ALARM's 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

ALARM’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.


Review: Emeralds’ Just to Feel Anything

Emeralds: Just to Feel AnythingEmeralds: Just to Feel Anything (Editions Mego, 11/6/12)

Cleveland trio Emeralds made queasy, sprawling, psychedelic drone music prior to 2010, when it released Does It Look Like I’m Here? That album condensed the music into concise, direct, and absolutely stunning takes on the formula.

Just to Feel Anything is a new mutation in the Emeralds pattern.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Fabric’s A Sort of Radiance

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Fabric: A Sort of RadianceFabric: A Sort of Radiance (Spectrum Spools / Editions Mego, 4/5/11)

Fabric: “Camera”

[audio:|titles=Fabric: “Camera”]

Hajduch: Having folded a few years back, experimental music label Mego has come back full force as Editions Mego.  Initially started as something of a reissue label (pressing remastered, deluxe editions from label faces such as Fennesz and Kevin Drumm), Editions Mego has begun cranking out brand-new releases, most notably the most recent releases from Emeralds and its guitarist, Mark McGuire.

The Emeralds working relationship continues with the formation of sub-label Spectrum Spools, headed by Emeralds member (and prolific solo artist) John Elliott. Spectrum Spools’ debut release is an LP by Chicago artist Fabric, who mines the same kosmische layered-synthesizer territory as many of the above artists with great success.


Behind the Counter: A-Musik (Cologne, Germany)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

A-Musik in Cologne, Germany is a multifaceted record store, label, and distributor. Established in 1995, the small but mighty electronic-music specialist has grown over the years to encompass a wide variety of genres and formats. Its involvement in the Cologne music scene is just as varied, from art exhibitions to deejaying around town. We spoke with Wolfgang Brauneis, one of four shop employees, and learned the basics of A-Musik.

What was your motivation for starting a music store? / What is your background in music?

The shop was founded by Georg Odijk in 1995. The motivation was, I think, pretty simple: to create a place for music and records for which other shops and mail-orders don’t really care. In the first place that was mainly experimental music (from historical artists’ records via industrial to contemporary noise heads) and electronic music, which around that time was really thrilling. Here it is also important to mention that Georg at the same time founded the A-Musik label, which was strongly connected to the shop, and released the debut albums by Microstoria (Jan Werner of Mouse on Mars and Marcus Popp of Oval), Marcus Schmickler, Schlammpeitziger, and F.X. Randomiz. The background of Odijk and his helping-hand, Frank Dommert, was in experimental music. They both played in the electro-acoustic combo Kontakta while Dommert was running the Entenpfuhl label (which actually released the fist Jim O’Rourke LP back in 1991!). Of course, things have changed in the last 15 years — the musical taste of the people involved in the whole thing, and also the fact that, for quite some time now, there are four people working at A-Musik. Now the background(s) also include guitar stuff from garage punk onwards, dub or hip hop to free jazz, dubstep and breakcore.

Georg Odijk holds Lithops' Formationen (A-Musik, 2010)
Georg Odijk holds Lithops' Formationen (A-Musik, 2010)

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Mark McGuire’s Living with Yourself

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Mark McGuire: Living with YourselfMark McGuire: Living with Yourself (Editions Mego, 10/12/10)

Mark McGuire: “Clouds Rolling In”
[audio:|titles=Mark McGuire: “Clouds Rolling In”]

Hajduch: Living with Yourself is the most recent solo-guitar release of Mark McGuire, who also plays guitar in Emeralds. Much like Emeralds, McGuire’s music spins a gradual yarn over a combination of picked arpeggios and buzzing drones, delayed and looped and layered into a hypnotic tapestry that has become impossible to ignore.