Published Dec 29, 2008To tide us over while we indulge in the holiday spirit gorging on stuffing and egg nog, we asked a bunch of our contributors to tell us their thoughts on 2008, as well as their favourite records that helped make it a memorable year. Dimitri Nasrallah looked back on his year of counting BPMs:
We're always being told just how badly the music industry is doing and yet in 2008 it seemed like there was more music than ever to wade through. Certainly creativity hasn't taken a hit, even though many labels, distributors and brick-and-mortar shops are falling apart. From this vantage point, the very concept of popularity itself has changed. Taste has branched off in a hundred different directions and niche communities are now key. Your parents' music critic, who writes for daily newspapers and who claims authority over every record that passes through his hands is - for my money (or lack thereof) - a relic now. New music is back to being a specialist's game. In the digital age, you can always find someone who knows more than you do. That's refreshing.
And so I offer up a niche list, useful to anyone who happens to be interested in the more forward-thinking ends of electronic music, or anyone who's curious to check out some of the records that spent a lot of time in my ears. The list below is a reflection of purely personal taste and by no means comprehensive or even balanced; I don't care for the French Touch or the new beefed-up electro, trance euphoria or big-room house, and I've become increasingly cynical as the year's passed about the proliferation of dubstep. With rare exception, I don't really like pop mixed in with my techno. When it comes to personal tastes, I'm still a stickler for electronic music's original purity: keep it new, keep it transcendental, be suspicious of anyone who relies too heavily on the past. The ten albums here all muster something of that ambition that made me remember why I listen to this music in the first place.
1. The Mole As High as the Sky (Wagon Repair)
A golden and utterly unclassifiable debut from BC's Colin de la Plante, who invests some 40 years worth of samples into some of the most infectious dance music of the year.
2. Lindstrom Where You Go I Go Too (Smalltown Supersound)
The new mantra of Scandinavian space disco, this album takes some getting used to but by the time you manage to wrap your head around Lindstrom's personal vision, you are already under his spell.
3. Shed Shedding the Past (Ostgut Ton)
In a year when so much music looked backward for inspiration, Berlin's Shed was among the few who succeeded in imagining what the future of techno could look like.
4. Dave Aju Open Wide (Circus Company)
An entire album made from the sounds of a mouth, and what an eclectic mouth it is.
5. Deepchord Vantage Isle (Echospace)
This CD collection of classic twelve-inches is a must for anyone who's looking for the next wave of Chain Reaction-style dub techno, only this time it comes from Detroit.
6. Stefan Goldmann The Transitory State (Macro)
Along with Shed, Goldmann is one of the new Berlin techno producers to watch in the next while.
7. Ricardo Villalobos Vasco (Perlon)
A master working at the top of his game, Vasco is one of the most impressively architectural slabs of techno composition to come out of 2008.
8. Thomas Brinkmann When Horses Die (Max Ernst)
The most surprising shift in direction this year came from the previously concept-bound Thomas Brinkmann, who turned in an album of murder ballads that landed him somewhere in between Trent Reznor and Nick Cave.
9. Move D & Benjamin Brunn Songs from the Beehive (Smallville)
This is techno for those who don't like to dance: spacious, slow-moving and utterly hypnotic for late-night listeners.
10. Alva Noto Unitxt (Raster-Noton)
Another clicks'n'cuts veteran who is turning in some of the best work of his career by shifting gears and making an IDM record.