PRINT December 2005

Music: Best of 2005

Christoph Cox

1 MÄRZ, WIR SIND HIER (KARAOKE KALK) Berliners Ekkehard Ehlers and Albrecht Kunze produce a record of lush pop informed by their roots in electronic minimalism revealing, along the way, the link between lap steels and laptops.

2 SUSAN HOWE & DAVID GRUBBS, THIEFTH (BLUE CHOPSTICKS) A lovely collaboration between sonic experimentalist David Grubbs and poet Susan Howe. Howe’s paratactic evocations of Henry David Thoreau’s and Herman Melville’s New England are enveloped, sliced, and stuttered by Grubbs’s acoustic and electronic composition.

3 CHRISTOF MIGONE, CHRISTOF MIGONE—SOUND VOICE PERFORM (ERRANT BODIES PRESS WITH GROUND FAULT RECORDINGS) A splendid survey of audio work by this Canadian artist. In the spirit of Antonin Artaud, Dada, Fluxus, and sound poetry, Migone playfully and insightfully explores the sonics of bodily orifices and surfaces.

4 THE RELAY PROJECT (WWW.THERELAYPROJECT.COM) The first issue of this marvelous new semiannual Brooklynbased audio magazine, edited by Rebecca Gates and Lucy Raven, features a chat with retired sideshow performers, a pathetic found love letter, goofy improvised poems, and interviews with Alvin Lucier and Merce Cunningham.

5 MIMEO, LIFTING CONCRETE LIGHTLY (SERPENTINE GALLERY) The best release yet by this supergroup of electronic improvisers, this three-CD set documents a thoroughly engaging 2003 performance at London’s Serpentine Gallery. Using all manner of equipment, MIMEO (Music in Movement Electronic Orchestra) weave a dense tapestry of digital noise, analog sweeps, stray melodies, vocal chatter, and radio static.

6 DJ ATARI, REASONER PODCAST 2: REASONABLE BAILE FUNK (REASONER.EXPERIENCETHIS.ORG/ARCHIVES/309) Born in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro, Baile funk revives the joyfully combative spirit of early hip-hop. This wicked collection richly showcases its samba-soaked beats, rudimentary samples of ’80s pop, and lyrics that square the rounded contours of Brazilian Portuguese.

7 THE LAPPETITES, BEFORE THE LIBRETTO (QUECKSILBER) A stunning debut by this international, cross-generational quartet of female laptoppers, led by Kaffe Matthews. By turns ferociously noisy and superbly delicate.

8 KONONO NO. 1, CONGOTRONICS (CRAMMED) Congolese trance music sung through megaphones and played with scrap percussion and thumb pianos amplified by salvaged auto parts. Astonishing.

9 LIGHTNING BOLT, HYPERMAGIC MOUNTAIN (LOAD RECORDS) With the barest of means, this bass-and-drums duo from Providence spills forth everything anyone ever wanted from punk rock and heavy metal: speed, power, manic energy, and bliss.

10 VLADISLAV DELAY, THE FOUR QUARTERS (HUUME) Electronica is a wasteland these days, but on this disc, Finnish producer Vladislav Delay wanders through the wreckage building lovely assemblages with shards of rumbling bass, stretches of mangled beats, and snippets of tattered melody.

Christoph Cox is professor of philosophy at Hampshire College and coeditor of Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum, 2004).