Edward Ricart (Monotrope)
1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2017? (In order 1-5)
I love finding new music, and I cover a lot of different ground with my listening. There are so many ways a record can be satisfying, so it's tough trying to superimpose a framework to so many disparate, great, unique sounds. All that said, here we go!! Four records from musicians I have followed for years, and a long-awaited follow-up from Cleric that just came out the other week, and is simply mind-blowing in its scope, intricacy and intensity.
- The Painted Bird - Amidst
- Yowie - Synchromysticism (Skin Graft Records)
- Craig Taborn - Daylight Ghosts (ECM Records)
- Loincloth - Psalm of the Morbid Whore (Southern Lord)
- Cleric - Retrocausal (Web of Mimicry)
2. What band did you discover in 2017 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?
Jason Noble's music has played an enormous role in my own development as a musician, especially during some crucial, formative listening years. He played in Rachel's, Rodan, and Shipping News. This year began with a release called Amidst -- previously unreleased music from Jason Noble, who passed away in 2012, alongside Christian Frederickson (Rachel's) and drummer Ryan Rumery, as The Painted Bird. The record came out in January, but I really rediscovered it this past fall. It's a really great record in and of itself, but I also hear this comforting, lovely, lived-in familiarity. I'm so glad this record exists.
3. How will you remember 2017? (In terms of music)
I am stepping out of 2017 with some really personal takeaways that won't mean nearly as much to other people. I've spent almost two years grappling with the economic and psychological implications of the surprise bankruptcy of Allegro -- the distributor that handled my record label, New Atlantis Records. 2017 was the year that I finally started picking up the pieces, regrouping and moving forward. We were able to release our 50th title this year -- guitarist Brandon Seabrook's killer Die Trommel Fatale record, and it is both devastating and insane. After not having theopportunity to make much new music of my own for a couple years, 2017 marked the opportunity to ecstatically document the new band I am in, Monotrope. We had about 4 days of dedicated practice time back in February to get the music together, played a week's worth of shows, and then made our first record. In all selfish honesty, 2017 marked really significant personal milestones- my first recording credit as engineer, the first record from a new band, and the first pair of releases on New Atlantis since our hiatus, with a new distro.
Finally, I am so psyched to see labels like Sleeping Giant Glossolalia and Astral Spirits relentlessly releasing challenging, creative new music. They're absolutely worth checking out. Plus, labels like Southern Lord and Thrill Jockey still manage to blow my mind and keep broadening their horizons, after hundreds of records each.
4. What can we look forward to from you in 2018?
My previous band, Hyrrokkin, has a collaborative record with Merzbow on the way sometime next year, called Faltered Pursuit, on Sleeping Giant Glossolalia. I'm really excited for that one... and Monotrope will be recording new music in March, hopefully releasing a new record by the end of the year. We're also working on a 2x7" split, with one unreleased track each from Monotrope, Bellini, Hyrrokkin, and Unraze.
There are a few things in the works for New Atlantis, including the launch of a new sub-label imprint with more of a direct focus on creative rock music, and an archival project for one of my favorite DC post-hardcore bands. We are also releasing the debut record from Matter Waves - David First (Notekillers) + Kid Millions (Oneida/Man Forever) with Bernard Gann (Liturgy) and Rhys Chatham. We are also going to be releasing a tape of new solo music from Ryan Miller (of Portland OR's U-Sco), who is one of the most gifted guitarists I know of.
5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2018?
Hot Snakes! Pittsburgh's Microwaves will have a new LP, and I hear it is fantastic. Stern have an awesome, strange new record on the way- so many good sounds on the way.
6. For most, 2017 will be remembered as a year of political and social conflict. How does that cultural atmosphere influence your own music or artistic life?
One of the most beautiful, intrinsic elements of the underground music community is its genuine independence from so much what goes on in the world. The fundamental importance of shining a bright light, casting out injustice and rottenness goes without saying. I firmly believe in working to use music as a demonstration of solidarity, to negate some small portion of the world's misery. At its best, the musical underground can be an inclusive, parallel structure not beholden to external forces for success, praise or nourishment, and hopefully making music and releasing records will inspire more people to take dig in and take part. I remain hopeful that we can fix this place.