Writing lists about music is a strange phenomenon. Comparing the complexities of BJ Nilsen to the swaggering exuberance of Big Boi is, frankly, a ludicrous endeavour. However, I do enjoy reading them. I’ve also found I enjoy writing them, or at least I’ve enjoyed listening back to all the great albums of the year. The cataloguing/journal-side of things is oddly satisfying too. In writing this, I realise I’ve probably listened to way too much music this year and could do with taking a bit more time with a choice few. It is all getting a bit obsessive. Anyway, the order can really be taken with a pinch of salt, they are all fantastic. Commence the hyperbole!
01 Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh [Universal]
A lot of the music that appears on these pages is intrinsically experimental, often a little rough round the edges, on a journey to some place or another, not necessarily ‘a finished thing’. But this isn’t. On this record Badu sounds like she’s found her place in the grand scheme of things. This is as close to a perfect record as you could ever really need.
02 Keith Fullerton Whitman – Disingenuity / Disingenuousness [Pan]
Like hearing someone spontaneously exhale a lifetimes worth of memory, inspiration and emotion condensed into thirty thrilling minutes. Mister Whitman is a bleedin’ genius, everything he’s released this year has been unbelievably good.
03 B.J. Nilsen – The Invisible City [Touch]
Epic, intimate, totally beguiling. An astonishing achievement, creating sound that you feel you could wander around to examine its intricacies, a virtual metropolis of noise.
04 Forest Swords – Dagger Paths [Olde English Spelling Bee/No Pain In Pop]
Certainly newcomer of the year, made my memory nodes fizz whilst still exhibiting a truly original sound. Won’t forget the morning when I first heard ‘Miarches’ for a while. Very exciting music.
05 Sun Araw – On Patrol [Not Not Fun]
Intolerably intoxicating in the wrong moments, but when the mind is ready to tune in, it is a totally absorbing, complex delight. For a year that has been a bit overwhelmed by the slow-jam aesthetic, this record stands out a mile in terms of originality and pure groove.
06 Pan Sonic – Gravitoni [Blast First Petite]
Exhilarating intensity. Maybe not one to listen to often, but one you pay attention to when you are. With Pan Finale, probably the perfect ending for Mika Vainio & Ilpo Väisänen’s final release.
07 Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty [Def Jam]
Takes me back to the days when hip hop and skateboarding and hanging out on the top of carparks was pretty much everything. Totally ace.
08 Evan Caminiti – West Winds [Three Lobed Recordings]
This year’s Barn Owl (of whom Caminiti is half) LP was a wee bit disappointing (I had very high expectations). Caminiti’s solo work though is a brilliantly focussed affair; full of space, movement and texture. Anyone that says drone music isn’t emotionally stirring is incorrect.
09 Eleh – Location Momentum [Touch]
A suffocatingly dense monolith of obsessively pure noise. Totally beautiful, it’s very hard to explain why. If you are the sort of person who stops when passing a building site, or when some unexplained mechanical malfunction is occurring somewhere in the distance, to focus on a strange, articulated buzzing noise, you’ll probably understand. Play it loud and let it soak through you.
10 Yellow Swans – Going Places [Type]
One of drone’s finest finally call it a day. And, with it, they drag you painfully through a scorched landscape of such density and texture it leaves you a lacerated mess, a gloopy glob kneeling at the foot of music of great magnitude. It deserves better alliteration than this.
(much more below the line)
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