BEST OF 2012: 19. A Whisper In The Noise – To Forget

A misty landscape, where distance is subsumed and perspective lost. You try to pull the heat trapped by your coat closer in towards you, but that chill feeling is inescapable. Did the day ever get light? Is the sky actually a colour or is it simply an absence of something that looms above? You are at once isolated and yet curiously comforted by the chill surroundings. The wash of inertia comes on like the all consuming warmth of the seconds before sleep. You succumb willingly and will do again. That is the sound of ‘To Forget’.

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For the fan of funereal indie, ambient soundscapes and hypnotic arrangements, the advice over the counter at Spillers Records is second to none. A particular expert in this icily dusted field is infectiously enthusiastic Steve. Between him and manager Ashli, I was cajoled towards this fine record many months ago during one of my counter loiters. Long may recommendations of this calibre continue.

If you liked Sigur Ros before they became synonymous with polar bears walking, fighting and shagging, then the emotive string muscle will get a work out. If you find the pulsing orchestral swells of Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds and Peter Broderick then you’ll be at home here. Sleeping giant opener ‘To Forget’ will drag you in, ‘A Sea Estranging Us’ will break your heart and ‘Every Blade Of Grass’ has a hint of Low about it with slow, distorted drum beat and intertwined male and female vocals. This won’t be for everyone but I suspect once you fall, you’ll fall deep. Do some digging, seek it out and then give it time. A wonderful find.

BEST OF 2012: 20. Mac DeMarco – 2

As soon as the opening track’s slightly lopsided guitar lick kicks in, the battle is won, the work is done and Mac DeMarco is your new favourite lesser known artist to enthuse about to captive audiences. With a Springsteen inspired cover and lolloping lo-fi slacker indie feel, ‘2′ is a bloody triumph. Tracks like ‘Freaking Out The Neighbourhood‘ rattle along, a little rough around the edges, moving like someone carrying something down a slope and only held together by momentum.

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Whilst having a lengthy chat about music, vinyl and record shops with Rupert at Totnes’ particularly lovely Drift Record Shop, I dropped in my usual “so, what can you recommend that I might have missed?” question. Most impressive amongst a number of recommendations was this particular album. A couple of quick sample tracks later and I was sold. Everything about its sound and appearance suggests a cult classic rather than a new release, but then I suspect that’s kind of the point. Indeed, ‘Ode To Viceroy‘ sounds exactly like the sort of smoky, effortlessly cool thing that reissue kings Light In The Attic might serve up. Those fond of trebly guitar and luscious vocal types Beach House and Real Estate should also pay attention. It wears its languid disaffectedness for all to hear, but it only serves to make it even more irresistible.

Other reasons to love it? Side one ends with a sizeable cough, it was recorded at ‘Jizz Jazz Studios’ and, upon receiving a middling review in The Guardian, one fan retorted with the remarkably eloquent “eat a dick, this album is deadly.” One for the sleeve sticker on future pressings, methinks. DeMarco’s notable love for sun-kissed shimmering American guitar pop is evident throughout, not least on the gorgeous ‘The Stars Keep On Calling My Name‘, which is one of those replay before continuing moments. The effortless air which pervades it is the key to its substantial charms. Just like the bone idol bastard at school who aced everything with a wily charm and managed to dissipate your ill will by being a charismatic charmer, DeMarco has the audio equivalent to a cheeky sparkle in his eye all the way through ‘2‘. It’s largely slipped under the radar thus far, but it’s well worth seeking out.