Six albums that left a mark in 2016
We’re returning now with our selection of albums that we’ve either discovered last year or that we’ve revisited and derived inspiration from.
Marius Copel’s choice:
JOZEF VAN WISSEM
When Shall This Bright Day Begin
Release date: March 18, 2016
In the very moment when the Academia frames you as the black sheep of your domain the only sane choice is to go full throttle in the other direction. That’s what Jozef Van Wissem did. In an act of beautiful defiance he by-passed the establishment of classical structures. Same as Prometheus, he committed the ultimate sin, bringing the magical flame of the renaissance and baroque lute to the very mortals. And he did it in his very own fashion. Sublime harmonies, hypnotic chords, forbidden phrases, cryptic overtones. And some vocal interventions that connect Bach with Joy Division. A stand alone artist by all means. In this latest album, the suite of sonic incantations opens then gates of the subtle world where his artistic ancestors live forever.
Klaus Constantin’s choice:
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Release date: September 6th, 2016
Label: Bad Seeds Ltd.
Nothing matters anymore… Nothing brings you back from the dead. The 16th Nick Cave album is brutally honest, direct and filled with tension. It’s moving, especially because while working on this album, his 15 year old son died in a tragic accident. He fell off a cliff in Brighton, England.
The soundtrack is sad, emotional, yet jazzy and simple. It is full of sadness, a mourning that burst from his suffering.
It is recommended to listen The Skeleton Tree, understanding the context, in order to discover, from the perspective of the artist, the strong connection between life and death.
The title song depicts an empty tree, all leaves dead, a candle in the window and an empty room with a white screen TV. Life is empty and pointless. When he calls out, only echo answers. In the end, filled with sadness, he accepts his reality, repeating like a mantra: “it’s alright now”.
It is common to hear Cave performing in a deep voice having a soft, discreet instrumental background, soft and dark that you could fall in love.
As a design, the cover is simple, empty, black (even inside) and the title is written as on an old monitor from the ‘80.
This album is a tribute to his son, beautiful and painful. One of his best.
Ioan Gherasim’s choice:
Release date: Apri 1st, 2016
Label: Rock Action Records
The atom reshaped the world. This small building block of matter can generate the power to push humanity towards the heavens or to end it. Director Mark Cousins brought this to the world’s attention with his documentary “Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise”, following the recent political tensions and shifting poles of power between the East and West, in particular regarding Scotland, who’s independence referendum highlighted the issue of UK’s nuclear weapons based at Faslane.
He expressed his point of view using archive footage of last century’s WW2 bombing of Japan, nuclear disaster of power plant in Ukraine, atomic bomb tests of the Cold War era, in contrast with vivid images depicting the blooming of life and it s evolution.
For the soundtrack he commissioned the Scottish band Mogwai who managed to represent through music the complexity of the message.
The soundtrack was arranged by the band in its latest album — “Atomic” —released April 1st last year, revealing this new side of the celebrated musicians, almost rising above their established style and identity reaching a fine line of inner beliefs and fears which echo trough each one of us. The music balances the early electronic feel of the 70’s , the post-rock expressiveness, and the subtle texture of horn and strings in an immersive soundscape. What strikes you is the simplicity of it all, as if the composers tried to distance themselves from their own emotions in finding the truth.
As one critic said: ”by taking on a subject larger than themselves, Mogwai are able to lose their identity in telling such a tragic story”, I may say that Atomic is about one of the most defining sides of the human nature: the lack of fully understanding of it’s self.
Vlad Osiac’s choice:
Samsara Blues Experiment
Long Distance Trip
Step 1: Bring Tool, Jimmy Hendrix, The Early Pink Floyd, Neurosis back from the dead where needed and together into a recording studio with a glass ceiling.
Step 2: Fly the room above a hot desert in Arizona or similar.
Step 3: Let them stew for a couple of days.
Step 4: Press record.
Step 5: Listen at 1 x Speed, listen at 2 x Speed, listen at .5 x Speed.
Or skip step 1 through 4 and apply 5 to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vpOHq8bkzA. I guess its better.
Tudor Pătrașcu’s choice:
March 11, 2016
Label: 591309 Records DK
This album makes me wanna buy a synth and fly it through rainy neon-lit city streets at the speed of sound. I have not heard such sexiness ooze out of a record since Sammy Hagar split from Van Halen.
I have no idea what people would call this – synthwave, retro synth-rock, new retro wave – but fuck that! You want music to make love to? Play this! You want music to drive with? Play this! You want some sweet tracks for your video-game? Play this!
All the tracks have simple structures with strong hooks and melodies and is completely instrumental. And that works towards its advantage as each song is stripped to its essentials and allows the track to develop its unique character and atmosphere within the whole. Just like a John Carpenter soundtrack, each track takes you to a new set, a new scene, a new emotion.
There is also a great blend of different styles under all the synthness. Tracks like Destroyer and Hunter of Lost Souls have a potent metal undertone giving that new wave of British heavy metal twin guitar vibe, while City Lights, to me, is extremely funky. At its core, this is a great guitar album.
What got me hooked in the first place was the nostalgia. When I heard the first track, I was blown back into a world inside my head that I could never pinpoint, a blend of emotions and memories watching They Live for the first time or playing Crusader: No Remorse. But once the feeling subsided, I realized that I was enjoying this for its energy and mystique.
I started out by saying that this album is great for activities, but the best way to enjoy it, and — I believe — the intended way, is to kill the lights, turn it up and allow the music to create the spectacle in your mind.
Meteor is the brain-child of Colombia based guitarist, producer and graphical designer Jorge Reyes.
“I am the messenger, I am Meteor.”
Mihai Velcescu’s choice:
THE EVPATORIA REPORT
Release date: September 5th, 2008
Label: Get A Life! Records
Space. This music has a lot of it and uses that, taking its time, to pinpoint a nearly tragic sense of scale between what is Human, on one side, and the Universe on the other. The four long tracks are vastly different from one another, but they all place the listener in in the middle of a vast expanse underlining this condition of ours: to seek the attention of an indifferent Universe, to look for companions and solace in a cold place, for light in a dark one. To send out a Cosmic Call. After all, the band is named after the city which houses the radio-telescope which sent the call back in 99 – Yevpatoria.
As a graphic designer I also love the clean, Swiss style design of the album cover.
The Evpatoria Report are one of the more obscure jewels one might find in the post-rock, progressive, shoegazing genres. I was fortunate to stumble across them in the later part of last year and have been somewhat annoyed by the utter lack of more information about them, lest to say more music. Rumors have it that they are back in the studio as of recently. Looking forward.