Axe to Fall
Still smashing it after 20 years. Probably their most accessable work and their best since Jane Doe.
Impressive Debut drawn from many influences. Coat of Arms is one the best tracks of 2009.
Winner of best artist name & album! Who thought Lithuanian techno could be so involved and tuneful. Best record from Planet Mu for a long while.
Possibly the weirdest drum n bass album ever, and the best of the year although its been a particularly quiet one in the scene. Printer Jam is another crazy, amazing track
Great discovery thanks to the Milkman's site. This one gets better and better throughout and contains several tracks perfect for the dance floor.
Suprise of the year. Never even thought I'd listen to them after their debut but this is a brilliant sophomore record thanks largely to a host of 80's influences, most notably Echo & the Bunneymen.
Black Jazz Consortium
Great year for Deep House which I wasn't too familiar with before I must admit. This records got heaps of soul and kept me nodding late into the night in the Summer.
Shackleton's debut full length consolidates his position as one of the most creative and unpredictable figures in bass orientated music. I get lost in the middle of this album every time (In the best way).
Midtown 120 Blues
Whilst BJC has the tracks, Sprinkles has a vivid personality embodied in the tracks on Midtown 120 Blues and skews the listener into some brilliantly worked Deep House.
Must admit I know little about this record but absolutely adore it. Contains a hell of a lot of samples including a Door's re-work of Alabama Song. Only gripe is the short length of the record.
Another debut and new discovery. Pretty much a great all round dance record which doesn't stick to the same beaten path for too long. His Resident Advisor mix is also well worth a listen. One for the future I hope.
Sing a New Sapling into Existence
Collaboration between Lone and Keaver & Brause. The collaboration works especially well managing to melt their own sounds into this fantastic record.
Dark brooding progressive techno from the ever improving Modern Love label and one of the techno picks of the year.
Vignetting The Compost
Its been a hell of a year for Bibio but I do love this album a lot more than his inconsistent Warp debut. Spring wouldn't be spring without a bit of Bibio playing in the background.
An Imaginery Country
I'm no fan generally of pure Ambient, modern classical, drone, whatever you want to call the sounds that people like to litter Hecker's music with but I am a massive fan of this record. Brilliant.
The Black Dog
While AFX isn't releasing anything, BoC have disappeared, Squarepusher seems content on peddling his bass noodlings and Warp generally move away from the sound that made them what they are today you'd be forgiven for stating that Braindance (or whatever you like to call it) has had it's day. Whilst this is probably true, The Black Dog's Ken Downie is still going strong 20 years later and releases Further Vexations which ticks all the right boxes the aforementioned artists used to do years ago. One of the best Braindance/IDM records of the last 5 years.
Beacons Of Ancestorship
The prospect of the first Tortoise album in 5 years got me anticipating excitedly for the first half of the year and at first I was very disappointed. Where many Tortoise fans love their earlier work I always preffered "Its all around You" and couldn't at first grasp the next turnaround the band had done with this album. After forcing myself a little I managed to grasp the album fully and love the shift changes in tracks, the totally different sound from one track to the other and the fact that this is probably Tortoise at their best.
A lot of my friends love dubstep. They'll download and play me tracks with throbbing wub wub basslines dancing up and down and getting giddy with excitement at the same old bassline and the fact the tracks are generally very fast and upbeat. I play them something from Great Lengths and they hate it, say its boring and don't bother with my (pretty poor!) arguments for Martyn, and against their general stereotyped Rusko-esque tracks. We go see the 2 mentioned artists amongst others live in a Warehouse and that all changes and they understand finally. Whilst its hard to capture the sound of a live mix within a record Great Lengths doesn't compare too badly and manages in a day where bass music is in danger of killing itself with the same old to distinguish itself from the pack, even from electronic music altogether.
WHEN MACHINES EXCEED HUMAN INTELLIGENCE
For all the hype and promotion that Warp usually give new albums when they are released the Harmonic album, slipped through the cracks a little. Sure they did mention it in mailouts alongside lists and lists of other names, and yeah they made a video for one of the (weaker) tracks on the album which is actually a remix and doesn't really do the original much justice, never mind the album itself. Yeah I'm a little bitter that most people will be talking about Grizzly Bear or the new Bibio album when Mark Pritchards best work to date goes ignored on the shelf. I'm aware a lot of people have heard or enjoy the record and it would never be a massive sell but it really should be. Pritchards managed to get the cross between Detroit sound and hip hop/bass influences nigh on perfect with Machines and the album deserves a lot more acclaim than its likely to get.
Tristeza have to be the most consistent band in my opinion. 6 albums & 3 EP's later they are still releasing solid instrumental post rock music that manages to sway and differentiate between itself quite admirably. Whilst they may not be as prolific lately as they were in earlier years Fate Unfolds is no less an album than any before, and they have managed to entwine their darker electronic sounds with their previously more upbeat guitar based work. Luckily for me this was only released at the start of the month alongside a 26 track cassette I am awaiting from the USA with studio tracks from the last 3 years to keep me going until the next release, which is hopefully sooner than it has taken for Fate Unfolds.
Yesterday & Today
Whilst From here to Sublime was lauded generally by the alternative media and filled up more end of year lists than that Twilight crap fills kids christmas lists nowadays, Yesterday & Today has been glaringly absent this time around I have noticed. Axel's second offering thinks much more outside of the box than his previous work and the tracks whilst long and few manage to venture so much further than before and by the time the tracks have peaked they have a lot more purpose than the general repitition that I was used to. The use of instruments also distinguish the sound much better and as much as I adore this album it also leads me to be excited to where his sound will develop to next.
I wish I could go to the Berghain in Berlin, infact its on my short list of places I must go. Between Shed's amazing debut last year, Marcel Dettmann's continual 12" output and the Planetary Assault System album you already have an idea of the groundbreaking techno music being played but all of those pale in comparison to Berghain resident Klock's debut album "One" which is quite simply the best techno album I've heard in quite some time. It definately was not an easy album to get into but once you're there you are rewarded by good flowing tracks, emotion, ambience and suspense. The album doesn't rock itself too hard at any point really but it doesn't need to, the sound is deep and the tracks all stand out. Phenomenal
Keaver & Brause
The Middle Way
I didn't have a clue who Keaver & Brause were at the start of the year and I'm still a bit in the shadows as different reports lead to different analysis. I think its one guy called Tom Keaver, or Tom Brause, or Tom completely different name. I'll just call him Tom. Tom's first album, a hip hop influenced beats instrumental beats album on littleknown dealmaker records is a little hard for me to some up into words especially. Hip hop has skewed over into electronic territory more and more over the years with artists influenced by Dilla doing new things and taking the sound further. I don't have much knowledge on hip hop as a whole, or even if its accurate describing Keaver in such a way but the influence is there, along with those such as BoC et all. The Middle Way is laden with samples too, and while the whole thing is a bit mish mash at first it does come more cohesive and always fun and enjoyable.
Chris Clark has probably been my favorite artist for a few years now. Body Riddle is my favorite work of music, I've seen him live several times and even met him in a state of ecstasy (literally, poor guy) so I was waiting for this album for a long time and it didn't disappoint. Apprehensive of vocals, it manages to work a lot better than for example Tim Exile's newer work and doesn't take away any of the charm from the music. The most noticeable thing for me with Totems Flare was the amount going on in each track. Every time you listen you find new layers of sounds you hadn't quite noticed before and the purpose of certain parts, the upheavel of a track to quickly shimmy into something totally different without ever going overboard. Clark's clearly spent a lot of time taking his music further forward although if you compare this album to say Clarence Park you can still see similarities. I'm not sure what he'll do next but I'll be waiting with baited breath.
And I don't even like the Knife so much! Well they're ok but none of their work comes close to this. Quite suprised to see media as diverse as Pitchfork, the Guardian, RA & more to list this album so high in their lists but it obviously goes to show what a record this is, probably timeless. I don't remember at any point where I fell hopelessly in love but I do know that I probably listen to this album more than I do any other this year still. I'm still taken aback by how powerful the vocals are, and they are really something else which the live record also shows. While the vocals are so incredibly diverse and haunting the sombre instrumentation that goes with it never oversteers tracks or controls them, her voice manages to capture the moods perfectly and the music follows. I hate describing music, if you haven't heard this album get it sorted. Again, Timeless.
Apologies for the incoherency towards the end but I've been writing this over the course of 3 hours and cannot be arsed any longer. I'll edit it further more later!