It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2016 quickly 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 6th 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.
Our annual end of year tradition is where we 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.
Continuing our Rad Releases is a very close friend of Circuit Sweet, a man regularly found in the circuit sweet office telling us what we need to hear. Known also for his writing attributions to the site and a very talented musician one which we had the pleasure in joining forces with mid 2016- the wonderful Simon Gore. In the summer we announced the addition of Simon to our management roster, we’ve been extremely proud to see his hard working efforts finally unleashed to the world. With proud local ties and a Norweigan soul Simon Gore just a few months ago released one of our favourite and most striking record of the year. His stunning debut album-ÉN TI is an instrumental and vital album of the most beautiful, minimalist, ambient electronic creations. We added the album and photobook to the shop and in October Simon successfully launched the release at Cardiff Made. A fulfilling year for the musician, we now hand over to discover more.
Top 5 releases of the year and a brief reason why (albums, EP’s, Singles- if you have more than 5 send too).
1. Black Mountain – IV.
My most-played record of this year by far. How I’ve not worn the grooves out yet, I don’t know. It’s incredible. I was a little hesitant playing it as their previous stuff is very sacred to me and after a long hiatus I really didn’t know what they would come out with. But it’s killer. Totally on par with everything else they have done before. Nothing short of what I’d expect from these geniuses. Lovely people too.
2. Aucan – Stella Fisse.
I know I’m enthusiastic and blah, blah, blah, but this album is seriously fucking perfect. Like actually fucking perfect. Jo’s analogue mastering has done real justice to this record. It speaks for its self. It’s a subtle but complementary evolution from their previous work without detouring too far away from their character. OK, granted, it’s stylistically miles away from their first releases, but they have morphed over their journey and still retain all of the attitude, aggression and sheer passion they have always had. Top work.
3. Holy Fuck – Congrats.
Another pretty sacred one for me, but I didn’t doubt these cowboy cats for a second. Flawless record. INCREDIBLE quality pressing as well! Again, a powerful return from a 5-year hiatus and man, it’s been worth the wait. I listened to this record and this record only whilst putting together all of my album/book physicals and sending them out. So yeah, I like it.
4. Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthling.
Three Trapped Tigers are the best band in the UK and I don’t think any self-respecting musician can really challenge that. This album is no exception from that ideology. It’s different, but not too different. Pioneering effort on the physicals and amazing quality, which always keeps sad, old bastards like myself happy. Double disc, 180g gatefold with anti static sleeves – yes please.
5. Genuflex – Genuflex.
If anyone has ever spoken to me, I am likely to have bought up the band White Rose Movement at least once. I’m still an obsessive fan-boy like no other. Needless to say, Finn Vine has played a very important role in my musical foundation. His solo album is the perfect example of how and why.
6. Warpaint – Whiteout (kind of single).
The best song they have ever done. Period. Theresa Wayman is becoming a guitar hero of mine and Jenny Lee is my second favourite bass player of all time (a very close second). What a fucking composition! Beautiful, delicate layering. I’ve no idea how they do it by playing almost nothing.
7. Despereaux – The Fighter (single).
It was not released at the point of writing this article but I already had it like a badass, ghetto superstar. These boys really leave me speechless. Like, it’s so good, it’s funny.
8. The Kills – Doing it to Death.
Yet another band out of hiatus and back where they should be. One of their catchiest tracks yet. I don’t know how they keep doing it. I’m not into their new ‘full-band’ live line-up thing, but they are some of the most fascinating people I have ever followed and Jamie Hince is still one of the most revolutionary guitarists for me. Still love them.
9. Yann Tiersen – Eusa.
It’s Yann Tiersen, that’s surely enough. But the concept behind making, recording and releasing this album is so inspiringly pioneering, it really gives me hope for the future. Oh, and it’s a fantastic catalogue of work from one of the greatest musicians of our time.
10. Parcs – Traces EP.
Love these guys. Love playing with them. Love hanging with them etc. Elly’s voice/character is one in a million.
The best show you have played this year and why.
1. 28, The Parade with Nevsky Perspective (new line up). It was my last gig with this band. I’ve left the band twice – I’m basically John Frusciante. I have had some memorable gigs in my time but non quite like this. Something was very different. It felt very special, unique. I felt honoured and privileged to have played in this band again and performed the incredible compositions of Mr. Hervé Girardin. I genuinely love this band and wish I could bring them to Norway.
2. The ÉN TI release party, Cardiff MADE. This whole project really took it out of me and the release party was the icing on the cake. Challenging, but very rewarding. It was a real privilege to have Hervé Girardin and Jimmy Otley play adaptations of my album tracks and to have it complemented with live visuals from Form Constants was amazing. I love seeing ambitious ventures come together and I think this was my most ambitious yet.
3. Sebastian Worley solo performance at Clear Cut Out/Brickstock at Brickworks fringe festival. My favourite album track performed with 90% borrowed kit that I only had sound check experience with. My amigo, Brik Phro made an original visual piece that he performed with live manipulation. It was very loud, and very impacting and very sexy and I loved it.
4. Origami Reinkarnasjon live AV set with Jack Rees at CGI Friday/Cardiff MADE. I have been working on this set for a while with Jack and this was a particularly enjoyable performance of it.
5. Strange Daze Festival at The Moon Club with Nevsky Perspective (OG line up). Just an exceptionally great, low ceiling, high volume rock club gig. I enjoy this kind of gig more than most. It was a really nice set despite some technical difficulties – which we are all very used to. Great crowd, great response and great, gnarly stage monitors.
The best gig you have attended and why
1. John Hegre, Jean Philippe-Gross, Greg Pope and Xavier Quérel at All Ears Festival, Oslo. The best imaginable AV set ever. One of the best performances I have ever seen. 3x 16mm projectors! All improv. Pretty lost for words even now. I have been a big fan of Greg Pope for a couple of years so this set was main priority at the festival for me. It’s pretty crippling as a performing artist because you end up thinking “how am I ever going to match that”, but I guess that’s the function of good art. I take my hat off to those guys. A gallant effort.
2. Black Mountain at Concorde 2, Brighton. I have waited 7 years to
see this band and they did not disappoint. Well worth the trek (why isn’t Brighton as far away as it used to be?). The best live drum sound I have heard ever and amazing to see them performing with all of their original gear. As a performing musician, it gives you a glimmer of hope when you see a flawless set with vintage gear. It earns the performers a new level of respect. They then get it all nicked in Sweden – and you remember that you live on this earth in the 21st century and there is a reason that no one tours with vintage kit. Still, I managed to run through 4 security guards to get my records signed. Still a shameless fanboy. Zero apologies/fucks available to give.
3. Aidan Taylor, Matt Lovett, Hervé Girardin, Jack Rees and Joel Sinclair, live improv AV set at Electric Soup/Cardiff MADE. This was a mental-sick set up. Matt and Aidan performed in the cellar with a real-time video feed upstairs, projected onto the back wall of the stage. Jack and Joel manipulated the video feed with a CCTV mixer, generative video synth and probably something else, whilst Hervé was manipulating the live, real time audio with auxiliary effects in the desk. Another occasion of me thinking “of just fuck off, boys”, with the biggest, imaginable smile on my face. Just amazing, truly amazing.
4. Every Time I Die at The Old Blue Last, shitty London. I hate London, still. This was quite a special occasion though. The original date was cancelled out of respect of the people killed during the Paris shootings last year. So when the tour was re-arranged, the same tickets were honoured – good move. It’s been some time since I’ve seen the guys play and probably in the smallest venue I have seen them in yet. Very impressive set, they are just the undisputed kings of their game and getting better and better.
5. Sous Les Paves at Strange Daze Festival, The Moon Club, Cardiff. This is the most under rated band I have ever known. Staggering musicianship and technical ability with creative swing to match – a rare and exceptional combination. Monsters on stage, humble, warm, welcoming gentlemen off stage. I am proud to have Nick play on my album and can’t wait to see them/work together again.
6. The Rhythm Rats, The Queens Head, Monmouth. I roady for my dear friend Chris Mayfield and feel compelled to express my upmost appreciation for his work. An inspiring, dedicated player who has a dazzling professional history. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see veterans, pioneers of what we do, tearing up and killing it and playing better than anyone else on the circuit, still. Meanwhile, any seasoned performer will have shared the experience of under talented, over sensitive prima donnas that you come across time and time again in this game – it’s quite a contrast! To say that I am impressed by these guys is an understatement, this gig was their flagship. Chris didn’t think so, but it was a magical performance. I loved it. And I love hanging out with cultural history. I aspire to have this level of commitment and heart when I’m 70 years young.
7. MNTZ at my release party, Cardiff MADE. Seriously, Seriously sick. Unlike anything I have come across before and constantly gripping.
No need to social media plugging if you’re this good.
Highlights of your year
1. Meeting Black Mountain. Real heroes of mine. Sinioa Caves was one of the main influences on my album so to discuss it with the man himself was a memorable experience.
2. Driving 5 fucking hours with the Circuit Sweet founders to see Holy Fuck in shitty London and getting turned away because the venue put them on an early set to accommodate the Friday night In-da-klubb crowd and we missed the gig. However, we did get to meet them after and they hooked us up with free merch, which of course was lovely. I used to pride myself on saying that I have front rowed it at least once on a tour date, every time Holy Fuck have played in the UK. I now can’t. And that is not a highlight.
3. Getting my album and photo book out and being happy with them. Then getting offered and doing an exhibition and a release party. I need say more.
4. Doing the original sound art for 2 artists at a residency at Cardiff’s Brickstock and Brickworks fringe festival.
5. Becoming a working artist.
6. Collaborating with film-maker, Joseph Bernard.
7. 2017 opportunities in the bag.
Artist/Band to watch for 2016
1. Sous Les Paves
4. Ich Bin Nintendo
6. Nevsky Perspective
7. Brik Phro
9. Sofi Lofi
Plans for the New Year
1. I’m doing a nice soundtrack job that I can’t wait to get started with. More details to follow.
2. Working on new music. Not sure exactly what yet, but there will be something.
3. The beauty of not knowing about so much yet having so much
Thank you for all your contributions to Circuit Sweet in the past 12 months- a wonderful year of achievements for you and we wish you all the best for the year ahead.