Sade Sundays

Part One: Michael Tapscott

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (DefJam)

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Kanye West – ‘Runaway'” dl=”0″]

The most controversial and real public figure almost caused a fist fight between Joshua and I at this year’s Thanksgiving. While Josh contended, correctly so, that Kanye’s public persona ruins his art, I contended, also correctly, that it heightens his palette and that the persona is in and of itself a fine work of art. We worked it out, but I was prepared to never speak to one of my best friends again for the cause.

2. Jerry Lewis – Cracking Up (1983)/Tex Avery Cartoons

In one willful and lonely Saturday this year, I went too far in my quest for entertainment and am now a great believer that the French were right all along about Jerry Lewis. His comedy is just as fascinating and mind-blowing as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Jaques Tati, if you’re in to that sort of thing. Watching old MGM and Warners Bros. cartoon shorts by Tex Avery that same day, I realized these guys are human cartoons. I sort of like the cartoons better though.

3. Deep Magic/Deep Tapes/Dreamcolour

One of my favorite collectives of the new age/experimental/ambient scene is the Bay Area label Deep Tapes. The Deep Tapes producers released or were connected in someway to some heavy classics out of this increasingly rich and expansive field in 2010. Deep Magic’s Planetary Roots and Soul Vibrations were favorites, as well as work by uber-group Dreamcolour, Olympus Mons and Psychic Handbook. I’m a Facebook fan….

4. Donovan Quinn & The 13th MonthYour Wicked Man (Soft Abuse)

San Francisco’s Donovan Quinn is weathering a moment in time when his music is a little out of fashion, and we are all at a loss for this. In my year, it was the best singer-songwriter record I’d listened to and had an urgent poignancy for my own lost generation. I hear all the bad and lovable things about my friends in this area of the world throughout this record. It comes on a real healthy slab of vinyl too.

Soft Abuse – “Mom’s House”

5. Thomas Koner reissues/Type Records

Type Records beautifully packaged these reissues of early works by multimedia pioneer Thomas Koner, and this is just one example of a banner year for one of the most consistently rewarding and thoughtfully selective record labels in electronic and experimental music. Besides the Koner reissues, great strides in sound were made through Type by Altar Eagle, SF’s Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Jon Mueller, Richard Skelton, Yellow Swans swan song “Going Places”, Indignant Senility’s Wagner deconstruction, Johann Johannsson, The North Sea, Rene Hell and Geoff Mullen.

6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)

This year I found out what many had seen all along in Ariel Pink’s act of becoming. Ditching lo-fi for a “real” recording experience worked. Plus, I now have a song to play each time I get into my hot tub, which will hopefully be everyday soon enough.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Round and Round”

7. On Land Festival, Cafe du Nord, September 2, 3, 4 and 5

Not only was the visitations of old friends and the introduction of new ones quite welcome at this year’s Root Strata festival, but this was easily my favorite live experiences of the year. Seeing people overwhelmed by crowds at an ambient electronics show was incredibly far out and most performances seemed to rise to the occasion. Oneohtrix Point Never was unbelievable, but the trio of sets by Oakland’s Date Palms, Xela and Zelienople on Saturday was incredibly and unwaveringly intense.

8. Agnes Varda

Hard to admit, but I struggled with understanding the role and mind of female artists in respectful terms this year. I didn’t know what to believe and getting deep into the films of Agnes Varda brought me closer not to an understanding, but to an embrace of the powerful mysteries of the female brain. In a year where shamed but unabashed misogyny is at the top of my list, something needed to balance it out.

9. Curren$y“Michael Knight”

Gotta find joy somewhere in this world, and this song lead to some incredible slap-happy moments in 2010.

10. Emmett Miller

Reading Where Dead Voices Gather by Nick Tosches early on in 2010 took me into a year-long obsession with this obscure blackface minstrel performer, his abstruse and controversial craft and the forgetfulness and disgust for a once revered American performance art. From there I discovered the roots of blackface in Zwarte Piet, a favored Dutch Christmas tradition, and to there several discomforting party discussions with friends and enemies. It’s dangerous ground, I know, I get the disgusting part, but I have genuine curiosity about an American history without polar answers of right and wrong, the inevitable secret history we all share and the resulting present we all live in. The music is pretty fucking good too…

Part Two: Joshua Rampage

When he picked me up, I told Mike to start heading west and not stop until we reached the ocean. A steady rain blanketed the car while the hissing of passing traffic swirled around us and we reflected on a year filled with as much inspiration and candid creativity as it was balanced with loss and tragedy – almost time to wave the long goodbye to 2010.

Perched on a cliff above the beach, we strolled the grounds of San Francisco’s former mayor and I asked Michael about his evolving philosophies and which records he appreciated most this year and then went on to explain mine; perhaps we both realized that you don’t know everything you think you know about your close friends.

“I’m convinced I have the car equivalent of a piñata”, and as I glanced passively over the exterior of Mike’s vehicle, I thought of Dudley from The Royal Tenenbaums saying, “that car has a dent in it.” It’s been almost 10 years since that movie was released; does anyone even consider Dudley’s sensibilities anymore? At this juncture it might or might not be essential to create a list even more subjectively redundant than everyone else’s, hence this Top 10 will be completely pointless to everyone except me in another 10 years. In no particular order:

1.) Gonjasufi – A Sufi and A Killer (Warp)

The creative world lost a key component when Don VanVliet aka Captain Beefheart passed away on December 17th, 2010. By no means is Mr. Gonja a viable replacement, but he will temporarily fill the void for me while I get around to channeling Don in séance.

2.) Die Antwoord $0$ (Interscope/Cherrytree)

This album perpetuated more conversations about perception than any other I’d come across in all of 2010. It also proved that a certain major online music website will smear the shit out of your debut record if you deny them an exclusive interview or something.

3.) James Blake – The Bells Sketch, CMYK, and Klavierwerke EPs (R&S/Hessle)

Easily the most innovative and exciting music I’ve listened to all year, although it was slightly annoying to hear it preemptively lambasted by my band mates in the van.

4.) Exray’s – Ammunition Teeth (hOWELLS tRANSMITTER)

Over a late night sesh, I learned that you should snuff the inherent human desire to send your non-copyrighted demo tapes to anyone besides your mom and dad.

5.) Dolphins Into The Future – …On Sea-Faring Isolation (Not Not Fun Records, 2009)

This year I realized how utterly stupid it is to ask someone “what they get out of” certain genres of music and instead listened in ways previously unexplored; by doing so I discovered that the breadbasket friendship between Michael and I really helps calm me down.

6.) Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (Drag City)

My lady gifted me this record and I got juiced up then tentative considering the sheer mass of the 3 LP set. Thing is, I still haven’t listened to the album with anything that could be described as discerning ears, but deep down I know it’s got to be at least as great as the heart of gold who gave it to me.

7.) Monster Rally – Coral LP (Gold Robot Records)

I will never forget listening to Monster Rally’s Palm Reader EP on repeat, maxed out with two friends in a shaded tree fort on a Caribbean island where they are employed.

8.) Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp)

As we get older it makes sense to lean towards the things that come most naturally to us, and for Flylo that means composing avant-garde jazz/electronic-beat records that are better listened to in soft and springy theatre seats than boomy clubs.

9.) The Caretaker – Persistent Repetition of Phrases (History Always Favours the Winners)

More reassuring brain music especially necessary when your house gets broken into and your computer is stolen and you really just want haunted ballroom music in the background because maybe you’re feeling a little weird already and anyway let’s get back to the blade sharpening and priming of the blowtorch for protection.

10.) TobaccoManiac Meat (Anticon)

And then they told me, actually, it was Salmonella.

One more year to wonder whether the next will hold another round of what we’re looking for; most likely, it will. I’m not sure this list encapsulates what I expected for 2010 music-wise, but then again, I never really thought about it either. Why dream in more than the abstract? If you read too many biographies or attempt to anticipate things further than letting them just happen, the curtain no longer shrouds, only reveals. Resist the urge to peek past the red velvet barrier – we benefit from mystery most when it’s kept revered.

About Sade Sundays: 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: