The Year in Music

An additional New Year’s Blog Resolution that must be added to the previous 2017 post is to write more about music.

When I first moved to London, eagerly anticipating the tutelage of Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun, I had intended to step away from the visual arts and write much more about music and sound arts. I ended up writing about political philosophy instead…

What is far more depressing than a lack of music writing, however, is a lack of music listening in general. I lost the ability to study with background music and having to put my record collection in storage, selling some of my more prized LPs so I could survive in the big city, has meant that this year has been one of the quietest I’ve ever known.

Thankfully, since finishing my studies and starting this blog, I’ve managed to put out two mixes: Exits and The Ritual. Expect a lot more where that came from in 2018.

I made up for the quiet at home by enjoying many loud nights out, thanks to the freedom of a full-time student schedule. The year was peppered with a number of raucous squat parties around Elephant & Castle and I lost count of how many times I saw Kode9 DJ in 2017.

Regardless of the frequency, Kode9 was also responsible for the best DJ set I saw this past year as part of April’s Record Store Day celebrations at Copeland Gallery in Peckham. The moment below – a perfect blend of DJ Rashad and Sister Nancy – was one of many highlights that night.

That was also the night that the fire alarm repeatedly went off in the venue. The party continued with the lights on with no one prepared to leave regardless of whether there was a fire or not.

(There wasn’t).

Another particularly serendipitous and fraught night involved meeting Andrew Ashong after a conference at Goldsmiths, at which Kodwo Eshun premiered the Otolith Group’s Julius Eastman film. We bonded over my past life as a visual artist working on videos for electronic musicians, and he invited me and a friend to a secret basement party. That night terrorists killed 8 people on London Bridge and around Borough Market. The night was spent trying to pretend it wasn’t happening, dancing, afraid to leave the venue.

On top of most other listening experiences signifying some sort of remembrance for Mark Fisher, it’s been a weird and emotional year for my ears.

What I’d like to do here is list a bunch of my favourite musical experiences from over the last year, followed by a more usual album list…

So, in chronological order:

Monday 16th January 2017

What would have been Mark Fisher’s first Postcapitalist Desire session of year instead became the first of many memorials.

We listened to his last mix posted on his k-punk blog: No More Miserable Monday Mornings.

Wednesday 18th January 2017

The first Ø night at Corsica. Kode9 plays a 5-hour set with the first hour dedicated to Mark’s favourite music. Delia Derbyshire is mixed into Katak-summoning aural assault by Orphan Drift before a very tearful playing out of Japan’s Ghosts – the first of many.

Saturday 21st January 2017

A wake is held for Mark at Kodwo Eshun’s house. We make food for everyone whilst listening to Solange’s A Seat at the Table.

Friday 2nd February 2017

Cosey Fanni Tutti plays a stonking set of techno sketches on Humber Street in Hull.  The reissue later in the year of Time To Tell offered a long overdue reappraisal of her solo efforts.

Thursday 23rd February 2017

I give a lecture at Goldsmiths – Monastic Vampirism – and made a mix for it.

Sunday 26th February 2017

The night I learnt that the undergrads are better at throwing parties than the postgrads. GALA’s Freed from Desire becomes a regular earworm of 2017.

Wednedsay 1st March 2017

I’ve had some involvement with William Doyle’s next album (FKA East India Youth) and saw him play new material out at Brixton Academy in March. The pre-master of the new album has been on constant rotation this year – by far his best yet, with a little more than an aural dollop of the Ballardian.

Saturday 18th March 2017

Carter Tutti Void play Hull.

Friday 24th March 2017

Raime, Mica Levi and Actress play Village Underground. I mostly associate Actress with getting stoned under the Humber Bridge and perhaps it is some sort of drug psychosis flashback that gives me a panic attack, forcing me to leave early.

Mica Levi’s DJ set before this is likewise a rollercoaster. Consisting mostly of Jungle, she pulls the carpet out from under the whole venue by playing Counting Crows’ Colorblind. Somehow, it really works.

Thursday 30th March 2017

Factory Floor play Heaven. Having been a fan for a very long time, it is my first time seeing them as a duo. Just like the album itself, the loss of a member has not occasioned any drop in power or energy. Still one of the best live bands around.

Wednesday 19th April 2017

Nkisi and Proc Fiskal play the 4th Ø night.

Thursday 11th May 2017

Week 3 of The Fisher-Function: we listened to Mark’s Xenofeminist mix My Chest Was Full of Eels, Pushing Through My Usual Skin (Descent into Xen0cean).

Tuesday 16th May 2017

Our reading group for The Weird and the Eerie reads the chapter on The Fall and we listen to Grotesque:

Thursday 18th May 2017

Gazelle Twin joined us for The Fisher-Function to talk all things goth and body horror.

Wednesday 7th June 2017

A house party where the host violently insisted on being the only DJ. After she went to sleep, I played a load of jungle and made a bunch of new friends.

Sunday 11th June 2017

A dinner is held in Bermondsey to celebrate the end of The Fisher-Function with DJ sets and performances. We all sing along to Japan’s rendition of Ghosts on Top of the Pops and this is repeated a few days later at the undergraduate degree show.

Thursday 22nd June 2017

Laurel Halo at Ø.

Tuesday 4th July 2017

Mollie Zhang plays the best techno set of the year in a squat in Elephant & Castle.

Sunday 16th July 2017

Terre Thaemlitz DJs a Sunday afternoon in Brixton and she plays Midnight in Peckham which is probably the club highlight of my whole year.

Wednesday 19th July 2017

Dillinja drops a (quite literally) bone-rattling set of 90s jungle at Ø.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Mark Fisher & Justin Barton’s LondonUnderLondon is installed in the backroom at Corsica with more than enough low-hanging camo netting to make for a Drowned World atmosphere.

Wednesday 27th September 2017

I’ve long admired Lorde and her first album came out at a prescient time for me in 2013. It occasioned by own move back to Hull, broke and few job prospects, around the same time that my mother had a breakdown and she has never been the same since.

The melancholy of that album spoke of lost teenage years that I felt particularly in tune with at that time as I returned to my hometown and felt more attached to it whilst completely out of sync with it at the same time. I managed to escape for a winter in Copenhagen which was dry and crisp and otherworldly and listened to it the whole time wishing I could stay there forever.

The bravado and sad glamour of her second album again felt prescient as I tried to embody the fantasy of London life in all its melodrama, feeling largely better off if still faltering just below the surface and I loved the album for that.

I bought my girlfriend and I tickets to see her at Alexander Palace in September and it was surprisingly emotional night and, I might add, one of the best gigs I’ve been to in years.

Friday 24th November 2017

Lee Gamble at Tate Modern, blogged about here.

Friday 8th December 2017

The Caretaker and Grouper at the Barbican, blogged about here.

The albums listened to most when I’ve actually had the chance:

  • AFX – London 03.06.17
  • Call Super – Arpo
  • Chino Amobi – Paradiso
  • Fever Ray – Plunge
  • Four Tet – New Energy
  • Gas – Narkopop
  • Godflesh – Post Self
  • Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid
  • Kara-Lis Coverdale – Grafts
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
  • Laibach – Also Sprach Zarathustra
  • Lee Gamble – Mnestic Pressure
  • Liars – TFCF
  • Lorde – Melodrama
  • M.E.S.H. – Hesaitix
  • Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me
  • Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time
  • Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement – Ambient Black Magic
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto – async
  • Slowdive – Slowdive
  • SZA – CTRL
  • Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

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