Top 10 Reissues of 2012

Top 10 Reissues of 2012
This year saw its fair share of amazing new music, but at the same time, we couldn't help but get swept up in reissue nostalgia. More than ever, labels are pouring their hearts, souls and budgets into re-releasing the music of yesteryear they hold dear, bundling it all up with essential extras, lavish new art and some killer new packaging. There were a lot of amazing reissues in 2012, and here are just some that turned our heads.

Top 10 Reissues of 2012:

10. Robert Turman

(Spectrum Spools)

In 2012, Emeralds member John Elliott's Spectrum Spools expanded its focus to bring more than just killer new synth records, dipping its toes into the world of reissues as well. High among the unearthed gems was Flux, the underrated 1981 masterwork of American avant-gardist Robert Turman. Originally issued as a now impossible to find cassette, the double-LP re-release features six sprawling neo-classical séances, constructed from minimal piano, drum machines, tape loops and kalimba. The results are meditative to the extreme, with Flux standing as one of Spools' most chilled-out and calming offerings — not to mention one of its finest accomplishments thus far. (B.T.)

9. The VSS

Nervous Circuits + 25:37
(Sargent House)

Originally, the two-and-a-half-year lifespan of '90s synth-punks the VSS yielded just under two dozen songs scattered on a few vinyl releases, with their 1997 LP Nervous Circuits clearly being the crown jewel of their catalogue. Now, the late 2012 vinyl re-release through Sargent House packaged it all together, showcasing the band's dark and art-damaged sound — which synthesized '80s post-punk, '90s post-hardcore and a touch of grunge into something altogether new and frightening— in all its glory. (G.A.)

8. Sugar
Reissue Campaign
(Merge Records)

Bob Mould had a pretty big year on his own, having released his strident and assured new solo LP Silver Age, but Merge's loving reissues of the classic indie rocker's '90s output with fuzz-pop players Sugar serves to remind us of the dude's consistency throughout the ages. Whether it was the one-to-three punch that packaged the thunderous pop hooks of their debut Copper Blue with follow-up EP Beaster and a live LP, or by revisiting the still fun and frenetic File Under: Easy Listening, this reissue campaign preserves some of Mould's sweetest tunes. (G.A.)

7. GZA
Liquid Swords: The Chess Box
(Get On Down)

No disrespect to Raekwon, who had his own mid-'90s classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... repressed onto a purple plastic cassette, but the GZA trumped the Chef with his meatier Wu-related reissue. On top of the regular album and an instrumentals disc, the newly pressed version of Liquid Swords let us sort out the mysteries of chessboxing with a chess board built into the package. (G.A.)

6. Lee Hazelwood
The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes, & Backsides (1968-71)
(Light in the Attic)

Initially coming out as a Record Store Day 2012 release, The LHI Years kicked off Light in the Attic's much-deserved Lee Hazelwood reissue campaign with a bang. Collecting some of his choicest solo cuts and duets, the lengthy 17-track set is the best Hazelwood starter guide you could ever ask, shining a stunning light on the perpetually mustachioed and grossly underrated American songwriting great. It also helps that the collection comes packing some extensive liner notes, as well as some downright beautiful art. See that red bit at the bottom of the cover where the artist name and album title are? That slides away, revealing, well, use your imagination. (B.T.) 5. Sensations' Fix
Music Is Painting in the Air
(RVNG Intl.)

Early in the year, Spectrum Spools blew our minds by reissuing Franco Falsini's breathtaking slab of kosmische-laced prog bliss, Cold Nose. And yet RVNG Intl. did the imprint one better, digging deep in archives of Falsini's main project for the sprawling Sensations' Fix collection Music Is Painting in the Air. At a staggering 30 tracks long, the release is spread across two LPs (or CDs, if you prefer), gathering up new and unheard mixes from the once Polydor-signed Italian prog rock unit. And it doesn't get any more mind-expanding than Sensations' Fix, as the painstakingly assembled reissue proves that the group effectively delivered some of the finest cosmic-minded rock ever laid to analogue tape. (B.T.)

4. Blur
21: The Box

This year, Blur celebrated the 21st anniversary of their debut disc Leisure with a mighty reissue campaign that gave fans the opportunity to pick up separate deluxe editions of each of the band's albums on some fancy wax or have the whole thing packaged together in the jaw-dropping 21 box set. On top of remastered and expanded versions of high-water marks like Parklife and their 1997 self-titled set, the monstrous vinyl Britpop box contained four discs of rarities, which included an early mix of this year's "Under the Westway" single, three DVDs and a 7-inch. All together, it's a bloody brilliant compendium of the UK pop greats. (G.A.)

3. William Basinki
The Disintegration Loops
(Temporary Residence Ltd.)

Well, it doesn't get more lavish than this. In a ballsy move, the folks at Temporary Residence took on the challenge of reissuing William Basinski's avant-garde electronic masterpiece The Disintegration Loops, hands down one of the powerful and affecting pieces of music ever recorded. The reissue marked the 10-year anniversary of the original release — a collection of magnetic tape loops finished just as the 9/11 attacks were happening in New York City — and it's truly a deluxe offering. Included are all the original recordings (pressed onto virgin vinyl) on nine LPs, five remastered CDs, a 63-minute DVD, and a 144-page full-colour coffee table book with photos and a whack of liner notes. The whole deal isn't exactly cheap, but when this much love is poured into something, that's rarely the case. (B.T.)

2. Death Waltz Recording Co.

Despite it kinda being cheating to include an entire label rather than a single release, we couldn't help ourselves: If there was anyone who went above and beyond in the world of issues this year, it's UK's Death Waltz Recording Co. Despite only launching in 2012, the vinyl-minded reissue imprint truly proved it knows "the art of soundtracks," re-releasing and unearthing an awe-inspiring list of cult-classic horror soundtracks. Among the many highlights were Michael Andrews' ever-touching Donnie Darko score, the neo-classical bliss of Johan Söderqvist's Let the Right One In and the downright-awesome tropical synthcapade of Fabio Frizzi's Zombi 2. Oh, and then there was the John Carpenter and Alan Howarth marathon, which brought back to life synth classics Halloween 2, Halloween 3, Prince of Darkness and Escape from New York. And Death Waltz did it all with style, enlisting some of the best visual artists going, such as Jay Shaw, Candice Tripp and Graham Humphreys, to pull together some thoroughly eye-boggling new cover art for each release. More importantly, though, the label effectively brought some essential yet sadly forgotten film music to a whole new generation of listeners. (B.T.)

1. Sloan
Twice Removed: Deluxe Edition

Having just Sloan's beloved 1994 sophomore album repressed on wax would have been enough of a treat, but the self-released box set for Twice Removed had the band mining the vaults for three LPs and a 7-inch's worth of treasure. While the extensive liner notes suggest this may have been the most difficult time in the band's career — from the rest of the group's assumed betrayal of Andrew Scott's move to Toronto, to managing label expectations and undergoing occasionally uncomfortable studio sessions — the album has most definitely stood the test of time. The full demos LP shows the evolution of the album, including a head-scratching grunged-up version of "Loosens," while the third LP showcases some of the group's more psychedelic moments ("Autobiography"). If you needed more proof that Twice Removed is downright Canadian classic, here it is. (G.A.)