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    10 CDs of 2006 (with mp3s): part 2

    The countdown to number one continues...

    7. Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura, Between
    One game you can play, if you're a music geek, is trying to determine the point where "free improvisation" became officially detached from anything resembling jazz. A related game is trying to determine the point where one bifurcated tendril of free improvisation again crossed the territorial lines of genre to become avant-garde electronica, renouncing even the tools of jazz in favor of rewired mixers, detuned radios, dismantled guitars, and repurposed iPods. Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura are among the most interesting practicioners of this branch, producing stark fields of abstract electronic texture that defy easy categorization but which compel forcefully on their own terms. The two CDs comprising Between resemble not music so much as they resemble the sounds you might hear if you could tap into onboard recordings made by an interplanetary probe as it descended through a toxic, static-riddled atmosphere. On Erstwhile.
    Listen: "13630 kHz," by Keith Rowe + Toshimaru Nakamura

    6. Vampire Can't, Key Cutter
    This disc represents three sorts of noisy music fused into an improbably well-oiled hybrid: free-jazz drumming from the ever-astonishing Chris Corsano, abrasive scuzz-rock guitar from Bill Nace, and circuit-bent squee from Jessica Rylan and her homemade machines. The on-paper incompatibility of these modes would seem to dictate that these tracks explode on the launching pad, and it's true that fully half of the songs on the disc last for under two minutes, but the fearsome blazing singularity that they attain in their short and furious lifespans is like something that came straight from the mind of God. On Load.
    Listen: "War Lips," by Vampire Can't

    5. Girl Talk, Night Ripper
    Momus once described mash-ups (here) as "Everything that ever sold a record, all on one plate," and I think he meant it pejoratively, whereas I see it as something of a grail to strive for. We haven't quite gotten there yet, but this album from Gregg Gillis might represent the most successful attempt yet. Night Ripper jettisons the conceptual rigor that undergirds other notable mash-up albums (say, the Kleptones' Night at the Hip-Hopera, or DJ Food's Raiding the 20th Century), replacing it instead with an understanding that increased density equals increased enjoyment. Highest pleasures-per-second count of any album this year. On Illegal Art.
    Listen: "Hold Up," by Girl Talk

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    Wednesday, January 31, 2007
    10:35 AM


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