Albums of 2011- part four (20-11)


20: The Bent Moustache, Pastures New Seasons Turn

Anglo-Dutch ensemble led by the mighty Ajay Saggar (ex-Donkey, ex-Dandelion Adventure), deliver a jooyous and accomplished LP that sounds like a first rate John Peel radio show, with My Bloody Valentine and The Fall most prominent among the influences, but all splattered with trumpets, violins, distorted vocals, feedback and shonky rhythms. Top banana!

19: Tinariwen, Tassili

The dinner party dilletantes may feel they don’t need another Tinariwen LP in their lives, but their loss is our gain; this latest selection of mantric desert psych blues finds them adding brass sections, western guest musicians (Nels Cline, Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone), and their first English language song, ‘Walla Illa’, a trippy chant that in my parallel universe of choice found them miming on Top of the Pops three weeks running.

18: BILL, Spielweise 2

Hans Joachim Irmler from Faust again, this time in collaboration with Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, To Rococo Rot guitarist Robert Lippok, and world music expert Clive Bell. And it’s as good as you’d hope- classic krautrock meets contemporary German electronica, gamelan and Arabic grooves. BILL is a killer.

17: Moon Duo, Mazes

Not as strong as last year’s Escape, nor the ‘Horror Tour’ EP they released this Halloween (which might be my favourite thing of theirs so far), but Mazes will still conjure 2010/2011 in my ears when I listen back in whatever far-flung future I’m offered; echoing, claustrophobic, monotonous, magnificent.

16: Transept, TRSPT001

Straight outta Norwich like a turbo-charged Tangerine Dream, this debut album from the Transept duo marks them out as the new space-rock contenders. Took a while to grow on me- and alas, missed out on a review at the time as a result- but now its full glory stands apparent. Anyone who calls their record label Dronehenge has to be great, right? Right!

15: The Lowland Hundred, Adit

Both more accessible and less immediate than their stunning 2010 debut, Under Cambrian Sky, Adit finds the Aberystwyth duo experimenting with relatively conventional song structures, recalling the jazz-tinged melodies of Mark Hollis, Robert Wyatt and the mature Scott Walker. Paul Newland’s vocals, incidentally, are more than worthy of such esteemed comparisons. see The Quietus, again, for my full review.

14: Luke Haines, Nine and a half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early 80s

Mr Haines’ continues his ever-deeper and more obsessive excavations through the rubble of a 1970s adolescence, this time with a creepy concept album of sorts, built around the likes of Kendo Nagasaki, Big Daddy, Rollerball Rocco and other half-remembered names from the time Tiswas inevitably cross-faded into World of Sport on a grey Saturday lunchtime. Whether this will mean much to anyone under the age of 40 is a moot point, but this is still a glorious folly, song intros referencing the music of the day as much as the lyrical nods to liver sausage sandwiches and Cry Baby Jim Breaks.

13: Cat’s Eyes, Cat’s Eyes

Faris Badwan often sounds like a young Marc Almond on this romantic, melancholy pocket symphony (just 28 minutes long), while Rachel Zeffira comes over like the lost Shangri-La, mascara running as she’s left behind in a haze of motorcycle fumes. Not just a pastiche, this is proper pop music that works on every level.

12: John Maus, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

Gloomy, melodramatic early eighties synth pop, re-imagined for the post-chillwave, hypnogogic pop set. We’re back in Berlin, waiting on an empty film lot in a long raincoat as the dry ice billows around our pegged Bowie pants. Vienna? Nope, means nothing to me.

11: Grimes, Halfaxa

Montreal’s Claire Boucher may have been influenced by Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux, but she goes further out than they ever could, deconstructing electronic pop into shards of melody, reflections without substance, endless echoes through endless symmetrical rooms. The twentieth century seems like a lifetime ago.

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