Thursday, December 29, 2005


It is difficult to pick up this weblog. Does one recap all that needs mentioning from the past three or four months or does one pretend the site is up to date and carry on as before? Hmmm…

There were plenty of fine CDs released this year and I guess it is right to celebrate this here. One of my favourite discoveries of 2005 was Sufjan Stevens. His ‘Seven Swans’ album – a year or two old now I think – has been playing on my MP3 player almost non-stop for the past few months to the extent that I put off exploring his album from this year ‘Come On Feel the Illinois’ in case it didn’t live up to the genius of the former. I needn’t have worried. Both albums are full of subtlety, delicate melody and, heck, whimsy. What else have I enjoyed this year? 'Campfire Headphase', the longingly anticipated new long player from Boards of Canada didn’t disappoint. Swirling soundscapes and bags of atmosphere were aided and abetted by, heaven forbid, a few guitars strummed by the reclusive electronic uberstars. 'Aerial', the new Kate Bush album was lovely and intelligent and unusual. The song all about pi on the first CD remains a favourite. Not many people could get away with that kind of eccentricity but the mighty Bush managed to sit songs about maths, washing machines, Elvis and Joan of Arc together with insouciant ease. I loved the new Go-Betweens pop album ‘Oceans Apart’ and really thought the Gorillaz’ ‘Demon Days’ was clever and knowing and funky but was tainted by mass appeal. I know that sounds snobby. My Morning Jacket’s album ‘Z’ - pronounced 'zee' I believe - was eminently listenable to and the latest new Joy Division, The Editors, lived up to that tag as well as any with a fantastically gloomy recording, ‘The Back Room’. S is going to arrange a copy of Vashti Bunyan’s new album soon and I look forward to that. The Observer Music Monthly printed a Top 100 albums of the year review recently which led me to investigate Camille’s album ‘Le Fil’ which is a kind of French Portisheadesque ambient thing with, joy of joys, a drone that runs throughout the whole album. It really is rather beautiful and I have been listening to it while I pen these words. The Observer also pointed me towards the blind Malian couple Amadou et Miriam and their exuberant album ‘Dimanche a Bamako’. I sometimes worry that I only play miserable, contemplative stuff but this soaring, infectious recording bucks that particular trend. It’s noisily life-affirming.