5. Library music For evidence that the past resides in and fuels the present, go to the library. Specifically, to the abundant compilations and Web sites dedicated to library music — the scores of incidental music produced and recorded for soundtrack use on film, television, and radio. In the wake of his gorgeous book The Music Library (Fuel Publishing), Jonny Trunk released more albums devoted to library labels. The Parisian DJs Alexis Le-Tan and Jess put out a pair of Space Oddities library collections — one electronic, one psychedelic — on Permanent Vacation. Wax Poetics published a lengthy piece to the subject. In an interview, Trunk noted that his Scrapbook (Trunk) shares the same fast-change aesthetics of Broadcast and the Focus Group's hauntological recordings, just one example of how library music of the past forms the music of now.
6. The new ambient The new ambient is not afraid of extreme melancholy, or long compositions — no longer only Kompact, it can be epic. One of the form's peak representatives is San Francisco's Brock Van Wey, whose White Clouds Drift On and On (Echospace) bravely strived for, and sometimes reached, sublime solitude. Another was Klimek, whose Movies is Magic (Anticipate), on which a track such as "pathetic and dangerous" lives up to its death-knell title. The last was Leyland Kirby. His three-CD contribution sums up the current moment in both its title and the name of its label: Sadly, the Future is No Longer What it Was (History Always Favours the Winners).
7. 2009=1989, synthpop and shoegaze I explored this theme in last week's Decade in Music issue. See: Atlas Siund (in particular "Shelia,"), Crocodiles, Fuck Buttons, Loop, Night Control, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Washed Out (responsible for two of this year's most gorgeous tracks, "Belong" and "Hold Out"), Wavves, and the xx.
8. How old is now? As the music industry continues to fracture, reissues or uncovered old sounds were as vital and revelatory as new releases. In San Francisco, this meant new rereleases by San Francisco Express, the Units, and most excitingly, Honey Soundsystem's work on behalf of Patrick Cowley and Jorge Socarras' Catholic project. Beyond SF, it meant a one-of-a-kind treasure like Connie Converse's How Sad, How Lovely (Lau derette): one woman, one guitar, one tape recorder, and perhaps the best music of this sad, lovely year.