While the program has featured end of year shows and lists off and on through the 25+ years What’s This Called? has been going, it has not been an annual tradition. Simply put, some years the show has been more focused on experimental musics in general than on the sounds of the current moment. Oftentimes that is because a given years didn’t feature enough new releases to fill a show or the interest of your host.
This was NOT the case with 2019. Your host Ricardo Wang set out to do a top ten for the year and found quickly that ten was not a reasonable number to list even the most played and enjoyed 2019 album releases from the show. Twenty quickly was not enough either and when it became clear that a list of 100 albums was imminent, research ensued into as many records that had been missed as possible. Perhaps it was because artists wanted to get a great album done for the end of the decade. Perhaps the insane global political climate has made artists want to do something in the only way they know how. Perhaps 2019 was the year artists started to realize that technology and crumbling economics had now made them able to produce and share “professional” quality albums without having to kow-tow to the dying music industry.
What follows is a list or albums that your host Ricardo Wang has listened to and ranked arbitrarily. The ranking is not based upon airplay or popularity or anything other than DJ preference. The order would probably change tomorrow and would certainly do so in another week. Any record on this list is a great listen, and believe it or not, keeping it at 100!
Top 2019 Albums
Negativland – True False (Seeland)
Kim Gordon – No Home Record (Matador)
Nick Cave – Ghosteen (Ghosteen Ltd.)
Thurston Moore – Spirit Counsel (Daydream Library)
Iggy Pop – Free (Loma Vista)
Keiji Haino & Charles Hayward – A loss permitted to open its eyes for but three hours And there glimpsed, finally in focus a mystery That begs earnestly, “ask me nothing” Now, once more the problem is yours alone (33 33)
Glenn Branca – The Third Ascension (Systems Neutralizers)
Fennesz – Agora (Touch)
Sin: Ned & Uneasy Chairs – 時代精神 Zeitgeist (self released)
The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time: Stage 6 (History Always Favours the Winners)
Kronos Quartet – Terry Riley: Sun Rings (Nonesuch)
Sunn O))) – Life Metal (Southern Lord)
Legendary Pink Dots – Angel in the Details (Metropolis)
John Zorn – Tractatus Musico-Philosophicus (Tzadik)
Future Sounds of London – Yage 2019 (FSOLdigital)
Various Artists – Stain, Crack, and Break: Music from the Nurse With Wound List Volume 1 (Finders Keepers)
Disxiple 113 – Sidraw (Obsolete Staircases)
Lee Ranaldo, Jim Jarmusch, Marc Urselli, Balazs Pandi – Self Titled (Trost Records)
Bill Callahan – Shephed in a Sheepskin Vest (Drag City)
Amy Denio – Eureka (Spoot Music)
Ashtoreth & Grey Malkin – Hermit (Reverb Worship)
Sudan Archives – Athena (Stones Throw)
Mecca Normal – Brave New Waves Session (Brave New Waves)
Flying Lotus – Flamagra (Warp)
Amon Tobin – Fear in a Handful of Dust (NoMark)
Fischkopf Sinfoniker – To the Bone (self released)
Somsurprises – Some Candy (Crash Symbols)
Various Artists – Anthology of contemporary music from Africa continent
There are two What’s This Called? programs left for 2019 on Freeform Portland, Saturday December 7th (fragments of which are listenable below), and Saturday December 21st which will be a special from Noon until 4 PM Pacific Standard Time.
In honor for what your host Ricardo Wang sincerely believes to be the best year in recorded music since he began DJing some 35 years ago, both programs will focus on music from the What’s This Called? soon to be released Favorite 100 Albums of 2019. The past few years, your host has had a hard time coming up with a top ten albums, but 2019 has seen many, many artists old and new at the top of their respective games.
Unfortunately, this episode featured technical difficulties with the Freeform server that led to interruptions in the live stream and gaps in the digital archive. Bleh. Everything below sounds great, it’s just not as much as people listening on terrestrial radio got to hear. Let this be a lesson to all who put total faith in little zeros and ones. Sometimes the ones go away and you are left with the zeros. Thankfully we saved the great samples below at least.
HEAR SOME OF THE FIRST HOUR HERE!:
HEAR THE END OF THE SHOW HERE!:
Search Ensembles “AC DC CP SK” [Prescient/Legend]
Juniana “Opening Thread in Room” [Ordinary Devotions]
Neil Campbell “Cloud Drag 1979 (1-4)” [Cloud Drag 1979]
Tom Dyer “Everything in the World is Returning to a State of Nature” [1+1 = ?]
Column Shifter “Let Us Now Praise the Dust” [Congregation]
Mecca Normal “Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone – Live” [Brave New Waves Session]
Taylorshit “DietLad” [Taylorshit.net]
Tearpalm “Wake Up and Smell the Coffin” [To the Happy Few]
Disxiple 113 “No Curtains” [Sidraw]
Noispoetnobody “Concrete Vitalist Part 3” [Concrete Vitalist]
Spirit Duplicator “Goat Boy Goes to Tacobell” [Duplex Cremes]
Erin Jane Laroue “The Future is Au Revoir” [Chalant]
What’s This Called? is proud to be moving into our second year at Freeform Portland, which we honestly believe to be the coolest station the program has ever lived at. It’s that time of year where we implore you that come to WTC for the most obscure and independently produced experimental audio work around to help keep the station where we make the shows afloat! https://www.freeformportland.org/donate/
Your host Ricardo Wang was joined by frequent cohost DJ Victrola of Guitar Shop to make the case for why Freeform Portland is doing revolutionary work fighting the culture wars on behalf of diversity and free creativity. Much great experimental music was shared in the process.
HEAR THE FIRST HOUR HERE:
HEAR THE SECOND HOUR HERE:
Savage Republic “Next to Nothing” [Tragic Figures]
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 “The Piston and the Shaft” [Strangers from the Universe]
Yolo on a pilgrimage we’re at Freeform Portland an extra week. So between two What’s This Called? is this space that is also but not entirely the same. Go to your mirror and turn it upside down. Watch carefully.
HEAR THE FIRST HOUR HERE:
HEAR THE SECOND HOUR HERE:
Ennio Morricone “The desert – Il deserto” [The good, the bad and the ugly]
헤이스트링 “A bottomless pit” [Salto]
Between “Devotion” [Soul Jazz Records Presents DEUTSCHE ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1972-83]
Jen Morris “Auterepart” [Interactions A Guide to Swiss Underground Experimental Music]
Featuring acapella folk jams and classic noisecore/queercore recordings by Joshua Ploeg/Plague who is the author of 11 cookbooks, was the lead vocalist/lyricist in Mukilteo Fairies and Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live as well as playing in Kiss Me Kill Me, Lords of Lightspeed, and The Special Friend. In addition to both noise and acoustic folk solo sets he currently performs in Select Sex and Sanctuary of Sound.
Ricardo and Joshua have know each other since Ricardo procured a zine from Joshua outside the Capitol Theater in Olympia in 1993. Tune in to hear the story of what the zine was about.
LISTEN TO THE FIRST HOUR HERE:
LISTEN TO THE SECOND HOUR HERE:
Negativland “This Is Not Normal” [True False]
Art Ensemble of Chicago “We Are on the Edge (radio edit)” [We Are On the Edge: a 50th Anniversary Celebration]
Thurston Moore “Galaxies (edit)” [Spirit Counsel]
Select Sex “Strategies Against Ameteurs” [Strategies Against Ameteurs]
Sanctuary of Sound “The Merry Witches” [Hymns & Conjurations]
Tarot Twilight “Tarot One” [Tarot One]
Joshua Ploeg “Tam Lin” [Live on What’s This Called?]
WaqWaq Kingdom “Doggy Bag” [Doggy Bag]
Kim Gordon “Don’t Play It” [No Home Record]
The Fall “Eat Y’Self Fitter” [Perverted By Language (Expanded Edition)]
Lords of Lightspeed “White Chocolate and Brimstone” [Lords of Lightspeed]
Behead the Prophet, No Lord Shall Live “Clenching the Veil” [Behead the Prophet, No Lord Shall Live]
Richard Skelton “Altar Valley” [Border Ballads]
Grey Frequency “Elegy for Vinegar Tom” [Witchcraft & Black Magic in the United Kingdom]
Joshua Ploeg “Ditties Live” [Live on What’s This Called?]
Pharoah Chromium “Gaza Requiem” [Anthology of contemporary music from Middle East]