It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2017 rapidly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been a crazy year of highs and lows it’s the releases that have pulled a lot of people through the year. Now in it’s 7th year, Circuit Sweet will be hosting takeovers from the featured artists/musicians/labels and promoters of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.
As we hurtle towards the finale of our annual end of year tradition, we continue to let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favourite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take over comes from one our dearest friends, the insanely talented Simon Gore. Last year a highlight for Circuit Sweet and a personal favourite record release of 2016 went to the hardworking efforts of Simon Gore with his stunning release of the tentative 7 track masterpiece ÉN TI. Following the tape and photobook release, Simon has relocated to the land that inspires him, Norway. From there he has continued to build bridges in the music community, assist in mixing and re-scoring masterpieces. He is one of the hardest working musicians we know, the man never stops. And when he does have a break, he usually ends up writing music reviews and interviews for us, of which we are super grateful. We adore any chance to get our hands on some of Simon Gore‘s writing and we are delighted to hand over to him to see what records made his 2017…..
Rad releases 2017 – Simon Gore.
OK, advance apologies, this is another wordy one, but I believe in providing substantial credit where it is due. I’m enthusiastic and I’m not apologising for that. I have a lot of gratitude to express for my experiences and discoveries this year, so…
Here’s 11, not 5 as requested, just because:
Golden Oriole – Golden Oriole
One of my most played records at Kafé Hærverk and a lovely pair of gentlemen. True, innovative, Norwegian quality.
’68 – Two Parts Viper
These guys just keep on killing it. Just as impacting and impressive as their first release. But please come to Norway!
Scuba Death – The Worm at the Core
My most important discovery and most played record of this year. Highly recommended.
The Kills – Echo Home Non Electric EP
Jamie Hince has been one of my favourite musicians since I discovered The Kills when I was 16 years old. He is the most under-rated guitarist and songwriter of our time. A truly innovative player. I simply love the guy. When a band takes a long hiatus, die-hard fans, like myself, are sometimes cautious to listen to their new material. This EP features characterful and elegant versions of their tracks (including a cover) that provides a really special perspective of their substantial catalogue of work.
Ben Frost – Music from Fortitude/The Threshold of Faith EP/The Centre Cannot Hold
Old Mr. Frost has been a very busy boy this year. I could have easily made this feature a kind of semantic shrine to him, but decided that would have been a bit dramatic. He’s just fantastic. He never fails to impress. Staggering quality again and again, and so much of it this year! Very, very nice work.
Lasse Marhaug – Do We Love This Country (the new Norwegian national anthem)
OK. This needs to be the permanent Norwegian national anthem and sang A Capella, in full at the Olympics etc. The whole model and understanding of nationalism is an increasingly challenged ideology in today’s crazy times, but Lasse puts it better than I ever could – “Nations are defined borders set up to protect privileged people from less privileged people. National anthems are the collective dreams of those nations expressed by music. But, dreams can easily turn into nightmares. We don’t always appear as we wish. Good intentions can lead to disaster…” – Food for thought and adequate music to accompany.
The Mountain Howl – Ritual (cassingle)
What a delight when a rouge package turned up one summers day, concealing the aesthetically gratifying and sonically absorbing cassingle, Ritual by my FOD homeboy, Lee Phillips, aka The Mountain Howl. A fellow musical lifer, this chap has been putting out impressive music for a very long time and with no bias, this really is his best work yet (with ever better still to come).
Sarah Davachi – All my Circles Run
At 29 years of age, I didn’t expect to me making profound, game-changing musical discoveries at this point, having been involved with music for most of my living memory. Whilst living as humbly as possible, I find myself still plagued with first-world, perfectionist problems about technology and recording. I have tried my best to deny it, but “For Voice” is simply one of the most impacting and compelling pieces of music I have ever heard. As a fan and practitioner of instrumental music, I have regularly neglected the power of the human voice and Sarah Davachi has proven this mistake a crime. Choral pieces are making a real comeback in the world of experimental music and this is the finest example out there. Also the rest of the album is sweet, too.
Despereaux – Hugging the Cactus.
Oh my boys. You finally released it! 2+ years in the making has paid off and the overall quality was worth the wait. It really makes me very proud to know these guys and to see them playing music that is closest to my heart at a belting standard.
Are Mokkelbost – Rundhåndet
Are really is one of a kind. His catalogue of work is stylistically dynamic and unchallenged in quality. This release, regimented in conception but fresh in classification proves it’s not all about sheer, dark aggression. Very, very impressive (as expected) but I missed the release party due to being incapacitated (again) with a bad back (again). I also love it that someone else is using bullshit titles for releases (album title apparently inspired by and online backing password generator). Unpredictable and gripping throughout.
AK/DK – Stay Another Day (Christmas Cover)
Oh I love you guys. This is probably the best thing to happen on a global scale this year. The ironic thing is, the actual East 17 are performing in fucking Cinderford in December (this has probably already happened by the time of publication ). I must add, AD/DK’s new album, Patterns/Harmonics, is flat-out awesome but is shadowed by the absolute badassness of this cover. Better than the original – yes of course, verrucas are better than the original. All-time party classic? – yes! Christmas number one? – YES. If there is any justice in the world, this will be Christmas number one. Globally. That would be sweet.
The best gig played this year:
I have done one, solitary gig this year – a performance of my new, original soundtrack/rescoring to Dziga Vertov’s Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (1930), commissioned by artist, Stafhan Caddick and Dr. Victoria Donovan for their event, ENTHUSIASM. This was very special for me for many reasons but mostly as it was the first time I have played live alongside Oli Montez. We have played the same stage in different projects many times and have been making music together for over 6 years now, yet until this event, never performed together. Coming back to the UK for a solid and intense week of musical work, not excluding or forgetting multiple kitchen-table, emergency (midnight) synth repairs, this was one to remember. I performed my complete, new soundtrack, live to the film at the Redhouse Theatre in Merthyr Tidfil, South Wales and I stayed at the Circuit Sweet headquarters for almost the full duration, working with Oli, flat-out in the midst of chaos and illness. I’m only getting the time to truly reflect on it all now and it makes me so appreciative to know some of the most interesting, talented and hardest-working people on this fucking planet – Circuit Sweet. You guys are life champions.
Here is not one (as requested) but thirteen of the best gigs I have attended this year, because I’m gangster like that:
Russka Roma – Gypsey Music Festival, Jakob Kirke, Oslo
The most staggeringly beautiful performance I have seen this year and one of the best ever. It reduced me to tears. So intense, so honest, so expressive. Also, mad props to my local shaman/virtuoso brother, Ivan Oliversen at Hausmania for getting me in.
Golden Oriole at Kafé Hærverk.
Man they were awesome. Just flat-out loud, sexy awesomeness and with a full, original Simms Watt backline you really knew about this set. A very highly anticipated performance that was well worth the wait.
Bill Morrison at Victoria, Oslo.
Sheer and absolute musicianship beyond comprehension, yet minus any air of pretense.
Utarm at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo.
One of my most-followed Norwegian artists and biggest influences in experimental music. Dark, heavy and lovely. This was my most anticipated gig of 2018.
Reflections in Cosmos at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo.
Fellow Hærverk colleague, Jens Ole Bjerkan and I, received the kit rider 3 hours before soundcheck and discovered the first instrument we needed to find and hire for the gig was a Hammond B3 or C3 organ with Leslie. We just looked at each other. Somehow we managed to do it and it was totally worth it. Outstanding.
Tim Hecker at Blå, Oslo.
This one has been a long time coming for me. A very emotive, loud and heavy drone set that really stimulated the psyche. With apt support from the fantastic Alexander Rishaug it was a pleasant evening.
Ildfjell at Grünerløkka Deichmanske, Musikkfest Oslo.
What a day! Despite declining the invitation I was put on the Støykino bill at Musikkfest Oslo anyway (thanks guys – love you) which is where I witnessed this incredible performance. Mr. Drage has been a very busy boy and his efforts flourish in this project. The best performance of the day.
Andre Drage Group at Herr Nilsen, Oslo.
Man, I love this dude. I can’t wait to start playing with him again. My interest in minimalist music has really grown in recent years and Mr. Drage is doing it very, very well.
Harald Fetveit and Bjørn Hatterud at Kulturhuset, Oslo.
I am honoured to consider Bjørn Hatterud as a close friend of mine and he is still one of my musical heroes. This was his first gig for 6 years (although it was advertised as his first for 10). Adequately teamed with noise wizard, Harald Fetveit it was a unique and intimate performance. Such magnificent bea(s)ts. A very happy and special experience for me, and a memory that I will cherish forever.
Kvelertak and Ondt Blod at Unionscene, Drammen.
Just, fucking, wow.
MoE at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo.
It’s somehow the first time I have seen these guys play despite knowing them for a few years now. It was totally worth the wait. These cats work damn hard for their fans and this event was no exception. A privilege to experience.
Polyfrenetics at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo.
The most under-rated band in Oslo. They played a massive, flawless set. Respect.
Hure and Dogfeet at Kafé Hærverk, Oslo.
My favourite Hærverk night so far. A seriously impressive line-up. So much love, so much mosh.
Highlights of the year
Fulfilling my dream and moving back to Norway, all thanks to my good friend Vidar Andersen and his inspirational family.
Fulfilling another dream and performing my first feature-film soundtrack commission, live to the film with two of the best musicians I have ever known – Oli Montez and Aidan Taylor.
Working with Despereaux again. I have done 2 digital single covers for them this year and I got 2 shout outs in their LP release and crashed their studio sessions. More fun to come.
Being part of the cultural phenomenon that is Kafé Hærverk. I am dignified to be involved in this unbelievable venture. Monstrous thanks to Petter Flatten Eilertsen and Vegard Heskestad.
Profound discoveries, inspirational people and valued experiences with the most supportive, patient and understanding wife and daughter, who is NOT a cutie pie, she is a big girl.
Getting a summertime Norwegian visit from Circuit Sweet!
Having screenings in Oslo and London of my, 1978/2016 collaboration, WHITE FILM, with experimental film-maker Joseph Bernard.
Mixing the forthcoming single by The Mountain Howl. We are both super happy with the outcome and can’t wait to continue working together.
Artist/band to watch for 2018
ARM, Aulos, Despereaux, Black Art, Golden Oriole, Sarah Davachi, The Mountain Howl, Ildfjell, Uncle Ann, Dogfeet, East 17
Plans for the new year
Actually have time to do something and try and learn Norwegian properly so I can stop embarrassing myself.
Try and make some progress/recovery from even more back problems.
The continuation of awesome, existing projects and more very fun and intriguing projects with inspiring people to come. Keep up to date at www.simongore.co.no
Erm, other things.
Thank you once again for all your contributions to Circuit Sweet in the past 12 months- a wonderful year of achievements for you yet again. We cannot wait to see what 2018 brings for Simon Gore!