#23 Clap your hands say yeah (2005)
When I first got my hands on this unusual album, I was immediately charmed by a warm, chiming little cuckoo-clock of an instrumental called 'sunshine clouds (and everything proud)'; so much so that it became my new mobile ringtone before I had even heard the album run its full course. I never got bored of it, but it did annoy the fuck out of a lot of people. I know this sounds like a odd way to begin a critical approach to this or any album, but this is a funny album. I'm not sure if it is what a lot of people seem to think it is for a start. Talking Heads revivalism? Only in Alec Ounsworth's voice really. Neutral Milk Hotel channellers? Well, songs like 'Is this Love?' do sometimes come to a familiar spluttering and emotive boil. But we could play pegs and holes all we want and get no closer to the real essence of this one. It has depths to plumb. Go on, drop a few heavy thoughts down the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah well and hear them reverberate with a satisfying splunk.
Because of, or in spite of, the way they were announced to the world (as an unsigned band hype story), Clap Your Hands Say Yeah felt, to me, misunderstood as another average-to-good hype band. The truth was far more intriguing. And it still shines enigmatically from within the crystalline case surrounding 'in this home on ice' and over the beautifully bombed-out, distant, instrumental ambience that pillows Ounsworth's vocal acrobatics during 'upon this tidal wave of young blood'.
MP3: Clap your hands say yeah-In this home on ice
#22 Ricardo Villalobos - Fabric 36 (2007)
"Wot's that? A fookin' remix album? You're arvin' a larf mate!" Well, it is and it isn't. For his much-hyped Fabric mixtape, the hooded-eyed Chilean mystery man of percussive techno (or, if you read discogs - microhouse/horsetranquiliser house/po-mo deconstructed micro mash-ups of deep llama bleat house) decided to fuck around with a bunch of his own unremixed music. In the process, he effectively created the first proper Ricardo Vilallobos album since Thé Au Harem De Arichméde.
It's an exhilarating wormhole of a record which, above all else, displays a ferociously creative intelligence head-over-heels with the sound of percussion; doolally for a drum; smitten with sticks that hit taut surfaces. Just check the sporadic thunderings of Japanese ceremonial drumming that break over 'Andruic and Japan' and fucking feel it. You'll never encounter a workmanlike Ableton thud on a Villalobos record.
Anyways, every last click, every disembodied 'womp', and every bowling ball rolled over bubblewrap has its fussed over (but not fussy) place in this microcosmic symphony about what? Well nothing really. Just the sheer textural joy of sounds and rhythms. Sounds that get followed and chased by more sounds. Lubed-up sounds spinning on roundabouts. Sounds that climb ladders and slide down snakes. And, yes, sounds that sometimes do disappear up their own holes. At key points a strongly developed bassline or extended vocal sample (such as the brilliantly shattered 4/4 electro-pop of '4 wheel drive') makes itself felt above the microcosm to give the whole thing the illusion of progression, but the astute Villalobos listener knows you don't progress horizontally with this stuff. You tunnel.