jmtd → log → 2012 In Review
2013 is nearly all finished up and so I thought I'd spend a little time writing up what was noteable in the last twelve months. When I did so I found an unfinished draft from the year before. It would be a shame for it to go to waste, so here it is.
2012 was an interesting year in many respects with personal highs and lows. Every year I see a lots of "round-up"-style blog posts on the web, titled things like "2012 in music", which attempt to summarize the highlights of the year in that particular context. Here's JWZ's effort, for example. Often they are prefixed with statements like "2012 was a strong year for music" or whatever. For me, 2012 was not a particularly great year. I discovered quite a lot of stuff that I love that was new to me, but not new in any other sense.
In Music, there were a bunch of come-back albums that made the headlines. I picked up both of Orbital's Wonky and Brian Eno's Lux (debatably a comeback: his first ambient record since 1983, his first solo effort since 2005, but his fourth collaborative effort on Warp in the naughties). I've enjoyed them both, but I've already forgotten Wonky and I still haven't fully embraced Lux (and On Land has not been knocked from the top spot when I want to listen to ambience.) There was also Throbbing Gristle's (or X-TG) final effort, a semi/post-TG, partly posthumous double-album swan song effort which, even more than Lux, I still haven't fully digested. In all honesty I think it was eclipsed by the surprise one-off release of a live recording of a TG side project featuring Nik Void of Factory Floor: Carter Tutti Void's Transverse, which is excellent. Ostensibly a four-track release, there's a studio excerpt V4 studio (Slap 1) which is available from (at least) Amazon. There's also a much more obscure fifth "unreleased" track cruX which I managed to "buy" from one of the web shops for zero cost.
The other big musical surprise for me last year was Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. I knew nothing of BJH, although it turns out I've heard some of her singles repeatedly on Radio 6, but her band's guitarist Ed Blazey and his partner lived in the flat below me briefly. In that time I managed to get to the pub with him just once, but he kindly gave me a copy of their album on 12" afterwards. It reminds me a bit of Goldfrapp circa "Seventh Tree": I really like it and I'm looking forward to whatever they do next.
Reznor's How To Destroy Angels squeezed out An Omen EP which failed to set my world on fire as a coherent collection, despite a few strong songs individually.
In movies, sadly once again I'd say most of the things I recall seeing would be "also rans". Prometheus was a disappointment, although I will probably rewatch it in 2D at least once. The final Batman was fun although not groundbreaking to me and it didn't surpass Ledger's efforts in The Dark Knight. Inception remains my favourite Nolan by a long shot. Looper is perhaps the stand-out, not least because it came from nowhere and I managed to avoid any hype.
In games, I moaned about having moaning about too many games, most of which are much older than 2012. I started Borderlands 2 after enjoying Borderlands (disqualified on age grounds) but to this day haven't persued it much further. I mostly played the two similar meta-games: The Playstation Plus download free games in a fixed time period and the more sporadic but bountiful humble bundle whack-a-mole. More on these another time.
In reading, as is typical I mostly read stuff that was not written in 2012. Of that which was, Charles Stross's The Apocalypse Codex was an improvement over The Fuller Memorandum which I did not enjoy much, but in general I'm finding I much prefer Stross's older work to his newer; David Byrne's How Music Works was my first (and currently last) Google Books ebook purchase, and I read it entirely on a Nexus 7. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but the experience has not made a convert of me away from paper. He leans heavily on his own experiences which is inevitable but fortunately they are wide and numerous. Iain Banks' Stonemouth was an enjoyable romp around a fictional Scottish town (one which, I am reliably informed, is incredibly realistical rendered). One of his "mainstream" novels, It avoided a particular plot pattern that I've grown to dread with Banks, much to my suprise (and pleasure). Finally, the stand-out pleasant surprise novel of the year was Pratchett and Baxter's The Long Earth. With a plot device not unlike Banks' Transition or Stross's Family Trade series, the pair managed to write a journey-book capturing the sense-of-wonder that these multiverse plots are good for. (Or perhaps I have a weakness for them). It's hard to find the lines between Baxter and Pratchett's writing, but the debatably-reincarnated Tibetan Monk-cum-Artificial Intelligence 'Lobsang' must surely be Pratchett's. Pratchett managed to squeeze out another non-Discworld novel (Dodger) as well as a long-overdue short story collection, although I haven't read either of them yet.
On to 2013's write-up...