Einstein On The Beach, Photo © Lesley Spinks
Here is some popular music I have been absorbing this year. Some on this list came out this year and some didn’t.
Swans, The Seer
Anthony Pateras, Collected Works 2002-2012
Scott Walker, Bish Bosch
Francisco López, Nowhere: Short Pieces from 1983-2003 (ten-CD box set)
Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkken, The Death Defying Unicorn
Jason Kao Hwang, Symphony of Souls
Dominique Leone, Dominique Leone and Abstract Expression albums and Summer EP
Normal Love, Survival Tricks
Loka, Passing Place
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, YT//ST
Anna Von Hausswolff, Ceremony
Dan Deacon, America
Jóhann Johannssón, The Miners’ Hymns
Chemical Brothers, Hanna OST
David Bedford, Star Clusters
Carlo Savina, Malenka OST
Various Artists, Touch. 30 years and counting
With honorable mentions to Anna Calvi, Forma, Paavoharju, Mariel Roberts, Battles, Chelsea Wolfe, and The Can Tapes.
As I said last year on this very website, my main musical diet is C20 classical, contemporary composition, soundtracks, and the darker end of prog rock, and I spend much of my time writing new music—I completed the fifth season of The Venture Bros. as well as writing various commissions, arrangements, and installation pieces in 2012. As a listener, generally I found this to be another disappointing year for new music.
I went to a bunch of concerts and event in 2012. Here are some of the most notable . . . (all shows in NYC)
Jan 13: David Linton at the Clocktower gallery (installation)
Jan 31: Jóhann Johannssón and Bill Morrison, Miners’ Hymns at the Winter Garden
Feb 03: Michael Gordon and Bill Morrison, Decasia at The Winter Garden
Feb 25: Bjork at Roseland
Mar 23: William Basinski at The Kitchen
Mar 25: Francisco López at Issue Project Room
Apr 15: The Sinking of the Titanic, Gavin Bryars Ensemble and Philip Jeck at the Barbican, London
Apr 28: Yarn/Wire with Tristan Perich at Issue Project Room
Apr 29: Ruins Alone, Child Abuse, Behold The Arctopus at Death By Audio
May 12: Musical Box perform Lamb Lies Down On Broadway at Tribeca Performing Arts Center
Jun 13: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at Mercury Lounge
Jun 20: Philip Glass Ensemble at Rockefeller Park
Jun 29: New York Philharmonic play Stockhausen and Boulez in 360 degrees at Park Ave Armory
Jul 07: Morton Subotnick, The Music of Richard Lainhart at Pace University
Aug 25: Darcy James Argue + Escort at World Finacial Center
Sep 11: Arnold Dreyblatt at Our Lady Of Lebanon
Sep 14: Eleh, Lary 7 at Our Lady Of Lebanon
Sep 17: Deerhoof, Buke And Gase at Music Hall Of Williamsburg
Sep 18: Gamelatron at the Clocktower gallery (installation)
Sep 23: Einstein On The Beach at BAM
Sep 25: Lesley Flanigan Salon at 16 Beaver
Oct 05: Demdike Stare at the Bunker
Oct 23: Tony Conrad at NYU Gallery
Nov 15: Lydia Lunch RetroVirus at Knitting Factory
Nov 16: Holly Herndon at 285 Kent
Dec 08: Bassoon/Sarcaustic at Jack
Dec 11: John Zorn, new works for strings at Miller Theater
Dec 15: Michael Gordon’s Timber at BAM
I also keep a Tumblr blog where I talk about events that I check out, and other cultural obsessions, etc.
Films I dug included:
The Snowtown Murders
Some of my own performance highlights included Manorexia at the Roadburn Festival, plus collaborations with Zola Jesus with Mivos Quartet at The Guggenheim, Vinyl Terror & Horror at the Swedish Energies Festival, Philip Jeck with the Touch crew at Experimental Intermedia, and Marc Almond at Antony’s Meltdown.
These days it’s not uncommon to hear the reply “busy” when asking someone you’ve not seen for a while, “how are you?” Having attended numerous events throughout the year, I’ve come to realize just how universal and vague a reply this is, and have therefore stopped using it. While it is nice to relax every now and then, being occupied with work and various other projects keeps the mind healthy and the creativity flowing. Best of all it completely destroys boredom—and looking back at 2012 I can honestly say this has been the most exciting year I’ve experienced.
Given my “day job” as a host and reporter for EP Daily, I’m in a position to experience more than most people, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities this job has afforded me. These include meeting and interviewing people behind some of my favorite games, TV shows, and movies. Some of my interview highlights this year include Mark Ruffalo and Cobie Smulders for The Avengers, Brad Bird for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the incomparable Radioman, and super stylish game designer Suda51. I have a personal rule to not “fan out” over people I meet but I disregarded this entirely while interviewing Suda51 and even went so far as to ask for a photo (which turned out amazing as you can see).
Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
2012 was the year of the woman. Women dominated the best of music, film, and TV.
The most significant figure for me in 2012 was Lisbeth Salander, the Steig Larsson-created character of the Millennium trilogy of novels, who also appears in the original Swedish film series and David Fincher’s newest film incarnation. Critics and fans may fight over who was better, Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara, but both were outstanding at portraying my personal favorite female character of the last couple of decades. (Ms. Rapace had the added distinction of playing the more than worthy successor to Ellen Ripley when she inhabited the role of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw in Ridley Scott’s misunderstood but brilliant Prometheus.)
Say you’re a rock critic and the calendar has dwindled to a single page. You’re expected to write a year-in-review column, but your artistic heroes have disappointed you and none of the year’s new releases have galvanized you the way you’d hoped. What do you do? You reach into your back pages to look at some forgotten favorites and things that got away from you the first time around. In writing about these forgotten favorites, maybe you can introduce your readers to something new as well.
2012 was a better concept than an actual year. Perhaps that’s why the Mayans scheduled it to end early. It’s not the end of the world, but a sincere cry to get on with 2013. This year really was an “everything louder than everything else” year (Prometheus! Avengers! The Dark Knight Rises!) and that much noise makes me want to hide under my bed, which has no frame and sits squarely on the floor.
There were some things I really did enjoy, things that made sense and resonated, above all the yelling that permeated the year.
Another year, another apocalyptic prophecy. Unless 2012 ends with the biggest shock in human history, though—that conspiracy theorists are actually right about something—this year has been a pretty enjoyable one for creative media. The following list is simply a reflection of some of the good things that happened over the last twelve months.
In the last year, Concord Music Group re-released and compiled great jazz collections for those into mid-century modern jazz. The best offerings included Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts-infused classics and Bill Evans’ elegiac piano stylings. Moon Beams may be one of the saddest jazz records of all time, but it has some of the most elegant, beautiful piano chord progressions recorded in music history.
My editor at this fine publication has informed me that I need not stick to 2012 releases for my “Best Of” list. With that in mind, I have made a list of new releases & “classics” that I have gone back to in the last year or so.
Shall we begin?
As always, I wish I’d had the time and resources available to experience more, but here are some of the things that made 2011 memorable (in alphabetical order, to be fair).
À l’Intérieur (Inside) at TIFF Bell Lightbox, August 20: Though I’d already watched this film three times on DVD, I felt that I needed to see it on the big screen. I’ve probably said this a few times already, but it’s still true: it manages to completely transcend the horror genre to become a bona fide work of cinematic art. It is indescribable and powerful and if you haven’t experienced it yet, you should.
Adam Ant: For all those folks who thought he was a crazy, bloated has-been, recent live performance clips on YouTube will more than prove those half-baked theories wrong. He’s so much more than the guy who did “Goody Two Shoes” and any and all adulation for him is well deserved. His descent into madness, fall from grace, and subsequent return to form (used in the truest, most non-cliched sense ever) are remarkable achievements. He remains, after thirty years, a huge inspiration to me. (more…)