The winner of the Dead Albatross Music Prize will be announced tomorrow night. Adrian Bloxham, along with various other Louder Than War writers, found himself a judge and having to live with and eventually choose ten albums to declare his favourite, read his ramblings on the process below.
So I was nominated to be on the judging panel of the Albatross awards. An alternative to the Mercury Music Prize, which I have no particular problem with; as I don’t really care one way or the other about most of the music the Mercury Awards are judging. However, I am pretty chuffed to be delving into the Dead Albatrosses selection.
So I had twenty five new albums to listen to, absorb and let into my life for a month and then to chose the ten I liked the most and rated them.
The twenty five albums were diverse to say the least, static to Latin grooves, dubstep to punk, and a bonefide Stoner Rock classic too. New music is always good to hear and there were a few there that I hadn’t even heard of let alone listened to.
Let me run you through the candidates, I’ll not let on my top ten but you may pick up on which ones I liked a lot and the others, not that I didn’t like but they weren’t as good … if you know what I mean.
Right, in alphabetic order
A New Line – A New Line this feels like you are underwater, the static beats and gentle noises seep slowly into your brain and as the tracks progress the intensity grows. The breathing noises underneath the music make you look over your shoulder. I could see them onstage at the Supersonic Festival which isn’t a bad thing at all.
Astor – Inland, an odd recording to say the least. It’s as if they have recorded themselves doing everyday things and you find yourself trying to work out what’s going on. Very strange.
Bong – Stoner Rock – All the clues are there. The band’s called Bong. Album’s called Stoner Rock. Hmmm, 2 tracks, each around thirty five minutes long. I knew what this was going to sound like before I played it and indeed I wasn’t disappointed. Brilliant Stoner Rock that gets you every time. Are they serious? I’d like to hope so…
Dolly Dolly – Antimacassar, This is poetry spoken over strange sounds and static crackle, I looked him up, he’s a spoken word artist and surrealist. Odd and weird, but strangely alluring.
Ex-Easter Island Head – Mallet Guitars Three – This is a trio of mulitinstrumentalists doing what they do best – making strange surreal music, there are only four tracks and all four are strange. Another Supersonic festival band.
Flamingods – Hyperborea – Erm…their facebook page says ‘we like to make noise with instruments collected from around the world’ which sums up this conglomeration perfectly. Sounds you wouldn’t expect next to each other, with a strange vocal. Great record.
Flava D – FlavaD.com Vol.5 – I don’t know enough about electronic music to comment about genres or influences so I will merely say that this is dubstep styled low key music, in that it’s almost dreamy and it’s wonderful. It’s polished but feels slightly out of focus. The singing goes from quite beautiful to electronic samples repeated over and over. Brilliantly repetitive and it sucks you right inside.
Good Throb – Fuck Off – These are, after the first two songs, punky and indeed angry. It sounds tinny and echoey but that might just be my headphones. The songs are short, abrasive and spiky. A step away from shouty thrashy stuff as it is more structured and slower. A good record.
Ibibio Sound Machine – Ibibio Sound Machine –This leads with African rhythms alongside electronic overtones, at times it’s almost seventies funk a la Curtis Mayfield. But mostly it’s a fresh sound from somewhere I haven’t been and I like a lot.
Isnaj Dui – Euplexia – This comprises of delicate and haunting sounds, soft bells and flutes. The music drifts away on the wind.
Kate Tempest – Everybody Down – An angry record, it tells stories and pulls no punches. It follows in the footsteps of Jamie T, Billy Bragg and Joolz a strong lineage of British urban storytellers – and it’s excellent. It drips with teenage angst and lays its feelings wide open for you. Really really good.
L.B. Dub Corp – Unknown Origin – The music is strong, low and whispering. It’s like Dub static escaping from a studio buried deep beneath the Earth.
Matt Elliott – Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart – A too clever by half title leads into dark low folk music, night time drunken regret and sadness.
Mica Levi – Under The Skin – it’s a soundtrack album that is spooky and bloody atmospheric. Listen to it on your own and you need to keep looking over your shoulder. God knows how frightening it makes the film. Excellent and understated.
Millie & Andrea –Spaced and Long. Odd small noises, static and breathing comprise the grooves on this record, they repeat muffled and muted. It’s dance like Andy Stott, fractured and very cool.
Prescott – One Did – This is an ex Stump member, that means a lot to me. It is, as you would expect, odd, quirky and experimental.
Shopping – Consumer Complaints – Indie music, light and airy, eminently danceable and fresh.
Stefan Jaworzyn – Principles of Inertia – More static, bleeps and kind of a beat going underneath, like techno made on broken equipment.
Sub Luna City – City Rivims Mark 1. A Dubsteppy hiphoppy groove that is laid back and virtually horizontal. Cool with UK ghetto speak, and unfortunately not my favourite album on the list.
The Cosmic Dead – Easterfaust – A post rock album, with a slow and calculated sound, it comprises of two twenty minute tracks that get steadily louder with more sounds and texture added until total psychedelic psych out which carries on to track two, it feels like it should be just one song and it grooves like a madman.
The Mistys – Redemption Forest. This is electronic indie with a high strange vocal, a soothing and rich sound.
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia . A muted soft rock sound that I think is Prog. Nothing wrong with Prog if it’s your cup of mushroom tea.
Classroom Projects – incredible Music Made by Children in Schools – The whole thing is there in the title of the record, its ace! There’s no thinking about coolness or fitting in, just the making of incredible music, and the feeling of freedom.
Zed bias – Boss – This gives you a broken garage beat and is quite ace.
So there you have it, my ramblings on the Albatross Music Prize for 2014, this time tomorrow it’ll all be over and I will know whether anyone else has the same questionable taste as I do. Fingers crossed I’m not alone in my delusions.
You can check out the podcasts of the nomination’s here.
The Dead Albatross webpage is here.
This year’s award show will be live on Reel Rebels Radio tomorrow night between 8-11pm, the winning album at the end of the show.
All words by Adrian Bloxham, you can read more from Adrian at his author’s archive here.