One of the busiest times for the site and one of the times I love most, the final week of the year. I love handing over the site to some of the greatest musicians, labels, promoters and just great musical-minded individual that’s we’ve had the pleasure in dealing/working alongside this year. But when the takeover falls back to the founder, myself, I always panic that I’m going to miss something spectacular from my own end of year list.
It truly is refreshing to see several friends and their own releases topping the picks of 2015 and I do hope they all feel proud of their accomplishments this year. So around the start of November, just before I put the call out for this years submissions, I sit and scroll though the site hoping to refresh my memory, I spend so long sorting the submissions that I usually have to rush my own. Luckily I’ve managed to have a good think about those records which have personally inspired me throughout the last 12 months and as much as I try to stick to just 5 records, I’ll need to expand this year in order to get the plethora of remarkable records in one list.
This year the legendary instrumental post rock outfit returned with their highly anticipated album release ‘Rehumanizer‘. The Athens, Georgian based quartet have redefined the instrumental experimental genre and more importantly this intricate act have created what is essentially a full on fast paced dance album.
When their album Pyramid Of The Sun was released, it was a sentimental explosion of all things experimental and unique but the band, with time, once more evolved and back in August of this year I was delighted to announce their return with their phenomenal, monolithic album rehumanizer. This high octane album from start to finish is all about momentum. Recorded, mixed, and produced entirely by the band in their own studio, this is the first Maserati album completely devoid of outside collaboration or interference. Focussing on complex instrumentation, surging beats, 80s synth sounds and a flurry of electronic elements, Maserati have delved deeper into the technological soundscapes and have incorporated processed vocals on a seemingly flawless record.
And when performed live, Maserati can relay the message their compositions comply of just as easily as the recorded studio version. A credit to the musicians. Rehumanizer was worth the wait!
Modest Mouse -Strangers to Ourselves
Ultimately I have 3 very special bands that mean the world to me- Maserati, Modest Mouse and The Appleseed Cast, my big 3. So to see all of these bands live on more than one occasion and for 2 of these bands to return this year with new studio albums and trips to Europe, well that alone has made my year in music. Another record showing the next direction for a well established and notorious act. Whatever point I’m in, in life , Isaac Brock seems to narrate those journeys. And once again this album came at a time that just clicked, I needed to hear it and now it’s very much overplayed, yet it’s another record that will never grow tiresome.
Temple Complex- Self Interest Behaviour
Something a little closer to home, in fact a release I’ve been thrilled to help with. I’ve been managing the instrumental 2 piece Aulos for 6 years now and this year both members Oli and Josh have been busy writing, recording and releasing their own new efforts. Oli in A Parliament of Wolves and then Josh, earlier this year under the moniker Temple Complex, Josh is also known for his involvements with Black Elephant and The Anomalies. Regardless of my personal relationship with this talented Hereford based musician, when a few unmixed demos of his new effort landed in my inbox- I was left speechless. I’m not sure what I was expecting and although I’m fully away of Josh’s abilities, this release blew me away. An experimental multi-instrumentalist, Temple Complex has indulged in a intellectual solo creation and produced a quirky, refreshing and truly substantial release- his most immersive and compelling work to date. Temple Complex is described as being a personal project of musical expression focused on experimentation, honesty, depth and progression.’ Self-Interest Behaviour’ reaches out and provides such emotion in a boundary breaking deliverance. The entire 8 track EP resonates in honesty and thrives in sentiment and I urge everyone to take the time to embrace this record.
Nah- Light as Fuck
4 years later and with countless influential releases under his belt, Mike Kuhn is a machine. Recognised for his involvement in Philadelphia’s 1994!, Mike’s solo outfit NAH mid evening in early August, out of the blue dropped his best record yet. Split into two sides, “Light As Fuck” courageously yet aggressively flows from track to track featuring the musician annihilating his drum kit with the most insane beats mixed with samples, electronic noise, intense lyrics- including an appearance from Ho99o9- and a brooding atmosphere. Each track is suspiciously eerie and at times NAH proves that creating such deep layers of sound comes effortlessly to this influential figure. NAH has created an innovative record and it’s a must hear.
Alright The Captain- Contact Fix
At the start of the year, Aright The Captain released their stunning follow up to SNIB. Contact Fix, an incredible representation of their continuous hardwork and dedication.
The band have constructed a record that is not only technical but accessible on many levels. Melding heavy passages with smooth cleans and a set of cleverly selected synths and samples. Best of all as the band is constantly carving roads through Europe on multiple tours each year, the songs translate to a powerful and memorable live experience. A vital listen from the Nottingham/Derby trio. It’s been great to see the three flourish this year supporting the release of their album and what a fitting accomplishment for ATC with a much deserved and loved headline performance at ArcTanGent!
Battles- La Di Da Di
I was quite sceptical prior to hearing the release in full as I’d heard more about it with regards to other peoples opinions and as much as you’d like to block these out I wanted to embrace my first listen and create my own opinion. La Di Da Di the third studio album from Battles was put on through the best speakers and whilst I sat there fully absorbing the release I was left in awe. The startling 12 track album has everything you need, simply incredible- the production, THAT Battles sound, the tentative journey each track takes you on. To fully appreciate the album it needs to be heard as one, in full. The legendary musicians are purveyors in instrumental math rock and have once more created a record which will influence and become an iconic release to thousands of fans and musicians.
Chiyoda Ku- Not Listening
Chiyoda Ku are a fresh and aspiring trio who are undeniably one of the best instrumental acts in the UK. In the spring of this year, Chiyoda Ku released their new 4 track EP Not Listening, recording one intense effort. Just 4 tracks showcasing the musicians abilities to the fullest, an EP with dynamic percussion throughout, illustrious riffs and no boundaries. A typhoon of unruly math and alternating time signatures create a frenzied mix of By The End of Tonight esque sounds. Not Listening highlights a dirty tapestry of angular guitar textures and irregular rhythms that propel the EP’s 4 tracks forward at breakneck speed.
Olde Pine- The Jawns
Olde Pine, the delectable quartet from Westborough MA released their 10 track album early this year. The Jawns, 10 track album is very addictive. This compelling release provides contrast within the math rock genre. With resemblance to early Dads and Algernon Cadwallader found in each high energy track, each musician effortlessly bring their own creative competency to culminate exceptional compositions. These four musicians have come a long way together- and their unity as a band, their workmanship and creativity radiates their aptitude.
Chemistry Lessons- Real Life Man Museum
With their outstanding debut album being unveiled to the world at the very end of 2015, Chemistry Lessons immediately topped my favourite albums of the year. This highly anticipated release from an electronic eccentric duo is a credit to the pair who have created and orchestrated a phenomenal masterpiece.
One very early morning, whilst I was fast asleep the delightful other half received this record and immediately put the album on. At 3am, the sheer heaviness of this album not only startled me but shook the walls, I genuinely believed the house was being raided and I jumped out of bed and ran out of the house. I can safely say no other album can have that effect on me.
Blending the best space-disco beats, distorted synths, drum machines, abrasive and abusive in your face riffs. Chemistry Lessons are purveyors of sound manipulation, this act should be on tour with HO99O9 and NAH!
Honourable Album Mentions
I have to credit these albums who have also topped my most played and most cherised releases of the last 12 months:
Naoise Roo – Lilith , A Werewolf –Bigger Than The Beatles And Godzilla Combined, Lord Huron – Strange Trails, Western Daughter – As The Sun Went Down, Mylets- Arizona, Health – Death Magic and Brave Season– On Long Distance and The Ties That Held Us Together.
Single Release of The Year
The Teen Age- Low Cunning
Enemies- Play Fire
Best Gig of the year
For me again this was very tough, there were 3 artists who really captivated me during live performances this year.
The first being the very recent Maserati show at Corsica Studios in London. To finally see our idols absolutely crush their live set was something else. Their indulging set was flawless, high paced, energetic and emotional.
The second was Fall of Troy performing at ArcTanGent. Their dynamic and driven set was one of the most immense live performances we’ve witnessed, with pits forming at the front of the audience and dancing at the back, their set had it all. These icons enthralled the crowd and enticed their fans to enjoy their time as much as they were.
And thirdly, this year we followed enigmatic French duo Quadrupede around the UK for a few shows during their first UK tour. Without a doubt one of the best live bands around. We caught the pair perform closer to home at The Pig and Drum in Worcester then again at a very full Stag and Hounds in Bristol. The duo effortlessly implement crushingly intense live shows, immersing themselves within their work the crowd is so easily captivated by the pair. Joseph and Damien are two jaw-droppingly incredible technical performers and masters of creating such deep layers of sound, with the intensity of a band double it’s size. The pair returned a few months later to perform at this year ArcTanGent, what a reward for this hardworking act. Seriously-if you get the chance you must see their live attributes.
Highlights of The Year
I have to say a huge huge huge thank you to all the bands, acts, artists, promoters, labels, press agencies and to our readers, this year has been the busiest but the greatest for Circuit Sweet. The continuing support is appreciated more than I can show. In March of this year we celebrated our 6th birthday and we relaunched our new look site- thanks to the hard work from the dedicated guys at Oogly. The site is exactly what I wanted and the response to the new look has been incredible. This year we’ve added a few brilliant writers to our roster and I really have no idea what I would have done without them, Gavin Brown, Simon Gore, Josh Lamdin, William Henry Prince, Gareth Burke, Naomi Burke, Fergus Coates and Sean McMahon- they’ve each put their all into their articles and I admire their workmanship towards all things Circuit Sweet related.
We had the pleasure in participating in this years Cassette Store Day following the success of last years involvement, we stocked more CSD releases from artists and labels who are all great supporters of the site. And I was beyond thrilled to help and stock the physical releases from electronic/guitar noise duo A Parliament of Wolves and as stated above, Temple Complex debut EP.
Plans for 2016
The Broken Oak Duet will soon be releasing their debut album on vinyl, I intend to listen to this non-stop for the majority of next year. There’s a release coming from new act How Dare You That’s My Mother You’re Talking About, I can’t wait to share this!
Alongside the above, I am hoping we have some more great releases in our shop, attend as many gigs as possible, review more than possible, hopefully we can sponsor some more shows/festivals, release a new compilation and help as many acts as possible.
Anyway that’s enough from me, again thank you to all that have helped us and supported us this year, you are the best!- For now keep checking the site as we return back to those awesome labels and musicians.