Wallace Wylie’s Top Ten of 2012
By Wallace Wylie
2012 has been my favourite year for music in probably a decade. I bought more new albums this year than the past three combined (though I did stop writing to a large extent which was a result of personal circumstances too mundane or private to recount here). Maybe it hasn’t actually been the best in a decade, though. Maybe this is just the most engaged I’ve been with music and music culture in over a decade. It would be something of a coincidence if in a year where I felt like I actually cared more about music culture, the quality of music just happened to leap up. Anyway, here’s what I consider to be the 10 best albums of 2012:
1) Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes
If Cosmogramma was a disconcerting spiritual epic, then Until The Quiet Comes is the soundtrack to a more personal journey. Personal in the sense that it allows the listener to dive in and find themselves between the notes and beats, unlike Cosmogramma where it felt so claustrophobic that it seemed there was barely even room to breathe never mind join in. It’s a nighttime album, one that inhabits the twilight state between being awake and being asleep. Makes slipping into dreams easier. Makes your dreams more colourful.
2) THEESatisfaction – AwE NaturalE
Awe NaturalE takes jazz, funk, and hip-hop and covers everything in blue. Blue notes that bend and rub against the beat. It feels related to the Native Tongues collective, to the eclecticism and playful sensuality of The Love Below. In other words it feels fantastic.
3) Chromatics – Kill For Love
Another nighttime album. Kill For Love functions as both a backdrop and an impressionist portrait of city life after dark. It pulses with desire and soft-focus seduction.
4) Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Mature yet childish, messy yet focused. Chanel Orange is the album you really wanted to like because you admired Frank Ocean’s bravery, only to find that you actually loved it.
5) Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Killer Mike is schooling you while cursing up a storm, so take a fucking seat and learn something.
6) Julia Holter – Ekstasis
Sublimated passion refashioned as elegant and yearning musical expressions that use form and order to control unfathomable emotions.
7) Matthew Dear – Beams
Matthew Dear has become so good at producing great albums that people have apparently begun to lose interest somewhat. Oh, it’s just a really fucking good Matthew Dear album? Yeah, just another masterpiece. How dreadfully consistent of him.
8) The Magnetic Fields – Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
Witty and lighthearted while also being loaded with libido and angst. Basically another good Magnetic Fields album. People really do start to get bored with greatness after a while.
9) Laurel Halo – Quarantine
Unsettling and at times overwhelming (in the best sense), Quarantine fluctuates and stutters, forever shifting, refusing to rest or seek relief. Best listened to alone.
10) Dirty Projectors- Swing Lo Magellan
Dirty Projectors have emerged from their esoteric cocoon and proclaimed “Look, we’re not scary. We’re a fun pop band”. And they are. Still slightly twisted, but now filled with a glorious desire to connect.
That’s yer lot. See you in 2013.
Although he grew up in a remote Scottish fishing village, Wallace had a destiny even he could not foresee. One day he would be living in an American city that birthed two of the most overrated bands of all time, and a stone cold musical genius. Can you figure it out? Each week is filled with sexy and exciting adventures overflowing with intrigue and ambiguity. In his spare time he writes for Collapse Board.