Seb’s and Kunal’s best of 2016

Seb and Kunal decided to list their top five albums and gigs of the year, like the music geeks that they are. Read below for the whos and whys.

13119954_1730635077215687_7024192816186017323_oPhoto by Jose Caamano

Seb’s Recommended 5 Albums of 2016

1) The Body & Full of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

One of the most brutal albums you will hear. The unholy alliance of The Body and Full of Hell was very fruitful indeed.

The opening track alone was enough for me to repeat it thousands of times, I still don’t think I’ve worn it out – it’s that punishing.

2) Show Me the Body – Body War

The most unique band I’ve found this year. I truly do not know how to put my finger on them genre-wise, which is only a good thing.

They seem to pull from punk, noise rock, hip hop, funk, sludge, hardcore and much more but do not sound like any of those genres.

Truly a unique but highly satisfying band.

Also this album is free, so you have no excuses.

3) Luo – Sleep Spindles

Discovered these guys at a show at Green Door Store (more about that in my top Live Shows list) and was instantly impressed.

I’ve since seen them 3 times and purchased this album as soon as it came out.

Superb electronic, jazz, chill, math tunes with an insane drummer. You really have to see them live.

4) Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä

Another new discovery by way of The Needle Drop (the best YouTube music reviewer, if you don’t know him already).

Finnish kraut, prog, ambient, psychedelic black metal band – enough genres for you?

An incredible listen and the best black metal related thing I’ve heard all year.

5) Death Grips – Bottomless Pit

If you know me well, you know why this is on the list.

One of my favourites dishing out more of their industrial noise hip hop (whatever you call it) with less focus on utter experimentation and just straight bangers instead – totally not a bad thing.

I saw these guys for the 4th time this year at the Village Underground and the cathartic nature of this show reinforced this epic album.

Kunal’s Top 5 Albums of 2016 [not in any order, waaay too hard]

Entropia – Ufonaut

One of my most listened to albums of the year. Admittedly it came out in February so had a good start, but what an album!

The moment the thunderous beats blasted the opening track into my ears, I knew I was in for something special. The special fusion of black metal, thrash, prog, atmospheric post-rock, ominous doom and chaotic Shining (Norwegian one) and Mr Bungle-esque mania is a total joyride for me.

After almost a year of listening to this album regularly, I still find it surprising, thrilling and can’t imagine a time when I’ll be bored of this.

Kneebody and Daedelus – Kneedelus 

An album that somehow makes my head nod and feet tap uncontrollably, yet has me sitting back and grinning in awe simultaneously.

Brooklyn jazz band Kneebody has fused their pseudo-electro tones and neo-funk beats with flawless production from Daedelus. As much as I love Daedelus, on occasion I’ve found him to sacrifice substance for style and flashiness, but collaborating with Kneebody seems to have brought out the best of everything they’re both capable of.

Hauntingly chilling, yet laden with beats and grooves. I’ve not heard jazz or electronica quite like this before.

Bitch ‘n’ Monk – We Are Peering Over

One of the best demonstrations of genius being misdiagnosed as insanity. This soprano, guitar and flute duo have created a set of songs to be played in any order, for the listener to create their own unique experience, using techniques that were previously thought to be impossible, fusing off-kilter jazz, rock and classical techniques, and creating some sort of genreless prog folk that shouldn’t work, but it does.

Each song seems to have various sections and movements, and it’s easy to get lost in the loops, harmonies and truly, truly bizarre arrangements. In a world overflowing with new music, this is one of those rare albums that made me feel completely stimulated, slapped me around the face, and made me realise that I know nothing of the universe and have everything to discover.

Taman Shud – Oracle War

Wow. Just wow. I don’t know where to begin or how to make sense of this album. It’s like someone smooshed all 60s psychedelia into a blender with all the 70s punk and then threw in a bunch of effects pedals, Hammond organs and a handful of cavemen. Then started blending without the lid.

This album is an immense tidal wave of power that reignited long dead synapses and tapped into some of my deepest primal senses.

Dälek – Asphalt For Eden

Having not seen Dälek play for ten years, and having almost forgotten about them, I did not expect to be pulled so hard back into their world, but a casual listen to this album did just that!

This is such a triumphant fusion of hip hop, sonic art, electronic production and social insight, something that I would not have imagined anyone could pull off. The lyrics and flow are sharp but unassuming and lie waist-deep in sumptuous sounds and dreamlike production.

Listening to this album gives me an enormous sense of peace, without the relaxation, as I’m always kept paying attention. It’s to hip hop what doom is to classic metal.

Seb’s best live shows of 2016

1) Lightning Bolt at Visions Festival

My 6th time seeing them and still face meltingly sensational. One of, if not my favourite, bands so it was inevitable.

They headlined a festival that I’m not entirely sure they fitted on (some hip Hackney based festival called Visions) but it didn’t matter, as they melted the beards and ray bans off the confused and enthused audience’s faces.

2) Part Chimp // at The Crypt

A secret gig by Cosmic Carnage organised at the infamous jazz club The Crypt, underneath a church in Camberwell, in a venue that rarely puts on rock bands let alone noise rock bands. This was truly something special…

This was my first time seeing Part Chimp years after I had discovered them and they truly did not disappoint – ear shattering, skull crushing levels of fuzz and riffs.

3) Raw Power Festival – Part Chimp // Melt Banana / Pigs x7

One of London’s best music festivals and this year’s line up had an incredible selection of bands. With my favourites being Part Chimp, Melt Banana and Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs.

4) Mouse on the Keys // Luo // Vels Trio at Green Door Store (Brighton)

A Chaos Theory crew outing which turned into an excellent day of beers on the beach and jazzy grooves in the evening (Kunal also purchased a bass, as well as copious amounts of fudge and spices on a whim).

This gig left such an impression on us that Vels Trio headlined a Jazz Market several months later and Luo become one of our favourite bands (see my top 5). Mouse on the Keys weren’t bad either.

5) Wren // Torpor // Kalloused at The Black Heart

I can self promote, can’t I? I mean this is a promotion company website so…

One of the most memorable gigs I played this year was on a damp Monday night at a venue we all know and love – The Black Heart.

It was a perfect line-up with Kalloused providing the sludge noise rock grooves, Torpor changing the name of the venue to The Black Hole through riff, and my band knocking out one of our best sets of the year. The audience even demanded an encore which none of us expected.

Such was the severity of my bangover that my shoulders, arms, back and head ached for a week afterwards. Worth it.

Kunal’s best live shows of 2016

Selvhenter at Raw Power Festival

Just how in the hell do you create some of the world’s best drone, noise and psychedelic doom using just brass instruments, a violin and drums?? I was nipping in between Raw Power Festival and another event in London, but managed to stumble in on this Danish group by pure accident, and that kind of made the day for me. Putting trombone, saxophone, violin and two drummers through a bunch of pedals, then jamming on semi-composed tunes, is not going to sound great unless your at the top of your game. And this band is exactly that. Selvhenter are the best band I’ve discovered this year.

Cult Of Luna at Roadburn Festival

I’ve seen these guys a couple of times before, and knew I’d be impressed. However, Amenra have always been the best live band I’d ever seen, until this point, and somehow Cult Of Luna managed to top them. They opened the whole festival, which would be surprising if I didn’t know that they only have time to soundcheck the first and last band of each day, and their set was a total shock to the system.

Every single note and beat was pristine and sent thunderbolts down my spine. I have seen them before more than once, totally loved them, and still they managed to surpass every experience I’ve ever had of them and shrivel them into nothing.

This set will forever be burned into my memory.

Aluk Todolo // From The Bogs Of Aughiska // Mortichnia at Corsica Studios

This was a special occasion. I’d realised that I absolutely love Aluk Todolo when I kept hearing them throughout the year, then listened to Mortichnia close to the gig and realised that I loved them as well! The entire lineup was an earth-shattering marriage of psychedelia, black metal, sound art and doom, and I felt total joy to know that such deviant talent can exist in the world today. It was one of those perfectly curated lineups that had three projects that were completely unique, yet totally complemented each other.

It was a very rare outing by Aluk Todolo, so I felt lucky to have been introduced to them only a few months earlier, just in time. I also got found out that From The Bogs Of Aughiska and Mortichnia are both signed to Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings, which it turns out is an awesome Irish label, and lo! A new gateway to another world of music was opened up to me.

Amenra acoustic set at Roadburn Festival

Anyone who saw this immediately realised that it wasn’t acoustic, but very down tempo. Also, no one cared. Until I saw Cult Of Luna’s opening set at the same festival, Amenra have consistently been the best live band I have ever seen. However, they managed to claw back some points from CoL with this stunning, stunning set, that raised the hairs on the back of my neck and had my jaw on the floor.

Showing that they are capable not only of cataclysmic might and furious destruction of all hope, Amenra’s (almost) acoustic versions of their best tunes displayed their remarkable talent for nuance and dynamics, something that we already knew made them great, but that they’d never shone a spotlight onto before.

Never losing that chilling atmosphere, they reinvented themselves whilst only strengthening their essence. They also managed to perform a fantastic rendition of Parabol by Tool, something that many would have deemed untouchable or blasphemous had it not been for their complete capacity to do it justice and pay homage to the pioneers.

Another moment that felt historical for me, and I’m proud to have witnessed it.

The Display Team // Thumpermonkey // A Formal Horse at Sebright Arms

It was such a joyous occasion, a bunch of bands making music that was incredibly difficult to play, yet silly, fun and calling back to Cardiacs, The Specials and Mr Bungle, and a huge, huge bucket of love and good vibes. I used to be a massive ska fan (and would still be if there were any decent ska bands today), and while these bands don’t fit into that genre, the upbeat energy, carefree attitudes of the bands and their brilliant fusion of impeccable musicianship with loose improvisation made this one of the most fun nights I’ve had in absolutely ages.