Features & RetrospectivesReviews

2012: A Retrospective

Art by Kozue Oshima
Art by Kozue Oshima

Hey friends, guess what? We spun through the multiverse a bit, and another year has flown by. Thankfully we’ve been able to keep everything running pretty much as usual here at Evening of Light. No release from us this year, but we’re working to make something nice of our upcoming fourth release by Far Black Furlong in 2013. Again, we’d like to thank all the artists and labels for thinking of us again this year. Music is a huge part of what keeps us going in our lives!

First of all, here are our ten favourite records of 2012 (so far), ordered alphabetically:

Bvdub  – Serenity (Darla) [Our Review]

The year was almost over, but we were just in time when we started thinking “what did Brock Van Wey do this year?”. Well, among other things, he released this masterpiece of trance-influenced chillout ambient. Nostalgic, sure, but nostalgia is rarely better than this.

~

The Cloisters – The Cloisters (Second Language) [Our Review]

Michael Tanner was dubbed ambient artist of the year by A Closer Listen, so who are we to disagree? Of his solo compositions this year, The Cloisters went deepest. Ambient indeed, but acoustic, organic, warm, cold. We called it “Landscape music for the 21st century”. We suppose that’s about right.

~

DVABotanicula (Minority) [label]

It’s a game soundtrack, it’s happy and childlike. What’s it doing here? I don’t know… maybe it’s here because it’s so charming that it might be the most played album in our household this year. Czech duo DVA and their folk and vocal-based experiments not only made an excellent soundtrack, perfectly tailored to the game, it’s strong enough to stand on its own as a strange, happy thing.

~

Richard Moult – Yclypt (Second Language) [Our Review]

Continuing in the footsteps of last year’s Celestial King for a Year, Yclypt sees Moult composing for string quintet, putting his own piano playing aside for a moment. The immensely beautiful compositions on this new album move from romanticism through baroque to end up in modern droning territory. Sad and masterful.

~

raindrinkers_yesodichelicesRain Drinkers – Yesodic Helices (Brave Mysteries) [Our Review]

Springtide made it to last year’s top 10, and since Yesodic Helices is an equally impressive piece of music like only Rain Drinkers makes it, we had to include it. Ambient, folk, cinematic music, strong rhythmic buildups, it all comes together here on Schafer & Taylor’s latest LP.

~

songsgreenpheasant_softwoundsSongs of Green PheasantSoft Wounds (Rusted Rail) [Our Review]

A new discovery for us, this project of Duncan Sumpner, but we instantly fell in love with his laid back indie folk. Definitely not a record that immediately wows you, but we’ve been listening to it all year, and boy has it stuck.

~

Taskerlands – Taskerlands (Time Released Sound) [Our Review]

Who else but Michael Tanner and David Colohan (and guests) could pull off this magical two track album of submerged pastoral improv music? Twin guitar meanderings, backed with piano and bass clarinet, explore the borders between folk, ambient, and jazz.

~

troum_grotemandrenkeTroum – Grote Mandrenke (Beta-lactam Ring) [Our Review]

Leave it to the two experienced dronemeisters of Troum to create one massive track that awesomely captures the gruesomeness and the calm of a great mediaeval European flood. An intense journey of rhythms and waves.

~

unitedbiblestudies_iamprovidenceUnited Bible Studies – I Am Providence (Jellyfant) [Our Review]

The students went to America to tour it up but found time to improvise over Lovecraft’s grave. The result, surprisingly, wasn’t that horrific, but we’re pretty sure all sorts of spirits were involved in this marvellous half hour of vocal experiments and freefolk. (Michael Tanner and Richard Moult might also be on this record.)

~

zvuku_otherroomlisteningZvuku – Other Room Listening (Futuresequence) [Our Review]

Irish ambient project Zvuku took us by surprise this year, first with two excellent tracks on the SEQUENCE compilations, and quickly after that with this debut album. Other Room Listening is a delicate and well-wrought work of melancholic ambient and acoustic melodies.

filigree-divider_16_lg

And here’s ‘the best of the rest’, albums we enjoyed greatly but that didn’t make the final cut:

  • Cedar Spirits – Cedar Spirits (Glass Throat) [Our Review]:
    The merging of the crew of two northwest American labels results in a sincere ritual folk album that just breathes the natural environment and these people’s love for it.
  • Circulation of LightAcheiropoieta (Brave Mysteries) [Our Review]:
    Nathaniel Ritter’s solo project grows into its own with this CD where obscure keyboard melodies, drones, and ritual vocals flow together into something unique. Experimental with a few classical influences, and (yet) more proof of the hidden talents in the Brave Mysteries cabal.
  • Dice FactoryDice Factory (Babel) [Our Review]:
    This free jazz quartet from London dropped a terrific debut album of extremely tight songs that create structure from apparent chaos.
  • The Driftwood ManorDominican Black Abbey (Rusted Rail) [Our Review]:
    Eddie Keenan and his band keeps doing mostly EPs, but if they’re all as good as this one, we’re not complaining. Still one of Ireland’s premier modern folk groups, with rock-solid songwriting and lyrics.
  • East of OceansSymbol #6 (Auxiliary):
    East of Oceans is Brock Van Wey‘s more dancey moniker, and the full length album 121 Days was rather nice. This one takes the cake though, two 10″ sides of mightily catchy and ethereal breakbeat.
  • EitarnoraMurmurations (Brave Mysteries) [Our Review]:
    Not much going on in the realm of neofolk, but Eitarnora (Jon Rosenthal and Val Dorr) surprised us with their more improvised and classical guitar-based approach. Rough, but oh so promising.
  • EUS, Postdrome & SaåadSustained Layers (BLWBCK) [Our Review]:
    This three way transnational collaboration resulted in an excellent album of dark ambient and drones. That’s all we got to say about that.
  • Evan CaminitiNight Dust (Immune):
    One half of Barn Owl solo here, and it’s a lovely affair of wispy guitars and synths, ghostlike and nocturnal. A grainy and foggy release that sounds perfectly in the right place on tape.
  • The Gray Field RecordingsNature Desires Nature (Reverb Worship) [Our Review]:
    Though not as awesome as The Weaver’s Daughter, which would have been in our 2009 best of the year list, had we had one back then, this latest album by R. Loftiss and consorts continues her singular style where experimental folk and electronics meet in a dark and spectral place.
  • Jon DeRosaA Wolf In Preacher’s Clothes (Mother West) [Our Review]:
    No Aarktica this year either as DeRosa continues on his solo path. He dusted off his shirt and waistcoat and went and crooned for us with a suitably old-timey backing band. With a few modern and experimental touches, the result was nostalgic and refreshing at the same time.
  • Jon Porras Black Mesa (Thrill Jockey):
    The other half of Barn Owl had an equally impressive solo album this year. Porras cultivates more of a desert feel than Caminiti, but his drifting compositions are equally lush and calming.
  • Kinit HerStorm of Radiance (Brave Mysteries / Pesanta Urfolk):
    This might be Schafer & Ritter’s best album to date, a powerful blend of highly experimental folk with diverse influences. Obviously comparable to Wreathes (see below), but a tad less song-based.
  • Lost HarboursHymns & Ghosts (Liminal Noise) [Our Review]:
    Another lovely debut. This psychedelic folk duo delivered an ambitious first record, with two extensive folk-drone pieces, and some very delicate and sparse
  • MachinistConvergence (Narrominded):
    Our friend Zeno van den Broek keeps outdoing himself, not only as a visual artist, but also in his soundscapes. Convergence has both: excellent cover art displaying one of his mixed media pieces, and music wedding minimal tone pieces to field recordings and drones.
  • Mendel Kaelen The Tragedy That Drowned Itself (Sineszi) [Our Review]:
    And another Dutch artist to be proud of! Kaelen’s second album is centered around the musical and non-musical sounds he could coax out of  an indian harmonium. An excellent concept resulting in lovely drones and creaky sounds.
  • PlinthCollected Machine Music (Time Released Sound):
    Hey look, it’s Michael Tanner. Again. Half of this is material from a Rusted Rail 3″ from back in the days, though, so that’s a good excuse not to put this one in the top 10 also. Apart from that, it’s excellent: skilfully manipulated recordings off old music machines. Steamy bells and organs dominate on this quirky, incomparable release.
  • Premonition FactoryThe Theory of Nothing (Longstreet) [Our Review]:
    Not as impressive as The Sense of Time from last year’s top 10, but still very good. Sjaak Overgaauw‘s third studio album is shorter and less bold, but betrays a subtle master’s touch.
  • Still Light – Rosarium (Tonefloat) [Our Review]:
    Still Light provided this year’s autumn soundtrack with a beautiful psychedelic folk work with ambient influences.
  • SyvenCorpus Christi (Audiokratik) [Our Review]:
    Much more focused than their debut album, Corpus Christi sees A. Tolonen and Andy Koski-Semmens refine their bombastic neoclassical style with a concept album of Christian mysticism.
  • SwansThe Seer (Young God):
    Gira and his merry band made it to lots of top X lists this year, and that’s cool. The Seer is a pretty impressive album in some ways. Then again, some of y’all are acting like y’all never heard a Swans album before. This doesn’t hold a candle to Children of God, or Filth, or The Great Annihilator, or White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, or… well, you get the idea.
  • Time Moth EyeUndeath (Crucial Blast) [Our Review]:
    Timothy Renner lets go of much of his Stone Breath folk style for this long album, an impressive and thoroughly dark tour of drones, voices, and sparse melodies.
  • Troy SchaferEvening Song Awaken (Recital) [Our Review]:
    Richard Moult wasn’t the only one to release an impressive string album this year: Schafer’s solo violin efforts are daring, beautiful, and thoroughly experimental. Classical and freefolk meet somewhere in his creative mind on this lovely album.
  • WitxesSorcery/Geography (Humanist) [Our Review]:
    This one only just didn’t make it to the top 10. Maxime Vavasseur‘s project brings us dark ambient with touches of jazz that’s hard to resist and sure to result in some more great albums like Sorcery/Geography.
  • WreathesWreathes (Pesanta Urfolk / Brave Mysteries) [Our Review]:
    A bold record from Ritter and Schafer, neofolk done differently, with exceptionally strong rhythms, weird voices, and an atmosphere that’s far beyond the usual themes of other artists.