Top of 2023

My top albums in 2023

What I realized thinking back and looking at Last.fm stats is that I relisten albums extremely rarely in the past few years. I keep pouring new music to my “listening todo list”, and it’s like a never ending chore trying to chew threw it. So if I came across something great, I was happy that I did, but still I rushed onwards to the next one. I picked the most listened albums from the past year below that I had some standout memories of, but I’m sure there were at least a hundred that I loved but don’t even remember.

I want to change this next year, and consciously keep some great albums on repeat for longer. Perhaps take more walks or bike rides with just music playing, instead of this year’s podcast and audiobook craze that overtook my on the go listens. I was also toying with the idea of getting a MiniDisc player so that I can have some great albums as physical discs and stick to them like I did in the old days. Btw, I absolutely love the idea of an MD player, I’ve always regarded that as the single best disc format and never had the device itself. Just needs a bluetooth adapter for convenience, but otherwise it would be perfect.

Back to albums, the absolutely clear winner of the year is Strength by Unto Others. This one album got the replay treatment heavily. It spoke to me this year like nothing else.

My top artists in 2023

I didn’t use the Last.fm export for the albums because I had a cyberpunk atmosphere music playlist that I played on repeat a lot and trashed my stats for the year. The playlist was partly playing during some Cyberpunk Red RPG sessions, but I also kept it running a lot on travels, especially when flying (that’s one I always have synced offline). I don’t think it’s representative of album plays, but for artists it makes sense—these were artists I loved to hear all year long.

My top live music in 2023

It wasn’t an extremely packed year for live music, but the standout moments were strong.

When seeing Weval in Paradiso we climbed up to the second level balcony, which was pretty much completely empty at the beginning of the concert. We found a small bench and moved it right to the middle of the stage two stories high, sat down, and this is how we enjoyed the most amazing electronic music live act and visual show from the recent years. It was like some absolute royal treatment, we were literally laughing at how lucky we were. The music was a rollercoaster of genres and moods, building from idm through uptempo electro to breakcore. And the visuals were building with the show, it started from some extremely simple lights, and ended up with a full stage wide, intense animation. It was perfection.

This was the year when I first met Dr Rubinstein, during ADE, at the He.She.They party in Shelter, and it was love at first contact. That level of energy, impeccable taste in selection, perfection in dj technique, and complete control over the audience. It was a benchmark of a dj set on a level that I haven’t heard in years. Funny thing, I originally went there as a fanboy for Ellen Allien, and Rubinstein stole my heart.

My top movies in 2023

I set out for this year with the determination that I want to watch more movies, and I did. I watched 97 movies, which comes down to about one movie every four days on average. All that while watching a couple of series, too, like binging through the entire catalogue of Bosch, and keeping up with some of the currently running shows. So yeah, this was an intense year for film. Now, as for what all those movies were… I wanted to take it easy, took on lots of lighthearted comedies, and went all in for adventure flicks. I guess it was all about compensating and keeping afloat while other parts of life were shit on occasion. Anyways, what it all comes down to is having seen lots of movies, checking off a bunch of Watchlist items, and getting positive energy, so I’m fine with what I had, even if my yearly average rating is not setting records.

Looking at the top list, it was mostly about random surprises. Again it got proven that my hunches work really well: seeing just a few shots from most of these movies I already knew I would love them, and I wasn’t disappointed. The colorful creativity of Three Thousand Years of Longing, the my kind of sci-fi atmosphere of Ad Astra, the nostalgia-infused hilarious entertainment of the Beastie Boys Story, the slowly building space horror of Life, the weirdo humor of They Cloned Tyrone, the jumpscareless gripping thrill of Talk To Me, the stunning art style of Entergalactic, the silent melancholy of The Midnight Sky were the most standing out. Interesting that none of these were well-advertised blockbusters, but they are far from being some kind of art house cinema, so what are these?

The Spidey animation is obviously the big screen one here, so that’s the line of demarcation, after which the complete randomness of my Watchlist kicks in.

My top series in 2023

Bosch had parked on my Watchlist for a few years now, and finally I took a stab at it, and one and a half months later I found myself done with seven seasons plus the Legacy series. I loved the flow of it and the stories, but in terms of art it couldn’t beat those other two.

Mrs Davis is like a spiritual successor to Dirk Gently—absolutely unhinged, every turn unexpected. I would love to say more, but I really can’t. It’s not an experience you describe. It’s something you show, if you want someone else to experience it.

Arcane killed my soul so that I literally had to build back. I actually had to take a pause of like two months at some point because it was just too much. It is an absolutely shockingly strong story that I am sure I have never seen in animation ever in my life (not to mention the surreal good art style), so I just had to finish it, but it literally took a toll. I was willing to pay, still. It’s like speeding to a chasm and you just cannot not be there for the ride if you know it exists.

My top audio dramas in 2023

I started taking walks during the day this year, to stand up from my desk more instead of working through eight hours straight just sitting still. This was when I realized audio dramas exist. These three were actually the first ones I listened to at full length, and I was shocked that this format exists on this level of quality. I also tried some others, but those didn’t stick.

Batman Unburied came out as the top one because it makes use of the format like no other. It is a piece of content specifically crafted for this medium, and since this was a new medium for me, it was extremely exciting to hear how it plays the notes of this format.

The Long Night on the other hand won me out with the atmosphere. It was like a new season of True Detective but audio.

My top game in 2023

Cyberpunk 2007 took me like three tries to get into it, and then suddenly 117 hours passed and I had a hard time getting out of it. I did all quests, side quests, gigs, every content and all endings of the original game. Great story, music, visuals, atmosphere, characters. Two things I loved most: the power fantasy and the open world.

A friend of mine said how much of a power fantasy this game is, and I realized how true that is. Sniping with a rifle, then running into action with parkour moves, dashing in air, splitting heads with a blade, quickhacking people and systems, and hearing your own cyberpsycho laugh, while industrial techno is pumping loud. It’s a mad cyberpunk fantasy dream.

And the world. What I loved most about the side quests and gigs was that they showed such corners of this city and what’s beyond it, that I would probably have never seen otherwise. I could discover depths, heights, entire sprawling micro-universes of their own, within, above, under, and outside the metropolis. The level of detail and the options to discover are insane.

Blanck Mass – Calm With Horses (Original Score)

Another one of those soundtracks that get me to watch a movie. Otherwise I’d probably pass on another film starring Barry Keoghan. But the music is another hit home by Benjamin John Power, he has never let me down so far. Tense, dark, full of stress, from ambient to pumping industrial electronics. I can hear those pictures of unease and emptiness, then running and fighting, I want to see that editing that’s based on these rhythms and sounds. I’d love to play it too, if this was a game soundtrack.

Sinoia Caves – Beyond The Black Rainbow (original soundtrack)

This movie has been on my radar and watch list for such a long time and randomly came across its soundtrack now, which just emphasized that I have to see this. Mysterious and eerie ambient, and also retro futuristic synthwave done right. Just listening to it visualizes the neon lights blinking through the mist in the thick forest at night. I love this atmosphere and aesthetic so very much.

The last time I listened to a soundtrack so many times before watching a movie was The Moon where I had already known all the cues by the time of actually connecting the sounds to visual images. But that was fun! Btw the other movie of Panos Cosmatos (Mandy) I have seen and it was hilarious and fascinating at the same time. So looking forward to Beyond The Black Rainbow, too.

Best of 2019

Looking back on this blog it seems like the last time I did a year-end list was in 2015. That’s… wow. I thought maybe one or two year had been missed. Anyway that’s not why I started compiling one now. It was an intense year and the other day I looked through my IMDb check-in list and had a great memory trip with it, so I thought I might as well look through some more. Besides IMDb I checked my Netflix history, and for music I browsed back on this blog and checked on Last.fm. With that data and some reminescing I came up with this.

One caveat: I decided that I’m doing this list for myself and in that sense I value the sum of my personal experiences most and don’t care about release dates. So, all stuff here are things that made my year 2019, and that’s the only criteria that’s important.

Movies

  1. Joker
  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  3. Ford v Ferrari
  4. Suspiria
  5. Split
  6. Sorry to Bother You
  7. Midsommar
  8. Bomb City
  9. Bohemian Rhapsody
  10. Zombieland: Double Tap
  11. Hereditary

Outstanding new Christmas movie:
Klaus

Best trash:
Geostorm

Best movie franchise that I missed so far:
Mission Impossible

Best one movie that I haven’t seen in ages:
Event Horizon

Series

  1. The Expanse (seasons 4)
  2. The Final Table (season 1)
  3. Love, Death & Robots (season 1)
  4. The Witcher (season 1)
  5. Formula 1: Drive to Survive (season 1)
  6. Glow (season 3)
  7. Hyperdrive (season 1)
  8. Stranger Things (season 3)

Best comedy rewatch:
The Big Bang Theory (seasons 1-7)

Best scifi rewatch:
Firefly and also the Serenity movie

Best one show that I totally late adopted:
Shark Tank

Honorable mention foodie show:
Food, Booze & Tattoos

Memorable “TV to life” experience:
Seeing Jim Jefferies in a live stand-up show

Most inspiring interview:
Joe Rogan Experience #1342 – John Carmack

Music

Albums

  1. Tool – Fear Inoculum
  2. Korn – The Nothing
  3. Blaqk Audio ‎– Only Things We Love
  4. The Black Dog – Post-Truth [2018]
  5. Kölsch – Fabric Presents Kölsch
  6. Jambinai – ONDA
  7. Monolink – Amniotic [2018]
  8. Rammstein – untitled
  9. Belief Defect – Decadent Yet Depraved [2018]
  10. KOMPROMAT – Traum Und Existenz
  11. Plaid – Polymer
  12. Recondite – Silk
  13. Snow Ghosts – A Quiet Ritual
  14. Robot Koch ‎– Sphere [2018]
  15. FJAAK – Havel [2018]
  16. Nightmares on Wax – Shape The Future [2018]
  17. Sampa The Great – The Return
  18. Saint Agnes – Welcome To Silvertown
  19. UNKLE ‎– The Road: Part II / Lost Highway
  20. VA – Furi (Original Game Soundtrack) [2016]

Best weird random music that I cannot unlike:
Rummelsnuff – Kraftgewinn [2013]

Interesting new style that I stumbled upon:
Saharan rock, and album: Mdou Moctar ‎– Ilana (The Creator)

Singles

  1. Black Devil – Disco Club [1978]
  2. Prophets of Rage – Pop Goes The Weapon
  3. Red Axes – Shabak Shalom
  4. Kincaid feat. Blancmange – Big Fat Head
  5. Playboy ‎– A Paco Di Bango’s World [1996]
  6. Modeselektor – Wealth [2018]
  7. Charlotte Adigéry – Paténipat [2018]

I wish there was a movie like Alien but with the pacing of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the soundtrack of Moon. Ambient sci-fi horror. Not scary horror, but the visual exploration of horror, which was the most awesome aspect of Midsommar. And not psychological thriller, but very phisical although not completely gore, like the sci-fi action movies.

I love how many sci-fi horror movies start: usually there’s a lengthy and slow sequence with some drone noise in the background, and the first look at the spacecraft floating in blackness. Maybe I should watch Event Horizon.

Suspiria (2018)

It was a wonderful experience. Probably one of the most artful horror films that I have ever seen, and I’m much relieved to say that none of the art in it felt artsy but rather proper art film cinema. I loved how the tension kept pulsating: it went awry for short bursts, then got back to its track of narrative although with a growing feel of unease, which built up beautifully for the final catharsis. All of its visual style, camera movement, editing techniques, acting performances were just fit, and by that I mean there was nothing drawing more attention than needed, and so it was a perfectly balanced piece.

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

The most surprising movie of 2018 for sure. It was surrealistic, completely mindfuck, unexpected, and a great experience as a flick. Also made a well articulated point as social narrative.

On a different note: I haven’t heard of The Coup before. WTF?! It is a perfect friend of everything RATM, and I know Street Sweeper Social Club well, so I know the voice of Boots Riley just fine. I just haven’t heard of his original band before. So now I’m on a Coup listening spree, obviously. Although I haven’t really got through re-listening the movie soundtrack several times.

Another note: Tessa Thompson. I’m just getting into her so much. (Mean this the right way.) I first came across her in Westworld – great character, first seldom enough appearances to be mystical, then when being more active another kind of mystique. In Thor she was badass. In Annihilation she was not a driving force but another mystery not fully explored or explained. So maybe this is her thing. And this is our thing (as audience) with her. She is casted well and always had this mystical vibe around her so far. And this time again the artsy girlfriend character with her kinks and girl next door attitude. Hit home.

Kurt Rauffer: Star Wars Episode V homage title sequence

This is so truly amazing. Makes me think of the new concept of continuously releasing Star Wars spin-off movies like the upcoming Rogue One, and how great it would be if the SW universe expanded in a way that it allows for some new and unique styles for any of these side projects. So that anything like this homage trailer could be the real and actually used styles of any of the upcoming movies.

I don’t consider myself a Star Wars fan. I watch the movies every now and then, have some SW fun on 4th May, but mostly admire the universe, which expanded upon and after the original trilogy. I participated in Star Wars RPG way back as a child, read some great books placed in the SW universe, played some good video games, and just recently had serious fun with the X-Wing miniatures tabletop.

There is so much potential and the standard movies even with the currently running third set of movies capture so little of all that depth and vastness of the Star Wars universe. And allowing for more spin-off stylings like this fan-made trailer showcases could really blow the whole thing up and allow for even many more new and exciting angles to explore.