FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2014

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1. Valerio Tricoli, Miserio Lares (PAN)

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2. Su Wai, Gita Pon Yeik (Little Axe)

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3. Ian William Craig, Turn Of Breath (Recital)

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4. Zeitkratzer, Metal Machine Music (Karlrecords)

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5. Oren Ambarchi, Quixotism (Editions Mego)

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6. Grouper, Ruins (Kranky)

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7. Lee Gamble, KOCH (PAN)

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8. Lawrence English, Wilderness of Mirrors (Room 40)

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9. Eric Holm, Andøya (Subtext)

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10. Skogen, Despairs Had Governed Me Too Long (Another Timbre)

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11. The Inward Circles, Nimrod is Lost in Orion and Osyris In The Doggestarre (Corbel Stone Press)

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12. Fennesz, Bécs (Editions Mego)

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13. Duane Pitre and Cory Allen, The Seeker And The Healer (Students Of Decay)

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14. John Edwards, Mark Sanders and John Tilbury, A Field Perpetually At The Edge Of Disorder (Fataka)

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15. P Jørgensen, Gold Beach (Low Point)

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16. Jenny Hval and Susanna, Meshes Of Voice (Susanna Sonata)

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17. Robert Curgenven, SIRÉNE (Recorded Fields)

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18. Peter Brötzmann & Jason Adasiewicz, Mollie’s In The Mood (Brö)

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19. Rhodri Davies, An Air Swept Clear Of All Distance (Alt Vinyl)

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20. John Chantler, Even Clean Hands Damage The Work (Room 40)

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21. Andrea Belfi, Natura Morta (Miasmah)

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22. Objekt, Flatland (PAN)

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23. Hallock Hill, Kosloff Mansion (Hundred Acre Recordings)

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24. Sir Richard Bishop, Solo Acoustic Volume Eight (VDSQ)

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25. N.E.W., Motion (Dancing Wayang)

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FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2013

rashad

1 Rashad Becker – Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol.1

dennis johnson

2 Dennis Johnson – November

okkyung

3 Okkyung Lee – Ghil

antti

4 Antti Tolvi – Pianoketo

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5 Roscoe Mitchell, Tony Marsh and John Edwards – Improvisations

loderbauer

6 Max Loderbauer – Transparenz

tilbury ambarchi

7 John Tilbury and Oren Ambarchi – The Just Reproach

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8 Paul Metzger – Tombeaux

Simon-Fisher-Turner-The-Epic-Of-Everest

9 Simon Fisher Turner – The Epic Of Everest

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10 Pat Thomas – Al-Khwarizmi Variations

thestranger

11 The Stranger – Watching Dead Empires In Decay

idassane

12 Idassane Wallet Mohamed – Issawat

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13 The Necks – Open

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14 Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet – Photographs

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15 Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, John Edwards, Tony Marsh and John Butcher – Quintet-Sextet

chris watson

16 Chris Watson – In St Cuthbert’s Time

pauljeb

17 Paul Jebanasam – Rites

orcutt

18 Bill Orcutt – A History Of Every One

anthonychild

19 Anthony Child – The Space Between People & Things

wandermude

20 Stephan Mathieu and David Sylvian ‎– Wandermüde

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2012

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1 Hildur Guðnadóttir – Leyfðu Ljósinu

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2 Jacques Brodier – Filtre De Réalité

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3 Actress – RIP

pelt

4 Pelt – Effigy

keszlermcphee

5 Joe McPhee and Eli Keszler – Ithaca

gamble

6 Lee Gamble – Dutch Tvashar Plumes

hallock

7 Hallock Hill – A Hem Of Evening

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8 Grischa Lichtenberger – And.IV (inertia)

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9 Richard Skelton – Verse Of Birds

shackleton

10 Shackleton – Music For The Quiet Hour

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11 Helm – Impossible Symmetry

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12 Sebastian Lexer, Eddie Prévost & Seymour Wright – Impossibility in its Purest Form

koner

13 Thomas Köner – Novaya Zemlya

raime

14 Raime – Quarter Turns Over A Living Line

msott

15 Motion Sickness of Time Travel – Motion Sickness of Time Travel

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16 Icarus – Fake Fish Distribution

Imikuzushi

17 Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke – Imikuzushi

Palimpsest

18 Sylvain Chauveau and Stephan Mathieu – Palimpsest

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19 Tetras – Pareidolia

superstorms

20 Superstorms – Superstorms

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2011

Fullman

1 Ellen Fullman, Through Glass Panes (Important)

El Tren Fantasma

2 Chris Watson, El Tren Fantasma (Touch)

Alien Observer

3 Grouper, AIA Dream Loss/Alien Observer (Yellow Electric)

Evans

4 Peter Evans, Beyond Civilised And Primitive (Dancing Wayang)

Peacock

5 Michael Chapman, The Resurrection And Revenge Of The Clayton Peacock (Ecstatic Peace)

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6 Julia Holter, Tragedy (Leaving Records)

Static Place

7 Stephan Mathieu, A Static Place (12k)

okkyungminton

8 Okkyung Lee/Phil Minton, Anicca (Dancing Wayang)

Dygas

9 Margaret Dygas, Margaret Dygas (Perlon)

Orcutt

10 Bill Orcutt, How The Thing Sings (Editions Mego)

welch

11 Gillian Welch, Harrow And The Harvest (Acony)

matana

12 Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens De Couleur Libres (Constellation)

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13 Joe McPhee/Chris Corsano, Under A Double Moon (Roaratorio)

Luminous

14 John Chantler, The Luminous Ground (Room40)

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15 Daniel Menche, Feral (Sub Rosa)

khyam

16 Khyam Allami, Resonance/Dissonance (Nawa Recordings)

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17 Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides, Low Fired Clay Escape (Carnival)

cut hands

18 Cut Hands, Afro Noise (Some Friendly)

Hval

19 Jenny Hval, Viscera (Rune Grammofon)

muller

20 Jurgen Muller, Science Of The Sea (Digitalis)

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2010

1. Keith Fullerton Whitman, Disingenuity/Disingenuousness (Pan): After a relatively quite couple of years, the sounds of Keith Fullerton Whitman’s modular synth completely filled 2010. More than just being another great KFW release, this gorgeous slab of vinyl was an homage to his heroes, a distillation of 50 years of electronic music into just under forty minutes.

2. Richard Skelton, Landings (Type): It seems almost unfair to include this on a list of albums, for this was so much more. Richard Skelton’s Landings Diaries elevated this into a compelling study of grief and renewal, achieved in collusion with the landscapes and ruined farmhouses of the Pennine moors. A remarkable achievement, even by Skelton’s remarkable standards.

3. Philip Jeck, An Ark For The Listener (Touch): Jeck’s rumination on a stanza from Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “The Wreck of the Deutchsland” may have marked a return to familiar themes after his involvement in a version of The Sinking Of The Titanic, but the depth was greater. On An Ark For The Listener he was (w)ringing some crackly recordings of bells for all they were worth, summoning the all of water.

4. Rangers, Suburban Tours (Olde English Spelling Bee): The Olde English Spelling Bee label was really on it this year, whatever the hell “it” actually was. On Suburban Tours, Joe Knight taped 80s FM pop and funk to mangled cassettes and took them for a cruise around his native San Francisco. This strange, wholly other sound transported you somewhere totally alien.

5. Oval, O (Thrill Jockey): In the ten (ten!) years that have passed since his last full-length release, Markus Popp has deconstructed his musical approach to the point where all that are left are these tiny, sparkling shards of pure sound. On his new double album O he arranged these fastidiously into tight little rhythmic constructions, to dazzling effect. Welcome back. 

6. Eleh, Location Momentum (Touch): Oh please, compiling this list is hard enough without making me choose which record to include by the mysterious master of analogue drone, Eleh (his new ones on Important, perhaps thankfully, have arrived too late). His first CD was released, appropriately enough, by those sonic obsessives over at Touch, and tickled the ears in all the right places.

7. Chris Abrahams, Play Scar (Room40): In which synthesizers, a ruined old church organ and a Hammond all fall under the spell, and the fingers of Necks pianist Abrahams. This is a far more diverse and more intricate set than you’d expect given his role in that most minimalist of piano trios: the track “Twig Blown” even shows off some impressive musique concrete chops.

8. Mark Fell, Multistability (Raster-Noton): On Multistability, Fell (one half of Sheffield’s SND) exploited the contrasts between different electronic rhythms, tempos and textures, producing an album that confused and disorientated as much as it excited and fascinated. It sounded like nothing else this year, least of all his own simultaneously released UL8 album for eMego.

9. Demdike Stare, Voices Of Dust (Modern Love): The closing part of their excellent 2010 trilogy contained possibly its most ecstatic moment in “Hashshashin Chant”, but also some of its darkest, as evidenced by track titles like “Of Decay And Shadows” and “Rain And Shame”. Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty’s journey into otherness just keeps getting blacker, stranger, and better.

10. Clang Sayne, Winterlands (Clang Sayne): My favourite band working out on the lightly-patrolled frontier between classic-sounding folk song and improvised jazz/noise, this album from Laura Hylands’s Clang Sayne project managed to be both lyrically affecting and musically exciting. A thrillingly ragged and raw-sounding debut which promises much for the 2011 follow-up.

11. Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me (Drag City)

12. Evan Caminiti, West Winds (Three Lobed)

13. Autechre, Oversteps (Warp)

14. Mats Gustafsson, Needs! (Dancing Wayang)

15. Emeralds, Does It look Like I’m Here (Editions Mego) <

16. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Love Is A Stream (Type)

17. Pan Sonic, Gravitoni (Blast First Petite) <

18. Supersilent, 10 (Rune Grammofon)

19. Forest Swords, Dagger Paths (Olde English Spelling Bee)

20. Pausal, Lapses (Barge)

FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2009

David Sylvian

1. David Sylvian, Manafon (Samadhisound): If ever a record felt like a culmination of a life’s exploration, this was it. In positioning that striking voice and those disarming lyrics in an avant-improvisational setting, with some top class collaborators, Sylvian truly reached a new frontier, with this, the year’s best. Where can he go next? I for one can’t wait to find out.

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Moritz von Oswald Trio, Vertical Ascent (Honest Jons): It took me quite some time to appreciate just how good Vertical Ascent actually is, but with each play, new layers of rhythmic and textural fascination were revealed to me. Vertical Ascent is a welcome return to health and form for the peerless Moritz von Oswald, featured here with Max Loderbauer and Sasu Ripatti.

The Necks

3. The Necks, Silverwater (ReR): Impetuous it may be to put a record only released a few weeks ago so very close to the top of the pile, but Silverwater has all the hallmarks of a classic. Australian trio The Necks added to their trademark none-more-patient sound with kosmiche keyboards and guitar, but retained and built upon their intuitive sense of dynamics. The results were truly magnificent.

Bill Orcutt

4. Bill Orcutt, A New Way To Pay Old Debts (Palilalia):

This was another stunning comeback which sailed into the top twenty, this time for the long-time-missed Bill Orcutt (of Harry Pussy fame). Orcutt’s solo demolishment and reconstruction of the (four-string) guitar resulted in the most outrageously thrilling record of the year. Given the justifiable demand, a hasty repress was required of this too-limited release.

Leyland Kirby

5. Leyland Kirby, Sadly The Future Is No Longer What It Was (HAFTW): If there was an award for longest track titles or for most confusing format of the year Kirby’s triple double set Sadly The Future Is No Longer What It Was would have been a shoo-in. Happily these many many words and sides also contained some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful work of Kirby’s career.

Peter Wright

6. Peter Wright, Snowblind (Install): After an inordinate delay, Wright’s Snowblind finally made an appearance. The cause of the delay still baffles: this was the pick of the albums Wright released this year, and probably even of his career. This incredibly ambitious work spread all manner of highly atmospheric ambient and harsh noisescapes across its two discs.

Broadcast and the Focus Group

7. Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age (Warp): The idea of pairing Broadcast with the music and/or visuals of Ghost Box co-founder Julian House (with his Focus Group) was a good one on paper, and also on stage. Happily, the album also surpassed all expectations with its intoxicating collage of brightly-coloured retro-cinematics.

Sunn O)))

8. Sunn 0))), Monoliths and Dimensions (Southern Lord): With strings and brass mixing with black metal vocals and huge walls of guitar, this latest salvo from Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson could have been an unholy and unlistenable mess. Not so. All those elements combined to produce a layered work of extraordinary power, with the trombone of Julian Priester transporting it heavenwards.

Eleh

9. Eleh, Homage To The Sine Wave (Taiga): Just who is the mysterious Eleh? And how can he make so much out of seemingly so little? “Volume Reveals Detail’ proclaim the records, and this was no exception: a hypnotic trip into the microscopic qualities of sound itself. Getting your head into the prescribed position to get the most of this required a tape measure and perhaps some gymnastics.

Kevin Drumm

10. Kevin Drumm, Imperial Horizon (Hospital Productions): The follow up to last year’s Imperial Distortion mined similar ground to similar chart-bothering effect. Imperial Horizon is all shadows and reflections, with little hard surface, but may well be Kevin Drumm’s minimalist masterpiece. Its one track stretched on and on, but even the slightest shift in its deep drones was hypnotic in its power.

Tuma Weis

11. Scott Tuma and Mike Weis, Taradiddle (Digitalis): From the hazy fragments of Tuma’s guitar (Tuma’s Not For You was one that should have made last year’s list, to be honest) and Weis’s percussion, these two fashioned their own dreamlike soundworld, a mix of deep, swirling, blurry atmospheres and strange emotions. This LP was the pick of another great year for the Digitalis label.

Hildur Gudnadottir

12. Hildur Gudnadottir, Without Sinking (Touch): This was an album which seemed to touch the hearts of those I enthusiastically recommended it to this year. And there were quite a few. It was a record seemingly unlike any other Touch release, but on Without Sinking, Gudnadottir’s cello seemed to illuminate a sky full of wondrous cloud formations.

Emeralds

13. Emeralds, Emeralds (Gneiss Things): Not ones to willingly court the notion of selling any records, this limited edition CDR from the hypanogic front-runners Emeralds became a marginally less-limited LP run, bringing this stunning set of mind-expanding kosmiche to a (slightly) wider audience. Those failing to secure a copy should check out What Happened from earlier in 09.

Monolake

14. Monolake, Silence (Imbalance): Given that it wasn’t released until December, Monolake’s Silence will probably have missed the boat for most other year-end lists. Shame on them. Don’t miss out: Silence built effortlessly on Polygon Cities with a collection of rhythms and sounds that were put together with a perfectionist’s ear. Sonically, nothing was sharper.

Alva Noto15. Alva Noto, Xerrox Vol.2 (Raster-Noton): The second of Carsten Nicolai’s five (five!) planned Xerrox volumes contained some surprisingly powerful emotional themes, but you had to wade through layer upon layer of uncompromising electronic noise to reach them. As ever with Nicolai, your efforts any efforts thus expended were well rewarded in the end.

Daniel Higgs

16. Daniel Higgs, Hymnprovisations For Banjo With Piano AND Raindrops (iDEAL): That lengthy title tells you everything you need to know about this album from ex-Lungfish member Daniel Higgs, other than its absolute genius. The expected, experimental and wholly excellent banjo expositions were supplemented by ghostly gamelan-like piano and Scottish storms.

Black To Comm

17. Black To Comm, Alphabet 1968 (Type): Alphabet 1968, the remarkable new work by the Dekorder label’s Marc Richter, set the seal on a stunning year for another label: the thoroughly rejuvenated Type Records. It ran the gamut from Gas-aping rhythms to the murkiest of drone, but somehow it retained a compellingly cohesive feel. His best to date, I thought.

Isambard Khroustaliov

18. Isambard Khroustaliov, Ohka (Not-Applicable): Since the last Icarus album Sylt, the projects of Isambard Khroustaliov (better known as Sam Britton) have taken him further and further out into more abstract compositional and improvisational fields. His new album Ohka is the culmination of that journey, a fastidiously-constructed and starkly monochrome collage of the classical and the electronic.

Tara Jane O'Neil

19. Tara Jane O’Neil, A Ways Away (K): Songs. Yes, proper songs. In my end of year list. Truth be told, there was much more to this album by Portland, Oregon’s Tara Jane O’Neil than initially met the eye. It took those songs, a beautifully-voiced hushed folk music as a starting point for its exploration into some much darker instrumental territory. A real tonic.

Ben frost

20. Ben Frost, By The Throat (Bedroom Community): Building on his last release The Theory Of machines, sonic terror Ben Frost upped the horror ante with the dark cinematics of By The Throat. Who else in 2009 managed to make a bass sound like a baying pack of wolves? No-one. In the list it goes.