Albums of the Year 2015
A year of surprises and a year of puzzles. Where did that Dr. Yen Lo album come from? Why didn’t the Holly Herndon and King Midas Sound albums deliver on their promise? How to explain the appeal of that Datblygu album?
Top 10 Albums
- Dr. Yen Lo – Days with Dr. Yen Lo
Underground rap veterans make a mostly-drumless concept album based around The Manchurian Candidate and it’s an improbably beautiful album of the year.
- Theo Burt – Gloss
Beyond any theoretical obfuscation the Automatics Group dude may run, this clearly sounds like a chip tune cover of an early Oval album. Mind-bogglingly lovely.
- Datblygu – Porwr Trallod
After two decades out of the game “The Welsh Fall” returns with an album that is more inventive and certainly more moving than anything Mark E. Smith has done in many years.
- Jim O’Rourke – Simple Songs
Ludicrous 70s soft-rock schmaltz wedded to horrifyingly misanthropic lyrics. And yet everything is so pitch perfect that the whole is utterly seductive.
- Stephan Mathieu – Before Nostromo
This drone/ambient tribute to the first Alien movie yields one of Mathieu’s darkest and complex albums – and also one of his best.
- Sleaford Mods – Key Markets
A confident return to form after the extremely disappointing Divide & Exit. Still patchy but the best moments are as vividly righteous as they are deliriously vitriolic.
- Max Richter – From Sleep
Perhaps the eight-hour full version of Sleep is the real deal but this condensed version is in itself a real high point among the recent history of post-minimalist composition.
- Heather Leigh – I Abused Animal
Like the Datbygu album, this reduces song form to its bare essentials in order to deliver something incredibly courageous and emotionally raw.
- M.E.S.H. – Piteous Gate
An abstract electronic debut that has the kind of energy and inventiveness you only get when reach exceeds grasp.
- Dasha Rush – Sleepstep
Lovely nocturnal electronica which probably manages to be the lushest album ever released on Raster-Noton, without sacrificing the formal elegance associated with that label.
The Next 10
- Joanna Newsom – Divers
- Alva Noto – Xerrox Vol. 3
- Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden of Delete
- Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Sounding Lines
- Duane Pitre – Bayou Electric
- Holly Herndon – Platform
- King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Edition 1 Instrumentals
- Flying Saucer Attack – Instrumentals 2015
- Rabit – Communion
- Sunn O))) – Kannon
Aine O’Dwyer – Music for Church Cleaners Vol. I & II
Seekers International – Her Imperial Majesty
Mark Van Hoen – Nightvision
Other Great Albums
Tim Catlin & Machinefabriek – Whorls
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year with 13 Moons
Crys Cole – Sand/Layna
Colleen – Captain of None
Ian William Craig – Cradle for Wanting
Sarah Davachi – Baron’s Court
The Fall – Sub-Lingual Tablet
Robin Fox – A Small Prometheus
Yair Elazar Glotman – Etudes
Chihei Hatakeyama – Moonlight Reflecting Over Mountains
Helm – Olympic Mess
Kid606 – Recollected Ambient Works Vol. 1: Bored of Excitement
King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Edition 1
Nicholas Krgovich – On Cahuenga
MED, Blu & Madlib – Bad Neighbor
Neu Balance – Rubber Sole
Vincent Parker – Purge
Philippe Petit – Multicoloured Shadows
Ramzi – Houti Kush
Run the Jewels – Meow the Jewels
Senking – Closing Ice
Wand – 1000 Days
Automatics Group – Summer Mix
General Magic & Pita – Fridge Trax Plus
Arthur Russell – Corn
Loscil – Plume
J Dilla – Dillatronic
Sun City Girls – Torch of the Mystics
Singles, EPs etc.
Kuma – Mine
Loop – Array 1
Loscil – For Greta
Sleaford Mods – Talk Bollocks
Anna Zaradny feat. Christian Fennesz – RE:EM
Oval – Retina Score
The Autechre show in Vancouver was so next-level that it seems reckless to list anything else beside it.
And of Course
There’s loads of stuff I still haven’t heard and probably a few things I’ve forgotten about. Still listening, still learning.