Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unofficial Britain Soundtrack 2014

Bunch of things I liked this year on this Unofficial Britain Soundtrack 2014 mix by Gareth E. Rees as well as a LOT I never heard and some I never even heard of....

I have been using the "Hauntology Parish Newsletter" concept for a while now, partly because of the Anglo (or even Anglican) archaism (I'm sure they still exist but are probably email circulars or webpages nowadays) but also because this scene - hauntology and adjacent zones like pastoral-industrial / West Country Lot - is almost literally parochial for me. 

See, I realised a while back that quite a high proportion of the music that’s meant anything to me in recent times has been made by acquaintances and friends. 

Woebot has stopped making records, which makes this syndrome a bit less chronic. But still, among the others...  

I’ve met and had pints with Ekoplekz (probably the most consistently enjoyable musician for me these last four years)...   

Or take Moon Wiring Club (probably the most consistently enjoyable musician for me in the last 8 years; Leporine Pleasure Gardens would be in my Faves of 2014 except the ruddy package hasn't arrived yet). When Ian Hodgson turned up to a Totally Wired event in Manchester several years ago, I was so surprised and pleased I gave him a hug. I can't say that about Kanye West. 

Never met the Ghost Box lads in the flesh, oddly. But have corresponded with them on and off for almost a decade.  

Others in this zone are blog neighbours and/or intermittent correspondents. One way or another, figures I feel I know

Now that doesn’t mean I like everything these fellows do.  Nearly every one in the field has put out a duffer or two. 

For instance, that Soundcarriers album from mid-2014 struck me as the first wholly pointless release that Ghost Box have put out – pleasant pastiche, nothing more - the fact that the group made the cover of Shindig tells you all you need to know....  

But there is a cosiness, definitely....  and the latest emissions from this quarter are comfort food at this point.   

Then again, in a way that was always how hauntology worked for me...  it was extremely stimulating to think about, but as an aural experience it was never about being harrowed or scared out of my skin....  it beguiled me precisely through its oddly comfy sort of unease, the warp 'n' felt of familiar and eerie....  "charm" in both senses of the word

Nothing to do with Gothshit, that's for sure. Of which there's an alarming amount about at the moment: expressive disgorgements, Dark Visions, "challenging" listens .... often of a literally visceral nature.

Thing is, though...  when you've been on the earth a while,  you've probably had to grapple with, or witness up-close, death, illness, human frailty, etc.... Being confronted with mortality and abject vulnerability, that's just redundant information...  not enlightening, particularly,..  certainly not helpful in terms of carrying on...

Yes, rather audio comfort food than the sonic equivalents to nose-to-tail or molecular gastronomy on so many EOY lists this season....   which I dutifully check out and then almost without exception file under "objectively impressive / resolutely unhedonic"

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