January 6, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2007

While Dan is having difficulty providing his top 10 albums of 2007, I must give him props for being able to list his top 10 live experiences of last year. I was lucky to even make it to a concert in 2007! However, I share his exuberance in Daft Punk, which I saw in Brooklyn during a hot night this past August, and man, did those guys kill. Their Alive 2007 live CD would be jockeying for best album of the year, if and only if I wasn't a purist and didn't count recordings of previously released material in my top 10.

I have done my best to provide my top 10 albums of 2007, and must disclaim (as I do every year), that top 10s are only so effective as each year there are thousands of albums released that never gain media attention and therefore cannot qualify for all those "best ofs". Yet, culling from the music I did listen to in 2007, here goes my top 10, in particular order:

10) Gui Borrato – Chromophobia (Kompakt). Along with labelmate the Field, Brazil-native Gui Borrato has reaffirmed the supremacy of Kompakt in the electronic music world. No longer relegated to Germany’s electronic music scene, the Cologne-based label is finding exceptional talent across the world, diversifying itself from the microhouse sound it was founded on. Chromophobia is one of the more sonically colorful pieces of music to come from Kompakt, filled with vibrant sounds and clean production. “Mr. Decay” starts the album in high gear, crescendoing and decrescendoing its individual sonic parts to create a work that ebbs and flows beautifully. Elsewhere, album standout “Beautiful Life” is a blissful track filled with sound that allows little room for silence, building itself up and subsequently cascading over and over, again and again.

Gui Borrato - Beautiful Life [Chromophobia LP, 2007]

9) The Field – From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt). His approach microtonal and minimal, the Field (aka Axel Willner) is one of the most promising and unique electronic music artists today. From Here We Go Sublime, Willner’s debut LP, is minimalist in its composition, built from a series of repeated samples that are usually no longer than two seconds each. Much like minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, the Field’s works find solace in slight changes in tone or beat, ultimately creating highly structured, entrancing music. Look no further than the album’s title track, where small unrecognizable snippets of the Flamingos’ doo-wop classic “I Only Have Eyes for You” are repeated until the full sample drops halfway into the song. From then on the sample is slowed and manipulated until it becomes unrecognizable once again. Genius.

The Field - From Here We Go Sublime [From Here We Go Sublime LP, 2007]

8) Matthew Dear – Asa Breed (Ghostly International). Asa Breed is a reaffirmation of Matthew Dear’s status of electronic music’s new renaissance man. Already having established himself as one of the few American techno artists that can compete with those of Europe, Matthew Dear has created a stirring and emotional electronic pop record with Asa Breed. His songwriting and vocals both equally promising and genuine, Asa Breed is a record that, for the first time, finds Dear in the spotlight. Standout track “Deserter” is filled with reversed guitar work, heavily reverberated percussion and simple synth lines, all of which are anchored by Dear’s plaintive vocals and lyrics. A very promising start to Dear’s electronic pop persona.

Matthew Dear - Deserter [Asa Breed LP, 2007]

7) Justice – Cross (Ed Banger Records). Call 2007 the year of Daft Punk. In addition to generating well-deserved fervor from the Frenchmen’s Alive 2007 tour, electronic music saw a steady stream of groups pop up that were students of Daft Punk’s now classic French house sound. Justice is the best of bunch. Cross is a what Human After All should have been, filtering rock’s greatest elements, from crunchy guitar work to pounding kick drum beats, through house music. Standout tracks include the positively rocking “Let There Be Light” and 80’s flashback that is “DVNO,” which is guaranteed to cream your acid wash jeans. Best party album of 2007.

Justice - DVNO [Cross LP, 2007]

6) Efdemin – Efdemin (Dial). Along with Pantha du Prince’s debut, Efdemin has shined a light on newcomer Dial, a Berlin techno label distributed by the always venerable Kompakt. A stirring collection of stripped-down techno, Efdemin is filled with sparse percussion generated from clean snare hits, charming bell work and dry kick drum beats. “Knocking at the Grand” starts the album beautifully, encapsulating chiming bells with a thick, clean beat that is simply hypnotic. Elsewhere, “April Fools” is an equally mesmerizing composition that builds slowly until all of its entrancing elements, from its chattery beat to its indecipherable Boards of Canada-esque vocalwork, crash together in harmony. One of best electronic music releases of 2007.

Efdemin - Knocking At The Grand [Efdemin LP, 2007]

5) !!! (Chk Chk Chk) – Myth Takes (Warp). Much of Chk Chk Chk’s work up until Myth Takes was difficult to separate from all the other DFA-esque, no-wave revival dance rock groups that have saturated today’s underground rock scene. However, with Myth Takes, Chk Chk Chk have crafted arguably the finest dance rock album to date, and not a moment too soon with the unfortunate demise of Out Hud. The tracks dense in production and the groove locked and loaded, Chk Chk Chk’s latest work flat out rocks. Standout tracks include “Must be Moon” a bass-propelled workout about a one-night stand and “Heart of Hearts” a fuzzed-out rocker buoyed by killer male-female call-response vocal work and wobbly synths.

!!! - Heart of Hearts [Myth Takes LP, 2007]

4) Panda Bear – Person Pitch (Paw Tracks). Much media has been generated around Animal Collective drummer Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) and his album Person Pitch, a work that finds itself canonizing and modernizing the deeply reverberated, harmonic sound of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Smile. Much like those two seminal works, Person Pitch is filled with a myriad of unique, idiosyncratic sounds, washed in reverb and melded into highly addictive, chantlike melodies. While Animal Collective is a group similarly focused on the power of repetition in music, Panda Bear’s work is far more buoyant and optimistic in sound. The tracks on Person Pitch are undeniably catchy and hypnotic, and will most likely bury themselves into your head and never leave for weeks. Some standouts include “Bros,” a twelve-minute, multi-staged piece of absolute harmony, and “I’m Not”, a track washed in sounds played backwards and stereophonic vocals, highly reminiscent of Spiritualized’s early work.

Panda Bear - I'm Not [Person Pitch LP, 2007]

3) LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (DFA). With Sound of Silver, James Murphy has broken free of the “dance-rock” label his persona and label are so often given. LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut, although filled with the now dance-rock staple “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” and synth-rock workout “Trials and Tribulations,” was disposable and indistinguishable among all the other numerous dance-rock albums. However, with Sound of Silver, James Murphy has taken a significant step forward and created a sonically and lyrically complex album that is stronger and more vibrant than its predecessor. His breadth more impressive this time around, James Murphy can get the groove going (“Get Innocuous!”, “Watch the Tapes”, “Sound of Silver”) as well as generate genuinely sincere moments (“All My Friends,” “Someone Great,” “New York I Love You”). One of the great surprises of music in 2007.

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver [Sound of Silver LP, 2007]

2) MIA – Kala (Interscope). Much like LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, Kala is a work more complex and developed than its predecessor. With Arular, we were introduced to MIA’s unique vocal stylings and guerilla production, all wrapped around catchy pop structures and reggae/two-step rhythms. However, with Kala, MIA has completely branched out and developed her now even more unique sound. Her production more raw and lyrics more fierce, MIA draws upon her varied cultural background to create a work filled with multiple musical influences. “Bamboo Banga” is propelled by a strong jungle beat and Bollywood vocals, while “Jimmy” is a beautiful love song rooted in disco sounds and italo-disco synths. Elsewhere, MIA spits bile on the slow-burning, fuzzed-out “20 Dollar”, cops a Clash riff on anti-capitalist anthem “Paper Planes,” and channels her inner hip hop star on the Timbaland-produced “Come Around.” If anyone thought MIA was a one-dimensional, Kala proves them wrong, illustrating the artist’s striking range as well as deep knowledge of world and pop music.

MIA - Paper Planes [Kala LP, 2007]

1) BurialUntrue (Hyperdub). Burial’s sophomore album ferments his status as not only one of the brightest faces in dubstep, but in electronic music. With Untrue, this notoriously anonymous artist has created a musical work that conjugates both despair and aching beauty, much through the use of sonically modulated voices that bleed through crackled found sounds, broken melodies and propulsive two-step beats. As a result, Untrue is a highly cohesive work where each piece can be seen as a story with personality and character, even though there are no intelligible lyrics to be found. “Ghost Hardware” aches all over, as lost female voices are muscled by a powerful, snare-propelled rhythm, while “Etched Headplate” plasters indecipherable words of love across somber strings and snapping beats. Untrue is undoubtedly a landmark piece of electronic music and will bring much-needed attention to the nascent genre of dubstep. Sleeper hit of 2007.

Burial - Archangel [Untrue LP, 2007]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a new cover version / remix song and video "M.I.A - Paper Planes (Diss By DeLon)" that has been done by the American (U.S. based) Rapper with Sri Lankan Roots Delon (http://www.myspace.com/delonrap)
M.I.A - Paper Planes (Diss By DeLon)

Ceylon Records - the label handling Rapper Delon has released this controversial video -
M.I.A - Paper Planes (Diss By DeLon)

MIA Paper Planes (Diss by Delon)

Delon speaks about his Cover Version of "Paper Planes"

More from Amerian Rapper Delon who has relatives in Sri Lanka ....Delon promotes peace for the World with his Rap