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2016-12-10

MUSIC 2016: top EPs, live recordings and various other stuff



I've already covered my favorite albums and live shows of this year. But what about EPs, split releases, live recordings? Those - as well as some other categories - follow here in the second part of my music retrospect 2016:


EP TOP 5:



  1. ZEAL AND ARDOR - Devil Is Fine
    Chain gang gospel and blues meets black metal meets electronica and - hold your breath! - musical clock, as the African slaves in North America rebel in the name of Satan. So the riverbed runs red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy. Sounds as reasonable as a film plot by The Asylum? Well, it really works on this EP, which joyfully bends and tears down all genre boundaries.
  2. VOIVOD - Post Society
    Snake, Chewy, Rocky and Away at the top of their game. More than half of this CD is also featured on their split singles with At The Gates, Napalm Death and Entombed A.D., but that doesn't make this EP obsolete. These four songs (plus the Hawkwind cover "Silver Machine") truly belong to the best material the Canadians have ever recorded.
  3. MYRKUR - Mausoleum
    Myrkur interprets songs from her black metal debut album plus some new material including a Bathory cover in one of the most sensitive live settings imaginable. Inside the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, where every cough in the small audience could destroy the recording, her mystical voice is only accompanied by piano, acoustic guitar and a handful singers of the Norwegian Girls Choir. A magical record, fair and beautiful.
  4. WATCHTOWER - Concepts Of Math: Book One
    Remember the wait for Guns'n'Roses' infamous "Chinese Democracy"? Fans of late 80s prog metal pioneers Watchtower could only laugh bitterly about those in the end only fifteen years. But now they have finally released an EP with new material and it's a highly diverting mindfuck fest of ultra-technical borderline-insane prog thrash. Hopefully "Book Two" comes earlier than 2043!
  5. DER BLUTHARSCH AND THE INFINITE CHURCH OF THE LEADING HAND - Sucht & Ordung
    These three untitled tracks, recorded live in the studio while rehearsing for actual shows, really capture the intoxicating psychedelic pull of Der Blutharsch And The Ridiculously Long Name, as I had witnessed it at this year's Roadburn, each putting its own twist on the genre and not shying away from some surprisingly harsh parts.







TOP 7": 

 


CHELSEA WOLFE - Hypnos / Flame
The queen of the new goth church follows last year's album "Abbys" with a seven inch of two rather quiet non-album tracks from the same sessions. The packaging includes a lyric sheet and as a bonus you get the digital version with three demo versions of familiar songs. Value for money - and oh so mesmerizing.




TOP 10":

 



WANG WEN - In Course Of The Miraculous
Well, there are no other 10" records in the race this year. But this amazing package (including a photo book, four records and a DVD of a unique free ambient performance on a flooded film set) surely deserves to be featured here. My most luxurious - and probably also music-nerdiest - purchase of the year.




Split TOP 3:

 


  1. CAMEL DRIVER / MOEWN - Rites Of Passage /  Aestus
    Northern german instrumental music rules supreme on this advanced lesson in how to do a split release. Conceptually held together by the mirrored cover artwork and matching intros / outros the progressive desert rock of Camel Driver from Kiel and the sludgy post metal of Hamburg's Moewn work together perfectly.
  2.  BONE MAN / BURN PILOT - Psychedelic Sellout
    Double win for Pink Tank Records in this category. The cover artwork / concept (and especially the packaging of the "Heavy Cash Rock Edition") of this strictly commercial stoner rock split is totally hilarious. With six heterogeneous tracks including Bone Man covering Burn Pilot and the other way around you can't complain about the music either.

  3. CULT OF LUNA / THE OLD WIND - Råångest
    Swedish double pack of sludgy post metal (which yes is a term I just used a few lines above for Moewn - hey, I can't make up something new for everything), including the Amebix cover "Last Will And Testament". This beautiful 12" could be a little bit longer, but all in all it's a well rounded release.




TOP soundtrack / film score:



ENNIO MORRICONE / VARIOUS - The Hateful Eight
Well, another case of a category, where I don't have that much contestants. But let me ignore this and the weak points in the manufacturing of this vinyl edition, because this first full original Morricone score for a Tarantino movie can't be ignored here. Such a perfect horror soundtrack! An Oscar well deserved.




Live recording TOP 3:

 


  1. AYREON - The Theater Equation
    Ayreon's "The Human Equation" is probably my favorite rock opera concept album of all time, and I wish I could have been there, when Arjen Lucassen's masterpiece was brought to life in a dutch theater with a shitload of musicians, choir and original singers like James LaBrie and Devon Graves (or stellar replacements like Anneke Van Giersbergen). Luckily there is this document of the event. Even though the filming of the video isn't by far as professional as it should be, "The Theater Equation" is still highly entertaining. The audio recording (and thus the included CD version) is absolutely flawless.
  2. KATE BUSH - Before The Dawn
    Another theater-related live release is this huge album in three acts, which has been recorded 2014 during the three week Hammersmith Apollo residency of Kate Bush in London. The performance, which interweaved her classics and newer songs with acting passages surprisingly isn't available on DVD, but is rather presented as a kind of radio play with the audience mostly muted. A good decision, allowing the whole magic to breathe properly.
  3. AGUSA - Katarsis
    Psychedelic retroprog masterclass with Agusa, who perform just two songs, one a regular and the other a bonus track from their debut "Högtid". The jam is strong in these instrumentals, so the live versions are six and fourteen minutes longer than the studio recordings. As always the Swedish band's music is nothing but pure blissful  joy.




TOP download (digital only):

 


LISERSTILLE - Midnight Wave
The adventurous avant-garde Liserstille are still my favorite band from Denmark, in fact even more so after this live recording, which would also be in my live TOP 3, if I hadn't outsourced it to this "download" category. It is only available in digital form and can also be viewed in its full glory of almost two hours on Youtube.




TOP Tape:




Honestly I still haven't freed the tape from its meteor rubber shell. Luckily it came with a download. Only three tracks, but the astro sludge of Menhir kills!

I only bought two new cassettes this year, so let there also be a shoutout to their fellow Dutchmen Dead Neanderthals, who released their great and hilarious free jazz excess "Live At Roadburn 2016" (which almost made it both into my TOP festival concerts and TOP live recordings) on tape!




TOP top categories you hopefully don't miss:

 

  • top 12" singles
    I only bought one, and there will be enough reason to write about Dool  in 2017 anyway.
  • top flexi discs
    Flexis don't stand for quality. And my copy of Subrosa's "Key Of The Eidolon" is just too bad, so I prefer to stream the song.
  • biggest rediscovery
    Had this category in previous end-of-year reviews, but can't think of someth... well, actually there's Laibach's "Kapital", which I finally bought in all versions. --> See on my tumblr.
  • top re-issues / represses
    Even though I don't do all those gigantic 20 LP luxury box-sets which are blocking the pressing plants, there are certainly some records worth to be mentioned, like Spock's Beard "Snow", Cirith Ungol's "Paradise Lost", some jazz classics or just recently Tori Amos and Dead Can Dance.
  •  top flea market / second hand record
    That could actually be interesting. Maybe next year or as a general standalone post.
  • most cringy second hand trash
    I mean, like this shit. Same as above. 
  • best packaging, most beautiful cover etc.
    No, I just can't decide...
  • anything not strictly music-related
    This was 2016. Didn't everything out of music suck balls as fuck? 

 

 

 

DISAPPOINTMENTS 2016:


Clashes!

I sold my ticket for King Crimson, because the doom lord granted me the wish of Subrosa touring with Sinistro on the very same day. I don't regret my decision, but the clash still annoys me.

I've been complaining for years now about the almighty Voivod not visiting Northern Germany on their tours. And now they finally came to Hamburg again, but only as support of Entombed A.D. - and also on the same day as the possibly strongest tour package of the year with Mono, Alcest and pg.lost. So I had to pass. Don't regret that one either.

And then there was the Hell Over Hammaburg Festival with Sulphur Aeon, , Ram and Skepicism, which I couldn't visit, because I couldn't bring myself to sell my first row ticket for Dream Theater. My bad.

Which brings me to the overblown "The Astonishing" album, which I reviewed pretty mildly back in February. And I still think that most songs on each own are good or have at least potential. But the size of it all and the cringeworthy story have detained me from listening to it for half a year now. I won't be at the "Images & Words" anniversary tour (too expensive and a seated concert again), but I sincerely hope Dream Theater will recover in the process.





ANTICIPATIONS / HOPES 2017:

Well, there are several things I'm already really excited about and looking forwards to. Only I feel like I don't want to jinx any of them now, so there's no outlook here this time.

But one thing in general, 2017: Please, don't be an asshole like 2016! Just think for one moment that most of the people born in this millenium probably already think that all this bullshit everywhere is normal! This is not normal!

Also, take less music legends for fuck's sake! Goes for actors and the last decent politicians as well. You can't reap all the good ones, while the fate of all mankind I see is in the hands of fools.

Disagree? Then fuck you already, 2017!


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