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Quietus Charts

Quietus Albums Of The Year 2017, In Association With Norman Records
The Quietus , December 11th, 2017 09:33

The albums that have kept us happy, strong, comforted and ALIVE in the past 12 months. A few notes: this chart was compiled by John Doran out of polls from Patrick Clarke, Christian Eede, Luke Turner, Anna Wood & himself based on the new albums they have listened to most since January 1. Introduction written by tree master Turner.

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Give or take a week or two, it's almost exactly a decade since John Doran and I sat down in his kitchen to plot what would eventually become The Quietus. It was a weird old time for music, with the landfill tipper of the NME's New Rock Revolution dominating discourse in the UK, and Pitchfork Indie still in the ascendent like some plaid-wearing Marshal Plan directive. What underground there was struggled to get heard in a media climate still dominated by the thinking that former NME editor Conor McNicholas went full Accidental Partridge in describing on Noisey recently: "Record labels knew if they wanted to get into NME they needed to look fucking great. Putting that filter in place suddenly got bands like Kasabian rocking up." Those days are thankfully past.

I suspect that like most people who read the site you appreciate a balanced diet. Our job at this digital websheet isn't to treat you, our readers, like foie gras geese, shoving one type of music down your gullets. Instead, we're here to act as a conduit for artists who, in this grim year of 2017, have been pushing boundaries, opening hearts, expanding minds. The past 12 months have been the most exciting we've known since we came up with the idea for the site in that other world, musically and politically, that was the winter of 2007. And yes, we do say that every year but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

For first time since we’ve been going it’s started to feel like the underground is increasingly managing to consolidate, organise, and start kicking hard against the mediocrity and bad vibes of our strange times. We’ve started calling this amorphous movement New Weird Britain, and you’ll have read about its sounds in Noel Gardner’s Foul House column on these pages and John’s recent Vice article. The rise of New Weird Britain is due in part to the decline of London as a powerhouse of underground culture, as rents rise and even sex clubs are being driven out by a gentrified, commodified appropriation of the leftfield. As I wrote in this Guardian article, this is helping scenes around the UK, such as the Trans-Pennine Underground, thrive.

What is New Weird Britain, you may well ask. The joy of it, in our eyes, is that it’s a loose term, a celebratory one, and one that travels. In our chart it might represent the sometimes queer and sticky seediness of Lone Taxidermist’s trifle, Moonlandingz’ gloryhole in a northern suburban park, or Total Leatherette’s latexed fingers in your body. It might also be Richard Skelton’s Inward Circles, Snapped Ankles, Richard Dawson, Teleplasmiste, Kemper Norton and Laura Cannell redefining our landscape away from a place of whimsical retreat to something far more foreboding, yet also a place of resistance. Of course, speaking of the land - we’re not Brexit round these parts and see New Weird Britain as merely one outpost of a global explosion of vital musical art. You’ll be able to see that there’s plenty of New Weird Poland and New Weird Iran, for instance, in our chart below.

Of course, this torrent of great music isn't going to continue flowing unless you invest in it. That's why we hook up with Norman Records to give you an easy and reasonably priced way of buying records on this list, and include Bandcamp links wherever possible, rather than Spotify or YouTube embeds. SUPPORT THE ARTISTS YOU LOVE. Remember too that this goes beyond paying for records - it's been a tragedy to see that the Fat Out and Supernormal festivals, core incubators for New Weird Britain, are having to take a rest, just as we were gutted by the cancellation of the Safe As Milk festival earlier this year. Seriously, if you want the future to be more than just smooth jamz indie bros dressed like toddlers, you need to put your hands in your pockets to make it happen.

Which, finally, brings me to the most pleasurable part of this tenth Quietus albums of the year list - the massive THANK YOU. Although this has been a hugely positive year for our ears, The Quietus' ability to survive has been seriously undermined by the horrendous state of online advertising. With Google and Facebook floating through cyberspace hoovering all ad spend like some bastard child of Blackbeard the pirate and the Borg, it’s become impossible for sites like ours to survive on ad revenue alone. When we launched three appeals for funds via our donation page this year we were overwhelmed by the response from people out there who give enough of a shit about the service we provide to give us money to help us survive. We're working on new revenue streams - such as the new collaboration with the lovely people of Lush on the returning DAY OF RADIO and At Leisure film series, but we still need your help to survive. If you can afford to donate, our bosoms will always be warm to you - HERE is the best place to do it. If you find an album that you really love from this end of year list, please consider slinging us the cost of a pint, a glass of wine or a very fancy coffee as a way of saying thanks and helping us continue so we can do the same next year.

We hope you enjoy the music in the list below as much as we have over the past 12 months. We all need something to keep our souls free of despair in this bonkers and brutal age, and this music, we know, can be both medicine and weapon against the grim and banal. Thank you for reading The Quietus - here's looking forward to a shitload more music from New Weird Britain and beyond in 2018, our tenth birthday year.

100.Tetragrammacide -
Primal Incinerators Of Moral Matrix
(Iron Bonehead)
Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix, the debut album proper by Indian black metal band Tetragrammacide, is no Typhonian Wormholes (their 2015 EP, which was the sonic equivalent of watching everyone you have ever met melting like the Nazis at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark) - but then, what is? This is still a sickening edifice of existential trauma, a sonic artefact of a world balanced on the lip of catastrophic vacuum decay... but with slightly higher production values. John Doran

99. The Bug vs Earth -
Concrete Desert
(Ninja Tune)

The record is in Martin’s mind a companion piece of sorts to his 2008 album London Zoo (tQ’s number one favourite album of that year), in that it somehow captures the vast, intimidating expanse of the city, distilling its unique atmospherics into sonic form. Patrick Clarke

98. Akatombo -
Short Fuse
(alt.vinyl)

This latest album may well be his best to date. It’s a work of multiple, oblique atmospheres, visual in its muffled evocations - Kirk is also a filmmaker - its layers of samples and field recordings undergirded by grinding, pneumatic beats and broadsides of carefully calibrated noise. David Stubbs

97. Cardi B -
Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2
(KSR)

Bronx-born rapper Cardi B is a former stripper and former reality TV star - she was on VH1’s series, Love & Hip Hop: New York (other cast members have included Remy Ma and Felicia Pearson) - and she’s been making waves the past couple of years with a string of mixtapes, notably with her track ‘Lick’ featuring Offset. Hip hop is, of course, very much a male-dominated genre, and trap especially so - which is why it’s especially fantastic that Cardi B identifies as a feminist, and her output hasn’t been sugar-coated with cloying, poppy marketing. Tara Joshi

96. Simon Fisher Turner -
Giraffe
(Editions Mego)
Simon Fisher Turner’s sense of fun is evident from the off in Giraffe, a collection of sounds and music from all sorts of people and places encountered on his travels – from an old cinema in Porto to a park in Andalucia and a theatre in Tokyo. There are fragments here too from the Elysian Quartet's strings as recorded for Isaac Julien's poignant cinematic tribute to the great Derek Jarman, as well as Mumbai night dogs and Turner's own family. It's all eloquently coordinated into a collage that's amusing and beguiling. As ever with Turner's work there's a sense of an outsider to the sound art canon throwing himself in with a boyish enthusiasm and gusto - when he sticks his neck out, it's impossible not to be charmed. Luke Turner

95.Rose Elinor Dougall -
Stellular
(Vermilion)

A forward-thinking and often thrilling ride of angular beats, imaginative production and sparkling songs, Stellular is one of 2017's early essential purchases.

94. Actress -
AZD
(Ninja Tune)
Some of the album’s finest moments come in Cunningham’s embrace of orchestral suites, coming off the back of his collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra last year. Aside from the strings that guide ‘UNTITLED 7’ just a minute into the album, ‘Faure In Chrome’ reimagines Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Requiem’ across six gorgeous minutes. Parts of the composer’s arrangements are heavily processed, underpinned by harsh glitches that come off like an AOL dial-up internet connection circa 2000. It still bears hangovers of the producer’s past work, not least in the digital interference that runs throughout, but the elements are far less cloaked than before, the serene strings emerging above all else. Christian Eede

93. Mogwai -
Every Country's Sun
(Rock Action)
Unlike so many bands that have spent years – or, in this case, decades - in each other’s company, Mogwai actually sound reinvigorated here, pushing at sonic barriers not so much by force as by subtlety and restraint. Which isn’t to suggest the slipping on of comfortable footwear and the lighting of a pipe by a roaring fireplace, but a desire to keep exploring new sounds and possibilities. Julian Marszalek

92. Vivienne -
STUD
(Objects LTD)
Beautiful new music on Lara Rix-Martin's Objects Limited label: "Emotional longing and apathy and hatred disgustingly writhing alongside a sexuality that relies entirely on traumatic experience and feeds on dangerous situations and bodily functions.”

91. Hannah Peel -
Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia
(My Own Pleasure)

This new album further builds on the complexity of our imagination. It is an instrumental record, and a concept album of sorts. Hannah informs me that Mary Casio is an 86-year old inventor, who lives in Barnsley and dreams of space travel. As ever, Peel has researched thoroughly, talking to neuroscientists and cosmologists about the parallels between space and the human mind. She’s even uncovered a 90-year-old recording of her chorister grandfather, which appears on the album’s sweeping final track. This poignant narrative is played out by Peel’s twinkling synths and the glorious, portentous brass band. Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia sounds like lift-off to a new sonic solar system.

90. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard -
Murder Of The Universe
(Flightless)
Picture yourself on a boat on a river. It's leaking. The spectre of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson has just fed you some DMT. He then puts Van Der Graaf Generator on one beaten-up tape-deck, and a heady hardcore punk classic on another. The sky turns purple and begins to slowly glide towards you. You have entered the realm of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s new record. You decide to ignore the leak. Brian Coney

89. MHYSA -
fantasii
(Halcyon Veil)
A number of the tracks eschew any kind of specific beat structures, with MHYSA’s voice instead left to carry proceedings through ‘Glory Be Black’ and ‘Siren Song’ with nothing but some cleverly employed reverb for company. It's equal parts haunting and gorgeous. Elsewhere, fantasii goes into banger mode on ‘Strobe’, a short, sharp shock of energy built around trap claps and MHYSA’s sing-rap delivery, while ‘BB’ is a luxurious R&B ballad that maintains the oddball edge at its centre that is so crucial to fantasii’s success as a record. Christian Eede

88. Laurel Halo -
Dust
(Hyperdub)
The funky-but-muted electric piano and mournful sax lines on ‘Who Won?’ (very 1975-era Miles Davis) serve to highlight that Dust is an electronic album only in the vaguest possible way. Halo’s use of beats is often polyrhythmic in an almost jazz sense, while at times, such as on ‘Koinos’, she deploys effects and minimal sound sources like a downtown NYC loft artist circa 1978. Joseph Burnett

87. Wire -
Silver/Lead
(Pinkflag)
Whether you look to the opener’s underlying sea of searing guitar lines, the processed tonal swells of the stirring final track or the whale-song patterns of ‘Brio’, Newman and co continue to exhume new sonic ground in recognisable landscapes. In an industry all but dictated by kneejerk changeability, there's something thoroughly comforting in just considering the existence of Wire, who – as they mark their 40th year – must now be recognised as one of the most consistent British bands of all time. Brian Coney

86. Mario Batkovic -
Mario Batkovic
(Invada)
Mario Batkovic is a Bosnia-born, Swiss virtuoso solo accordion player whose self-titled LP is a rich, opulent delight. Classically trained at the Hochschule für Musik und Theatre in Hannover, Batkovic finds an immense strength in nothing but his one instrument, plumbing stunning depths that are sometimes mournful, sometimes unsettling, and sometimes sublimely beautiful. Patrick Clarke

85. Daniel O’Sullivan -
Veld
(O Genesis)
While Veld is at heart a pop album, it is also possessed of a cosmic awareness of how people relate to their environment and each other, whether among the thronging masses or deep in the heart of the woods. There's magic(k) aplenty here, in references spoken and hinted at, in the dub trails and reverses, among the angelic choirs that slip between evidently human and the oddly Mellotronic, from Cocteau Twins to Fovea Hex and spaced-out parts in between, not least those that show a kindred ear for a hook and sit well with O'Sullivan's membership of both This Is Not This Heat and Ulver. Richard Fontenoy

84. Part Chimp -
IV
(Rock Action)

Their modus operandi is carved into granite and scraped into skin, so it should come as no surprise really that their fourth album doesn't really vary the template. They have nothing to prove; from the onset the record is a guided tour into the myriad depths of aural destruction. The vocals are clearer here than previously thought possible, space inexplicably found for everything where before the caterwaul cast Cedar’s voice into subterranean depths. He has always resonated, an esophagus-stripping howl from the nadirs of gnashing-teeth nihilism, yet it always felt the severity of the death march drawl meant there was no place on this battleground for the organic, the living. The sonic brute force trauma hasn’t been downgraded, however - instead the mix has spread the blasted landscape wide open. Brendan Telford

83. M.E.S.H.-
Hesaitix
(PAN)
There is a vastness and complexity to this sound environment, and a jarring effect from stapling together dissonant sounds. The Berlin-based electronic producer makes soundscapes fraught with tension and sharp edges, on top of which the beats turn relentless. Sukanya Deb

82. Aquaserge -
Laisse ça être
(Crammed Discs)
Opening track ‘Tour Du Monde’ is rhythmically buoyant, lit up by blasts of brass and Manon Glibert’s clarinet, and further enlivened by whoops and games of vocal tag, with individual syllables shared out between different singers (a device which recurs on the album). It’s the cue for an album that’s miraculously uncluttered and fleet of foot, but which still finds room for exquisitely melancholy progressions, sudden left-turns and pataphysical humour. David McKenna

81. Bargou 8 -
Targ
(Glitterbeat)
Bargou 08 frontman Nidhal Yahyaoui collected songs for the project from the area where he grew up in the northwest of Tunisia, near the Algerian border. The inspiration for the album followed a vision Yahyaoui had of Moog synthesizers being found in the valley of the Bargou mountain region and what music could have been created on their discovery as a result. Richie Troughton

80. STILL -
I
(PAN)
‘Nazenèt (Wasp Riddim)’ dances around irregular time signatures like Mark Fell interpreting modern dancehall, while closer ‘Mangrovia’ finds its footing at a highly danceable 112 BPM tempo, retaining the hard-hitting drums that can be found across the record, as well as the heavily manipulated guest vocals that hint at the album’s grounding in exploring Italian-African colonial connections. It’s yet another reliable release from a label, PAN, that rarely if ever puts a foot out of step. Christian Eede

79. Laibach -
Also Sprach Zarathustra
(Mute)

Laibach seize every opportunity on Also Sprach Zarathustra to bring out the grandiose psychodrama and tension inherent in a founding tract of modern philosophy, rendering what could have been merely bombastic and brutal as spectacular and even sublime. Richard Fontenoy

78. Stormzy -
Gang Signs & Prayer
(#Merky)

Like Kano's most recent record, Stormzy's debut is a Trojan horse: you come for the chanted choruses and then, in the most life-affirming sense, you end up in church. All great albums are marked by their texture, their variety; and here Stormzy roams between rave MC and repentant sinner, between (to paraphrase Dave) gentleman and gangster. Musa Okwonga

77. Laraaji -
Bring On The Sun
(All Saints)

Now comes a brace of albums, Bring On The Sun and Sun Gong which are testimony to his unabated spirit, each track sounding like an excerpt from a music without beginning or end. David Stubbs

76. Sote -
Sacred Horror In Design
(Opal Tapes)
Ata Ebtekar uses his digital chops to reflect and open a dialogue with the intricate playing from Arash Bolouri and Behrouz Pashaei, Persian polyrhythms and contemporary sonics. On 'Plebeian', for instance, the plucked and struck strings sit perfectly intertwined with high-tension digital pulses and fuzz. Indeed the strength of this intriguing album is the pervasive sense of mystery as to where the ancient ends and the modern begins. Luke Turner

75. Sleaford Mods -
English Tapas
(Rough Trade)

This is exactly what makes the duo the most vital act in British music right now: their music will continue to reflect the state of the nation for as long as it keeps defeating and demeaning itself. Why should they evolve when the Big Society remains as static and small-minded as ever? So long as nothing keeps on changing, Sleaford Mods will be there to document it. Josh Gray

74. Hey Colossus -
The Guillotine
(Rocket Recordings)
I could go on about how fantastic this album sounds, about the glorious, soaring terror of 'Experts Toll', or the rich, mournful beauty of 'Potions', but what feels more important is what it means. The Guillotine, as Gnod have done on Just Say No…, sees Hey Colossus harnessing their chaos, honing it into the very essence of these terrifying times. Patrick Clarke

73. UUUU -
UUUU
(Editions Mego)
Before a note crawls out of the speakers, it’s a mouth-watering prospect, a lineup that will have many fans of underground just-about-rock wondering why this combo hadn’t been thought of before. It’s actually rather ridiculous: two members of legendary post-punk giants Wire - founder and bassist Edvard Graham Lewis and ‘new’ guitarist Matt Simms - are joined by none other than former Coil and Spiritualized acolyte turned solo mystic music artist Thighpaulsandra and Italian drummer Valentina Magaletti from London art pop outfit Vanishing Twin. With such disparate backgrounds, the quartet could have produced a record that couldn’t tell its arse from its elbow. Instead, UUUU is a reminder of all of ‘rock’ music’s massive potential. Joseph Burnett

72. Yossarians -
Fabric Of Time
(Self-Released)
“It’s intense, it's hernia inducing, and that's good. It would be semi-satisfying to see someone rushing off with an actual hernia. I just really want to make music that throbs, that people really grind their teeth to." Yosarrians’ Tim Schiazza

71. Siavash Amini -
TAR
(Hallow Ground)
With tinges of Pharmakon and Earth, Amini appears to take his cues this time from noise and drone rather than purely from the ambient world — manifest perhaps most acutely in the presence of static across the record: a hissing to which the ear is drawn, not by volume but by an omnipresence impossible to ignore. As a device it is simultaneously indicative of both something and nothing — residual cosmic radiation, impossible to decode, representative at once of the insatiable perpetual motion of contemporary life, its lasting impact on our environment, and the futility of all that sound and fury on a universal scale. Karl Smith

70. MXLX -
Kicking Away At The Decrepit Walls Til The Beautiful Sunshine Blisters Thru The Cracks
(Kindarad!)
Under its absolutely magnificent title Kicking Away At The Decrepit Walls Til The Beautiful Sunshine Blisters Thru The Cracks are eight tracks of psychic melodrama and unnerving noise, pompous electronic monsters and haunting melodic chants. 'Your Bastard Mouth Is Open And Will Not Stop Howling' sounds like Drums Not Dead-era Liars falling into a lava crevice, 'I Just Want To Ride My Bike Into The Sky And Disappear' sci-fi arpeggios clattering around the echoing, sooty wreckage of a space cruiser before the evolving noise of 'The World Will Not Suck You Off' (give the man a pound for the caustic track titles alone). Luke Turner

69. Lee Gamble -
Mnestic Pressure
(Hyperdub)
Whether or not Gamble intended for Mnestic Pressure to be an exercise in confronting modern UK electronica’s fractured past and present, it certainly resonates as such - though it’s clearly a deeply personal work, with moments of stark introspection, so there could be more intimate layers at play. But as a work that gathers up so much of what’s going on in modern dance and electronic music in 2017 and finds ways to make them click together, Mnestic Pressure feels like a game-changer, or at the very least a defining moment. Time will tell. Joseph Burnett

68. SZA -
Ctrl
(Top Dawg)

Sonically and tonally, in some ways New Jersey artist SZA’s debut album picks up where Frank Ocean’s Blonde left off: it might not be subverting the game in quite the same way, but Ctrl has got those dreamy, indie-style guitar melodies, and that same sense of vulnerability in both delivery style and lyrical content. Indeed, while Ocean’s open queerness became the talking point surrounding that album, SZA’s open insight into modern-day femininity ought to be the conversation surrounding this. Ctrl offers up a candid, confident airing of insecurities; be that via the prism of relationships - flings, affairs as the other woman, and longer-term romances - or the prism of her own self-esteem. Tara Joshi

67. Ryuichi Sakamoto -
async
(Commons)

async weaves together intangible synthetic panes with the more earthly, percussive tones of the piano on tracks like 'zure', and on 'walker', natural noises – the call of cicadas and what might be either the sound of footsteps on gravel or heavily frosted grass – are juxtaposed in call and response with gentle swells and vibrations. It is these contradictions, appearing track after track, and which after all are only contradictions on paper, that make clearest the album's concern with duality. Karl Smith

66. Unsane -
Sterilize
(Southern Lord)
Despite the fact that listening to one of their albums in full feels like a 40-minute bludgeoning, there’s something oddly heart-warming at play here. Unsane are not chameleons or shapeshifters but rather stoic veterans unashamed to continue honing a sound many would argue they perfected decades ago. The cacophony that once seemed so petrifying is now the personalised ringtone you might set for an old friend, and that’s absolutely fine. In these uncertain times of potential nuclear annihilation it’s deeply comforting to know that the band most capable of soundtracking it are still with us and ready to rage at the push of that big red button. Jack Pudwell

65. J Hus -
Common Sense
(Black Butter)

"Did you see what I done? / Came in a black Benz, left in a white one." I could write essays on that couplet. In fact, I almost did. About the freewheeling bravado tinged with insecurity. The interplay of racialised inferiority and accidental lurch into purity. The panicked realisation of success, dancing on that ambivalent, ubiquitous metonym for success; the Mercedes Benz. Jeffrey Boakye

64. Colleen -
A Flame, My Love, A Frequency
(Thrill Jockey)
A flame my love, a frequency is a modest, introspective album. It focuses on the small, the minute, turning inwards in the face of questions too large to grasp. Contained in her live recordings and with minimal tools, A flame my love, a frequency is fleeting. Within a cultural climate of over-production and hyper-attention to gear, it evidences a vulnerability often absent in music today, surprising in more ways than one. Mollie Zhang

63. Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement -
Ambient Black Magic
(Hospital Productions)

Dominick Fernow delivers the most impressive outing yet from his Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement alias, summoning the dubby ambience of prime Chain Reaction and enlisting Silent Servant for co-production duties on the album’s two opening tracks. Skip to ‘Praying Mantis Black Arts’ for your fix of rib-rattling sub bass. Christian Eede

62. Electric Wizard -
Wizard Bloody Wizard
(Spinefarm)

Long live the new Wizard, much like the old one in so many ways but with a renewed sense of purpose. Wizard Bloody Wizard still rocks hard enough to justify the occasional rebellious upward glance from the existential trudge down the long spiral into nothingness that they evoke so bleakly, and so well. Richard Fontenoy

61. Total Leatherette -
For The Climax Of The Night
(Mïlk)
The album is built on rising anxiety, driving belligerently onwards towards the darkest dancefloor you never dreamed of, climaxing with throbbing machine music. Reverberating, irregular beats from the drum machine are layered with creeping vocals that you can't quite catch but paranoiacally understand. This is dark disco, mutated EBM, queer industrial music that deserves its face wrapped in latex. Melissa Steiner

60. Davy Kehoe -
Short Passing Game
(Wah Wah Wino)

Davy Kehoe steps up for his debut on Wah Wah Wino and what follows is a storming exploration of new wave, techno and downtempo jams packed into six tracks, Kehoe's drum machine put to heavy, exceptional use throughout. It's hard to pick a highlight, from the opening title track's nine-minute post-punk freak-out to 'Going Machine''s gorgeous, organ-led balladry and 'Storm Desmond''s sprawling, mournful collision of drums, clarinet, guitar, mbira, harmonica and more. Seek out this record immediately. Christian Eede

59. Godflesh -
Post Self
(Avalanche)

The new album from Justin K Broadrick and GC Green's exalted industrial metal project Godflesh explores their more refined tendencies. That is to say, it’s a crushing, gnashing industrial crusher of a record but with a tempering spine of spartan industrialism. Rather than let themselves loose in an enormous looming cloud of desolate blackness, on Post Self the band anchor themselves around ruthless nihilistic churns. And if anything, they're even more sickeningly intense for it. Patrick Clarke

58. Chastity Belt -
I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone
(Hardly Art)
Chastity Belt are amazingly good at exploring the endless ways in which we are trapped: in time, space, gender, social circles. It starts as a teenage thing but it expands (as you know) into adulthood; over the course of three albums, they’ve peered further into the ways we are stuck, hopeless. They do it, though, with style and soft grace, with pealing guitar and lurching bass and lyrics which are at once funny and sad, bleak and friendly. Anna Wood

57. Riddlore -
Afro Mutations
(Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Arriving at the start of a bumper first full year for the Kampala-based label Nyege Nyege Tapes, Afro Mutations is a record of bass-heavy, reworked field recordings collected during a residency in Uganda by LA MC, DJ and beatmaker Riddlore. Arriving mostly in short, sharp bursts, it’s a stylish distillation of the producer’s interpretation of Afro-futurism. Christian Eede

56. Powertrip -
Nightmare Logic
(Southern Lord)
Whether it's a tirade against fanatical Christians on 'Soul Sacrifice' or 'Crucifixation', criticising social apathy on 'Executioner's Tax' or 'Waiting To Die' or a cry for revolt on 'Firing Squad' and 'Ruination', Gale's lyrics are a call to action, backed by relentless, crushing thrash metal. This is no retro throwback, Power Trip have poured their genuine, obsessive love of early thrash, but also Cro-Mags, Prong and Black Flag to create a boiling pot of modern metal mastery. Louise Brown

55. Japan Blues -
Sells His Record Collection
(Japan Blues)
By stitching together various different records taken from across his collection, differing in style or sometimes era, he showcases the rich depth of the music by which he is so drawn to. Inoyama Land’s ‘Glass Chaim’ sits alongside a stern Japanese spoken word sample on ‘Everything Passes’ while ‘The Sun Goddess Steps Out In Old Asakusa’ stretches out across almost 12 breathtaking minutes bringing together the contrasting elements of Williams’ record collection into something that is far more than the sum of its parts. Christian Eede

54. I, Ludicrous -
Songs From The Sides Of Lorries
(Old King Lud)

It would be difficult to file them next to anything, although one always presumed Half Man Half Biscuit and The Wedding Present hovering within earshot. Pretty much unchanged, they have reached their ninth album and they have lost little of their wry sparkle. When you finish listening to these songs, stand up and stride outside - it feels like walking from a cinema after watching a particularly affecting film. (Which doesn't happen so often, these days.) You do feel as though you have spent time languishing in someone else's intriguing mindset. I can't think of a higher compliment. Mick Middles

53. The Inward Circles -
And Right Lines Limit And Close All Bodies
(Corbel Stone Press)
By subjecting his panoply of string instruments (cello, bouzouki, viola) to so many degenerative effects, Skelton is using them as a metaphor for the degradation of the human body through the adverse influence of time and the natural world. Crucial here is that the instruments be acoustic: even if the methods of altering and disintegrating them are digital, the result is an organic transformation of familiar sounds. Joseph Burnett

52. Deaf Kids -
Configuração do Lamento
(Neurot Recordings)
Brazil’s Deaf Kids are one of those bands buoyed by a mystic kind of momentum, a ceaselessness whose source lies in some vital, but unknown spring. Their music is a glorious cacophony, a mixture of pummelling Gnod-esque cataclysms and the traditional sounds of their native Brazil and Latin America; it’s a brutal blend of hardcore punk, metal, experimental noise, and a pumping rhythmic vein with its roots in African and Indian polyrhythm. Patrick Clarke

51. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith -
The Kid
(Western Vinyl)
There are moments in The Kid where Smith’s ability to meld the electronic and the organic into a symbiotic web of sound and music is comforting and soothing, the harshness of modern noise and atonality sublimated into something that provides a balming comfort. Bob Cluness

50. Alan Vega-
IT
(Fader)

As much as a record about Alan Vega's awareness of impending death, IT is a diatribe against the last decades of American politics, the Vietnam continuity through Iraq and Afghanistan, the violence that continues to sweep lives and limbs from the young men of rust-belt towns yet hands the votes of their parents to Donald Trump. Luke Turner

49. Errorsmith -
Superlative Fatigue
(PAN)
Errorsmith's distinctive synth play lights up Superlative Fatigue, whether it's on the ecstatic workout of 'I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable' or on highlight 'Centroid' with its zaps sounding like the FX of a sci-fi movie. Elsewhere, pitch-shifted vocals form the tracks' melodic backbones with the producer himself characterising the vocals as the sounds of androids. Christian Eede

48. Gary Numan -
Savage: Songs From A Broken World
(BMG)

The album's overarching concept and vision of an environmental dystopia brought about by global warming feels pretty fucking real right now. There are some neat segments on 'And It All Began With You' and 'When The World Comes Apart' where our imagined descendants lament our generation's inability to combat climate change. Josh Gray

47. Gazelle Twin -
Kingdom Come
(Anti-Ghost Moon Ray)
Elizabeth Bernholz's hermetically sealed vision is true, in that she has created her own world with its own internal logic and rules; a world that doesn't seem to interact with much outside of her perimeter event horizon. A world that, for the most part, she refuses to explain. John Doran

46. Perc -
Bitter Music
(Perc Trax)
With an eye on the disused factories and the discarded bodies of its workers Bitter Music, despite its harsh nature, has an almost faint whiff of nostalgia for a time and a worldview that we knew and thought we understood. Our views of the future are now much grander and more terrifying. Bob Cluness

45. Visible Cloaks -
Reassemblage
(RVNG Intl.)
Reassemblage is a peculiar and peculiarly interesting proposition. Using cross-continental and inter-generational influences, Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile have managed to weave together – or reassemble, if you will – a tapestry that foregrounds each of its component parts without diverting attention from the idea of its cohesive whole. Karl Smith

44. LCD Soundsystem-
American Dream
(DFA)

American Dream is profound, affecting, weird, elegant and awkward. It is sad, euphoric and, in places, mysterious. What’s so appealing about this fourth LCD album is that it feels unconcerned with who it is or isn’t appealing to. Murphy recently wrote on his blog of feeling the need to make a record that’s “better than anything we’ve done before” as a way of making things up to fans who feel cheated by the band’s resurrection. But ‘better’ here feels more like honest, rather than crowd-pleasing. Sophie Harris

43. Al-Namrood -
Enkar
(Shaytan)
Al Namrood, whose utterly uncompromising and utterly brilliant new album Enkar was released in May, are Saudi Arabia’s only black metal band, one of the most intense musical forces in the world, let alone the Middle East, but must remain anonymous for their own safety. Patrick Clarke

42. British Sea Power -
Let The Dancers Inherit The Party
(Golden Chariot)

This is essentially their Bossanova or Little Creatures, an LP that brings their skewed pop sensibilities to the fore and mostly excises the extended elegiac atmospherics and any overly wacky digressions. When these elements are present, they’ve been blended into the record’s pop concoctions – at least five of which could be 'Velourias' or 'Roads To Nowhere', were the contemporary music business more accommodating. Bernie Brooks

41. Botanist -
Collective: The Shape Of He To Come
(Avantgarde Music)
While I love, love, love the Botanist’s trademark acoustic, one man, eco-apocalyptic green metal, Collective: The Shape Of He To Come is a fantastic and welcome leap forward for the project. After seven albums in as many years, Californian Otrebor has expanded the Botanist to become a band with multiple vocalists - somehow without compromising their unique sound. John Doran

40. Teleplasmiste -
Frequency Is The New Ecstasy
(House Of Mytholog)
Empowering utopianism or hippy-dippy life-affirming twaddle? What could so easily be the latter is assuredly not so with the capable hands of Teleplasmiste at the knobs and controls. They demonstrate conclusively that frequency is the same old ecstatic progenitor it ever was, lifting off and enveloping time and space through the essential purity of all-consuming sound. Richard Fontenoy

39. The Caretaker -
Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stage 3
(History Always Favours The Winners)
“I think I’m coming to the end of The Caretaker. I just can’t see where I can take it after this. My final idea has been to give the whole project dementia. Originally I was going to make one recording and take it down into the abyss over a period of three years. So the idea would have been to do one recording and degrade it, to process it down so you would get a continuation from the start to the end point. But then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be better to give the whole project dementia?” Leyland James Kirby

38. The Granite Shore -
Suspended Second
(Occultation)
There is never a dull moment here. By the time you get to the standout track, 'The Performance of a Lifetime' (what a Distractions song that would have been) you are left in no doubt that, above all else, this is an album offering great and wholly affecting beauty. Mick Middles

37. Chloe x Halle -
The Two Of Us
(Parkwood Entertainment)

There are moments that recall the choppy, haphazard control of ‘Say My Name’-era Destiny’s Child, spliced with some of the more brazen sounds from Pitch Perfect (this is meant in a positive way). The unrelenting sense of confidence, their striking vocal ranges, and the immersive production all make this a fascinating, thrilling pleasure to listen to. Tara Joshi

36. Kemper Norton -
Hungan
(Self-Released)
In case it needs spelling out, Hungan is a masterpiece. Kemper Norton has plugged into tradition to produce genuine innovation, refreshed a legend to outpace most producers working today. We could pick the tale apart and look at what grabs us: the wild power of the berserker, the thrills and damage wrought by transgressive self-advancement, the destructive power of greed. Lee Arizuno

35. Jlin -
Black Origami
(Planet Mu)
More than footwork, then, Black Origami feels closer to the spirit of Photek, Squarepusher or Aphex Twin in the mid 90s, when these producers took the rhythmic intensity of drum and bass and squeezed and contorted it into fascinating new shapes and it is notable that Aphex played a couple of Jlin tracks at his recent US DJing comeback. Ben Cardew

34. Re-TROS -
Before The Applause
(Modern Sky)
Re-TROS hop from one genre to the next, always with the devotion to do each of their influences justice – as they did in the past with post-punk – but this time with an added bite of something that is entirely their own. This is a remarkable album, and easily good enough to send them global. Patrick Clarke

33. Thurston Moore -
Rock N Roll Consciousness
(Caroline International)

This is Thurston Moore’s nine millionth record. And it’s a peach. From the cosmic, matriarchist poetry (supplied by London-based artist Radieux Radio), to the chiming waterfall interplay between Moore and James Sedwards, to the intermittent rupturing and reverberant doom chords, to the luxurious structural dynamics that unfurl like an exhalation of smoke in a large room, eventually seeping into all corners, this one’s a keeper. John Doran

32. Arca -
Arca
(XL)

Where frenetic electronics had previously held court on an album like Mutant, Arca puts Alejandro Ghersi's voice, gifted to us in Spanish throughout, thoroughly at centrestage – illuminated under a single, high-intensity spotlight in a room otherwise cloaked in total darkness. Karl Smith

31. Björk -
Utopia
(One Little Indian)

Björk lets her voice unravel, she is forceful and vulnerable at once. She moves from describing an abstract moment of sexual intimacy towards intimacy of friendship and beyond that. Björk would never lie to us, and that honesty is a golden intimacy. Lottie Brazier

30. Vince Staples -
Big Fish Theory
(Def Jam)

There is so much to unpack here, particularly for an album that clocks in at 36 minutes. Staples has a lot to say - perhaps unsurprising given the urgency of America’s race problem and his relatively recent rise to fame. Tara Joshi

29. Vanishing -
Vanishing
(Tombed Visions)
His words come flowing dynamically out of him in an East Yorkshire accent as heavy and blunt as a cosh; a necrotic black metal shriek; a granular baritone drawl; a tremulous whisper that rises and rises towards an ever ascending note of anxiety ringing clear like a struck bell. John Doran

28. Nicole Mitchell -
Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds
(FPE)
Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds is one of the year’s most remarkable albums, a visionary Afro-futurist suite that takes in electro-acoustic improv, avant-rock, gospel and blues. Stewart Smith

27. $hit & $hine -
Total Shit!
(Diagonal)
It’s probably best we skip over the cavalier (but excellent) use of sampling here and simply observe that Total Shit is $hit & $hine’s best album, but as with The Fall, by now you should expect that from the current one. John Doran

26. BNNT -
The Multiverse
(Instant Classic)
There’s a point about halfway through ‘The Last Illiterate’, the first track of the BNNT’s excellent new record The Multiverse, where the Polish duo slip into one of the most gurn-inducing furrows of devastating groove I’ve heard in a very long time. I’m listening to it as I type, and the man across me on the train looks genuinely concerned for my wellbeing as I try to suppress the all-consuming power of it. Patrick Clarke

25. Justin Walter -
Unseen Forces
(Kranky)
Putting to use the EVI (electronic valve instrument), a rare wind-controlled analogue synth, Walter employs a mostly improvisatory process across Unseen Forcs, something which he describes as “exploring melody through intuition”. Opener ‘1001’ sees the EVI and Walter’s trumpet merge seamlessly in a collision of melody and drones. The title track takes on a jazzier tone, a piano and the EVI pummelling you in the gentlest way possible. Christian Eede

24. Algiers -
The Underside Of Power
(Matador)

The blending of seemingly disparate, cross-generational, pan-century styles of music - Franklin's gospel vocals that veer into screams, Mahan's sulking bass, Tesche's grubby guitars and Tong's rhythmic pounding - and the omission of any real, tangible references to current events beyond subtext points to something much deeper. Something much older. And something much, much darker in its nefarious reach and longevity over the course of human existence. It is a nod, to quote Frantz Fanon once more, to the fact that “Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.” Karl Smith

23. Endon -
Through The Mirror
(Daymare)
Through The Mirror – Endon’s second album proper, with some EPs, compilations and a collaboration with Boris in the middle – sprang from nowhere for me, and is just sickeningly overwhelming. Equal parts strafing electronic noise and chaotic old-skool emo violence/metallic hardcore, all 47 minutes bulge with operatic bombast, and amount to something ineffable and stunning. Noel Gardner

22. Madonnatron -
Madonnatron
(Trashmouth)
‘Mother's Funeral’ is zippy and cheery, full of glee. There’s rock 'n' roll organs, knee trembling and hip swinging, a lumbering horror-film beat. It is grotesque and manic, it has that old-fashioned, sticky postwar Englishness of fairgrounds and paedophiles. Second single ‘Tron’, though, is The Go-Go's playing with The Cramps. They’re singing in the round, with incantations and layers, there’s a chiming alarm on the guitar, sex and witchery. Dizzying and unsettling, carnal and viscous, with a steady thud on drums. Anna Wood

21. Man Forever -
Play What They Want
(Thrill Jockey)
Man Forever have crafted something truly unique: a spiritual jazz album for agnostics. Where Coltrane – and more recent voyagers such as Kamasi Washington and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – look to the stars and the heavens for inspiration, Man Forever's muse is grounded in the spit, brick and steel of New York City. Play What They Like searches for glimpses of the infinite in the sunlight breaking through a tenement fire escape, in the brash horns of the morning traffic and the clatter of the trains on the ‘L’. But what makes it such a genuinely startling and unique record is what it finds there. Nothing less than miracles. Mat Colegate

20. Rûwâhîne -
Ifriqiyya Electrique
(Glitterbeat)
The Ifriqiyya Electrique project was formed in the Djerid Desert in southern Tunisia, home to the Banga ritual of Sidi Marzuq. The Banga is a key annual event for many in southern Tunisia, seeing people accommodating the concept of a possessing spirit rather than expelling it. The Banga is also a musical tradition, built around percussion and commanding voices, with an element of ritualism, encouraging people to feel the music in a state of trance more than anything else. Mateusz Kaczyński

19. Circle -
Terminal
(Southern Lord)
Every aspect of the six-man machine that is Circle is firing on all cylinders, but even this veteran admirer was astonished by the title track and its breathtaking raid on the territory of The Stooges. The infinite nature of riff-making can summon the most elemental solutions – Terminal is one such beast, a glorious retooling of 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' as a 21st-century motorik classic, a brilliant transformation of a rock cornerstone into one of the most immediate and enchanting pieces Circle has ever created. Kevin Mccaighy

18. Jane Weaver -
Modern Kosmology
(Fire)
What makes Modern Kosmology such a joy is that it comes as sharp and welcome relief to so many of the serious and po-faced purveyors of cynically cosmic vibes. This is music that simultaneously celebrates and explores, that takes pop as its foundation and then builds a multi-layered space on it that welcomes one and all. But it also establishes Jane Weaver as a formidable talent whose ongoing musical journey promises to make some interesting stops and deviations from established routes. Julian Marszalek

17. GNOD -
Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine
(Rocket)
GNOD join the ever growing list of musicians concerned with personhood, dehumanisation and physical deterioration. But their approach is different – they are distinctly non-fantastical in their presentation of people, their lyrics capture everyday details such as the state of someone's nails, their hair, their work failures and private behaviours. Where other artists provide an implicit, ominous reference to dehumanisation through visual means, GNOD are explicit in their references, picking out situations and conditions of human exploitation and obscenity. Lottie Brazier

16. Laura Cannell-
Hunter Huntress Hawker
(Brawl)
Cannell’s violin is alive and has strange powers. She uses it to conjure ghostly entities from the ruined church, using it like a stone tape to replay the people and animals of the long lost past. She rides horses through woods and across fields, she leads them to be shod and out to gallop, she channels their energy, panic and relief, and she turns the spirit of the place into sound. Cannell casts a spell through her music that makes us feel we have spent half an hour in the East Anglian fields, among the relics and ruins of lost places and their vanished people. Tom Bolton

15. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs -
Feed The Rats
(Rocket)
Feed The Rats is essentially three tracks – two gargantuan bolshie dirges bookending the four-and-a-half minute ‘Sweet Relief’. So let’s start there, with the meat in this fetid sandwich. The name could be a play on Black Sabbath’s ‘Sweet Leaf’ – for a band clearly indebted to the Birmingham icons it bears a modicum of sense. But there is relentlessness here, a flayed aggression, which Ozzy et al could never muster. Matt Baty’s vocals howl, echoing over the cacophony like a mythic warlord and mischief-maker, both from the heavens and from the bowels of the earth. And what a cacophony it is – the guitars come at you predictably but with a juggernaut force that rattles the ribcage. This is classic 70s heavy metal deep-fried in iron and blood. Brendan Telford

14. Snapped Ankles-
Come Play The Trees
(Leaf)
On their debut LP for The Leaf Label this band of anonymous hedge-folk have taken their DIY determination, obsession with film and observational lyricism and put together a collection that is devilishly playful, suitably daft and absolutely belting. In doing so, they speak to the kinetic communities that, in the face of being wheedled out or shut down, may still rise to be the most inventive, vibrant and diverse parts of any city. Come Play The Trees is both an analysis and an invitation. It's the embodiment of the weird, wonderful and true ecology of it all, presented by a bunch of folks dressed like ditches. Eoin Murray

13. Call Super -
Arpo
(Houndstooth)
Seaton's second album sees him continue further down a path previously touched on in past work, in which jazz and techno form natural bedfellows. His father, Dixieland player David Seaton, provides clarinet accompaniment to some of the album’s most arresting tracks, such as ‘Arpo Sunk’ and closer ‘Out To Rust’. Having carved out a distinctive place in the dance music scene for himself in recent years, Seaton once again uses the album format on Arpo to play to all of his strengths. Christian Eede

12. Lotto -
VV
(Instant Classic)
Five tracks from the Polish trio, the follow up to last year’s Elite Felines, further exploring the outer reaches of trance. “There's always this brief period when we start pondering about the direction of our music but usually it turns out to be completely unnecessary. Whatever we may plan ahead, our playing always takes us the other way round," says guitarist Łukasz Rychlicki. "You just need to be very patient and there's always something that will make things moving forward. We never look back.”

11. Liars -
TFCF
(Mute)

TFCF is markedly different from its predecessors. Recorded by Andrew alone in his new Australian home, it's the sound of someone blinking their eyes open in a new reality, as if he were a Robinson Crusoe working out how to survive with the means at his disposal on the shoreline. It feels not only like a man trying to find his musical feet but perhaps himself too, in returning to the country where he was born. Just look at those track titles, all nervously putting stepping into new ground, uncertain at what might be there - 'Cred Woes', 'The Grand Delusional', 'Cliche Suite', 'Staring At Zero'. There's no concept to this Liars album, perhaps for the first time, aside from Andrew obviously, viscerally at times, trying to make sense of who he is and what he does, and why. Luke Turner

10. Oxbow -
Thin Black Duke
(Hydra Head)
If Oxbow albums are snapshots of the lives behind them, it’s clear that Thin Black Duke – the band’s first album since The Narcotic Story in 2007 – finds Robinson and bandmates Niko Wenner, Dan Adams and Greg Davis in very different skins than before. The music suggests composure, and, as far as you might find in Oxbow, a kind of elegance. The kind that comes only after accepting that life is made of fifty shades of entropy and more or less perpetual disarray. Kiran Acharya

9. Lone Taxidermist -
Trifle
(MemeTune)
While Trifle is an album that delivers squelchy, cheeky fun and frolics on a budget, its take on sexy pop times is more honest and refreshing than much of the overwrought earnestness that passes for 'fun' popular music. What makes it especially powerful as a pop record is not its brashness or its queerness (and there’s plenty of that), but that it displays no hint of fear, hesitation or subtext. It lays out all the messy entanglements of fun, sex and pleasure, and invites you to come on in and put some rubber gloves on. Bob Cluness

8. Princess Nokia -
1992 Deluxe
(Rough Trade)

Princess Nokia’s debut album is oscillating, introspective and at times chaotic. It serves to complicate rather than explain or define the New York rapper’s own identity. She is an urban feminist, a ghetto bruja, an Afro-Latina, a New Yorker. She is all this and more. 1992 Deluxe confirms Princess Nokia’s versatility and wide-ranging musical education – the thematic range is matched by the eclecticism of the sonic influences here. On opening track 'Bart Simpson', she demonstrates masterful restraint and stamina, but on the confrontational 'Kitana' she spits fire over a hard-as-nails trap beat: “I step in this bitch and I do what I want / I don't give a damn and I don't give a fuck!” Alice Kemp-Habib

7. James Holden & The Animal Spirits -
The Animal Spirits
(Border Community)

It’s quite a feat to create something so universal, something that uses so many influences to push outside of time and place, without erasing any of the specifics. There are risks with magpie-ing other people’s musical cultures, and Holden has talked about them: “Do you take this foreign music and squash it into your paradigm? Is that okay to do that? … No, it would really disrespectful… It has to be a meeting in the middle… Otherwise, it’s going to be something offensive, exoticism.” And on this album it works - this is a meeting of so many people, ideas, energies, “maximum individualism within the framework of spontaneous egalitarian interaction,” as jazz musician George Lewis wrote, and it is wonderful. Anna Wood

6. Kelela -
Take Me Apart
(Warp)

This is a record that deals frankly with relationships and sex – ‘S.O.S.’, for example, finds her texting a lover asking them to come around (“I could touch myself babe, but it’s not the same if you could stop and help me out”). There’s a visceral rawness to the whole thing, but none of it feels overbearing – instead, it’s delicate, deliberate, and highly curated. It’s telling that some of the songs on Take Me Apart have actually existed for years, but are only coming out now – with striking prescience, as early as 2013 Kelela knew that she wanted tracks like ‘Enough’ and ‘Jupiter’ for an album, not the tape or the EP (“I knew when some things were born they just weren’t ready to be shared, because it didn’t fit the trajectory – this is not first season, this is deep in!”). Tara Joshi

5. Nadine Shah -
Holiday Destination
(1965)
Heavy topics don’t have to be delivered heavy-handedly, and Nadine Shah’s third album is deft in dealing with uncomfortable subject matter and the vexed issue of how we treat our fellow human beings. As a second-generation immigrant – her father is Pakistani and her mother is English of Norwegian descent - Shah is well placed to tackle these thorny issues head-on, offering a refreshing take from a perspective that rarely gets a look in. For this second-generation immigrant, there’s a moment of air-punching validation on ‘Out The Way’ when Shah hits back at those detractors and trolls: “Where would you have me go? / I’m second-generation don’t you know?” Holiday Destination isn’t easy listening but nor is it uncomfortable. Shah is smart enough to apply nuance along with light and shade. This doesn’t feel like a jab to the chest or an empty slogan barked from a megaphone, but the start of an ongoing and developing dialogue. Consequently, the album’s joys and rewards open slowly and incrementally, and with each repeated visit come new rewards. Julian Marszalek

4. The Moonlandingz -
Interplanetary Class Classics
(Transgressive)

Right from the first song, 'Vessels', there's filthy motorik stomp, grabby synth riffs, soaring swirling B-movie sci-fi electronics and just a lot of very very good songwriting. Saoudi's voice is sad and sinister, fuzzy; often he's screeching and yowling, occasionally he has a touch of Vic Reeves' club style or the R White's secret lemonade drinker, then there's that arch Nick Cave spookiness, then he is plaintive, desperate, appalled and fascinated by human proclivities. As with Fat White Family, there's plenty of prodding at open wounds and a disdain for social propriety. 'Lufthanza Man', for example, is a singalong tune about the Germanwings pilot who crashed his plane into the Alps, killing 150 passengers and crew; it manages to look straight at the mindboggling horror of it with a kind of sweet melancholy, as well as an excellent scuzzy riff that sounds a bit like Wings' 'Live And Let Die' and retro space-travel beeps and swooshes. Anna Wood

3. Fever Ray -
Plunge
(Rabid)

Karin Dreijer’s second Fever Ray album transforms lust into something radical and liberating. On the jittery ‘This Country’, she goes as far as to imagine herself as a sort of flesh-seeking freedom fighter, her libido flattened by a tyrannical state that “makes it hard to fuck”. She battles back with S&M (“Gag me, awake my fighting spirit”) and utopian turn-ons (“Free abortions! And clean water!”), boiling down her resistance into a simple manifesto: “Every time we fuck, we win.” We can overcome, in other words; we can come. Ben Hewitt

2. Zimpel/Ziołek -
Zimpel/Ziołek
(Instant Classic)
The forces of nature manifest themselves on Zimpel/Ziołek through a sort of organic, sequiturial logic, snaking from one moment to the next like a vine clambering up the side of a house. Several of the arpeggios and looped phrases the duo use are almost childishly simple, even if they’re then rearranged and deployed with increasing rhythmic complexity. It brings to mind the mathematical logic visible throughout the natural world - the Fibonacci sequence in a tree’s branches, the fractals in a fern, the symmetry of a snowflake. Tristan Bath

1. Richard Dawson -
Peasant
(Weird World)

Dawson has described Peasant as “a panorama of a society which is at odds with itself and has great sickness in it, and perhaps doesn’t take responsibility – blame is going in all the wrong directions.” The community portrayed on the album is certainly imbued with a sense of fractiousness, but it’s clear that the potential for change is always there. The album’s bleakest lines are always mirrored by unremittingly positive counterparts. On ‘Soldier’, “I am tired, I am afraid, my heart is full of dread” alternates with “My heart is full of hope"; on ‘Ogre’ the refrain of “When the sun is dying” is offset by the lyric “when the sun is climbing”. While we may be beggars, prostitutes or ogres, there is always the potential for change. Danny Riley




The Quietus Albums Of The Year 2017
  • 1: Richard Dawson - Peasant
  • 2: Zimpel/Ziołek - Zimpel/Ziołek
  • 3: Fever Ray - Plunge
  • 4: The Moonlandingz - Interplanetary Class Classics
  • 5: Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination
  • 6: Kelela - Take Me Apart
  • 7: James Holden & The Animal Spirits - The Animal Spirits
  • 8: Princess Nokia - 1992
  • 9: Lone Taxidermist - Trifle
  • 10: Oxbow - Thin Black Duke
  • 11: Liars - TFCF
  • 12: Lotto - VV
  • 13: Call Super - Arpo
  • 14: Snapped Ankles - Come Play The Trees
  • 15: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - Feed The Rats
  • 16: Laura Cannell - Hunter Huntress Hawker
  • 17: GNOD - Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine
  • 18: Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology
  • 19: Circle - Terminal
  • 20: Rûwâhîne - Ifriqiyya Electrique
  • 21: Man Forever - Play What They Want
  • 22: Madonnatron - Madonnatron
  • 23: Endon - Through The Mirror
  • 24: Algiers - The Underside Of Power
  • 25: Justin Walter - Unseen Forces
  • 26: BNNT - The Multiverse
  • 27: $hit & $hine - Total Shit!
  • 28: Nicole Mitchell - Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds
  • 29: Vanishing - Vanishing
  • 30: Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory
  • 31: Björk - Utopia
  • 32: Arca - Arca
  • 33: Thurston Moore - Rock N Roll Consciousness
  • 34: Re-TROS - Before The Applause
  • 35: Jlin - Black Origami
  • 36: Kemper Norton - Hungan
  • 37: Chloe x Halle - The Two Of Us
  • 38: The Granite Shore - Suspended Second
  • 39: The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stage 3
  • 40: Teleplasmiste - Frequency Is The New Ecstasy
  • 41: Botanist - Collective: The Shape Of He To Come
  • 42: British Sea Power - Let The Dancers Inherit The Party
  • 43: Al-Namrood - Enkar
  • 44: LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
  • 45: Visible Cloaks - Reassemblage
  • 46: Perc - Bitter Music
  • 47: Gazelle Twin - Kingdom Come
  • 48: Gary Numan - Savage
  • 49: Errorsmith - Superlative Fatigue
  • 50: Alan Vega - IT
  • 51: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - The Kid
  • 52: Deaf Kids - Configuração do Lamento
  • 53: The Inward Circles - And Right Lines Limit And Close All Bodies
  • 54: I, Ludicrous - Songs From The Sides Of Lorries
  • 55: Japan Blues - Sells His Record Collection
  • 56: Powertrip - Nightmare Logic
  • 57: Riddlore - Afro Mutations
  • 58: Chastity Belt - I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone
  • 59: Godflesh - Post Self
  • 60: Davy Kehoe - Short Passing Game
  • 61: Total Leatherette - For The Climax Of The Night
  • 62: Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard
  • 63: Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Ambient Black Magic
  • 64: Colleen - A Flame My Love, A Frequency
  • 65: J Hus - Common Sense
  • 66: Unsane - Sterilize
  • 67: Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async
  • 68: SZA - Ctrl
  • 69: Lee Gamble - Mnestic Pressure
  • 70: MXLX - Kicking Away At The Decrepit Walls Til The Beautiful Sunshine Blisters Thru The Cracks
  • 71: Siavash Amini - TAR
  • 72: Yossarians - Fabric Of Time
  • 73: UUUU - UUUU
  • 74: Hey Colossus - The Guillotine
  • 75: Sleaford Mods - English Tapas
  • 76: Sote - Sacred Horror In Design
  • 77: Laraaji - Bring On The Sun
  • 78: Stormzy - Gang Signs & Prayer
  • 79: Laibach - Also Sprach Zarathustra
  • 80: STILL - I
  • 81: Bargou 08 - Targ
  • 82: Aquaserge - Laisse ça être
  • 83: M.E.S.H. - Hesaitix
  • 84: Part Chimp - IV
  • 85: Daniel O'Sullivan - Veld
  • 86: Mario Batkovic - Mario Batkovic
  • 87: Wire - Silver/Lead
  • 88: Laurel Halo - Dust
  • 89: MHYSA - Fantasii
  • 90: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Murder Of The Universe
  • 91: Hannah Peel - Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia
  • 92: Vivienne - STUD
  • 93: Mogwai - Every Country's Sun
  • 94; Actress - AZD
  • 95: Rose Dougall - Stellular
  • 96: Simon Fisher Turner - Giraffe
  • 97: Cardi B - Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2
  • 98: Akatombo - Short Fuse
  • 99: The Bug Vs Earth - Concrete Desert
  • 100: Tetragrammacide - Primal Incinerators Of Moral Matrix

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

Christopher
Dec 4, 2017 10:48am

Thanks, @Quietus, for yet another year of awesome reviews and music news!

There is a typo: It's Jlin not Jin :-)

And the obligatory "how could you miss" rant:
Leyland Kirby - We, so tired of all the darkness in our lives
Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up (very intricate and complex for the Fleet Foxes)
Blanck Mass - World Eater

Christopher

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Matt F
Dec 4, 2017 12:46pm

Before I even read this list - that formatting! GODLIKE!

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Dec 4, 2017 1:16pm

Always an interesting list. Looking at what I've listened to that isn't here, that Sudan Archives record on Stones Throw (maybe it's an E.P. though?). Also, Mark Peters Innerland on Sonic Cathedral (again an E.P. and only came out on F

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No Refugee
Dec 4, 2017 2:15pm

Deaf Kids was 2016.

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ghost fm
Dec 4, 2017 2:37pm

thanks for another fantastic end-year-list. so glad you people cover a wide spectrum of underrated work. listening to Nadine Shah's terrific Holiday Destination. I should also dig a bit deeper into Siavash Amini's TAR. Amazing to hear quality work like his coming from one of the most isolated countries on earth where true art and especially music is frowned at by authorities and the religious echelon.

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Alex
Dec 4, 2017 3:17pm

Nice list. Always good to find some gems that have slipped through the net this past year, so thanks. This lot were unlucky not to make the list!:

Gaussian Curve - The Distance
Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens
Karen Gwyer - Rembo
Broken English Club - The English Beach
Nabihah Iqbal - Weighing of the Heart
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
Mount Kimbie - Love What Survives
Satoshi & Makoto - CZ-5000 Sounds & Sequences
Talaboman - The Night Land
John Maus - Screen Memories
Galcher Lustwerk - Dark Bliss
Forest Swords - Compassion
Dj Python - Dulce Compania
Pacific Alley - Krikor
UMFANG- Symbolic Use of Light

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Noel
Dec 4, 2017 4:01pm

In reply to No Refugee:

if you're a Brazilian who buys short run tapes, yeah. feel like it's reasonable to include the reissue that everyone else heard in this instance

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D
Dec 4, 2017 4:59pm

At the risk of turning this into a Polish love-in I'm surprised you don't find room for The Luminous Guitar Craft of Alameda Duo

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Ian
Dec 4, 2017 5:39pm

Surprised there was no room for EMA - but looking forward to my annual trawl through the goodies on display!

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Matt Wilson
Dec 4, 2017 5:48pm

Great stuff, as ever.
Don`t go bust!
On that note, have you thought about doing an Album of the Month type subscription service, where we pay to support the site and get a download of an album recommended by you lot once a month?
Apologies if there are obvious reasons why this is impractical or a bad idea.

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Dan
Dec 4, 2017 6:08pm

Where else can you get such a great guide? Nowhere else. Thanks as always to tQ and good luck for yr 10th glorious year.
No Mick Head? Fair enough..........
Merry Christmas.

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Tog
Dec 4, 2017 6:13pm

Not moaning but a bit surprised not to see The Horrors and Circuit des Yeux albums. Some gold in here though, and probably loads to discover. Glad to see Unsane getting some love.

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G
Dec 4, 2017 9:33pm

Great list thanks for such a great site. Just wanted to throw in a few more names that for me should be on here:

Sly and the Family drone/Dead neanderthals - Molar Wrench
Ore - Belatedly
Emra Grid - Shay's Vacation House
Object Collection - It's all true

Also the Dj python album is great

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cactusofnorthamerica
Dec 4, 2017 10:00pm

the fall "new facts emerge" seems to be missing from this list. surely this is some sort of typo or stoner gaffe?

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pete
Dec 4, 2017 10:27pm

Wonderful! Thank you so much.

[obligatory moan]
British Sea Power? They could release a wet fart in a hiking sock and you'd salivate yourselves silly over it.
[\obligatory moan]

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pete
Dec 4, 2017 10:27pm

Wonderful! Thank you so much.

[obligatory moan]
British Sea Power? They could release a wet fart in a hiking sock and you'd salivate yourselves silly over it.
[\obligatory moan]

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MT
Dec 4, 2017 10:34pm

Some amazing things here that I missed--some baffling decisions as well! But I do love this publication, you are some of the best curators of sound around. Thanks.

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Gordon
Dec 5, 2017 11:38am

My favourite album of the year is Euros Childs' 'House Arrest'. Going to give that Numan album a go!

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carlos
Dec 5, 2017 11:39am

sad not to see Vitor Rua's Do Androids Dream of Electric Guitars?, кролик's I or II, Ellen Arkbro's For Organ and Brass, or Širom's 2nd.
and was expecting to see Endon and UUUU in a better position.
good list in general though

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Tim
Dec 5, 2017 12:53pm

Brutalism IDLES shocking miss

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W/ non-native english speaker
Dec 5, 2017 12:55pm

Thanks, your lists are always interesting to read. Discovered a lot of good music through them, by the way.

Too bad that Mogwais latest album is included as it is pretty much their weakest output to date.

Now my two cents in terms of missing records:
LAWRENCE ENGLISH - CRUEL OPTIMISM
JOSHUA SABIN - TERMINUS DRIFT
OISEAUX-TEMPÊTE - AL​-​'AN! الآن
BELIEF DEFECT - DECADENT YET DEPRAVED
PLANNING FOR BURIAL - BELOW THE HOUSE

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clem mcculloch
Dec 5, 2017 2:27pm

many many many thanks for putting this together, as usual one of the best ways to catch up on gems I've missed or been too lazy to listen to.

already, the list's reminded me to listen to hannah peel's record and it's a fucking barnstormer - sounds like the future could have sounded had dreams of space exploration not been co-opted by psychotic apocalypto-millenarian billionaires.

a lot of stuff on this list is focused on the future, too unlike the weird atavism dominating many other publication's.

THANKS ALL, NICE ONE

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Chris
Dec 5, 2017 3:12pm

How has Brainwaltzera's Poly-Ana flown under everyone's radar? It's one of the best albums of the year, and decade.

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aintonlyi
Dec 5, 2017 5:58pm

Is there a separate list for The Fall's - New Facts Emerge ??

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Dec 5, 2017 6:21pm

Glad Bjork, LCD, and Fever Ray are mentioned! I would also add:

The Horrors - V
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest
Perfume Genius - No Shape
Destroyer - Ken

And electronically:
Hercules & Love Affair - Omnion
Goldfrapp - Silver Eye
Matthew Mercer - Nebulae; Starward: https://matthewmercer.bandcamp.com/

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Dec 5, 2017 6:49pm

Thought Here Lies Man would have been ranked higher come the year's end. Whatever, cheers for flagging that up earlier in 2017. Would have passed me by without your missionary efforts.

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deridada
Dec 5, 2017 7:57pm

I had to blink, rub my eyes, and check the list three times in disbelief that Circuit Des Yeux's brilliant and beautiful Reaching for Indigo did not make the list.

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Ζαφείρης
Dec 5, 2017 10:58pm

Oh lala! Thanks mates,but try also to make a choice using spotify as well.

p.s. I try to remind if the previous years had written just the list in the end of the article

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Sam
Dec 5, 2017 11:58pm

awesome list, as usual. full of TREATS. only album I would've liked to see on here is DAWN's incredible "Redemption."

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hicountryho
Dec 6, 2017 7:18am

In reply to :

No love for The Clientele's Music for the Age of Miracles? May not be their best ever, but I love it nonetheless and thrilled for a new one from them.

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DP
Dec 6, 2017 1:23pm

Everyone is wrong I am right, here is my list.
Diamanda Galas
The Fall
The Horrors
Goldie
Smagge & Cross
Husker Du
Lal & Mike Waterson

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Billy Aduk
Dec 7, 2017 10:33am

Interesting list. Good to see Davy Kehoe, James Holden and Hey Colossus in there.

I liked:-

Eat Lights Become Lights - Nature Reserve
Banana - Live
Wet Hair - The Floating World
Guerilla Toss - GT Ultra
Sacred Paws - Strike A Match
Jonas Reinhardt & Jürgen Müller - The Encyclopedia of Civilizations Vol.1: Egypt
Pega Monstro - Casa de Cima
Colin Stetson - All This I Do For Glory
Caterina Barbieri - Patterns of Consciousness
Terry - Remember Terry
Sheer Mag - Need to Feel Your Love & Compilation (I, II, & III)
The World - First World Record
Madwort Saxophone Quartet - Live At Hundred Years Gallery
Ex Eye - Ex Eye
Tarawangsawelas - Wansi
Scattered Purgatory - Sua-Hiam-Zun

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Christian Eede
Dec 7, 2017 12:18pm

In reply to Sam:

Redemption was released in 2016 and featured at number 9 on our list for last year.

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Dec 7, 2017 5:26pm

Not bad, though Roger Waters' Is This The Life We Really Want? would make it to my list. Problem the album that I've played the most from this year's releases.

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pumpsiegreen
Dec 7, 2017 10:05pm

Spotify playlist (ordered) here: https://open.spotify.com/user/pumpsiegreen/playlist/0sImGRKEqbJwWTsghMCHjD

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Dan
Dec 8, 2017 1:26am

There is no reason or excuse for Laibach being on this list.

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Van Christopther
Dec 8, 2017 12:33pm

In reply to Dan:

idiot.

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Dec 8, 2017 6:10pm

In reply to Van Christopther :

You an all mate. It's an opinion like everything else here.

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Dec 9, 2017 8:19am

I like what you do here very much. Thank you for letting people comment freely.

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Tog
Dec 9, 2017 9:12am

Question: Who made number 92, Here Lies Man or Vivienne?

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Unknown Operator
Dec 9, 2017 4:03pm

For your considerarion:

King Krule: The Ooz
Slowdive: Slowdive
Kendrick Lamar: DAMN
Twin Peaks Limited Event Series Soundtrack
PAN : Mono No Aware

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Meet New Weird Brtitain, Same as Old Weird Britain
Dec 10, 2017 3:02am

Gazelle Twin's Kingdom Come is a 3-track EP, not an album.
Laurel Halo, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Davy Kehoe, Visible Cloaks, Laraaji, Simon Fisher Turner and Japan Blues all deserve a much higher place on the list.
I would have included:
Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens
FIS & Rob Thorne - Clear Stones
Shabazz Palaces - Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines
Sexton Ming - Inevitable Stupid
Basic Rhythm - The Basics
Saagara - 2
Equiknoxx - Colón Man
Jana Rush - Pariah
Belief Defect - Decadent Yet Depraved
Spoek Mathambo - Mzansi Beat Code
Ekoplekz - Bioprodukt
Colin Stetson - All This I Do For Glory
WaqWaq Kingdom – Sensekai

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John Doran
Dec 10, 2017 7:32am

In reply to Meet New Weird Brtitain, Same as Old Weird Britain:

...and yet if you click on the Kingdom Come bandcamp it reveals itself to be a seven track album. Any chance you're thinking of the physical EP of the same name and not the digital album that we're clearly talking about.

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Sam
2 days ago

In reply to Christian Eede:

oh wow TIME.
Y'all are on it, of course.

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Ben
7 hours ago

Thanks guys for another interesting annual list. Already discovered a couple of new loves.

Ctrl-F through the comments and all but one of my "how could you miss"s have already been mentioned. My AOTY isn't here though:

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Probably the best funerary doom album in a decade. Check it out!

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onceler
4 hours ago

In reply to Unknown Operator:

i like your thinking here, although I haven't heard PAN yet, agree with the rest. I will check out lots of things on this list as I'm all muddled in american-ness and don't hear always about more stuff that's even a few yards outside the US or the UK, 'cause I'm dumb and busy. I would add Dec. 2016's 'What Graceless Dawn' by Worm Ouroboros which didn't have enough time at the end of 2016 to make any of the lists but which I probably turned to more than any other album this year. do folks in the UK not like 'the OOZ'? also - Iglooghost 'neo wax bloom', Brockhampton 'Saturation I & II'. thanks for all of your hard work listening & compiling!

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