Eight SRD Artists in RA Top 20 Albums 2011 list (Posted By Harry)

John Maus (Upset The Rhythm)

RA 20 Top Albums Of 2011

Pretty pleased that not one, not even two, but eight artists that we distribute for has made it into RA’s Top 20 Albums Of 2011. Here’s the list:

John Maus (Upset The Ryhthm)#20 John Maus // We Must Become The Pitiless Sensors Of Ourselves [Upset The Rhythm]

John Maus, an art school grad working toward a PhD in political philosophy, takes an academic approach to pop music, which he considers a “major language” that’s wrongly “dismissed by some people as merely reducible to the mechanisms of capital.” On We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, Maus finally mastered the cornerstone of pop: the catchy tune. It’s impossible to tell if he’s serious or not—he looks and sounds like Ian Curtis doing Karaoke, and has a couple of lines about Jackie Chan in there—but this tension gives his music a strange allure. Is “Hey Moon” a pop ballad or a parody of one? Does it matter?
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Tim Hecker#17 Tim Hecker// Ravedeath 1972 [Kranky]

Hatred of Music,” “Studio Suicide,” “Analog Paralysis”—it’s clear from the track titles of Ravedeath, 1972 that Tim Hecker thinks of music as an art form under siege. “In my mind, there’s some connection between the computerized engineering that led to the codification of MP3s and music’s denigration as an object and thus a viable means of economic survival,” he told Pitchfork this year. Heady as that may sound, it made for an utterly engrossing ambient album. An amalgamation of digital overdubs and live recordings from an Icelandic church, Ravedeath is an elegy for music itself—a sad and beautiful piece of work, and probably Hecker’s best.

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Tiger & Woods (Running Back)# 15 Tiger & Woods// Through The Green [Running Back]

It wasn’t much of a concept album, but in mining the mysterious duo’s previously-released white labels and adding a few new tracks, Through the Green further strengthened Running Back’s growing reputation. Plying loopy, ecstatic cuts like “Gin Nation” and “Love In Cambodgia,” it proved that disco (of the edit variety) isn’t quite ready to die a second time. Not while the pair continue with their masterful restorations, anyway. As they told RA last year, “We love it when you discover something new in a song you already know. If the edit is just meant to ‘fix the beat’ or just extend it, then it’s not our cup of tea.

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Steffi - Yours & Mine [Ostgut Ton]

# 13 Steffi – Yours & Mine [Ostgut Ton]

For a straightforward collection of deep house, Steffi’s full-length debut was incredibly divisive. Some thought it too closely mimicked its predecessors, while the rest didn’t seem to care; its refined simplicity was enough to win them over. Whatever your take, no one could deny the impact of “Yours,” the album’s biggest hit. Pairing Virginia’s vocals with taut, jarring synths, it turned dance floors everywhere into refrain-shouting sweat pits. At Panorama Bar, Steffi’s home base, it was a veritable anthem. To varying degrees, the other eight tracks followed suit. With its powerful basslines and gleaming hooks so well executed, Yours & Mine reiterated that hearts can still be won sans stylistic trailblazing.

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Andy Stott 'Passed Me By'# 11 Andy Stott // Passed Me By [Modern Love]

Without diving too deep into the technicalities, Andy Stott’s Passed Me By was the sound of side-chain compression. You’ll recognize patent uses of this ducking/pumping effect from “One More Time” and “Call On Me.” The difference here was that instead of processing his dynamics for maximum club clout, Stott utilized the technique to induce hypnosis. “Knackered house” was how the man himself described it. What that meant was leaden lo-fi chords, stodgy but affecting samples, and an uneasy sense you were about to fall over at a 100 stumbles per minute.

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Clams Casino#07  Clams Casino //Instrumentals [Type]

“I’m so wet that her pussy get mad at me.” Leave it to Clams Casino to hear a line like that and think it might work over samples of Imogen Heap. The New Jersey artist’s process seems to go something like this: take a pop ballad, cut it up until it sounds like shoegaze, then set it to a hip-hop beat. This style makes a deliciously weird counterpoint to rhymes by Lil B or Soulja Boy, but as we learn on Instrumentals, it works even better on its own. Hazy, emotional and rich with detail, the rhythms that make up this free “mixtape” are without a doubt some of the most inspired productions of the year.

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Roman Flugel# 03 Roman Flügel // Fatty Folders [Dial]

There was nothing terribly novel about Roman Flügel’s Fatty Folders, an album by an electronic veteran issued by one of house music’s most established labels, Dial. Instead, it was the perfection of something long in the making: Flügel’s versatile take on techno. From the melodic deep house of “How to Spread Lies” to the cosmic effervescence of the aptly titled “Krautus,” the only common thread in this album is Flügel’s impossibly elegant production technique––something that could just as easily be said of his career overall.

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Nicolas Jaar- Space is only noise (Circus Company Label)# 01 Nicolas Jaar// Space Is Only Noise [Circus Company]

I made most of Space Is Only Noise at 5 PM, right after I came home from school, probably the most boring time of the day. Or during the summer, when I had nothing to do all day. Just having a nice meal in the morning, maybe reading a nice book and then making some music. It’s music that I made from the ages from 17 – 20, so it spans a lot of different time. It wasn’t like I sat down for two months and wrote it: it was a three year process.

For a while I thought I was going to write my thesis on Henri Bergson, the French philosopher, because I really fell in love with his ideas of time. So I curated the album with those thoughts in mind. But then the album became way too ethereal and I was not OK with that. I wanted it to be grounded in something much dirtier and more disgusting. I wanted it to have something bad inside of it, maybe something evil. When I made the track “Space Is Only Noise If You Can See” the album became more complete. I knew that it needed something like that.

I had a deadline with Circus Company of a Thursday, I think, and on that Wednesday night I wrote “Balance Her In Between Your Eyes,” which is one of my favorite songs off the album. I wrote it with my computer speakers because my other speakers weren’t working. But I guess what I realized this year is that the writing of the album wasn’t the writing of the songs. It was the three months I took to turn it into some sort of weird bastard DJ set of the songs I really like. That’s something I realized lately more than ever: Just how much of a DJ set I actually saw it as.
– Nicolas Jaar

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