Top 10 Albums of 2020

Kruder & Dorfmeister ~ 1995 | a closer listen

10. 1995, Kruder & Dorfmeister

Black Swallow | Chihei Hatakeyama | White Paddy Mountain

9. Black Swallow, by Chihei Hatakeyama

Hiroshi Yoshimura - GREEN - CD - 1986 - US - Reissue | HHV

8. Green (reissue), Hiroshi Yoshimura

Global Communication - 76:14 (2xLP)

7. 76:14 (box set reissue), Global Communication

Another Flower | Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd | Robin Guthrie

6. Another Flower, Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie

Una Presencia En La Brisa- Yoyaku Record Store

5. Una Presencia En La Brisa, Rafael Anton Irisarri & Leandro Fresco

Roger Eno / Brian Eno: Mixing Colours Album Review | Pitchfork

4. Mixing Colours, Roger and Brian Eno

Healing Is A Miracle | Julianna Barwick

3. Healing Is A Miracle, Julianna Barwick

A Soul Ascends | Steve Roach | Projekt Records

2. A Soul Ascends, Steve Roach

Have We Met | Destroyer

1. Have We Met, Destroyer

O, Christmas Tree

“Simply put, a tradition is the past.”

My latest for CiRCE is about Christmas trees in particular and traditions in general.

It is a delicate point I try to make in this essay. I have attempted it a few times before, but find it endlessly refinable: there is some sense in which knowing the origin of a tradition is not terribly important. Traditions are not mnemonic devices anymore than knives or aspirin are mnemonic devices. Traditions are real and potent in and of themselves.


Rewatched this one with Sean tonight on his recommendation and it was only the second time I’ve seen it. While I enjoyed the first time around, the second time was better because I had already found the edges. It recalled for me numerous scenes from my twenties: road trips with strangers, sleeping on couches, and the combined sense of euphoria and bafflement which come in the immediate preface to marriage.

If You Do Not Believe Things Are Already Good, You Do Not Actually Believe Things Will Get Better

It’s one thing to see this billboard in the middle of a pandemic (and to take heart), but another thing to realize the billboard went up before the pandemic began and that this is the brighter future.

This– the pandemic, the lockdown, the election, the year that “WAP” dominated the charts– this is the “better future” optimists were promising last year and the year before that.

“Things will get brighter” is always a saying that willingly disregards the past. These are the brighter things. If you don’t believe things are already good, you don’t actually believe things will get better.

But this is why I am not an optimist: I don’t believe there are brighter things ahead of us. I believe that we already know what the bright things are– Bach, Milton, Homer, Dante, It’s A Wonderful Life— and that there is nothing to wait for. So quit looking forward and start looking backward.

The good stuff isn’t ahead of us. It’s behind us. Only the man who is oriented toward the past can receive a glorious inheritance. The forward-looking man misses his inheritance and must live on promises and speculation. Only the traditionalist has real food.

How To Write The Perfect Novel

“The perfect novel has three parts. In the first part, you describe everything you have ever learned about people. In the second part, you describe everything that has happened since the French Revolution began. In the third part, you offer readers a little perspective.”

-advice given to me on writing the perfect novel from Michael Mann in a dream last night

Harold Budd, My Favorite Living Musician, Has Gone On To His Eternal Reward

At the age of 84, my favorite living musician, Harold Budd, has died. I was listening to his record The Plateaux of Mirror when I received a text from a friend informing me of his repose.

For the last several years of my life, Harold Budd has been a regular fixture of my days. His The White Arcades (1988) and Lovely Thunder (1986) have been my regular companions while writing more than a hundred essays and a good portion of Something They Will Not Forget was invented while Abandoned Cities (1984) played on headphones. Budd began his career in the avant garde, but quickly became a close observer of nature and made music which modeled the serenity and sublimity of the Earth.

He was a mild man who created mild and contemplative music for a tumultuous period of human history. I admire him deeply and mourn his passing. Memory Eternal, Harold Budd, servant of the Lord.