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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Various Artists
The Rorschach Suite

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

December 6, 2006
Compilations are roadmaps to new music. Maneuvering through unfamiliar subgenres and band names can become a confusing ordeal, unless there is some form of direction to act as a guide.

The Rorschach Suite is one guide to independent electronic music. Most of the 18 names on this Moodgadget Records collection are similarly small-time artists with potential and their own distinct edge. Of all these names only five are familiar, four of which are on the upcoming digital-only New Faces EP from Ghostly International (JDSY, Wisp, The Reflecting Skin, and Benoit Pioulard) and the fifth is a longtime Ghostly ally, Dykehouse.

Each listen through the 20-song tracklist brings new favorites to light, and in the end it is a matter of sound preference that dictates the comp's best artists from the rest of the pack. For those who enjoy rock-influenced synth music, there are artists Hexx, Ghosthunt, Alpha Crasis's "The Drawbridge/The Gatheouse/The Keep," and The Reflecting Skin's "Shadow of A Bomb." Small Sails leads off with a synth-indie rock track ("Aftershocks and Afterthoughts") that showcases Mm-style female vocals and quickly becomes a keeper.

Other listeners might have a penchant for soft dynamics and the experimental/ambient aesthetic, in which case acts like Benot Pioulard, Dykehouse, Brael, and Direwires are more along party lines. Tokyo Bloodworm ("Found Memories of Nature") delicately introduces creaking boat sounds, intermittent and random chord strums, ambient choral noise, and minimalist percussive beats. The slow and deliberate interactions of sound for Tokyo Bloodworm are exceptional.

A large contingent can be found in the dance/techno subsection with Jdsy, Alpha Crasis's "Apples and Pears (interlude)," Metakinetic, Warez, Dafluke, The Downtown Division, and Wisp. In "Waxing and Waning" A Setting Sun toys with standard techno drum programming (on-beat, hollowed bass drum sound and off-beat, thin sounding hi-hats), percussive click-clacks, acoustic guitar, and oscillating/celestial blankets of synth. Many of these cuts have the familiarity of dancebeat but the excitement of new sounds, and all of them are above the grading curve.

And a couple tracks feature electronic melodies with hip-hop influenced beatplay: The Reflecting Skin's U.N.K.L.E.-like "The Roof of the Mouth of the Sky" and Mux Mool's "Lost and Found," which might be the brightest gem of the entire crop. The latter track reminds of Warp artist Clark with a slow synthetic hip-hop beat and super catchy but psychedelic synthesizer sounds.

Every track on The Rorschach Suite has the ability to open new worlds of enjoyment for a listener, experienced or not. Along with the recent Ghostly International compilation Idol Tryouts Vol. 2, Moodgadget's collection is also helping to integrate the idea of "avant pop" into the general music community. With choices like these it will be a growing, formidable genre in no time.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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