2009 Was The Sort of Year That Passed In One Month Increments

Music For Infants: My preliminary field notes indicate that babies, by and large, don’t give a shit about music. However, there are two exceptions in Vashti Bunyan and David Tibet, particularly Sleep Has His House. Weirds me the hell out, it does. Not because Sleep is a bad album, or because it is rightfully considered one of Current 93‘s finest works and this indicates supernatural prescience, but because it’s about a dead father, sung by his living son.

But it soothes the savage beast, and so I worry not.

This past year was one of preparation and rediscovery. Health and Death and yet another triumphant Boredoms experience. Throbbing Gristle, set in motion during my own infancy, played “Discipline” in an old Masonic Temple and drew a circle around what I imagined my youth to be. Will Oldham demonstrated extreme American exceptionalism while millions inexplicably mourned a dead pedophile; Antony showed an overwhelming capacity for international superstardom, hemmed in only by being a beautiful woman who doesn’t look like one.

Some New Things I Loved:

An Imaginary Country; Tim Hecker is a man of genius, but he didn’t tell us that until this gentle slop fell into our laps.

Black Cascade; Yes, Wolves in the Throne Room is a one-note act of staggering inauthenticity according to those who know better than I, but this album has not left my player all year.

Tarot Sport; Shimmering anthems, so simple. Fuck Buttons as “Chariots of Fire”.

Get Color; I love the 80’s industrial-noise axis far more than I ever cared for post-punk, but Health‘s balancing act makes me nostalgic for something I never experienced rather than annoyed by something I never experienced.

The Glass Bead Game; The most soothing recording of the last ten years.

Great Bringer of Night; This three song demo is one of my favorite things this year – whatever blackened doom sludge is, Coffinworm does it just the way I like it.

The Crying Light; Why wasn’t this in every Starbucks in America instead of Elvis Costello or some other useless old fuck?

Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free; Michael Gira is the underground’s best batting coach, grooming a stream of well-oiled players to leave his AA club for other pastures.

Some Other Things:

This year heard a heap of older Boards of Canada, whose oldest demo material has a sheen and guileless charm almost completely lacking from their later work. Same with The Black Dog, whose Radio Scarecrow got very little airplay and certainly didn’t keep any crows away. Explored the backcatalogues of Blackshaw and Fahey, and dang if I still don’t see a common thread beyond “talented guys with guitars”. Om had their moments with a new drummer, but ethno-hippy won the day while losing the war.

This year also heard a ton of metal. Old Death still thrills me. Apparently my bag is whatever you’d call new anthemic ambient black metal-ish stuff. I look forward to new work from Altar of Plagues and Coffinworm; unrelated I hope Mouth of the Architect pulls back from using female (or male, really) vocalists in such pedestrian ways. Back on track, supposedly the new Krallice is very good? Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s new one wasn’t too hot, and can someone please explain to me why Sunn is on everyone’s best list? Dear lord are they ever dull.

Biggest Surprise:

I really enjoy the Burzum album Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. As in “I listened to this album a bunch of times just this week.” Absolutely cheap and shitty, and the last track is a total panflute in the forest weep-fest that brings only tears of laughter. But it’s really quite good, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. Filosofem, however, is an overrated load of honkey-tonk.


A monumental screed against bass cars lands me on WordPress.com’s frontpage, but not one person asks “Is mass murder really the proper response to public incivility?” A reasonable question, if you live alone in the woods and grow your own mycoproteins.


Filed under music

3 responses to “2009 Was The Sort of Year That Passed In One Month Increments

  1. Yeah, Get Color was easily the brightest musical discovery for me this year.

    And it’s a band I should hate, but simply can’t. Sometimes, hipsters are able to do good shit, period.

  2. Adam

    Nice wrap-up, seems we loved quite a few of the same acts this year: Imaginary Country was my number one album hands down, and Glass Bead Game was close behind (Blackshaw was great live). I didn’t love Get Color, but HEALTH was one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen (caught them at ATP in May). Fuck Buttons were there too, but I’m on the fence about them.

    Good stuff.

  3. fuck buttons live was one of the better things i saw last year (at terminal 5, opening for mogwai, who were also thunderous as usual), in part because it was so unexpected to hear improv technoise (like a loveable ant-zen) from kids who looked like they were in high school.

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