Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Favourite Music Releases of 2010

It's been an interesting year for music. I've had time to recollect and rediscover a lot of things that have inspired the continued 'revival' of past highlights. This nostalgia is always easy and comfortable, heard in the echoes of early 90s rave or classic drum n bass, or the waves of buzzing guitars and psychedelic fuzz familiar to shoegaze and their late 80s peers. These sounds have allowed me to discover new things, which is always a good thing. One foot in the past and the other in the future...

And so to business. In no particular order, these are my choice cuts of the past year

Vex'd - Cloud Seed

Coming 5 years after their seminal Degenerate album of 1995, Vex'd prove that they remain one of the true pioneers of dubstep. This is raw, dark and penetrating music from the masters of the genre

Various - Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space

Continuing with the dubstep theme, this is my favourite compilation of the year. At last, the mighty dub producer Scientist brings the whole genre full circle. Two CDs of quality tracks - the first of dubstep originals and the second of dub versions from the man himself. This is a match made in heaven (despite the awful cover art)

Venetian Snares - My So-Called Life

The prolific Aaron Funk launches a new label, with its first release being his latest album. As always, mind-blowing and playful sequencing are the order of the day, creating yet another inimitable Venetian Snares release. And before moving on, the second label release debut of Speed Dealer Moms, Aaron's collaboration with guitarist John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is another worthy mention of the year

The Irrepressibles - Mirror Mirror

I stumbled upon this album by chance after watching the fantastic video by Pag entitled The Lady Is Dead. Comparisons with Antony And The Johnsons aside, this is a band I'd love to see live. The final 3 tracks on the album, comprising a single ensemble, are the most affecting I've heard all year

Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul

Any project involving David Lynch always warrants attention. I first came across Lynch's photos related to the album, and given its scope and collaboration it was almost a given that it was going to be something special

Autechre - Oversteps | Autechre - Move Of Ten

No list of the year would be complete without Autechre, and this year they treated us to two major releases. Nothing can touch Rob Brown and Sean Booth in terms of their music, both technically accomplished and far removed from sounding like anyone else. And let's not forget March's incredible 12-hour radio broadcast to herald the launch of Oversteps - without a doubt, the music mix of the year

Macc & dgoHn - Some Shit Saaink

Originally released in 2009, Rephlex put this out this year so it still makes the cut. This is the sound of drum 'n' bass that I love, harking back to a celebration of exciting breakbeats with a current edge and contemporary sound. One of many brilliant drum 'n' bass releases of the past couple of years that are re-energising the genre

Seefeel - Faults

After an absence of nearly 14 years, Seefeel return with a stunning EP of beautiful ambient melody and bass. New members to the group, including ex-Boredoms drummer E-Da, make for an exciting potential for the future. And with a new album due for release in February 2011, the next 12 months will hopefully cement a welcome renaissance for them

Balam Acab - See Birds

The mysterious Balam Acab has only one entry on Discogs - this EP = one of my favourites of the year. Aside from a couple of remixes I've managed to track down, I know little about Alec Koone and his music. This release opened the gateway to my discovery of the strangely elusive genre of witch house / drag, and I'm still undecided whether this fits into it. Whatever the case, this is beautiful and haunting music

Forest Swords - Rattling Cage | Forest Swords - Dagger Paths EP

Along with Balam Acab and the likes of SALEM and oOoOO came my discovery of Forest Swords. Both of this year's releases are recommended, and as with the best of Matthew Barnes' contemporaries, offer a reinvention of shoegaze for current times

The Advisory Circle - Mind How You Go (Revised Edition)

This is a token entry to mark my discovery of the Ghost Box label. It's been a treat to listen to their catalogue of music that clearly expresses hauntology in an audible form. Difficult to describe, this is music that is inherently British and refers to sounds of past decades, blurring all boundaries of what could be perceived as either nostalgic or retro. Quality design and artwork from the label's co-founder Julian House too

Scuba - Triangulation

I've left one of my favourites from this year to last. Aside from being a wonderful album (complete with an additional CD of 'intrepretations' track remixes), this release serves to represent the many other artists that I've continued to love this year. These include the likes of FaltyDL, Ital Tek, Boxcutter etc. Post-dubstep feels an inadequate term to pigeon-hole their sound, but that'll serve for now in describing what continues to feel both fresh and new

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