany (Disrupt) and Detroit (Echospace), while techno veteran Neil Landstrumm added the dubstep template to old-school rave on Restaurant Of Assassins.

The folktronic-indietronic-organic-electronic interface continued to be fertile, with Tunng, Muscovite producer Gultskra Artikler, Icelanders Múm, Canadian-in-London Caribou and Danes Efterklang further blurring the band/producer boundaries, while the brain-boggling Battles and Yeasayer produced a new strain of post-dance prog rock. Fennesz Sakamoto and Michaela Mélian produced some of the most beautiful pure ambient music of recent years, while the techno continuum showed its diversity with Cristian Vogel’s futurism, Supermayer’s good-natured fun, and Matthew Dear’s darkside pop. The Hot 8 Brass Band fused generations of funk to show that even near-destruction couldn’t still the heart of New Orleans, while The Black Dog’s terrifyingly rare early 90s rave-tronica tracks got a welcome re-issue.

Burial: Untrue1.

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THE 2007 REVIEW: Max Schaefer

Max Schaefer on Dec 20th 2007 11:23 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

As certain traditions would have it, a drawer, bedside table or any other such object is gradually overtaken by time, which solidifies until at last the object becomes the incarnation of a certain spirit. Thus the annual spring cleaning. Similarly, before the year goes out like a light, we shuffle through gifts, keepsakes, thoughts even – hoping to see where we stand. Here are some noteworthy tokens that I’ll be keeping with me from the past twelve months.

Ikue Mori: Bhima Swarga: The Journey Of The Soul From Hell To Heaven1.

Bhima Swarga: The Journey Of The Soul From Hell To Heaven
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THE 2007 REVIEW: David Abravanel

David Abravanel on Dec 20th 2007 11:23 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

Here we are, a year of music distilled into the 20 albums which made the biggest impression of me.Inevitably I’ve forgotten something, but for now, no regrets.The choice for number one was neither clear nor easy, but the Strings Of Consciousness tipped the scales with its adventurous spirit of collaboration, song, sound atmosphere, and poetry.2007 was a good year for psychedelic electronics, represented here by artists as diverse as Supermayer, Ulrich Schnauss, and The Field.

In addition to the old favorites, some new mavericks came out of nowhere with leftfield brilliance, including releases by Burial and I Am Spoonbender.2007 also saw a number of minimal masters expanding into new territories, whether it was Matthew Dear playing the role of singer-songwriter, Supermayer as a prog- and krautrock-loving comic book duo, The Field’s shoegazing atmospheres, or Ricardo Villalobos’ Japanese and jazz drumming.

All in all, 2007 was a year full of solid albums, looking to the past (Queens Of The Stone Age’s retro grit), the present (Matthew Dear’s modern-man situations) the future (Amon Tobin’s post-modern sample pastiche), and, in the case of Panda Bear’s updated Beach Boys harmonies or Björks earthy futurism, all three at once.

Strings Of Consciousness: Our Moon Is Full1.

Our Moon Is Full
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THE 2007 REVIEW: themilkman

themilkman on Dec 20th 2007 11:22 pm

Feature: The 2007 Review

Week in week out, the vast conveyor belt that is the music industry pukes out a relentless flow of hideous banalities and hidden gems. This time of the year provides, for list enthusiasts at least, a perfect opportunity to pause for a moment, look back at the year gone and take stock of what has been ingurgitated, processed and digested, or not as the case may be, and try to condense this into an easily. Although indubitably flawed, as, after all, the said list is no more than a snapshot of a moment in time, and may bare little or no relation to a similar exercise conducted some time in the future. Some records require time to make sense while others loose all meaning taken out of their original context. 2007 has been a rather fertile season for some labels (Leaf, Bedroom Community) while others have found themselves on slightly less opulent grounds for a while. This is therefore just a glance at some of the richest sediment the past year has left behind.

Efterklang: Parades1.

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THE FIELD: Sound Of Light (Heartbeats International)

David Abravanel on Dec 12th 2007 10:20 pm

The Field: Sound Of Light

Sound Of Light
Heartbeats International 2007
04 Tracks. 60mins35secs

Music and hotels make interesting bedfellows (pun not necessarily intended). Some of the world’s poshest and most modern hotels have commissioned exclusive, original works to “soundtrack” one’s stay. Rifling through these compilations, one comes across a smattering of cool – trip hop, smooth house, jazzy breaks, among others – tailor-made to stick to walls and encourage a seductively elegant atmosphere.

Entering this fray are the designed-obsessed minds behind Stockholm’s Nordic Light Hotel, who have announced the Sound Of Light series as a chance for musicians to make an aural document of their stay. First up is Swedish techno artist The Field, aka Axel Willner. Continue Reading »

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CLARK: Throttle Promoter (Warp)

David Abravanel on Dec 11th 2007 01:26 am

CLARK: Throttle Promoter

Throttle Promoter
Warp Records 2007
04 Tracks. 14mins39secs
Format: Digital / 12″

The press for Throttle Promoter, Clark’s newest release, has described the EP as a “surprise”, intended to pique interest for another surprise – his upcoming full-length, Turning Dragon, due January 2008. So much for months of pre-release hype, then, but it would seem that Clark has had enough of that. 2003’s Empty The Bones Of You was promoted as a more mature, darker, and more industrial Clark (still using his full name Chris Clark at the time), a promise upon which it delivered. 2006’s Body Riddle saw another reinvention of the persona, with the now-truncated Clark focusing on intricately layered, obsessively DSP’d beats, and more delicate and emotional atmospheres. Continue Reading »

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SILJE NES Ames Room (Fat-Cat Records / Splinter Series)

themilkman on Dec 6th 2007 12:30 am

Silje Nes: Ames Room

Ames Room
Fat-Cat Records / Splinter Series 2007
14 Tracks. 42mins26secs

Born in a small town on the largest fjord in Norway and now living in Bergen, Silje Nes is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentist whose debut album, Ames Room, is a wonderfully evocative and playful collection of delicate pop vignettes.

Recorded entirely at home and alone, apart from the opening track, written and recorded with Kristan Stockhaus, of Norwegian rock band Ungdomskulen, Ames Room documents the development of Nes as an artist over the last three years and sees her experiment with a wide range of instruments, including cello, acoustic guitar, drums, xylophone, melodica and trumpet, over which discreet electronics and textures are sprinkled. The sonic environment resembles a finely woven fabric upon which Nes hangs fragile vocals. Continue Reading »

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GRIZZLY BEAR: Friend EP (Warp Records)

themilkman on Dec 5th 2007 01:35 am

Grizzly Bear: Friend

Friend EP
Warp Records 2007
10 Tracks. 43mins18mins
Format: CDS, 12″ and Digital

Originally the solo project of Daniel Rosen, whose lo-fi debut album, Horn Of Plenty, was recorded in his bedroom and released on Rumraket in 2005, Grizzly Bear are now a fully fledged formation counting four permanent members. Following its release, Horn Of Plenty got the remix treatment from a wide range of artists, including Efterklang, Dntel, Solex, Ariel Pink and Alpha to name but a few. Friend EP comes over a year after Grizzly Bear’s stellar second album, Yellow House (Warp Records), and collects alternative versions, demos, new songs and covers by Band Of Horses, Alias Sound and CSS.

The first impression filtering out of this record is the somewhat rawer and heavier nature of the music. While Horn Of Plenty appeared fragile and almost amateurish, and Yellow House was carried by beautifully light and airy melodies and arrangements, Friend at times reveals a moodier Bear, more prone to dig its sharp claws in. Continue Reading »

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themilkman on Dec 4th 2007 12:24 am

Interview: Múm - Natural High

Following the departure of Kristin Anna Valtýsdóttir, gone to marry Avey Tare a couple of years ago, Múm founding members Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason rounded a few long term friends and, as a sextet, went on to record their most joyful and flamboyant record with Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy. Here, we caught up with the pair during their current tour to talk about dealing with Kristin’s departure and the ever-changing nature of the band, how the new album came to life, working on satellite projects and beans on toast. Continue Reading »

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TOM MIDDLETON: Lifetracks (Big Chill Recordings)

David Abravanel on Dec 3rd 2007 01:01 am

Tom Middleton: Lifetracks

Big Chill Recordings 2007
12 Tracks. 69mins09secs

Originally envisioned as music to wind down to after a night out, downtempo found a commercial life of its own in the mid to late nineties under the guises of trip hop, ambient breaks, and any number of dime-a-dozen compilations invoking watered-down Buddhist spirituality. Like all genres, downtempo was destined to produce some more questionable compositions. Over time, the darkness (and much of the depth) was swept out from more popular recordings, replaced by a flux of reverberated blandness (looking at you, Zero 7) leading to inevitable, laughable cash-ins like the Reindeer Room series of Christmas compilations. Suddenly, “chillout” became a new buzz genre, and the most staid dinner parties had a watered-down soundtrack.

Of course, it wasn’t always like that. Just ask Tom Middleton. As a forerunner in the early movement of dowtempo fusionism, Middleton worked with Richard D. James (on the ambient house-inflected Analogue Bubblebath EP), and, most famously, as half of Global Communication, the pioneering ambient and deep house act, whose 76:14 is rightfully acclaimed as the summit of ambient house and techno. Continue Reading »

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