Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 in review

2010 was a strange year for me and recorded music. I traveled to some major U.S. left coast cities and visited some world-class record stores, expecting to do some serious CD bingeing. The second trip involved two smaller stores, one of which I visited quite profitably in 2004. Unfortunately, both stores had shifted to fairly small CD displays, having switched largely to vinyl and used items, and the excursions ended up as a letdown. Whether or not as a direct result, I virtually stopped buying CDs for nearly six months, with only eight CDs purchased between the end of May and the end of November. Part of the rationale was that I have a lot of CDs of great music, and that I'd like to spend more time with individual pieces. I see that Richard Pinnell has pledged to listen to the same piece every day and write about the experience of getting to know the piece intimately. I cannot say how much I admire this approach. He selected Luigi Nono's only string quartet, Fragmente, Stille, and while I'd love to follow the same path, although probably not with the same piece, it seems so impractical. I look forward to seeing how Richard handles it.

My overall new music acquisitions were down by 30% from 2009 — if it weren't for emusic, where I refused to let the downloads get swept up at the end of the period, I wouldn't have hardly picked out anything new. Even so, with emusic's revised pricing schedule this year, the same amount of money spent yields only half as much music.

Moving forward with this blog, I need to face up to the reality that I cannot review every promo CD or download that arrives in my mailbox. I publish occasional reviews both here and at I have heard some wonderful music from promotional releases, which I most certainly would not have found any other way and for which it was a pleasure to write a review. All of the music I review for is promotional, but my intent for Classical-Drone was to write about music I liked, including music I already have as well as music I haven't heard yet. In addition, in 2011, I intend to review more netlabel releases. I have a release on a netlabel, and I should do more to promote their vitality. Fortunately there is no shortage of excellent ambient and drone releases, so I'm sure I will have plenty of choices. But a consequence is that I will write many fewer reviews from promotional CDs and downloads in 2011 than I did in 2010.

The unfortunate downside is that some unsolicited CDs that I've already received will go unreviewed. I've never run a label, but I'm pretty sure nobody gets reviews for all of the promos they send out. My sincere apologies if it happened here. If we've been in touch via email, your review is still in the pipeline.

As for my favorite new music of 2010, as in other years, my awareness of release dates is generally low, so I can't say exactly when these albums first appeared. Links are to my reviews, the list is ordered by acquisition date.

  • Altus, Winter Embrace III
  • Language of Landscape, Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow
  • Lexithimie, Leontopodium
  • Slow Six, Tomorrow Becomes You
  • Keith Rowe, Live at Amplify 2008
  • Leyland Kirby, Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was
  • Valentin Silvestrov, Symphony No. 6
  • Francisco Lopez, Amarok
  • Nils Frahm, Wintermusik
  • Salvatore Sciarrino, Sui poemi concentrici
  • Kyle Bobby Dunn, A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn
  • Balmorhea, Constellations
  • Ben Frost, Theory of Machines
  • Pisaro & Stuart, July Mountain
  • Ludovico Einaudi, Nightbook
  • Celer, Dying Star
  • Goldmund, The Malady of Elegance
  • Michael Northam, Solar Night
  • Peter Adriaansz, Waves
  • Jean-Claude Eloy, Gaku-No-Michi (complete)
  • Scott Cortez, Twin Radiant Flux
  • Ann Southam, Simple Lines of Enquiry
  • Cornford & Rodgers, Zinc [extracts]

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