City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

My Rating – is – 5 stars AND Year – is – 2004

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I notice this annual post is getting later and later each year. Sigh. Still, more importantly, I think the list is getting longer.

Arto Lindsay: Salt
Arve Henriksen: Chiaroscuro
Autistic Daughters: Jealousy and Diamond
Bark Psychosis: CODENAME:dustsucker
Big Satan: Souls Saved Hear
Black Ox Orchestar: Ver Tanzt
Castanets: Cathedral
Clouddead: Ten
Chicago Underground Trio: Slon
David Grubbs: A Guess At The Riddle
The Dead Texan: The Dead Texan
Deathprod: Deathprod box
DJ Signify: Sleep No More
Fennesz: Venice
Food: Last Supper
Fred Frith: Eye to Ear II
Fred Frith: Allies
Friends of Dean Martinez: Random Harvest
Ghost: Hypnotic Underworld
Grails: Red Light
Greg Davis: Curling Pond Woods
Greg Davis: Somnia
Groundtruther: Latitude
Harold Budd: Avalon Sutra
Henry Kaiser & Leo Wadada Smith/Yo Miles: Sky Garden
Jack Rose: Raag Manifestos
Jack Rose: Two Originals of Jack Rose
Jah Wobble, Jaki Liebezeit, Philip Jeck: Live in Leuven
Jay-Z vs DJ N-Wee: The Slack Album
Jay-Z vs DJ Danger Mouse: The Grey Album
Jay-Z vs RJD2: The Silver Album
John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebrations: John Zorn/Fred Frith Duo
John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebrations: Locus Solus
John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebrations: Masada String Trio
John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebrations: Electric Masada
John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebrations: Masada
John Zorn: Magick
Jolie Holland: Escondida
Jon Balke & Magnetic North Orchestra: Diverted Travels
Juana Molina: Tres Cosas
Keith Jarrett: The Out-of-Towners
Madvillain: Madvillainy
Marilyn Crispell, Mark Helias, Paul Motian: Storyteller
Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: Superwolf
Mitchell Akiyama: If Night Is A Weed And Day Grows Less
Moist: various demos
Mylab: Mylab
The Necks: See Through/Mosquito
The Nels Cline Singers: The Giant Pin
The New Year: The End Is Near
Pan American: Quiet City
Philip Jeck & Janeck Schaffer: Songs For Europe
Porn Sword Tobacco: Porn Sword Tobacco
Radian: Juxtaposition
Robert Fripp & Brian Eno: The Equatorial Stars
Roberto Juan Rodriguez: Baila! Gitano Baila!
Scorch Trio: Luggumt
Skyphone: Fabula
Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse
Spring Heel Jack: The Sweetness of the Water
State River Widening: Cottonhead
Steven Bernstein: Diaspora Hollywood
The Streets: A Grand Don’t Come For Free
Susanna and The Magical Orchestra: List of Lights and Buoys
Taylor Deupree & Christopher Willits: Mujo
The Thing: Garage
Thomas Brinkmann: Tokyo + 1
Tom Recchion: I Love My Organ
Tom Waits: Real Gone
Tortoise: It’s All Around You
Trapist: Ballroom
TV On The Radio: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Vinicius Cantuaria: Horse & Fish
Wilco: A Ghost Is Born
Wiley: Treddin’ On Thin Ice

CMCD (George Katzer, John Oswald, Richard Trythall, Steve Moore, Lutz Glandien, Jaroslev Krcek)
David Toop : Haunted Weather: Music Silence and Memory
DFA Complation Vol.2
Four Tet: Late Night Tales
King Crimson: The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson
Low: A Lifetime of Temporary Relief
The Noise and the City

Annette Peacock: Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook
Arthur Russell: Calling Out Of Context
Glenn Branca: Lesson No.1
The Kinks: Village Green Preservation Society & Something Else
Stan Tracey Quartet: Under Milk Wood
Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads

Strictly Kev: ‘Raiding the 20th Century’, ‘Raiding the 20th Century – Words and Music Expansion’
The Streets: ‘Get Out My House’
LCD Soundsystem: Yeah (Crass version)
Telefon Tel Aviv: ‘My Week Beats Your Year’
Sage Francis: ‘Sea Lion’
TV On The Radio: ‘Ambulance’, ‘Don’t Love You’
Autistic Daughters: ‘Florence Crown, Last Replay’
From previous years, but played a lot: TV On The Radio’s ‘Young Liars’, Songs Ohia’s ‘Almost Was Good Enough’, Archer Prewitt’s ‘The Race’ and mostly, the Stan Tracey Quartet’s magisterial ‘Starless and Bible Black’. Plus Cassandra Wilson’s extraordinary covers of ‘Harvest Moon’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’ (cf. ‘Jolene’ by Susanna and The Magical Orchestra)

Arve Henriksen; Autistic Daughters; TV On The Radio; Radian; Zorn’s Masada groups, electric and acoustic; Pan American; The Necks; Trapist; Harold Budd; Madvillain; Four Tet’s Late Night Tales and the incomparable ‘Raiding the 20th Century’

The sharper among you will note that favourite bands Trapist, Radian and Autistic Daughters all feature drummer Martin Brandlmayr, who should be knighted for services to percussion.

Live, Theatre, Cinema
Disappointing lack of memorable gigs for me this year (save a hugely enjoyable David Byrne concert in London) but I did enjoy the music in Complicite’s The Elephant Vanishes and The Black Rider, both at London’s Barbican. Equally, one of 2004’s most pleasurable aural experiences was the sound design in Zhang Yimou’s film House of Flying Daggers – so take a bow, Jing Tao. It’s all about the bamboo. (Whilst on film sound, I also enjoyed the fabulous start to Collateral, which cross-cuts about 10 pieces of music in quick succession as cars rapidly switch lanes; see also a fabulous scene in a jazz club with a band playing an intense excerpt of Miles Davis’s ‘Spanish Key’, to me reminiscent of a brief aside in Bullitt when Steve McQueen visits a carefully contrived ‘boho hangout’ in San Francisco. Like the jazz band in Sweet Smell of Success or the destructive restaurant ensemble in Tati’s Playtime (or even The Yardbirds brief but incendiary appearance in Blow Up), one could make a good list of such things. Go to it, LazyList.)

My favourite record shop has consistently been Boomkat, the online store based in Manchester. It’s always had a top-notch selection, but has recently been redesigned and as well as being quite beautiful, imho, it now features collaborative filtering-based recommendations, as well as browsing by label, artist etc. Great work. Also Boomkat’s ‘Home Listening’ genre is a smart collection. You wouldn’t regret buying the lot, you really wouldn’t.

Rune Grammofon and Tzadik again; Rediscovered the Institut du Monde Arabe’s brilliant record label – particularly Naseer Shamma and Abdel Salim Gadir.

Aside the usual consistency from the usual suspects (Rune Grammofon; ECM’s Rarum series; 12k), John Zorn’s 50th Birthday Celebrations series for Tzadik are very nice. Harold Budd’s final album (apparently), Avalon Sutra, has an appropriately beautiful cover, in the Russell Mills style.

Thanks to Geoff Dyer’s magisterial But Beautiful I spent many happy hours reveling in the utterly peerless music of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday etc. And of course, by association, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, both of whom are perennial pursuits.

For half the year, I’ve been submitting the metadata around my music listening to Audioscrobbler. (This records any computer-based listening to music I do, which has become the primary way I listen – but therefore doesn’t include vinyl-based listening, say, and for much of the year didn’t include iPod-based listening, though now does.). Still, 11000 tracks up there, giving me a pretty good idea of what I’ve been listening to – and for the first time, a really interesting counterpoint to these annual ‘best-of’ lists. As for the iTunes Music Store, I bought a hundred tracks or so in the first few months, but have not bought much since (essentially due to the limited stock and DRM). I’m still buying plenty of CDs per month, but also reselling on Amazon marketplace after ripping. As Abe notes on his brilliant piece on ‘the curatorial era’, “I’ve probably invested less energy into finding new music this year then I have in a decade, and I probably heard more then I ever have.”

The ongoing point of interest for me has been the rise and rise of the collage, sometimes in the guise of shuffle, or in the endless bifurcation of Jay-Z’s Black Album, or in the hyper-curation of Strictly Kev’s ‘Raiding the 20th Century’. I’ve written more about this here.


4 responses to “My Rating – is – 5 stars AND Year – is – 2004”

  1. Colin Avatar

    No wonder your list is getting later and later with the amount of work you put into it! Noting that you reference Harold Budd more than once, thought you might like to read the piece I finished recently on him for Signal To Noise magazine which can be found here: Also seeing your interest in all things shuffle, curatorial, etc., a new year’s resolution is to write ‘A counter argument to shuffle culture’ (but then I’ve never been great on resolutions…) Anyway, thanks for an ever-interesting blog. Cheers, Colin.
    PS Why don’t you have a search engine for City Of Sound?


  2. Phil Gyford's Writing Avatar

    Top Tunes of 2004

    Making a CD of your favourite music and giving it to friends is naughty and illegal and the cause of global terrorism. But if I was, perhaps, to make one of my favourite music of 2004, then it would look like…


  3. Dan Avatar

    Trackbacks sent to this post at the time (before I turned trackbacks off):

    » Top Tunes of 2004 from Phil Gyford’s Writing
    Making a CD of your favourite music and giving it to friends is naughty and illegal and the cause of global terrorism. But if I was, perhaps, to make one of my favourite music of 2004, then it would look like… [Read More]


  4. Dan Avatar

    A couple of years later, I note YouTube has the great sequence from Bullitt that I mentioned above.


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