The first quarter of 2012 is beginning to wrap up, so I decided I would write up a bit about my favorite releases that have surprised me so far this year. As is the case every year, a large part of the beginning of the year is spent discovering parts of the previous year’s music that I missed upon initial release. For me specifically, this includes the Miasmah Records release Bunny, by Simon Scott, the Fonal Records album Nääksää nää mun kyyneleet by Tuuskanuuskat, and Illuha’s Shizuku, from 12k. Truly beautiful music that I can highly recommend. Taking a look at more recent releases, I would love to send praise to the following albums.

From the Mouth of the Sun – Woven Tide – Experimedia – 2012

Experimedia gave us the tremendously beautiful Lawrence English release in 2011. So I was fortunate and excited to find this treasure (From the Mouth of the Sun) in the mail during our weekly music listening night at KZSU. The release is a collaboration between Dag Rosenqvist and Aaron Martin and it combines everything I love about experimentation and ambient music. Many of the avant and ambient outlets have praised it, but I would like to reiterate why it is so affecting. Glacial instrumental music can lack a human connection, but From the Mouth of the Sun absolutely forges one. It connects in a way that vocal music can, in those rare instances when the lyrics are tasteful and are the only way to express a certain feeling. From the Mouth of the Sun can unnerve me the same way that Godspeed You! Black Emperor does; it can wash all over me the way Talk Talk does; it can share an aching sentiment better than Mark Kozelek. I whipped together a review (for internal radio DJs) that you can read here.

Plante – Harvest – Fedora Corpse Recordings – 2012

As my dear friend, DJ awyeh writes in his review, “Fedora Corpse strikes gold again!” This beautiful clear piece of vinyl is a guitar drone record by Andrew Plante out of Kansas City. The theme is spaced-out sustain and celestial hovering. Just a great thing to put on when you’re nodding off, or are bleary-eyed in some relaxed state. Fedora Corpse is a wonderful label. Too bad Comoros and Rat Catching couldn’t make it to the KZSU 2012 Day of Noise!

Windy & Carl – We Will Always Be – Kranky Records – 2012

I have pretty much always been a Kranky Records groupie. A Winged Victory For the Sullen was easily one of my favorites from last year. Their first release from this year is another fine entry into the impenetrable catalog. Windy & Carl doesn’t move into new territory with this one; it’s not the kind of interesting collaboration that they had with Heavy Winged a few years back. No, We Will Always Be simply pushes my buttons the way my favorite albums do. The overwhelming melodic drones, layers, feedback, vocal loops — it all warms me in an exciting, loving way. The feeling is a physical one and it reminds me why I listen to music. It would be an incredible experience to hear this in a live setting — not only taking in the blissful waves, but also feeling the physical reverberations. And I have another useless review to augment the praise.

Stay tuned for my new radio show time for April – June. Until then, listen to a lot of great music (hopefully some of it on KZSU)!