Remembered, of course, as the year we found a monolith on the moon and our Dave did battle with a megalomaniac computer. Oh wait…
AUTECHRE – Confield (Warp)
In 2001, this wouldn’t have been anywhere near my records of the year. Obtuse, difficult, almost defiantly unmusical, and yet repeated plays gradually reveal a heart amongst the cold and forbidding electronics. You just need to work at it to get any rewards, but when they come, they’re rich.
FENNESZ – Endless Summer (Mego)
For many his defining record, for me just the start of a decade of some astonishing music that took the electric guitar into realms that most indie-rock dullards couldn’t even imagine.
FUGAZI – The Argument (Dischord)
As the years pass, the band’s announced hiatus looks more like a full stop than a comma. But if this does turn out to be their last word, it’s good to end on a high mark. Their shows that year were almost inhumanly good.
RADIOHEAD – Amnesiac (Parlophone)
Kid A junior, but just as good.
STARS OF THE LID – The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (Kranky)
A double CD with both discs loading much of the melodic content near the front before gradually decaying away into a series of ghostly drones and fragments. If this was a movie, it would be directed by Bela Tarr and definitely not by Michael Bay.
TINDERSTICKS – Can Our Love… (Beggar’s Banquet)
The cover features a doleful old creature and a donkey. The music is Tindersticks on top form, with an injection of deep soul. “Chilitetime” is a total wonder.
WALKABOUTS – Ended Up a Stranger (Glitterhouse)
From their roots as a kind of alt-country grunge acts to this was an almost seamless ride. Ended Up a Stranger is a twilight album full of loss and regret, culminating in a title track where Chris Eckman comes over as a mere shell of a man, long since emptied of any purpose.
GILLIAN WELCH – Time (The Revelator) (Acony)
Welch and partner David Rawlings took their modern take on bluegrass to new levels of emotion. Sometimes wistful, sometimes carefree, but often careworn and sounding like the nostalgic recollections of a woman twice her age
SUSUMU YOKOTA – Grinning Cat (Leaf)
The prolific Yokota darts between collections of fairly bog-standard house and dreamy, quasi-ambient concoctions of samples and electronica that have a somnambulant quality. This is one of his very best.
THALIA ZEDEK – Been Here and Gone (Matador)
Some years it’s difficult to pick a favourite album. Some years there’s one nailed on choice. 2001 was one of the latter, as Zedek shook me out of my post-Come mourning with a work of absolutely shattering emotion. It’s a long, dark ride into the subconscious but with moments of stunningly pure beauty, such as “1926”.