Here’s a look back at 2011 to make you dive head first into 2012. Ladies and gents, it’s the AIAIAI Best of 2011 playlist! So fresh, so clean.
2011 provided us with a serious amount of new, peculiar, immersive, inventive and just plain weird music. So much so that we have to admit we had a little trouble keeping up with it all. As you get older, your obsession with being first with the latest shit seems to dwindle, and this can take its toll on your music nerdery. Still, there were more than a few musical moments from 2011 that were memorable even to a bunch of ageing slackers like us. That is to say, we haven’t surrendered completely to fits of complaining about soaring cheese prices while shaking our fists at unruly teens…not just yet, anyway.
2011: The Year in Music
‘H-pop’ or hypnagogic pop was still alive and kicking in the shape of knob-twiddling eccentrics like Maria Minerva and Oneohtrix Point Never; British, post-dubstep bass music was on a serious winning streak and morphed into strange new hybrids that were as eclectic as they were tightly focused; we have it on good authority that Rustie’s ‘Glass Swords’ album melted peoples’ brains; Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu label put out quite a few remarkably immersive, footwork-inspired records such as Kuedo’s Blade Runner-esque ‘ Severant’ and Machinedrums’s ‘Room(s)’; New R&B gave us some intensely soulful, new school jams in the form of The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Devonte Hynes’ Blood Orange project; Nicolas Jaar’s album was another awe-inspiring highlight; Tom Waits was back with a new album that showed everyone just how relevant the old crooner still is; Copenhageners When Saints Go Machine surprised everybody (including us) by putting out an LP that struck the perfect balance between raw emotion and flawless production; young punk upstarts Iceage’s debut practically blew everything rock-related out of the water; and so on and so forth.
There was no shortage of fantasist/romanticising, hyper-real musical odysseys that could take us far away from the all too immediate drudgery /intensity of Facebook overload, catastrophes, and the all-pervading economic crisis that seemingly has no intention of ever ending. In the wake of this visceral mix of impressions, there were those who felt that something was missing . That popular music had through some barely perceptible mechanism been divorced from what was happening around it, and in this way rendered it unable to fully articulate the pressing issues of our time.
Author Simon Reynolds claimed that popular music was stuck in a collective, retrospective vacuum of sorts in his book ‘Retromania’ in which the famed writer mourned the distinct lack of cutting-edge newness in pop. Journalists and various stakeholders either welcomed or condemned the somewhat harsh critique, although we have a feeling that even the most hardened Reynolds critics will secretly admit that pop music needed a gentle kick up the backside to help clear out the dustiest sonic cobwebs.
Nevertheless, despite all the retrofetishist leanings in pop, 2011 was a still a solid year for forward-thinking music. As you can tell from this list, the diversity spawned by the internet is still creating extraordinary new music that’s annoyingly difficult to pigeonhole (although there’s never a shortage of journalists willing to try).
As you can probably tell I could go on for hours, which is why it’s best to cut the long-windedness short and give you the low-down. Dear readers, here’s a list of tracks we dug in the past year.
Tom Waits - Hell Broke Luce
Shabazz Palaces - Free Press and Curl
Spleen United - Days of Thunder
Purity Ring - Lofticries
Com Truise - VHS Sex
Lana Del Rey - Blue Jeans
Kuedo - Scissors
Phreshy - Puff Puff Pass (Machinedrum Remix)
Gang Gang Dance - Glass Jar
Frank Ocean - Novacane
Boddika - Underground
Nicolas Jaar - Don't Break My Love
When Saints go Machine - Kelly
P.J. Harvey - On Battleship Hill
Yacht - Dystopia
Happy New Year and the best wishes for 2012. Let’s make it a year to remember!