Some Fuckin Music I Listened to in Order to Drown Out the Madness in 2016

Top Tunes of 2016

 

2016 was a great year for Weird Rap and Middle-Aged Rappers.

 

Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition might be my pick for Album of the Year if I were so inclined. Yet, there’s a lazy side to me that doesn’t feel like picking an exclusive winner. Atrocity Exhibition is one of the weirdest albums, of any genre, that I’ve heard in quite some time. Might have the year’s dopest posse cut in “Really Doe”; that beat is a total banger.

Meanwhile, Aesop Rock continues to hone his craft, both behind the mic and smithing beats, on The Impossible Kid. It makes me really happy that Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic are spearheading the dope-ass middle-aged rapper movement, which really just came together by happenstance.

Speaking of middle-aged rappers. Alaska (of The Atoms Family crew heritage) and some other cranky 40-somethings formed Words Hurt and put out Fuck That Pretty Boy Shit. Acerbic cultural criticism abounds.

J-Zone continues to get it done with Fish-N-Grits. Still sharpening his chops on a drum kit, it’s clear he was listening to a bunch of Meters’ records when he made this album. And that’s always a good thing.

For some wacky British HipHop, look no further than Don Pong’s Stinkin Slumrok.

 

Johann Johannsson just doesn’t quit and I hope he never does.

 

Johann Johannsson released his first non-soundtrack album in nearly six years. Orphee is a very meditative, contemplative album, but is somewhat understated and almost feels lacking in direction compared to his soundtrack work of late. That brings me to his Arrival OST. This soundtrack veers into the haunting edges of alien contact, but remains romantically adherent to the interpersonal threads of the movie’s story. The somber, low-plodding strings we’ve become accustomed to with Johannsson’s soundtracking are there, but are morphed and translated into far more intergalactic tonalities. Arrival functions on a high level throughout the movie as almost a character of its own, somewhat of an extra layer of language spoken between humans and heptapods. Gorgeous in concert with the film, it also faces no handicap at standing alone as an album.

 

Lots of good, weird, dark Techno

 

Max Cooper’s Emergence harkens back to a glitchy 2005 vibe. Murcof & Vanessa Wagner produced Statea, which is a slick compilation of piano pieces, played by Wagner, treated and tweaked by Murcof. Well, 2016 is officially the year I finally heard an Autechre release that I absolutely loved and felt validated all the hype over the years. Elseq 1-5 is Autechre at their pulsatingly darkest and best, not to mention lengthy. Looking for hypnotic beats and shearing synthesizers? Not Waving’s Redacted will do you just fine.

There are three really superb entries into the realm of Dark Techno in 2016. Raime’s Tooth, and Kane Ikin’s Modern Pressure and Sensory Memory.

Lakker continue their unique sound on Struggle & Emerge.

Nebulo Safari Suites, Vol. II is almost as if you were just suddenly extracted from an ayahuasca trip into the astral plane just neighboring the one you were dancing through.

Pye Corner Audio had a great year, gifting our ears with his best album yet, Stasis. How this dude is still relegated to Ghost Box – no offense to such a lovely label, but how does PCA not demand a bigger platform – still kind of shocks me. Martin Jenkins also put out the Head Technician Zones EP, which is a nifty little side project that mostly sounds like…hey!…this is Pye Corner Audio!

 

Math Rock will never die!

Radian’s On Dark Silent Off could just as easily fit into the above section of Electronica and Techno. It is a sharp, angular album built on a foundation of thumping rhythms and clanging percussive stabs. Might take a while to grow on you, but well worth your patience to get to know this album. Radiohead return from the brink of irrelevance with A Moon Shaped Pool. And then there’s Tortoise, dropping The Catastrophist in the midst of a year that could also go by the same name. “Shake Hands With Danger” is my new favorite Tortoise track, but the goofy nostalgia of their cover of David Essex’s “Rock On” steals the show.

 

Wacky Beats that felt out of place in any of the previous categories

Tobacco continues to program the musical memoirs of a sex life I’m currently living in another dimension. Sweatbox Dynasty is dripping with the requisite effluvia of eroticism and lust that has made Tobacco a staple in my musical rotation for years now. Egadz – a HipHop multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles – delivered with Bad Keys Drip. Without being stuck in the quicksand of the past, this album acts as recall to DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing and the renaissance of collage and pastiche it was the calling card for. Last, but not least, Samiyam’s Animals Have Feelings provides another volume of wonky, chopped-but-not-diced beats from the seemingly endless talent pool of LA beatmakers.

 

Well, while 2017 is sure to be another year of shit dribbling from the lips of sociopathic, aged white cis male politicians caked in Cheeto dust, here’s to hoping there’s at least some great tunes to sooth our boiling psyches and skyrocketing blood pressure. Cheers!

 

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