"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Festive downpayment

As a preamble to or downpayment on LMYE's annual Festive 33-1/3 - out shortly in its traditional New Year's Eve slot - & to give them some additional prominence merited by their ambition & scale, these are the four 'projects' that round out our list. 

Besides each selecting 15 releases that meant the most to us over the year, subject as ever to the recognition-spreading/hair-shirted restriction of no more than one per artist/label, we highlight a quartet of works that go beyond the confines of a single album. 

This year's four comprise:

Jim O'Rourke - Steamroom (#38-42)
Longform Editions (the lot...)
Mike Shiflet - Tetracosa (Volumes 1-8)
The Caretaker - Everywhere at the end of time

To be sure, the year brought other deeply worthwhile larger-scale projects. But these four resonated particularly vividly with these ears.

(Full disclosure: while al & jl make the list's core 30 selections between us, the additional 3-1/3 are jl's alone.)

That three of the four are self-releases seems significant. Clearly, very few labels would underwrite a 24-hour release like Shiflet's immense drone epic ('350 unique sound objects categorized & layered such that no two moments are alike') or a 6-album conceptual suite like The Caretaker's exploration & embodying of dementia (though Boomkat have provided vinyl & CD versions of some of the 'stages'...).

This makes Longform's emergence from the Preservation stable all the more notable - & all the more worthy of celebration: a label dedicated to being 'a space of musical discovery for extended, immersive music pieces from around the world' that has already accumulated 16 often glorious pieces since emerging in June.

Longform's uncompromising emphasis on 'deep listening' is also relevant here. Despite their length, each of the quartet repays full immersion - revealing work that can be "truly tender & beautiful" (as one comment on the ravishing Steamroom 40 puts it).

Inevitably with pieces this long, engagement ebbs & flows. Some moments, some avenues are - naturally - more successful than others. Perhaps this puts it in the territory of Eno-esque ambience, "as ignorable as it is interesting". 

But this classification doesn't feel quite right. This is all music that demands, & in turn richly services, the fullest of attention...

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

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