The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Monday, December 11, 2006

50. BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY: The Letting Go
i am loving always holding while she sleeps her song unfolding epic song it tells of how she and i are living now

Here is how this particular epic begins to unfold. Recorded in Iceland, there are two voices here, a man and a woman. The music is ghost-folk and is taken so slowly and patiently that it sometimes approaches Fennesz stasis. Oldham and Dawn Adamson sing so quietly as if snuggling up

i thought you had took all you had to take but you snuggled to me on the ground in the winter and your breath smelled like honey in the frosty air wake

beneath an avalanche aftermath, using the snow as their blanket, keeping as quiet and still as possible so as not to disturb the crush. With “Then The Letting Go” the tempo and tonality work themselves loose and we enter a world whose options are afterlife

and from the branches dangle i

or new life.

we kiss we find ourselves in love again the older that we get we know that nothing else for us is possible when i was quiet i heard your voice in everything

The next album must be a record of drinking songs, recorded in Kentish Town during a Saturday happy hour in early March.

49. CAMERA OBSCURA: Let’s Get Out Of This Place
48. ALEX SMOKE: Paradolia
The only two Scottish entries in this list, both strongly redolent of 1986. The second Camera Obscura album is more “produced” and less successful than its predecessor, but still has plenty of lovely moments – “Dory Previn,” the title track (“We’ll find a cathedral city you can be handsome I’ll be pretty”) and the disintegrating, echoing closures of “Razzle Dazzle Rose.”

Meanwhile, Alex Smoke ushers in a fruitful year for minimal house, in a world where Larry Heard rather than Duran Duran turned out to be the major influence (and therefore a substantially more pleasing world). His spaces (“Persona”) are thoughtful, his flourishes (“Prima Materia” – Victory At Sea recast in Detroit) generous and his shadows compelling; the stumbling, eternally descending anthill of a bassline of “Never Want To See You Again” finds honest reflection in Smoke’s morose Glaswegian lead vocal.

47. BOOKA SHADE: Movements
Frosty (even in midsummer) Berlin IDM, with lonesome bass plunks genealogically trailing back to Jet Harris, ideally listened to on a Sunday morning in a semi-detached Kingston, libraries and castle relics jostling with nine-lane roads and pseudo-pastoral bus stations at opposing ends without clear linkage. Highlights: the turnaround in “The Birds And The Beats/At The Window,” the harmonic, and therefore emotional, ambiguity throughout “Darko.”

46. PETER, BJORN AND JOHN: Writer’s Block
Here for “Young Folks” and “Amsterdam” as heard in Brighton in the August rain and as fully discussed
elsewhere, as well as for the other examples of truly intelligent indiepop to be found on the record. Mid-eighties again, but in a good, future-permitting, OMD-not-resorting-to-“Locomotion” way.

45. JUNIOR BOYS: So This Is Goodbye
Canada makes its initial modest entry into this list. A very real improvement on Last Exit; Jeremy Greenspan’s vocals now more confident, even if the music is all about the absence of confidence. The “No One Cares” recasting is bold but doesn’t quite come off. However, “In The Morning” seems a genuine breakthrough with its effortless bonding of Frankie Knuckles bassline, Clifford T Ward anguished yet gracious vocal and Kraftwerk neon flotation tank. Nick, you dumb fuck, you should have lived to hear this.

44. GOTAN PROJECT: Lunatico
It may be approaching winebar decadence, but that’s the fault of winebars, and are you turning into Jools Holland and why aren’t you listing the Kode 09 and Spaceape album instead (answer: Spaceape)? But think of the ghost of Grace Jones’ “Libertango” (did she ever exist?) and the substantial socio-political history behind Domingo Cura’s tango universe, and swim in the scarlet sensuality of “Diferente” – but never forget the pain underneath, as they prove they haven’t done by beating Ry Cooder at his own game (their take on/rediscovery of “Paris, Texas”).

43. FUCKPONY: Children Of Love
42. HOLDEN: The Idiots Are Winning

Fuckpony’s IDM is as spacious as Booka Shade’s but lighter and more egregious, and also a far more directly physical experience, as proven by one-hand-in-the-air tracks like “It’s Only Music” (the Scissor Sisters, with added “if only”). Meanwhile, James Holden’s debut album is really a calling card, or a craftily extended CD single (there are two “Quiet Drumming” interludes, and track eight is appropriately entitled “Intentionally Left Blank”) but principal tracks “Lump,” “Flute” and “Idiot” are all very fine indeed; protracted stretches of forgotten vocal murmurs, ruminations of omitted songs, closing in on the ear as though to have a chat.

41. DANIEL JOHNSTON: Lost And Found
His best since Fun; some blanched at the participation of a full backing band – wasn’t it more fun to witness Johnston trying to fit in all the parts himself? – but remarkably it works; song titles include “Rock This Town,” “The Beatles,” “It’s Impossible” and “Everlasting Love” but there are no cover versions; the songs are alternately, and frequently simultaneously, harrowing and hilarious – “Rock Around The Christmas Tree” is akin to Sufjan hiccuping laughing gas butterflies.

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