Five days of work and a few extracurricular detours coupled with short writing time and even shorter listening time—particularly when it comes to new releases—deepens my fear that I won’t be able to pen reviews fast enough to comprehensively cover every 2012 A-album I’ve encountered in time for a year-end best-of. This means I’ll spend a good bit of the beginning of 2013 playing catch-up as I attempt to justify each inclusion, and revising the list as other A-albums I misjudged or missed completely catch my ear.
FLYING LOTUS – Until the Quiet Comes (Warp): Stripped-down trip-hop space-jazz dubstep-dabbling electro-voodoo eargasmic euphoria—or whatever other effusive combination of aural descriptors you think signifies. Steve Ellison’s fourth plays up contrasts more than Cosmogramma’s knack for auditory overload: deep bass hums underscore runaway space-synth atmospherics, light drum loop pitter-patter bubbles but never bursts, guest appearances so subtle you’ll triple-check the liner notes. And the consistent tempo confused for seamless transitions last time is replaced with a soft overture followed by something akin to a musically narrative arc. At the moment I prefer this to Cosmogramma—probably for the same reason I prefer Four Tet to Skrillex. One’s got a sound, the other’s got sound. A shit ton of it, to boot. A MINUS
FOUR TET – Pink (Text): More primitive than his earlier material and makes sense considering they’re vinyl-only B-sides, though Kieran Hebden could’ve trimmed the fat of this eight-cut, just-over-an-hour electric slide by, say, fifteen minutes? You know, to match the running time of Rounds or Everything Ecstatic? I liked his lushness back then, came around to the beats, and even more so admired his concision. He might’ve had marathon cuts in the past, but the game here is all long. My guess is it’s a demonstration in how to do it better than The Field. If your premise is repetition and you wanna be Neu!—and why would you want to?—make sure your ten-minute workouts morph over time, not static arpeggios. Fatal flaw: at the end of a marathon you dissolve, at worst collapse, don’t go out gracefully. The only person who gives a shit you’ve reached the end is you—or in this case, an audience relieved they’ve cleared your fifth over-eight-minutes hurdle. B PLUS