2013 Favorites

Shit, we are extremely late getting this up, but that’s a perfect example of our 2013. We had to overcome lots of hurdles and challenges to continue our mission to discuss and celebrate the best media filed under “other.” As we usually note with these year-end round ups, the whole “best of” list thing is really gross and usually just web traffic bait. That’s why we almost didn’t go through with it this year. However, this is a great opportunity to revisit some really important projects from the year and to also give a shout-out to some great material that we may not have had the time to cover previously. Thanks to all our readers and submitting artists for another great year. Oh, and yes, we guarantee that we left some stuff out.

MUSIC

Body/Head – Coming Apart

This duet between Bill Nace and Kim Gordon is no longer just another Sonic Youth side project. Coming Apart is easily one of our favorite records in 2013.

 

Bill Orcutt – A History of Everyone

The Harry Pussy alum has been unstoppable over the last several years and continues that momentum with this collection of reinterpretations of very random selections from, well, the history of music.

 

 

The Dead C – Armed Courage

20+ years-old noise rock outfit Dead C are still maintaining their stance ahead of the game with sounds intensely present-tense and formidable.

 

 

 

Chris Corsano / Bill Orcutt – The Raw and the Cooked

Bill Orcutt makes our list twice with this phenomenal collaboration with free-fuck-jazz percussionist Chris Corsano. What a volatile mixture these two produced! What rapture! What rancid meat bubble bath! (Not a cover of the similarly titled record by Fine Young Cannibals)

 

ZS – Grain

Even through the revolving cast of members, ZS never disappoints us, nor does Sam Hilmer’s many other projects, nor does Northern Spy Records. So yeah we loved this, obviously.

 

Wolf Eyes – No Answer: Lower Floors

The boys who popularized noise to the extent that your dad is somewhat familiar with C.C.C.C. returned with an intense new LP this year and surpassed all expectations.

 

 

Hair Police – Mercurial Rites

The new Hair Police record begins with drooling distortions amongst the guttural refrain, “We are going to lose.” One of the best openers of a noise record, ever.

 

 

Mats Gustafsson / Colin Stetson – Stones

If anyone’s got Stones, it’s these two sax players, who delivered an intense live improvisation at the 2011 Vancouver Jazz Festival captured here by Rune Grammofon. Technically an end-of-2012 release, but fuck you.

 

Death Convention Singers – S/T

An ever-changing ensemble from the middle of nowhere stole our hearts this year with their grandiose anti-choir of sound art.

 

 

Pharmakin – Abandon

Margaret Chardiet’s brand of power electronics is not some improvised “act of passion”; it is a premeditated onslaught of brutality. It is calculated in its evil. We are in terrified awe.

 

 

Jeremiah Cymerman – Sky Burial

Sky Burial is the first recording of composer Jeremiah Cymerman’s Amplified Quartet featuring trumpeters Nate Wooley and Peter Evans and saxophonist Matt Bauder. There is a brilliant chemistry that happens in what sounds like one small, intimate space, perfected by Cymerman’s post-production manipulations.

 

Mike Shiflet – The Ocean Doesn’t Care That You’re Drowning

This super-limited cassette demonstrated that highly prolific noise artists can still amaze us with each new unexpected release. A batch of 50 tapes were put out by Spirit Throne, and, surprisingly, I think you can still grab one.

 

 

 

Peter Kolovos – Black Colors

Spastic, elaborate, and hyperactive, Black Colors is a fragmented masterpiece, seen only in rushed glimpses.

 

 

Alan Licht – Four Years Older

Alan Licht’s solo guitar noise work is unique and refreshingly adventurous, or misadventurous.

 

 

 

Sightings – Terribly Well

Terribly Well found Sightings further developing what they began on 2011’s Future Accidents and ultimately reinventing themselves. We like the new you, Sightings.

 

 

ÄÄNIPÄÄ – Through a Pre-Memory

A collaboration between Mika Vainio and Stephen O’ Malley just made sense, but who knew it would fucking slay like this? Holy shit, what magnificently brutal sounds grimly spill out of this inherently evil record!

 

Aaron Dilloway – Opened Door

With so much hauntingly sparse loops and warble and atmospheric noise, you’d be wrong not to put this on a tape. Something extra frightening and dismal about a cassette…

 

 

C Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug – Wake Up Awesome

Wake Up Awesome is, in fact, awesome. What does it do that’s so awesome? Everything you would want it to do, if you’re not lame. Every inch of every instrument is played, backwards, forwards, and inside-out. A Zen Buddhist euphorically falling down a flight of stairs. A domestic assault block party. A car crash orgy.

 

Bérangère Maximin – Infinitesimal

The title for Maximin’s latest is apropos for such a minimalist record, but beneath the hush is a quiet tension, a possibly impending outburst that makes you reluctant to lean in too closely. Soon the tension is loosened and hypnotic loops envelop your preciously terrified ears, but not too much.

 

Nate Wooley – Seven Storey Mountain Part III & IV

Wooley’s series simulating the experience described by Trappist Monk Thomas Merton continued with this double disc grand slam featuring an elite cast of players.

 

 

Tim Hecker – Virgins

Canadian droner Hecker followed his immensely praised Ravedeath (and the subsequent Dropped Pianos companion) with this organic treat of electronics and acoustic instruments that heightened and evolved his signature lush atmospheres.

 

 

BOOKS

Hill William – Scott McClanahan

McClanahan is quickly becoming known for his fresh, inventive spirit and informal sincerity with which he writes paints such life, telling only stories he most certainly knows.

 

 

Gil the Nihilist – Sean Kilpatrick

This novel, er, screenplay, er, poem, er, Kilpatrick. Just fucking Kilpatrick, so don’t try and wrap your noggin around it. Fascist.

 

 

 

 

Mira Corpora – Jeff Jackson

What a fucking debut that we all wish we wrote. There is real depth and purpose to Jackson’s experimentation, which makes his otherworldly style all the more satisfying.

 

 

 

The Weaklings XL – Dennis Cooper

Cooper’s expansion of this previously released book reminds us that he’s not just a novelist, with these powerful short pieces of confusion and tension delivered in his unforgettable tone.

 

 

 

 

Irritant – Darby Larson

We’re usually suspicious of large volumes. Compensating for something, Wallace? But this, this is a trip. It’s language, it’s density. It’s all there, and it’s all necessary. In all of it’s bizarreness, there’s something absolutely necessary happening.

 

 

 

Billie the Bull – xTx

We can see why Dennis Cooper was so “awestruck” by the work of xTx, known previously only for her blog. This book is full of rich prose and provocation and not to be missed.

 

 

 

Begging for It – Alex Dimitrov

Dimitrov is hope for the next generation of poets. Like many of his colleagues, he prods about the same ol’ topics of sexuality, self, and god, looking for a fresh vein unruined by all the needles before him. And eureka, he has struck a new vessel, and euphoria has washed through our bloodstreams. Alex is one of the most promising new voices that has graced our earshot.

 

Middle  C – William H. Gass

Go ahead and say it seems tame, or even caged, for the celebrated author responsible for the magnificent The Tunnel, but we disagree. Middle C is as much a challenging anti-novel as any of Gass’s previous works (which there are like, two). No, Gass has not lost his bite, and he continues to sharpen his teeth on us with this latest effort.

 

 

The Hardest Part is Done – Lucy Biederman

In a time where poetry is riddled with net slang and plainspeak, Biederman approaches her work with a classical seriousness and striking emotionalism.

 

 

 

 

 

FILMS

A Band Called Death – Dir. Jeff Howlett, Mark Covino

Early punk pioneers Death got their past due recognition in this thorough account of the band and their eerily spiritual foundations.

 

 

 

The Act of Killing – Dir. Christine Cynn, Joshua Oppenheimer

This unnerving film was a true horror story and subsequently a challenging view of real killers obliviously obliging the filmmakers to reenactments of their lifetaking routines.

 

 

 

Beware of Mr. Baker – Dir. Jay Bulger

Former Cream drummer Ginger Baker is a crazy asshole, and that’s the gist of this doc. Its methods of storytelling with the use of biographical analogies, though, is what elevates the film above reality television.

 

 

 

Computer Chess – Dir. Andrew Bujalski

The film that “transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs” is concisely funny and yet effectively somber.

 

 

 

 

The Rambler – Dir. Calvin Reeder

What a fucked up fest of Lynchian hysteria! The Rambler opened to mixed reviews, obviously, and we attribute this to the greater meaning of the film being lost in its weirdness. But we love its weirdness, so it wasn’t an issue for us.

 

 

 

 

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