PRINT December 2003

Music: Best of 2003

Christoph Cox


1. David Sylvian, Blemish (Samadhi Sound) The former pop icon reemerges as a convincing experimentalist, wrapping his sumptuous baritone around Derek Bailey’s angular guitar and Christian Fennesz’s electronic mulch.

2. Cul de Sac, Death of the Sun (Strange Attractors Audio House) Boston’s psychedelic quintet slows it down, clears space for turntables and electronics, and offers a gorgeous meditation on loss and memory.

3. Yasunao Tone, Yasunao Tone (Asphodel) Fluxus veteran Tone brings turntablism into the digital realm, producing noisy bursts and spastic stutters that teeter between order and chaos.

4. Keith Rowe, Thomas Lehn, and Marcus Schmickler, Rabbit Run (Erstwhile) A thrilling battle of the machines (guitar, radio, computer) from Erstwhile, the world’s finest purveyor of new improvised music.

5. William Basinski, The River (Raster-noton) The Marcel Proust of modern music, Basinski retrieves melodic fragments from layers of tape hiss, radio static, and mechanical clatter, then lays them out in epic form.

6. So, So (Thrill Jockey) Markus Popp leaves Oval behind and hooks up with sweet-voiced Eriko Toyoda to produce a dazzlingly beautiful collision of lullabies and wanton digitalia.

7. Music from the Once Festival 1961–1966 (New World) Five CDs and rich liner notes document this midwestern font of the post-Cagean experimental tradition.

8. Rechenzentrum, Director’s Cut (Mille Plateaux) Prickly noise, spongy beats, and a collection of abstract videos constitute this CD/DVD set, the most satisfying release yet by Berlin’s hippest electronic trio.

9. Rhythm & Sound, w/ the Artists (Asphodel) Silky voices drift over waterlogged riddims: sublime, minimalist reggae from this clandestine German duo.

10. Satoru Wono, Sonata for Sine Wave and White Noise (Sonore) A bit gimmicky in its take on classical form, but Wono manages to extract from his spare materials some wicked stripped-down funk.