Graham Duff by Russell Webb (2014)
Graham Duff is a prolific scriptwriter, producer and show runner. His latest TV show is the horror anthology series The Nightmare Worlds of HG Wells, starring Ray Winstone and Michael Gambon with a soundtrack courtesy of Damon Reece (Massive Attack) and Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins). He also created Ideal, the cult hit dark comedy that ran for seven series on BBC Three. As an actor he’s appeared in Doctor Who and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Aside from all of that stuff, Graham Duff is a lifelong music fanatic and each year he contributes his epic “best of” list to Dangerous Minds.
30. Pinkshinyultrablast - Grandfeathered
Pinkshinyultrablast hail from St. Petersburg, and couldn’t really be accused of trying to conceal their influences. Their name is taken from the title of a song by Astrobrite and their songs unashamedly summon up the golden era of shoegaze. There are shades of Lush, Ride and MBV here, but on tracks such as “Cherry Pit,” Pinkshinyultrablast bring plenty of their own contemporary inventiveness to the table. Theirs is a brisk and sparkling sound where song-craft isn’t sacrificed for the sake of effects pedals. It’s impossible to tell whether Lyubov Soloveva is singing in English or Russian, largely because her melodic vocals are meshed so thoroughly with the instrumentation. Whatever the language, this is pure class.
29. Nevermen - Nevermen
The word supergroup must be one of the music world’s biggest turn offs. However, this is one impressive line up of collaborators: Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio, Doseone aka Adam Drucker of cLOUDDEAD and restless polymath Mike Patton of Faith No More. This is a mischievous and eclectic album which bounces from industrial beats to shredded art rock and a kind of grimy electro doo wop. Despite being a supposed collaboration of equals, there would seem to be far more of Doseone’s fingerprints on this release. Highlights include the abstract shuffle of “At Your Service” and the soulful “Mr. Mistake” which comes on like a more introspective OutKast.
28. Puce Mary - The Spiral
Frederikke Hoffmeier (Aka Puce Mary) may just have made her finest album. Puce Mary’s music is always discussed in terms of being “noise.” And it’s true that pieces such as “Night Is A Trap II” are loud, noisy and abrasive in the extreme. Yet there are plenty of moments on “The Spiral” where she uses not only subtle, delicate sounds but also intervals of silence. Hoffmeier’s urgent vocals are distorted and obscured by filters. The effect is almost like listening to someone singing through a gag. And if the title track sounds as if Martin Denny had been invited to soundtrack purgatory, then album closer “Slow Agony Of A Dying Orgasm” is a pure surge of power electronics.
27. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
2016 has been a year ripe with albums of sadness and loss (see especially Blackstar and Not to Disappear) and Skeleton Tree is definitely one of the most moving. 2013’s Push the Sky Away saw the group operating in fresh sonic environments, experimenting with loops and looser structures and drawing on Cave and Warren Ellis’ extracurricular soundtrack work. Skeleton Tree continues that journey, accompanied by some of the most heart-rending poetry you will hear this year. “Girl In Amber” has an arrangement which is in total harmony with its tender lyrics, whereas “Jesus Alone” may be quite simply the best song Cave has ever written.
26. Immersion - Analogue Creatures Living On An Island
An album of seductive instrumentals which takes in a wide range of moods and energies. Their music is a kind of electro-kosmische—the sound of the 21st century, which nonetheless draws inspiration from German pioneers such as Cluster and Popol Vuh. And, like those groups, Immersion can create a world which is simultaneously devotional and sensual. Although it has its contemplative moments - such as the gently unfolding “Slow Light” - the majority of the album is powered by a strong sense of motion. “Nanocluster” is a tense and insistent composition. Coming over like the score to some futuristic spy film, it demonstrates Immersion’s skill at creating miniature sound worlds alive with detail.
25. Strangers From Birth - There Is No Return
This is retro-futuristic electronica with a sense of both dystopian uncertainty and fun-seeking optimism. Ossian Ritchie and Mass Roman create a music full of sci-fi references and knowing touches. Live appearances have seen Strangers From Birth performing in elaborate space age costumes, accompanied by self-made films, light shows and audience interaction. However, shorn of the visuals, the music still delivers. Despite constant mentions of robots and androids, Strangers From Birth have a distinctly human soul. “Disco Taxi” and “Gravity” have something of the headlong bounce of early Daft Punk, whilst “Power Failure in Elevator B” suggests the heady electronic pulses of late 80’s Tangerine Dream. And, as song titles go, “I Remember A Time Before Nostalgia” takes some beating.
More after the jump…