Creaig Dunton was born in 1979 and grew up in a small craphole town in Central Florida. Always wanting to be a computer programmer until actually faced with the task as a college junior, he switched to psychology and then graduate work in criminal justice when the dot com burst of the early 21st century made gainful employment impossible. He now is finishing his dissertation for his doctorate in criminal justice at the University at Albany in New York, and is a full time lecturer and program coordinator at a small upstate NY university.
More relevant to music, he started writing reviews on his personal website around 1996 as a way to get “free CDs and meet girls”. The former worked, the latter didn’t. His reviews were then carried over to the short lived (but nonetheless awesome) False Prophet Campaign webzine, which he founded with friend James Quirk. He joined Brainwashed in early 2007 to review music once again, based on the unquestionable allure of free music.
In what little spare time he has, he adds to an embarrassingly large classic video game collection, pretends to be a musician, and runs his own micro experimental/noise vanity label. Feel free to contact him at creaig [at] gmail [dot] com.
Top Albums of 2012 (subject to change)
Oren Ambarchi - Sagitarian Domain (Editions Mego)
Ambarchi was cranking out a lot of material this year and also showing his artistic development, reaching out beyond his comfort zone and into more musical frontiers. Here it came together wonderfully, an expanded intro, a hypnotic funk passage, and a beautiful string-based outro. A stand out, unique sounding work.
Jessica Bailiff - At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky (Kranky)
I do like Bailiff’s more acoustic centered work, but it’s these more complex, electric outings that really resonate with me. Heavy reverb, feedback, and metronomic drum machines are always winning combinations in my book, but Bailiff’s voice just seals the deal.
Can - The Lost Tapes (Spoon/Mute)
Rarely can a band who has been inactive for so long can reach into their archives and dig out something worthwhile, but Can was never an ordinary band. While I couldn’t rank this higher than Monster Movie or Tago Mago, it definitely fits comfortably in with their overall discography, especially when compared to their latter day releases.
Robert Hampson - Signaux, Suspended Cadences (Editions Mego)
Hampson's work comes out at erratic times, where one year there will be nothing and then the next three albums (such as in 2012), but quality is always guaranteed. Repercussions was a great album, but these two LPs encapsulate his sound perfectly, one analog electronics, and the other a guitar based throwback to his Main days. They are two sides to a perfect whole.
Horseback - Half Blood (Relapse)
I discuss this one a bit more at length on the overall year end page, but it just made for an odd, but great pairing of catchy Southern rock and black metal growls, sounding like no one else.
Locrian & Mamiffer - Bless Them that Curse You (Utech/Sige)
I’ve been following Locrian’s career since nearly their inception, and while this year saw them being somewhat less prolific (two collaborations and two reissues), they were definitely high quality. The Christoph Heeman collaboration was good, but here with Mamiffer, the pairing was just perfect.
P16.D4 - Passagen (Monotype), Ramleh - Awake (Broken Flag/Harbinger)
These two releases keep me feeling positive about the state of independent music in this increasingly bland digital age. Two artists that, for the most part, would have been lost in the passage of time are celebrated in these vast, beautifully presented box sets that rival the umpteenth deluxe collector’s repackaging of some major label dreck. While they can be a lot to take in, especially in case of Ramleh, they are both well worth it.
Frank Rosaly - Centering and Displacement (Utech)
A lot of these sort of more abstract, difficult albums made their way to me this year, but Rosaly’s album was a standout, mostly due to its contradictory approach of shaping pure improvisations into structured, nuanced compositions. The results sounded like no one else, which is exactly what this sort of work needs to stand out.
Swans - The Seer (Young God)
Again, I don’t know what else I can say about this album, but the result is a two hour monstrosity that sits with the same level of force and intensity that characterized Cop and Soundtracks for the Blind. My Father might have had some very Angels of Light moments, but The Seer is pure Swans.
Vatican Shadow - Kneel Before Religious Icons (Type)
At a quick count, Dom Fernow released four vinyl albums and three expensive cassettes that were later reissued on a 3LP compilation. A bit too much in my opinion, and as time went on the releases became indistinguishable from one another. However, this LP reissue of an earlier cassette set remained a high point, and perhaps his most memorable work to date.