So 2015 is on its way out and 2016 is on its way in and I wanted to pick out the best of what has happened in between. Much has been released over the last 12 months so picking out my favourites has been difficult but with true Fourculture professionalism I have done so…for you.
Top Album of 2015
Outfit – Slowness
Outfit have evolved and on their second album it shows. Elegant, sprawling and atmospheric, it has the feel and scope of a concept album. The sublime and ambient ‘New Air’ opens with Tom Gorton’s jittering synth leading in to Andrew Hunt’s slow and full piano. It is ambient and layered with ornate instrumentation and lyrical flourishes. Tracks such as ‘Slowness’, ‘Smart Thing’ and ‘Genderless’ are redolent of Prefab Sprout or Talk Talk with smooth production and shimmering melodies. ‘Framed’ is a shining example of how their songwriting has matured; bass and piano driven it is replete with deft touches of synth, guitar and David Berger’s syncopated drums. Closing out with the shimmering and magnificent ‘Swam Out’, sweeping and epic in scope. Hushed vocals over mellow piano give way to huge constantly spiraling synths backed by propulsive bass and effects-laden guitar. It is a thunderous closer and shows a band at complete ease with itself.
This is as complete an album as you can get. It is truly outstanding and gives a little more of itself with each listen.
Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space
East India Youth – Culture Of Volume
Holly Herndon – Platform
Lonelady – Hinterland
Top Track of 2015
Public Service Broadcasting – Go!
These guys, hailing from London, have struck upon a perfect combination of electronics, guitars and vintage public information films. Lead single from their superb album The Race for Space is ‘Go!’ an uplifting, euphoric tune that runs and pulses. Making dramatic use of the always cool ‘go/no go’ calls of the mission control technicians to drive the track, it literally sends chills as it builds with tingling momentum. Check out the video below and be swept up in the dramatic and charged race for the moon!
East India Youth – Turn Away
Miaoux Miaoux – School of Velocity
Beck – Dreams
Deap Vally – Royal Jelly
Favourite Remix 2015
Dirty Ghosts – Cataract (Tobacco Remix)
Okay, I’m a fan of Tobacco and his strange and psychedelic electronics and anything he remixes is infused with the same warped and analogue ambience. ‘Cataract’ by Dirty Ghosts is hook-laden psych-rock and Tobacco manages to tame this mighty beast, bringing in a warm and spongy bass with woozy, fuzzed-out electronics replacing the hard-edged jagged guitars and a slow-tempo broken beat. He re-imagines the tune so well that it takes new life and becomes more than the sum of its former parts. Sometimes a remix can inject a song with such new power that it improves almost beyond recognition, Tobacco achieves this here and then some. My only criticism is that it’s too short!
Stray – Movements (Machinedrum Remix)
Stanton Warriors – The One (Wuki Remix)
Best Video 2015
Stealing Sheep – Apparition
This gem of a video is directed by Grammy Award nominated Dougal Wilson, who has directed videos for Coldplay, LCD Soundsystem, Goldfrapp and Bat For Lashes among others.
It is typical of his style; set in a rural English village with a quirky, dreamlike and eccentric tone throughout. The hyper-realised colours add to the overall fantastical feel of both song and video, incorporating the band members wonderfully. It is charming, engaging and fun. Stealing Sheep have a folk-tinged moody electronic sound and this is reflected in the video with the Morris dancers and the Wicker Man-esque tone throughout. Deceptively simple yet shot (apparently) in one continuous take it draws you into this small part of rural England. It is obvious the band had fun making this odd and playful video.
Blanck Mass – Dead Format
Neon Indian – Slumlord Rising
|The Soft Moon – Wasting
Favourite Fourculture Feature 2015
Fourculture Magazine over the last 12 months has continued to grow and improve with bigger and better features and some stellar names being featured and interviewed. Having only been with the magazine for a relatively short time I have been amazed at the quality of writing throughout but even more impressed with the look and feel of the magazine. It not only has excellent content but it is a thing of beauty to look at. A few features have stood out; Marguerite O’Connell’s interview with Amanda Palmer was stunning in both subject and execution, Paul Davies’ inspiring piece on The Fallen Angels dance theatre and Andrew Ashley’s beautiful photographs chronicling the Brooklyn Art Collective. However if I had to choose one feature that stood out for me this year it is Derek O’Neal’s piece on Chris Corner of IAMX. The quality of writing and impressive magnitude of the subject made this a highlight for me, lifting the veil on a hugely talented, engaging and, to me at least, enigmatic artist.
Respect and admiration is due to The Artist D, Ann Marie Papanagnostou and Paula Frank for their undoubted talent, vision and dedication to the continued excellence that is Fourculture Magazine and what a privilege it is work with them and the hugely talented bunch of writers and editors on board.
Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting. 2016 promises to be an even better year, can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.
Mike Stanton produces and presents a monthly radio show, The Jupiter Room, first Thursday of every month. Tune in here Fourculture Radio.