This year I’ve noticed all kinds of best of 2010 lists out there in cyberspace, so I thought I’d join the party and post a favorites list too. The list includes both recorded work and live performances of 2010. Please note that the albums are listed in no particular order and the live performances are listed by date. I’ve probably missed a few things, but I definitely wanted to mention these albums & live performances because they have totally shaped my reality in 2010.
Favorite 20 Releases of 2010 [that I’ve heard/in no particular order]:
Golden Retriever, Golden Retriever 2 (CDR, Self-released)
Robin Fox, Handful of Automation (CS, Editions Mego)
Pete Swanson, Challenger (CS, Self-released)
Caged Soprano, The Newspaper (CS, Jugular Forest)
Pulse Emitter, Cosmic Images (CD, Expansive)
Headboggle, Banjo Signal Generator As Advertised (CS, Digitalis)
Keith Fullterton Whitman, Disingenuity B/W Disingenuousness (LP, Pan)
Alex Barnett, Section 3 (CS, Nihilist)
Outer Space, Lightyear Demonstrations (CS, Deception Island)
Telecult Powers, Return To The Psychic Dancehall (CS, Snake Mysteries)
Geoff Mullen, Bongo Closet (CS, Razors And Medicine)
Geoff Mullen & Keith Fullerton Whitman, November 28, 2009 (CDR, Upstairs)
C.P.U., The Hard & The Dead (CS, iDEAL Recordings)
Synaptic Foliage, The Bottom Of The Ocean Pt. II (CS, Cylindrical Habitat Module)
Pax Titania, Orphan Daughter of an Orphan Daughter (CS, Catholic Tapes)
Rene Hell, Porcelain Opera, (LP, Type)
Any Given Sunday, Take Me To Your Dealer (CS, Agents of Chaos)
Bee Mask, Canzoni dal Laboratorio del Silenzio Cosmico (CS, Gift Tapes)
J. Hanson, Blood Orange (CS, Gift Tapes)
Frak, Dry Vanadis/Tournament City (CS, DRAFT)
Favorite Live Performances of 2010 [that I witnessed/listed by date]:
Pacific City Nightlife Vision Band & Stellar Om Source, February 18, Seattle @ Gallery 1412
Spencer Clark and a friend from the Portland group Eat Skull creating ritualistic Casio music that really had everyone mesmerized. At one point Spencer started some sort of loop and walked through the crowd to grab some other non-name-brand Casio-type keyboard enclosed in it’s original box – totally added to the humorous, semi-ghetto vibe. Stellar Om Source’s set was ultra hi-fi layered synth, performing in near darkness amidst crazy light formations.
Matt Carlson & Josh Hanson, April 2, Seattle @ The Josephine
Matt Carlson played a crazy set of modular synth that reminded me of Carl Stallings cartoon music, extremely stereoized and humorous – I was laughing my head off the entire time. Josh Hanson performed pieces of his Blood Orange tape, using prerecorded material processed through various filters and other analog effects – a very refreshing approach to performance.
Metal Rouge, June 17, LA @ Synchronicity Space
Duo of Helga Fassonoki and Andrew Scott + another member performing trumpet I think whose name I don’t remember. Total tripped-out mysterious improv, with music venturing into mostly unclassifiable territories, using affected/prepared guitar and voice. Helga’s presences give this group a performance art aspect that is very engaging and unsettling, while Andrew seems to link the music to our world.
Golden Retriever & Double Dare, June 19, Portland @ Abyssal Behemoth
The duo of Jonathan Sielaff on bass clarinet and Matt Carlson on modular synth – started out like a blippy analog computer, transformed by ecstatic wails on bass clarinet and becoming a ripping field of champion musical energies. Opener that night was a ruling duo of Levi Berner and Amanda Anderson called Double Dare, a combination of samplers, live electronics and some huge Casio CZ synth creating awesome textural noise amidst song structures – my intro to this new duo (and it turned out to be a one-off performance).
Telecult Powers, July 10, Brooklyn @ Port d’Or
Amazing set of extraordinary cosmic jams by the killer synth duo, performing with a rare 16 mm film of animated comets flying through space!
Harmonizer, July 11, Burlington @ Firehouse Gallery
Greg Davis & Toby Aronson’s duo project utilizing synths, effects and the harmonizer! Really killer live collab process, and fairly gestural in sound… inspired by John Hassell’s work.
Bee Mask & Marcia Bassett/Samara Lubeski duo, July 14, Brooklyn @ Zebulon
Chris Madak of Bee Mask which completely floored me with this sound collage/live electronics set; awesome diverse sound set that flowed like a concrete master work. The duo set of Marcia Bassett & Samara Lubeski ventured into some really dark territory; full on ghosted light patterns from alternate dimensions.
Pulse Emitter, August 13, Seattle @ Chapel Performance Space
Daryl Groetsch’s Pulse Emitter project, performed a meditative music set in a beautiful space on a summer evening, using his road modular system and a mini rack mount synth. One of my favorite artists in the minimal synth category and this was an exceptional performance.
Greg Davis, August 24, Seattle @ Gallery 1412
Total surprise set from Greg Davis. I had seen his newly assembled modular a couple months prior to this set, but had no idea what he’d be doing. Instead of his ultra-minimal music I am familiar with, he seemed to do an exact opposite. Sound flying all over the space, ultra maximalist, mostly atonal and masked vocals within the field of electronic chaos. So fucking awesome.
Matt Carlson, September 17, Seattle @ The Josephine
Another Matt Carlson set that blew me away and had me rolling at the same time – he literally uses every available limb to control his modular and keyboard and upped it a notch with his use of the vocoder. Extremely bugged out, dynamic set of weirdo vocals and synth.
Rene Hell, Pete Swanson & John Wiese, September 18, Seattle @ Black Lodge
Swanson’s recent incorporation of the modular synth has been ruling, and I have to say this was my favorite set I’ve seen him perform. (The photo above is actually from the first show he did incorporating the modular synth.) My live into to Jeff Witscher’s Rene Hell project totally stood up to the amazing record he put out on Type. John Wiese utilized way more acoustic recordings than I’ve seen him use in the past, kind of an odd, atonal cut up that was more weird than noisy.
Oregon Painting Society, October 7, Portland @ Holocene
Crazy-ornate set of this amazing Portland-based 5-person art collective, performing live electronics and homemade instruments amidst flashing lights and an insane amount of props. Reminiscent of a dynamic Merzbow set.
Million Mists & Panabrite, October 10, Seattle @ Gallery 1412
Jamie Potter’s first solo performance as Million Mists and Norm Chambers first solo performance as Panabrite – both sets super amazing debuts. Million Mists usage of digital synths, samples and delays gave way to malleable jellyfish textures and cold fuzz. Panabrite used three synths and some effects, creating some truly vintage new age scores to a fantasy landscape degraded on VHS.