United Bible Studies

Mixtape #19 : Best Albums of 2010

Posted on by 5:4 in Best of the Year, Mixtapes | 3 Comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s 1 January, which means it’s 5:4‘s birthday, and today we’re three years old. Having spent several days looking back on last year’s most outstanding releases, what better way could there be to start the new year than with a new mixtape, featuring one track from each of my forty best albums of 2010. As you’d expect, it’s another extremely eclectic mix, and this time lasts a little over three-and-a-half hours. If you like the mix (and how could you not?!), please support the artists and buy their excellent music.

Here’s the tracklisting in full (click the image for high-resolution artwork): Read more

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Best Albums of 2010 (Part 2)

Posted on by 5:4 in Best of the Year | 5 Comments
* Please note this list has how been superseded by the one on the Best Albums of the Years page *

Bringing the year to a very happy end, here’s the second twenty of my forty Best Albums of 2010:

20 | Anders Brødsgaard – Galaxy
In terms of CD releases, precious little contemporary instrumental music has made any kind of impression this year, which i find rather worrying. Not so with Anders Brødsgaard, whose 40-minute orchestral work Galaxy, composed over 10 years ago, finally found a release on the innovative Danish Dacapo Records label. A work of that scale, composed as a single movement span, is likely to put off some people, but it’s such a relief to hear music not constrained by the kind of generic limitations that afflict so much new music. Brødsgaard lives up to his cosmic title; drawing on a plethora of compositional ideologies, and structuring them on a spiral, he’s created one of the richest orchestral works i’ve heard in a long time.

19 | Get Well Soon – Vexations
Neil Hannon pissed away his credentials as a pop sophisticate long ago, and the mantle has fallen to Konstantin Gropper, whose Get Well Soon project has been gradually making a name for itself over the last few years. His unique brand of instrumental pop, akin to Belle and Sebastian but more bullish, is brilliantly displayed on Vexations, the lyrics of which are worthy of a lengthy discussion in their own right. i wrote at length about this album back in March, and my views have, if anything, intensified; ever serious but always accessible, Gropper’s melodies are utterly exquisite, augmented by the deftest of instrumental accompaniments. Read more

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United Bible Studies – The Gascoigne Observatory

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A few months ago, United Bible Studies made available in digital form their debut release, Stations of the Sun, Transits of the Moon, which first saw light of day as far back as 2003. Listened to beside the group’s latest album, The Gascoigne Observatory, released last month, makes for a fascinating and revealing contrast. In short, United Bible Studies have come a long way – so far, in fact, that their rough-hewn, folk origins are a distant memory, out of sight and most definitely out of mind.

Yet, while the language and mode of expression heard on The Gascoigne Observatory may bear little resemblance to earlier releases, the group’s strongest and most deeply-rooted characteristic – music emanating from improvisation – is more evident than ever before. And not just evident either; the fluid, coherent way in which the album’s single, 36-minute track unfolds is nothing short of breathtaking. Put simply, there’s not one single moment that doesn’t seem to make perfect sense with what went before; the sense of direction is impeccable, always straight and true, and this alone makes it a remarkable accomplishment. Read more

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