Mark Zip Poop ’10

cover of Robyn - Body Talk  Buy New or Used via amazon
Robyn – “Body Talk” [Konichiwa/Cherrytree ]
The three shortish CDs/longish EPs which go to make up this release were by far my most loved and listened to items over the year. The combination of dance and pop is nothing new, of course, but the addition of Robyn’s nasty attitude is what makes the difference here. After all, the first track on Body Talk Part 1 was “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do”, and while it is actually the second track on the full length CD, moved down the running order to make room for the awesome single “Dancing On My Own”, that is as good a motto for her recent career as any. Part 2 featured a filthy collabo with Snoop Dogg called “U Should Know Better”. “Dancing on My Own” is still wonderful all these listens later as it works on so many different levels, not the least of which is a bitter stalker anthem. These 3 CDs were also pretty much the only ones that I could play for the kids on my block and not have them look at me like I sprouted a second head.

cover of Flying Lotus Cosmogramma
Buy New or Used via amazon
cover of Teebs - Ardour
Buy New or Used via amazon

Flying Lotus“Cosmogramma” [Warp] – Teebs“Ardour” [Brainfeeder]
Two memorable and confounding releases from the LA bass scene. I turned to these often and was confused and delighted by turns. “Cosmogramma” sometimes strikes me as crazily inventive and out there, and sometimes I think it is a “Dark Side of the Moon” for the bass generation. One of the founding myths of “Ardour” is that Teebs used discarded christmas records and the varieties of bells and scratches on them to build the record. That makes for layers and textures. It also makes for “muso” alarm bells. Could it be that every generation and scene gets the wanky musos it deserves?

cover of Rusko - OMG  Buy New or Used via amazon
Rusko“OMG” [Mad Decent]
Rusko’s debut long -player came just as the commercial dubstep scene was bifurcating (again) and people started talking about “brostep”. That’s a fun and descriptive moniker and there’s a place for that johnny-come-lately wobble, for sure. But as one of the guys who represented the wobble the longest and best, headz eyes were on him, wondering if he would stick with it or move on. Of course, he decided to do both. There’s wobble, naturally, but there’s also house, electro and a brilliant single,“Hold On” featuring Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors.

cover of DJ Nate - Da Trak Genious  Buy New or Used via amazon
DJ Nate – “Da Trak Genious” [Planet Mu UK]
The ‘juke / footwurk’ scene throws up many oddities, not the least of which is Nate. He makes a sort of sped up and updated version of the ghettotech/house sound. He finds a loop he likes and then hammers it. And hammers it. And hammers it. Just when you think it will change, he hammers it again. The beats are basic but shift subtly throughout. The effect is disorienting, willfully weird and disturbingly refreshing. I’m pretty sure Nate would say that I am overthinking it as I try to parse it. That the tracks were made in his bedroom in a couple of afternoons and that he intended them for Chicago kids in unusually grainy YouTube videos and not for me. My answer, “So what, you put them out there and moved on to the next track the next afternoon, I’m trying to figure out why they attract me so much”

cover of Magnetic Man - Magnetic Man  Buy New or Used via amazon
Magnetic Man – “Magnetic Man” [Columbia UK]
Skream, Benga and Artwork combine with various guest vocalists to produce what was hyped as a “dubstep supergroup”, a term which should have been retired long ago. The result is more of a representation of the underground in the overground than we had any right to expect. Ms Dynamite a highlight. John Legend less so. MM also performed with a full string section for BBC Radio at the Maida Vale Studios. Look for the videos online, remarkable.

cover of V.A. - Blow Your Head: Diplo Presents: Dubstep
Buy New or Used via amazon
cover of V.A. - Worth the Weight: Bristol Dubstep Classics
Buy New or Used via amazon

V.A.Blow Your Head: Diplo Presents: Dubstep [Mad Decent] V.A.Worth the Weight: Bristol Dubstep Classics [Punch Drunk]
In “Blow Your Head” Diplo tries to bridge the old and the new and largely succeeds. You could argue that the inclusion of the Caspa remix of Rusko’s “Cockney Thug” is lamentable, having been played to death and having been anthologized plenty. But as a representation of then and now, it works. The Bristol comp, on the other hand, expressly strives for a historical perspective and, mostly because the choice and the scene is localized, succeeds very well. The sound is tilted towards the heavy end, but some of the more recent floaty stuff is here too. It’s encouraging to me that even in this time of instant access to scenes from around the world, a sound can evolve and thrive in a locale. Music is divorcing itself from physical manifestations and that divorce will continue into local manifestations, but not just yet, please.

cover of Sleigh Bells – Treats
Buy New or Used via amazon
cover of Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be
Buy New or Used via amazon

Sleigh Bells“Treats” [N.E.E.T./Mom & Pop] Dum Dum Girls“I Will Be” [Sub Pop]
Hey, who *isn’t* a sucker for girl-group noise-pop? It’s a sound which will be with us until the heat death of the universe. The Sleigh Bells CD got a fair bit of hype, and I liked it plenty, but the Dum Dum Girls just painted a big grin on me every time out. This Richard Gotterer produced artifact will get us a long way to the end.

cover of Agent Ribbons - Chateau Crone  Buy New or Used via amazon
Agent Ribbons“Chateau Crone” [Antenna Farm]
This group was my cruelest musical discovery of the year. Camera Obscura talked about them, I listened to the earlier record and watched a few vids, went gaga for them and then found out a couple of days later that they had played in Tivoli the very day I was becoming infatuated with them! Gaah! This, the second CD, came out a few weeks later and I played it the rest of the year. Generally speaking, the presence of a cello on a club stage or in a ‘rock’ recording is a very dodgy proposition. They use it sparingly and, hey, off-kilter songs like this and the characters in them sometimes benefit from dodginess.

cover of Tracey Thorn - Love and Its Opposite
Buy New or Used via amazon
cover of Delphic - Acolyte
Buy New or Used via amazon

Tracey Thorn“Love and Its Opposite” [Merge] Delphic “Acolyte” [Dangerbird /Polydor]
I put these two together because they are both produced by Ewen Pearson. His approach to both is different and yet the sound is similar. Years ago the Thorn record would have been called “grown folks music” (or perhaps even “quiet storm”) and indeed it is by far the most mature of his year’s list for me. Some folks might call it boring, but I’m attracted to the characters and her voice. If I had had my heart broken recently, this is the record in which I would drown. On the Delphic record Pearson took a band from the depths of the anonymous indie trenches and, by dint of sheen, polish and careful beats, made them into the latest band having to protest that they are not New Order.

cover of Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya - Dark Sunrise  Buy New or Used via amazon
Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya “Dark Sunrise” [Now-Again]
For the last 10 years we have been going further and further afield and deeper and deeper into the vaults to find all things psychedelic. Here we have a 2 CD set from the leader of the Zam-rock scene. A fine booklet with interviews provides context. Oh, and the music is as wigged out as any you care to mention. I haven’t listened to so much fuzz and wah-wah in years.

cover of M.I.A.  - /\/\ /\ Y /\
Buy New or Used via amazon
cover of M.I.A. - Vicki Leekx

M.I.A.“/\/\ /\ Y /\” [N.E.E.T./XL] / “Vicki Leekx” [mix tape]
The first was a really good record which suffered in comparison to the impossible standards set by her earlier work and the backlash against her was uneccessarily harsh. So she responded with a free mix tape with some reworked tracks and let the beats do the talking. I thought it was a good return to form, despite the fact that at least one producer listed on the “artwork” denied any involvement.

cover of V.A. - Annie Mac Presents 2010  Buy New or Used via amazon
V.A. – “Annie Mac Presents 2010” [Island UK]
The best snapshot of electronic based dance music of the year (even though there are a couple of 2009 items in the mix), this 2 CD / 35 track set included several remarkable remixes. The TC remix of Rihanna “Rude Boy” was a particular favourite I really wanted to hear on the radio and not the more anodyne US version. Also included beauties from LCD, Hot Chip, Dennis Ferrer, I Am Fake Blood, Marina, Tinie Tempah, Katy B and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Darkstar – “North” V.A. (Mixed by Scuba) “Sub: Stance” … Horsepower Productions “Quest For The Sonic Bounty” … Jamie Woon “Night Air”… Skream “Outside the Box” … Four Tet – “There Is Love in You” …Khaira Arby “Timbuktu Tarab” … Gyptian “Hold You” (over 2 years old and still jumps out at you) … LCD Soundsystem “This Is Happening” … Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate “Ali & Toumani” (2005 recordings) … Belle & Sebastian– “Write About Love”Oneman – “DJ Mix – Rinse 11”James Blake – “CMYK”

Wished I was at: Pet Shop Boys at Glastonbury. On video it looked amazing , with countless costume changes and a set being (de)constructed in back.

Also wished I saw: England’s cricketers beating Australia to retain the Ashes, on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years.

Glad I Saw: New Pornographers at Bearsville Theatre. Rehearsing for the tour, the band was loose and amused. And Neko was a force of nature. I even asked the soundman if she need a mic… “barely”   @markzip