Well, it’s nearly the middle of February already – so it seems as good a time as any to wrap up this round up of the previous years best songs. They don’t call me The Timely Content Kid for nothing. Also some might call having 25 songs on a top 20 list something of a cop out. To which I have no real argument.
It was a great year for music though and I think this list demonstrates just how good. Especially since it was a year in which I didn’t find much time to delve into all that much hip hop – Busdriver and Milo narrowly missed the cut for the list but that was about it for my rap listening in 2015, bar a couple of L’Orange produced albums – and almost completely ignored what was by all accounts an excellent year for black metal. It was a year of Too Much Music and this, for better or worse, is how I spent it. And given how much fun I’ve had putting this list together I’m leaning towards, “for better.”
Part 12 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of 2015
Every Passing Hour doesn’t feel like a night time song but thanks to a couple of occasions I’ve listened to it in the dark I can’t help but think of night when I’m listening to it. The first time I was walking to the train station for the first train to London on a work trip, passing by more students taking the post-revelry walk home than people starting their day like me. The other time I was heading home for Christmas by megabus to save a few pounds, trundling through the cold streets with my head rested against the window. When I listen to Every Passing Hour I see streetlights smeared across the black sky by sleep-addled eyes and think about the pair of frustrated guys trying to convince their utterly hooned friend that yes he could walk if he’d just get his drunk ass up off the pavement.
It’s funny how these things memories attached to songs. Every Passing Hour sounds like it deserves a more bucolic scene, but hey. That’s city life for you. Helios, aka Keith Kenniff, suffered for me in being one of those artists who seem to capture exactly what they’re going for so well on a relatively early release that no matter the quality of what followed I wasn’t all that interested. I convinced myself Eingya was all the Helios I’d ever need. But I gave every new record a listen to reaffirm my faith in that records unassailable Heliosness.
Every Passing Hour, and the rest of parent album Yume, changed that. This song might be the single most beautiful thing he’s released. I’m not sure if it’s a new creative peak or whether I’ve just found myself in a place where I’m more open to Kenniff’s work but either way this is a truly breathtaking piece, starting in unassumingly melancholy ambience and building to a mini-masterpiece of longing that made nondescript sleepy Welsh streets hum with meaning on cold winter mornings.
Taking us up to a nice round 100 tracks (and around 10 hours worth of music) for the year I present to you the 4th and final installment of Wanton Playlistery for 2015. It was compiled during a period in which I was giving myself a headache trying to decide what should and shouldn’t make my Record of the Year list, a time in which I’m forced to listen to so much music I forget what I actually like, if I like anything, and start to wonder what the point of this whole music thing is anyway, and why is there so much of it, and who could possibly listen to enough of it to pass any kind of judgement on what is and isn’t worthy, and does it actually mean anything I mean after all it’s just a series of vibrations in the air being interpreted by strange mechanisms inside our heads and how can anyone possibly praise or criticise the air and our ability or inability to parse what it means or is intended to mean and when did run out of coffee and oh god please make it stop..
Somewhere in all of that I decided these 25 tracks were worthy of more attention. Is it any wonder I ended up selecting an electronica backing to a Leonard Nimoy reading of a Ray Bradbury story alongside some all out gone instrumental Swedish psych rock, a cut from a concept hip-hop record about a pair of janitors at a Ballard-esque housing complex and the terrifying final part of Wrekmester Harmonies’ Night of Your Ascension which probably makes no sense in isolation? It’s a strange time which called for a strange soundtrack. It’s been a great year in music, albeit one with few towering achievements. It’s instead been crammed full of minor masterpieces and strange and wonderful detours into rich little musical hinterlands. Did any of it mean anything? Well, there’s at least 100 tracks that meant something to me on WD now ready for anyone with the inclination to listen to. Maybe some of them will mean something to somebody else too.
And so another year passes. As per tradition a large chunk of the internet spent the final month of 2015 seeking to make sense out of the ceaseless avalanche of music that descended upon us throughout the year by ranking the crap out of it. How else can we be sure that any of it meant anything it we don’t put our chosen records into a pile and demand that strangers look at it and agree that that our choices are indeed righteous? Where would humanity be without our ability to decree one thing to be better than another thing until we have a sufficient number of things to make a list? Why we’d surely be lost, flailing in the dark, forced to confront the futility of our endeavours.
Well fear not: today I can add my own list to the internet and stave off any such epiphany for a little while longer. My top 20 appeared alongside those of 60 other writers in Echoes & Dusts Record of the Year interactive jamboree. Which is a treasure trove of obscure gems one could easily get lost in until the next listing season is upon us.