25 Favorite Releases of 2017

In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share some of my favorite releases of the year. Obviously not exhaustive; just some personal highlights. Quite a few of these are giant major label releases, so I’ll be taking down those download links quickly or leaving them off accordingly. Let me know if links are broken. Happy holidays!

 

Previously: 2016 | 2015

Alice Coltrane – Divine Songs, 1987
buy comp / download
Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir – Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Vol. 2, 1987
buy / download
Cleaners From Venus – Going To England, 1987
download
David Sylvian – Secrets Of The Beehive, 1987
buy / download
Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses, 1987
buy
dip in the pool & Masahide Sakuma – 黒いドレスの女 OST, 1987
download
Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstadt & Emmylou Harris – Trio, 1987
buy
Elicoide – Elicoide, 1987
buy / download
Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full, 1987
buy / download
Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle – Baby Wants To Ride/Your Love, 1987
buy / download
Geoffrey Landers – Many Hands Make Light, 1987
buy
George Michael – Faith, 1987
buy
Haruomi Hosono – The Tale Of Genji, 1987
download
Ichiko Hashimoto – Mood Music, 1987
download
Isabelle Antena – Hoping For Love, 1987
buy / download
Laraaji – Essence/Universe, 1987
buy / download
Masahiro Sugaya – Music From Alejo, 1987
download
Meredith Monk – Do You Be, 1987
buy / download
Michael Jackson – Bad, 1987
buy
Pet Shop Boys – Actually, 1987
buy
Phuture – Acid Tracks, 1987
buy / download
Pizzicato Five – Pizzicatomania, 1987
download
Prince – Sign O’ The Times, 1987
buy
Sinead O’Connor – The Lion And The Cobra, 1987
buy
Yasuaki Shimizu – Music For Commercials, 1987
buy / download

 

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 7: Voices Special

I made a two hour mix for NTS Radio of songs with vocals that are significant to me. I had originally set out to focus on experimental vocals, but I realized that so much of what might sound experimental to western ears—Tibetan chant, Inuit throat singing, Chinese folk—is deeply traditional, not experimental at all. Instead, I approached this as two hours of vocal milestones, be they from technical, stylistic, or emotive standpoints. It’s not possible to make a two hour comprehensive survey of strong vocal traditions, nor of the most important singers, though there are quite a few of both categories in here. Putting this together was hard, and while I could easily have spent years digging and rethinking, I set a month time limit to ensure that I would finish it at all.

As I was making this I also thought a lot about how Björk framed her almost entirely vocal record Medúlla as a response to September 11th–both the event itself and the subsequent wave of patriotism and xenophobia that she experienced as a foreigner living in New York. Making an all-vocal album was, for her, a coping mechanism and a means of trying to reconnect with what it means to be a human.

Lastly, a note that this isn’t as listenable or poppy as the mixes that I typically make, though I did try to arc it in a way that feels good. I’m not really sure what its ideal listening environment is–it probably involves headphones–so I hope that you enjoy it all the same! If you’d like an mp3 version you can download it here. Thank you for listening 💜

Tracklisting:
1. The Impressions – For Your Precious Love
2. Meredith Monk – Strand (Gathering)
3. Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Genesis (abridged)
4. Bessie Griffin & The Gospel Pearls – Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
5. Philippine Madrigal Singers – Pamugun (comp. Francisco Feliciano)
6. Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes – Jusqu’à Ce Que La Force De T’aimer Me Manque (excerpt)
7. Emma Kirkby & Gothic Voices – O Euchari (comp. Hildegard von Bingen)
8. Björk – Pleasure Is All Mine
9. The Ronettes – Baby I Love You (Isolated Vocals) (excerpt)
10. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir – Arc Descents
11. Unknown Artists – Sumi Yeinyo (Hani Crying Song) (Southern China)
12. The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (Alternate Version)
13. John Jacob Niles – Go ‘Way From My Window
14. The Tallis Scholars – Spem In Alium, Motet for 40 Voices (comp. Thomas Tallis)
15. Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Doll’s Polyphony
16. Young Thug – All Over
17. Ghédalia Tazartès – Une Voix S’en Va
18. Yma Sumac – Taita Inty (Virgin Of The Sun God)
19. Arthur Miles – Lonely Cowboy, Pt. 2
20. Angkanang Kunchai With Ubon-Pattana Band – Isan Lam Plearn (excerpt)
21. The Hilliard Ensemble – Viderunt Omnes (comp. Pérotin)
22. Ustad Ghulam Ali & Asha Bhosle – Salona Sa Sajan Hai Aur Main Hoon
23. Patti Page – Confess (excerpt)
24. Monks of Gyütö Tantric College – Sangwa Düpa (excerpt)
25. Amália Rodrigues – Gaivota (excerpt)
26. Unknown Artist – Akazehe Par Une Jeune Fille (Burundi)
27. Anna Homler & Steve Moshier – Sirens (excerpt)
28. Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir – Stani Mi, Maytcho (Get Up, My Daughter)
29. David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir – Rainbow Voice
30. Lucy Amarualik & Mary Sivuarapik – Song Of A Cooking Seal Flipper
31. Dr. Octagon – Halfsharkalligatorhalfman
32. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Rapture (excerpt)
33. The Hilliard Ensemble – Sabbato Sancto – Responsorium 5 (comp. Carlo Gesualdo)
34. Linda Jones – Your Precious Love (excerpt)

Ata Kak – Obaa Sima, 1994 (reissued 2015)

Ghanaian musician A Yaw Atta-Owusu, aka Ata Kak, recorded and self-produced Obaa Sima in 1994 in his home studio while living in Toronto. In spite of only 50 cassette copies being produced, the tape has enjoyed cult status over the past decade. Still, scouring the internet turns up virtually no information about him, which will change today. Awesome Tapes From Africa‘s Brian Shimkowitz has finally tracked him down after years of searching, and is restoring and rereleasing Obaa Sima on all formats, 21 years after its original release.

Obaa Sima lies somewhere in between highlife, house, hip hop, new jack swing, and electro, produced rough and dry. Without wanting to suggest that this is a kitschy bedroom-tape artifact (it’s not), what makes this so exciting is its rawness and deliberate playfulness. Ata Kak seems to have exploited his minimalist production methods on purpose and clearly had a lot of fun doing it. The music feels pixelated and hyper-saturated at the same time, like playing Pacman through 3D glasses.

 Ata Kak is a wicked rapper, and his hopped-up flow takes center stge, sometimes backed by pitched-up backing choruses of what sound like his own voice. The result is joyous and strange, a window into something that children of the internet will never be able to experience firsthand–this having been made in 1994, right before dial-up became ubiquitous in America and the world began to shrink. Obaa Sima is the end of an era, the end of (global, if not local) anonymity and microcosms, the last of glee and spontaneity. It’s a vibrant moment that presumably happened without documentation, leftfield and DIY to its core. Obaa Sima has a lot more going on than just nostalgia, though–it’s warped and frenetic and a little scary in its relentlessness. We’re looking forward to reading more about Ata Kak Yaw Atta-Owusu. For whom did he make this music? Was he homesick? How much did it circulate in Ghana? We like to imagine that he was dancing as if no one was watching, because no one was watching, and that was totally fine by him.

Preview the anthemic, blazing “Daa Nyinaa” below. It belongs on every summer mixtape, ever. Side note that this amazing video footage is unrelated to the song and there’s a bit of mastering on the audio. If you want to hear the original recordings, they’re all over YouTube.

buy: tape / itunes / vinyl

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