I had a strange thing with this record. I liked it so much when it came out I played it like insane. But then, all of a sudden, I sort of overplayed it and couldn't put it on again for a year or so.
This was a perfect sounding record. The band came back from a long hiatus and they certainly had lots of stuff to play. Machine Gun I liked best, because it was the most aggressive one, in your face, and it married the modern electronic thing in a glorious love with the retro style of making music, playing, producing. Everything was so real about this record it sort of felt unreal, like a Lynchean flick. The tortured wails of Beth were giving unpleasant chills to the listener every now and then, and the band just rocked with all the pedals, loops, guitars, tape echos, old synths (just one listen to The Rip gave so much nostalgia for the analogue synths of old) and what not. Threads was a hidden gem, fantastic closer full of Adrian Utley's doomy riffs and Beth's peak of emotive performance.
I was so thrilled about the sounds and the production of Third I overlooked the fact that this was a downer album. That's probably when I started to feel weird and stopped playing it over and over again. The opium scented drawers were closed, although its claws seemed irresistible those first times you started to discover this album. Anyway, Portishead were back and they were great. Not for every day but for those nights of quiet desperation and/or wonder - they were ace.
This was excellent jazz. Mixture of jazz and doom and drone actually. I knew the band from before, as my bro and Vanja were mentioning them more often, although Cvele got me reminded to check out their best one, Sunset Mission (2000). Dolores was great too, but heavier and slower.
The mixed feelings of ultimate chill, relaxed crawling sounds and downer smoky club atmosphere were all adding to the uniqueness of this German band. They were around for a long time and, although it seemed like they were always playing similar tracks or the same tracks all the time, but only in a slightly different way, it was something undeniably charismatic and charmingly Lynchean about them, you could just lose yourself in the woods where Laura Palmer was found, while listening to Dolores repeatedly.
This was the perfect mood music, the moodiest of them all, if you like. It was working both ways, both places, rural or urban - being alone in the woods or being at the top of a building in a flat with huge windows and a nice view with some scotch on the rocks caressing your insides.
This was an acoustic compilation of old stuff being played again and rerecorded. It sort of tested waters before the band started working on their new album. I loved it cause I brought Danny and Duncan to play this acoustic gig in Belgrade on 9th March 2008. The versions they played on the gig were the same ones that were going to be released on Hindsight couple of months later, so we had the opportunity to hear those acoustic versions first on this special concert. I especially loved Are You There? which was kind of Nick Drake influenced in this new version. I finally had the balls to cover it myself and play it later, on 3rd December 2010, on this wonderful Amaranth gig.
The rest of the songs were giving nice creeps to the spine as well, especially Flying, Angelica or Temporary Peace (now played on Rhodes/Kurzweil and a cello instead of a guitar). Flying had the guest appearance from Duncan playing the mandolin. Inner Silence and Fragile Dreams got also a nicer treatment and the Hindsight showed clearly that Anathema had lots more hits that a single album could contain. And the wait for a new studio album seemed longer than ever.
4. Autechre - Quaristice (Warp)
These Newyorkers were playing Melvins' grunge/sludge, some Bad Brains core, prog and metal with a good portion of awesome dub added. It sounded so fresh and pure the word crossover sounded ugly.
The riffs were steady and the melodies present in Bay Vs. Leonard, the drummer payed homage to Dave Lombardo in Who Wants To Die?, while the dub nodders smiled to Mortar Dub, as the space echoes trailed off together with that lovely reverbed drum snare. I was getting more into dub as my brother played it more often, and Dub Trio were a great band for introducing me to it, while still adding serious portion of metal to the table.
Mike Patton not only released this album on his own Ipecac label, he also made a guest appearance on No Flag, a song so good I couldn't help myself but not thinking this was the closest thing Faith No More would sound if they ever reformed again (and they did! A year later, but didn't record anything new). Another Sound Is Dying was so healthy and natural, you could spin it over and over again. Every song had elements of something that seemed familiar, although they covered every genre so good like they invented it themselves.
Frank Zappa once said that writing about music was like dancing about architecture. It seemed that I was doing pretty well in describing every album so far, but with some abstract ones like this one some difficulties might occur along the way.
Glide was the absolute highlight of the album. A couple of us were lucky to see Fennesz perform live in Belgrade the same year and I think it was this song, if I rememeber correctly, that got the best atmosphere going on in the venue. The song growed and growed until the proportions of it got so huge, it was pretty much close to The Gathering's How To Measure A Planet that was made ten years earlier. Although Fennesz seemed to swim well in those neverending waves of static, blue electricity and harmonies that other planets were emitting. He sort of put everything together and made a song out of it.
The other songs off Black Sea were more minimal and glitchy. Grey Scale reminded of Lanterna again, with the acoustic guitar being hacked by a virus, surrendering to the errors and doing a strange symbiosis in the end. The self-titled opener was this noisy peace that got scrambled along the way and turned into a seashell that hesitated to open. Black Sea was a demanding ambient record and the listener's patience surely payed off in the end. Cause the seashell, eventually, opened itself.
8. Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (Parlophone)
Some might see Coldplay as a bunch of slime but I loved them - every new album made me happy and somehow it were always the good periods of me life when Coldplay were releasing them.
Violet Hill was this first single that was produced by Brian Eno. Brian Eno was a master for making ambient stuff work, no matter how minimalistic it was. He helped the guys get the extra depth in the songs they needed after X&Y. The slapback kind of reverbs he put on Chris Martin's voice were sort of confusing at first, although he made a good point with those. Lovers In Japan was this huge guitar track that resembled Edge's style of playing and I loved it. It is after this song I started to dig deeper about Edge's style and U2's older records as well.
Cemeteries Of London was a darker piece that opened the album (after the delightful intro), despite the la la la verse around the chorus. Lost! was a happy one in a Coldplay-ish manner and the absolute highlight to me were Viva La Vida (a song you all probably heard of by now) and its antidote, Death And All His Friends, its insane climax (Sigur Ros influences again) and the hidden track closer The Escapist that was so dreamy and nice - I played it infinitely until I decided to set it as the alert tone / alarm ring on my mobile. I even had the tickets for a Budapest concert, I but got my damn passport only two days after the actual gig, so I couldn't go.
Coldplay were pop kings and, since the pop music got more and more disastrous every day with everything in a pop song being so goddamn synthesized (the autotune effect was once considered shameful for use), Coldplay had every right to be there on top. And they even played the actual instruments.
9. Transit - Decent Man On A Desperate Moon (Karmakosmetix)
Jan Transit, the In The Woods... singer returned with a solo album. And this one was proper good. Decent man was more indie rock oriented and had some country influences thrown in, in a Transit kind of weird way.
Ad Anima trilogy was ending the album and it was the real post-In The Woods treat. It brought back some shivers of old when Strange In Stereo and Pilgrimage albums were still fresh. Miller Song was a more straightforward piece, but a proper song and distinct voice of Jan over the Rhodes piano was enough to bring some smiles over. Bleed On Me was a nice rocker single, while The Girl And The Road reminded of Naervaer lucidity with added fuzz on top of some hollow-body guitars. Decent Man On A Desperate Moon was more than just a good listen and a clear sign that Transit still had some interesting stuff in him to share with the world.
10. Stille Opprör - S.o2 (Karmakosmetix)
Another In The Woods member, guitarist Chris Andre Cederberg, who played on Strange In Stereo and the better part of Pilgrimage (Empty Room, Epitaph, Karmakosmik) finally released a solo album of his own.
The absolute highlight of this album was the self-titled S.O2 which was rerecorded again for this full length. The first version appeared on a Karmakosmetix promo sampler that came as a bonus disc with In The Woods' farewell double live album five years before this one. The promo sampler had sixteen artists / songs and the best one was Stille Oppror's track, divided into two pieces, and now put together as one single ten minute track. The guest appearance of Jan Transit on vocals added the needed atmosphere of In The Woods and this was one real post-In The Woods track that could fully bring back the vibe of the beloved band. The second part of the song reminded of Green Carnation's Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness with the acoustic guitar, saxophone and the female voice accompanying the band. S.O2 was certainly the biggest and nicest surprise of 2008.
The rest of the album was great too. Meanwhile had the ghostlike keys of Vanish In The Absence Of Virtue and Reconnect showed some gentle Anathema influences as well. The production was great, almost clinically pure and clear and every detail, experimental or not, could be heard properly. Funny enough, Danny and Vincent of Anathema would join Andre on stage two years later, with Anneke of ex-Gathering making a gueat appearance as well. Andre would play guitar with Petter Carlsen and they would support Anathema on their tour, so the experience of seeing them brought together on a single stage was overwhelmingly positive. However, Transit and Andre were active again, Kobro showed interest too, so it would be just the matter of time when the rest of the Woods clan might surprise us with the good news.
This one wasn't Mogwai's best, but it was good enough to top the rest of them. Badcat was a strong one reminiscent of Glasgow Mega-snake and its megatons of distortions. Ambient pieces were played in Scotland's Shame, Danphe And The Brain and the best of them all, Local Authority. Thank You Space Expert was this gentle ballad-type, laid back piece Mogwai were masters in creating. I was lucky to see them live in Zagreb that year and managed to do an interview with the guys as well - those who speak Serbian can read it here.
It was evident that the band took a more relaxed turn by not rushing anything, experimenting with the silence thing and using the silence as another instrument as well. Their ears were surely tired of years and years of touring, thus hundreds and hundreds of decibels attacked their nerves every night. But, like I said sometime earlier, I love this band so I would always give them a go. The Hawk Is Howling was a nice one and maybe just a short break onto something more unique that would come up in future journeys of the band.
13. Opeth - Watershed (Roadrunner)
I didn't like the previous Ghost Reveries so much, but they got me back with this one. Mikael not only improved his singings by now, he was singing like a nightingale. The opener Coil showed it clearly, together with some Jimmy Page acoustic homages, together with some lush female vocal appearances.
Burden was the acoustic piece that brought back the acoustics with nylon strings, so the nostalgia thing was hitting me again. The ending of a song had this great gag of Mikael playing this acoustic part and somebody from the band, or studio, was tuning down the strings while he was still playing - it turned out great and unintentional, a tiny detail that often means more to me than anyone else.
The added keyboard in the band started to work with this one, and the heaviness of the riffs got the opposite in those keys, sounding like they were taken off some sixties/seventies progressive record only Mikael knew about. I didn't care for this album that much until I realized at some point that I was playing it more often than anything else in 2008. So, Opeth were still great and the worldwide recognition and success didn't seem to influence them in a badly way.