January 1, 2017

The Very Best of 2016 (now with more words, and a marathon-length playlist!)

This is it! This is what you've been waiting for! Now that the Spacerock Continuum has gone from monthly to quarterly you've been deprived of new music, all apologies. Well, rejoice, spacerockers! This here's four hours of musix that will do your head, heart and soul right for the new year, tracks from the very best space rock, psychedelic, and experimental albums of 2016. So dig in and DIG IT!

The mighty Vancouver psych veterans Black Mountain returned for their fourth album, which is every bit as good as their rest. Primus' Les Claypool teamed up with Sean Lennon (most recently seen with his own project, the psychedelic Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger) for a match made in space rock heaven, the Claypool Lennon Delirium. Torontoan dark prog-metallists Blood Ceremony evoke early Black Sabbath if they were fronted by a female singer-flautist. San Francisco supergroup Heron Oblivion (featuring members of Comets On Fire, Howlin' Rain, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, and Espers) sound a bit like all of those groups if they had spent a week on mushrooms at a country retreat listening to classic British psych-folk. The costumed Swedish pagan cultists Goat returned with more Goat fetishism and tribal ritual music. More Swedes made the playlist courtesy of illustrious black metal turned prog rockers Opeth. And continuing the (post) metal theme, Russian Circles put out one of the best collections of their career.

Modern psychedelia was represented by young bands like LA's Drinking Flowers and SF's The Spiral Electric. O.G. industrial avant-rockers Psychic TV took and unlikely turn with a four-song but lengthy EP which found them dabbling in unusual (for them) sounds from vintage Madchester to a Nilsson cover (included here). Speaking of Madchester, the horribly-named but good-timey New Yorkers Dinowalrus evoke the smiley-faced dance-psych of Primal Scream and their ilk. The peace-and-love beautiful people in Quilt continue to bring us back to Haight Ashbury's Summer Of Love. Veterans of the Montreal post rock scene, The Besnard Lakes put yet another album of beatific postcards from the beyond. French psychsters Wall Of Death sound just the opposite of their name, unless death is as ecstatic as their music. And SF's own newgazers Diiv just keep getting better with each release.

All three hailing from the UK, Eagulls channel early Cure when their material was much darker and less comical, Greys explore heavy psych with a touch of Killing Joke or perhaps Amphetamine Reptile bands thrown in, and The Cult Of Dom Keller continue to make ears bleed with a wall of guitars and pummeling rhythms. The Americans simply known as Nothing explore the darker side of shoegaze, while Russians Pinkshinyultrablast continue to enthrall with the more ethereal (think Cocteau Twins) yet no less noisy side for the best album of the year. And SFers LSD And The Search For God virtually define the term bliss pop.

Ballistic electrofuckers Holy Fuck continue to assault the senses, and abstruse eclecticists Radiohead continue to confound the synapses. In addition to Les and Sean (see above), a couple more supergroups and spinoffs were a delight in 2016: Minor Victories answers the question of what would happen if Stuart from Mogwai collaborated with Rachel from Slowdive (a major victory), and Cavern Of Anti-Matter allows Stereolab's Tim Gane space for some electronic yet no less motorik exploration. The hyper-prolific Thee Oh Sees reinvented themselves yet again with a new two-drummer lineup, a slight departure in sound, and two full lengths last year. Harkening back to song-driven classic indie rock, the underdogs in Wussy have just enough of a trippy edge to be included here, as does Car Seat Headrest, essentially a young millennial named Will Toledo getting his Pavement on. And veteran garage rocker Ty Segall consistently amazes, say no more.

Aussie psychedelic spazz-motorik rockers King Gizzard added yet another classic to their catalog. Purling Hiss is the juggernaut outfit showcasing the guitar pyrotechnics of one Mike Polizze, who put out the best work of his career last year. Woods augmented their ramshackle psych-folk with a horn section and dub reggae riddims to fantastic effect. William Tyler continues channeling the mostly solo-acoustic guitar explorations of John Fahey while sounding entirely unique, and similar guitar savant Chris Forsyth took them to a full musician lineup with his second outing with the Solar Motel Band. British post rockers Yndi Halda forged a unique mold for their masterful yet understated debut album. And perennial postpunk godfather Michael Gira released another epic-length masterpiece with his ever evolving Swans.

Phew! That's a helluva lotta music (four hours worth posted here, in fact). Take it in chunks, if you must, or sequester yourself away for a lengthy rollercoaster ride into 2017. And if I must, and I MUST, here I post my choices for the Top Ten albums of 2016 (although if you asked again later it would probably change)- seek them out:

1. Pinkshinyultrablast - Grandfeathered
2. Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial
3. Wussy - Forever Sounds
4. Woods - Sun City Eater In The River Of Light
5. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity
6. Yndi Halda - Under Summer
7. The Claypool Lennon Delirium - Monolith of Phobos
8. The Cult Of Dom Keller - Goodbye To The Light
9. Chris Forsyth And The Solar Motel Band - The Rarity Of Experience
10. Dinowalrus - Fairweather

The following tracks are included in the playlist below:

Spacerock Continuum Intro - bRambles
Mothers Of The Sun - Black Mountain IV
Cricket And The Genie - The Claypool Lennon Delirium Monolith Of Phobos
The Devil's Widow - Blood Ceremony Lord Of Misrule
Oriar - Heron Oblivion - s/t
Goatfuzz - Goat - Requiem
Sorceress - Opeth-  Sorceress
Mota - Russian Circles - Guidance
New Swirled Order - Drinking Flowers - New Swirled Order
Ghost In The Machine - The Spiral Electric - Ask The Sky
Jump Into The Fire - Psychic TVAlienist
Tides - Dinowalrus Fairweather
Passersby - Quilt Plaza
Golden Lion - The Besnard Lakes A Coliseum Complex Museum
Loveland - Wall Of Death - Loveland
Dopamine - Diiv Is The Is Are
Euphoria - Eagulls Ullages
Sorcerer - Greys Outer Heaven
Astrum Argenteum - The Cult Of Dom Keller - Goodbye To The Light
A.C.D. (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder) - Nothing - Tired Of Tomorrow
Glow Vastly - Pinkshinyultrablast Grandfeathered
Without You - LSD And The Search For God - Heaven Is A Place
Xed Eyes- Holy Fuck Congrats
Ful Stop - Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
Give Up The Ghost - Minor Victories - s/t
Hi-Hats Bring The Hiss - Cavern Of Anti-Matter - Void Beats/Invocation Trex
Jammed Entrance - Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exits
Dropping Houses - Wussy Forever Sounds
The Ballad Of The Costa Concordia - Car Seat Headrest Teens Of Denial
Californian Hills - Ty Segall  Emotional Mugger
Gamma Knife- King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard Nonagon Infinity
Teddy's Servo Motors - Purling Hiss High Bias
Sun City Creeps - Woods Sun City Eater In The River Of Light
Gone Clear - William Tyler Modern Country
High Castle Rock - Chris Forsyth And The Solar Motel Band - The Rarity Of Experience
Golden Threads From The Sun - Yndi Halda Under Summer
The Glowing Man - Swans The Glowing Man
Spacerock Continuum End Theme - bRambles