So, it’s pretty meta that I usually write these preface things talking about other people and now I’m writing one fr me. I’ll forgo the third person narrative and just say a few things. I co-run RCN w/ the other dewds and numerous others who have helped (and continue to help) along the way. I play in Cane Swords w/ Karl and Black Unicorn w/ myself and a few other projects that should be seeing releases this year (Dodecahedrons, Carnivorous Panda?, etc.). We started doing all this last year, a little over, around end of year 2010. I’m really happy w/ how far everything has come and want to thank all the great ppl who help make this shit worthwhile. I won’t go any further or name any names (fr fear of not mentioning the most important ppl) but just say this is awesome and I look forward to putting out rad releases, throwing great shows, and hanging w/ good friends this year.
Broken into two parts b/c writing the first was exhausting.
Curt’s Top Ten of 2011, Pt. One (Akron bands first, then no order)
- Duunes - Duunes (Self-Released)
Duunes is my favorite rock band in Akron, assuming that rock band signifies the old standby of drums/bass/guitars and more-or-less defined song structure. They play super-technical-prog-post-metal, assuming that super-technical-prog-post-metal signifies dynamic and intricate instrumental songs w/ a distant ancestor in metal musics. They are great dudes, I admire their musicianship, and this album shreds and introspects in equal measure… and the cover artwork by HORAK totally rules.
duunes (album preview) by experimedia
- Low in the Sky - A Shared Rainbow (Patternbased/Abandon Building)
Low in the Sky is my favorite band in Akron, assuming that band signifies a group of individuals creating music together w/ more-or-less defined song structure. Okay, I’ll stop w/ that annoying exposition now. These guys are good friends and I’m (barely) featured on this album, but I swear I’m not biased. Low in the Sky make great music and all of their albums are filled w/ this great music. A Shared Rainbow continues this trend and features a huge rotating cast of Akron-area characters accompanying the trio in various capacity. Masters of eclecticism, multi-instrumentalism, and production—Joe, Pat, and Corey are sonic craftsman and Rainbow is a collection of beautiful rhythmic music that adopts it’s titular amalgam of colors into solidified units of sound.
Low in the Sky - October 10th King Elementary (in memory of King School, now occupied by rubble and wisped reminiscence) by patternbased
- Mountains - Air Museum (Thrill Jockey)
I had never really listened to Mountains until Jeremy set up their first-ever Ohio gig last summer. In preparation fr the show I listened to Air Museum and was entranced—it’s a wonderful merging of synthetic and organic sounds that exposes an ethereal current. While the prevalence is on synthesis compared to older Mountains releases, there is an almost acoustic feel to the music, as if some mallet were discovered that when banged outputs filtered waveforms—swirling particles and primal rhythms to ambient consciousness expansion. I’m honored that Cane Swords got a chance to play w/ Mountains and their set was an extension of this album brought to universe limits—very absorbing and inducing.
- Arp - The Soft Wave (Smalltown Supersound, 2010)
This is the first of my technically-not-released-in-2011 albums that are on the list fr various reasons. This reason is that I didn’t hear this album until 2011. Wow. Generally albums I enjoy sort themselves into two broad categories—ones that I listen to fr a little bit and dig a bunch but then sort-of forget about and ones that I listen to fr a little bit and dig but don’t forget about and they pop back up and keep getting plays and conjecture. This is one of the latter, and has quickly become a favorite that I return to (the earlier Arp album, In Light, is also quite great). Beautiful, placid synthesizer soundscapes w/ a corporeal (yet transcendental and ethereal) feel mingled w/ pianos, guitars, and other acoustic/electric accompaniment and surprises here and there (including an early-Enoesque track that comes out of nowhere, yet fits completely). From meditative basslines and spiral galaxy melody to warm percussion and blissful swells—this is a solidly built album from beginning to end.
Arp - The Soft Wave (album previews) by experimedia
- Giant Claw - Midnight Murder (Orange Milk)
I grabbed a copy of this tape when Keith played at the old RCNCAVE (along w/ Henry Dawson, Andrew Weathers, and Joey Molinaro). I was completely amazed by the night, and introduced to four great artists. Great performances from everyone, w/ Giant Claw rounding out the night while 2001 sync’d random-perfect behind. There’s been a bunch of great Giant Claw releases in 2011, which makes it hard to pick but this one is my favorite. Synthesizer music done w/ grace and concept—hypnotic arpeggios and pulsating “drums” gathering around voltage controlled melodies and spaced freak-outs. Quickly became one of my favorite synth dudes, his dueling Korg Mono/Poly and Polysix are handled w/ precision and intent and work toward crafting a sonic world that evokes classic synthesists and time-machine future. Super pumped to be putting out a collaborative album on RCN w/ Keith in 2012.
Stay tuned fr Part Two and more retrospectives from the RCN crew.
Because there aren’t enough year end lists out there already, here come the RCN lists. First up we’ve got a list from Ram Youssefi (1/2 of Zurvan [whose drone epic cassette, Cymatic Sacrament, we released last year], 1/1 of Dolph Lundgren, Cave Manager, and general get-shit-done dude.). According to Ram he was huffing aether and practicing transcendental meditation and passed out fr an indeterminate amount of time. When he awoke, this list materialized—
Ram’s Top Ten of 2011.
- 1. Lawrence English - The Peregrine (Experimedia)
This album caught me off guard at first, but it came highly recommended. So I gave it a listen and it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever heard. No, seriously. Ambient drone with an intellectual side. Heart-felt, not overly synth-y, and excruciatingly beautiful. Permanently added to my pre-show ritual.
2. Earth - Angels of Darkness Demons of Light 1 (Southern Lord)
I’ve been into this band a lot over the past few years. First album I heard was Hibernaculum, and from there started collecting their back catalog. This album is a continuation of the sound on Bees Made Honey…and it is simply stunning. Look for volume 2 sometime around Valentine’s Day.
3. Higuma - Pacific Fog Dreams (Root Strata) This album has great energy. Like when you skip school on a summer day and spend hours smoking weed in your favorite MetroPark. Getting lost in the woods, walking barefoot in a stream (see cover), and all the while you’ve got this nice mellow buzz that seems to last forever.
- 4. Grouper - Dream Loss (Yellow Electric)
This album was one half of a two record release on Yellow Electric. I prefer this record over it’s counterpart, Alien Observer, because it’s darker and has more noisy drone parts. Literally everything I’ve heard from Liz Harris is awesome. Angelic vocals, hypnotic guitar loops and gorgeous compositions.
5. Ravencult - Morbid Blood (Hell’s Headbangers) Good old evil fucking black metal from Greece. For some reason this country churns out terrific black metal. Thrashy at times, vicious vocals, snarling guitars, and captures a certain evil quality that the majority of bands in this genre fail to achieve.
6. Disma - Towards The Megalith (Profound Lore) Death metal with a perfect sludge/doom sound. Not cheesy, not over the top, this is some no bullshit kick you in the balls death metal. Ugly, grimy, Incantation-worshiping, can’t wait for another full length from this band. The cover looks very similar to Cruciamentum’s new EP, Engulfed In Desolation.
- 7. Putridity - Degenerating Anthropophagical Euphoria (Willowtip)
It’s become increasingly difficult to find quality death metal in an ocean of regurgitated mediocrity. This album, on the other hand, will make you want to rip out your own entrails and feast upon them in a feverish rage! Break-neck speed blast beats, squealing guitars, inhuman vocals, disgusting album art, gruesome song titles, and amazing production make this album a beast of monstrous proportions.
8. Sean McCann - Prelusion (Recital)
The harder question is which Sean McCann album to pick for the top ten list. This guy put out like 3 or 4 albums this year and all of them are well worth your time. Prelusion I feel is more up my alley with it’s subtle symphonics and more orchestral drones. Wait, wait, wait, shhhhh………I love this part right here.
- 9. Barn Owl - Lost In The Glare (Thrill Jockey)
These guys get better with every album they put out. First they give you a little taste with Shadowland, then they release this gem of an album on Thrill Jockey. Appalachian raga, electro-acoustic, doom folk, or whatever you call it…this album is just fucking great!
- 10. Indian - Guiltless (Relapse)
Like a good IPA, this album has some fucking bite to it. Loved this band ever since they put out The Unquiet Sky. These guys are from Chicago and they fucking rule. Heavy as shit!
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
+Yob - Atma (Profound Lore) - Doomy stoner goodness from Oregon. Every album by these guys is of the highest caliber. Vocals kind of remind me of Rush, not in a bad way.
+Throne Of Katarsis - Ved Graven (Candlelight) - Serious kvlt black metal from Norway (You know that’s a good sign). Fucking evil!
+Thou - The Archer & The Owle (Robotic Empire) - There’s something about the sound of this band that gets me every time. It’s just so damn heavy. Includes a cover of “Something In The Way.” Also check out To The Chaos Wizard Youth which also came out this year.
+Maruta - Forward Into Regression (Willowtip) - Willowtip Records always puts out top-notch metal. Not every record is gold, but they have a good track record. Heavy grind from Florida. Like every classic grind album, it’s over way too soon.
+El Hadra - Ornaments (Thar)- Don’t let the cover fool you. Looks like some new age cheesiness, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Perfectly sublime organic drones.
+Clint Heidorn - Atwater (Ashes Ashes Publishing) - The cover of this has “tree bones” in an upside cross. Take that and top it off with some haunting folk dirges and you’ve got one mysteriously intriguing release from a relatively new and unknown artist.
+Cannabis Corpse - Beneath Grow Light Thou Shalt Rise (Tank Crimes) - You mean to tell me there’s a band that makes Deicide and Cannibal Corpse songs all about weed? Sign me up!
+Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord) - “Cascadian” atmospheric black metal on Southern Lord. I can not stress enough how much these guys rule. Black metal with substance, not just monotonous drivel.
+Emuul - The Drawing Of The Line (Digitalis Recordings) - Cool drones from this dude. Very chill, good to have on in the background, haven’t heard much else from this artist, but I’m looking forward to whatever this guy puts out in the future.
+Horseback - The Gorgon Tongue (Relapse) - A 2-disc set containing recordings from a couple years ago. This guy does splits/collabs with Locrian and Pyramids. This comp is a good place to start with this artist, then go buy Invisible Mountain.
…spectives start to-morrow (or to-night?) right here from teh RCN crew…