Annual round-up time! Lots of lovely rekkids this year (I think I say that every year, but it’s true every year!). In the classical/drone/ambient space, I loved records from Clarice Jensen, Lubomyr Melnyk, and Sarah Davachi. In the nice gentle techno space, there were corkers from ASC and (stretching the genre-bucket a bit, here) Automatisme. In the electronic ambient space, I swooned over releases from Abul Mogard and M Geddes Gengras. Elsewhere, I’m sad to miss out albums from Atom™ & Lisokot, IVVVO, and especially Maarja Nuut & Ruum. But the winners are…
- Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Glass. An ambient masterpiece played live on a house that, when it finishes, makes me feel like I’ve been holding my breath for the last half an hour.
- Anna von Hausswolff’s Dead Magic. Drone rock with pipe organs, what’s not to love? It’s got an epic power and also some great tunes and all-in-all it’s a cracking good listen.
- Christina Vantzou’s No. 4. A richly varied classical/drone work of huge invention, with a fantastic control when marshalling the talents of her musicians, a wonderful sense of texture, and a great knack for dropping in the perfect dose of melody at the perfect moment. The whole thing is just delightful. (Her joint record with John Also Bennett gets an honorable mention, too.)
- Eartheater’s IRISIRI. A feminist avant-pop classic which builds disparate and not always easy elements into a coherent whole without seeming forced, and does it absolutely brilliantly. This is a record that I’m sure I’ll be coming back to over and over again for a long time.
- Head Technician’s Profane Architecture. Big and chunky and bouncy and fluid and basically really good retro dark acid techno. And, in case you’re not already sold, it’s themed around brutalist architecture.
Happy New Year, y’all!