While in most ways 2016 is a year I would gladly forget, it did produce some good music… amongst the deaths of countless legendary musicians, from David Bowie in January to Greg Lake in December and many more in between, including, of course, Prince.
So, yes, it was a tragic, awful, embarrassing and far too long year. But it sounded pretty good. Here are the new albums and EPs I purchased in 2016, my contenders for the top 5 list which will be coming next week. Maybe. But as usual, I’m jumping ahead and putting the likely winners in bold.
AZIZA • AZIZA
Brian Eno • The Ship
Com Truise • Silicon Tare [EP] David Bowie • Blackstar
Field Music • Commontime
King Crimson • Live in Toronto King Crimson • Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind
Monolake • C G and G M O [EPs]
New Sound Underground • Push Radiohead • A Moon Shaped Pool
Room 34 • Elements (yes, it’s me)
Room 34 • Pocketwerks [EP] (yes, also me) Solange • A Seat at the Table
Steven Wilson • 4 1/2 [EP]
The Bad Plus • It’s Hard
The Darcys • Centerfold
Tortoise • The Catastrophist Tycho • Epoch
Umphrey’s McGee • ZONKEY
Honorable mention goes to Kamasi Washington for his outstanding triple album, appropriately titled The Epic, which was released in 2015 but I didn’t get into until this year. It would’ve been on last year’s list. Same goes for Khruangbin and their album The Universe Smiles Upon You.
The other day I mentioned the super-cool watercolor-and-pencil game art Panic recently commissioned as part of a reimagining of their Mac software as early ’80s Atari 2600 games.
I ordered both the reproduction game boxes and the art prints, and they arrived just four days later (i.e. yesterday). They look amazing. As recommended by Panic, I headed out to IKEA this morning and picked up a couple of Ribba frames. The art prints were specifically designed to fit perfectly into these frames. I contemplated getting frames for all four of them, but at $20 a pop it seemed a bit much. So I went with two, for the two Panic programs I actually use (Coda and Transmit). It was just as well, anyway. Since they’re so big, two is all that fit on the wall above my desk!
The photo below shows Room 34 HQ, now graced with these fantastic looking prints. This wall was blank for months, and I had just been thinking I really needed to hang something up there, when these prints became available. The timing was perfect and I couldn’t be happier with the results! (Unfortunately the photo probably reveals, more than anything else, the limitations of the iPhone camera, especially indoors at night. I had every light in the place turned on but this was the best I could manage.)
I’ve always been skeptical of the “value” of jewelry, and in particular of diamonds. Fortunately I found in SLP a companion who doesn’t believe that the magnitude of my affection is commensurate with the size of a rock on her finger.
Today I was exploring some sites for design and layout ideas, and along the way I visited Digg. As it happened, the top link on Digg at that moment was an article from the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?”
Now, it’s well-known that De Beers is far from the most beneficent corporation in the world, and the brutal story of “blood diamonds” has been the topic of hip hop songs and movies alike. But before those atrocities could be committed, someone had to invent a perception of value. Finally in this article I have documented proof (in extensive detail) of what my gut has been telling me for years.
Interestingly enough, and I had not noticed this initially, the article is actually from the February 1982 issue of the magazine. It speaks of several developments in recent years (those years being the late ’70s and early ’80s) that would threaten the De Beers monopoly. Now, I haven’t been a close follower of the diamond industry, but I know De Beers still rules the roost.