As I Said before, feel free to send in your own lists, and I’ll publish them towards the end of the year.
Here are my thirty albums of the year, then. There have been a lot of good records issued this year, but only half a dozen or so really great ones. Though there are a fair few things on my ‘to hear’ list which might fall into that category.
10. OUR SLEEPLESS FOREST – Our Sleepless Forest (Resonant)
The last release by Resonant records, and one of their best. Our Sleepless Forest mix a heady brew of dub, drone, post-rock ambience and shoegazy guitars into something uniquely theirs.
9. ALVA NOTO – Unitxt (Raster-Noton)
The second half of this CD consists of raw, unmixed data, which is pretty tough going. The first half, though, is some of Carsten Nicolai’s most accessible work, with the machines emitting some diamond hard beats as well as moments that are oddly moving.
8. MURCOF – The Versailles Sessions (Leaf)
In which Fernando Corona takes seventeenth century melodies and instrumentation, and transforms them into something weirdly alien – like that episode of Doctor Who set in the court of Louis XVI.
7. AUTECHRE – Quaristice (Warp)
This got mixed reactions when it came out, which I didn’t understand then, and still don’t. Autechre were in danger of painting themselves into a corner, and this album saw a radical shift in focus. Shorter tracks, beatless tracks – it had a greater variety of material than anything they’ve done in the past, and managed to be both forward-thinking and yet accessible at the same time.
6. THE BLACK DOG – Radio Scarecrow (Soma)
The Black Dog’s best work since 1995’s Spanners, this was unashamedly melodic and emotional electronica in an old school style. But it was far from being simply a piece of nineties nostalgia. A terrific and rewarding record.
5. EVANGELISTA – Hello, Voyager (Constellation)
Carla Bozulich’s second album for Constellation was, if anything, even more harrowing than the first. More than just an exercise in soul-bearing, this had the spirit and fire of an exorcism.
4. THEE SILVER MT ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND – 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (Constellation)
Four epic tracks, and no less than a soundtrack to the collapse of capitalism. Probably even more relevant now than it was nine months ago when it came out.
3. FENNESZ – Black Sea (Touch)
In some ways this is one of Christian Fennesz’s most uncompromising records, but it is also his most naked, musically. There are storms of noise, but also passages of quiet acoustic picking, and melodies of austere grace and beauty.
2. JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON – Fordlandia (4AD)
Epic, neo-romantic strings, quiet minimalism, and moments of elegaic splendour. If anything, even better than 2006’s IBM 1401.
1. PORTISHEAD – Third (Island)
After eleven years away, Portishead could have returned with more of the same, sold a zillion copies, and faded into musical irrelevance. Instead, they radically reinvented themselves as an avant-garde rock band, but crucially kept intact the haunted qualities that made them great in the first place. Beth Gibbons has never sounded better, and there was hardly a wasted moment on the whole LP. The wails of betrayal from Middle England just added to the fun!