Top albums: 2019
Done in reverse order 20 to 1 for extra suspense. Originally shared on Insta but now here with links to listen :o
20. Body Meat - Truck Music
Weirdo pop music I imagine art school students might vibe to. Kinda like if Jlin made a record in Uganda with Jai Paul.
19. Telefon Tel Aviv - Dreams Are Not Enough
Formidable return from the Nine Inch Nails & Vatican Shadow collaborator whose last album ended in tragedy when one of the band members took their own life the day before its release. A moving IDM album that’s simultaneously grief-stricken and hopeful.
18. Jeromes Dream - LP
Absolutely mental screamo record crammed full of musical ideas and megaphone-style vocals. Despite the +15 year hiatus, the band sound like they’ve been playing together every day since their last album (released back in 2001!)
17. Pollari - Lil Jesus 2
Mixtape from SoundCloud rapper that’s the audible equivalent of drinking Molasses treacle. I hope this guy blows up.
16. Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q.
Maybe the most unapproachable album in this list (and that’s before we even get to Hunter Hunt-Hendrix many essays and theoretical frameworks around the ‘transcendental black metal’ label she coined). Enjoying the glitchy, ‘we installed Ableton and now we love it’ stylistic additions on H. A. Q. Q.. ‘God Of Love’ and the ‘Exaco’ interludes are fucking incredible.
15. S S S S - Walls, Corridors, Baffles
A pretty hard record to define but a very powerful listen. Droney, quite menacing, very good. To my ear, the end result falls somewhere between GAS and Lanark Artefax.
14. Lorraine James - For You And I
The most listed album on end of year lists (and deservedly so). Densely rich club freak-outs. If deconstructed club music sounded more like this I’d still be into it.
13. Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel
Abrasive noise rock record. If you like black midi or even Death Grips, you’ll probably love this.
12. Ecco2k - E
Debut album from the Drain Gang/Sad Boys member showcasing his Marmite, autotuned-R&B-meets-emo style but I’m a sucker for that - not gonna lie. 🖤
11. Show Me The Body - Dog Whistle
Raw, political, banjo-filled hardcore. ‘USA Lullaby’ is one of my favourite album-closers. Period.
10. Slugabed - any attempt to control the environment or the self…
Activia Benz head honcho really pulled it out of the bag with his new (and lengthily titled) third album. The wider array of sounds on this album, including sax solos and math rock-esque guitar licks, is a brilliant addition to the playful and daring hip hop beats we’ve come to expect from Slugabed.
9. Emptyset - Blossoms
Bristol’s Emptyset continue their ongoing experiments in analogue sound manipulation with an album built up from hours of improvised recordings of wood, metal and drum skin hits. This vast array of samples was fed into a machine learning system that tried to recognise patterns from these large data sets with absolutely enthralling results.
8. Boris - LOVE & EVOL
For their TWENTY FIFTH album, the Japanese noise rockers signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records and (in my opinion) greatly benefitted from the uplift in production quality this has resulted in. As an album of two halves intended to highlight the breadth of their sound, there’s as many serenely beautiful moments on tracks like ‘In The Pain’ and ‘Away From You’ as there are doom-ladened breakdowns on tracks like ‘Uzume’ and ‘Coma’.
7. Rainer Veil - Vanity
Manchester’s Modern Love imprint is literally unable to put out a weirdo dance record that falls anything short of brilliant. Last year, I was obsessing over their Demdike Stare release and this year I can’t stop listening to Rainer Veil. A superb debut album full of dense textures that veer seamlessly from melancholy to euphoria. Definitely one that fans of Andy Stott or Aphex Twin will be into.
6. Caterina Barbieri - Ecstatic Computation
One of the most moving pieces of electronic music I’ve ever come across. Hard one to describe but, if there was a gun to my head, I’d say something wanky a journalist might say like ‘trancy-IDM-meets-baroque.’ I was lucky enough to catch her perform this EP live which was unreal, especially ‘Arrows of Time’.
5. Oli XL - Rogue Intruder, Soul Enhancer
Oli XL perfectly described the musical journey leading up to ‘Rogue Intruder, Soul Enhancer’ during an interview with @slavbride69 last year; “I always knew exactly how I wanted my music to sound. It just took me some time to figure out how to get there. With this release, I finally arrived.” Earlier releases on his W — I imprint showed incredible promise and creativity but just fell away ever so slightly when it came to execution. This formidable debut album (made almost entirely out of reconstituted samples) floats effortlessly between ambient moments like ‘DnL’ or ‘Imposter’ to cerebral 2-step tracks like ‘Clumsy’ or ‘Liquid Love’. Full of unique ideas and dreamy textures, you can easily find new things to love about this album every time you listen to it.
4. Kai Whiston - No World as Good as Mine
With a release rate over the past few years that averages out at two albums/EPs per year, Kai Whiston has been hard at work refining his ‘outsider’ sound that can’t easily be defined within the cannon of electronic music. After slightly messier releases like 2018’s ‘Kai Whiston Bitch’, ‘NWAGAM’ finally realises the singular, abrasive-yet-catchy sound he’s been cultivating in it’s most nuanced and refined form. Almost like a perfect mix the two next albums in the list, Kai marries the hyper-pop melodies we have come to expect from him and his fellow label-mate Iglooghost with a new direction in live-recorded instrumentation which emphasises angular guitar licks and complex drumming patterns. If you do check out this album, make sure you stick around for the epic 14-minute closer ‘IV - No World’.
3. Quadrupède - Interiors
The Le Mans math rockers have followed up their insane debut ‘T O B O G A N’ with this even more nutty collection,‘Interiors’. Continuing their experimentation in collapsing the dichotomy between noisy guitars and glitched-out electronics, this album sees the two-piece push the sound even further than on their first offering. Whilst the synths were somewhat privileged over the At The Drive In-esque guitar elements on ‘T O B O G A N’, here, the two sides of Quadrupède’s instrumentation are on a far more level footing. The drums are furious, the production quality is brilliant (especially for a presumably low-budget album) and the band’s unpredictable song structures always keep you on your toes.
2. 100 Gecs - 1000 Gecs
Probably the trashiest thing I’ve ever listened to; 100 Gecs is what happens if you blitz mid-noughties crunkcore, trance, PC Music, brostep & breakbeat in a blender. Whilst this ‘smash and grab’ approach doesn’t really work on paper, I implore you to go and check out ‘Ringtone’ or ‘Money Machine’ if you haven’t already and tell me it doesn’t make you smile and headbang uncontrollably. The pair have an incredible ear for melody, absurd song arrangements and very 21st century lyrics EG: ‘Put it on vibrate when I’m with you’ or the inspired ‘Fuck sleep and his cousin, yeah.’
- Shlohmo - Share (Music from the HBO film)
I’m so not usually a regular listener of soundtracks but this year I kept coming back to Shlohmo’s captivating soundtrack for ‘Share’. Since 2012’s ‘Vacation EP’, the LA producer’s sound has taken on a more functional instrumental hip hop direction which misses out on some of the brilliance of the weirder parts of his 2009–11 output. This release takes me right back to being 15 and listening to songs like ‘Sink’ or ‘Ghosts pt. 2’, albeit, this time, Shlohmo’s sound is more cinematic and emotive than anything I’ve heard from him before.
2020 list soon come…