50. Dolly Dolly – “Antimacassar”
The fine, solemn voice of the bald-head prophet of Berkshire recites absurd stories in the form of sudden cut ups, Dadaist automatic writing and nightmarish dream diaries on a background of exquisite of experimental electronics and British psychedelia that create most puzzling yet mesmerizing sound-images.
Eerie melodies and haunted soundscapes are bubbling under a nocturnal coat of heavy drones. A beautiful mixture of ambient electronica, folki-sh loops and abstract vocals. Headphones are required here.
Johnny Cash was rolling with joy in his grave as the dark punk diva of New York transformed herself into a spider woman of the big desert with the help southern blues backdrop scenery of Mr. Grove. Her voice, tired, anxious, erotic conveyed lustful stories of wasted love and loss in a passionate manner unprecedented in the field of female singer/songwriter American music.
It was the year that all pseudo-experimental beat makers hid under their mama’s skirt, because the grand bliblicateur has returned. Less radical but still as mind puzzling, syncopated and capricious as in the golden 90’s days, the gifted whizz kid of IDM put again the intelligence into dance music. And those hilarious faux coded song titles…
Armed with his stomping two string kologo, his incredibly fierce voice and a dozen of afrofreak comrades the countercoulter king of east Ghana unleashed a powerful record of colorful trance-out rhythms and punk energy that can literally shallow all hip world music stars. Devour into it know before Aysioba becomes the next Manu Chao / Bob Marley he should be.
The half lit hymnal pastoral world of Liz Harris present itself this year with a proximate piano balladry sound in order to express the usual inward Grouper feelings with less screen grain and more emotional clarity.
Huge new talent on the uprising Cairo scene, Maurice Lauca took the oriental melodies, Arabic modes and propelling mid-eastern rhythms of his native traditional music language and like a masterful architect of electronic sound laid them upon a contemporary dub / electro web that can swing and sway in all indulging newfound anatolic way.
A truly groundbraking and original work in its conception and execution. Jones ear sprawling operetta sung in an idiomating alien language and managed to sent an old and tired genre of music straight out to the psychedelic stratosphere.
Maximalist French pop with subtle and mellow melodies, that always moving and almost constantly transforming, in many different levels. Cheerful, up-tempo, warm and colorful – one of the finest records of its kind for the last few years.
The return of the last of post-rockers of Germany was subtle yet glorious. Incorporating light weight minimal electronic beats, wallpaper synth stubs, Arto Lindsay’s exotic melodicism and controlled Krautrock dissonance they created beauty out of measured looseness.
This is a live score for a 1914 silent movie. One track that flourishes from dynamic percussions, distant piano melodies, aggressive saxophone, almost consonant strings, ghostly electronics and, of course the delicate guitar finger picking of Blacksaw. And it’s, at least, wonderful.
Much more preferable to their proper album of 2014, this two side longform pieces saw the New York collective regress back to the improv electronica roots and suffused a multidimensional psychedelic techno trance that could transport you beyond like their mid 00’s efforts.
The long awaited come back of the Norwegian’s super-group is stunning. Thick nightmarish drones, tense silences, thriving noises and moody jazz passages melt in a cold and hair-raising aura – everything their improvisation had in the past is still here and it’s even better.
Helios Creed’s crew was assembled out of the black outer space and through an late 70s wormhole discharged a cybertronic electromagnetic thunder of hard rockin’ post punk that crushed on our ears like abominable interplanetary plankton and left us numb by its alien guitar/synth cosmic boogie boogie.
The kaleidoscopic percussions never ends here, till they manage to get under your skin. The Japanese gamelan is flirting with avant-garde, naïve pop, dance music and post punk. Surely their best album, surely a masterpiece.
This unsung French collective revolving around the talented Jean-Sébastien Nouveau curved out of a peculiar sonic palette of post rock, electronica and folk and created a new mysteriously nocturnal and strangely magical musical hybrid that can really haunt you if you are not prepared for its dark charm. Pure “Magical Thinking” indeed…
This monster release is coming to kick your ears. The Manchester’s heavy guitar army succeeds to beat the hell out of your neurons with their psychedelic improvisation, served in distorted crescendos. Purely electrified magic, stoned and freak-out.
An outstanding release by the experimental folk Portuguese guitarist. While using the guitar in all possible ways –bowing, prepared, strummed, fingerpicking - and creating an ever evolving superimposed soundworld, he has the depth to channel also his venerable personal emotions through hidden micro-melodies and expressive singing. A new distinctive player in the long worn and torn field of solo guitar music.
With drones that sounds like a train passing through your living room, drums extremely energetic and motorik, guitars throwing up unrestrained noises and screams that makes you want to run and hide, this album is definitely a rare beauty. Ι’ll just say thre names: Keiji Haino, Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi – that should be enough.
“Pom Pom” marked the culmination of Ariel’s of lo-fi gone hi-fi avant pop transfiguration. The man works like automating machine recycling the coolest parts of a modern alternative hits encyclopedia and in the end stands out as the ultimate expert in catchy pop diversions or even perversions.
Sun City Girls most excellent students at their best. This is how Anatolian rock should sound nowadays, or how Sun City Girls would sound if they were born Turkish. Or how free-rock can be grafted with Asia Minor music. Or, simply, just perfect.
A Will Oldham release these days is not always a cherry pick, but as last year’s homonymous album the whole venture is again successful. In this cover’s album, mainly lame American pop, hip-hop and country is treated as if it is quality material converted by a laidback and unpretentious Oldham to imagitive, heartfelt, sincere alternative pop ballads with the usual strikes of irony for good measure.
Motorik, monolithic, motionless, techno-ish, electrified, dark, trance and stubborn head hammer. Three 15minutes powerful tracks, very vivid and very alive – a psychedelic quicksand that will suck you in for sure.
A very substantial effort by the ex-US Maple guitar slacker that combined twisted jazz rock moves, dour and muddy alternative rock, rotten industrial post-noise and sensual electro-rock in coherent whole that sounded both wayward and approachable at the same time.
For almost 40 years mr. Tomokawa is one of the most enigmatic and dark figures in singing/songwriting field. His soft yet angry melodies along with his mellow and bitter voice, makes a remarkable combination that speaks directly to every heart. And this is one of his best albums.
Managra is the place to grow bittersweet pop music seeds. The ground there is warm, rich in mind-sticking melodies and simple beats. The man from there comes with a handful of those pop fruits. You’ll love their delicious sour taste, with a subtle hint of honey and the charming aftertaste of the work in progress, the impression of the incomplete. You will just can’t get enough of them.
Fusion supernova that expands to many-many levels and succeeds to swirl through emotions, energy, melodies, noises. Still jazz centered, this nearly improvisation has a powerful drive that can drag you in its exploding sound chaos. Ritualistic melodies are followed by amplified noises and ether chants in these 4 perfect tracks.
Her unique, almost liquid guitar playing is always a pleasure for ears. And, like all the great American folk guitar players, she doesn’t need anything else beside her guitar to cover some well known and some traditional tunes in a stunning way that reaches the boundaries of each song. An authentic gemstone.
Gentle and fragile pop tunes delivered by the member of The Bats and The Clean. New Zealand scene never stopped feeding us with great records and this is one of them. Dreamy and woozy, every track has its own introvert beauty; it is cohesively structured and can easily make you hear it over and over again. From simply acoustic guitar songs, to sparkling, catchy melodies and folk-ish songwriting, this album is definitely wonderful.
21. Mohammad – “Zo Rèl Do”
Mohammad goes further in their unique and dark universe. Their doom, heavily electrified music and their haunted monolithic drones digs dipper in circles to create more connections with the unknown. The room-shaking sequences emerging from their custom instruments, feels like music for rituals haven’t yet take place. Rough and magnificent.
20. Radian versus Howe Gelb – “S/T”
A surprising affair between the perfectionist post rock / sound art Viennese trio and the alt country beatnik icon and a well executed experiment in the end. The stop start bleeps, blurred noises and tick-tock percussion supplied with cold cut scrupulousness by Radian meshed gradually yet integrally with the organic vocal delivery and rock sensibility of good old Howe and formed a freeform collage that magnetized.
This album is a musical voyage through American folk, blues and country, using the channel of improvisation on guitar and banjo. Vivid and tense, those long-lasting tracks create whole stories without any word. Drifting from one melodic line to another, floating at the past and future of American music, deeply spiritual and surely mind-blowing, Hollandale is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
18. Earth – “Primitive and Deadly”
An important addition to their exceptional catalogue, “Primitive and Deadly” told it like it was. Majestic, wholesome, primeval cyclical doom rock riffing repeated to infinity, melodic hooks placed strategically within the ten minute lava hot workouts and post-apocalyptic male/female recitations, all add up to one slow, rotating drive down to the most hellish pits.
17. Kasai All Stars – “Beware The Fetish”
Xylophones, thumb pianos, west-African guitars, jubilant poly-rhythmical drums and percussions, repeated vocal harmonies. This Kasai’s region music collective album is a festive of up-tempo music, cheerful multi-leveled themes with a funky atmosphere and colorful energetic beats that will engage you to flow with them.
16. Hamish Kilgour – “All Of It And Nothing”
Solemn stripped back acoustic guitar /bass / hand drums maelstrom of potent songwriting by the introvert part of legendary The Clean. The velvet fuzz is left behind for a blur, earthy sound, a low-tone wised-up voice, great heart on the sleeve lyrics and that grey, melancholic New Zealand atmosphere we love.
15. Ignatz & De Stervende Honden – “Teenage Boys”
It seems like Ignatz’s detuned and slightly distorted guitar were always waiting to join this trio. This guitar had wondered the world alone for far too long and now that has company, it spits its hoarse chords and never synchronized melodies with a mind-blowing power and satisfaction. It fits perfectly in this old-fashion psych group: the drums must be stoned, the bass probably drunk. Altogether they make a magnificent group and one of the greatest Velvet- ish records.
14. Tune Yards – “Nikki Nack”
With “Nikki Nack” the weird-yet-poppy duo took their pluralistic sound into new levels of development. They managed to network non-western traditional music, simplistic nursery rhymes, clashing beats, electronic effervescence and of course the most charismatic, soulful voice of our times and the outcome was nothing but an ecstatic run into pop wilderness.
13. The Dead C – “The Twelfth Spectacle”
More than an album, more than four live recordings with almost two hours duration. This is a document for the future generations, a statement how guitar, bass and drums can improvise. How to make harmonies without playing them. How to use silence as a maximum noise. How you can make noise sound so attractive to every ear. The Dead C had made, all these years, their own musical cosmos that cannot fit to any category, cannot be described with words – you can only feel it.
12. Dark Matterr – “S/T”
Dark and bitter, this is Stephen Cogle comeback. And if the name doesn’t ring any bells, maybe the band “The Terminals” does. Lyrical and introvert, Dark Matter has all New Zealand’s gothic psych with a hint of post-punk and, of course, mr. Cogle’s voice is still absolutely stunning. He follows the rough guitars as a troubadour in shadows; his voice rise and fades out almost like Scott Walker’s.
11. Run The Jewels – “Run The Jewels 2”
The pumping, stomping, fire shooting high octane hiphop designed with the expected precision by the old-school beat guru Εl-p fitted like a glove with the big, round and blacked out rapping of Killer Mike. The result was an instant classic hip-hop album oozing with political consciousness, fantastic flow, hyperkinetic synchronicity, cathartic peaks and at last no retarded rhymes about chicks, money and guns. Fuck the slow-mo!!!
10. Pere Ubu – “Carnival Of Souls”
Every time I see that a new Pere Ubu album is released, I say to myself this one cannot be as good as the last one. Of course I’m always wrong. This is definitely a carnival with its diversity, its subtlety, its craziness. You can never figure out where every track is going and, of course, is going everywhere. Pere Ubu’s magical arsenal has added one more freak-out bomb.
This collaboration is even better that you can imagine. The unearthly drones of Sunn O)) fills perfectly the dark freeze of Ulver. The result is very cinematic, the soundscapes emotional, the build-up excellent. The three tracks of this album have a unique breath in every turn, as they moving along in circles to create a noisy labyrinth. The music here is too dense, dramatic and tense that makes your hair raise and your skin shiver.
08. The Bug – “Angels & Devils”
For six long years the bass music desert was drained and waited for its king to pour down his earth shattering bass tempest and relieve the thirsty fans. And he did with his this two-headed beast that shook up many a soundsystem this year. On the first side, he contemplated with the introspective tension and vault atmospherics and on the second side with the help of the craziest vocalists he attacked with punishing grime / dancehall menace. And the athirst drank the whole album up with holy joy.
07. Sleaford Mods – “Divide and Exit"
Somewhere at the edge of punk you will find the new Sleaford Mods album. It’s probably hiding under a pile of empty beer cans, leftish fanzines and balls of dirt. Or behind a broken sofa. Or inside the carcass of a smashed TV. Anyway, if you find it be careful. It’s very aggressive. Also, it bites. Makes noise all the time; revile, spits, farts. It’s ugly and it’s perfect.
06. Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks – “Enter the Slasher House”
Avey Tare’s side group was a revelation of avant pop brainstorming : shedding away the suffocating million layers of detail of the late Animal Collective, the Slasher Flicks succeeded on delivering a strong bass / drum indie rock base for Tare to overlay his heavenly harmonious reverb drenched vocals and psychedelic synth tricks and in the end delivers a wonderful album of cataclysmic pop euphoria.
Favorite American singer / songwriter of our times, Steve Gunn, shines like a lonesome star in the vastly hollow modern folk galaxy. Wisely, not, to repeat himself, he constructed his second full on band album on the basis of less guitar dexterity and mazy structures and more free flowing melody, slender group interplay and intimate late night propinquity.
04. Richard Dawson – “Nothing Important”
The prolific Dawson found yet another sideway to express his innermost feelings and complex thoughts with two epic dimension free folk story like tales. His music at first sounding simple, repetitive and random with each listen gains weight and substance until amorphous patterns emerge and hidden melodies unfold. His voice high-pitched, stuttering yet delicate and warm empowered with purpose of lyrical intent is singular in the English folk canon. Who said a mix between Robert Wyatt Keiji Haino and Derek Bailey could never be?
03. Xylouris White – “Goats”
This unexpected collaboration gave us the rare honor to put Cretan music into the universal free folk map! Based on an archetypal traditional music form like sousta and syrto, Xylouris plays the lute in a sometimes melodic, open way, sometimes more staccato and aggressive while White’s percussion is encircling him with ingenious jumpy hits and cuts. In this way the old music is spreads out a new psychedelic offshoot that keeps its emotional backbone intact.
02. Grumbling Fur – “Preternaturals”
The pop music Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan creates doesn’t sound like anything else. It has humor, surreal lyrics, it’s close to psych music, has folk elements, it’s almost experimental. And all these are unfolded on pseudo-pop dance music; a surface of naïve texture that hides many levels of harmonic perfection underneath. You can drown in this album for days.
01. Swans – “To Be Kind”
Mouth dropping. The music in this epic album is so thick, you cannot take more than two tracks in a row. It hits your ears and your stomach so bad, that it’s close to become physical. Everything here is set in the place, everything is ideal: the dynamic drums, the heavy guitars, the mind-sticking bass, the noises, the majestic build-ups… And, of course, Mr. Gira’s voice finds directly a place in your brain you always avoiding it. Every track in “To Be Kind” feels like it has the structure of classic compositions. I guess that the rebirth of Swans is the best thing that happened to music in the last decades.