Friday Endorsements 1.3.14
It’s the time of the year when we present the first endorsements of the year, but it’s sorta awkward cause some of these endorsements were from last year and some of them are from this year and maybe even some are from next year so it’s like “whaaa?”
Welcome to endorsements! We hope you have an excellent stay…
I wish I had much of anything I could tell you about this woman but I was barely able to figure out even how to spell her name just now. I’m stranded in the woods of Michigan, holding my phone up in the snow. My bfgf Booters introduced me to this incredible woman on the drive last night, hallelujah. Candi Staton has such an incredible soul voice. Wow! Go seek her stuff out. I have no idea why she’s not more well-known. Etta James, Janis Joplin, The Detroit Cobras, Janelle Monae, mixed together with many others and even better. I look forward to many future listens.
2013 Subject, or Obligatory Mind Vomit Into the Public Sphere, or Void Music
I’ve been poorly pursuing a plan to write some thoughts about the huge amount of challenging and exciting music I’ve been digging on this past year, much of it I never took the time to officially endorse here. And then after a while I also thought, “who wants to read that ponderous blather?!”
In addition to your disdain for lengthy tomes written in cyberspace, you may also rightly hate the trend of assembling lists that attempt to distill an arbitrary amount of time down to Our Official most-fine collection of artistic objects. I’m gonna do it anyway.
Double infraction! Here’s why:
I think that if we treat any artistic medium as a giant mystery to be investigated and applied practically to improve our lot and that of others, life can take on the character of an adventure. There are, in most of our lives due to technology, limitless potential ways in which these experiences might take shape - a billion different routes to a more complicated or dense worldview. If this is true, it seems crucial that those of us who wish to operate in this way actively share our experiences and thoughts about these experiences with other adventurers to the outer reaches. Both in order to signal what we see symbolically so that we can use that information for future choices, and also as a way of aligning with simpatico wavelengths that might share a desire to maybe see a different network made reality. Working Harder Together brings gravity to new and useful operating principles, eh?
Back in 2011, I wrote about a trend I was sensing in the music I loved which had to do with the Apocalypse archetype. The emotional confrontation with said archetype was expressed in anxiety, despair, longing, and sometimes hysterical “fuck it I don’t care let’s dance” denial. It was a document of a large-scale struggle with the anticipation of transformation, and obviously a reflection of my own inner state.
Forgive me if you find this sentiment pessimistic, but as far as I can see at the beginning of 2014, the world most of us in the West thought we lived in ended quite some time ago. What’s left are those folks trapped in a tight loop of illusory play-and-replay, those that involuntarily suffer daily to sustain this projection with no way out and no energy to dedicate to anything but survival and fear, and those that are learning to see and accept this wildly chaotic and destructive reality and make choices that reflect a new world. The human numbers represented in these three categories sharply declines from former to latter, as has been the case repeatedly throughout history. Comfortable, pleasurable, and safe patterns don’t tend to be questioned in the animal kingdom until the animal’s life is directly threatened. This is an observation Machiavellian types have been exploiting since well before Machiavelli.
Yes, it is painful to see that the majority of humanity that has to this point been the heir of manufactured “good times” will not feel compelled to break from the tape loop orchestra swells of Western Imperialism until much greater suffering meets them where they live. I feel confident that this suffering with come along. However, if the music I encountered this past year is an indicator of where the minds, hearts, and bodies of the more sensitive pattern recognizers of this deeply troubled world lie, then I have reason to be joyful.
My sense of joy isn’t for the salvation of this world. This world will maintain, end, rebuild, maintain as it repeatedly has throughout history. Who are we to moralize about that? Suffering is bound to the evolutionary process, it seems, which continues to flow upstream with tenacity. This doesn’t mean we can’t work to break from the repeating kind of suffering, if we so choose.
I feel joyful because I am beginning to recognize the principles of a new world reflected to me in other people. Precious few they are, but crystal clear is their signal. New neural pathways are being strengthened day by day. I can still vividly envision the fake stability of this world – the governments, the economy, the scientific priesthood – crumbling around us tomorrow. Every living creature on this planet will be making choices as this happens. Most choices will reflect the terror-clamor for survival, but other choices will surely reflect a radically different world that has to this point been completely fuzzed out by surrounding noise. The inhabitants of this radically different world pursue Understanding and not control.
I think I’m coming to realize that the birth of new worlds don’t usually involve a large-scale behavioral change in the population, i.e. a conscious revolution of the populace. Instead a new world is canalized in the choices and activity of those few and far between that “don’t fit” with the normal patterns of behavior of the world in which they exist, often well before any large scale exterior impact takes place! It’s the outer reaches of an evolutionary bell curve – those incongruous genetic freaks that “just happen” to be perfectly equipped for an “unforeseen change”.
I don’t know how this developing future new world will unfold, or on what plane of reality, but I am increasingly sensing the presence of those humans who are already participating in it. Ya freaks! What’re you building in there? Care to share?
A few years ago, I was experiencing a lot of anxiety over any number of these large-scale impending disasters that could visit us at any time. I was stuck between worlds, too afraid to live in either. Those disasters have by no means left their “only a matter of time” status. However, today I feel determined and excited to charge into the void and continue reading information, signaling, and making choices that reflect a pattern that lies outside of the controlled and maintained operating system into which I was born. Experiment! Adventure! I need your help, of course, should you feel as I feel.
As long as we have ears with which to touch, music will be integral to this journey.
In the above spirit, this list of albums is shorthand for some of the best wrestling matches* I have had with an art medium in quite some time, arbitrarily categorized by “the year 2013”, and capped at 30 musical objects hierarchically organized based on the complexity of my personal experiences engaged with them.
I want to sincerely thank the people who made this music for their work. It has already become a part of my own work, my own life, shaking loose my habits. I want to speak with you personally, friend reading here, about this music. I want to have new experiences with you and this music at the same time! I hope this music gives you just as many gifts as it has given me, or more. But if any of it gives you more, you’d better tell me about it, for real.
*Note: I mean wrestling as in WRASTLIN’. You know WRASTLIN’? It’s that thing where you’re playing with your friends and learnin’ life lessons. ‘Scool.
1) The Electric Lady – Janelle Monae
2) Bish Bosch – Scott Walker
3) R Plus Seven – Oneohtrix Point Never
4) Field of Reeds – These New Puritans
5) Anxiety – Autre Ne Veut
6) Virgins – Tim Hecker
7) The Next Day – David Bowie
8) Music For Private Ensemble – Sean McCann
9) Shaking the Habitual – The Knife
10) The Terror – The Flaming Lips
11) Loud City Song – Julia Holter
12) Lousy With Sylvianbriar – of Montreal
13) &&&&& - Arca
14) Beyonce (The Visual Album) – Beyonce
15) The Bones of What You Believe – Chvrches
16) Mixtap3 – 18+
17) Engravings – Forest Swords
18) Coin Coin Volume 2: Mississippi Moonchile – Matana Roberts
19) Double Cup – DJ Rashad
20) …Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age
21) Settle – Disclosure
22) Push the Sky Away – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
23) Big Wheel and Others – Cass McCombs
24) Corsicana Lemonade – White Denim
25) Reflektor – Arcade Fire
26) New History Warfare Vol.3: To See More Light – Colin Stetson
27) Yeezus – Kanye West
28) The Redeemer – Dean Blunt
29) World Music – Ahnnu
30) Government Plates – Death Grips
Mark’s 2013 Music
Another year done, another whole bunch of music that was totally great. If people tell you that today’s music ain’t got the same soul, they’re not looking in the right places. Or their soul lost it. A lot of this music I’ve written about in the Endorsements before, so I’m sparing the blurbs. Do expect soon, however (if you care), a diatribe on why Beyoncé is the best. In a year where it became abundantly clear in many ways that racism, sexism and intolerance are obvious and systemic, and where a white pop starlet made meat of black female bodies in front of the world, I feel it is important to note that the two best records were by black women feminists embracing self, sex and otherness.
Obviously by “best” I mean my favorite. Here’s my list. 13 for ‘13. There’s a bunch more good shit I don’t mention here. Tell me what you loved.
Here’s to more excellent music in the new year.
1. Beyoncé - Beyoncé
2. Janelle Monáe - The Electric Lady
3. Disclosure - Settle
4. Queens Of The Stone Age - …Like Clockwork
5. London Grammar - If You Wait
6. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
7. Rhye - Woman
8. SZA - See.SZA.Run / S (EPs)
9. Kelela - Cut 4 Me
10. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety
11. Jamie Lidell - Jamie Lidell
12. Of Montreal - Lousy With Sylvianbriar
13. Drake - Nothing Was The Same