I haven’t listen to new albums that much but here is my take on it, enjoy.
Ben Frost- The Centre Cannot Hold / Threshold of Faith
first of all, Ben Frost. I had to say it, he did massive job this year, at march he released an OST for a TV series called “fortitude” and it wasn’t my favorite but somehow I listened it a lot while working, it was a pretty long album and it made me lose track of time which is great for working on such an important project. My favorites off this record was Hildur & Erik & Vladek. then he dropped a surprise EP “Threshold of Faith”, as it was expected from him, intense, shimmering and industrial sounds. then he released a fellow-up “The Centre Cannot Hold ” and I honestly don’t know why my friends keep saying it sounds like Hecker, when it doesn’t sound like Hecker at all. when it’s sound more intense and dramatic than Hecker. Personally, I found Hecker’s music the opposite of Ben Frost’s music. Hecker is warm, emotional and ethereal, unlikely of Ben frost. it’s more cold, mechanical and sometimes terrifying. I loved “All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated” since the first time I heard it from the EP but after the album I loved it even more, especially when it ends “ Entropy In Blue ” starts, and these two tracks sound soo good together. if you hear it as one *15 minutes*length track. Also one of my favorite “Ionia“, it’s so catchy and addictive. The album definitely worth the check, it’s slowly grown on me. The only problem is the boring artwork, I wished it was a solid blue with his name. instead of white and blue thing. And ofc extra points for using a verse from Yeats’ The Second Coming poem for the title.
“There aren’t many poems as fitting for our current political climate as W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming.” Written in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I, it describes the radicalization of politics at that time and the overwhelming disillusionment surely felt by anyone hoping for at least a lesson learned from a conflict that mercilessly devastated numerous countries and societies. Spoiler: there wasn’t, and it feels like we haven’t learned anything in the following 98 years either. A grim, if increasingly realistic, assessment. ”
Rafael Anton Irisarri – The Shameless Years / Leandro Fresco and Rafael Anton Irisarri – La equidistancia / Seventeen Words – Gailes
Since Irisarri released A Fragile Geography , I got my eyes on his music. if we look at his discography we will notice that he slowly went from ambient, minimal modern classic to a rich drone and I think we glad that he BOTH did it. The Shameless Years is another solid, consistent, splendid record, it delivers so many emotions under so many thick and heavy layer of noise, & like his other records, he tries to expose the difficult socio-political state of America. Irisarri’s The Shameless Years is bitter, saudade, angry and resigned; heartbreaking. Its hard to forget once experienced. For me, this one is undoubtedly the album of the year. It starts off with “Indefinite Fields” ambient textured with a heavy white noise to cleanse your soul. “RH Negative” the noise on this track is gentle and soothing, it made slightly melancholic and warm, I had to use it for a video experiment of mine. Another thing I liked about this record is the collaboration between him & the Iranian musician Siavash Amini, where they both worked remotely on two tracks. & This collaboration came together at the peak of all the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric happening in the USA, not to mention the banning of Iranians from entering the country, explains Irisarri. The diptych with Amini, ‘Karma Krama’ and ‘The Faithless’, seems bathed in additional waves of sorrow and dread. The wash of symphonic stormclouds of synth drones and processed notes on the latter gradually appears and disappears over the course of thirteen mournful minutes.
In La equidistancia Fresco and Irisarri collaborated over a distance, to serve you a dreamy journey into a hazy world in slow drone. Discovering this was pure pleasure, after each interrogation, you want to go back to it, to once again immerse yourself in ethereal music, in which everything sounds like it was from another world. A wonderful album for winter evenings *I think this is why they made & release it in winter!*
This is not a first time Rafael Anton Irisarri and Benoit Pioulard collaborated together, but this time they sound better than Orcas. It’s combination of warm textures, fragility and soft melodies. It’s very soothing. & short running time makes it for a perfect album to listen at night before sleeping.
Leftina Osha – Naive Forever / Restive Plaggona – The Burned Letter & Leaving the body
discovering Dimitris Doukas’ music probably was one of my best moments this year, I remember I was looking for similar music for Black Merlin then I found that he released a new album called “The Burned Letter” and maaan, the album was a very pleasant surprise! he did everything I like in techno, it’s raw drums with very dark synths so I had an urgent feeling to listen to his entire discography, then I noticed that he is only one year active with a ridiculous amount of releases AND he is a part of a new dark ambient act that I liked called “Leftina Osha”. all the releases are killer, we gotta respect him! He released ten albums under the name “Restive Plaggona” and four of them was this years, Non Serviam topped them all but since this post about my yearly music favorites, Leaving The Body is amazing then The Burned Letter, after that Orders Rejected. unfortunately Committed to the truth didn’t click with me that much, but overall it’s an excellent record but not so memorable. Every record is ranging from ambient melancholy to pulsating Industrial soundscapes, so it’s really worth to check.
*UPDATE: I just knew he released a new album! And it’s heavier than the other.
COH- COHGS / Felicia Atkinson – Hand in Hand
it’s really surprising COH’s record flew under the radar, especially he re-released tracks from his collaboration with Coil Love uncut. I honestly found it weird they write about it on Editions Mego like it’s new materials when Love’s Septic Domain & Fffetish released in 2000 but anyway, my favorite off the record is the tracks with Little Annie, her voice is so good. 46 Things I Did Today is three minutes long insert is a long commentary on what she did that day in a serious *kinda* metallic voice or this how the music made me feel. the track is not a creepy in Radiohead’s Fitter Happier way, but it felt creepier if you hear it over and over. The other track with Little Annie is Curious Yellow, it’s almost a minimal ambient drone electronic but it gets more and more rhythmically complex. there are moments that remind me of Hecker’s Haunt me a lot *or Ricardo Donoso’s overture” , probably because of the loops and glitches of long and fading sines, piano sounds in a soothing, melancholy *cause the lyrics* and sentimental way. overall, the album is a pretty experimental, spoken-words and arpeggios with “Glitch” elements build the main texture of this record.*probably the only industrial moments were in Love’s Septic Domain.* It’s an underrated album, that should’ve been recognized. *definitely deserves more recognition.*
Félicia Atkinson is a multidisciplinary artist from France who is has been releasing avant-garde music merging ASMR voices for nearly ten years. The first time I came across her name was last year when she did a collaboration with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, and to be honest that record didn’t click with me at all, it made me not wanting to check her out. But her new album Hand in Hand came on shuffle on Spotify. And it is quite different from what I experienced with Ledesma. This album is so futuristic and cyberpunk-ish. It is textually rich yet it’s so minimal, it has layers of her reading poetry in an eerie way, looping glitches, minimal soundscapes and echoing. The infrasonic sound merging with mysterious lyrics makes some moments of the album enigmatic and somehow very sentimental. The focus that Atkinson laid here is to uses dissected vocal to create abstract rhythms, textures fused with movement, poetry, and sound. If you’re in the mood for silky experimental electronics, this perfect record.
Ulwhednar – Modern silver / Vargdöd – Brutal Disciplin
Jonas Ronnbery could easily be considered one of the most productive and hardworking producers in the last decade and yet he is still so criminally underrated. This year he collaborates with two artist Abdulla Rashim and Andreas Karlsson.
Modern Silver is the 6th album with Abdulla Rashim under the name Ulwhednar, this album is purely techno except the two tracks “1000 pills” , “Modern silver”, these are quite industrial than the rest of the album. On these two tracks, Loke Rahbek collaborate and add his ethereal touch into it with his spooky voice. I strongly believe this is the best album they made.
Brutal Disciplin is the first album between Ronnbery & Karlsson, I’ve never heard of Celldöd until now, so the curiosity made me look for his previous album and let’s be honest his music is
Loke Rahbek – City Of Women / Loke Rahbek & Frederik Valentin – Buy Corals Online
Oh my Loke! after numerous projects with different musicians, he finally released an album under his own name. City Of Women was my album of the year until Irisarri released The Shameless Years. A lot of things happening at once in this album, it has a lot of textures, every track is divergent. Personally I get a lot of moment Love Streams/Hecker vibes. I know I look naive because I didn’t like Love Streams and I consider it the weakest album by Hecker but somehow I insanely love it from Loke. *I know it doesn’t make any sense but I feel if I listen to track individually, because of that textured synths mixing with eerie choral vocals, it could be easily mistaken as Hecker. City of Women is dense yet lightweight, and the pastel colors in the artwork give me silk soft synth vibes. I highly recommend it.
I think this is the first time I hear Loke Rahbek making Slow and ambient IDM, I guess this is what happened when two different artists collaborate, to create something different. This album is really soft, very good chillout music and it makes the atmosphere very relaxed. Very pleasant album, perfect for breezy, sunny day.
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – On The Echoing Green / Slowdive’s self-titled
After numerous of ambient drone releases, he *surprisingly* released a pure fine ethereal 90s sound. And I think he successfully achieves it. I know a lot of people didn’t enjoy it or wanted him to go back to his “old style” but for me, I felt some unique sounds that remind me of Cocteau Twins vibes at times. It’s so perfect.
A Part of me is happy because of Slowdive are back, and the other part is disappointed. I had to say it, it’s a just decent album. It wasn’t shoegaze, it is more to dreampop elements, there is nothing impressive about it. “Slomo” is probably the highlight of the album then “Go Get it” and that is it. I really can’t consider it as the album of the year. it is so weak compared to their previous releases.
Liam Gallagher – As You Were/ Future Islands – The Far Field / The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
I think Liam Gallagher’s album is the highlight for every Oasis’ fan, since Liam announced it, we’ve been wondering for months how it is going to be. & it is not a surprise that the album sounded actually like Oasis, also recalls a lot of his other project Beady Eyes. And to be honest, I don’t know if it’s in a good or bad way since it’s his first solo album, I don’t know if this was his intention, to create a pure classic rock album, rather than experiment around like his brother. but personally I LIKED the Oasis vibes, I found this record is quite enjoyable. The best track “For What It’s Worth”, it is so “Stand by Me”-esque WHICH IS GOOD. There are few memorable tracks Like the opener “Wall of Glass” *it’s pretty catchy*, “I Get By” and “All My People / All Mankind”. this album is a proven that Liam is a good songwriter not only a good vocalist, he puts a great effort into the lyrics and the music itself, it’s really worth to check. Also I had to say it, it’s impressive that his voice didn’t age, it’s still sound as good as 90’s.
One of the things that I love about future Islands, that no matter how many albums they put, *where it gets to the point it’s difficult to differentiate between the tracks in a good way* they still managed to keep their sound without sounding repetitive. Anyway The Far Field is the strongest band’s effort, they develop a common proposal, expanded more to make songs with emotional sense. I think they finally sure of their distinctive sound. The only weak track is North Star, this track sound so mediocre in a way I can’t stand it but the other is so good.
The War on Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding is one of the albums I have listened to for three days straight without paying attention to the tracks, so there isn’t a hit track for me it’s overall good.
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async/ Mika Vainio – Reat
Do we really need to say anything about how genius Sakamoto is? Nah, I don’t think so, I’m just waiting for this record to be historic. Glitch in a classical venue, you have to check it.
I was shocked when I knew about Mika Vainio death, it is a tremendous loss to Electronic music communities, & to me personal, I always consider him one of my huge inspiration as a visual artist. Like I never thought it’d be his last album when he announced Reat in his official site. 😦 Reat was exactly how I like, minimal techno with hints of glitch, sound more like his other project Pan Sonic other then his solo works *which is what I prefer* My favorite tracks are -And Around Coils Of Horns – A Season In Harar 1881.
Visionist – Value / Orson Hentschel – Electric Stutter
Safe to me, for whatever reason it didn’t really click with me then I read the concept of his new album, I thought it might worth checking. In this album there is an interesting collage of sounds and ideas, by deconstructing rhythmic lines, pitch shifted vocals sampled almost through the entire album, we can sense that he still influenced Oneohtrix Point Never & he brought it again in Value. And to be honest it annoyed me at times, I mean like you don’t have to use pitch-shifted vocals in every track, right? anyway this is an amazing album that’s well produced.
Orson Hentschel was my best discovery last year, his track Slow-Moving was my most-played song in the last year. Hentschel never sees himself as a composer or a musician, but as a multimedia artist who was looking for the suitable sounds for his Audiovisual shows, his interests was lying in experimental sounds, and samples that had been used to recreate it in his own sound. In Electric Stutter he took Trip-Hop and Electronic Pop Music as a strong influence, unlikely his last album Feed The Tape, that was shaped by Classical Minimal Music. It’s energetic and rhythmic counterpoint to the last. Machine Boy is the kind of techno that make me shiver hard. it’s heavy as fuck. & it’s probably the highlight of the album. Electric Stutter isn’t an immediately impressive record, but the more I listen, the more texture I feel. Beautifully strong and fragile. The album cover is a shaving man wearing platinum, carbon fiber skin, which explains his current health condition nerve paralysis that has been pinned by Neurosurgeons to his right temporal lobe, and that made me think it’s his most personal work.
Gas – Narkopoop / Anjou – Epithymía
I was never interested in Gas’ music, even though they a big deal in electronic music industry, my friend recommend it to me, saying; they’re back after a 17-year, it’s a really good album..etc so I thought I would give it a shot, and I strongly agree with him. this album is really good. Gas here created an ethereal, foreboding atmosphere, this is *I think* all we asked from ambient. I can say with certainty this one of the best comeback albums. The only problem I face, is I have to go through the entire album in one sit, otherwise I can’t seem enjoy hearing the track individually.
Anjou is another project by the duo Mark Nelson and Robert Donne from Labradford, and Steven Hess from Pan American, but for unknown reason it is still consider an incredibly underrated. After numerous listens, I can say this album is better than the first. it’s very meditative and very stellar, it’s a beautiful collection of tracks to enjoy on your long nights. That nostalgic jazzy-trumpet hint in An Empty bank, made it my favorite.*it kind of giving me Het Volk vibes*
Lakker – Eris Harmonia / Oake – Sentiment of Callousness / William Basinski – Shadow in a Time
if you’re familiar with Lakker, you will except some rhythmic techno but not this time. With Eris Harmonia the duo took a different road, it starts heavy with intense industrial techno and ends with more shimmering sound. Eris Pt 1 & 2 are very intense and aggressive. Eris Harmonia uses sound to explore the “different reactions and emotional responses to the current world climate of chaos and uncertainty.”
Sentiment of Callousness is my favorite EP of the year, it’s combination of dark ambient, industrial dub and female voices. They get better with each release. Abul is a huge track. I loved everything about this record, the concept, the music itself, and the cover.
Shadow in a Time has two tracks, each track is a two twenty minutes long – not a surprise! TOverall, Shadow in a Time is sorrowful as fuck, extremely beautiful. I love Basinski so much but, sometime my mood can’t handle listening to one full hour of repetitive loops, and this EP serves my needs, it’s short and perfect.
Lussuria – Standstill / Âmes Sanglantes – Crackdown
These are the longest albums of he year, if you want to immerse yourself into noise, listen to these. Lussuria is almost four hours, and Sanglantes 12 hours *WOW I KNOW!* They both Dark Ambient with industrial elements. & they released for Hospital Productions’ 20th anniversary year.
Albums worth to mention:
Actress — AZD (Electronic)
Alessandro Cortini — Avanti (Progressive Electronic)
Angeles & Internazionale — Vigilance (Dark Ambient)
Basic House — I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed (Ambient Techno)
Blanck Mass — World Eater (Progressive Electronic)
Black Merlin — Proto World (Industrial Techno)
Belief Defect — Decadent Yet Depraved (Industrial Techno)
Carbon Based Lifeforms — Derelicts ()
Carla Dal Forno — The Garden (New Wave)
Dag Rosenqvist & Matthew Collings – Hello Darkness (Experimental)
Evan Caminiti — Toxic City Music (Dark Ambient)
High Plains — Cinderland (Ambient)
Gabriel Saloman — Movement building Vol.3 (Drone)
The Inward Circles — And Right Lines Limit (Dark Ambient)
Isorinne — Speechless Malison (Ambient)
Janek Schaefer — Glitter in My Tears (Drone, ambient)
JASS — Weightless (Electro-Industrial)
JK — Suicide Estate Antibiotic Armageddon (Industrial Techno)
Joshua Sabin – Terminus Drift (Experimental)
Kassel Jaeger — Aster (Drone)
LCC — Bastet (Dark Ambient)
NTHNG — It never ends (Techno)
Onsy — Freq 255 (IDM)
Pact Infernal — infertility (Dark Ambient)
Patricia — Several Shades of The Same Color (Techno)
Perc — Bitter Music (Industrial Techno)
Prurient — Rainbow Mirror (Dark Ambient)
SNTS — Across Another Dimension (Techno)
Stephen Mathieu — Radiance X: Her Dark Gaze Drowned in Light (Dark Ambient)
Total Leatherette — For For The Climax Of The Night (Industrial)
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson – Negative Chambers (Drone)