Monday, 22 December 2014

Dragons of Disgust Best albums 2014 (Top 10)

So here it is. Let's not waste any time; here is Dragon of Disgust's top ten albums of 2014.

10. Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty (Sub Pop)

Shabazz Palaces seem to have as much in common with the cosmic stargazing of Sun Ra or sci-fi techno of Drexiya than they do with contemporary hip hop. Lese Majesty music aims for a point where the line between technology and biology is blurred. Listening to the album is taking a trip to another world that I don't fully understand, song titles and lyrics are often impenetrable, but a definitely enjoy my time there and feel compelled to explore further.


9. Clark – Clark (Warp)

I wouldn't have figured Clark for my favourite Warp Records release this year when Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus have both put out albums. Still Clark has a formidable discography behind him and his self titled sees him pushing forward as tracks like Unfurla balance grit and euphoria into a potent club destroying beast. Elsewhere techno, ambient and noise get a look in on Clark's most addictive and complete record.

8. Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything (Constellation)

Apart from having the best album title of the year, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is also the most passionate and political record from the past twelve months. There world seems to be in a strange place between harrowing events that have made the news recently, but there hasn't been a lot of political music. So I am glad that Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra have managed to construct a passionate and heartfelt argument for the role of the musician and the artist in the modern day. Delivered with the musical prowess of their sister act Godspeed You! Black Emperor and desperate punk rock urgency.

7. Caribou – Our Love (City Slang)

Whilst Swim still contained some of the heady psychedelic pop of earlier Caribou, Our Love is undeniably a purer electronic album, full of drum machines and analog tones and Can't Do Without You, one of the year's most addictive listens. Our Love is an affirming mixture of Jialong's instant pleasures and Swim's details and intricacies brought together with Snaith's pop-indebted heart. It makes for an album brimming with positivity that effectively taps into dance music's loved-up sense of togetherness that only the sour-faced individual wouldn't want to be part of.

6. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore – Piano Nights (Ipecac)

A lot of albums on this list are big sounding things, about filling space and crating an intensity with it. Piano Nights is the complete opposite. It's an album that lets seconds fall between notes and soft drum hits. Their music could could be played in an dark, underground jazz club in some Lynchian dream sequence, serene but with an undeniable tension behind it. The piano leads, your ears wait for the next chord to fill the space, and to linger and echo on in the strange, beautiful darkness Bohren & Der Club Of Gore have created.


5. Klara Lewis – Ett (Editions Mego)

My favourite debut of 2014 come from relative unknown (at least to me) Klara Lewis. A massive jigsaw puzzle of a record pieced together from found sounds that somehow manages to be both familiar and alien. You may hear and engine or a voice in the sounds as they form a rhythm that bares some dance music influence but is lacking any discernible beat. Unlike any other albums this year Ett has been a gateway into an unknown place.


4. Todd Terje – It's Album Time (Olsen)

Great albums can play your emotions, tug at your heartstrings and bring you to tears. It's Album Time, didn't do any of that, it just wants you to dance about with a big goofy grin on your face. Inspired by Giorgio Moroder type early dance music, latin jazz, seventies prog-rock excess and a contemporary approach to genre-hopping. It's an album is awe of other times, that could only be made now. Highlights include The hyperactive technicolour visions of Delorean Dynamite and Inspector Norse and the electro pop ballad Johnny and Mary featuring Brian Ferry.

3. Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – Soused (4AD)

Whilst taking different approaches Scott Walker and Sunn O))) have both made music filled with terror but there was still something about this collaboration that seemed unlikely. Soused is a massive success though, mainly for pushing both groups into places they don't usually go. Sunn O))) are pushed into melodic territory whilst Walker is limited to just a normal rock band to play with, rather than the large cast that make up his recent solo albums. With these limitations they manage to make something utterly compelling, disconcerting and terrifying and like the best horror, you just can't turn away.

2. Grouper – Ruins (Kranky)

It's no surprise to see Grouper on this list as I'm consistently enamoured by everything the Portland based musician puts out. Still Ruins managed to exceed my expectations, an album of delicate piano and that quiet voice, free of effects pedals. For an artist whose entire discography can described as intimate with this collection of tracks you find yourself leaning in closer that before to hear hushed vocals that flow around piano melodies. Tracks like Holding exemplify this hard to define, emotive compositions, full of melancholy, solitude and longing but somehow manages to be powerful and affirming in it's quietest statements.

1. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

Angel Olsen's second album not a huge departure from her debut Half Way Home as much as a continuation of the themes she had already began to explored, love, loss and a sense spirituality are the biggest concerns here, but musically there is something more immediate at play here. Her lyrics are worth pouring over, revealing there meaning slowly over many listens and you hear just as much meaning in her voice, as it wavers or lingers on a note, as in her lyrics. And it's in her voice that her real strength lies, allowing straightforward lines like 'Won't you open a window sometime / What's so wrong with the light', near the end of the album's last track Window, to carry a real weight to them. Whilst tracks like White Fire and Enemy reaffirm what Olsen made clear on that debut EP, all she needs is a guitar and her voice to impress, it's clear that also knows how to write a rough, noise-ridden rock song. In the middle of the album on Lights Out as she sings 'If you don't feel good about it then turn around' you know Angel Olsen isn't looking back for a second.

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