Stadiums & Shrines
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Into deep breaths of yours and mine and ours, the warmth no longer so far off. Dark, blank nothing. Shifting; in and out. A satisfying stretch, rapid eyes, but night passes quickly: cut short by the sun which had angled itself down through the thatch roof, slowly consuming every inch of our beach shelter with its smile. Awake and outside, looping between palm shade and sand castle confusion. Air hangs thick, draped in honey, and the path to town now boasted a few extra bends, seeming steeper, dripping further back; an exotic quicksand. Once again, the island is not what it was the day before; characteristics crossed, perceptions lost, overrun in summer smoke—a peculiar place, this mirage.

The center of town aims to please at every golden hour. First comes the village goofball, stinking of gin, singing an ode to his favorite cigarette; playfully underplaying a certain out-of-tune brilliance. The lovable, accidental pied piper ushers his crowd to a nearby saloon, before disappearing through some back exit, alone. Meanwhile, in front, the spell of a band in perfect symmetry takes orbit. Her voice resting on an irresistible chord, surrounded by the rings of Saturn, she sings of love’s magic.

Detoured by a different rhythm; a dream beat pulses from an alleyway, a dub tunnel, it manifests, framing a new darkness which snuck stealthily amidst the afternoon scene. Across the threshold, a goddess emerges, radiant, robotic; she pours three cups of tea. Each word she utters has a way of illustrating the air. Alas, such beauty will strain all eyes in time, and within a few rounds of phrasing, the letters vaporize, as does the goddess. My memories fade, she reminds, as a midnight waltz spins us to sleep and into the Land of Phantoms, where we all speak Japanese and the many accents of smooth jazz funk.

Good night, say ghosts. Good morning, says snow. It’s all over, they echo. It is, however, beyond definition, and the icy branches, in what had revealed itself—a boreal forest enchanted—shimmer strangely as if yet again, this island had shifted its position in the universe. Faces crystallize in white flakes, in and out of sentience, true and false, blinking and grinning, guiding over the transformant terrain—mountains descending into foothills, into wide open prairie. There sinks the stable, the aging edifice. Its wooden floor already formed to the earth, while serene in nature, yearning eerily for the motion that ultimately comes. Backwards, from the heavens, sweeps a mighty wrecking ball. It passes directly through the heart of the property, and onward, into the ground, splitting the world, a magnificent gap. With it we fall, spiraling down towards splendor unknown.

That evening the sun rose rather than set: it curved straight onto itself as we floated out on the reverse currents of this parallel side, our backs in the warmth, the island eclipsing off in the distance, the dreams having said, viewed, created, and their shadows, lead.


15. Swartz etRespire [Cognito Percepti]
14. Heathered PearlsLoyal [Ghostly International]
13. Monster RallyBeyond The Sea [Gold Robot]
12. CemeteriesThe Wilderness [Lefse]
11. Mac DeMarco2 [Captured Tracks]
10. TOPSTender Opposites [Arbutus]
09. Peaking LightsLucifer [Weird World]
08. Julia HolterEkstasis [RVNG Intl.]
07. Shintaro SakamotoHow to Live with a Phantom [Other Music]
06. You’ll Never Get to HeavenYou’ll Never Get to Heaven [Divorce]
05. Hundred WatersHundred Waters [OWSLA]
04. OMBREBelieve You Me [Asthmatic Kitty]
03. M. SageLux Collapsing [Patient Sounds]
02. Tame ImpalaLonerism [Modular]
01. Dustin WongDreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads [Thrill Jockey]

The albums can be streamed at this Spotify playlist.

With real love, we thank you for spending some time with us, and for making this a wonderful year.

“The albums I lived in” was the basic thought that opened last year’s list of LPs. The same applies today, and the only idea to add is: colors. On S&S throughout 2011, you might have noticed a shift towards tweaked images or collages of sorts; it just happened, almost subconsciously, in an ongoing attempt to somehow get a hold of where this music can send us. So naturally that process continued, and escalated, when approaching this year’s favorites, and now here we are:

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These are the 15 albums I lived in. Each was distinct and at times, in a somewhat new dynamic this year, a breather from the daily gem mining that leads to much of our content. This is an LPs only list, and a “personal favorites” one at that (not to be confused with what is “best”). S&S generally celebrates the future seen in a track or EP (and loves doing it), but here is that annual chance to presently appreciate those who transported me using the sacred art of the album.

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