I initially wasn’t going to make this post, as I had committed to not doing a Best Of for 2019 (the first year I have not done so), but it felt weird not to at least make a passing remark on some of the year’s offerings. I still do feel it would be unfair to order them like I do usually, so the records I’ve decided to highlight below are simply presented as is. I’ve also limited this to five records, so if you’re going to listen to anything from 2019, these are the ones to check out.
As 2020 rolls around I must ask myself what HearFeel is for, what it’s about, why I should invest into it. 2019 was a difficult year for me for a long swath, tackling both physical and mental illnesses which have negatively affected my ability and inclination to write. Coming up on the 8th anniversary of the site means recognising that a lot has changed over the years and certain admissions have to be made with respect to my time, my temperament, my creative futures. I very much hope that this new year is fruitful, but as my interests begin to drift further away into new territories to keep things fresh, we may see more alternative content here. Or maybe none at all.
As always, I want to thank everyone who still sends me new material and continues to read new posts; I apologise to those who wanted a more comprehensive list but I hope this is sufficient reparation. Happy New Decade to you all!
It should come as no surprise to see an Ian William Craig project here, I absolutely adore his work and this one has all the makings of being another classic. Much more acoustic than a lot of his full length albums, though not without its caustic moments, this is a lot more accessible to newcomers of his sound. Missy Donaldson’s overprint is especially lovely on tracks like “Grace” and “This House”, while Ian soars to levels of frisson neverbeforeseen on staggering “Rothko” and dramatic cinematic “Shipbreaking”. Truly excellent album.
Animated Violence Mild is the most cinematic Blanck Mass record yet, and much like the Minor Pieces album above is also quite possibly his most accessible. The more overtly noisy and aggressive moments of his past have been overtaken by a slightly more conventional approach. Hints of Trance and House and extremely fringe Pop structures alongside the expected Industrial vibes make this an, at times, overwhelming but also really compelling listen. Not necessarily for the faint-hearted and not quite as solid as 2017’s World Eater, but a top record nonetheless.
Have A Nice Life – Sea of Worry
If you’re a diehard fan of Deathconsciousness you should probably turn back now, as this record is pretty far removed from the sound of HANL’s cult-status garnering debut LP. That doesn’t make it bad record in its own right though, still feeling very characterful even if some of the gritty edges have been polished down further since The Unnatural World. “Science Beat” and “Lords of Tresserhorn” basically make this entire thing worthwhile, for completely different reasons, but the rest of the album (minus bloated closer “Destinos”) is extremely solid and a really great addition to their discography. More fuel for my late night, alcohol fuelled, cathartic binge listens anyway.
The last in this collaborative trilogy, this was supposed to be the sophomore album but label difficulties delayed its release, though perhaps fortunately for the pair this feels like an appropriate capstone. Like its predecessors this has a crushingly bleak tone, lost in the throes of some distant and regrettable youth dragged through memory. It’s a waking fugue, the echoes of the past building the shadow form person we’ve become today. “Chloe – Unfinished Houses” is a singularly astonishing piece that transmutes into something genuinely disturbing across its 15 minute runtime, Matt’s poetry scraping the surface of that tarnished past with resentment. Not one to be missed.
TR/ST’s brand of uniquely nocturnal Goth Pop and Darkwave remains instantly recognisable in this two part album. Again, much like HANL above this record does somewhat live in the shadow of his older content, and this newer material is a lot less drugged out and bleak (especially the second part of the suite). But it’s part of the growing up process and I think this release has a great arc to it with some really surprisingly emotional moments (“Destroyer”, “Iris”, “The Stain”), against some absolute classic bangers (“Gone”, “Bicep”, “Poorly Coward”). Robert’s voice is as singular as ever, and I don’t think anyone else could make tracks like his work without it.