NO TOOL, NO CULT OF LUNA, NO DESERT SESSIONS – BUT FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS
Welcome to the end of the last December of the decade! Nothing different really, is it? But it is the end of the year and that means it’s best-of 2019 time.
YES. All those lists. Who listens to so many new albums in a year that they’ve got room to pare it down to a mere 20? Liars, surely.
So, here in Realistic Corner, we’ve got a top 5, but really it’s a great 5 – Five Great Albums From 2019 That We Know Well Enough To Review Briefly But Fairly And Recommend Absolutely And In No Particular Order (No Rankers).
But that’s probably not a catchy enough title for a list.
So we’ll call it 5 Great 2019 Albums with the caveat that Fear Inoculum, A Dawn to Fear and Desert Sessions Vol 11&12 are of course bloody immense albums, but time is a bit short to do them justice here.
Anyway. Five other goodies to scroll – two now, three more after a chunky mince pie break.
HOLLY HERNDON: Proto
If Frontier from this album doesn’t sweep you to a new dimension, something’s gone very wrong. Track of the year? Very very possibly.
Frontier is what happens when you get a cappella Artificial Intelligence rooted in Native American chants, finished off by a surround-sound electronic assimilation of The Human Voice.
It’s a wild, ceremonial symphony, an infinite digital choir bathed in shafts of light. If churches were the future, this is their sound. La Sagrada Familia of holy spaces.
And the rest of Proto? Equally without category and definitely beyond my scope, as you can tell from these fumbling words, but it pushes some avant, high concept Clipping/Bjork/Gazelle Twin electro buttons. Proto stuns. Like a new life-form stuttering into the world, Holly Herndon’s mind-blowing work is both techno futuristic and primal ancient. Dance and flight with vocal beats. Believe.
PELICAN: Nighttime Stories
Like Mogwai, Pelican tend to refine rather than reinvent, and their first new album in six years does not threaten that approach one bit. Nighttime Stories might not have made it big in any end-of-year lists – only one of the army of Metal Hammer writers put it in their top 20 (and even then it was 18th or 19th) – but that’s no indicator of quality.
If you’re a long-time Pelican fan, you’ll not be disappointed.
Midnight and Mescaline flexes early metallic muscle with an un-Pelican esque pace injection, but Abyssal Plain outdoes it – not with its breezy alt-rock hook but with the black-metal-paced shred that burns it. Twice. What a moment(s). It Stared at Me wraps you in moonlit mellow while Full Moon, Black Water pulls metronomic metal from ground-splitting bass heaviness … it’s the Pelican you’ve always known and loved, but now a bit tougher.
5 Great 2019 Albums Part II coming soon.