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Pazz & Jop Post-Mortem

This year’s Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll has been published. My list, which is the same as my previously listed favorite 10 albums of 2005 (“Best of 2005”), can be viewed here. Every year it’s interesting to see which records I loved are voted for by other participants in the poll, which aren’t, and how the networks of taste overlap.

One of the two other people who voted for Steve Reich‘s You Are (Variations) & Cello Counterpoint (Nonesuch) also voted for the very popular Congotronics (54 votes total, which got it to #24 on the album chart) by Konono No. 1 (Crammed Discs), as did I. And someone else who dug Reich’s latest chamber work also voted (out of five votes total) for Keith Fullerton Whitman‘s Multiples (Kranky), as did I. Those three artists (well, one composer, one group and one performer-composer) have a lot in common in their use of rudimentary rhythms that take on complexity through layering. I’d just like to drink at a bar where they’re on the same jukebox.

On some occasions, inevitably, in light of the vast amount of music released in a given year, some of my albums get no other votes at all. This year, three of my 10 favorite albums received only my vote. I can understand that Christopher Bissonnette‘s Periphery is not on everyone’s radar, even if Whitman’s more highly ranked Multiples, with which it shares a label, is more difficult on the ear (perhaps the Bissonnette is too “easy” a listen?). The absence of additional votes for Stephen Vitiello and David Tronzo‘s Scratchy Monsters, Laughing Ghosts (New Albion) confuses me, since both guys are pretty prominent in their fields, though I sense this album could have benefited from stronger promotion.

What truly blows me away is that no one else, out of the 794 other participants in this year’s poll, voted for Amon Tobin‘s Chaos Theory (Ninja Tune), the soundtrack to the video game by that name. Back in 2002, Tobin’s Out from Out Where got eight votes, including mine. And in 1998, his Permutation got 13 votes (I didn’t vote that year). Perhaps the poor showing this year is a result of a bias against soundtracks, or against video game soundtracks, or against video games in general. I don’t even play the game; I just highly recommend the album.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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