A CLOSER LISTEN weekly #2
Welcome Listeners, to the second missive from ACL. Joseph here. I’ll be trying to keep these up bi-weekly for now, but if things go well, maybe we’ll switch it to weekly. You can always keep an eye on our News page and Upcoming Releases page in the meanwhile.
This installment we share our 2022 previews and our 40 Best Winter Albums of all time. And an update of our ever-popular “How to Get Noticed” series. But before that, a new episode of the podcast and some Tasty Leftovers from *Press A*.
SOUND PROPOSITIONS Podcast
We kicked off season three of the podcast with the creators behind The World According To Sound, in honor of their 2022 Winter Listening Series. A streaming concert series designed for our times, each event is dedicated to listening closely together, apart. This episode begins by profiling The World According to Sound and their listening series, as well as their frustrations with the state of public radio in the USA. Despite these critiques, we all still have a deep love of radio, and so the back half of the episode forms an homage to the radiophonic arts.
Seven shows remain in their listening series, which runs every Thursday evening through March 24. Tomorrow, February 10, is “Birds,” featuring a collaboration with BirdNote. And of course you won’t want to miss MATMOS on March 17, presenting a new work created specifically for the World According to Sound, as well as some behind the scenes examination of their process, and a Q&A with Martin and Drew to follow. Enter “ACloserListen” at checkout for 25% off tickets and season passes. Half season passes, as well as individual tickets, are also available.
Read the entire post, with Soundcloud link, here. You can also subscribe to the podcast in all the usual places. Upcoming episodes profile Maria Chavez, Patrick Shiroishi, Jessica Moss, and more, including a special episode celebrating ten years (!) of ACL.
The podcast will always remain freely available. But I’ve also also added the archive to Bandcamp, if anyone would like to donate money to support the project.
*PRESS A* ~ TASTY 2021 LEFTOVERS
The curse of listing our favorite releases of the year is that a few soundtracks always arrive too late for us to properly digest. Here are two albums that would have been worthy additions to our list of 2021’s best videogame soundtracks.
DVA ~ Happy Game (Electronic)
Ratvader ~ The Gunk (Ambient)
Our cover image is a photo of St. Moritz in Switzerland ~ a lovely place to start the new year!
2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Ambient and Drone
We absolutely love this time of year at A Closer Listen. As we survey the musical landscape, we see over 200 new releases on the near horizon and our hearts are filled with hope. Artists continue to be inspired, labels continue to release albums, and we have the privilege of previewing a healthy selection of new music. This might turn out to be a pretty good year after all. Over a quarter of our winter announcements are found in the fields of ambient and drone ~ perfect sounds to accompany snowed-in evenings with candlelight and friends, or perhaps a good book. We hope you’ll find your next favorite album right here!
Rich’s Pick: Steve Roden ~ stars of ice (Room40, February 4)
It’s no surprise that we’re starting the new year with Room40, our Label of the Year for 2021. Stars of Ice is one of two albums from Steve Roden, a perfect pick for the colder months. The Chinese Christmas carol “Stars of Ice” is abraded and looped, while an old 78 titled “snow” is sampled in a field of frost. Roden’s other Room40 album is the polar opposite: a green and lush set packed with toys and bells, composed for the Athens exhibition The Great Promenade. Physical copies of oionos include a book with an essay from Stephen Vitiello, an interview and more (January 14). Also on Room40: Christina Giannone investigates portals to the subconscious on Zone 7, which ventures into the land of drone; and Mike Cooper‘s disc and book set Oceans of Milk and Treacle, which investigates colonialism in India through collage, essay, field recording and music (January 14). Two more Room40 releases are listed in the Experimental section of our Winter Music Preview!
2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Electronic
Can you remember the last time you went clubbing? For many of us, it’s a distant memory. But the beats keep coming, the 12″s keep spinning, and new dance moves are always being invented. Thankfully DJs and electronic-minded artists have entered a new stage of inspiration, as evidenced by the wide variety of synth and beats currently being produced. The clubs may be locked down, but our minds and bodies are not.
This is just a taste of the body music hitting the market this winter. Some draw from the past for inspiration, while others plunge into a new and exciting future!
Rich’s Pick: Dominik Eulberg ~ Avichrom (!K7, February 22)
In 2019, we were completely enamored by Dominik Eulberg’s Mannigfaltig, whose every track was dedicated to a particular species of fauna. His new theme is even more specific on the triple-vinyl release Avichrom, as each track bears the name of a color found in bird plumage. The music is just as warm as ever, the environmental message intact: we must protect such beauty from the forces that threaten to undo it.
2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Modern Composition
If 2021 was The Year of Modern Composition, what might 2022 have in store? Beside blazing fires, with pens and port, composers are penning new emotional notes. The seeds for many an inspiration are planted in the cold winter months. Modern composition can be as intimate as a solo performer or small ensemble, and as extravagant as an orchestra; the gestures may be subtle or grand. Please remember to support your local orchestras and concert halls this season; as we wait for the doors to reopen, here are some winter sounds to keep us warm.
Rich’s Pick: Sven Helbig, Skills (Modern Recordings, February)
The combination of orchestral and electronic elements is a recurring theme in our winter slate. This is never more apparent than in “Repetition,” where three French horns, a tuba and a string quartet meet the crunchy rhythms of Surachai. The album is a celebration of “human crafts and innovation,” and comes with a handmade cover from Matthias Köhler.
2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Experimental
Wondering what to do with your winter lockdown time? Perhaps you’ll make some instruments out of ice, like Terje Isungset, pictured here at the Norway Music Festival. Perhaps you’ll sort through old tapes and make a sonic collage. Perhaps you’ll dig out that old cajon and thumb piano. Or perhaps you’ll simply invite some friends over to jam. If you don’t play an instrument or sing, you might invite your vaccinated friends over to hear some of the amazing new music being released this season: a statement against the cold and isolation, a declaration of joy in the art of creation. Whatever you have planned, we hope that it’s fun and creative – and we’ve got your soundtrack. The albums listed below are but the opening salvo of an action-packed year!
2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Rock, Post-Rock, Folk & Jazz
2021 proved (again!) that post-rock is as strong as ever. We’re hoping that the momentum of the last year will carry into the next. While it seemed that every veteran post-rock band released an album last year, a few are overdue, led by World’s End Girlfriend (although a single was released in 2021), Do Make Say Think (whose Charles Spearin released an album in 2021) and Esmerine. But we also learned – to our delight – that the younger generation is more than happy to step up. We wouldn’t be surprised if the next great album is a debut!
The 40 Best Winter Albums of All Time
2022 Edition! Every year, as temperatures drop and snow begins to fall, we renew our love affair with winter music. Seven years after its first appearance, The 25 Best Winter Albums of All Time continues to be our site’s most visited article. This year we’ve revamped and expanded our list, bringing it up to date. We’ve listened to all of our readers’ suggestions, reviewed ten annual charts of The Year’s Best Winter Music and increased our list to a Top 40!
What is winter music? For our purposes, winter music is music written about winter that also sounds like winter. As this is an instrumental-based site, we’ve only included instrumental-based albums. Christmas sets and albums released during winter, but not pertaining to winter, are excluded, as are short EPs and sections of longer works. For shorter winter-themed classical works, we suggest Tchaikovsky‘s Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, op.13 “Winter Dreams” and the winter movements of The Seasons; and Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons. For vocal-based winter albums, we recommend Björk‘s Vespertine, Benni Hemm Hemm‘s Ein í leyni, and Sigur Rós‘ ( ). The last three hail from Iceland, where one might argue it’s all winter music.
Winter music suggests snow, ice, frost and wind. Some artists describe a light and cheery winter in which children skate, sled, and make snowmen and angels. Others highlight stillness, beauty and calm. Some artists visit the Arctic and Antarctic, where it is always winter; others lament the melting of glaciers and warn that classic winter is endangered. Every genre is included, from field recordings to post-rock, but the releases share an overall theme. In this new edition, most of the previously listed albums retain their former order relative to each other, while new entries debut throughout the article. Only one album included in 2015 but not in 2011 has been removed, while another included in 2011 but absent in 2015 has been restored. Thanks to the rise in digital formats, there’s also a lot more streaming this time around!
How to Get Noticed in 2022 ~ A Guide for Musicians and Labels
A flash of red stands out against a field of white. This photograph illustrates a basic concept: if you want to get noticed in 2022, you’ll have to catch the eye ~ or in this case, the ear. The musical landscape is changing fast, and with so many artists competing for attention, it helps to have an edge. This updated article provides practical advice that may help musicians and labels to be noticed in a crowded field.
The music industry is in a constant state of flux. It helps to know a few basic things: 1) Labels provide an edge, but are only as effective as their publicity; 2) The majority of music purchases are digital, so customers interact with them digitally; and 3) There is more music on the market now than ever before.
We feel that we have become experts in this field, simply because we receive so many submissions and review so few. For every album we review, there are nineteen more that go unreviewed. But they don’t go unheard, nor do the emails go unread. Some just stand out. So we’ll begin with the initial contact and the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
The Initial Contact
Decide how you’d like to be perceived: professional or amateur, friendly or flippant, organized or disheveled. Ask yourself if you would click on a link in an email that had no other words! If you’d like a personal response, then send a personal inquiry. Mention the name of the recipient. Follow the directions on the contact page. Provide the necessary links, including a brief description. Keep in mind that most sites have plenty of stuff to review without having to Google you to find out who you are or what you sound like. Make it as easy as possible to make a decision regarding the music. If you don’t read the directions carefully, the people on the site will not read your emails carefully; it’s that simple.
How to Get Noticed in 2022: The Easy Way
1) Cover Art
4) Lead with your best track.
5) Provide advance notice.
How to Get Noticed in 2022: The Hard Way
1) Be original
2) Do what others do, but better.
3) Finally, be friendly and patient.
(Read the complete article here)
Wishing you wonderful sounds in the new year! (Richard Allen)
Gusfafsson/Lugo ~ Vertical (SUPERPANG, 1 March)
Neuro … No Neuro ~ Faces & Fragments (Audiobulb, 2 March)
Amotik ~ Patanjali (4 March)
Autodealer ~ Circuit Dreams the Signal (Somewherecold, 4 March)
Bon Voyage Organisation ~ (Loin des) Rivages (4 March)
Daigo Hanada ~ Satori (Moderna, 4 March)
Dikeman / Gonzalez / Håker Flaten / Horne ~ Texas Butt Biters (Astral Spirits, 4 March)
Éliane Radigue & Frédéric Blondy ~ Occam XXV (organ reframed, 4 March)
Emmeluth / Knedal Andersen / Skavhaug Nergaard ~ The A-Z of Microwave Cookery (Astral Spirits, 4 March)
GOATFACE! ~ Akhenaten Bazucas (Astral Spirits, 4 March)
Gonçalo F. Cardoso ~ Impressões de Outra Ilha (Discrepant, 4 March)
HUMN ~ Opening the Gate (Antibody, 4 March)
Ilhan Ersah, Dave Harrington, Kenny Wollten ~ Invite Your Eye (Nublu, 4 March)
Julius Schwing ~ Wagtail (Isthmus Music, 4 March)
Leo Genovese ~ Ritual (577 Records, 4 March)
Lia Kohl ~ Too Small to Be a Plain (Artist Pool/Shinkoyo, 4 March)
Lighght ~ Seodra (Doom Trip, 4 March)
Lina Tullgren & Alec Toku Whiting ~ Unfamiliar Ceilings (Astral Spirits, 4 March)
Natasha Barrett ~ Heterotopia (Persistence of Sound, 4 March)
Selvedge ~ The Real River (4 March)
Shane Parish ~ Liverpool (Dear Life, 4 March)
Shelter ~ Le Sommeil Vertical (Seance Centre, 4 March)
Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double ~ March (Firehouse 12, 4 March)
Vasco Trilla ~ Acoustic Masks (577 Records, 6 March)
Departure Street ~ Walking on Earth (Somewherecold, 11 March)
Disassembler ~ A Wave from a Shore (Western Vinyl, 11 March)
glaswegians ~ quaternary (11 March)
Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer ~ Recordings from the Åland Islands (International Anthem, 11 March)
Kate Carr ~ fake creek (11 March)
Leonor Falcon ~ Imaga Mondo Vol. 2 (Falcon Gumba, 11 March)
The Rhythm Method ~ S/T (11 March)
SHXCXCHCXSH ~ Kongestion (Avian, 11 March)
Tapani Rinni & Juha Mäki-Patola ~ Open (Hush Hush, 11 March)
Thollem ~ Obstacle Illusion (Astral Spirits, 11 March)
Amphior ~ Another Presence (Glacial Movements, 14 March)
Keiji Haino ~ My lord Music (Black Editions, 14 March)
Marc Kellaway ~ Body of Water (Cat Box Corp., 15 March)
Cedar Loop ~ Being on Fire (17 March)
Aquarian ~ Mutations I: Death, Taxes & Hanger (Dekmantel, 18 March)
The Arteries of New York City ~ S/T (18 March)
Beispiel ~ Muster (Faitiche, 18 March)
Kyle Motl ~ Hydra Nightingale (Infrequent Seams, 18 March)
Pathos Trio ~ When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano (New Focus, 18 March)
Pjusk ~ Sentrifuge (Somewherecold, 18 March)
Robert Haigh ~ Human Remains (Unseen Worlds, 18 March)
Aidan Baker ~ You Are All At Once (Somewherecold, 25 March)
Anthony Coleman and Brian Chase ~ Arcades (Chaikin, 25 March)
David Friends & Jerome Begin ~ Post- (New Amsterdam, 25 March)
Harry Christelis & Pedro Velasco ~ Scribbling (25 March)
Leena Lee & Vania Fortuna ~ Niebla (Flaming Pines, 25 March)
Max Cooper ~ Unspoken Words (Mesh, 25 March)
Melaine Dalibert ~ Shimmering (Ici d’ailleurs, 25 March)
quiver vex ~ hypnagogia (Room40, 25 March)
RXM Reality ~ sick for you (Hausu Mountain, 25 March)
Vanessa Wagner ~ Study of the Invisible (InFine, 25 March)
V/A ~ Epiphanies (Hallow Ground, 25 March)
V/A ~ Radar Keroxen Vol. 2 (Keroxen, 25 March)
John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble ~ Volume 1 (577 Records, 1 April)
Regno Maggiore – Esasummà (FILM, 1 April)
Various Artists ~ Music for kō (Erased Tapes, 1 April)