Mischa Pavlovski – ‘Kapital’
Lost Dawn – ‘The Fall’
Selvhenter – ‘Tribute’
Moriaty – ‘Venus Fly Trap’
Human Hands – ‘Disease’
Pirate Copy – ‘Lure Of The Sea’
Iceage – ‘How Many’
Night Motor – ‘Ice Age Man’
Total Control – ‘Black Spring’
The Red Cords – ‘Ghost Light’
Sun Worship – ‘Elder Giants’
The Black Tambourines – ‘Plastic Eyeballs’
Plough Lines – ‘Henry Make Good’
The Eyelids – ‘Custom Of The Sea’
Primetime – ‘Tied Down’
Crooked Little Sons – ‘Big River’
SHIT – ‘Feeding Time’
Hazards – ‘Now She’s Dead’
Rakta – ‘Tudo Que A Solido’
King Creature – ‘Power’
Men Oh Pause – ‘Tight Chest’
Pirate Copy – ‘On A Boat’
VCR – ‘Beer Shit Night / Pizza Party / Tooth Faced Motherfuckers / One Trick Dog’
The Spankees – ‘Nothings Good Enough’
Umbilical Cord – ‘Two Seconds’
The Isabelles – ‘She’s In Pictures’
Arms Race – ‘Gotta Get Out’
Night Motor – ‘Suzy’
Personnel – ‘Consumer Electronics’
Wolf Note – ‘Move It On’
Mujercitos – Demo
8-tracks of seditious rabble-rousing from former members of Inservibles and current members of Tercer Mundo, blending IV Reich and Kagada Dog to hurl valid insults in the genral direction of homophobic xenophobes. Hunt this motherfucker down, baby, and kill for a copy.
Maquina Muerta – ‘Realidad Despesperada’
Maquina Muerta follow their s/t 6-track seven on Metadona with this tape, pressed up for their UK winter tour. The influences remain the same: Discharge, AIDS, MG-15, but the recordings are fatter; the vocals ride the mix flatter; the overall sound is one rounder, but the rage remains the same. This is uber-righteous, ultra-basic, rough-arsed, raw punk of an intensity verging on apoplexy: seven shades of desperation; seven stabs to the heart; seven reasons to believe.
Demonios Salvajes – ‘Maqueta’
Radical hardcore punks Demonios Salvajes are the poorest band in Barcelona, hailing from the city’s warren of squats. Their reputation for manic live performance is adeptly captured here, on this second press of their demo, over 8-tracks of pummeling punk rock fury. Their sound is in step with the current wave of Mexican hardcore, with echoes of Sedicion and Ley Rota reverberating through the mix. Another essential release from Sangre Azul: a triumvirate of tapes, tapes, tapes. You know what to do.
2014 has been a year of change, in many ways: over twelve months, across twelve long players (with twice as many again left out). The fierce competition for ultimate supremacy has, at times, resembled vinyl armageddon. As the year duly coughed and spluttered it’s way towards its timely and not unexpected demise, the votes were counted, discounted, and counted again. Many early contenders fell, usurped during the final furlongs by recordings of greater fluidity, recordings that have filled the abhorred vacuum nature so virulently resists, to establish some kind of order above the raging abyss. It’s all about fluidity, after all, nothing remains the same, least of all the song.
And so, trakMARXists, here you find the 12 x 12 x 2014 of Jean Encoule, before your very eyes. Represented are a dozen of breadth and depth; a dozen that would fill a baker with pride; a dozen that cannot be considered dirty, in any sense of the word. The 12 x 12 illustrated so alphabetically above may be instantly familiar to you, by sight alone . . . but, it’s equally likely that you are squinting at the screen right now, scratching your head, asking yourself why you continue to waste your time on such wanton obscurantism, for the seemingly sole purpose of ascending to that default setting marked ‘aloof’.
My individual relationship with each of these recorded works has been nurtured over many hours of analytical consideration, I’ll have you know. I have not gone gently into this good night, trakMARXists, my old age has burned and raved at the close of the day. I have raged, raged against both the machine, and the dying of the light. These twelve tribes of art represent the finest outsiderdom has to offer, way beyond the confines of hipster recognition, or coffee table conformity, these are objects to entice the ear, and ignite the mind.
Encompassing disciplines that reflect a spectrum ranging from post-industrial to post-black metal, via rock’n’roll, neo-classicism, and back again, this assembled pantheon of vinyl deities refract any light I am capable of shining on them, and simply taunt the limitations of my language with their rampant magnificence. From the blackened techno of Mischa Pavlovski, to the freeform expressionism of Selvhenter, there’s a distinctly northern european dominance to these dozen discs, with six hailing from the vibrant Danish underground alone.
If I had to pick my ultimately most satisfying release of the year, it would undoubtedly be Torben Ulrich & Søren Kjærgaard‘s, ‘Meridiana: Lines Toward A Non-Local Alchemy’, a four-approach exploration of Daoist-alchemical and geo-navigational concepts from Eastern and Western perspectives, respectively, interrogating the interplay between lines, minding the gaps: sonically, textually and graphically, for piano, violin, viola, cello, bags of tricks and spoken word. I truly love this record, mostly because it’s the farthest point I’ve travelled yet from my comfort zone. To be fair, I was entranced by the artwork long before it arrived at my door, long before I’d heard so much as a note, I instinctively knew that ‘Meridiana’ was where I would bury my wounded heart at the death of 2014. And so it came to pass.
Moving away from the pulsebeat, Richard Dawson‘s ‘Nothing Important’ captured my esoteric interest with shamanic precision, delivering the condensed works of Roy Harper, as imagined by Robert Wyatt, fed through the Orange amps of Sunn O))), via the pedals of Mogwai, to hover above the alter of progression, shitting on the icons below. Through the work of Dawson I have subsequently found anti-harpist, Rhodri Davies, and 2015 threatens to be the year I finally cut myself out of this envelope marked ‘return to sender’.
Another firm favourite for me was Taulard‘s debut long player, ‘Les Abords Du Lycée’ (Self Released), which saw the Grenoble quartet expand on the promise of their seven inch EP to master their art-form by creating one of the most punk rock releases of the year without the use of an electric guitar. With just synth, bass, drums and vocals, Taulard created their own 12 x 12, with a dozen tunes of staggering breadth and surly intent. Everywhere I played this record in 2014, heads turned, ears lit up, faces beamed, and URLs were captured. Vive la France, vive Taulard.
Meanwhile, the metamorphosis of Iceage from perennial angst-ridden post-punkers to angst-ridden rock’n’roll shape-shifters was another highlight of 2014. As our regular reader will attest, I have championed the works of this young Danish quartet at every turn, since their inception, way back in 2009. On ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’, Copenhagen’s angry brigade may have mellowed somewhat, in terms of both instrumentation and expressional mode, but what they have lost in abrasive edge, they have more than gained in the art of composition. Having witnessed their triumphant storming of the 100 Club on December the 2cnd, I can confirm that they are ten times the band that set me alight in Manchester back in 2010. Copenhagen is calling: don’t touch that dial.
Sticking with Denmark, momentarily, a brace of recordings from F.E. Denning & Vanessa Amara on the always reliable Posh Isolation are not only two of the most expressive experimental releases of the year, they are also two of the most beautifully packaged. The Vanessa Amara record in particular would be fighting Dawson, Ulrich & Kjaergaard on the podium if this were some kind of grand prix.
Meanwhile, those of you with functional memories will recall my excitement at the prospect of an Antipodean triumph in 2014, predicting, as I did, conquering sophomore discs from both Rank Xerox and Rat Columns. In reality, the former didn’t materialize, and the latter was one of the biggest disappointments of the year, leaving Eastlink and Total Control to claim the honours for Australia, with a pair of long players that will both enjoy the status of ‘classic’ long into the post-future, and beyond.
Finally, at opposite ends of the blackened spectrum, came my last two choices: Brooklyn-based post-USBM bothers, Yellow Eyes, and London-based, one-man-industrial-complex, Cremation Lily. Yellow Eyes built on the magic and splendour of their previous catalogue with their most assured offering to date, ‘The Desert Mourns’ (Dead Section). It’s a a truly wondrous ritual that Yellow Eyes perform in breathing new life into the rotting corpse of black metal, but it’s one they pull off with incredible melodic aplomb, and a rhythmic dexterity that transcends the genre to establish a new plateau of excellence. 2015 will commence very shortly with their next chapter: ‘Stillicide’ (Siber). Cremation Lily, meanwhile, captured their amassed thus-far-cassette-only catalogue into one definitive statement with ‘Fires Frame The Silhouette’ (Alter), to transcend the dominance of Croatian Amor and steal the blackened crown of ‘Prince of Darkness’ from under their Danish noses. Strange Rules has quietly established itself as the UK’s response to Posh Isolation throughout the duration of 2014, and lovers of the dark side need to up their game and keep up with this prolific young label as it grows exponentially in 2015.
- trakMARX: ROCK AND ROLL, GARAGE PUNK, PSYCHE, HEAVY METAL, PROTO PUNK, KRAUTROCK, JAP ROCK, PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, INDUSTRIAL, BLACK METAL, DOOM/DRONE, POST ROCK, NOISE, AVANT ET L'ART DE L'ETRANGER