10 January 2013

Dr. Schluss' Best of 2012

Here's a rundown of the grooviest music I came across last year.  You'll find that my tastes tend to veer towards the poles of the dreamy and fuzzed-out bliss, but what else do you expect from the author of a psychedelic blog?  Here's the rundown:

12.  The Sword - Apocryphon  The Sword takes the stoned out buzz of early Black Sabbath and splatters it on an Iron Maiden-sized canvas.  This is both their most confident and tripped-out record at the same time.

11.  Lee Ranaldo - Between the Times and the Tides  Sonic Youth's future may remain in doubt, but it's clear that the members can dish out pretty fine albums on their own.  Ranaldo only has a track or two on most Sonic Youth albums, and they're usually highlights.  So it's nice to get ten in a row.

10. Torche - Harmonicraft  The key for me on this one was another reviewer's comment that this sounds kind of like a metal Guided By Voices.  That works for me and it turns out that I dig this more that GBV's 2012 resurgence (which is still pretty good on its own terms).

9. Melody's Echo Chamber - Melody's Echo Chamber  With Tame Impala's Kevin Parker handling production duties and a lot of the instruments, this is like a very solid stealth album from his day job.  But without Melody Prochet's stellar songwriting and vocals, which also touches on Stereolab and oddball psych influences like the Stone Poneys, this album wouldn't be what it is.

8. The Orb and Lee "Scratch" Perry - The Orbserver in the Star House  Easily one of the Orb's better latter day efforts, this set often comes across as a more rustic take on their great early records.  Perry's fine present doesn't come in so much with a Black Ark sound, but with his trippy rambling.  I see Perry pontificating through the park forest as Alex Patterson and Thomas Fehlmann train him with knowing, deranged smiles.

7. The Gateless Gate - Xinjiang  An obscure first release that really captures the fire of the transcendent.  I reviewed this one on the blog, but I must reiterate that this meditative music is a sublime fusion of the best of 70's Mike Oldfield and the tripper vibes of the highland Asian spiritual planes.

6. Grizzly Bear - Shields  I must admit that I didn't catch the critical fire that this band's previous releases ignited.  This one, however, is definitely a keeper - extolling the sound of the Band hopped up on an ipod-ready multidimensional tapestry.

5. Wild Nothing - Nocturne  Striking directly into the vein of late 80's dream pop, Wild Nothing conjures a mind expanding vision of echoic sonic landscapes.  The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen weren't quite the same when utilizing this kind of production, but 'Nocturne' shows us what it should have sounded like.

 4. Beach House - Bloom  And yes, this dude-chick duo truly blooms on this release.  The tunes here will snatch your spirit and spirit you away on plumes of blue-smoke clouds.  Shoegazing never quite died, it just mutated as this album proves.

3. Neil Young - Psychedelic Pill  "Americana" suggested that the man might finally fade away, but Neil Young always bounces back with a masterpiece.  This one yolks Crazy Horse back on board for the ride and blasts away will genius garage skronk for some epic-length tracks.  28 minutes seems too long for "Drifting Back," but not when Young's guitar successfully ensnares the psychedelic snake.

2. Tame Impala - Lonerism  Ten years ago, I considered the Flaming Lips to be at the vanguard of modern psychedelic rock, and Animal Collective threatened to claim that title a few years back, but I think this group from the strange outpost of Perth has run away with the mantle.  This sophomore effort ups both the trippiness and the catchiness, with mastermind Kevin Parker basically going it alone as the album title suggests.

1. Sigur Ros - Valtari  Evoking the stark wildernesses of their native Iceland, Sigur Ros stay pretty quiet on this release, but come out more epic sounding than ever.  This is widescreen, hallucinogenic music to bore into your soul.

I've got a little a sampler for your ear.  In my bid for shameless self promomotion, I've included a couple tracks from my own endeavours, Glaze of Cathexis and Damaged Tape.  Here's the tracklist:

1.  Off the Wall- Lee Ranaldo
2. Sky Trials - Torche
3. Lazuli - Beach House
4. Psychedelic Pill - Neil Young
5. Golden Clouds - The Orb and Lee "Scratch" Perry
6. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards - Tame Impala
7. Out of Your Mind - Glaze of Cathexis
8. Dunhuang - The Gateless Gate
9. Yet Again - Grizzly Bear
10. Cloak of Feathers - The Sword
11. Varuo - Sigur Ros
12. Some Time Alone, Alone - Melody's Echo Chamber
13. Only Heather - Wild Nothing
14. Spectrum of Realities - Damaged Tape


Unknown said...

Best wishes for 2013 to you! I love your site & visit it very often ... thank you for all the great music you shared! Hope you will publish a lot of music in the future time?

It is a pity - the mediafire-link is dead! Can you please re-upload your Best-Of-2012?

Rochacrimson said...

Link dead...

Unknown said...

Shit mediafire - link is dead again - it is that track which causes problems: "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" by Tame Impala, which is heavyly copyrighted?

Rochacrimson said...

Link deleted again :(
Please post on zippyshare server ;-)
Hope to listen soon this compilation!
Thank you

Anonymous said...

good list, good albums, have you heard the goat album called world music? it came out this year and is a real badass psych album. if you havent heard it, it seems like an album you would enjoy. thanks for all the tunes!

Rochacrimson said...

Please dr. a new link...if possible on zippyshare!
Thank you :)

Unknown said...

Mediafire does not work! Please use "Zippyshare" ... I am so curious about your "Best-Of" please publish it again! Thank You!

newnativemark said...

Yes, looks like Mediafire is being very selective about what it will host these days. I too am anxious to hear your picks... is there any chance you can upload it to a different service?


Unknown said...

Please Dr. Schluss - re-upload your 2012 best of comp with the help of zippyshare? Your compilation is too important to be not published ... I must listen to the tracks you listed! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Great list! Here's another psychedelic tracks of 2012 list - what a great year for psychedelic tunes http://www.realfolkblog.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

ok, try here:

Gerardo Rosés said...

Thanks !
Downloading !

Rochacrimson said...

Thank you!

newnativemark said...

Thank you. No problems whatsoever with this link! Now I can't wait to listen.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi Dr. Schluss! Thank you so much for uploading your Best-Of-2012 again! I love your taste of music ...

And I invite you to my little YouTube-Channel, called "Easywind Explores ..." which deals with the 1970s-Italian-Soundtrack-Era, Cosmic Funk & other groovy stuff ... maybe you could leave a comment there? I`d like to know, what you think about my project?

You`ll find it at:


Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great pointers to new music. Spent many happy hours sampling them on iTunes. I've only just discovered your blog but am already a fan. Came to it via a search for Hawkwind. Can't wait to explore!

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Anonymous said...

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Many thanks!

Manifold said...

My Dear Dr,
Credit where credit is due.

Anonymous said...

Credit for you.

Anonymous said...

Decent list but Tame Impala (despite the excellent production) aren't big enough in the risk-taking department to be considered the vanguard of anything. I think the Flaming Lips new album alone qualifies them above Tame Impala.

I just wanted to also mention that the Grizzly Bear album was just bad. 3-5 good songs and the rest crap. Massive hype train on that one but I'm just going to focus on 'Lonerism'.

So much praise has been heaped upon this album but everyone seems to overlook some obvious and glaring flaws.

The whole thing SOUNDS great (wonderful production and choice of everything, really) BUT the song structures are often weak and the melodies are pretty mediocre at points. When you break down the songs themselves they often are very blase and repetitive. Some songs even putter out in the middle and just cruise to the endpoint. Like he just didn't know where to go with the song and just said 'fuck it, I'll just extend the current part for 2-3 minutes and add in a couple solos. They won't notice'. Some entire songs are like that. When you get past all the gorgeous sounds ... there's not an awful lot of meat on these bones. I will say that 'apocalypse dreams' and 'elephant' are wonderful. 'Gotta be above it' is great too. The rest is ok but it's too repetitive to last for me.

Now I'm going to talk about random songs

'Mind Mischief' is pretty good. It relies heavily on effects and studio trickery like many of the other songs but it definitely works on this one. The melodies are good too and the song itself 'travels' just enough to satisfy. Don't think I'll be coming back to it that often but it's good.

'Music to Walk Home By' could have been immense. I can easily see how this song could have just launched into a whole 'nother dimension but it doesn't really travel far. It's still ok to good but again, repetitive (without very strong melodies to fancy it up).

'Why won't they talk to me' is SO fucking annoying. How many times do we really need to hear the chorus ffs (it's not that amazing to begin with) and if he is going to reach a 'cathartic' moment of realization by saying "But I don't even care about it anyway. I wouldn't listen to a word any of them say. They just talk about themselves all day. One day Ill be a star and they'll be sorry" then he shouldn't ruin that moment by relegating back to the chorus which makes it seem like he doesn't really believe what he just said. For listeners relating to his experience this could have been therapeutic but instead it just wallows in self-pity and shallow fantasies of revenge.

'Feels like we only go Backwards' is the biggest mistake here. They took what could have been an amazing song (with the addition of a part or 2) and just REPEAT THE FUCK out of the chorus. That is basically the whole song. It sounds gorgeous and has strong melodies so it is still 'good' though it wears out its welcome quicker because of the overbearing repetition.

'Keep on lying' is like they took 5 seconds of music and just looped it, threw on some OK guitar and organ solos/drones and called it a song.

Anything I didn't mention is pretty much OK to 'blah'. I'd give it a 6 based on the strength of the better songs.

Allister said...

Just noticed my Gateless Gate recording is on this list! Thanks so very much. An honor. My second recording will be available this spring, so I'll send it along when it's finished.

Anonymous said...

Gateless Gate, amazing name for a band. I expect a catalyzing sound for my ch'an practice.

Thanks for the list, Dr. and all the best. Love your blog.


El Isabelino said...

Gracias Doctor, Saludos.

Anonymous said...

Can someone re-post the Orbserver in the Starhouse album pretty pleeeeease?