Hausu Mountain’s Favorite Albums of 2012

2012 was the Greatest and Only Year in Hausu Mountain history: we came into the world, began spreading the Eternal Wisdom of the Porpoise King, and released Three Albums of Music on Cassette Tape & One Album on Home Recorded Compact Disc. But this is only The Beginning, Folks. Behind our inexplicable cetacean fixation & Haphazard Internet capitAlization sit two human beings dedicated to documenting unusual sounds. This label owes its existence – conceptually and literally – to the artists we love & the inspiring music they produce. We try to demonstrate through our own practices that the record industry is far from “dead, man, like, I dunno maybe zombified & walking still but way brain dead.” We make a relatively miniscule amount of money from our releases, and we choose to feed whatever resources available to us into the biz as much as we can. This often means Buying Copious Amounts of Physical Media from our favorite musicians. (Note: This practice, when coupled with Listening to Copious Amounts of Physical Media, keeps music alive.)
These are Hausu Mountain’s Favorite Albums of 2012 – our most spun, most studied, most obsessed over, most talked about, most zoned-into releases of the year. Doug and Max share the top three albums – and their individual picks for #’s 4-25 follow.

1. Aaron Dilloway – Modern Jester (Hanson Records) 2xLP

After the apocalypse, when “noise” “music” (AKA “Noise Music”) overthrows pop and gangs of gas-masked Merzbow acolytes patrol the streets blaring feedback out of busted amps on the back of their ATVs, Aaron Dilloway will rise as the first musician canonized as a classical composer by the vestiges of the razed establishment. (AmIRight???) His manipulation of sound on the most elemental level (stretching pitches, repeating phrases infinitely with only the slightest variation, arranging disparate chunks into dynamic arcs) coupled with a massive sense of scope (an hour long 2xLP with two 18+ minute tracks) aligns him with big-name 20th century experimenters/tape loopers like Stockhausen, Xenakis, and Reich. The sounds themselves, though, are uniquely his own. Modern Jester attacks us with bursts of feedback, grinding metallic scrapes, primal thumps, mutated trills of some absent guitar (perhaps Robert Turman’s?), and his classic contact mic-ed vocalizations. But speculating on his sources is futile – and Dilloway’s exactly not telling us. The only credits on the similarly sublime After the Showers cassette – all songs from the same sessions as Modern Jester – list Dilloway’s wife as “voice” on every song, so she could very well be the sound source for all of this wildly diverse material. An advanced enough manipulator to dial in insane tones from simple sound sources, and an ambitious enough improviser-slash-loopsmith to build “songs” out of tiny sonic elements, Dilloway is a perfect example in our minds of Honing One’s Craft and Perfecting a Process. Add on his brilliant ear for mixing, his affection for analog media and sound sources, his aversion to overdubs, his physically visceral live performances, his extensive documentation of his own output, his prolific & highly quality-controlled release schedule (via Hanson Records and otherwise) – all that he is, we’d like to be. Modern Jester distills all of these qualities and manages to awe and excite us with every listen – it’s our favorite album of 2012.

In other news, Doug voted for Dilloway to be the president of our fair nation. It didn’t work out this year, but Dilloway For President 2016 sounds feasible.

Find this pup: the second LP pressing is available at the source.

2. Sutekh Hexen – Larvae [Handmade Birds] LP/CD (CS on Analog Worship)

An already much anthologized li’l tale: amid a stream of striking releases from 2010 onward, Sutekh Hexen revealed themselves to a burgeoning fanbase as San Franciscans / Oaklanders, instead of the Norwegian tundra-gods their output and Myspace page made them out to be. Regardless of geographical origin, the proof is in the blackened noise pudding with Larvae. The album feels like a longer-format showcase of the techniques and compositional decisions of their numerous earlier works – in the same vein as Dilloway approaching certain albums as explorations and others as culminations of fleshed-out ideas. Its long pieces feel like suites of Especially Brutal Sounds, veering from dark-ambient broodings into full-on tremolo-picked BM assaults into cavernous vocal noise with the Repeat knob cranked on the delay. As a small ensemble (a trio then, now a duo/sometimes trio) manipulating loops and effects to fuse the most extreme genre signifiers into layered, live-as-hell compositions, SH couldn’t help but influence our own output as Good Willsmith. We sent them a SoundCloud message on a limb when we were planning our first tour this summer and we received an immediate response: Kevin and Andy happily agreed to help us set up something, and we built a killer bill with them at the Hemlock Tavern that ended up being one of our best shows. We also met Cameron Shafii there, who’s releasing a Good Willsmith album on his label Merz Tapes – so it’s safe to say that the whole affair was real fateful. The inspiration we gleaned from Larvae and the band’s unexpected transformation from Purveyors of Mysterious Aural Hell into Extremely Nice Dudes and Friends made Sutekh Hexen one of 2012’s biggest influences on our little label.
Grip it: LP – nowhere, anymore. CS – from the source.

3. Dustin Wong – Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads [Thrill Jockey] 2LP/CD

Putting our infinite feelings and thoughts about Dustin Wong into a blurb feels cheap but we’re going to try to do so with a minimum of hyperbole. Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads (henceforth DSVCSL) takes the solo Wong sound we know and love – near-symphonic “pop” songs generated from the ground up by layering guitar loops – and elevates it to the extreme: live takes of the most complex looping compositions this side of ever. Each song features 10+ layers of precise guitar work that Wong loops and stacks together in real time. Melodies conflate or collide with each other in the mix – some taking the spotlight in moments of climax, some allowed to run for the whole song as a harmonic basis for further shreddery. Wong’s output presents a unique fusion: his often sugar-sweet compositions & simple guitar tones could appeal to the most casual music listener, while his virtuosity and effect-pedal acrobatics provoke musicians/geeks into the misty-eyed praise you’re reading right at this very moment. The album is full with “Wow, What??” moments: the delay-knob melodies of “Evening Curves Straight,” the primal shouts of “Diagonally Talking Echo,” the succession of intensifying melodies on “Toe Tore Oh” (the year’s best song?? definitely one of our most listened to). But it’s the live-in-the-studio nature of DSVCSL that makes the album his most honest, immediate work so far. If you caught Wong on tour this year – perhaps on high-profile opening stints for Beach House or The Mountain Goats – you saw the album’s tracks built on stage just as they are on the record, delivered with the same degree of precision and, somehow, humility. Wong might be preternaturally gifted, but he never dips into pretension or showboatery. He’s a soft-spoken, fundamentally nice person who makes music simply because he loves to. Putting it lightly, he’s the most precise, dexterous, disciplined guitarist of our generation – and he’s done more to advance the art of looping and solo performance than anyone else in 2012.
Find it: on all formats from the source.

Doug’s Favorite Albums of 2012:

4. Guardian Alien – See the World Given to a One Love Entity [Thrill Jockey] LP/CD
5. Keith Fullerton Whitman – Generators [Editions Mego] LP
6. Oren Ambarchi – Raga Ooty/The Nilgiri Plateau [Bo’Weavil Recordings] LP
7. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Timon Irnok Manta [Type] LP
8. Bitchin’ Bajas – Vibraquatic [Kallistei Editions] LP+DVD/CS
9. Sunn O)) – Rehearsal Demo Nov 11 2011 [Ideologic Organ/Southern Lord] LP
10. Zomes – Variations Vol. 1 [Imminent Frequencies] CS
11. Outer Space – Akashic Record (Events: 1986-1990) [Spectrum Spools] LP
12. The Caretaker – Patience (After Sebald) [History Always Favours The Winners] LP/CD
13. Pulse Emitter/Date Palms/Expo 70/Faceplant – 4 Way Split [Immune] LP
14. Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos – FRKWYS Vol. 9: Icon Give Thank [RVNG Intl.] LP+DVD/CD+DVD
15. Evan Caminiti – Dreamless Sleep [Thrill Jockey] LP/CD
16. Ural Umbo – II [Merz Tapes] CS
17. Inner Tube – Inner Tube [Pacific City Sound Visions] LP
18. Locrian & Mamiffer – Bless Them That Curse You [Sige Records/Utech Records] 2xLP/CS/CD
19. Expo 70 – Journey Through Astral Projection [Immune] CS/CD
20. Golden Retriever – Occupied With The Unspoken [Thrill Jockey] LP/CD
21. Various Artists – Eight Trails, One Path [Three Lobed Recordings] LP
22. Pulse Emitter – Aeons [Aguirre Records] LP
23. Marielle V Jakobsons – Glass Canyon [Students Of Decay] LP/CD
24. Eternal Tapestry – A World Out Of Time [Thrill Jockey] LP/CD
25. Mutilation Rites – Empyrean [Gilead Media] LP

Max’s Favorite Albums of 2012:

4. Scott Walker – Bisch Bosch [4AD] 2LP/CD
5. Mount Eerie – Clear Moon [P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.] LP
6. KTL – V [Editions Mego] 2LP/CD
7. Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi – Imikuzushi [Black Truffle] 2LP/CD
8. Hakobune – The Cowboy Across The River [Constellation Tatsu] CS
9. Mount Eerie – Ocean Roar [P.W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd.] LP
10. Oren Ambarchi – Audience Of One [Touch] LP/CD
11. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Timon Irnok Manta [Type] LP
12. Sunn O)) – Rehearsal Demo Nov 11 2011 [Ideologic Organ/Southern Lord] LP
13. Keith Fullerton Whitman – Generators [Editions Mego] LP
14. Guardian Alien – See the World Given to a One Love Entity [Thrill Jockey] LP/CD
15. Oneohtrix Point Never/Rene Hell – Split [NNA Tapes] LP
16. Ricardo Donoso – Assimilating The Shadow [Digitalis Recordings] 2LP/CD
17. Converge – All You Love You Leave Behind [Deathwish] 2LP/CD
18. Derek Rogers – Saturations [Greenup Industries] LP
19. Ural Umbo – II [Merz Tapes] CS
20. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! [Constellation] LP+7″/CD
21. Locrian & Mamiffer – Bless Them That Curse You [Sige Records/Utech Records] 2xLP/CS/CD
22. High Aura’d – Sanguine Futures [Bathetic Records] LP
23. Aluk Todolo – Occult Rock [The Ajna Offensive] 2xLP
24. Moth Cock – Moth Cock [Human Conduct] CS
25. Duane Pitre – Feel Free [Important Records] LP/CD