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Angst Music For Sex People: Quietus Albums Of The Year 2010 & Spotify Playlist
Luke Turner , December 10th, 2010 10:08

And lo! The votes in our democracy of three are cast, and it is time to reveal to you all the Quietus' favourite albums of this year of Our Lord, 2010 - now with added Spotify tunes

Play the Quietus Angst Music For Sex People Spotify playlist by clicking here

And so we come to the the third annual Quietus report on what we in the office have decided are the best albums of the year nearly gone. In the past, we've highlighted how much we think these list capers are subjective and reductive efforts that, in all truth, tell you very little about the past 12 months in music. But perhaps we're being down on the whole thing. Because, as we feel our list proves, 2010 has been yet another year that takes the notion of the death of an album out along a lonely road, forces it to dig its own grave, and shatters the back of its skull with a dose from a 12 bore. For John, Ben and I to whittle down our list to a mere 40 killer LPs was a long, laborious, thankless task, such is the quality of albums currently being produced in the UK and beyond.

We went not by any view to what were worthy entries, what boxes we ought to tick, or whatever anyone else was doing, but by what most tickled our ears, stirred our loins, and made us scream at hedges on night-dead walks home. These lists are not a cock-measuring operation, or braggardly pomposity. No, above all, and curse my brogues if I don't sound like a rotten do-gooder here, this is about sharing and communicating our love of these 40 records in the hope that you might give them a spin too. Which is why I'd point you also in the direction of DrownedInSound's list too, whose top billing of Emeralds Does It Look Like I'm Here? ensures a revisit to that LP, or The Line Of Best Fit whose praise for Richard Skelton's Landings means it's top of my musical Christmas list. That's why we also want you let off steam and vent at our decisions sure, but also contribute to the discourse and add any records you think we missed at the foot of this article... though that of course doesn't mean that we don't think you're wrong. And no Ariel Pink. Anyway, without further ado, here are the Quietus' Albums of 2010 (all of which loosely do seem to fit the theme Angst Music For Sex People of the title above). And remember, 2011 and all the delights that it holds in store is but a month away...

Luke Turner, John Doran, Ben Hewitt, December 2010.

40. White Hills - White Hills/White Hills Drop Out With GNOD/Stolen Stars Left For No-one

White Hills have so bleached our Third Eye over the past year that we've decided to make the unprecedented step of allowing them in at Number 40 with no less than three records: White Hills White Hills, the vinyl EP Stolen Stars Left For No One and the split vinyl with Gnod Gnod Drop Out With White Hills.

"White Hills have shaken up the space-rock box, and shown that the patterns you can make therein are as infinite as the stars." - Ben Graham

Read the Quietus review of White Hills

Click here to buy White Hills - White Hills

39. Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu Steps Ahead

"Any exercise in fusion, however well-intentioned, is in danger of going tits-up – through dilution or misunderstanding – but here, it's Astatke's traditional instrumentalists who keep Steps Ahead from sounding staid. Their presence that results in some genuinely intriguing meetings of sound and texture: on 'Green Africa', cello and masenqo (a one-stringed violin) converse in scrapes and swoops; on a reworking of bossa nova-ish classic 'I Faram Gami I Faram', singer Gashaw's searching, wordless vocals provide an emotive contrast to the punchy, urbane brass stabs." - Frances Morgan

Read The Quietus review of Mulatu Steps Ahead

Click here to buy Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu Steps Ahead

38. Demdike Stare - Symbiosis

If this year's Supersonic Festival is anything to go by, in the near future we'll be hearing a lot more records like this. There, the highlights of the weekend were the likes of Devilman and other groups who made an unholy collision of dub, power electronics and the performance/entertainment ideas of rock 'n' roll. This is something that Mancunians Demdike Stare have already more than nailed on Symbiosis, noise and dub combined with hexen atmospherics and an occult aesthetic - as befits a group named after notorious witch Elizabeth Demdike. Lucifer over Lancashire, indeed - Luke Turner

Click here to buy Demdike Stare - Symbiosis

37. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

"If one thing is immediately clear about the septet from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, it is that they have never sounded so current. And while this is perhaps not that surprising for a band whose first album traded in post punk, bossa nova and jazz and whose second leaned heavily on imperial period, American rock, most of this has been cast aside without losing anything core to their sound." - John Doran

Read The Quietus review of The Suburbs

Click here to buy Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

36. Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - Ali and Toumani

Four years after his death from bone cancer, World Circuit released the last record by Ali Farka Toure, a collaboration with the great Toumani Diabete recorded in London in 2005. Toure's mastery of the guitar was deeply unshowy, a quiet intimacy making for the perfect foil to the kora work of Diabate, and this album is a reflective culmination and sad farewell to a shared history of 15 years of music making. As Diabete said in tribute to his friend and musical ally: "Ali had a gift. He was a musical phenomenon, a pioneer of music, a trainer. I think he was created by God for that purpose. His mission was to promote African culture, particularly Malian culture, and he worked at it all his life. He didn't make music only for Mali. He made music for Mali, Africa and the entire world. He was unique in his field. He was a historian. He was a marabout. He was a healer. He was multidimensional." - Luke Turner

Click here to buy Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - Ali and Toumani

35. Arabrot - Revenge

He roved, and he roved and he roved and he roved on the brilliant 'I Rove' of yore, a snaking column of furious guitar and electronic gladiators that has, over the past year or so, become something of a Quietus inspiration and afternoon pick-me-up. This new LP, then, is the sound of the Norwegians finally pitching camp, lighting the fires under their campaign cauldrons, and feasting up to sally forth and reign supreme over their conquered lands. - Luke Turner

Click here to buy Arabrot - Revenge

34. Gil Scott-Heron - I’m New Here

"I'm New Here is the fractured, not entirely comfortable sound of a man looking within. At times, this seems little more than a musing, a mumble, the mere beginnings of an idea and, if not for the endlessly inventive trippy background, you would hardly call it an album at all. And yet it is the slightness of Heron's appearance that offers an extraordinary intimacy here." - Mick Middles

Read the Quietus review of I'm New Here

Click here to buy Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here

33. Napoleon IIIrd - Christiania

For quite some time now Napoleon IIIrd has been walking a path of lo-fi pop and idiosyncratic musicianship, yet never before has he realised it so well as on Christiania. Though this record is inspired by the Copenhagen "freetown" that provides its title, there's nothing slack or archaic about the best release to date on London's Brainlove label. Indeed, an atmosphere that at times recalls the fertile collaborations of Bowie and Eno suggests that Napoleon III is an artist we'll be hearing much more of in years to come. - Luke Turner

Click here to buy Napoleon III - Christiania

32. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

"Black Noise is, minus a few stumbles, a solid piece of sonic architecture. Collating sounds and textures, including field recordings taken from the debris of a Swiss Village that had been destroyed by a landslide, Weber marries acoustic tones with pulsing beats, throwing on splashes of static ambience and in the process creating a record that at its peak, produces the spectral, machine psychedelia of 'Welt Am Draft' and it's beat-free cousin, 'Im Bann.'" - Charles Ubaghs

Read the Quietus review of Black Noise

Click here to buy Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise

31. Jane Weaver - The Fallen By Watchbird

"Perhaps most intriguing of all…this is - that old beast - a concept album. Imbued with a mystical thread that sits closer to The French Lieutenant's Woman than it might to a Kate Bush album. Ancient passages of estrangement and, eventually a bereavement eased only by the taking of somewhat dubious milk concoction. Therein lies a tale that, itself, seems at once, familiar and aloof." - Mick Middles

Read the Quietus review of Fallen By Watch Bird

Click here to buy Jane Weaver - The Fallen By Watch Bird

30. Lonelady - Nerve Up

"Nerve Up still arrives sounding fresh, urgent and vital. Like all the best acts who wear their references prominently, it’s what Campbell does with these inspirations that counts, what makes her stand out, which helps her float free." - Jude Rogers

Read The Quietus review of Nerve Up

Click here to buy LoneLady - Nerve Up

29. High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine

"Ignore the fact that – as Matt Pike himself revealed to The Quietus recently - Snakes For The Divine is largely influenced by the work of Grandstand anchor turned new age conspiracy theorist David Icke, because it kicks ass, plain and simple. A rhythm section like a woolly Mammoth's bowel movements and riffs you'd sell your cannabis factory for." - Toby Cook

Read The Quietus review of Snakes For The Divine

Click here to buy High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine

28. Shit Robot - From The Cradle To The Rave

"In fact, leaving half-statements aside, there's an argument that Cradle To The Rave sounds more vital than This Is Happening. There's something fresher about it; it seems more vibrant, more lively. More fun, perhaps, but without ever veering off into the smug exercise of self-satisfaction that it could have been. What easily could have become a DFA karaoke album never feels anything less than coherent, despite the myriad of styles it draws upon." - Ben Hewitt

Read The Quietus's interview with Shit Robot

Click here to buy Shit Robot - From The Cradle To The Rave

27. I Like Trains - He Who Saw The Deep

"This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper" wrote T.S Eliot, and so this is how I Like Trains view their own version of Armageddon; not as a result of some raging totalitarian or police state but from the lurking alterations of nature that have become glaring to us far too late." - Simon Jay Catling

Read the Quietus review of He Who Saw The Deep

Click here to buy I Like Trains - He Who Saw the Deep

26. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

"Cosmogramma is a sprawling, post-Web 2.0 cacophony. It's like hurtling through the digital darkness of Spotify with everything blaring at once. At some points it's perplexing, at others it's thrilling." - Colin McKean

Read The Quietus review of Cosmogramma

Click here to buy Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

25. Shining - Blackjazz

"Easily the band's heaviest, bleakest and most downright bloody nasty work, Blackjazz telegraphs its intentions right from the off, through its artwork, its name, its opening gambits. 'The Madness and the Damage Done' vomits itself into being with a distorted scream and a barrage of outrageously potent techno-fuzzed prog-metal riffs." - Matt Evans

Read The Quietus review of Blackjazz

Click here to buy Shining - Blackjazz

24. Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal

"Folks who don't tend to listen to stuff like this, but have read up on it a bit and feel like it's something they should dip a toe in, are as likely as not to choose Oneohtrix Point Never as their entry point. In the grand spirit of overthinking and/or second-guessing the intentions of artists who you've never met, I like to imagine that 'Nil Admirari', the first track on Returnal, was conceived and judiciously placed with the intention of cookin' up these sorts' brains." - Noel Gardner

Read the Quietus review of Returnal

Click here to buy Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal

23. Barn Owl - Ancestral Star

There might be a veritable flock of Barn Owl bands on mySpace, but this San Francisco group are the only ones who understand the true nature of that bird: a solitary, silent killer, floating ghostlike over fields on a hungry, genocidal mission against mouse, vole and shrew. Their drones and misty haze, scattered with the occasional downward clang of a minor chord, were recorded over a period of months with the intent being to create a record that existed in its own, defined world. They certainly achieved their aim - to listen to Ancestral Star is one of those rare experiences where music achieves hypnotism, the gloaming rising around you with an unspecified dread. In the talons of Barn Owl, we are all but rodents. - Luke Turner

Click here to buy Barn Owl - Ancestral Star

22. FM Einheit - No Apologies

With Blixa Bargeld telling the Quietus that "the gigantic monster Einsturzende Neubauten is going to go to sleep on the bottom of the ocean for a while" earlier this year, it's heartening to know that we can continue to expect great things from the constituent parts of the beast. There are familiar Neubauten motifs throughout No Apologies - the echoes of things falling to the floor, and that sensibility that space is always as powerful as noise alone, along with an exploration of dronescapes and insidious crescendo that at times recalls Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg's KTL project. - Luke Turner

Click here to buy FM Einheit - No Apologies

21. Anika - Anika

"Her debut album, simply called Anika, features a three way sonic palette of dub, post-punk and pop, all sung in the sort of rich, deep androgynous tones last heard from Nico. This first record, out on the Invada label, largely features covers - of Bob Dylan's 'Masters Of War', Twinkle's 'Terry' and Yoko Ono's 'Yang Yang'. Choosing the covers was done by "spending the night on YouTube trying to find the sweetest love songs that we could find, and making them sound like stalker songs, really evil. Using covers make it that bit more provocative, because you're messing with people's favourite songs, and they'll hate you. But it's still a pop record, really". - Luke Turner interviews Anika in The Stool Pigeon

Click here to buy Anika - Anika

20. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot: Son Of Chico Dusty

"Sir Luscious is an exquisite monster of an album, a classic before it's even a month old, and exceptionally consistent. There are more ideas gushing forth from every corner here than in any other rap album of the last six or seven years, the tracks not so much songs as exploding statements of intent. For anyone with even a passing interest in the genre, it's truly life-affirming stuff." - Ross Pounds

Read the Quietus review of Sir Lucious Leftfoot: Son Of Chico Dusty

Click here to buy Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

19. Janelle Monae - The Archandroid

"Monae embraces her fair share [of gaucheness] on The ArchAndroid and unlike the majority of her peers, she's not afraid to explore them under the hot glare of the mainstream spotlight, even if they sometimes fizzle instead of pop. Welcome to pop salvation 3.0: bold, ambitious and now with a complimentary jar of brylcreem." - Charles Ubaghs

Read the Quietus review of The Archandroid

Click here to buy Janelle Monae - The Archandroid

18. Pansonic - Gravitoni

"On Gravitoni Pansonic use track titles as a GPS to their imaginative landscape, gifting their followers an unprecedented insight into their modus operandi. Their creative scope has been focussed onto the very fabric of their art as they document the final countdown to splitting the Pansonic atom." - Nix Lowrey

Read the Quietus review of Gravitoni

Click here to buy Pansonic - Gravitoni

17. The Body - And All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood

"This world, our culture, and perhaps our entire civilisation are seemingly doomed to utter failure. I believe that things for humanity will be much worse before they will get better, if that is even a possibility. The idea of a bleak future, with or without people, is the predominant vision of our work; the idea of what is left behind after we have finished... if there is anything left behind." The Body's Chip King, speaking to Luke Turner

Read the Quietus interview with The Body

Click here to buy The Body - All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood

16. Zola Jesus - Stridulum II

"Zola Jesus creates music for the night, for the winter, sounds to accompany the light as it draws itself in. Sitting now on the cusp of autumn, staring towards those barren winter months, it seems like there can be no other soundtrack. After transforming herself from screaming hellion to cloud-scraping balladeer, who knows where Danilova might go next." - Ross Pounds

Read the Quietus review of Stridulum II

Click here to buy Zola Jesus - Stridulum II

15. Grinderman - Grinderman II

"It is never less than delicious although you may feel a touch of guilt as you look back on your pleasure. Grinderman 2 is a masturbation." - Mick Middles

Read the Quietus review of Grinderman II

Click here to buy Grinderman - Grinderman 2

14. Besnard Lakes - Are The Roaring Night

"Like those great Canadian artists who have gone before them the Besnards deserve to break free from the constrains of the northern territories that they evoke. They certainly have the tools, the craft and indeed the know-how, American or otherwise. This album is a blinding listen, interesting, deep and indeed beautiful to behold." - AP Childs

Read the Quietus review of Are The Roaring Night

Click here to buy The Besnard Lakes - Are the Roaring Night

13. Cathedral - The Guessing Game

"The Guessing Game is a landmark Cathedral release: not only because it marks two decades not out, but also due to being their first studio album to spill over the edges of a single CD. It's certainly not the longest-feeling 13 tracks and 85 minutes ever foisted on the public, but had a band signed to Rise Above, the label Dorrian runs, handed in an equivalent assignment, you feel he might have been a bit quicker to locate parts ripe for trimming. Kudos of sorts to Nuclear Blast, Cathedral's latest imprint, for such blithe indulgence in belt-tightening times." - Noel Gardner

Read the Quietus review of Guessing Game

Click here to buy Cathedral - Guessing Game

12. Electric Wizard - Black Masses

"We’re just trying to be more focussed this time; everything was a bit scattered before. We just used to go into the studio and do a lot of drugs and jammed and came up with ideas. I guess things are more focussed now because we know what we want to do. Personally I don’t think the style’s changed that much. It’s the same format really. We’re going to carry on exploring our love with vintage equipment. We’re Electric Wizard not Electronic Wizard.”

Read John Doran's interview with Electric Wizard

Click here to buy Cathedral - Black Masses

11. Gayngs - Relayted

"Emerging blinking from Relayted you realise that this ostensible exercise in luxurious MOR by broad coalition has, along the way taken in free jazz, electropop, avant rock and deep soul while never appearing to deflect from its purpose and direction throughout. An album to sail on through the ages." - David Stubbs

Read the Quietus review of Relayted

Click here to buy Gayngs - Relayted

10. UFOmammut - Eve

"Italy's best-kept worst-kept secret, the criminally underappreciated UFOMammut, reach album number five with Eve, a single piece separated into five distinct movements, dedicated to the first woman to ever walk the Earth. Stylistically there’s little departure from the formula shown on 2008’s Idolum. Which means they essentially continue to sound like what Hawkwind playing Barrett era Pink Floyd (but with more riffs) sounds like in the head of a man that’s been kicked in the face by a horse." - Toby Cook

Click here to buy UFOmammut - Eve

9. New Young Pony Club - The Optimist

"This album is an overriding triumph, and if Apollo were here to judge, we could certainly tell him he needn't bother bringing his flaying kit." - Ben Hewitt

Read the Quietus review of The Optimist

Click here to buy New Young Pony Club - The Optimist

8. Teeth Of The Sea - Your Mercury

"Teeth Of The Sea's epileptic, infinite and disturbance-vexed second album sooner calls to mind the altered states of mental ill-heath - psychotic delusions transporting the lifers to self-constructed worlds; touched, tasted and played in from inside a locked room." - John Calvert

Read the Quietus review of Your Mercury

Click here to buy Teeth Of The Sea - Your Mercury

7. Lindstrom and Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool

"Real Life Is No Cool gives you seven shades of state-of-the-art get off your ass and dance, from the insidious syncopation of 'Let It Happen' through the metronomic 'Music In My Mind' to the cosmic guitar lines drifting through its triumphal closing tracks. If anyone betters it this year we'll be spoilt." - Lee Arizuno

Read the Quietus review of Real Life Is No Cool

Click here to buy Lindstrom and Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool

6. Walls - Walls

"Walls is a cryptic oddity unto itself, a record made as if solely to defy category or cross-comparisons, all of which fall a little short, including my own. There is the joy. You can't dance to it as such, you can't chill to it, you can't decode it. All you can do is stand, sit or lie back and admire it." - David Stubbs

Read the Quietus review of Walls

Click here to buy Walls - Walls

5. The Fall - Your Future, Our Clutter

"Well, it did seem tired for a little while but here, now, we find a simmering magic and, yes, an endearing freshness right from the off button. I would even state that this is the best new Fall album since... since Heads Roll at least and probably far beyond that." - Mick Middles

Read the Quietus review of Your Future, Our Clutter

Click here to buy The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter

4. These New Puritans - Hidden

"To mark the dawning of a new decade, These New Puritans have resurfaced with a masterpiece. Hidden is a questing, post-everything collage piece... Throughout, the shape-shifting soundtrack is overlaid with cryptic commentary, in which Jack seems to offer a cheerful take on looming environmental destruction. At every turn, Hidden wrong-foots the listener. Continuity comes solely from its unwavering magnificence." - Niall O'Keeffe

Read the Quietus review of Hidden

Click here to buy These New Puritans - Hidden

3. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

"So now we're off on a new journey, by reigniting swans I've unlocked the trunk where I'd trapped my demon brother. Now that he's out again I am wrestling with him and am determined this time to not only kill him, but all his friends and family as well. I've enlisted my comrades Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Chris Pravdica as the primary soldiers in this quest." Michael Gira

Read Michael Gira's guide to My Father...

Click here to buy Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

2. Salem - King Night

"Salem have already inspired a litter of imitators, but it’ll be a surprise if anyone’s able to make an album that sounds like this one for a long, long time. Theirs is a pure and true sadness, one so built from experience and upon inference that it should prove impossible to replicate." - Kev Kharas

Read the Quietus review of Salem's King Night

Click here to buy Salem - King Night

1. Liars - Sisterworld

Ever since we spent most of the end of 2009 screaming "WHY D'YOU SHOOT THE MAN WITH THE GUN?" (part of the chorus of the brilliant 'Scarecrows On A Killer Slant') at anyone we encountered, Sisterworld has reigned supreme on the Quietus stereo. Although in many ways the Swans LP is Sisterworld's match in accomplishment and power, this trio are still, hands down, the most independently minded young group making music in America, entirely removed from - and at times at odds - with prevailing indie winds. It's hard to think of another group who manage to combine such well thought through ideas - the Sisterworld as your place of escape, whatever it might be - with such an unbridled sense of fun, of un-precious and welcoming joy in noise and groove alike. - Luke Turner

"And for the men of Liars, Sisterworld is also a means of escape from it all. Some may wonder why more American bands don't sound like they could create, or sound like, a Sisterworld. The better question to ask is how those bands can dare to sound like anything else." - Charles Ubaghs

Read the Quietus review of Liars' Sisterworld

Click here to buy Liars - Sisterworld

Angst Music For Sex People: The Quietus Albums Of 2010

  1. Liars - Sisterworld
  2. Salem - King Night
  3. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
  4. These New Puritans - Hidden
  5. The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter
  6. Walls - Walls
  7. Lindstrom and Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool
  8. Teeth Of The Sea - Your Mercury
  9. New Young Pony Club - The Optimist
  10. UFOmammut - Eve
  11. Gayngs - Relayted
  12. Electric Wizard - Black Masses
  13. Cathedral - The Guessing Game
  14. Besnard Lakes - Are The Roaring Night
  15. Grinderman - Grinderman II
  16. Zola Jesus - Stridulum II
  17. The Body - And All The Waters Of The Earth Shall Turn To Blood
  18. Pan Sonic - Gravitoni
  19. Janelle Monae - The Archandroid
  20. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot: Son Of Chico Dusty
  21. Anika - Anika
  22. FM Einheit - No Apologies
  23. Barn Owl - Ancestral Star
  24. Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal
  25. Shining - Blackjazz
  26. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
  27. I Like Trains - He Who Saw The Deep
  28. Shit Robot - From The Cradle To The Rave
  29. High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine
  30. Lonelady - Nerve Up
  31. Jane Weaver - The Fallen By Watchbird
  32. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
  33. Napoleon III - Christiana
  34. Gil Scott-Heron - I’m New Here
  35. Arabrot - Revenge
  36. Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté - Ali and Toumani
  37. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
  38. Demdike Stare - Symbiosis
  39. Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu Steps Ahead

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