Oh dear. Those high ideals to keep this blog updated every couple of weeks got swept away by the general passage of life. But better a few months later than never.
It's rather lethargic to do an annual roundup in February, but I concluded that the best new music of 2008 was probably something I haven't heard yet. I heard a lot of very good stuff last year, though nothing really outstanding, and a lot of rather disappointing albums by old favourites. In the end, for my new album of the year, there wasn't much to choose between M83, Portishead, the amiable vocal harmonies of Fleet Foxes, and maybe also Mercury Rev's dreamy and lovingly-produced return to form Snowflake Midnight.
What else has given me musical joy in the wintry months? I still think some of the most inventive and interesting sounds are being made in electronic music , and I'm only really catching up with everything that's happened in the last 10-15 years. Biosphere's Substrata, for instance, how did I miss that gripping Arctic ambient classic? A lot of quality bleeps have been emitted from Germany in recent years - Apparat, Ellen Allien, Monolake, and, most excitingly, The Field's pure and pulsing From Here We Go Sublime. Much further west, from Mexico, Murcof's Martes weaves electronics with classical orchestra in the most natural and warm way.
Indie rock keeps me happy as usual, and lately I've been enveloped in shoegazers Deerhunter's strongest album to date, Microcastle, and seduced by the wintry melancholy of Bon Iver. But most distractingly, I've got back into jazz again. The luxurious ECM label started selling their refined wares very cheaply on my dealer of choice eMusic, so I have overindulged somewhat on the very indulgent pianist Keith Jarrett. His solo improvised concerts are sublime at their peak (Vienna, La Scala), and his overall catalogue is intimidatingly diverse. I've also been exploring all those classics by John Coltrane, Miles Davis et al., like a wide eyed tourist, though I still don't feel knowledgeable enough to write in detail about jazz.
What of the future? I resolved in 2009 to listen to more music. With the emphasis on the listen. I mean, actually pay attention to what goes on the stereo, instead of treating it as background wallpaper to accompany vacuous internet browsing. At the moment, I'm loving Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion - I haven't been hit that hard, that instantly, by a new album for a while. Exuberant, fantastic tunes and not a moment where there isn't several ear-tinglingly experimental things going on. More like that, please, and it will be a great year for music.