A couple of months ago, I was offered to do an ambient set on my friend Jeff Prémont‘s radio show, in Quebec City, but for some reason, things didn’t pan out.
Nonetheless, I thought recording an ambient mix was a good idea.
While preparing that set I’ve titled Headspace, I decided I also wanted to record another one that would be some of my favourite tracks that don’t really fall into a specific genre, or rather that fall into so many different ones that it would be hard to fit them in my more niche oriented sets like Tech House and Cosmic Disco.
However, after doing a preliminary selection of tracks for that second mix, I realized I was going into two very distinct directions: a more guitar oriented one, and a smooth one.
In the end, I decided to concentrate on the smoother side and that became the third installment of the Loungin’ with Monsieur Seb series, a series whose two previous installments already date back quite a few years.
If you’re wondering about the title of this post, well, I guess after listening to the them, you’ll understand…
So… 2009 came and went, as did the first decade of a new century and millenium, and what did we learn from it? Depends on how old you are I guess… I am closing my 4th decade (please calculate carefully, that makes me 40, not 50!) and some would probably love to say I have learned fuck nothing… Well, to quote Bran Van 3000, I have learned fuck all!
Must’ve been the pressure from all those blogs and other sources of information I read daily, but I suddenly got the urge to post my favourite music of 2009. A list of my favourite from the whole decade will follow shortly. I didn’t restrain myself to a certain number, it just so happens that I ended up with 20.
All I can tell you is that as this year comes to an end, with the many life changes that are accompanying it into the past, these are the albums or songs or artists that come to mind instantly, or almost so, as I reflect upon the music that has shaped who I’ve become in the past year…
MONSIEUR SEB’S BEST OF 2009
in alphabetical order
DJ Hell – Teufelswerk
Rarely does an album, particularly in the electronic world, capture so aptly the zeitgeist. Two excellent cameos by P. Diddy on The DJ (the man DOES have a sense of humour) and Bryan Ferry — singing an unreleased track of his (U Can Dance, see below) are alone worth the price of the album, but the rest of the tracks are stellar, too. Some have hailed it as the best dance album ever. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s certainly one of the best of 2009. The track The DJ is featured on my promo mix Inside Me, while U Can Dance can be heard on I Am Rhyhtm.
Doves – Jetstream (Lindstrøm Remix)
The original is one of the best on the Doves’ latest, and we all know Lindstrøm is very close to being a musical genius, but on this totally groovy remix, he pulled out all the stops and in the first half the keyboard playing almost sounds like Elton John on acid. Major dancefloor scorcher, if you ask me. If I had presented this best of list in some kind of preference order, this one would paobably be my number 1.
Doves – Kingdom of Rust
Ah! The Doves. No doubt one of my favouritest British rock bands. They have yet to disappoint me, and what’s more, they seem to be getting consistently better after four albums. Compulsion has all the potential to become a classic rock track, as do many others on this opus.
John Daly – Sea & Sky
Released on François K’s Wave Music, this first album by the Irish producer encompasses his best productions so far plus three new tracks, and it hits the right spot. To quote Resident Advisor: “…this full-length makes its clear that tagging Daly as deep house only covers about half of what he’s up to.” His track exp3 from this album is featured on my promo mix Cosmix, vol IV.
Jonsi & Alex – Riceboy Sleeps
Ambient done right by Sigur Ros’ singer Jón Pór Birgisson and his life partner Alex Somers. Somewhat reminiscent of my darlings Stars of the Lid, but “cleaner”. According to Wikipedia, Boy 1904 is said to feature the last known castrato singer ever recorded. Definitely an album of potent introspective power and luminescent beauty.
Jori Hulkkonen – Man from Earth
Already a seventh album for Finland’s Jori Hulkkonen, not couting his mix CD a few years back on Turbo. As always, there’s a certain quality to his productions that’s hard to describe yet immediately apparent… I’m tempted to pin it on his nordicity, but I could be wrong. The standout tracks on this album are I Am Dead, Dancerous, Undercover, Bend Over Beethoven and the title track.
Lindstrøm – Little Drummer Boy
Yes, another Lindstrøm oeuvre on my best of the year. I did include the Norwegian in my best of the 2000’s, but I sure wasn’t going te refrain from including his totally flabberghasting take on this Christmas classic on my best of cette année. Now, it is a well-known fact that I love long jams, and as long jams go, this is one of the best with its 42:43 seconds, ranking it just between Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4 (59:35) and The Orb’s Blue Room (40:00), and it is not only its length that places it in such stellar company, but its intrinsic worth, too. With this production, Hans Peter proves he’s got nothing to envy those guys (as if we needed any more proof after his 2008 album Where You Go I Go Too). Here’s a link to a free download of the edited version, but you won’t have lived a full life until you carefully listen to the full version a few times…
Malajube – Labyrinthes
If you’re from outside North America, chances are slim you’ve heard of these guys, unless you ear is firmly pressed on the indie-rock railroad track. I wasn’t a fan of theirs before this third album. As a matter of fact, I barely knew more than their name and didn’t try to learn more, as I tend to shy away from bands that are too hyped, as was the case when their second album came out. However, when I received Labyrinthes in the mail last February, I thought I’d give them a real listen, and they blew me away. Definitely in my top 3 best albums of 2009. Indie-rock, yes, but with Prog flourishes that don’t need to blush in the presence of their elder statemen, Labyrinthes is an album borne out of personal hardship and, as most such albums, it radiates an intense light. And I did listen back to their earlier stuff: doesn’t measure up to this. Here’s a link to download the excellent opening track Ursuline.
Massive Attack – Splitting the Atom
If this four track EP is any indication of what’s to come on their new album Heligoland, due out in February 2010, my guess is that it will be their best album yet, IMHO. The four songs on StA are as beautiful as they are intense, and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear elements from all their previous albums, a sign of true artistic vision.
Max Essa – Continental Drift
UK born but Japan based Max Essa releases mainly on Bear Funk, one of the labels to keep an eye on if you’re into the Cosmic Disco thing, although Essa’s album would fall more into the Balearic Beat category, if you want to be specific. This link will lead you to an interestingly eclectic promo mix by Essa.
Milton Jackson – Crash
To me, Freerange Records is the label that replaced the late Paper Recordings as the best Deep House label in England and probably the world, and Jackson has been a stalwart of Freerange for a while, although he’s not the one I’d follow the most closely. That is until he released Crash an elegant exercice de style in (relative) minimalism and deep houseness. Not an album whose tracks you’ll likely hear on dancefloors, but I’d definitely recommend it as a driving album!
Mungolian Jetset – We Gave It All Away… And Now We Are Taking It Back
One of Norway’s best kept and most valuable treasure, these guys are unique: NO ONE sounds like them (and if you think to yourself “Well, this remix reminds me of so and so”, just listen to another one of their productions: no two are alike). I can only urge you to Google them and explore the breadth and scope of their productions… We Gave It All Away is the perfect tool to do so, but it is only technically an album from 2009, because it is a double compilation of their productions and remixes and, sadly, most of them have been edited, because the Mungs tend to make epic tracks often busting the ten minutes mark (for example Clairevoyage [featured on my first Cosmix promo mix], a Dominique Leone track remixed jointly with Lindstrøm and that hit 12 minutes in its original full length, but was edited down to 10 minutes for this compilation). However, edited or not, unless you want to embark on a hunt for their releases (not an esay task), this release is the next best thing. This track is NOT pon that compilation, but it is definitely one of their good productions.
Formerly known as one half of Jacob London, Dave Pezzner had created a solid reputation for himself in two short years with no less than 20 releases and remixes, including three releases of original material on Freerange. His first album is slated for spring 2010 on that label, so lets just hope it won’t be the usual collection of previously released material with a few new tracks. Below is one of my favourite remixes he did in 2009 which is featured on my promo mix I Am Rhythm
Radio Slave Certainly not a newcomer, Matt Edwards’ productions and remixes under his monikers Radio Slave and Quiet Village have yet to disappoint this DJ and music lover. Standout track of 2009, to me: his 28 minutes version of DJ Hell’s The DJ. He took the concept to its logical limit and you gotta respect anyone who does that! My buddy Nic B once said that the true Trance inducing electronic music is House and Mat Edwards seems hell-bent on proving so. The track below is also featured in my promo mix Inside Me.
Yes, another producer whose output didn’t once disappoint in 2009, and besides having that little je ne sais quoi that makes me love his productions so much, he excels in many different styles, which is an automatic respect earner for me. The video below is my favourite of his 2009 productions and is featured on my promo mix Inside Me.
Stimming – The Loneliness
I could’ve presented Stimming’s whole Reflections album in this best of 2009 list, but this track stands out so much that I decided it deserved to be featured on its own. You can hear this track on my promo mix Inside Me.
The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs – Dark Side of the Moon
The Lips are in my opinion one of the only good rock bands in the U. S. of A., one that has consistently dared to explore different sonorities and structures and one that has avoided the pitfalls that are typical of trying to gain or retain an audience that is only superficially interested in their musical creations. Their version of the entire iconic Pink Floyd album, while it might seemingly help them gain a wider audience, probably won’t do so. Not because it is not good: far from it! But the usual “HOW could they do THAT to such a classic album!” type of reaction is easily predictable from 99% of the people who’ll listen to it (if you exclude their fan-base, I mean). Long live Coyne, Drozd et al.!
The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Live instrumentation dance-oriented rock that channels the spirit of prog rock, blues, disco and eveything in between, this band is made up of members from such bands as TV on the Radio, L’Trimm, Calla, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Mooney Suzuki, and Sí Se. One of their tracks is featured on my ilve mix at Picnik Electronik this past August.