Despite the promises of the alchemist who sold me that bullshit elixir, I will never be perfect. I try my hardest to discover all the great music there is to hear every year, but inevitably most of it is bound to fall through the cracks. Here's my effort to compensate by adding 5 albums to the Top 20 list I posted at the end of last year.
1. Om - Advaitic Songs (Drag City)
Al Cisneros has kept himself busy after Sleep's demise by continuing to practice herbal mysticism in the form of OM. Formerly a heavy, droning bass-drum duo, lately he's been augmenting the instrumentation to create more of a Hindu vibe. Here they've hit the mark, and every tune is trance-inducing perfection. For the first time, the un-distorted bass feels appropriately modest instead of bland and boring.
2. Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist (Software)
Honestly, I've never cared much for either of these artists' solo works - Tim Hecker as himself, and Daniel Lopatin's releases under the Oneohtrix Point Never moniker. They felt overrated, not particularly memorable, or rather, so familiar that they gave me a mild, unremarkable sense of deja vu. Here, that's hardly the case. It's beautiful, strange, kaleidoscopic, and more deserving of the tired phrase "emotional roller coaster" than anything else that's been given that label. Hecker said in an interview that the collaboration process was spontaneous and lighthearted, but this feels dead serious and impeccably detailed.
3. Eagle Twin - The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale (Southern Lord)
Eagle Twin reminds me why I love doom metal so much. It's dark, fierce, unrepentantly macabre, yet there's a certain zest to the guitars that can't help but show how much sheer enjoyment Gentry Densley's getting out of it. There's enough bluesy hints to show that he grew up suckling from Tony Iommi's musical teat, so to speak. This album is fantastic, and I'll leave it at that.
4. Ash Borer - Cold Of Ages (Profound Lore)
GODDAMN is this album mind-blowing. I saw Ash Borer open for Wolves In The Throne Room in San Francisco, and they were so unrepentantly heavy and devoid of shoegaze that the otherwise chattery, ignorant audience had no choice but to shut up and listen. Here, they've added a touch of sophistication, though their riffs are somehow even faster and heavier than ever. I'm probably not the first to say this: Ash Borer is the best American black metal band around today.
5. Marielle V. Jakobsons - Glass Canyon (Students Of Decay)
I've missed several chances to see this Bay Area ambient musician live, and I can't help but worry that if I got the chance, it might ruin the mystique for me. I imagine her being some sort of Earth mother, bestowing us mere humans with a concept of celestial beauty that our minds are incapable of understanding. Simply gorgeous.
R.I.P. Cy Thoth
I was sad to hear the tragic news that Cy Thoth, legendary metal/drone DJ for Foothill College's KFJC 89.7 station, passed away on March 11th. I think I first heard Eagle Twin on his show, and I'll never forget the many times I freaked my friends out by tuning in to his show while we drove around Palo Alto. I hope he's schooling Satan on doom metal as I write this.