Saturday, January 03, 2009


I really thought there was a chance this year. Come fall, Erstwhile hadn't released a Rowe-related disc and even then, while the recordings it had issued were very fine, there were others I liked more. I thought, "2008 might just be the year that no Erst/Rowe disc tops my favorites."

Yeah, no.

As related below, the solo Rowe performance on erstlive gave me no little amount of trouble upon initial exposure and, truth to tell, I still find it a knotty go. But there's so much there. Nuggets of musical richness continue to reveal themselves and I've little doubt that I'll be returning to it many times over the years and that it will continue to provide audio-psychic sustenance. All obvious caveats aside, I'm really not aware of any other musician in this neck of the woods who approaches his/her art with as much consideration and purpose as Rowe. I've no problem whatsoever with those who would rather "just play" and see what emerges, but to my ears, you have an extra layer of meaning and beauty when there are explicit (in the mind of the creator) ideas underlying things. And the Rowe/Sachiko set is due to hit the stands early 2009....crap.

I heard about 200 new recordings in 2008; below are, fwiw, my favorites. A silly enterprise, yes, but it becomes a habit. Robert Kirkpatrick has come up with a very fine way around the problem, at least partially; please check out his blog, a spiral cage. I don't have the time to go into as much detail as he does--wish I did--but it's an excellent approach.

Contrary to fears about the death of whatever we choose to call this thing, I keep hearing a lot of music I enjoy. This may, of course, be a function of increased bleary-earedness on my part but I also think that certain...lessons have sunk in. For the time being, this results in some very strong work. Eventually, to be sure, this will likely result in an amount of stasis and lessons will have to be unlearned. Can't wait to hear that.

So here are the ten things I most enjoyed in 2008, followed by (in alpha order) the twelve that were loved only slightly less, tailed by all the other recordings that I really liked and wished I could play more. Thanks to everyone who keeps sending stuff my way; it's much appreciated.

Keith Rowe - s/t (erstlive)
Olivia Block/Luis Recoder/Sandra Gibson - untitled (sos editions)
Rhys Chatham - Guitar Trio Is My Life! (Table of the Elements)
Esther Venrooy - The Spiral Staircase (entr'acte)
Keith Rowe/Taku Unami - s/t (erstlive)
Asad Qizilbash - Sarod Recital in Peshawar (Sub Rosa)
Lucio Capece/Sergio Merce - Casa (Organized Music from Thessaloniki)
Morton Feldman - Turfan Fragments (Dog with a Bone)
Arek Gulbenkoglu/Adam Sussman - untitled (Rhizome)
Toshimaru Nakamura/English - One Day (Erstwhile)

Joonyong Choi/Chulki Hong/Sachiko M/Otomo Yoshihide - Sweet Cuts Distant Curves (Balloon & Needle)
Alfredo Costa Monteiro - Epicycle (Etude)
Morton Feldman - The Viola In My Life (ECM)
Jeff Gburek - Vicious Circles (A Question of Re-Entry)
Kassel Jaeger - ee[nd] (Mystery Sea)
Annette Krebs/Toshimaru Nakamura - siyu (sos editions)
David Lacey/Paul Vogel - The British Isles (Homefront)
Brendan Murray - Commonwealth (23five)
Stephane Rives - Much Remains to Be Heard (Al Maslakh)
Vanessa Rosetto - Whoreson in the Wilderness (Music Appreciation)
Keith Rowe/Seymour Wright - 3D (w.m.o/r)
Matt Sansom/Rhodri Davies - Live Uncut, vol. 1 (A Question of Re-Entry)

A Contest of Pleasures - Tempestuous (Another Timbre)
Kunehara Akiyama - Obscure Tape Music from Japan, vol. 6 (Omega Point)
AMM + John Butcher - Trinity (Matchless)
Asher - Instability (leerraum)
Asher - Intervals (The Land Of)
Asher - Study for Autumn (con-v)
Asher/Ubeboet - A Map of the Ocean (Field Recordings)
Asher/Ubeboet - Cell Momory (winds measure)
Frederic Blondy/Thomas Lehn - obdo (Another Timbre)
John Butcher - Resonant Spaces (Confront)
John Clair/Jed Shahar - Tennis (Fenimore)
Alfredo Costa Monteiro - centre of mass (Another Timbre)
Angharad Davies/Tisha Mukarji - Endspace (Another TImbre)
Hugh Davies/Adam Bohman/Lee Patterson/Mark Wastell - For Hugh Davies (Another Timbre)
Rhodri Davies/Matt Davis/Bachir Saade - Hum (Another Timbre)
Salvatore Dellaria/Adam Sonderberg - Untitled->Ongoing (no label)
Andrew Deutsch/Stephen Vitiello - Inductive Music (absurd)
John Fahey - The Mill Pond (Important)
Cor Fuhler/Claire Cooper/Axel Dorner - Crax (Conundrom)
Bernhard Gal - Installation/Installationen (Kehrer)
Richard Garet - l'avenir (winds measure)
Richard Garet - Winter (leerraum)
Ryu Hankil/Chulki Hong/Joonyang Choi - 5 Modules V (Manual)
Daniel Jones/David Papapostolou - Levaing Room (Adjacent)
Kostis Kolymis - .accumulated (Organized Music from Thessaloniki)
Robert Kirkpatrick - thaw (hollow earth)
Graham Lambkin/Jason Lescalleet - The Breadwinner (Erstwhile)
Hangjun Lee/Chulki Hong - Expanded Celluloid Extended Phonograph (Balloon & Needle)
Sebastian Lexer/Seymour Wright - blasen (Another Timbre)
Alan Licht/Aki Onda - Everydays (Family Vineyard)
Socrates Martinis - Blanca Estira Nuestro (+) (entr'acte)
Mawja - Studio One (Al Maslakh)
Christopher McFall - City of Almost (sourdine)
Christopher McFall - Solen Words for a Fabled Apparatus (Gears of Sand)
Pali Meursault - un(zero)deux (entr'acte)
Emmanuel Mieville/Eric Cordier - Dispositif: Canal St. Martin (Xing Wu)
Mouths - 3v1/3v2 (absurd)
Toshimaru Nakamura - Dance Music (bottrop boy)
Phill Niblock - Disseminate (Mode)
Oldman - Two Heads Bis Bis (Low Impedance)
David Papapostolou - one and two (Adjacent)
Paper Wings - Ash Field (Black Petal)
Kevin Parks/Joe Foster - ipsi sibi somnia fingunt (no label)
Wolfgang Rihm - Piano Pieces (Neos)
Michael Rodgers - Curtained Moon (Black Petal)
Vanessa Rossetto - Misafridal (Music Appreciation)
Matthieu Saladin - 4'33"/0'/00" (Editions Provisoires)
Howard Stelzer - Bond Inlets (Intransitive)
Joel Stern - objects.masks.props (naturestrip)
Tandem Electrics - Intaglio (RAR)
Valerio Tricoli - Amaryllis (Lalia)
Trio Sowari - Shortcut (Potlatch)
Toshiya Tsunoda - The Argyll Recordings (edition.t)
Birgit Uhler/Ernesto Rodrigues/Carlos Santos - Doppelganger (Creative Sources)
Nikos Veliotis/Anastasio Grivas - Vertical (Low Impedance)
Esther Venrooy - Shift Coordinate Points (entr'acte)
Christian Wolff - Early Piano Music (hat[now]ART)
Seymour Wright - Seymour Wright of Derby (CDR)
Mitsuhiro Yoshimura/Masahiko Okura - Trio (Presquile)
Anna Zaradny - Mauve Circles (Musica Genera)

Happy 2009!

4 comments:

robert said...

Hey Brian,

Thanks for the nod, gotta get that last day done! Anyway, as always it's good to see your selections, we've got enough overlap in taste that anything you like that I've missed is worth paying attention to. There is always a few things I haven't heard (I gotta get that Turfan Fragments disc, it's been on the 'to buy' list for too long) and always a few unexpected things. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Arek Gulbenkoglu/Adam Sussman - I definitely gave that one a few tries, on the stereo and on headphones and just never found much there there. I'll give that one more listen though.

happy new year!

Jon said...

yeah, I haven't gotten into the Arek/Adam disc yet either.

anyway, thanks a lot, Brian! not enough respect for The Breadwinner (especially considering your Pilgrim love), but we've all got our blind spots. :)

permit to be a bit geeky for a second, I did some research on JC and came up with your records of the year since 2001:

2001-Weather Sky
2002-Hands of Caravaggio
2003-Duos for Doris
2004-EL001
2005-EL005
2006-between
2007-The Room
2008-EL007

tough to argue much with any of those, but I'm a little surprised to see how comparatively low you ranked the three all-Tokyo Erst releases:

2001-do-#9
2002-Cosmos-#12
2004-Good Morning Good Night-#6

2009 will see not just the double CD from Keith/Sachiko, but the fourth all-Tokyo Erst, the Ami/Toshi. that probably won't be a hard decision for you, but I'm glad it's not one I'll have to make.

I think that 2008 was the strongest year for Erst in quite some time (since 2003 maybe?), and I expect 2009 to be stronger than 2008, if most or all of the projects that are supposed to emerge actually do.

anyway, thanks a lot to both you and Robert for your year-end writeups, and happy new year to all!

Joe said...

Just a slight correction: My disc with Kevin Parks, ipsi sibi somnia fingunt, is a CD, not a CDR, although it was self-released and is on no label.

Thanks for keeping up with the blog even though you're trying to save time for the book. It's good to know that some people are paying attention and writing about this stuff, even if it's only a handful of people.

May 2009 bring you nothing bad.

Brian Olewnick said...

Hey Joe, corrected, and thanks.