2010 Top 10s and 20s
Will Long (Celer)

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Celer & Yui Onodera
Dead Leaf Echo
Ferraris & Uggeri
Ernesto Ferreyra
Flying Horseman
The Foreign Exchange
Les Fragments de la Nuit
Ghost and Tape
Andrew Hargreaves
Head Of Wantastiquet
Anders Ilar
Quintana Jacobsma
Leafcutter John
Clem Leek
The Lickets
The Machine
My Fun
Ostendorf, Zoubek, Lauzier
Part Timer
Phillips + Hara
RV Paintings
Set In Sand
Matt Shoemaker
Sun City Girls
Ben Swire
Collin Thomas
Upward Arrows

Compilations / Mixes
Exp. Dance Breaks 36
Lee Jones
The Moon Comes Closer
Note of Seconds

Jasper TX
Simon Scott
Thorsten Soltau / Weiss
Jace Syntax & BlackJack

VA: The Moon Comes Closer
Project Mooncircle

There's a concept of sorts underpinning the compilation The Moon Comes Closer that involves a story about a Russian girl named Jinna Morocha. Preoccupied by the idea of one day flying to the Moon, she approached Project: Mooncircle in the hope that the label might help her realize her dream. The label's response? A soundtrack specifically tailored to help Jinna fly in her mind to the moon. It's a concept that acts as a springboard for the project, though the story is literally referenced in the rhymes drawled by a raspy, Doom-like MC during the harpsichord-sprinkled boom-bap of John Robinson's “TMCC” and pops up in song titles such as “Telescope” and “Solar Midnight” that follow.

Conceptual considerations aside, what matters most is the music, and there's no shortage of it on offer. The collection's an embarrassment of crate-digging riches, so to speak, with the double-vinyl release spreading nineteen cuts across its four sides, and the digital version adding eight more. Many of them are dust-covered tracks filled with loping beats and samples, and some are in that post-Dilla vein where blunted beats lazily lag behind the downbeat (Skyence's clip-hopper “Definition,” for instance). Listening to the album, one can't help but think the artists shared access to a library of dusty jazz albums from Blue Note and Prestige, given how many pepper their crackle-drenched fusions of acoustic jazz and hip-hop with vibes, acoustic bass, and piano elements.

Long Arm sounds like it might have plundered a stack of Bill Evans and early swing LPs for “After 4AM” jam when a muted trumpet solos alongside horns, vibes, and piano. Kan Sano's “Cosmic Apple” re-creates the turbulent attack of Miles's sound in its move from the Shorter-Hancock quintet into the electric period. Sano's track plays like some lost voodoo jam from Dark Magus, with the drummer stoking a DeJohnette-like fire under his cymbals while a Michael Henderson clone anchors time with an unwavering bass pulse.

Not all of the album's cuts are in that vein, however. Robot Koch vs fLako's “The Last Astronaut” sneaks a smattering of acid and IDM into its hip-hop bath, and, more song-like in structure, Graciela Maria's vocal cut “Underwater” proves memorable for being so melodically entrancing. In fact, as The Moon Comes Closer goes deeper into its second half, a focus on recently developed styles emerges. Inflamed by a bright synthesizer presence, Puzzle's “Quencht” has more in common with wonky dubstep than sample-heavy hip-hop, and an occasional moment of hilarity arises, such as when Killing Skills' “Van Dijck Brown” adds some painting tips from an art instructor to its slinky clip-hop shuffle. Both straight-up MC-based hip-hop and instrumental hip-hop get their moment in the sun too, as Mr Cooper's biting remix of Andy Kayes' “Invisible” and Nienvox's swooning “Left” make clear. In short, there's lots to dig into, and even more if one selects the digital option, where choice tracks by the likes of Abnormal, V. Raeter, and Gards from KC await.

December 2010