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Surachai’s 2011 Playlist

2011 was one of the best years of music in recent memory. By following friends and distributors, I was introduced to a wealth of great music that made this year all the better. This list isn’t in any particular order but is separated between “electronic” and “metal” – seems to be vague and wrong enough to encompass everything I listen to.

Sonoio – Red

Big Black Delta – BBDLP

It’s no surprise that both of these artists were on my playlist for 2010 and now again for 2011 but both of these albums are huge steps forward for their projects.

Big Black Delta utilizes a nostalgic overdriven sound palette works perfectly for his style. BBDLP finalizes and assembles the singles that have been popping up seemingly random on the internet for the past year. Sonoio’ Red sonic palette has expanded far and beyond his previous heavily Buchla specific sound, creating a huge sound beautiful full sonic spectrum album. Both are catchy as hell and difficult to wear out.

Richard Devine – Risp EP

With it’s indefinite December release date, this is the reason to wait for “best of” lists. After too many years not releasing music, Richard Devine finally has released something and as always, its proper ridiculous electronics. With a focus on analog machines, particularly the modular synth, and with post production techniques Richard explores and expands on territory few can even imagine.

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972

Ravedeath is the only LP in Tim Hecker’s discography that is played at 33RPM on vinyl which led to an interesting first listen – but honestly it doesn’t really matter what speed you play his records, they engulf and stay with you.

James Blake – Self Titled

I don’t know much about James other than he’s young, recorded this album in his place, is on Warp and has an amazing sense of style and finesse when constructing a track. This is just a recommendation, not a biography. The vinyl catches the low end properly and would recommend going that route.

Alva Noto – Univrs

Cyclo – ID

Anything Carsten Nicolai releases has a consistent aural aesthetic and fortunately for me, I love his sound. When seeing Carsten’s name on the Cyclo record next to Ryoji Ikeda, I decided to gamble and buy it – What I got was an abbreviated and more aggressive collection of songs on the ID full length. Nicolai’s solo Univrs is probably my favorite out of the Alva Noto series.

Atari Teenage Riot – Is This Hyperreal?

I always found their previous albums’ digital shrillness hard to shake off but Is This Hyperreal seems mixed friendlier. Is This Hyperreal has an audio palette like Alec Empire’s solo work which obviously still is abrasive and hard as nails but doesn’t fatigue your ears so fast. Their music makes sense when you see this crew play out live.

Tombs – Path of Totality

Stumbling upon Tombs randomly on NPR, I streamed their entire album for almost 2 days straight and months later, Path of Totality hits the turntable regularly. Somewhere between molasses thick sludge and a quick agile black tone, Tombs weaves together something beautiful: a black sludge. Since finding out about them, I hunted down their previous releases which are equally as catchy/ brutal. They’re excellent live as well.

Deafheaven – Roads to Judah

While at Reckless Records, I remember seeing this album and writing down the information, went home, downloaded it, scanned it for 15 seconds and went back to reckless and bought the record. From the 3 seconds I interact with “KLVT” metalheads a year, I found out they hate Deafheaven and pretty much anything I really like. Great! Roads to Judah is one of the best debuts in recent memory. Check out their Demo, its equally as great. They’re great live and like to play their tracks fast.

Krallice – Diotima

I’m always confused by my favorite albums on first listen. Portishead’s Third was awkward at first, Massive Attack’s Heligoland didn’t seem to fit into itself and Krallice’s Diotima seemed longwinded and sprawling. But given time, like with the other aforementioned albums, Diotima is among my favorite albums. Diotima couldn’t have been a better succession of Dimensional Bleedthrough in its maturity and increasing epic compositions. There are so many peaks and valleys of ugly passages and beautiful rays of light in Diotima – its a journey. Hope to catch these guys live one day.

Ash Borer – Self Titled LP

Fell Voices – Self Titled LP

The Ash Borer Self titled has some of the best packaging this year. A beautiful matte black foundation with red foil engraved lettering. Because of these two bands, (who will probably grow to hate being mentioned together) I grow hopeful and optimistic when great metal comes from small pockets around the country and lays waste to the major bands. Its some of the most refreshing metal I’ve heard in a while.

Decapitated – Carnival is Forever

One of my favorite bands comes out with another brutal release after some horrible circumstances. I’m glad their revisit back to Decapitated was merciless, precise and strong as ever.

Hella – Tripper

A return to their original structure. I’m probably part of the minority that liked their full band approach in “There’s no 666 in Outerspace”, it was well executed, catchy and innovative and was hoping to hear more of Hella as a complete band but Tripper is an excellent return to a twisted ‘minimalism’ that only Hella is capable of. Also its one of the ugliest design/vinyl layouts I’ve ever seen. That’s not slang, its really… just ugly.

Retox – Ugly Animals

Anything with Gabe Serbian drumming and I’m in. Ugly Animals is a perfect length album for an abrasive and intense style that I found myself coming back for more. I’m glad Retox found itself on the perfect label, Ipecac, that gets Ugly Animals the proper exposure it deserves. When Gabe stepped off their live lineup they found an excellent replacement that definitely carries the torch. Obviously Retox is great live.

Honorable Mentions:
Sulaco – Build and Burn
Altar of Plagues – Mammal
Gridlink – Orphan
Absu – Abzu
American Heritage – Sedentary
Northless – Clandestine Abuse
Deaf Center – Owl Splinters
Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
False – Untitled
Myrmyr – Firestar
This Will Destroy You – Tunnel Blanket
The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Favorite Distributors
Gilead Media

Based out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Gilead Media have single handedly put out some of my favorite releases in the past couple years including the entire Krallice discography and some of this years playlist favorites including Northless, Ash Borer, False and Fell Voices. Their prices are incredible, shipping is cheap and fast, and their selection is always worth checking out. Also, they’re planning on throwing an incredible two day festival featuring bands from their roster in late April.

Halo Of Flies

Cory von Bohlen’s Halo of Flies from Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a selection so diverse and cheap that I am always scared of going to the site. I’ve sat down for hours and looked up/listened to every band on their distribution pages and came away with some of my favorite current bands. Shipping is always quick since I’m in Chicago and did I mention the prices? I did? Well go buy something.

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