Sade Sundays
Well it’s over, and because it’s over I can’t let go. 2009, I am reflecting on a year that has yet to end, my first complete year in the Bay Area. In truth, 2009 probably won’t start to be cataloged by me until about 2017, which is such a futuristic thought I can hardly stand it. We’re here to talk music however, so let’s start and end with a standard top ten rundown:

1. Fever Ray – Fever Ray (Rabid)

2. Dolphins into the Future – …On Seafaring Island (Not Not Fun)

3. Oneohtrix Point Never – Rifts Trilogy – Betrayed in the Octagon, Zones Without People, Russian Mind (No Fun)

4. Tiny Vipers – Life on Earth (Sub Pop)

5. Scott Tuma & Mike Weis – Taradiddle (Digitalis)

6. Super Minerals – Clusters (Stunned)

7. Zelienople – Hollywood (Under the Spire)

8. Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart (Columbia)

9. Altar Eagle – Judo Songs (Digitalis)

10. Mokira – Persona (Type)

To me the Fever Ray record exists like a big budget picture that nobody can deny. It is fun for kids from one to ninety-two. With its laser-guided vocals by the Swedish alien, Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson, I found it to be more enjoyably bizarre than her work with The Knife.

[audio:] Fever Ray – “When I Grow Up”

Speaking of big budget epics, Tiny Vipers’ Life on Earth is sort of like a musical version of Deer Hunter. The restraint and muted tones of Seattle’s Jessy Fortino make for strange company with the readymade rock of Sub Pop Records. It’s not that such high placement is not unwarranted, but I fear the Tiny Vipers will find herself estranged from such studio systems with her unrelenting, dour timbre. She is Christopher Walken with gun in hand and red bandana. The vinyl version is over 70 minutes long too, which makes it about twice as long as anything else on this list and seals the connection.

[audio:] Tiny Vipers – “Dreamer”

Oklahoma’s Altar Eagle is the indie contender begging for a bigger budget. Play it loud and you will hear stadium hugeness in the muffled synthesizers and ghostly vocals. Helmed by Brad Rose, he of the North Sea, Digitalis Industries and thousands of other encouragements, and his beau Eden, Judo Songs is a first step into a much larger void and could very well become his mainstream breakthrough.

Much of 2009 has passed like trains in the night, figuratively and literally. I often found myself bogged down in a fog of resentment and indecision, listening to mp3s or vinyl of a new school of ambient sound providers. Living 5 blocks from the Bay these records would find themselves accompanied by fog horns and midnight train whistles, sounds that easily found a home in these recordings.

Chicago’s Zelienople discovered a sonic breach in Hollywood a double 3” CDR release, and their drummer Mike Weis delivered brilliant backwoods sketches with legendary multi-instrumentalist Scott Tuma on Taradiddle. Belgium’s Dolphins into the Future brought not just a great name to the table but a fairly literal interpretation of its namesake to wax. Super Minerals aped Terry Riley and Cluster in a most magical way on the cassette only Clusters, and Mokira delivered stately musical commentary worthy of its Bergman reference. The big winner here is Oneohtrix Point Never who laid down an ambitious trilogy making a statement for the search for quality within the context of quantity.

[audio:] Zelienople – “Family Beast”

[audio:] Oneohtrix Point Never – “Hyperdawn”

It is unclear to me whether Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart exists as some crude joke. Dylan has always been a fantastic reader of traditional material and his Christmas record certainly doesn’t feel forced, though it is fairly funny. Maybe the joke is that it appears on my list at all, but no record brought me more pleasure, brought memory more to the forefront or challenged my morose sensibilities.

[audio:] Bob Dylan – “Winter Wonderland”

We entered 2009’s littered beach of loneliness with no promises. It began strangely and it must end awkwardly.

About Sade Sundays: Sade Sundays is a two-part monthly column written by Michael Tapscott and Joshua Rampage. A profundity has never slipped past the lips of a man who lives a life of quiet desperation. He has time for no such subtleties. So basically, Joshua and Michael have time on their hands. They spend it together one Sunday a month, dispensing boozy wisdom and violent, undefended revelries. You may listen, but you may also render their words as a call of the wild, a spear from St. George into the side of the dragon beast, or a meaningless squabble. Contact us: