Rich Allen Poop ’10

Favorite Things ~ 2010 ALBUMS

cover of Daniel Bjarnason ~ Processions  Buy New or Used via amazon
Daniel Bjarnason ~ Processions (Bedroom Community)
2010’s list begins with a one-two punch from the Bedroom Community label: two albums released on the same January day. As the director of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Bjarnason had won numerous national awards for his insightful arrangements, but had only produced one original song, the stunning “All Sounds to Silence Come”. Processions presents his genius to the rest of the world. His wild atonal leaps and forays into dissonance are balanced here by passages of intense sweetness and flickering light. The album ventures into places that no one knew existed, and returns with unknown species of sound.

cover of Valgeir Sigurðsson ~ Draumalandið  Buy New or Used via amazon
Valgeir Sigurðsson ~ Draumalandið (Bedroom Community)
A who’s who of Bedroom Community artists joined forces for this album, including Daniel Bjarnason, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon. The orchestral score was created to accompany a documentary on Icelandic deforestation, but its dramatic grandeur needs no accompanying visuals. Prior to this year, Sigurðsson had been known primarily as a producer, but with this tour-de-force, his full artistry has been revealed.

cover of Greg Haines ~ Until the Point of Hushed Support  Buy mp3 from amazon
Greg Haines ~ Until the Point of Hushed Support (Sonic Pieces)
Berlin’s Grunewald Church was the setting for many exquisite recordings this year, none as delicate and expansive as this one. A lone piano becomes two and is joined by saxophone and stringed quartet; a sense of sorrow permeates the air. The four tracks work as one and serve as a requiem for the modern age. Sonic Pieces’ book-like packaging adds a touch of desert-toned elegance.

cover of Jónsi ~ Go  Buy New or Used via amazon
Jónsi ~ Go (EMI)
The songs are in English, and ebullient; not what most expected from the Sigur Rós frontman. Some dismissed the music as “too pop,” while others happily embraced it. The music bursts with prismatic colors, and Jónsi’s lover was certainly glad to have such a thing dedicated to him. Fame has not changed the artist; if anything, it’s made him more generous, as demonstrated by the array of available options, including a limited edition CD/DVD combo and a live set.

cover of Talons ~ Hollow Realm  Buy New or Used via amazon
Talons ~ Hollow Realm (Big Scary Monsters)
When it comes to riffs, Hollow Realm is a bowl of Chunky Soup or a Hungry Man TV Dinner. The guitars are joined by double violins, a rarity in the math-rock world. The energy level never abates; it’s all action, all the time, raucous and exciting ‘til the very end. With this album, Talons makes good on the promise of their early tracks (collected on the Commemorations disc); they’ve gone from unknown to the top of their genre.

cover of C-Drone Defect ~ Dystopia  Buy New or Used via amazon
C-Drone Defect ~ Dystopia (NoiTekk)
It’s hard to tackle an older sound without being caught in a time warp, but C-Drone Defect succeeds, sounding more like FLA than FLA has been in recent years. The growled vocals, big choruses, programmed beats, synths and film cues are all here – it’s like a reunion of the genre’s best elements. The remixes are fun, but no match for the originals.

cover of Hummingbird ~ Our Fearful Symmetry  Listen at Fluid
Hummingbird ~ Our Fearful Symmetry (Fluid Audio)
With the physical format on the wane and the digital format on the rise, artists began to change tactics, offering limited edition, handmade releases that often sold out in a matter of hours. Hummingbird’s album, which included an antique photographic slide and a pine cone, was one of these. Much was made of the artist’s identity, as he recorded under a pseudonym. Suffice it to say that this is his best work: an instrumental short story burned to disc, replete with static, cello and typewriter keys.

cover of Strië ~ Sléptis  Buy from Soundscaping
Strië ~ Sléptis (Soundscaping)
Sléptis (Lithuanian for “hidden) is an album born of isolation. After achieving a modicum of mainstream success, the artist retreated from the world to produce this stunningly original cross-genre work. Her obsessive attention to detail yields multiple rewards for the attentive listener, as even the tiniest sounds have import. While the artist may choose to remain hidden, we can be glad her music has not.

cover of Skjølbrot ~ Maersk  Buy from Skjølbrot
Skjølbrot ~ Maersk (Self-Released)
A fascination with the sonic properties of abandoned container ships led to this uniquely haunting release, which incorporates the sounds of demolition equipment, an Exocet strike and an Alan Lomax 78. The drones are intensely loud, the dynamic contrast extreme; these field recordings are not meant to lull, but to overwhelm.

cover of These New Puritans ~ Hidden  Buy New or Used via amazon
These New Puritans ~ Hidden (Domino)
Brass, bass, keyboards and taiko drums made this the year’s most surprising shift: a punk band gone orchestral. The sound is bigger than it has any right to be, and oh so pure. A later album of hip-hop mixes, however, turned out to be totally superfluous. Early copies arrived in a black hardbound book, complete with sheet music and illegible signatures.

Antonymes ~ Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the People (hardbound book with photographs)
Plinth ~ Music from Smalls Lighthouse (hardbound die-cut book, photo, and a demo CD3”)
*AR ~ Wolf Notes (two chapbooks, one of poetry and one of prose, and a phial of incense)
V/A ~ Rural Colours Subscription Series (handsewn cloth sleeves, each containing 3 CD3”s)
Sleeps in Oysters ~ The Brambles in Starlight (CD3” wrapped in a ball of hand-woven wool)

Songs ~ Vocal
Hurts, “Wonderful Life” – Remix (from Kitsune Maison Compilation 9)
Björk, “To Lee, With Love, Nick” (video only)
LetHerDive, “The Bravest” (from The Closet)
Sarah McLachlan, “Bring On the Wonder” (from Laws of Illusion)
The Lodger, “Have a Little Faith in People” (from Flashbacks)

Tracks ~ Instrumental
The Toy Library, “Secret Lives of a Building” (from Haunted Woodland – Volume One)
Stubborn Tiny Lights, “Sieve of Eratosthenes” (from The Infinite Regress)
(The) Slowest Runner (In All the World), “Zoe Machete Control” (from We, Burning Giraffes)
Dustin O’Halloran, “Opus 37” (from Vorleben)
Abel Korzeniowski, “Becoming George” (from the soundtrack to A Single Man)

Music Videos
“Nuit Blanche” Directed by Arev Manoukian, music by Samuel Bisson.
“Flush” Directed by Tom Werber, artwork by Dan Hillier, music by Losers.
“Pigeons” Directed by DANIELS, music by The Hundred in the Hands.
“Ants in My Scanner” Directed by Francois Vautier, music by Infected Mushroom (“Franks”)
“Hull” Directed by Hilary Sloane, music by Trjaeu
“16mm” Directed by Jonathan Dueck, music by various (DVD: Transit Presents)
“Demonstration Reel” Directed by Daniel Hayhurst & Reuben Sutherland, music by Sculpture
“Le banc” Dir. by Crowther/Salamone, music by Sissi Lewis (“Light Through Blinds”)
“Telephoneme” Directed by MK12, music by MK12
“INSCT” Directed by Johannes Timpernagel, music by Skyence

Best Films of 2010
How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, True Grit

Television Series
Lost, The Walking Dead, Fringe, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, The Vampire Diaries

Books ~ Literature
George Prochnik, In Pursuit of Silence
Kyle Gann, No Such Thing As Silence
Jon Stewart, Earth: The Book
Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers
Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird

Books ~ Art & Design
Lynda Barry, Picture This
Simon Garfield, Just My Type
Roettinger, Treff, Hadis and Owings, Touchable Sound
Deborah Underwood & Renata Liwska, The Quiet Book
Richard Minksy, The Art of American Book Covers