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Nic's Picks of 2016

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Repressed Records get the last word in on 2016 with our annual Staff Picks.

Nic’s Staff Picks for 2016

It kind of surprised myself with what records really resonated with me this year, of course there’s some long-time favourites in there but a lot of things that weren’t exactly what I thought I wanted to hear.  No embedded audio or video links for me, just my hamfisted words.

 

Small or Short Music

Cold meat – Jimmy’s Lipstick 7” (Helta Skelta)

Good Throb - S/T 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Border Menace EP cassette (self released)

Tackle - Benzedrine 12” (Another Dark Age)

Pappy cassette (Self Released)

Primo cassette (Hidiotic)

Absurd Cosmos Late Night - Self Titled (Index Clean)

Alex Macfarlane - S/T Cassette (Hobbies Galore)

Grotto - Manic Evil 7” (Pissfart)

Raus - Out/Love 12” (Self Released?)

 

Long Players

Babyfather - BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow ‎(Hyperdub)

A record that simultaneously made me scratch and nod my head. And burst into laughter while having to turn down the stereo because of the surprise sheets of white noise and police sirens.  I’m guessing this record is a commentary on British identity or Black British identity and there’s plenty more going on. A suitably weird record for a weird year. Should’ve launched 1000 think pieces. Look at that cover…

 

Korea Undok Group LP (Penultimate Press)

Korea Undok Group is actually a collective, not an individual artist as I thought when first hearing this LP. There’s a mystery around this collective that doesn’t point towards limited edition elitism, but consciously preserving anonymity. This record collects a bunch of short-ish ambient pieces that are heavy on murk. Deep within the tape hiss loops, rhythms and melodies are revealed. I feel my mind hears, or maybe invents new things every listen. The most disorientating and beautiful record I heard this year.

 

 

Francis Plagne – Funeral Mutes LP (Mould Museum)

I get why a lot of the new music I like will have very little visibility outside of a small, dedicated group of people. Some things are niche for a reason but this record shouldn’t be. Incredibly musical and considered folk-pop that’s inviting and catchy whilst sneaking in adventurous aspects of jazz, prog and electro-acoustic tinkering. Everything feels so considered while avoiding lifelessness. I love this record. Promoters, please consider Francis Plagne Band as main Australian tour support if you’re bring out King Crimson, Richard Thompson or Belle & Sebastian.

 

Counter Intuits - Monosyllabilly LP (Pyramid Scheme)

Ron House (Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Ego Summit) is an underground hero to some, or a guy that might have been mentioned in some Guided By Voices liner notes to others. This record brings to mind the first few LPs by The Fall (via that Ohio sensibility) and early Half Japanese. One of the great lyricists and in my books, here’s a taste:

“Password is my password. Password, capitals matter. My secret code is 123, I’m giving you my privacy. Please don’t please don’t pleast don’t please don’t share.”

 

Steven Wright – Repetition LP (Virtual Cool)

An immersive album from a young Tasmanian you may know as one half of synth-punk duo Bi-Hour. To me Repetition sounds like a modern, post-DIY version of Robert Wyatt & Peter Hammill’s brooding, abstract self-examinations. I could imagine him as a ye olde town crier or maybe standing on a soapbox in The Domain. Great use of piano and home electronics.
 

Torture Chain - Wasting Syndrome LP (540)

Incredible mysterious black metal project that avoids some of the tired aspects of the genre. Progressive but shoegaze/keyboard free and not afraid to embrace the early days of heavy metal. Doesn't really sound particularly like anyone to me but on first listen brings to mind Flames Of Hell, Bathory, Ash Pool and even the last demo and LP from Texas crossover group Iron Age.

 

David Nance – More Than Enough LP (Ba Da Bing)

More evidence that the best region for basement rock in the USA is the Midwest. Omaha local David Nance is a singer-songwriter in the same way Jim Sheppard (V3) and Peter Laughner (Rocket From The Tombs) are singer songwriters. Nance invited friends over to play his songs, they knocked it out in a couple of hours and here we have a raw/immediate rock ‘n’ roll record. For fans of: Meat Thump, Ego Summit, Pink Reason, Exile era Rolling Stones

 

Africans With Mainframes ‎– K.M.T. (Soul Jazz)

Mark Vernon - Lend An Ear, Leave A Word ‎ LP (Kye)

Exek – Biased Advice LP (Another Dark Age)

Holy Balm - Activity LP (Chapter)

Tim Coster – Research & Motion CD (Self Released)

Omegas - Power To Exist LP (Beach Impediment)

Miss Destiny - Miss Destiny LP (R.I.P. Society)

Neil Michael Hagerty - Denver LP (Drag City)

Centre Negative – Emotion is Cringe-y LP (Ever Never)  


 

Re-issues/Retrospectives…

Breakdown – 87 Demo LP (540/Painkiller)

"I'VE GOTTA RID MYSELF OF LIARS AND CHEATERS. AND ANYONE IN MY WAY IS GONNA GET BASHED". When I listen to this record I think this is the best and most dumb band ever.

 

Jacques Brodier ‎– Xhos De Villemahu 2 x LP(Penultimate Press)

I have a fairly good understanding of how far-out sounds are made; analogue synthesis, tape manipulation, etc, but WOW I have no idea how these sounds are made. Further research leads me to believe the older European fellow has some type of bicycle wheel/radio device that sucks all the sound out of the cosmos or something. A truly strange, singular vision and captivating record.

 

Kleenex / Lilliput - First Songs 2 x LP (Kill Rock Stars / Mississippi)

Sandra Bell - Dreams Of Falling LP (Straight To Video)

Carl Stone – Electronic Music from The 70s & 80s 3xLP (Unseen Worlds)

 

LABELS

These four labels released a lot of great music, generally on the cassette format. They deserve some recognition for their entire output and um, collective vision or something….

 

Nice Music is a label from Melbourne mostly focusing on “interesting” electronic music, I know that’s a troubling, elitist classification like IDM. Interesting electronic music for this label could mean deconstructed trap, electro-acoustic/ambient or dark-edged techno bangers. My two favourites from the label...

Papaphilia - 4 Animals Dream Of A Shadow  

Joe Talia / Andrew Chalk, Hanna Chetwin, Francis Plagne

 

Paradise Daily is obviously a huge driving force in the Sydney music underground. We’re lucky to have them. Obviously a strong link to the punk-DIY aesthetic but embracing weird and pop sounds for the post-Aussie Garage Invasion independent music community. My favourite release of there’s is... Glen Schenau - Only The Beautiful Cassette. Glen already has quite the back catalogue being a current or former member of Bent, Sky Needle, Kitchen's Floor and Per Purpose. This tape is exactly the type of thing I was hoping for from Glen, as it sounds like Glen! A tasteful distillation of Australian outsider-y post punk from the 80s and 90s. Think Tactics, Venom P Stinger, Small World Experience, Laughing Clowns, Cannanes.

 

For a few years running Altered State Tapes has been a staple of my listening, it’s almost like the 2010’s answer to Terse Tapes. From its beginning in more abstract, freeform territories to then delving with lo-fi house and techno, more recent releases the two realms have blurred. I don’t know where he finds a lot of these people and whether they identify with some tradition of electronic music, industrial, noise, post-punk or whatever, but together they feel very new and exciting. My favourite release on the label… Takahiro Mukai ‎– Granular Jelly cassette

 

Chemical Imbalance is an extremely prolific new label dealing mostly in tapes and CD-r’s. A home for some of the more eccentric, uncompromising verging on “outsider” sound makers in Australia. Some of their releases I don’t know if I’d want to listen to them all that often but I’m glad they exist. On the other hand I thought it was a brave move to release numerous cassettes of field recordings from Jeremy Hegge, but maybe something it’d like more as a concept than actually want to listen to repeatedly. But guess what? I listening to these two taped a shit-tonne and love the crap out of them….

Jeremy Hegge - amphibian noise songs from the mountains of kroombit tops Cassette

Jeremy Hegge - More Amphibian noise songs… Cassette

"As i stood by this pond on my first hot, humid night in Kroombit, after a long drive from Brisbane, my ears distorted with an intensity i've never experienced before or since due to the sonics of the earth. a band of dusky toadlets, northern banjo frogs, eastern dwarf tree frogs, rocket frogs, cane toads. These are the sounds of the wet season, recorded in February, 2016. Amphibian noise songs." J.H.