Generally, I am awful at narrowing things down to ten, but to prevent myself from listing 100 favorite albums of 2011, I forced myself to list just ten. And here they are. These are not in any particular order.
Exitmusic, “From Silence“
Falling somewhere in the darker shoe-gazey sort of sound, Exitmusic’s short release is one of a number being roped into this “gothic revival” I keep hearing about. Interesting that it has been so long that gothic music has been “cool”, I forgot that it wasn’t for a while. Personally, 2011, and 2010 to a lesser extent, have been great for dark music, of which I am obviously a fan.
Zola Jesus, “Conatus“
A lot of people keep saying this sounds like old school goth, a point upon which I disagree with mostly. But one can’t deny that it is certainly carrying the torch as much as possible with a great infusion of modern electronic production and intense club mood.
Holy Other, “With U“
This album is from Tri Angel records, which is associated with the “witch house” buzz word from last year. Holy other is not exactly “gothic revival”, nor anywhere noisy enough to be “witch house”. It is dark, but deep and sensual. Not R&B by any stretch. A bit of a vintage sound, lots of reverb, certainly dark. Best to listen and take it in yourself. “Touch” could certainly be a good club track, in my opinion.
Massive Attack vs. Burial, “4 Walls“
I understand about nothing considering the origins of this work. Is this Burial remixing Massive Attack? The otherway around? I have no idea. Anyway, intensely beautiful downtempo and ambient material. Interesting in that the first time I heard the term dubstep applied to music, it was in relation to Burial. In light of what people are referring to as dubstep now, how did Burial ever get tagged this? Anyway, Burial is one of the best artists to emerge in the last ten years, and Massive Attack has been a powerhouse for a long time, its a pretty natural marriage of sounds, in my opinion. This is more ethereal and airy, and slower, than either respective artists normal output, but it is certainly amazing.
Deaf Center, “Owl Splinters“
This is where I change direction from downtempo and gothic revival stuff to more ambient, classical oriented music. In this case, a very dark, very rich, very elegant album with intense classical strings and very deep atmospheres by Deaf Center. I played a ton of this at DAMNED IV. It is part sensual, part frightening, part comforting.
Oh, and the Miasmah label, one of my favorites. Kreng’s “Grimoire” is deliciously sinister, mysterious and at times down right unsettling. Miasmah never releases anything I don’t positively adore and their whole catalog should be fervently explored. Of their 2011 catalog, this is tops for me. The tracks build, evolve and carry a sort of unsettling Noir/David Lynch eeriness. It is really quite compelling listening.
I first heard Jacaszek from Miasmah a few years back. This album on Ghostly might even be better than the last. Ranging from exotic to delicate to enchanting, I get lost in it.
Field Rotation, “Acoustic Tales“
A lot of adjectives I used to describe some of the previous releases, but this one stands out on its own in terms of the strength of production and richness of sounds. Not that the others lack in this area, but Field Rotation is exception and producing really powerful atmospheres and spaces.
Change directions here one last time. Blueneck falls roughly into that post-rock genre that was popular ten years ago or so. Not that this is really anything like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Blueneck has their own sound. It is similar in that it is quiet at times, and has some potent rock crescendos. What it does differently it does well. Quite, emotive vocals, really gritty but atmospheric production, solid ambient qualities buried in the mix. I like most of their albums, this one may be my favorite of them.
Farewell Poetry, “Hoping for the Invisible to Ignite“
From the Gizeh record label, who releases some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, Farewell Poetry also falls vaguely into that post-rock catch-all. As the name might suggest, this is beautiful music with pretty solid rock crescendos, some very poetic lyrics sung with a very potent and alluring voice. The music has some notable classical elements and feels very intimate. It is mostly toned down, the crescendos being spaced out well. This is far more beautiful than epic.
Image for my mix by Настя Калеткина
A somewhat variant mix, including what is available and some other great releases from 2011.