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.


DVA - Botan­icula (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 Drink­ersYesodic 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 Pheas­ant - Soft 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.


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 Light - Acheir­opoi­eta (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 Fact­ory - Dice 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 Manor - Domin­ican 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 Oceans - Sym­bol #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.
  • Eit­ar­nora - Mur­mur­a­tions (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 & Saåad - Sus­tained 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 Cam­in­iti - Night 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 Record­ings - Nature 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 DeR­osa - A 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 Her - Storm 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 Har­bours - Hymns & 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
  • Machin­ist - Con­ver­gence (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.
  • Plinth - Col­lec­ted 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 Fact­ory - The 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 LightRos­ar­ium (Tone­float) [Our Review]:
    Still Light provided this year’s autumn soundtrack with a beau­ti­ful psy­che­delic folk work with ambi­ent influ­ences.
  • Syven - Cor­pus 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.
  • Swans - The 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 Eye - Undeath (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 Schafer - Even­ing 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.
  • Witxes - Sorcery/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.
  • Wreathes - Wreathes (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.