Features | Awards

The Army of One Award

By Dom Sinacola | 18 December 2008

Nico Muhly
(Brassland; 2008)

In a year exerted by the statements of artists pushing half-minded ars poetica down our brain stems—this isn’t music about music, we’re told, this is music about making music as the artist who happens to be making that music appreciated by like-minded artists—Nico Muhly’s Mothertongue was the only record that didn’t seek any reprisal in its effort to offer the same. Probably through pastiche: stomaching that freezing rain of numbers and data, baroque catholic guilt, and aimless proselytizing about what neo-classical minimalism should be in 2008 is not for everyone—after all, Muhly isn’t exactly showing us someone we want to be. But for those of us fascinated by the tide of ephemera hung, poised to crash, over protagonist Muhly as he goes about his morning, palled with the dread of an ordinary past ready to come for what it’s owed, there was no greater testament to the noxious power of nostalgia to be had in the past twelve months. And it’s not for nothing that “The Only Tune” trilogy could feed our basest fears of creation and, in turn, self-immolation by a lyric as bare as “He made fiddle pegs from her long finger bones.” Oh, the dreadful wind and rain is right.

Runner up notice for Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Lie Down In the Light, which totally brought Will Oldham’s career to a head by displaying the sheer apotheosis of Will Oldham’s voice. If the guy has mastered what it means to wield Will Oldham’s awkwardly and wonderfully powerful pipes, his 2008 LP is great for that solitary, insular fact.