Jasper Wentzel is not only the press and promo guy for record label PIAS‘s Belgian branch, he’s also a walking music encyclopedia. That’s why we asked him to whip up a playlist of his favorite tracks of 2012. Here’s his nifty inventory of defining choons of the year, ranging all the way from iconic Can reissues to rising British four-piece Alt-J, who, according to Jasper, are undoubtedly this year’s most worthy newcomers. Scroll down for a listen.
1. Can – Millionenspiel (Mute)
Kicking off with a powerful intro theme for a German movie from vintage krautrockers Can. Straight from 1969, but released for the first time in 2012 on ‘The Lost Tapes’.
2. Lotus Plaza – Strangers (Kranky)
Stay in the groove with this hypnotising track by Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt’s side-project Lotus Plaza.
3. Diiv – Air conditioning (Captured Tracks)
Young Brooklyn band worshipping reverb and proving that the electric guitar can be the most beautiful instrument in the world.
4. Tropic Of Cancer – The one left (Mannequin)
Motorik cold wave, minimal and intense, Camella Lobo refines her talent.
5. The Hickey Underworld – The frog (PIAS)
Dirty post-grunge from these sleazy rockers who love loud music and horror movies.
6. Burial – Ashtray wasp (Hyperdub)
Seven years after his first release, Burial still makes totally mindblowing music.
7. Bullion – It’s all in sound (Deek)
Young producer from London with playful cut and paste music that swings. Title says it all.
8. Egyptian Hip Hop – SYH (R&S)
Battles, Cocteau Twins, Connan Mockasin, Japan, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, The Knife in one record? It can be done.
9. Blondes – Wine (Rvng Intl)
Cosmic synth bliss meets laidback acid house, which means quite a trip.
10. Lukid – USSR (Werckhaus)
New electronica whizzkid on the block making adventurous tracks where the worlds of Rehplex/Aphex Twin and Brainfeeder/Flying Lotus meet.
11. Alt-J – Breezeblocks (Infectious)
Best debut album of 2012 by this surprisingly talented and highly original band. Just for once, do believe the hype.
12. Grizzly Bear – Yet again (Warp)
High expectations for their new album, but no reason at all for disappointment. Grizzly Bear are now in the top league.
13. Balthazar – Sinking ship (PIAS)
‘Rats’ is probably the best Belgium pop album of the year, one where classic singersongwriter stylings meet the grandeur of orchestral arrangements in a very cool way.
14. Tindersticks – Chocolate (Constellation)
When I heard this amazing opening song of ‘The something rain’, I realised two things: that I needed to buy this record, and that it’s a crying shame I lost track of them after their first two albums.
15. Cold Specks – Holland (Mute)
Al Spx calls her music doom soul or gothic gospel, but we shouldn’t take those definitions too seriously. However, her raw blues are sure to catch in your throat.
16. The Bony King Of Nowhere – Travelling man (PIAS)
This song sounds like a trad tunel that’s been floating around for ages, but TBKON was the first to pick this spooky beauty out of the air.
17. Valerie June – Workin’ woman blues (Sunday Best)
Is it folk? Is it blues? Soul? Gospel? Afro-funk? Mix all of those with an exceptional voice and you get another of the best songs of the year.
18. Goat – Disco fever (Rocket Recordings)
Afro stoner psych voodoo party stuff from a Swedish cult group. The wonderful album is titled ‘World Music’ and will unite lots of music lovers.
19. Mala – Ghost (Brownswood)
Dubstep from Cuba, one the most pleasant surprises this year.
20. Mohn – Ambientot (Kompakt)
Very sweet and highly addictive track that has been on repeat on my stereo.
21. Conrad Schnitzler – Tanze Im Regen (Bureau B)
I had already been searching for a while for this 1981 album so I was really happy with this official reissue. Conrad Schnitzler had been in experimental krautrockbands (Tangerine Dream, Kluster) but this time he goes pop in the style of the “neue welle” (Der Plan, D.A.F.). This beautiful track is one for rainy Belgium.
22. Julia Holter – In the same room (Rvng Intl)
A song off my favourite album of the year ‘Ekstasis’. Music that really succeeds in exploring new dimensions, in being experimental without losing its magic.
23. The Slaves – 111 (Digitalis)
This duo produces an overwhelming wall of sound with influences from doom noise and shoegaze drones. Powerful but subtle, earth trembling but spine tingling, all at the same time.
24. Holy Other – Nothing here (Tri Angle)
Slowly escaping the witch-house tag by evolving into haunting soundscapes, Holy Other’s music is emotional in a very weird way. Fascinating.
25. Actress – N.E.W. (Honest Jon’s)
Darren J. Cunningham a.k.a. Actress is (together with Flying Lotus) one of the most interesting new electronica producers around. Hard to pin down and assimilating lots of influences, he takes a more ambient direction on his ‘RIP’ album, with deeply moving results.