mixtape: fours on the twenty four, or the best of aught twelve

In looking back at 2012 I put more thought into my personal musical identity than I had in probably the last half decade, and that’s a pretty amazing concept in-and-of-itself. Be it participation in LO&M on Facebook as a group, music sharing among friends, online gratification, wedding planning, more time spent on the Monday Morning Mixtape (how awesome is the year end AND the MMM landing on the same day, BTW!) or just the idea that I refuse to stagnate musically the same way I refuse to stop growing in any other way (including my waste-line?)

The lead track on an album usually is big and powerful and is supposed to set the tone for the album. Even if it’s not a single, it’s usually one of the more memorable songs when artists draft the undulation of the album experience correctly. Likewise somewhere around the forth or fifth song on the record it should peak again. These would be the last song of the first side and the first song of the second side of the old LP and even after the untimely phase out of vinyl in the mainstream cassettes typically used the same mechanism and it even continued onto the era of CD. The spot actually can be mapped to orchestral symphony, for example, with the opening sonata or allegro / fast introduction; a slow movement, such as adagio; a featurette such as a minuet in a solo / duet / trio, or a scherzo of the full ensemble; and finale of an allegro, rondo, or sonata. The context of the dynamics became key in the identifier bridging art to pop with soaring melody, memorable execution and individual grandiose in that third movement the same as 4 & 5 on the modern album.

The forth track of a disc features famous names like “stairway to Heaven” and “Iron Man” and the fifth track is no less decorated.It is because of that I will try my best to focus (regardless of personal preference) on the forth song because 2012 was such a “big” year for me… that’s not to say track 4 is the best or the most representative of the artist or this album but That IS What You will Get, So Deal and enjoy the albums as a whole should you feel so inclined to give a few voidable January days to absorb the previous year:

Typically, I calculate top listening by the number of spins compared to the length of time I had the album and that becomes the basis, along with what I believe the longevity in the overall listening catalog will be. In some cases though, records transcend that in their overall attempt at perfection, the artists past ability to produce emotional responses resonates especially well this time, or there’s something inherently special about their production, performance or composition that can’t be overlooked. When all was said and done these three by far and away are the cornerstone of what I enjoyed this year from that perspective. If you know me well, none of these are surprises at all – and some were already set up for big things a mid-summers night before:

“Bleeding the Pigs” Neurosis from Honor Found in Decay
“the Anarchist” Rush from Clockwork Angels
“Liquid Fire” Gojira from L’Enfant Sauvage

Unlike normal years where I’d immediately go to the tech and prog stuff (which aptly belongs next normally) I’m going to say that these misfits belong next for no other reason then, well, they do because they are really the next best of the rest with a nice transition included:

“Autumn / Extremophile Elite” Between the Buried and Me from the Parallax II: the Future Sequence
“Chamunda Temple Stampede” Tourniquet from Anseptic Bloodblath
“Before you, with you, after you” Therapy? from A Brief Crack of Light
“Don’t Leave Me (ne me quitte pas)” Regina Spektor from What We Saw From the Cheep Seats
“Parables and Levitation” Trillion Red from Metaphere

In keeping with the theme, if those first grouping represent the first movement, this next group gets artsy and tones it down a notch, or three, to produce some atmosphere, relax your soul, give you a chance to digest and absorb and fall into yourself as a “second movement.” It’s expected that of course I would include these artists, they really are among the best at what they do despite flying below the populous radar. My only “regret” is not making more time for their ilk because every time I do I realize how much it’s touching to special parts of my musical soul:

“Feel Alive” Agua de Annique (Anneke van Giersbergen) from Everything is Changing
“Precious Things” Tori Amos from Gold Dust
“the Racing Heart” Katatonia from Dead End Kings
“Lightening Song” Anathema from Weather Systems
“Stop the Clock” the Reasoning from Adventures in Neverland
“the Cardnial and I” Echolyn from echolyn
“Heroes for Ghosts” the Gathering from Disclosure
“Moments of Clarity” Children of Nova from Impossible Landscape

While we’re on some of the more inventive stuff, the wide world of prog deserves a mention in this years list. I’ve done more listening in off-shoots of prog this year than it seems like I probably have in a long time and these next few cut a fairly good cross section of the breath of the genre and some of the most listened to recordings from it for me:

“Orkan” Vintersorg from Orkan
“Liberation” the Devin Townsend Project from Epicloud
“Off the Grid” Project 86 from Wait for the Siren
“Die with a Bullet” Headspace from Anonymous
“the Chosen Ones” Prototype from Catalyst
“Fortune and Fate” Dreamscape from Everlight
“Illusion: Catharsis” Skyhrbor from Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos
“Ji” Periphery from II: This Time it’s Personal
“Sequential Vision” the Contortunist from Intrinsic

At this point, I’m obligated to mention an honorable mention in transition some artists that prove vocals are not a pre-req to making uniquely memorable music. Being a classically trained percussionist who survived a top undergraduate regiment only to falter on my inability to articulate anything remotely close to “melody” or even match a pitch, no vocals is alright by me, particularly if you take the approach some of these guys have:

“Garage Show” Cloudkicker from Fade
“Running towards the End” Dysrhythmia
“Call to Ground” the Echelon Effect from Field Recordings
“Access Granted” the Algorithm from Polymorphic Code

The next grouping of technical, progressive thrash, death, grind and otherwise nerd-metally stuff is the “climax” so to speak. This is your “third movement” and it definitely picks up the pace. By far this is probably the set of sub-genres that dominates my regular listening. As I get older it really is that I absorb extreme stuff diametrically more than I did in my most formative of years. Of the many possibilities, there were ten albums that might not have been the best but in this case were by far and away the most played and thus earned them the right to be included in no particular order:

“the Hurt that Finds You First” Meshuggah from Koloss
“the Throne of Kings” Psycroptic from Inherited Repression
“Those Damned Draft Dodgers” Cryptopsy from Cryptopsy
“the Axe of God” Gorod from a Perfect Absolution
“the Evangelist” Spawn of Possession from Incurso
“the Friends Who Come to Steal…” Nile from the Gates of Sethu
“Hopes” Beneath the Massacre from Inconus gruo
“a Drone in the Hive” Dyscarnate from And So It Came to Pass
“Self-Infliced Rapture” Ohmihility from Biogenesis
“Panophobia” the Agonist from Prisoners

And, technical executions aren’t limited to metalheads, occasionally the punk and hardcore kids can produce a nerdy side that’s pretty devastating on the neurons drawing on the artifacts of noise, screamo, mathcore and avant to produce this. With no tDEP or NJ to call upon this year I have to say that these next five were more than the requisite substitutes and then some. Honestly, there were some ties between four of these five and a few of the previous ten, that’s how good it has been this year:

“Devil’s Island” Architects from Daybreaker
“Lower the Blade” Carbomb from w^w^^w^w
“You Make Wonderful Pictures” Exotic Animal Petting Zoo from Tree of Tongues
“Bruised & Broken” I, the Breather from Truth & Purpose
“Sadness Comes Home” Converge from All We Love We Leave Behind

Did your head explode yet? Gee, I hope not, I’m not anywhere done with you yet! One of my all time fave bands Testament returned with a solid effort so thrash and death cross-over death gets a mention with some records to whip a pit up with these:

“the Undertow” Lamb of God from Resolution
“Wasted Worlds” As I Lay Dying from Awakened
“Eternity” Your Memorial from Redirect
“Teratogenesis” Revocation from Teratogenesis
“Ciniphes” Miseration from Tragedy has Spoken
“the Sky Bearer” Becoming the Archetype from I Am
“Stop Running” Illdisposed from Sense the Darkness
“True American Hate” Testament from Dark Roots of Earth
“Nothing Remains” Shadows Fall from Fire from the Sky
“Annihilator” Vision of Disorder from the Cursed Remain Cursed

Moving into the closing movement of the years best we’ll take the punk inspiration with a mis-mosh of moshable goodies from metalcore, hardcore and punk

“Open Letter” the Amity Affliction from Chasing Ghosts
“Follow My Voice” For All Those Sleeping from Outspoken
Cosmo’s Ladder Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense
“Rattan Cane” Propagandhi from Failed States
“This is the New Sound” Anti-flag from the General Strike
“Let Us Hear Your Voice” Pennywise from All or Nothing
“The Times” MxPx from Plans Within Plans
“Coin Toss Girl” the Bouncing Souls from Comet
“Drag My Body” Hot Water Music from Exister

and then these because really don’t know what to call this next group. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of things that seem to all go together in their ability to appeal to a slightly more mainstream group than the vast majority of the rest of the stuff I listen to. Of course, nothing is as straight forward as it seems, even with a bunch of songs like these:

“Stick a Toe In” Dinosaur Jr. from I Bet on Sky
“Blood on the Valley Floor” Soundgarden from King Animal
“Wake” Demon Hunter from True Defiance
“Escape” Fireflight from Now!
“Parking Lot” Nelly Furtado from the Spirit Indestructible
“I Hope You Get to Meet Your Meet Your Hero” Skunk Anasie from Black Traffic
“She’s 22” Norah Jones from Little Broken Hearts
“Death to My Hometown” Bruce Springsteen from Wrecking Ball
“No Oath, No Spell” Murder by Death from Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon
“Little Things” Baroness from Yellow

And finally, rock. Not the contrived Top-40 radio rock stuff but the gritty, guitar driven rock that hearkens back to big Marshall stacks, booming open tuned drums and dirty long hairs of a by-gone 70s drunken stoners. Brutally fuzzed riffs, strainehttps://thedmouse.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=postd voices and a heavy dose of guitar wanking has a nostalgic flair in the roots of what pure rock fury was and these were the bands that most summoned up that lush tapestry for me this year.

“the Curse” Down from IV Part I: the Purple EP
“An Alternative to Freedom” Witchcraft from Legend
“Your Tomorrow” Corrosion of Conformity from Corrosion of Conformity
“Depresedemic” the Levithian Hex from tLH
“Madness of an Archetect” High on Fire from De Vermis Mysteriis
“IV: Exclusion from Redemption” the Ocean from the Grand Inquisitor

Post-script – because i can…

“Mirror Water, Lightning Night” Kayo Dot from Gamma knife


About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny: https://thedmouse.wordpress.com/about-thedmouse/
This entry was posted in Entertainment, mixtape, music. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to mixtape: fours on the twenty four, or the best of aught twelve

  1. Ahh, so many music recommendations to listen to—some of which I know and some that I don’t. Thank you!

    • thedoormouse says:

      You’re very welcome. Enjoy the journey into what goes on in my headphones and, if you hadn’t heard, I’ve returned to the airwaves as well, so you can tune in to have your ears melted weekly as well now.

      Thanks for reading!

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