End-of-Year Best-Of List on Part-Time Audiophile

It’s been a long time. Here’s a few of my favorite things from 2022.


Happy New Year!

Dustin O’Halloran with Clarice Jensen, Yuki Numata Resnick, and Margaret Hermant

I’m selling components

I’ve slowly come to the realization that my ears don’t hear all that hot anymore, and my speakers and amplifier (especially) are far too large and powerful for my living room — and my ears.

I’m selling my Pass Labs X250.8 power amp and my Acoustic Zen Crescendo MkII speakers. I’m only entertaining offers from locals who live in and near the San Francisco Bay area, because I refuse to ship stuff. FedEx destroyed a power conditioner shipped to the East coast earlier in 2022, and UPS mishandled a DAC shipped out that way, as well.

The Pass amp can be found on usaudiomart.com.

I’m also considering selling my PS Audio DirectStream DAC w/Bridge II. I’ll post here when it goes on the market.

What am I replacing these things with? Some downmarket things I’ve had in storage — temporarily.

I’m looking at Zu Audio Dirty Weekends to replace the Crescendos, and a First Watt J2 to replace the Pass.

Other shuffles and sales and trades will follow.

I’ll keep you informed. Because I know you care.

I can’t recommend buying physical formats from Deepchord / Echospace

I’ve been a fan of the Echospace collective for at least ten years. Its music kept me semi-sane during frequent BART trips into SF, especially the portion when the trains clattered and screeched under the bay.

In mid-May of this year, the label offered a DVD packed with .wav files entitled Sequential Space. It promised shipping by May 28, with delivery by the end of the first week of June.

By the second week of June, nothing had arrived. I sent an inquiry to the label via Bandcamp.

No reply.

I opened a dispute with PayPal, requesting a new ETA from the label.


Bandcamp suggested I escalate the issue.

I did.

Today, over six weeks since I ordered the item, and nearly a month after the DVD was due to arrive, PayPal managed to wrest a refund from Echospace.

At no time did the label answer any of my politely-worded requests about the status of the order. Availability of the DVD format has been removed from the album’s Bandcamp page (although it is still described in detail), with no explanation.

The Emperor Has No Pajamas

I haven’t written or edited a onesheet in years — and it’s not something I particularly miss — but this one stands out.

I must also declare I haven’t heard the LP in question. However, a onesheet is supposed to make one curious. This onesheet makes me… well, the opposite.

(Additional disclosure: I used to work for Revolver USA, and one of my jobs was to send stuff like this back to the label, with a scrawled suggestion to rewrite…or, at least tone it down).

In a milieu that’s ordinarily dripping with lazy hyperbole, glib, empty rhetoric, and outright nonsense, the verbiage in this example is some of the most vacant claptrap I’ve witnessed in years.

Not sure what Spiritual Pajamas is thinking, here, but, apparently, this is the kind of approach that sells in Big Sur (and beyond) in 2022…most likely to people who’ve never heard Terry Riley’s A Rainbow In Curved Air.

It’s times like this when I’m especially happy I’m a gardener and landscaper, and not a marketing hack.

Things I Liked During 2021

Poppy Ackroyd "Pause"Poppy Ackroyd Pause LP/FLAC (Fatcat, UK)

Maya Beiser Maya Beiser x Philip Glass FLAC (Islandia Music, US)

Jacek Doroszenko Infinite Values 2×10″ lathe cut/FLAC (Time Released Sound, US)

Dreissk Seiche mp3 advance (n5MD, US)

Hawthonn Earth Mirror LP/FLAC (Ba Da Bing! US)

Haruomi Hosono Medicine Compilation From the Quiet Lodge 2xLP (Epic, EU)

Cassandra Jenkins An Overview on Phenomenal Nature LP/FLAC (Ba Da Bing!, US)

Clarice Jensen Ainu Mosir FLAC (FatCat/130701, UK)

Clarice Jensen Identifying Features EP FLAC (FatCat, UK)

Robin Wall Kimmerer Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants book (Milkweed Editions, US)

K. Leimer Found Objects CD (Palace of Lights, US)

K. Leimer Mitteltöner72 CD (Palace of Lights, US)

K. Leimer Music for the Open Air Soundcloud stream (Palace of Lights, US)

Loscil Clara LP (Kranky, US)

Dustin O’Halloran Silfur LP (Deutsche Grammaphon, Ger)

Daniel O’Sullivan Electric Māyā: Dream Flotsam and Astral Hinterlands LP/FLAC (VHF, US)

Ocouer Connections 2xLP/FLAC (n5MD, US)

Max Richter Beethoven – Opus 2020 FLAC (Deutsche Grammophon, Ger)

Stray Theories This Light FLAC (n5MD, US)

A Winged Victory for the Sullen Invisible Cities LP, FLAC (Artificial Pine Arch Manufacturing, EU)

Various Artists Colliding Wind (Concentric Records, Italy)

An open letter to my ol’ bong buddies at Darla Records Mailorder

Dear Dudes,

Salutations and felicitations from N. Cal. Sending only the choicest of vibes to my pals nigh unto Oceanside. I hope you’re getting some time away from the distribution grind this weekend to hop some mackable swells?

Gotta say, you and me been through some seriously tribulational life experience in this biz we call music, right? And you’re still at it. That, alone, earns you some legit props from me and my ilk. Color me erstwhile, but I totally value the oppo to urge you to keep on flying the flag, o my brothers and sisters.

Oh, and while I got you here — I wanted to know if you could, like, y’know, do me a solid?

Got some sides from you today, for which I am, ordinarily, most stoked. As you are more than aware, you’re the sole US connection for Crepuscule, Les Temps Modernes, and Factory Benelux, three of my favorite import labels. I think we can both agree that overseas shipping costs sucketh majorly, and having stuff show up in one piece is a better bet from a US address.

So what I guess I’m saying is the mailorder wonk in me honors the mailorder wonk in you. That sort of thing.

I was, however, a tad bummed this pm when I opened your cardboard LP mailer (see photos) and found you’d stuffed it with, well… trash. We both been doing that mailorder thing for decades now, and you and I know that crumpled-up paper doth not constitute effective packaging, especially when Cali’s seeing temps in the mid- to high-80s. Great surfing weather, yeah, but it’s hell on vinyl, especially when the discs aren’t adequately el securedo en el boxo.

Luckily, Kate grabbed the box from the hands of the postal employee before it could sit on our front porch — southwest exposure, since you asked — yet one more reason why I love the lass.

Just glad I forked over the $9.45 for priority. I mean, media mail would’ve had this chestnut bouncing around hot postal vehicles for at least twice as long, and the precious object might’ve showed up a limp biscuit of forlorn former-playability. And nobody wants that, right? You don’t have to answer, man; I feel you grokking me.

Anyway. I got a line on 12.5-inch square cardboard flats that my brethren on Discogs seem to dig, and are willing to shell out extra for. Three or four of those cradling the Durutti Column relic would’ve shut me up pronto. I can connect you direct to the source; just say the word.

Hoping this doesn’t derail your stoke this fine weekend, but I figured that some direct wordage among brahs is always worth its weight in vibe.

We good?

Groovy. See you at the beach.


One Year

In early March 2020, I traveled to the Mono Basin for a solo retreat. As I drove east, then south, news stories on the radio about COVID were reaching what seemed like a crescendo.

The rental was offgrid. No TV, and only satellite internet. I’d download (slowly) news-update podcasts, and periodically sit in my truck out in the cold, heater blasting, listening to CNN and NPR on SiriusXM.

I tried to work on music. Attempted to write. And read.

During my six-day stay, the news became more frightening. Trump claiming everything would be fine. Then the news about lost opportunities getting the virus under control due to CDC chaos and botched testing rollouts.

The mantra: flatten the curve. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Socially distance.

The second portion of my trip was to Independence, the Inyo county seat. I stayed in a double-wide AirBnB on the Paiute reservation just north of town.

The first morning, I was awakened at 5:45 by someone’s muscle car. I’d slept maybe five hours. I struggled from bed, got dressed, made coffee and a sandwich, and drove south to Manzanar for the first of two days of work.

In the parking lot, no one shook hands, although it had been months since we’d see one another. We smiled wanly in the 7am chill, stamping our feet and talking about COVID. Less than half the volunteers had shown up.

We tried staying six feet from each other, but it was difficult while digging with a partner in 8 x 8-foot plots, and manning two-person sifting stations. I was the only person wearing a mask, and it was mostly due to the dust.

On the way out, I stopped at the visitors’ center and bought some books. There were tiny origami birds on the counter. The woman at the register urged me to take one.

“They’re free.”

I got back to the rental and switched on the TV, but the news was disturbing, so I turned to a channel airing The Andy Griffith Show, The Twilight Zone, and Carol Burnett reruns.

I ate something. Made a stiff drink.

Then another.

The phone rang. It was Kate.

“I just went to Safeway. There’s pretty much nothing left on the shelves, and the lines were the longest I’ve ever seen. I turned around and came home. I wanted to have food for you when you got back.”

I looked at Whole Foods’ delivery page on Amazon as we spoke. We put together an order. The site was slow, and I had trouble getting the order to submit. Finally it went through, but it wouldn’t be delivered for two days.

We talked about my day at the dig, then my plans for day two. The conversation didn’t take long. I told Kate I’d return early. I had more N95 masks in the truck, and rubber gloves, and hand sanitizer. I promised Kate I’d use them when pumping gas.

That night I messaged my friend, Roger, and apologized for missing the second day.

The next morning I packed up and headed north. I stopped at Manor Market in Bishop and bought ice, and filled two coolers and a shopping bag with food.

(In the coming weeks, carloads of people from Tehachapi, Bakersfield, and LA would follow, and do the same, bringing the virus with them, and emptying the shelves of every grocery store on 395).

I began the 7-hour drive home.

It was Friday, March 13th, exactly one year ago. When things got weird.

I still have the origami bird. It’s been riding with me in the truck for the past year.

It’s faded, and somewhat rumpled. When I drove with the windows down last summer, it nearly flew out the window more than once.

Maybe I should let it go.

Recent Acquisitions

17 Pygmies Jedda By the Sea LP (Resistance Records, US) used, 2nd pressing

Marc Barreca The Empty Bridge CD (Palace of Lights, US)

Biosphere Angel’s Flight LP (AD 93, UK)

William S. Burroughs Curse Go Back LP (Aloes Books/Paradigm Discs, EU)

Sarah Mary Chadwick Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby LP colored vinyl (Rice Is Nice / Ba Da Bing! US)

Holger Czukay, Jah Wobble, Jaki Liebezeit ‎A Full Circle 2x 10″ (Grönland Records, Germany/EU) RSD reissue

Fripp & Eno Beyond Even (1992 – 2006) 2xCD (Discipline Global Mobile, US) reissue (used)

Seymour Glass “Daily Account Sheet” FLAC (My Dance the Skull, Italy)

Hauschka with Rob Petit & Robert Macfarlane Upstream LP (Sonic Pieces, Germany)

Heaven 17 “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” / “Decline of the West” 12″ (Virgin UK) RSD reissue

K. Leimer Found Objects CD (Palace of Lights, US)

Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um 2xLP (Get On Down, US) (RSD reissue)

Pergolisi Stabat Mater/Concertino Armonico No.2 Felicity Palmer, Alfreda Hodgson, The Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, The Argo Chamber Orchestra, directed by George Guest LP (Argo, UK) (used)

Somei Satoh Emerald Tablet / Echoes LP (We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want Records, Switzerland)

Somei Satoh Mandala Trilogy 2xLP (We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want Records, Switzerland)

Dustin O’Halloran Piano Solos LP (Splinter Records)

Dustin O’Halloran & Volker Bertelmann Score from Ammonite FLAC (Milan/Sony, US)

Dustin O’Halloran & Volker Bertelmann Music from The Old Guard LP (Lakeshore Records US)

A Winged Victory for the Sullen Invisible Cities CASSETTE, LP (black, clear, beer-colored vinyl editions), FLAC
(Artificial Pine Arch Manufacturing, Belgium)

YMO BGM SACD (GT Music, Japan) reissue

Various Artists Ambient Layers FLAC (7K!, Germany)

Things I Liked During 2020

Kate Burkart “Twisted Wind” FLAC (Luckystar, US)

Svengali/conflict-of-interest alert: Kate‘s my partner.

Like all musicians, she misses practicing with her band, and playing live. Being homebound, however, just means you have to get creative — both with your art, and ways to go about ensuring it’s heard.

This song was born on acoustic guitar via a voice-memo iPhone demo. James DePrato then, remotely, took the project under his wing with impressive one-man band instrumentation via Dropbox. Kate added a distanced vocal performance in an isolation booth, and the result is “Twisted Wind.” Kate’s son, Will, put together the video using some of my photos.

Kate deftly distills — and, exorcises, perhaps — the pandemic-related internal conflicts many of us are feeling…in her characteristically direct, yet nuanced, manner. Please check out the song, and tell your friends.

Brian Eno Film Music 1976 ~ 2020 2xLP (Opal Records/UMC, EU)

It’s always good to have newer (or, at least, unheard) material from Eno; there are seven previously-unreleased tracks here. “Blood Red” is among my favorites; it’s more compositionally dense than most of his instrumental work, and doesn’t particularly sound like the Eno I came to love around the time of Music for Films. Appreciation to Opal/UMC for, again, including a download coupon for a full-resolution .wav copy of the album. And the LP presentation is wonderful: a gatefold laminate-stock sleeve emblazoned with a colorful collage; extensive notes on sources are included. No one can collage disparate yet simple sounds into an intriguing and beguiling whole the way Brian Eno can, and the packaging elaborates upon and reinforces that point.

Brian Eno Rams – Original Soundtrack Album 2xLP (UMC, Opal Records, Film First, EU)

In the next month or so I plan to see the Dieter Rams documentary ($4.99 to rent on Amazon) for which this music was composed, if only to gain some context for the sounds.

While possibly not relevant to the finished project, I wonder how many of these tracks were collected from Eno’s hard drives full of random sketches…and how many were composed especially for the documentary? Regardless, there’s some good stuff here, context-less as it is for me at the moment of this scribbling.

Clarice Jensen The Experience of Repetition As Death LP (Fatcat, UK)

Among a disappointing (yes, an understatement) year, one particular — and, admittedly, relatively minor — downer was A Winged Victory for the Sullen canceling its April tour stop at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Opener for that show would have been Clarice Jensen. We can take some consolation from her indescribably otherworldly album of experimental — yet lovely, and listenable — instrumental cello compositions. Along with Hildur Guðnadóttir, Jensen is moving the cello towards the 22nd century, centering innovative recording techniques with a focus on expanding the possibilities of her instrument.

K. Leimer A Figure of Loss CD (Palace of Lights, US)

K. Leimer Slight, Far FLAC (Longform Editions, Australia)

Loss is a contemplative musical meditation on the current socio-political climate in the US (and the world). There’s a sad stillness to the presentation, but, taken as a whole, there is a sense of hope, as well.

Slight, Far is a single 32-minute track. It reminds me a bit of Eno’s Thursday Afternoon: an unwavering, higher-pitched, airy drone is the backdrop. In the foreground are gently percussive sounds and floating keyboard pads. There is tension, but the piece also works as a relaxing ambient/environmental piece.

Less Bells Mourning Jewelry LP (Kranky, US)

One of the top instrumental albums of 2020. Something about this release has the same subtle vibe as certain Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani material — a uniquely aural take on the enigmatic beauty of nature, wrapped up wordless voices atop organically arranged keyboards and synthesizers. Less Bells’ Julie Carpenter is based in Joshua Tree, and you can sense the quiet loveliness of desert dawns and dusks in these compositions. A truly gorgeous album, one you can easily lose yourself within, and I eagerly look forward to more.

Roedelius Selbstportrait Wahre Liebe LP (Bureau B, Germany)

The Selbstportrait series’s unfailing beauty, now in its fifth (!) decade, continues to delight. There is a certain out-of-time element to these instrumentals; many sound as though they could’ve been performed in the late seventies or early eighties, while also retaining a modern approach and appreciation for all that’s passed under the musical bridge since then. Fans of Jardin au Fou and Lustwandel, too, will find much to love here. This release confirms Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a treasure in the pantheon of keyboard musicians.

Best reissues

Be Bop Deluxe Modern Music 4xCD + DVD + book (Esoteric, UK)

A many-layered, many disc’d reissue of a seventies classic that reveals more with each listen. Some may posit progressive/art-rock hasn’t aged well. Modern Music remains relevant and, yes, fresh, year after year. “Timeless” and “essential” are words tossed ’round lazily and frequently by the most recumbent of rawk journalists, but they’re two very appropriate adjectives here.

Haruomi Hosono Philharmony SACD

The 1982 solo album from YMO founder Harry Hosono is a techno-pop masterpiece, and the SACD mastering gives the work a tight, deep sparkle that makes it sound all new. “Living-Dining-Kitchen” and “Sports Men” dazzle, and the instrumental tracks presage the ambient direction Hosono honed on Mercuric Dance. Sample-heavy interludes “Picnic” and the title track are early examples of how the human voice can be keyboard-manipulated in a manner most pleasing. Classic.

Bill Nelson Transcorder – the Acquitted By Mirrors recordings (2xCD)

Following the disbanding of Be Bop Deluxe, and his Red Noise project, Nelson embarked on a solo career — one which continues to this day. Beginning in 1982, these four-track recordings were included as 7-inch singles in his self-published Acquitted By Mirrors fan-club publication. The series still sounds amazing, especially “Sleepcycle”, “Konny Buys a Kodak”, and “The Beat That Can’t Go Wrong Today.” A very-necessary and long-overdue compilation from one of art-rock’s most imaginative and prolific visionaries.

Best digital remaster for vinyl:

YMO Technodon SACD, LP

This 1993 reunion album was a thing of beauty when released, and, having never been available on LP ’til now, sounds even better on this analog remaster. Few, if any, of YMO/Yellow Magic Orchestra’s recordings come across as dated; Technodon ‘s electro-dub/pop remains most salient, adventurous, and eminently listenable.


Kendra Atleework Miracle Country book (Algonquin Books, US)

This book is a wonder and a whirlwind, among many other things.

It’s a love letter to the desert and mountain landscapes of the Eastern Sierra. It’s a rumination on land, water, and climate policy. It’s a family history. It’s a political, social, scientific, and cultural examination of the complex, and often violent, conflicts that distinguish the Owens Valley as a place borne of plunder and displacement.

Atleework — with irresistible momentum and poetic flair — blends historical context and insightful literary references with personal experience, and crafts a diamond of a memoir that succeeds on each of its myriad facets, while also cohering into a satisfying — and, often, magical — whole.

It’s a work that will occupy a worthy place on your bookshelf, adjacent to Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire.

Abraham Hoffman Mono Lake: From Dead Sea to Environmental Treasure book (University of New Mexico Press, 2014)

A modern history of my favorite place, with emphasis on mining and agriculture in the 19th- and early-20th centuries, and (somewhat futile) efforts to make the Basin a recreation destination. An expansive, yet detailed, overview of an area that will always inspire and enthrall me.

Richard Powers The Overstory book (W.W. Norton, 2018)

This is a book that won’t allow the reader to be lazy. If you’re not fully engaged, you won’t appreciate it. I’ll try not to spoil the approach for those who’ve yet to experience it, but it involves interlocking stories — many that could stand alone — tracing lifetimes. The theme: Trees. I was spellbound.

Bruce Licher Savage Impressions: An Aesthetic Expedition Through The Archives of Independent Project Records & Press book (P22 Type Foundry, US)

A near-overwhelming retrospective covering the output of Independent Project Press (LA -> Sedona -> Bishop), Savage Impressions is a pulchritudinous object, itself, as all essential coffee-table books should be. From Bruce Licher’s early days at UCLA, through his founding of Savage Republic, and up to and including his present letterpress print shop operation and art gallery in Bishop, CA, it documents a life devoted to music, culture, and beautiful printed things. Disclosure: I would say all these things even if Bruce wasn’t a friend.


After Life (Netflix)

Ricky Gervais doing some serious method; this, and a terrific ensemble cast, means season 2 is a must.

Anne with an E (Netflix)

The second and third seasons, especially, struck me as a tad too sledgehammer-y in their reverse-anachronism moralizing, but the series, as a whole, is elevated by emotively believable acting from a well-cast array of talent.

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (HBO)

Ever since seeing HBO’s Angels In America, I’ve been fascinated with the complexities that were Roy Cohn. His connection to Trump, detailed here, is just the rancid icing on a very evil cake.

John Was Trying To Contact Aliens Matthew Killip (Netflix)

I wanted it to be about six or seven times longer than it was. If you have 15 minutes to spare, please watch this.

Patton Oswalt I Love Everything (Netflix)

Another tarnished jewel of a performance from Oswalt. Painfully hilarious insights result in consistent belly-laughs throughout.

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

We’re watching one installment every Sunday night, and only four episodes in… we look forward to this every week. It’s a narrative that’s irresistible, with a unique plot line, and uncannily stunning acting, all showcased with impeccable art direction. I would never have thought watching people play chess could be this entrancing.

The Last Days of August (podcast, Jon Ronson, 2019)

A harrowing examination of the circumstances and personalities leading to the 2017 suicide of adult film star August Ames. Ronson tells a complex story with grace, integrity, humility, and sensitivity. The extended podcast series is a lesson in journalism and storytelling, as well as expectations; you think you know where it’s going, and how it ends. You don’t. The resolution is riveting and devastating.



Kobe Bryant
Harold Budd
Spencer Davis
Kirk Douglas
Andy Gill
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Olivia de Havilland
Buck Henry
Terry Jones
Toshinoro Kondo
John Lewis
Little Richard
Barry Lopez
Lyle Mays
Ennio Morricone
Neal Peart
Charlie Pride
John Prine
Bill Rieflin
Diana Rigg
David Roback
Florian Schneider
Matty Simmons
McCoy Tyner
Eddie Van Halen
Andy Weatherall
Leslie West
Ian Whitcomb
Fred Willard
Hal Willner
Bill Withers