Posts Tagged ‘5uu’s’

It’s about that time: top 10 of 2002

Saturday, December 6th, 2003

Alright, so people on other forums are starting to post their Top 10 lists for 2003, which means it’s about time for me to post my Top 10 list for 2002. I started doing this last year - I think top 10 lists for the current year are dumb, because (1) the year’s not over yet, (2) there’s no way I already have many of the great releases from this year yet, and (3) a lot of great CDs have long gestation periods before I really start to like them (I’m looking at the new Thinking Plague here).

Without further ado, my top 10 favorite releases (not limited to prog, as will become obvious) of 2002 are as follows, in some kind of rough order:

  1. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    I’m one with the indie critics here: this was the best album of the year. When I reviewed it I was taken by its meshing of catchy melodies with slightly skewed instrumental tendencies, and its charm has yet to falter. Anyone interested in somewhat “out” pop-indie should check this out.
  2. Anti-Pop Consortium - Arrhythmia
    The biggest shame of 2002 was the dissolution of this group, one of the most innovative rap groups of the past decade. Arrhythmia has all the usual Anti-Pop trimmings: dazzling, abstract wordplay, production from an alien planet, and even some killer beats. For the cutting edge of hip-hop, look no further.
  3. 5uu’s - Abandonship
    This one made a huge splash in the prog/RIO world, and with good reason, marking a triumphant return to Hunger’s Teeth form. Best prog album of the year, easily.
  4. Shalabi Effect - The Trial of St-Orange
    This was the pleasant surprise of the year for me; I didn’t expect to like this kind of abstract psychedelia so much, but these guys are good enough at what they do that they make it accessible to anyone. There are some amazing moments of beauty swimming around the ambient haze here.
  5. NeBeLNeST - Nova Express
    Grandly portentous instrumental prog, full of imposing riffs and sinister, rumbling bass: epic “space-zeuhl” at its best. The closing title track on this album is simply a treat.
  6. Satoko Fujii and Tatsuya Yoshida - Toh-Kichi
    This is just about as weird and whimsical as you might expect from the pairing of Yoshida with a free-jazz pianist (in an improv setting no less), and amazingly, it works. By turns stunning, amusing, and fucking hilarious.
  7. Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet
    In a year with a dearth of good new post-rock, this album was a saving grace. Jazzy, atmospheric instrumental noodling that never gets too unfocused and yet always takes its sweet time getting to the point. Luckily, the journey is an enticing one.
  8. The Flying Luttenbachers - Infection and Decline
    Okay, I admit it: this one is on the list solely for the utterly blazing cover of “De Futura” (from Magma’s Üdü Wüdü), which takes the funk out of the equation and replaces it with pure, unmitigated aggression. The original pieces here are also capable of blowing your head off.
  9. Opeth - Deliverance
    Many a fan of this group panned this album, and indeed it offers little variation on a well-established formula. But for me, it perfects said formula, mixing perfectly its death-metal aggression and vocals with more leisurely (and accessibly melodic) passages. This actually might be my favorite Opeth album.
  10. The Roots - Phrenology
    This one’s just a lot of fun. Perfectly accessibly hip-hop with just a touch of experimental tendencies, particularly on the track “Water”, which has been called “prog-hop”. More importantly, this thing grooves, and has some great melodies to boot.

Barely missing the cut were Beck’s Sea Change, Missy Elliott’s Under Construction, Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People, Uzva’s Niittoaika, and even PaatosTimeloss (solely on the strength of its closing track). Some mildly surprising omissions include ( ) by Sigur Rós, which simply didn’t have the staying power I expected it to have, and Univers Zero’s Rhythmix, which I liked at first but really pales in comparison to the band’s older work, IMHO.

Overall, despite everything I just wrote, I think 2002 was a pretty disappointing year. There are a lot of pretty good albums listed above, but only the top few on the list really blew me away. As preliminary as it is, I can already say that 2003 has been a much better year for music.

About that unfortunate The Coup cover art…

Tuesday, November 13th, 2001

Hunger’s Teeth is friggin’ awesome. And Susanne Lewis’ voice is priceless. How did I live without this thing? I only have one other 5uu’s album, Regarding Purgatories, which I didn’t find nearly as interesting… but Sean claims that the upcoming album, Abandonship, is great - I’m definitely looking forward to it.

I heard some Oysterhead this weekend on a long car ride, and liked some of it. From what I heard, Trey’s guitar sounds a bit more heavy and aggressive than his work with Phish, but the bass is pure Primus. Neither is a bad thing.

The hip-hop group The Coup, whom I really like and who just moved to the 75 Ark label, just released their new album Party Music. This album’s main claim to fame is that its planned cover featured an exploding World Trade Center; the cover was pulled after September 11th, obviously, just before it went to the printer. The Coup have an anti-capitalist stance, inviting lots of criticism from people who disagree with their politics as well as people who can’t stand rap music. This is a totally incoherent rant about The Coup and their new album that I think is really funny. An excerpt:

The Coup Leader/Rapper Boots Riley says: “The intent of the cover was to use the World Trade Center to symbolize capitalism, but there is an uncanny similarity to the events of Tuesday. All life is precious and this tremendous tragedy is by no means taken lightly by The Coup. This is a very unfortunate coincidence and my condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims.”

Make no mistake here, friends. These people made their vulgar, stupid rap album with the intent of slandering and destroying the American way of life. Like the worthless evil sneaky scum they are, they hide behind “artistry” saying they only made their statement to point out the folly of capitalism, not to hurt anyone or advocate violence. “All life is precious” the rapper says after indefensible evidence of the violent nature of his music is uncovered. In the true spirit of artistic freedom, the leftist rap group’s new album art will be something less offensive, maybe they’ll have the Virgin Mary and Jesus of Nazareth as porn stars listening to Party Music!

After this misinterpretation in which the author basically accuses Boots of lying and being a murderous scoundrel, based solely on his political views, the article goes on to mention Dream Theater and the original cover of Live Scenes From New York, which features the NYC skyline - including the World Trade Center towers - aflame. The author claims that this cover is not as “vulgar” or offensive because “none of [the Dream Theater members] are avowed anti-capitalists bent on the destruction of America’s imperialism like rappers in The Coup”. Finally, he concludes that “Sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, friends, whomever asks for a CD of hardcore rap should be denied on the basis that it is overwhelmingly vulgar and un-American” and ends the article with a somewhat out-of-place, obviously rote recital of “Terror from anywhere against America will never destroy the American people. God bless America!”

Ignorance and intolerance masquerading as patriotism and compassion: God bless America indeed.

(I await the hate mail accusing me of being a pro-mass-murder terrorist sympathizer.)

Long delayed acquisition

Wednesday, November 7th, 2001

Oh happy day: I finally got a copy of Hunger’s Teeth.

A while back Cuneiform mailed me some promo CDs, one of them the new Picchio dal Pozzo, Camere Zimmer Rooms. I’ve been listening to this for quite some time, and I really like it, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it enough to write a review yet. I hate it when this happens. So, for now, my review is one word: recommended.