Thursday, December 31, 2009

We're all retro now

When I think back to 10 years ago, it occurs to me that my own life has changed so drastically that the rate of evolution of my listening habits can only seem rather tame in comparison. Back in 2000 I barely had access to the Internet, and finding anything new was a much harder job, involving a great deal more effort than it does now. This is probably just as well, as a decade of aging has robbed me of much of the energy that I once carelessly expended in hunting down new sounds. These days I tire more easily, so it's a relief that new music is becoming increasingly easily accessibnle at a click or two. The downside to this is that there's so much available that sifting through the dross to find the gold is a much bigger task than it once was. One thing that our brave new online world definitely hasn't improved is our ability to self-edit.

Everyone and his dog seems to be drawing up lists of their favourite/ the best (pretty much interchangeable terms in fact) records of the past 10 years . I hesitate to do it too, because most of them are fairly uninteresting. But what the hell, opinions are like arseholes, and we all seem to like displaying them on the web, so here's a random selection of recordings I've picked up since 2000 that have touched me in some way. Not all of them originate from the past decade. Some were reissued, some are ancient things that I just didn't come across before. I make no claims to this being a list of the best or most innovative or fashionable or zeitgeisty or whatever you think a record ought to be. They're just things that came by at the right time and made some sort of impact on me. Being the right thing at the right time is what makes a great record. The fragmentation of public taste, the explosion of media that's happened lately means that big "event" records that mean a great deal to a sizable proportion of the population are becoming rarer. We all have to find our own milestones now. Some of us have always worked that way.

John Luther Adams: The Light That Fills the World

Beethoven in the Temperaments

Six Degrees of Tonality

Björk: Medúlla

The Bowmans: Far From Home / The Bowmans

Sam Brown: Ukulele and Voice

Bruckner: Symphony No.9 with reconstructed finale (Sinfonieorchester Aachen, cond. Marcus Bosch)

Kate Bush: Aerial

R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country

Smog: A River Ain't too Much to Love

Eliza Carthy: Dreams of Breathing Underwater

Tounami Diabaté: The Mandé Variations

Bob Dylan: Love and Theft

Julius Eastman: Unjust Malaise

The Fall: The Unutterable

The Feelies: Crazy Rhythms

Morton Feldman: String Quartet No.2 (Flux Quartet)

Fleet Foxes

Flight of the Conchords

PJ Harvey: White Chalk


Schoenberg: Violin Concerto (Hilary Hahn)

Glenn Gould: The Solitude Trilogy

The Imagined Village

Ben Johnston: String Quartets No.s 2, 3, 4 and 9

Elizabeth Maconchy: Complete String Quartets

Lubica Marić: Byzantine Concerto etc.

The Mules: Save Your Face

Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender

Harry Partch: The Wayward / 17 Lyrics of Li-Po

Radiohead: Kid A

Rasputina: Frustration Plantation

Zeitkratzer: Metal Machine Music

Kronos Quartet: Floodplain

Bella Hardy: Night Visiting

Viktor Ullmann: Symphonies/ Piano Sonatas

Vialka: Plus vite que la musique

Tom Waits: Real Gone

Scott Walker: The Drift

M Ward: Transfiguration of Vincent

Brian Wilson: Smile

Amy Winehouse: Back to Black

Cantigas de Santa Maria

Kathryn Williams & Neill MacColl: Two

Enough with the back-glances. Happy New Year, everyone, maybe time to push things forward in 2010.

1 comment:

Lucia said...

Really interesting to me to read your list. I smiled at Bjork, Eliza Carthy, Hilary Hahn, PJ Harvey, Kathryn Williams in particular. Am too tired to explain! Happy New Decade. x