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Monday, Jan. 27, 2003

Robert Stanton's Favorite Recordings Of 2002

Neumu's Michael Goldberg writes: Just two more lists and we will close the curtain on our "best of 2002" list fest. I hope you've been enjoying the variety of albums that Neumu writers dug during 2002. Today we're featuring the favorites of Neumu contributor Robert Stanton.

1. Lutz Glandien, The 5th Elephant (ReR Megacorp): Glandien's album is atonal and fragmented, full of dark imagery. Within its dissonant sounds, occasionally ferocious rhythmic blasts, and a complex, constantly changing compositional structure, the album's story and motif — having to do with life in some sort of twisted, apocalyptic world — are vividly and excellently fleshed out.

2. Tetsuo Furudate & Zbigniew Karkowski, World As Will II (23five): One wouldn't imagine a musical translation of Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy to be particularly successful, but Furudate and Karkowski have created a strong body of work based upon Schopenhauer's conception of "will," something that is inherently negative and naturally causes conflict and suffering. The music builds a dense tapestry of dissonant horns, warped vocals, and electronic sounds, yielding an uneasy but rich listen.

3. Silex, Alphabet (Vibrant Music): Silex's debut album combines the atypical rhythmic styles launched by the Chain Reaction label with a moodiness and emotional connection only felt on that label's strongest releases.

4. Ghislain Poirier, Sous le Manguier (Intr_Version): Poirier's music evokes an odd sense of calm, something akin to viewing oceanic life. The water is typically still or gentle from a macroscopic view, but when you look more closely, you see sand being scattered everywhere and microscopic-level struggles for life. The music is nearly "filmic" in the ways it conveys imagery and emotions.

5. Apoptose, Blutopfer (Tesco Organisation): Taking the ominous synthesizer washes of his first album, Nordland, Apoptose blends them with the ritualistic drumming of Spanish Easter ceremonies. The result is a strangely appealing work; it feels like being at a political rally in a nationalistic, militaristic country of unknown origins.

6. Murcof, Martes (Leaf): Murcof infuses the rather tired aesthetic of "minimal techno" with something new — classical samples — for a formula that revitalizes the original motifs of muffled, slowed beats and electronic sounds.

7. Codec Scovill, Clinical Imperfections (Nonresponse): This is the soundtrack to the feeling of realizing all that is wrong with this world in its entirety. At times atonal, at times melodic, the record rewards its listeners with subtle euphonious layers and intriguing blends of electronic sounds, not to mention the important philosophies of those involved with Nonresponse records.

8. Loess, S/T (Nonresponse): Loess is able to seamlessly blend the organic with electronic, merging "naturally derived" and digitally generated sounds, along with thoughtful percussive arrangements. One of the more notable beat-based electronic music albums of the year.

9. Shuttle358, Understanding Wildlife (Mille Plateaux): Dan Abrams (and Mille Plateaux) continue to bring their listeners ideologically intriguing experimental music that still manages to excite and please the auditory and visual senses. Abrams' latest work continues the slightly glitch-ambience of his Stream album, while adding traditional sounds of harps, bells, and strings to give the listener a familiar impression, one the eases an effective adjustment from an old, comfortable space to something new and wild, out of the ordinary, experimental.

10. End, Science Fiction (Hymen): With track titles like "Eclipse of Reason," "The Image Economy," and "Society of the Spectacle," Charles Peirce (End) brings together a collection of damning contemporary social criticisms while referencing major works of "postmodern" philosophy and sociology. The song titles alone provide an introduction to thinking about the world differently, perhaps even in a better way. Musically, End's work is also highly admirable, with a unique style of found-sound beats, dense ambient textures, and string montages.

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