Saturday, December 30, 2006

Peak Experiences Of 2006

I didn’t end up making too many lists this year. Some writers describe the process of ranking music to be the most difficult soul-searching they do all year. For me, writing reviews in the first place is far more difficult than ranking music. Nonetheless, it's no pleasure. A few years ago I resigned myself to the “personal preference” perspective on list making. If there’s one thing the Internet teaches any quasi-pro writer; it’s that you can never listen to enough music, and any sense one might have of absolute authority is sadly mistaken.

This year I’ll go deeper into the pool of subjectivity and relate my most listened-to discs of 2006. Lots of reissues to be sure, but they were all new to me... Next year, as full length albums continue to lose their pre-eminent music media status, this may all collapse into a pile of “tracks I heard, shows I enjoyed, YouTube clips that rocked my world and albums that generally held up from start to finish”.

I’ve linked the reviews and blog posts I wrote about each.


15. Burnt Friedman/Jaki Liebezeit - Secret Rhythms 2 (Nonplace)

I’m glad this one stayed at the top of the pile for an extended period, new elements kept cropping up with every spin. The surface calm only underscored the secret rhythms underneath. Can someone please give David Sylvian a hug?


14. Drumheller - Wives (Rat Drifting)

Better in every way from their first disc. All members of this Rat Drifting postdixiemodern jazz 'supergroup' have written better tunes, played with more unity and made even stranger sounds while swinging strongly. This is one disc that seems to mix well with many other styles on the radio show.

13. Selda (Finders Keepers)

An unbelievably ambitious and accomplished album from 1976. It's Joan Baez and Fleetwood Mac facing off against Black Sabbath and Bruce Haack. The lyrics are darker than the Goth-est musings in the margins of a high school math textbook, her powerful voice delivers in a muezzin-like fashion. She was jailed not too long afterwards for expressing such sentiments...

12. Feuermusik - Goodbye Lucille (Independent)

Sax and buckets like you've never heard sax and buckets before. I was even more impressed by this disc when drummer Gus Weinkauf told me saxman Jeremy Strachan had never performed as a leader (on sax) nor did they have a clear idea of a band sound prior to the recording session. Astonishing results which just got better with each listen.

11. Boom Pam (Essay)

I skipped past the stupid vocal tracks every time, but this album battled it out with the Green Arrows and Extra Golden for Duelling Guitar and Rhythm Section Configuration of The Year. Extra points for making me want to break out a wetsuit and attempt to surf Lake Ontario during October.

10. Mustafa Ozkent - Genclick Ile Elele (Finders Keepers)

This was the most fun Turkish reissue of the year – nothing but funky studio tomfoolery. Played it to death over the 'phones. Lots of breaks to be found on this one.

9. Ali Farka Toure - Savane (Nonesuch)

Metacritic is right. In your face, Tom Waits.

8. Charles Lloyd - Sangam (ECM)

ECM has defied expectations of late by releasing albums which could be described as hot-blooded. Anyone who happened upon the duelling drums of Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland would have to agree.

7. The Green Arrows - Four Track Recording Session (Analog Africa)

Circular guitar pop from Rhodesia, 1970s style. There’s a revolutionary (punk??) edge to this and Analog Africa’s other reissue, the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, which I thought given the universally accessible twin guitars/bass/drums lineup should have turned more heads. That is, the heads of Gang of Four fans.

6. Zemog El Gallo Bueno - Cama De La Conga (Aagoo)

The second effort from Zemog contained some of the most complex horn arrangements of the year. The art school salsa of this record flew in the face of reggaeton offshoots which were the focus of most of the media's attention to Latin sounds. But hey, it was a good year for the Latin diaspora.

5. Sally Nyolo and the Original Bands of Yaounde - Studio Cameroon (Riverboat)

I’m still captivated by this disc which came out in November. It's yet another wildcard which seems to mix well with pretty much any musical style on the radio show, which is even more impressive considering how rootsy it is. Nonetheless, for such a down-home release showcasing the locals in Yaounde, Cameroon, this disc sounds awfully sophisticated in its elegant execution of songwriting and production ideas. One more example of the power of mobile recording equipment to capture a vibe on location which might otherwise have been elusive in the studio.

4. J Dilla - Donuts (Stones Throw)

My hip hop days are long past, but this disc awoke the sample doctor deep within my soul. The immaculate flow of this album kept me listening to the entire oeuvre from its joyous start to its profoundly sad finish. This was the most emotionally affecting disc I heard in ‘06. RIP.

3. Tom Moulton - A Tom Moulton Mix (Soul Jazz)

Pretty much the ultimate summertime compilation. Disco continues to be critically re-examined(here’s to you, Arthur Russell) and Moulton was the man with the master plan. No wait, those were the Kay Gees. In any case, this was as good a disco collection as will ever be released - but with the added bonus of containing the liner notes of the year which link technology, social change, economics and artistic experimentation as key elements in the success of the Moulton phenomenon of "remixing".

2. NOMO - New Tones (Ubiquity)

It came down to this and Ali Farka Toure for my ‘best’ album of the year. New Tones goes far beyond Afrobeat a la Fela into a sound which evokes all points on the compass at onece There is some radical production on this disc which further amplified the hybrid, itchy grooves. Bonus points: Nicole Mitchell!!


1. Edip Akbayram (Shadoks)

As you can probably tell, too many hours were spent rocking out to Turkish sounds of the seventies this year. Not only did Akbaryam’s Anadolu funk-rock blow my head, but it was the disc I proselytized about the most all year long. Everyone I played it for dug it intensely as well. Of all the Turkish psych reissues this year, this one rocked the hardest. This may be one of my picks on that hypothetical desert island, cause I know it can stand repeat play...

And now, on to 2007.

4 Comments:

Blogger Eli said...

wow! great list! I really loved that Jaki Liezebeit too...Have you heard Hu Vibrational? it would fit well among the rest of your list...my lists, while a little more mainstream, are here and part two is here

2:15 PM  
Blogger Dacks said...

I have heard that Hu Vibrational disc - I keep bringing it with me to the radio station but have yet to play it. Maybe tonight...

Hamid Drake (1/2 of HU)'s frequent partner in crime, bassist William Parker (check out Piercing the Veil for one of the heaviest pure rhythm albums of recent years), is going to be playing several dates in Toronto next week as part of the AIMT's Interface series. It will be a different thing than the Hu Vibrational disc, but Parker is a master improviser who can handle any groove or non-groove thrown his way.

I checked out your lists - nice work!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Eli said...

I LOVE WILLIAM PARKER. I saw him at Jazz City in Edmonton a few years back, and I especially love his work for the Blue Series Continuum with Matthew Shipp.

do you have any details about the shows?

4:34 PM  
Blogger Dacks said...

Here's the deets for the AIMT interface series with William Parker.

He's also playing in Guelph on Jan 14.

I'm trying to set up an interview with him for next Wednesday's radio show! Check back in the next couple of days to see if that's materialized...

7:33 PM  

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