Matt Bower is the brain and tentacles behind some of the finest oddtronica of 2013. With releases from The Revenant Sea, Isobel Ccircle (with April Larson), Wizards Tell Lies, and a collaboration with The Roadside Picnic, he has built a reputation for making quietly creepy and weirdly seductive noise. Here are his musical highlights from the past year.
The Ears for Eyes End of Year List Which Is Way Too Long
Bird People ‘Terma’ (Jehu& Chinaman Records)
Music that would be the most wonderful soundtrack to travelling around the event horizon of a black hole. Superb deep-space rumbling.
April Larson ‘Tempête’
Packed with a beautifully unsettling atmosphere that really does get its hooks in. Such a fantastic place to get lost, an utterly captivating album by a very smart artist.
Man or Astro-man? – Defcon 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (Warm Electronic Recordings)
Can’t beat a bit of Man or Astro-man? It’s great fun and with Albini at the controls it is just magnificent.
Auditory Field Theory put out some great albums this year - Keep Sheila on Acid ‘Erotic Theology’ and Prada & Oregon ‘His Past of the Heaven-Floor Permanents…’
Both incredible records of eloquent electronics.
Rano‘s output has been eclectic and astounding: Russel M. Harmon ‘We Are Failed’ and Maurice’s Hotel Death ‘Hot Jone’ are both astonishing but very different, noise in all its guises.
A truly magnificent album that absorbs and envelops the listener with fragmented field recordings and environmental manipulations.
Black Classical briefly released ‘Zm∆’ this year and is sadly no longer available. His music evokes an apocalyptic, deserted world where dark things lurk in the periphery – very deep listening, extremely enjoyable.
Alela Diane ‘About Farewell’ (Rusted Blue)
A truly heart felt and honest album of folk-styled break-up songs. I love her voice and her music is impeccable.
‘Lexicon of the Pines’ is a great debut from fellow Wiganers The Duke St Workshop. An album full of VHS worn music with a hint of John Carpenter. This is the score to cold cases and zombies. In a parallel universe sits oh/ex/oh’s ‘House in the Woods’ – such a great album, the sound of things in the walls, Lovecraft’s ‘Dreams in the Witch House’ made flesh.
Synek ‘Kolysanka Do Gwiazd’ (Further Records)
Mesmerising ambient dark electronics. Ghosts of architecture long since derelict and ghosts in the quantum foam. Super slo-mo proton collisions and the birth of stars.
Melvins ‘Everybody Loves Sausages’
One of the greatest bands on the planet. This is Melvins doing their favourite covers with a host of incredible contributors. Their version of ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ with Jello Biafra on vocals is worth the entrance fee alone.
Abul Mogard ‘Drifted Heaven’ (VCO Recordings)
A surprising record. This is a musician who has made drone his own, he has a totally unique sound and has had me listening slack jawed and wide eyed.
Cloud Waste and the Calf ‘Shuttlewood’s Private Thoughts’
A magic but all too brief blast of a more relaxed side to Cloud Waste in full UFO mode that is a joy to listen to.
Fellow ex-First Fold-ers Papa November & Them Use Them both released great EPs this year. Papa November’s ‘She Is Transmitter’ saw a huge development of his sound into a dubby live band – pure brilliance, a really fresh record. Them Use Them’s ‘Mesh the Mute’ (an EP of instrumentals) is subtle and beautiful, outstanding attention to detail and wonderful arrangements.
Raining Leaf ‘Adeptus Minor EP’ (Chapel Yard Label)
An EP of eclectic music that flirts between epic post rave and swathes of dreamy hypnotic drone guitar. Like FSOL took Slowdive to a party hosted by Nadja.
people-eaters ‘Imprecate’ (Aetheric Records)
Wonderfully understated sub sonics that play with your head (in a good way).
Joseph Stannard compiled The Outer Church album (Front & Follow) which is just brilliant, featuring a whole host of incredible Outer artists – a perfect little mission statement that I think sums up Joseph and The Outer Church’s concerns, interests and ethos. A selection of weird, unsettling, intoxicating and wonderful music.
Trunk Records’ ‘50p Friday’ offers have been an absolute joy. My favourite so far is their reissue of Henry Mancini’s ‘Experiment In Terror’ soundtrack which is murderous fun. Lively, exciting and dark (in places) this has the seeds of Twin Peaks’ pines in its DNA.
Kemper Norton ‘Carn’ (Exotic Pylon Records)
Perfect dawn/sunrise music that keys you right into the magic places. Astonishing.
Moon Zero ‘Tombs’ (Futuresequence)
Some of this could easily soundtrack Breugel or Bosch paintings, it’s like movements deep within the earth have made musical.
Medroxy Progesterone Acetate ‘I Am An Empty House Longing to be Haunted’
Absolutely phenomenal, twisted and thrilling. I can’t stop playing ‘Starshine Tendrils’ which is one of the most amazing pieces of music I’ve heard this year.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to contribute a couple of times (using various alter-egos) to Leigh Wright’s Wyrd Daze online zine which is something very unique indeed. He gets a lot of quality in there and it is just this huge multimedia package with videos, music, art and writing - very eclectic, and that is all part of its allure. It’s worth checking out and certainly worth contributing to.