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wotcha! I am a listener and general nerd about town. I migrated from some time ago; now I help admin, the premiere fediverse destination for music lovers who nod knowingly at each other from across the room when that song comes on but probably won't ever introduce themselves.

I've been running a homebrew 5e campaign with friends for several years. I got into casting dice a while back; you can follow (or mute!) my exploits on .

I'm married, have twin boys in elementary school, and a bag of dinosaur bones that claims to be a greyhound called Rufus, but I am skeptical.

My day job is principal engineer at AWS. My feelings on this are complicated. I'm ostensibly engaged on human factors and resilience engineering but mostly I decline meetings and apologize to people. Been in the business 30 years and have complicated feelings about that too.

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Best of 2021 (long) 

2021 sucked. We had some personal triumphs (I got promoted, my wife finished school, the boys are back to in-person learning), but except for a brief and glorious July when it felt like we might actually come out the other side of covid the year was full of stress and anxiety and I hope the door knob hits it on the way out.

"Stress and Anxiety" was a prominent theme in the year's music also. We're now well into the second round of Pandemic Records(tm), and several of the entries in this year's list either imply or explicitly explore feelings of isolation and depression, of fatalism or bloody-minded perseverance. By the last quarter of the year though I found I had had my fill; frankly I would appreciate not having to think about the fucking end of the world for five minutes.

One thing can be said, though; artists stuck at home create. There was so much music released this year that for the first time I have a top 10 of albums I should have heard but haven't yet, and I spent more time actively listening this year than I have in a long time. The full list is below, but here are some thoughts on my Top 5:

CHVRCHES returned with Screen Violence, a record that channels anxiety into catharsis using horror movies as inspiration. Danceable, singable, and zero fucks given. Also includes the best Cure song of the last 20 years.

Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee. Another year, another amazing jbrekkie album. Zauner's asserts this record is about joy, which I think is fascinating given that the most joyful song on the thing -- Song of the Year That Isn't Chaise Longue "Be Sweet To Me" -- she spends pleading with a dirtbag lover to be worthy of her misplaced faith. A record more about the idea of joy than the feeling.

Danile Lanois's Heavy Sun, on the other hand, is authentically joyous, which is inevitable when you set out to record a secular expression of the Spirit inspired by Doo Wop. It brought me to tears one night in August and is easily the best sounding recording of the year.

At this point, Hiromi can do anything she damn well likes, and apparently one of the things she likes is composing for strings. The Silver Lining Suite is an exciting, evocative listen that recalls the works of Joe Hisaishi and Carl Stalling even as it explores the composer's fear, panic, and doubt. The suite itself is mesmerizing, but the second half of the album is stonking great fun and concludes on a note of optimistic abandon.

It should surprise no one that the two Johns' response to the state of the world in 2021 would be bleak, acerbic, gallows humour, but listening to Book is like staring into the abyss and the abyss singing back "Doodly doodly doodly-doo!" It's my favourite record this year and one of my favourite TMBG records period.

20 Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg
19 Lisa Gerrard - Burn
18 Pom Poko - Cheater
17 SPELLLING - The Turning Wheel
16 Sting - The Bridge
15 Amyl and the Sniffers - Comfort To Me
14 Silk Sonic - An Evening With Silk Sonic
13 illuminati hotties - Let Me Do One More
12 Kings of Convenience - Peace or Love
11 Mint Julep - In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep
10 Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
09 Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying To Tell You
08 IDLES - Crawler!
07 Lake Street Dive - Obviously
06 Aesop Rock x Blockhead - Garbology
05 CHRVCHES - Screen Violence
04 Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
03 Daniel Lanois - Heavy Sun
02 Hiromi - Silver Lining Suite
01 They Might Be Giants - Book

Top 10 Records I Should Have Listened To But Haven't Yet:
- Esperanza Spaulding - Songwrights Apothecary Lab
- Manchester Orchestra - The Million Masks of God
- Wooze - Get Me To A Nunnery EP
- Skee Mask - ITLP09 - Pool
- Sons Of Kemet - Lest We Forget What We Came Here To Do
- Bachelor - Doomin' Sun
- Squirrel Flower - Planet (i)
- Makthaverskan - For Allting
- Pom Pom Squad - Death of a Cheerleader
- Durand Jones & The Indications - Private Space

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Best of 2020 (long) 

2020 *sigh*

With the dissolution of 2hrs of commuting 5 days a week I didn't spend as many hours dedicated to listening this year. In some ways this helped the rankings because anything I felt compelled to spin more than once or twice ended up in the top 10. But as the year went on, I was surprised to see just how much new music I had taken in.

Nothing particularly surprising, except that KRS-One sent a new record out to die *today*. It's a real shame the marketing is nonexistent and the production is terrible because it showcases probably his best emceeing since the 90s. The man needs a producer who can keep up and a label willing to actually tell people when he releases something.

Here are some thoughts on my top five:

The Avalanches' 3rd record is confusing. It's too long. It largely wastes huge guest talents like Johnny Marr and Neneh Cherry. The kitchen-sink sampling is present but the goofy humour is gone. But once I stopped trying to hear Since I Left You, the album's melancholia opened up to me, sophisticated and welcoming.

I discovered mxmtoon this year, and boy oh boy what a force this young artist is. Dawn in particular is tremendous, hopeful and embracing and hiding legit pop hooks. "no faker" is going to be a stadium anthem some day.

Deborah Jordan was another new discovery for me in 2020. See in the Dark starts so quiet you might miss it: lilting piano, strings and electronic washes over a warm, round bass. Then the vocals come in overdubbed into wonky jazz changes and the whole record falls into a laid-back groove so deep it never recovers. Tasty.

Everything you've heard about Fetch the Bolt Cutters is true. It's a landmark record, funny and mean and heartbreaking and inspiring. Fiona Apple is one of the greatest songwriters of our times.

The Beths' sophomore record received mixed reviews for its airy, open songs, but I think this was largely due to a mistake in sequencing; repeated listens reveal a rich, sumptuous record as acerbic and sad as FMHM but with a new depth.
Truth be told Fetch the Bolt Cutters is probably a superior artistic statement but the Beths are just too much fun.

20 KRS-One - Between the Protests
19 Subsonic Eye - Bedroom Sessions
18 Rufus Wainwright - Unfollow the Rules
17 IDLES - Ultra Mono
16 the Lemon Twigs - Songs for the General Public
15 R.A.P. Ferreira - purple moonlight pages
14 Sigur Rós - Odin's Raven Magic
13 Bumper - Pop Songs 2020
12 DJ Python - Mas Amable
11 Squarepusher - Be Up a Hello
10 Elvis Costello - Hey Clockface
09 Lamb - The Secret of Letting Go (Deluxe)
08 Sufjan Stevens - Ascension
07 Sloan - B Sides Win vol 1. 1992-1997
06 Lisa Gerrard, Genesis Orchestra & Yordan Kamdzhalov - Górecki Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs
05 Avalanches - We Will Always Love You
04 mxmtoon - Dawn / Dusk
03 Deborah Jordan - See in the Dark
02 Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters
01 the Beths - Jump Rope Gazers

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Best of 2019 

2019 was a bit of a let-down, frankly. Highly anticipated records from the likes of Piroshka, BLUKE, DJ Shadow and 808 State I found solid but underwhelming, while others from Beck, Esperanza Spalding and the Who were entirely forgettable. After last year's embarrassment of riches the field seems especially thin.

The story is not all bad, though. My year was mostly dominated by small records and idiosyncratic artists: Jonathan Something's sophmore outing proved he was no fluke, flying the freak-folk flag high for all to see. Aerial View's debut for Epitaph found the youngsters deftly threading the needle between surf and power pop, their hearts full of angst and yearning. And the aptly named dumb released the stupidest, jangliest nerd punk record I've heard in years and I absolutely love it.

But looming over these tiny things like a collossus is my record of the year, Devin Townsend's Empath. Heavy Devy's first since dispanding DTP is his most personal, introspective and nakedly ambitious work to date. For all its kitchen sink bombast, its overflowing musical ideas, Empath is the intimate story of a man attempting to reconnect with himself and the world, and it is a massive achievement.

10 808 State - Transmission Suite
09 Spielbergs - This is Not the End
08 Sleater-Kinney - the Center Won't Hold
07 Moonchild - Little Ghost
06 The Future Sound of London - YAGE 2019
05 the Dollyrots - Daydream Explosion
04 Ariel View - Until My Lungs Are Clear
03 dumb - Club Nites
02 Jonathan Something - Art So Small You Can Hardly See It
01 Devin Townsend - Empath

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Evilchili's Album of the Year! (Long) 

Sweet Zombie Jesus what a year for new music. I bought more 2018 releases in 2018 than I have bought new music in a long while. Partly this is due to blatant cheating: John Zorn and Brian Eno both released massive box sets, and They Might Be Giants dropped three albums (!), two in December. But also surprising releases came from places I didn't expect: a new
Spiritualized record! A new David Byrne record! Dead Can Dance! Dirty Goddamned Computer! Oh, and a lost Coltrane record, because down is up and up is down.

2018 is remarkable for another reason, too: artists at the top of their game *decades* in. Sloan, TMBG, Yo La Tengo, David Byrne and Paul Simon all turned out records as good as anything they've ever done. At this point I don't expect
Sloan to ever record a bad *song*, nevermind a bad record.

But my pick for Evilchili's Album of the Year goes not to any reliable stalwart companion, but to a New Zealand four-piece whose rise to the top of my list was from first listen utterly inevitable. The Beths' debut, Future Me Hates Me, clocks in at just 39 minutes but packs a tremendous sun-drenched power-pop wallop. It ticks all my boxes: boy-girl harmonies, loud guitars, sad, clever lyrics on major chords (and handclaps provided by Yrs Chili). It is,
simply speaking, my favourite record this year and possibly of several years.

Here's my complete Top 10:

01 the Beths - Future Me Hates Me
02 Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
03 Aphex Twin - Collapse EP
04 Metric - Art of Doubt
05 They Might Be Giants - I Like Fun
06 Sloan - 12
07 CHRVCHES - Love is Dead
08 Subsonic Eye - Dive Into
09 St. Vincent - MassEducation
10 Busdriver - Electricity is On Our Side

Honorable Mentions:

David Byrne - American Utopia
Paul Simon - In the Blue Light
They Might Be Giants - the Escape Team
They Might Be Giants - My Murdered Remains
Dead Can Dance - Dionysus
Yo La Tengo - There's a Riot Going On
John Coltrane - Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album
Brian Eno - 77 Million Paintings (Music for Installations)
the Herbalizer - Bring Out the Sound
Ben Caplan - Old Stock
Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt
Elvis Costello - Look Now
Gnostic Trio - Netzach (John Zorn: Book Bari'ah Vol. 7)
Secret Chiefs 3 - Malkhut (John Zorn: Book Bari'ah, Vol. 10)
the Orb - No Sounds are Out of Bounds

Third full listen through Fossora. Here are some random musings. [longish] 

Structurally many of these songs are straight up club bangers complete with long build ups, drops, and chaotic, full-on outros. But this is not dance music; the structure is in tension with the shifting, varying tempos of each voice and Björk's own vocal lines which float mostly free of form, rest, or space above the instrumentation, creating a kind of stillness that holds the music together.

The production is awash in loops, textures, cut ups, and samples wrapped around acoustic and vocal polyphony in what by now should be familiar territory for Björk listeners. Sonically it reminds me most of Volta and Medúlla, although with a more focused and consistent palette. This is earth music, the sound of soil and moss and, yes, mushrooms.

The other thing that grabs me is these strong unison lines where the choirs, horns, chimes and midi bloops pick up the main vocal line, mashing all these disparate textures together for a time before wandering away from each other into different modes and keys. I wonder if there's a deliberate metaphor here, of temporarily coming together before retreating back to isolation; it certainly fits with the lyrical explorations of inheritance, community, and family.

I'm going to listen to this record a lot but I don't find it easy. Björk is increasingly making music that I suspect people appreciate but do not feel -- it requires so much of the listener, lacking anything resembling pop sensibilities or structures, that many won't feel welcomed by it. Maybe that too is a deliberate synergy? I love it, but I suspect I will only reach for it when I feel like spending time with it in active listening.

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So much great music today that I must at least mention the ones that made it onto my playlist (and a very brief note on each perhaps expanded on in the future)

Bjork - Fossora (many contrasts that work together)

Melody's Echo Chamber - Unfold (the melody/tame impala combo from the time of their relationship and you can really tell)

Shygirl - Nymph (some unique sounds)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cool it Down (mmmmmm)

Crooked Colours - Tomorrows (rufus du sol style)

Tycho - Back to Mine (great chill mix)

Will also add that after each of the first four LPs ended I thought to myself, that's it? it's over? Was enjoying them so much that I didn't want them to end

Another year around the sun with best partner I could ask for. Evidence: she argued we should have take out instead of going out so we wouldn't have to cancel which she doesn't really want to play anyway but does so because she knows it's important to me. ♥️

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I wanted to share with you all a rather obscure piece of art that I made back in art school in 2011/2012. Even though I've never really shared it, I'm super proud of it. :da_la:

We had to make some kind of art book for our Digital Design class. We only had a couple weeks, so time was of the essence. I got the idea to do something comedic and very Not Serious.

So here's my "How to Use a Book Book". :D

More pages in the replies! :da_boogie:

#MastoArt #Art #Book #Humour #CreativeToots

one of my favorite things about a new Björk album (aside from the album itself) is reading reviews of the album which invariably fail to mention the music at all because none of them understand it in the slightest. "this is great!" "why?" "uh.... mushrooms, motherhood... clarinets?"

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@evilchili had a vinyl copy that had a "bump" on it. still played it many, many times back in the day. absolute classic tune

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@evilchili Wild! I guess you've got 2CELLOS for the other kid to aspire to.

My boys are selecting instruments to learn. we have settled on flute and cello, so I am giving them a whirlwind tour of flute through the ages, culminating in the greatest live performance of all time that happens to include some flute. Brace yourself for the unstoppable force of FOCUS:

Mentee: How do you handle the pressure of having so much influence that major decisions will be changed because you express some measure of doubt? Don't you worry about being wrong?
Me: Constantly. But in the long run we’re all dead anyway so any individual decision can only matter so much.
Mentee: ...uh

my son the 9yr old hipster cannot *believe* the boys and girls club aftercare music library doesn't include shobaleader one.

Got rear-ended by an 18yr old driving his dad's car a couple of months ago. Finally picked up our car from the body shop today, 14k in damages later. Glad to have it back, glad nobody was hurt in the accident. Can't say whether the kid survived his dad. :D

Me: tries for a year to buy a PS5
Me: Succeeds, finally, sets it up, migrates PS4 content over, installs shiny PS5 content upgrades
Also me: boots PS3 to continue playthrough of FFXIII

I am reminded of the time I tried to get my meathead cousin into alternative music by playing Curve really loud at him. He grudgingly agreed that Chinese Burn was heavy as fuck but he could not be swayed from his Whitesnake and Quiet Riot.

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... not sure if Curve is popularly thought of as shoegaze, although they're definitely adjacent, and they definitely fell into the same 'that's not my type of music/I'm not cool enough to listen to that' category

I never owned or dubbed a copy of Doppelgänger when I was in school, but Horrorhead haunted my memory persistently enough that I bought it a few years later.

The whole album is *so good*

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Watching a Secret Fan Club stream of a concert and for a guy who broke every rib in one side of his body a few months ago Flans is looking and sounding pretty alright!

Credits roll on Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. My first replay of it since the original PS2 release. Still great even despite its sometimes very dated quest design. Next up 13? hrm...

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