A Dozen for ’12: Guitar Moderne’s Top Records of the Year

People love lists; at least the majority of publications seem to think so. They stir up controversy, which attracts attention. Thus I feel almost obligated to offer a year’s best list, for this, our first year of publication.

Keep in mind that the top twelve, listed in no particular order, merely represents the recordings, released this year (ish), that I found myself returning to over the course of time. In the spirit of Guitar Moderne, I list them primarily to incite readers to check them out. They by no means are meant to be an “objective” list of the “best” recordings of the year, but only the ones that I heard and personally responded to—my best, if you will. They very much reflect my own taste and your list will undoubtedly vary. By all means chime in and let me know what you think I missed.

John Abercrombie Within a Song [ECM]

One of my favorite guitarists, Abercrombie swings harder than anyone, never plays it safe, and, in the best sense of modern guitar, melds many genres into a personal style. Here he plays tribute to his mentors and heroes, with Joe Lovano, Joey Baron, and Drew Gress. The result is vaguely reminiscent of the brilliant Lovano, Frisell, Motian series of recordings.

Akira Rabelais Caduceus [SamadhiSound]

Like Fennesz, the enigmatic Mr. Rabelais uses guitar to create evocative walls of noise, through which dreamlike melodies emerge. And, like Fennesz, he has turned it into a distinctive voice.

Andre LaFosse The Hard Bargain / Do The Math  [Altruist Music]

(See the interview)

Bushman’s Revenge A Little Bit of Big Bonanza [Rune Grammafon]

(See the interview)

Christopher Willits/ Ryuichi Sakamoto  Ancient Future [Ghostly International]

(See the interview)

Eivind Aarset Dream Logic [ECM]

Aarset’s collaboration with Jan Bang eschews rhythm for total immersion in texture, dynamics, and silence.

Food Mercurial Balm [ECM]

Guests Fennesz and Aarset make it a must, but Prakash Sontakke’s slide and vocals are the icing on the cake.

Janel & Anthony Where is Home [Cuneiform]

Looping—with chops—by Anthony Pirog, magnificently melds with cello by Janel Leppin, offering enough stylistic variety to keep you coming back.

Sidsel Endressen & Stian Westerhus didymoi dreams [Rune Grammafon]

If I was numbering this list, it would be at number one, but I am not. Merely a masterpiece of improvised live duo performance.

(See the interview)

Stian Westerhus The Matriarch And The Wrong Kind Of Flowers [Rune Grammafon]

A mellower outing than Pitch Black Star Spangled, but no less brilliant.

Troyka Moxxy [Edition]

(See the interview with Chris Montague )

Metallic Taste of Blood Metallic Taste of Blood [Rare Noise Records]

(See the interview with Ernaldo Berocchi)

 Also Notable

Ryan Ferreira Music For Images [self]

(See the interview)

Colin Edwin/ Jon Durant Burnt Belief  [Alchemy Records]

Porcupine Tree bassist and modern guitar pioneer present gorgeous sounding, prog/ambient outing.

Nick Millevoi In A White Sky  [Flenser]

Glorious distortion and drones.

Noel Akchote Alike Joseph [Rectangle]

Akchote does more with less than any other guitarist I can think of.

The Regals The Double Duo Sessions [TetraArtist]

Canadian Wayne Eagles and Los Angelino Ken Rosser offer a baker’s dozen guitar improvisations; deftly combining notes and noise.


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