2015: This Is A Recap

I admit, I do like end-of-year 'best of' lists.

I've used my work – and being immersed in client music – as an excuse not to listen to much new music. I'd bashfully tell people "I'm actually a bit out of touch" when a new release or band was mentioned. These past few months I've aimed to change this, in part by training myself to listen to music while working (for me, it's a practiced skill to not get distracted by music). Then, armed with a handful of 'Best of 2015' album lists and an Apple Music subscription I made a truncated journey through the year in album releases. And I've been loving it. Here are some of the lists I've been consulting:

FACT's 50 Best Albums of 2015
The Quietus Albums Of 2015
Bleep's Best of 2015 (good re-issues + compilations sections here, too)
NPR Music's 10 Favorite Electronic Albums Of 2015

There are other lists bookmarked that I'll be hitting, but this is what I have covered so far. What have I found? That I really like these albums:

Colleen - Captain of None (Thrill Jockey)
- My most exciting discovery. This album is fantastic and otherworldly.
Floating Points - Elaenia (Luaka Bop)
- I think I'm a little late on Floating Points but this album was an impressive introduction. The 10+ minute "Silhouettes (I, II & III)" is a stunner.
Four Tet - Morning/Evening (Text Records)
- Fout Tet has obviously been on my radar, but not much of his output has grabbed me quite like this two song album.
Cliff Martinez - The Knick, Season 2 (Original Series Soundtrack) (Milan Entertainment)
- I actually haven't seen this on any 'best of' lists yet, but Martinez's work on The Knick (also recommended) is among his most compelling. My current favorite 'gotta focus on this tedious computer task' soundtrack.
Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, and the Rajasthan Express - Junun (Nonesuch Records)
- There's not a whole lot on this to differentiate it from purely an Indian / world music album, but it's still a great one. Greenwood's input isn't always obvious, but when his influence is apparent – like on the rapturous "Roked" – it's the kind of fusion that really piques my attention.

As you may have noticed, spacey and somewhat laid-back electronic music is what's turning me on at the time of making this list. Though, on the grungy shoegaze tip, "Firehead" by Infinity Girl rocked my boat repeatedly since its release a few months back. Their album's not bad, either, though I'm not sold on the band name.

I'm continuing this adventure of listening to new music and going through 'best of' lists so mine above is hardly complete. I'll continue to practice my 'listen while working' skill in 2016 so next year's list should be more of a corker.

When it comes to movies, it is interesting that my two favorite films of 2015 were not movies per se, but are in fact BBC produced documentaries. Adam Curtis's Bitter Lake blew my mind in January and continues to do so … I watched it for the fourth or fifth time last week. Its content is eye-opening and incendiary, but Curtis's use of visuals (the bulk being found footage, mostly discarded, from BBC News's Afghanistan coverage) and music is revolutionary. And then there's Atomic – Living In Dread And Promise, commissioned as part of BBC's Storyville series. With help from a moody soundtrack by Mogwai, Mark Cousins (known for his expansive and essential The Story of Film: An Odyssey) has crafted a sort of meditation on life in the nuclear age. Like Bitter Lake, this film is made up of found footage juxtaposed to give additional meaning and emotion, and is narration-free, at least verbally.

Of the handful of 'real' movies I saw in 2015, I loved Paul Thomas Anderson's divisive Inherent Vice most of all, and I discovered profound meaning where I know many others found complete nonsense. I can dig it. Mad Max: Fury Road is the only other movie I saw multiple times, which puts it in odd company with Bitter Lake. If I'm feeling down I just imagine I'm the guy whose job it was to mash up all those automobiles. Ex Machina was fine stuff, though I wasn't as nuts about it as others were. Fantastic score by Portishead's Geoff Barrow and composer Ben Salisbury, too. The End Of The Tour gave me a lot to think about and used Eno's "The Big Ship" in a wonderful way. And I believe Mommy is technically a 2014 film, but it opened in the US in January and it's a definite favorite. 26 year old director Xavier Dolan is responsible for one of the most moving and heartbreaking sequences I've ever seen in a narrative film … that one towards the end, and you definitely know what I'm talking about if you've seen Mommy.

Unlike music, which I listened to more of this year (though mainly in the past couple months), I usually watch a whole lot of movies. But this year I consumed a lot less – as I worked a whole lot more – so I'm sure there's a bunch left out, and a bunch of 2015 winners I'll see later on that would've made it up there. But I know that's everyone's story.

As for me, 2015 brought on a lot of professional changes that don't feel confined to this year as they are ongoing. I'm in the middle of planning a new creative project that I'm quite excited about, but it probably won't see a launch until the middle of 2016. I'm also opening up 8D Industries a bit more to provide 'virtual assistant for the music industry' services, helping with things like contract management, music publishing organization, royalty calculation, web site administration, and so on. More news on this soon. 8DPromo continues to develop into an increasingly efficient promotions machine with a fine group of labels on board. 8DSync looks to expand with new catalog and site features added early in the new year. It seems my plate is full.

So, indeed, here's to 2016. {glass clink} I'm anti-resolution, but making new friends and connections is paramount in this coming year. If there's a way you think we might be able to work together, or if you just want to reach out with a 'hello', question, and/or comment then please do so. Let's make things happen.