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MUSIC 2020: a cyberspace odyssey - recommended streams & favorite downloads

Back in March/April I was still playing with the thought of ranking my favorite live streams, but for several reasons I soon gave up on that. Even though I've seen some great live stream performances, it is just not the same as being there in the flesh, and the formats and possibilities in which artists do them are just as different and unfair to compare as my personal attention span while watching stuff happening on the screen.

Some bands are low-fi broadcasting from their rehearsal rooms or just doing unplugged sessions from their kitchen, others have high quality production values with multiple cameras and shit, others just have one angle, while they are playing in empty concert venues.

Many live streams aren't really live, but prepared recordings. Which is all fine, but just makes it impossible to put them in a list. And then I also happened to stumble over some good stuff, which I couldn't include, because I don't remember the artist's name...
So here's just a couple of recommendations of streams, which are still available online right now!

And while we're already here in the internet, below that this post also contains my TOP 10 downloads, as in: music releases of all shapes and sizes, which where mainly or even exclusively available in digital form.

ORANSSI PAZUZU performs "Mestarin Kynsi"

One of the best live bands in metal right now playing one of the best metal albums of the year in full. Consequently all that could go wrong in this stream was the production, but hell no: Sound, direction, effects and camera work (all shifting a little from track to track) are almost ridiculously awesome, matching the flawless performance of the Finnish psychedelic black metal masters. What a maelstrom!

ELECTRIC MOON live at Vortex Surfer Musikclub Siegen

This was one of those live streams where the band just plays on the stage of an empty live club with a couple of cameras filming. This concept often feels sad, especially when the musicians are used to rock in energetic exchange with huge crowds.
Luckily jam-based krautrock like Electric Moon is among those styles of music which lend themselves to session situations with just the performers on their own anyway. With a special four-piece lineup due to pandemic seperation from their regular drummer, half of the band had never actually played together before, which gives this show an extra boost of adventurous exploration.

VILE CREATURE performs "Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!" 

This duo (with guest musicians) is long overdue to receive some praise here, not only because their sludgy doom is the shit, but also because they don't take themselves too serious in a refreshing way. When this full performance of their recent album went live, you could enjoy it as a full music club simulation by choosing between multiple camera angles. Those included a balcony view, the merch booth, backstage (cuddling with cats) and most hilariously "tall guy in front of you", which basically meant there was one guy filming the band from the empty floor and another dude standing behind him to film his back for the whole show. Apart from some canned applause the still available master cut doesn't include all those shenanigans, but it's still one of my favorite streams I've seen this year.

CENTRE EL MUUSA - sunrise concert in Aidu windmill park

So far I haven't seen any band taking social distancing further than Estonian krautrockers Centre El Muusa on this recently released live video, which shows them jamming it out from darkness to dawn in the giant scenery of a wind energy park. Cut with drone views of the environment this video is pretty breathtaking, which makes it easy for me to forgive that some passages of the music are - while not bad at all - a bit too one-dimensional for my taste.

AMANDA PALMER live in Hawke's Bay, Aotearoa NZ

Not as thematically heavy as her ginormous "There Will Be No Intermission" programme, this show found Amanda Palmer in a different place. Quite literally indeed, since after being stranded there during lockdown, she spend most of the year in New Zealand, which is probably one of the safest places to be during pandemic times. So this stream from an opera house in November actually features a real, even maskless audience. And of course this a brilliant, heartfelt and humorous tearjerker. To say it with one of her finest songs: It's a ride.

Chaos Theory livestream music show feat. ÅRABROT, JO QUAIL and COMA WALL

You want it even more talkative between songs than Amanda Palmer? Well, this stream was basically an interview show with three groups / artists and prepared clips of special acoustic quarantine performances.
If you don't have two hours of time on your hands you can skip over all the other stuff though and just enjoy the music, which is quite a left-field, but above all extremely beautiful and cohesive gathering. Be it 
Årabrot with their dramatic post punk gothic country charme, cellist Jo Quail going fully classical, yet remaining as exciting as ever, or the enchanting vocal harmonies in the doomy grunge of the revived Coma Wall (aka the acoustic side of Undersmile) - this is all amazing stuff reminding me of why I fucking love music. 

ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF - "All Thoughts Fly" release concert in Örgryte New Church

"All Thoughts Fly" is a special, magical album and seeing it played live in the church and on the pipe organ of its recording adds another dimension to it. It's quite interesting to realize how much this is actually a band performance, even though everyone's just playing (or processing the sounds of) that one huge instrument. Of all streams here (except the following of course) I have watched this one by far the most. Despite two of the three cameras showing almost no perceptible action. Mighty!

DRUTURUM - "Druturum VI: Tightrope Walkers on the Junction of Memory, Dream and Oblivion"

Yes! Despite all obstacles of this year DruturuM is finally releasing a new live session on December 26th.
Of course I'm going write a post entirely devoted to this one later, but forgive me that I also have to plug it here! If you like Anna von Hausswolff, Earth, psychedelic rock and doomjazz, but performed in a very stripped-down fashion, including the use of toy instruments and a pinch of dilettantism mixed with great emotions, we've got you covered. Definitely our most calm and introspective work so far and we're quite proud of it. (Watch a trailer HERE!)


  1. An early favorite from the distant "before times" (=February) this collection of  four avant-garde duet improvisations by Toby Driver (Kayo Dot) and Nick Hudson (The Academy Of Sun) is a true testament to the musical chemistry of these musicians and never ceased  to mesmerize me as a calming yet still stirring companion through all the troubled times this year had to offer. Piano, guitar and vocals formed to a piece of art that has a good place on Bandcamp, but would rightfully deserve to be pressed on vinyl by a label like Denovali or RareNoiseRecords. 

  2. Always such a shame what phenomenal shows you miss at every Roadburn! This 2019 live recording from the mighty Old Man Gloom and their alter ego Zozobra is absolutely killing it, as the hardcore/sludge/doom apes Aaron Turner, Nate Newton, Stephen Brodsky and Santos Montano were totally levelling the 013 venue to the ground. Brutal and punishing, but also quite versatile and just plain fucking fun, this makes being screamed and punched in the face an addictive joy.   

  3. I must admit that I haven't really felt a great interest in the physical releases of Archive's 25th anniversary year yet. Which probably is a little ungrateful from my side, given that the band gave us this free download for a couple of weeks in February/March. It's a high-quality compilation of a whopping twenty live recordings, including several long epics like "Lights", "Again", Controlling Crowds" and "Dangervisit". Enormous!

  4. The "high priestess of psychedelic Arabic Jazz", composer / trumpet and horn player Yazz Ahmed released a couple of Bandcamp Friday things, among which this live recording from the summer of 2018, including tunes from "La Saboteuse" and "Polyhymnia" is my clear favorite. One of the most important contemporary jazz fusion artists killing it with a phenomenal quintet. What more do I have to say?

  5. DOOLHOF - Doolhof

    Yet another Roadburn live album, probably the hardest release to listen to on this list - and without a doubt the one with the laziest cover artwork. After this experimental electronic ambient and drone plus vocal weirdness trio of Dennis Tyfus, Will Brooks (Dälek) and once again Aaron Turner (Sumac, Old Man Gloom) had cleared the audience at Roadburn 2019, I knew that I wanted to re-experience their performance as a live album. Finally here it is and it's fantastic unsettling shit! 

  6. LINGUA IGNOTA - various tracks / The Caligula Demos

    Kristin Hayter was also busy unleashing several Bandcamp Friday tracks, and as always it's all emotionally hard-hitting material. From a new recording of her known Dolly Parton cover "Jolene" over her deconstructions of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Eminem's "Kim" to her own mighty "O Ruthless Great Divine Director" and the very uncomfortable experimental collage "Failed Forest // Golden Grid" - what Lingua Ignota touches is great oppressive and painful art.

    And of course shortly after I had written this paragraph there was the final Bandcamp Friday of 2020 and the artist not only shared one more track, but twelve of those, being "The Caligula Demos" whech led to the later album, "fragments, motifs, repetition, cuts, warts and all". Similar but also quite distinct from what it became later, this material is already extremely fascinating and mesmerizing on its own.

  7. I know, I know, I don't have that new Napalm Death album yet, even though what I've heard from it so far is awesome. But speaking of awesome, ND bassist Shane Embury's experimental electronic ambient/industrial solo project Dark Sky Burial more than makes up for this shortage in my collection with a debut album overflowing with creative eclecticism. Definitely among the most fitting soundtracks to the overall mood of this year.

  8. The only reason this is not higher up in this list is the lack of quantity, as "Staying Power" is just one single song with a regular four minutes length. But boy, what a song it is!
    Well, it is a previously unreleased track from the "On Dark Horses" sessions, and just like everything on that album Emma Ruth Rundle's performance on voice and guitar is deeply moving, strong and vulnerable in her unique beautiful way.

  9. NITELIGHT - Nitelight plays: Death's Symbolic / Zombie Ritual

    Yeah, what this Italian duo does is pretty much on the nose and it sounds exactly like the best imaginable version of what the cover artwork promises. Chuck Schuldiner goes instrumental synthwave, as Nitelight cover the whole "Symbolic" album and in translating it into a totally different musical language prove once again, just how good these compositions are.

  10. Unsurpringly if you dig this you also can't possibly say no to the single Helloween bonus track "Zombie Ritual", which sees the "Scream Bloody Gore" Death classic get the same irresistable Carpenter Brut style danceable makeover.

  11. ESOCTRILIHUM - F'htansg

    Speaking of Helloweeen, that was also the occasion for French avant-garde black metal working animal Asthâghul aka Esoctrilihum to drop this three-track EP.
    And just like on his full albums so much is happening during the (in this case) twenty minutes that you're tricked into thinking the actual playing time is much longer. I called this the "Altars Of Madness" effect - which is also a good stylistic reference, especially for the final track "Lugalugkuh". All in all "F`htansg" is a great nice little demonic black/death inferno and probably a good entry point into the cosmos of this project. 

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