THE 2011 REVIEW

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Posted on Dec 22nd 2011 12:59 pm

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The 2011 Review

As another year folds out, it is time once again to look back and take stock or the highs and lows, before a fresh year rolls in. 2011 has had its moments and has overall been a rather good year, and trying to extract a list of twenty albums from the hundreds, thousands possibly, that I have listened to, loved, hated, reviewed or not, tried to make sense of or misunderstood seems a pretty restrictive effort at best. Still, it is always good to look back and realise that some records have made more of a mark than others, some almost imperceptibly. So, here is, in twenty records, what 2011 was made of…

Jenny Hval: Viscera1.

JENNY HVAL
Viscera
Rune Grammofon

 

Review:
There is such urgency throughout this record that it is quite astonishing how Hval manages to retain any lightness in her music, but she does, and [Helge] Sten picks up on just enough to bring it all to life in sprightly bright colours and tones.

Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir: Pan Tone2.

HAUSCHKA & HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR
Pan Tone
Sonic Pieces

 

Review:
So truly individual are their respective work that the inspired pairing of Volker Bertelmann, a man with a penchant for purposely tempering with his piano with all manners of props to alter its sound, and Hildur Guðnadóttir, whose exploratory work takes the cello out of its usual remit to experiment with textures and loops, was always likely to deliver something totally unique. And unique this never-to-be-repeated performance was on more than one level.

Emika: Emika3.

EMIKA
Emika
Ninja Tune

 

Review:
Tightly blending elements of electronica, dubstep and techno together, Emika creates here a particularly pertinent modern urban soundtrack, propelled by ground-shaking grooves and incisive electronics to serve bitter sweet melodies and lyrics.

Fabio Orsi: Wo Ist Behle?4.

FABIO ORSI
Wo Ist Behle?
Boring Machines

 

Review:
Wo Ist Behle? is an uncompromising record which sees Fabio Orsi moving away from using field recordings and experimenting with documenting his environment with artificial sounds instead. The result is, quite simply, nothing short of breathe-taking.

Seefeel: Seefeel5.

SEEFEEL
Seefeel
Warp Records

 

Review:
The music is as hypnotic and ethereal as it was in the nineties, yet, it relies on much grittier sound sources and appears dirtier and more abstract. Still, this album is unmistakably Seefeel.

Fire! with Jim O'Rourke: Unreleased?6.

FIRE! with JIM O’ROURKE
Unreleased?
Rune Grammofon

 

Review:
With Jim O’Rourke, Fire! have found the perfect companion, and as this is very likely to be a temporary arrangement, it would be utterly foolish not to savour every second of it to the full.

King Midas Sound: Without You7.

KING MIDAS SOUND
Without You
Hyperdub

 

Review:
Each reinterpretation is a personal statement from Martin’s contributors as they stamp their mark on these compositions.

Daniel Thomas Freeman: The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself8.

DANIEL THOMAS FREEMAN
The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself
Home Normal

 

Review:
Despite its dark origins and extremely personal nature, The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself is a truly inspiring, and inspired, record, which manages to keep its audience totally captivated and, crucially, completely part of the experience.

Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica9.

ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER
Replica
Software Label

 

Review:
With this album, Daniel Lopatin has refined his sound by giving it a wider spectrum, and whilst he remains faithful to the overly synthetic aspect of his music, it is the way he accommodates his expanded palette which binds this album together.

Æthenor: En Form For Blå10.

ÆTHENOR
En Form For Blå
VHF Records

 

Review:
At times, Æthenor play nicely, reigning in most inclines of discordance […], but there are at others sombre shadows lurking beneath the surface which push the level of tension.

Håkon Kornstad: Symphonies In My Head11.

HÅKON KORNSTAD
Symphonies In My Head
Jazzland Recordings

 

Review:
With his solo records, Håkon Kornstad is slowly devising a universe away from his collaborative work, where he can experiment with subtle musical touches and experiment freely with his instruments.

Mika Vainio: Life (... It Eats You Up)12.

MIKA VAINIO
Life (… It Eats You Up)
Editions Mego

 

Review:
Released on Editions Mego, the guitar-based Life (… It Eats You Up) explores some of the man’s recurring themes from a somewhat fresh angle. The resulting soundtrack is not ultimately that different from the majority of his output, although it throws up some interesting oddities.

Zwischenwelt: Paranormale Aktivität13.

ZWISCHENWELT
Paranormale  Aktivität
Rephlex

 

Review:
Fueled with tales of paranormal activity, premonition and clairvoyance, this album distills somber themes on dystopian electronic backdrops, sounding like Kraftwerk’s Radio-Activity experienced through the negative space of a black hole.

Africa Hitech: 93 Million Miles14.

AFRICA HITECH
93 Million Miles
Warp Records

 

Review:
Pritchard and White never chose the easy route to progress through this album, but this is exactly what makes it such a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

John Chantler: The Luminous Ground15.

JOHN CHANTLER
The Luminous Ground
Room40

 

Review:
Chantler alters the emotional aspect of this record by simply working on specific tonalities and continuously moulding them, each piece displaying subtle variations in its own scope, while all sounding very distinctive and unique.

Humcrush with Sidsel Endresen: Ha!16.

HUMCRUSH with SIDSEL ENDRESEN
Ha!
Rune Grammofon

 

Review:
Endresen’s earthy voice occupies the extremely volatile space between keyboards, drums and electronics with aplomb. Her great capacity to listen and instantaneously adapt to whatever her collaborators throws at her are clearly thrilling to Humcrush who take her on a chaotic journey through fragmented pieces of varying density

Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus: Barlande17.

PEDRO SOLER & GASPAR CLAUS
Barlande
InFiné

 

Review:
While Barlande is the meeting of a father and his son, it is above all the meeting of two musicians with very different outlooks who meet on a level beyond their respective work.

Autechre & The Hafler Trio: ah3e0 & a3oe (ae3o3)18.

AUTECHRE & THE HAFLER TRIO
ah3e0 & a3oe (ae3o3)
Die Stadt/Simply Superior

 

Review:
The detailing is extreme here as Auteche and The Hafler Trio work from microscopic particles, painstakingly building up layer after layer to create incredibly complex, yet minimal, sound structures.

Dadavistic Orchestra: Dokument.0219.

DADAVISTIC ORCHESTRA
Dokument.02
Dust Science Recordings

 

Review:
Dadavistic Orchestra create here a particularly rich and effective soundtrack, built around deeply atmospheric soundscapes which are in turn processed into impressive textural pieces and adorned with varying degrees of melodic structure.

Vladislav Delay Quartet: Vladislav Delay Quartet20.

VLADISLAV DELAY QUARTET
Vladislav Delay Quartet
Honest Jon’s

 

Review:
Formed of Sasu ‘Vladislav Delay’ Ripatti (drums and percussions), Lucio Capece (bass clarinet and soprano sax), Derek Shirley (double bass) and Mika Vainio (electronics), the quartet operate at the murkier end of the music spectrum.

Filed in Albums,Best Of The Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Comments (8)

8 Responses to “THE 2011 REVIEW”

  1. Jeremiahon 22 Dec 2011 at 2:11 pm

    if this list was upside down with Vladislav in 1st place I think that would be a lot more accurate, and how is Emika 3rd! Terrible unoriginal music, lacking any spark.

  2. themilkmanon 02 Jan 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I think it’s a pretty harsh comment you’re making on Emika, I think it is a very good record, with a great overall feel. It is certainly a record that has been a strong fixture in my musical landscape in 2011, hence why it is featured so predominantly. Original or not, I think it’s a well put together record which does what it does very well without making too much of a fuss about it, it that makes sense.

  3. […] The Milk Factory […]

  4. Ianon 03 Jan 2012 at 10:43 pm

    thanks so much bruno. very very proud to have dan’s album up here :)

  5. Music links 1/06/12 | Deep In the Musicon 06 Jan 2012 at 5:50 pm

    […] Milk Factory has a 2011 best list up here.  I checked out their favorite record Portrait of the Young Girl as an Artist by Jenny Hval.  I […]

  6. Music links 1/09/12 | Deep In the Musicon 09 Jan 2012 at 5:19 pm

    […] out Milk Factory’s #3 record for 2011 Emika’s “3 Hours’.  It’s smart electronica with some textural […]

  7. Julieon 17 Jan 2012 at 6:44 am

    Seefeel are ace.
    Very impressed that they’re still going though despite a lack of recognition. ‘Plainsong’ blew my mind when I first heard it!

  8. themilkmanon 18 Jan 2012 at 1:02 am

    The new sound is quite different from what they did in the old days, but you still can hear the roots of some of the early stuff in some of the songs. It’s quite a different band to what it was back then I guess, so that probably explains it, but it’s made for a very successful return.