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2005 - The Year In Downtempo

Discussion in 'Downtempo Room' started by zoo, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. zoo

    zoo TRIBE Member

    Since nobody else has anything to contribute, I'll contribute, and hopefully some of you will too. In this thread post your favorite albums or mixes of 2005, along with a description or comments of each release. Yes, some of us do care! :)

    Here's mine (It took me about an hour and a half, but it was worth it since I got to re-listen to all this music throughout).


    13 & God - The Notwist & Themselves

    A collaboration between these two indie super powers is a welcome addition to both camps' repertoires. The songs vary in sound and all the influences you'd expect exist ... Notwist rollers, Clouddead spaciness, Themselves abrasiveness, and it all comes together perfectly coherent as a 10 track album.


    AGF/DELAY - Explode

    A more avant-garde version of Luomo, featuring the same players. This is a slow (ssllooww) but sonically satisfying concept album; the beat slows to a crawl most of the time, if there even is a beat, the bass overwhelms, and the percussion is sparse but always trying to communicate with the listener. The female vocalist (forgot her name, but her initials are AGF or something) mostly whispers over each track, somewhere between singing and poetry, complimenting the melodies (or moods) of each song. It's a more difficult listen at first, but is ultimately rewarding with a bit of effort and persistence.


    Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto - Insen

    This album is the result of the merging of an electronic idm/ambient laptop jockey with an accomplished piano composer. Chords and single key melodies recorded from a real piano set the moods and define the phrases for each song, but aren't exactly the star player ... the spaces between the colourful notes are filled with unforgivingly hard yet warm percussion. Samples sound less like conventional drums and more like the reverb surrounding the drum without the 'meat' cut out. This is an album of subtleties, and I've found it to be both an incredible tool for focusing my concentration when studying (it works nicely as a more traditional ambient space filler), and of course as an interesting piece of music to lose myself in.


    Blockhead - Downtown Science

    Nice beats, nice melodies, interesting ideas, it's what you'd expect from a Blockhead release. What makes this album special to me, is that the music is no longer about a single loop, a single sample, a single melody, a single riff, etc. The songs themselves begin changing, new variations of the theme take over old ones, and the music begins to come alive. A solid album that takes the space formerly held by RJD2 and Shadow, and gives it a bit more improvisation.


    Boards of Canada - Campfire Headphase

    To me ... it sounds like the boys simply bought guitars and went to business as usual. It's a BoC album, it has the characteristic dragging melodies, the extreme minor key melodies, but it's quite a bit brighter (happier) than alot of their previous albums, and it's a nice change. A refreshing listen overall.


    Boom Bip - Blue Eyed In The Red Room

    Yes, this is a slightly dated sound, and reminds you of the prettier Squarepusher, Aphex, Plaid, and Autechre tracks, but it's also phenominally good, high quality music. The music is easy to sink your teeth into, relaxing, and interesting.


    Camille - Le Fil

    This doesn't entirely belong to downtempo, as it's an almost entirely vocal album, but it's so good and fits the 'mood' of this forum pretty well. Camille is a French singer whose career has seen no international success outside of her very Parisian hits. Le Fil is a concept album; every song is predominantly composed of her own voice -- sampled, cut, sped up, slowed down, anything to get the sound required, as well as her own singing featured on every song. The album is also tied together by a single string note played over the entire album, throughout every song. The production reminds me of Herbert, the music of Bjork, and her voice and charm uniquely her own. This has become one of my favorite albums from any time period, in any category.


    Esem - Scateren

    Bulgarian George Marinov aka Esem has been one of my favorite producers for about 8 (9?) years now. He's been mostly involved in the free music scene, although in the early 2000s he floated around between various smaller net labels; he's now back to offering his music to the public for free. This is his first full length album since his return to the free artist model, and it's a good one. The songs are mostly slow, beautiful, magical, and pretty; sounding like a dream. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, usually somewhere in between. Production quality is high, subtleties in deliberate sample manipulation and arrangements are incredibly complex and interesting. For those that are able to recognize it, this album is one of the rare modern day classics.
  2. zoo

    zoo TRIBE Member


    Flanger - Spirituals

    A collaborative effort between two accomplished producers (one of which is B Fleischmann) yields an interesting take on 1920s prohibition era jazz. This is sort of the lesser known cousin to Lidell's Multiply; only this album recreates a time period even better than Lidell did. It's an interesting departure from your normal listening, and it's something truly special. The album isn't about engaging pop melodies or random improvisation ... it's about coherent and contrasting melodies playing off each other, about gut wrenching horns and flute solos, and about the fight across the album between vocals and guitars (they rarely / never appear together).


    Frog Pocket - Gonglot

    It's more laptop pretty idm, with interesting percussive programming and synth and string-pluck based melodies you will love while listening to but be mostly unable to recall the next day. It's a good album, and it works as a complete piece of music.


    M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us

    Another album that works well as a complete piece of music. It's basically a 70s epic rock album, with a bit of 80s flair, only with synths replacing the guitars. One part Air, one part Sigur Ros, and one part Pink Floyd. It's good, and is obviously meant to be listened to as a complete piece of work. Some of the songs really stand out on their own though, and are unfortunately dulled a bit by the single focused idea throughout the album.


    Metamatics - 3 Jak and Dive

    This album was mostly overlooked (unfairly). Yes, it's yet more of the same laptop jockey idm. But in the same way that Isolee has created living, breathing techno, so has Metamatics created an evolving piece of art, with little repetition and lots of variation. The ideas are plentiful across the album, and unlike many other similar sounding producers, it's not just a collection of different songs using the sample sample set. I like the album as a complete piece of art, made up of small pieces, carefully arranged together into somewhat of a messy but interesting experience.


    Paavoharju - Yhä Hämärää

    Small, cold outside but warm inside, beautiful, rusty, and low bandwidth. This is Sigur Ros' care, mum's charm, and The Strokes' recording quality (hehe). It works very well, and comes out sounding like some sort of enya meets bjork meets AM radio masterpiece. Different than the usual slower fare, and intoxicatingly, refreshingly beautiful. Another of my new absolute favorites.


    P-Love - All Up In Your Mind

    This isn't the album that will revolutionize your way of listening. Yes, you've heard many things similar to this before. It even sounds a bit like Sixtoo's production, with the slow drawn out breaks, somber melodies, quiet nature, and sometimes creepy and aggressive percussion. It's a nice album to listen to; it's not particularly boring, and the melodies are interesting. It's not ground-breaking, but sometimes you just want to relax and not be challenged too much. This album is a nice break, and helps clear your head a bit. It has the captivating slow-hop analog charm that seems to be missing in alot of today's downtempo music.


    Roisin Murphy - Ruby Blue

    The return of the queen of downtempo ... Moloko's lead singer reclaims her throne with Herbert as her mastermind. Herbert's trademark feel is all over this album, and you can't help but wonder if his wife Dani is mad at all for giving Roisin such gold, while her album (though very good) can't possibly measure up to Ruby Blue's masterpiece. This album is generally warm, sometimes silly fun, sometimes lovely, always interesting, intelligent, and showcases just how diverse Roisin's voice and style are; now we see that Moloko was really only holding her back. Every song on this album is A+ material, and anyone that hasn't heard this album is basically missing out. Another insta-classic that people will be discovering for years to come.
  3. seeker

    seeker TRIBE Member

    some great picks in there zoo, and several others i haven't heard. I agree with you on the BoC, Boom Bip, and the Esem. All fantastic stuff.

    I was really taken by a few tracks on the 13 & God album, but after a few months of listening only to those tracks, I realized I was more taken with the Notwist sound than with the 13 & God sound. Interesting effort, though, and very good given the constraints under which most of it was written (ie on a broken-down bus in the middle of Canadian prairie winter).

    The Books - Lost and Safe

    I'm just listening to this now. I listed it in my top 10 albums of 2005, and I'll stand behind that. This is a great blend of folk music and electronics. Not beatful stuff, but very laid back with lots of interesting rhythms and warped vocals. I love the cut-and-paste style of the vocals on many songs. They're melancholic without ever being specific enough to let you know why. Very strange.
  4. deevah

    deevah TRIBE Member

    holy smokes!

    i have a lot of catching up to do!

    thx zoo
  5. JOSHB

    JOSHB TRIBE Member

    wow zoo.
  6. zee

    zee TRIBE Member

    Nice picks zoo.
    I'll have to check out quite a few of your recommendations.

    Lacklustre - Live at Freeflow, Helsinki
    The mix is from 2003 I believe but I only discovered it earlier in the year.. plus it's a fantastic mix that definitely deserves more attention.

    Amon Tobin - Splinter Cell Soundtrack
    I was initially pretty skeptical with how this album would turn out. For some reason, it being a video game soundtrack took away from its credibility. However I was pretty surprised with how good it sounded. Atmospheric, moody and totally gorgeous. It's kind of neat to experience the album without having ever played Splinter Cell and to imagine how it might be used in the context of the video game.

    Thievery Corporation - The Cosmic Game
    Nothing too groundbreaking with respect to their previous work but overall a solid album. More Indian/Middle Eastern flavoured beats and some interesting collaborations with the Flaming Lips and Perry Farrell. Overall it works but it'd still be nice to see them break out of their mold and do something a bit different.
  7. Aerius Zension

    Aerius Zension TRIBE Member

    Zee beat me to it, Thievery Corp. Boards of Canada is already mentioned and I really want to check out M83. Don't know if Royksopp qualifies, but I'd throw them in there.
  8. Polymorph

    Polymorph TRIBE Member

    This'd better be as good as your hype, 'cause this sounds awesome.
  9. smack

    smack TRIBE Member

    Has anyone heard this or know where to buy it?

    Global Communication - 76:14 (Remastered)


    Disc 1

    1. 4:02
    2. 14:31
    3. 9:25
    4. 9:39
    5. 7:39
    6. 0:54
    7. 8:07
    8. 5:23
    9. 4:14
    10. 12:18

    Disc 2

    1. The Groove (Instrumental Version)
    2. The Way (Secret Ingredients Version)
    3. The Deep (Global Communications Mix)
    4. The Biosphere
    5. Incidental Harmony
    6. Sublime Creation
    7. Asprin (Global Communications Remix - Sensorama)
  10. soulbrother 10

    soulbrother 10 TRIBE Member

    Hey Zoo - Thanks for putting in the time and effort to post these reviews and recommendations. I will definitely be checking out some of these artists.
  11. outofcontrol

    outofcontrol TRIBE Member

    Brilliant work here zoo. As the others said, much respect for putting together such a descriptive list. I don't have most of those, so the dlding shall commence.
  12. AshG

    AshG Member

    i picked up a vinyl sampler of this back when the album was about to drop and always meant to pick up the album after - never did though, but i'll have to remember to.
    the sampler was fucking good.
  13. BigBadBaldy

    BigBadBaldy TRIBE Member

    Complimenting? I would use the phrase "utterly ruining". Not that the music that V. Delay offers up on this stands on its own either.

    I really don't like this album at all.
  14. BigBadBaldy

    BigBadBaldy TRIBE Member

    Thanks to zoo for a lot of great suggestions, though. :)
  15. ~Loress~

    ~Loress~ TRIBE Member

    zoo i think i love you

    def some good picks in here and a lot i still have yet to check out.. thanks for all the reviews, guys! :)

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