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The Quietus Albums Of The Year So Far Chart 2019
The Quietus , July 1st, 2019 09:43

It's the mid-point of 2019 so here's our Albums Of The Year So Far chart which was compiled by tQ's editorial staff with help from the team of columnists

Over the past four weeks, my Quietus co-founder John Doran has been broadcasting a series on the phenomenon we're calling New Weird Britain on Radio 4. I've been tuning in not just with pride that my friend is on the airwaves, but also a genuine sense that this perhaps marks one of the greatest achievements of our digital websheet in the eleven years since we launched. To have music by Guttersnipe, Gazelle Twin, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Richard Dawson, Richard Skelton, Natalie Sharp, Sophie Cooper and so on played alongside I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and The Archers feels like a victory. The programme allowed music that we deeply care about to be treated seriously in the mainstream, rather than patronised, as often happens in the media, as being deliberately obtuse, preserve of an elite.

The New Weird Britain series explored the reasons why, for so many of us, this music made in the margins helps us deal with issues around mental health, gender and sexuality, not to mention as a means of resistance to the terrible age we appear to be in. This music is visceral and important, and changes lives. We don't want to keep it in a niche, but to share it with as wide and diverse an audience as possible - but we need your help to continue being able to do so.

This brings us to the difficult part. It's nearly two years now since we last issued a serious plea for help at The Quietus with a fundraising campaign that raised enough money to keep us going after a really tough summer. Unfortunately the global advertising situation has got worse, not better, with Facebook and Google continuing to take all the ad revenue that once went to independent publications like ours. In recent months, we've seen editorial sites like Red Bull and DrownedInSound (to whom we owe eternal gratitude for helping us be born) close, and the BBC slashing Radio 3's vital Late Junction to a day a week. It increasingly feels like The Quietus is a lone outpost for the celebration and dissemination of odd culture both new and old, weird and less so, British and beyond. We really need your help to survive, so if you can, please do support us via a one-off or monthly donation at the PayPal link below. The price of a pint or a coffee a month can make a huge, huge difference.

Once again, I feel that this is one of the finest years of music we've enjoyed since we founded the site back in 2008, showing that pop from Carly Rae Jepsen, Little Simz and Solange outclasses the Algorithm Friendly Unit Shifters you'll find elsewhere, and makes perfect sense sitting next to Matmos, Gum Takes Tooth and The Caretaker. You'll also note that there's New Weird Everywhere on the list, with killer records from Ifriqiyya Electrique, Alameda 5, and Sote. It fills our hearts with joy to celebrate this music with you. Here's to a fantastic rest of 2019. - Luke Turner, 28th June 2019

If you would like to support tQ as an independent publisher via a one-off donation, click here.



This chart was compiled from ballots by Bobby Barry, Paddy Clarke, Christian Eede, John Doran and Luke Turner, with help from Teju Adeleye, Jennifer Lucy Allan, Tristan Bath and Noel Gardner. It was compiled by Doran and built with help from Clarke and Eede.

100. YERÛŠELEM -
The Sublime
(Debemur Morti Productions)

99. Kevin Richard Martin -
Sirens
(Room 40)
98. Budokan Boys -
Dad Is Bad
(Baba Vanga)

97. Ratka -
Falha Comum
(Nada Nada Discos)
96. Charlemagne Palestine x Rrose -
The Goldennn Meeenn + Sheeenn
(Eaux)

95. VC-118A -
Inside
(Delsin)

94. Hannah Peel & Will Burns -
Chalk Hill Blue
(Caught By The River)
93. upsammy -
Wild Chamber
(Nous'klaer Audio)

92. James Holden -
A Cambodian Spring OST
(Border Community)
91. Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky -
Droneflower
(Sacred Bones)
90. Black Peaches -
Fire In The Hole
(Hanging Moon)
89. Kate Tempest -
The Book Of Traps And Lessons
(Fiction)
88. 9T Antiope & Siavash Amini -
Harmistice
(Hallow Ground)
87. Sly & The Family Drone -
Gentle Persuaders
(Love Love)
86. Jane Weaver -
Loops In The Secret Society
(Fire)
85. Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano -
FRKWYS Vol. 15: serenitatem
(RVNG Intl.)
84. Rose Elinor Dougall -
A New Illusion
(Vermilion)
83. SØS Gunver Ryberg -
Entangled
(Avian)

82. Low Jack -
Jingles du Lieu-dit
(Editions Gravats)

81. Ela Orleans -
Movies For Ears: An Introduction To...
(Night School)

80. Equiknoxx -
Eternal Children
(Equiknoxx Music)

79. King Midas Sound -
Solitude
(Cosmo Rhythmatic)

78. Laura Cannell -
The Sky Untuned
(Brawl)

77. Nodding God -
Play Wooden Child
(House Of Mythology)

76. Erland Cooper -
Sule Skerry
(Phases)

75. Boards Of Canada -
Societas X Tape
(NTS)

74. Sote -
Parallel Persia
(Diagonal)

73. Spaceship -
Outcrops
(WIAIWYA)

72. Jtamul -
Lubuni
(Objects Limited)

71. Sharon Van Etten -
Remind Me Tomorrow
(Jagjaguwar)

70. Lafawndah -
Ancestor Boy
(sferic)

69. Johanna Knutsson -
Tollarp Transmissions
(Kontra Musik)

68. Membranes -
What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away
(Cherry Red)

67. MoE / Mette Rasmussen -
Tolerancia Picante
(ConradSound)

66. Nivhek -
After Its Own Death / Walking In A Spiral Towards The House
(W.25TH / Superior Viaduct)

65. Ondness -
Not Really Now Not Any More
(Holuzam)

64. Autechre -
Warp Tapes 89 - 93 1 & 2
(NTS / WARP)

63. Maayan Nidam -
Sea Of Thee
(Perlon)

62. Xiu Xiu -
Girl With Basket Of Fruit
(Polyvinyl)

61. Tyler, The Creator -
IGOR
(Columbia)

60. Theon Cross -
Fyah
(Daydream Library)

59. The Caretaker -
Everywhere At The End Of Time (Stage 6)
(History Always Favours The Winners)

58. Robert Worby -
Factitious Airs (Electronic Music)
(Persistence Of Sound)

57. Black To Comm -
Seven Horses For Seven Kings
(Thrill Jockey)

56. Anthony Naples -
Fog FM
(ANS)

55. Pheeyownah -
Silver
(Labrador)

54. Rainer Veil -
Vanity
(Modern Love)

53. Deaf Kids -
Metaprogramação
(Neurot)

52. The Comet Is Coming -
Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery
(Impulse!)

51. LOFT -
and departt from mono games
(Tri Angle)

50. 75 Dollar Bill -
I Was Real
(tak:til/Thin Wrist)
It’s a tough record to summarise quickly. There’s jazz, blues, post rock and folk at least. There’s distinctly non-Western strands, a tranced, shamanistic fury to everything, and a deft application of different kinds of harmonic distortion. Yet, it’s not so demanding to hear. In fact, it’s pretty accessible. Nothing here is troubling, nothing jars or feels incongruous.
Johnny Lamb

49. Art Ensemble of Chicago -
We Are On The Edge
(Erased Tapes)
‘Chi-Congo 50’, originally a Malachi Favors composition from 1970, is a percussion-led heater of intangible rhythmic fluidity, and a showcase of sorts for Titos Sompa and Enoch Williamson, both present in the group’s orbit almost from the beginning, and Famoudou Don Moye, after Mitchell the most venerable full-time member. ‘Saturday Morning’ and ‘Fanfare And Bell’ highlight the Art Ensemble’s rhythm-driven and classical leanings respectively, cellist Tomeka Reid forging an especially striking presence on the latter. And ‘Oasis At Dusk’, which closes the first disc, is perhaps the most prominent platform for Mitchell’s saxophone: free without being tonally harsh, teeming with snaky fervour that belies his age.
Noel Gardner

48. Harrga -
Héroïques Animaux De La Misère
(Avon Terror Corps)
Certainly, this is harrowing stuff, but it never feels exploitative. Héroïques Animaux De La Misèreis an act of solidarity. By taking the name Harrga ("a burn"), de Saint Paul and Prado honour the harragas, those refugees who must burn their papers – and by extension, their identities – before attempting a border crossing. It would be easy, I think, for some to describe Harrga's music as oppressive, but that would be wrong-headed. This is liberation music. How could it ever be easy? Why wouldn't it have teeth? Why wouldn't it need to bite?
Bernie Brooks

47. Solange -
When I Get Home
(Columbia)
Where 2016’s A Seat At The Table placed its focus on the black diaspora experience, When I Get Home doesn’t so boldly set out its intentions. Moving further away from the jaunty sheen of the True EP that made so many fall in love with Solange’s music earlier this decade, her latest album has more in common with the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane. With many of its tracks clocking in at under three minutes, When I Get Home has a collage-like, breezy feel to it with Solange taking control of all parts of the project, producing the full record herself and assembling an excellently utilised cast of collaborators that includes Playboi Carti, Cassie, Abra, Gucci Mane and Scarface.
Christian Eede

46. slowthai -
Nothing Great About Britain
(Method)
In the zany video for the snotty and gloriously pugilistic title track, as bittersweet a banger as you'll hear about patriotism, Slowthai stands outside a council estate brandishing a sword, wearing a printed white t-shirt displaying an eyeless photograph of Theresa May. With royal poise, he places the weapon on the shoulders of black-hooded souls from lost cities and forgotten towns. These ordinary town folk, he seems to suggest, are the real knights.
Colin Gannon

45. Jennifer Walshe -
ALL THE MANY PEOPLS
(Migro Records)
Walshe's work here is manic, cobbled, and unquestionably a product of the internet, but much like the best meme aggregators, its seemingly haphazard presentation is actually serious, well-considered, and a creative act in itself. With that in mind, ALL THE MANY PEOPLS might be compared to someone whispering meme texts in your ear for nearly an hour: it's surreal and occasionally uncomfortable, but it's also a barrel of laughs.
Dustin Krcatovich

44. Årabrot -
Die Nibelungen
(Pelagic Records)
Die Nibelungen comes from the mighty Årabrot’s live soundtrack to Fritz Lang’s classic silent films of the same name. Kjetil Nernes’s shifting collective brought in members of Gnod, Nurse With Wound and Current 93 for a five hour long performance, now honed and trimmed into two extraordinary 20-minute movements. ‘Part I’ is disparate, ominous and intense in its sparseness, showing Nernes’ brilliance when it comes to atmospherics. Disparate industrial grinds and screeches cut arrhythmically through the drone, but so to do moments of real beauty. Then, on ‘Part II’, the band begin to let loose a little. Rumbles of guitar give way to a hint of the hard-riffing power of Årabrot’s last two studio LPs, but always handled with a deft dynamism that betrays the depth and skill of one of the modern greats.
Patrick Clarke

43. The Specials -
Encore
(UMC)
The band could not hope to recapture the same sort of angst as they did when they wrote their first two records, so it's pleasing they don’t make some lame attempt to do that. It might be a little hackneyed to find parallels between the fuckery we face now, and the politics that gave birth to the band in the 70s, but they legitimately reflect a more modern sense of tension. They have the genuine anger and dejection of a group who have already fought racism and violence once, and must now do so again. “We never fought for freedom for nasty little brutes like you / to undo the work we do” sings Lynval Golding on ‘Embarassed By You’.
Patrick Clarke

42. J Majik -
Full Circle
(Infrared Records)
New albums from some of the jungle and D&B scenes’ originators and key ‘90s figures aren’t always a surefire win in 2019. On his first album in over 20 years though, J Majik reconnects with the bassweight and unrivalled Amen choppage that made his records for labels such as Metalheadz and Infrared over two decades ago classics of the genre still today. While Full Circle sees J Majik looking back to his earlier records, this is certainly no attempt to recapture past glories. Instead, the producer turns in a collection of easy-going, inventive club tracks loaded with cheeky samples, stunning synths and sound system-shattering breakbeats.
Christian Eede

41. Abdu Ali -
FIYAH!!!
(Bandcamp)
The beats here may slap like club beats slap, but the sounds that twist and turn over them are unlike anything else, mixing the energy of punk, the squelch of p-funk, the strut and heat of ballroom house, the future shock of experimental electronica, and the wild, freeform harmolodics of free jazz – not to mention the unique personality of Abdu Ali themselves, a kind of deep space activist mystic sexual libertine straight out of the fiction of Samuel Delany or Ursula LeGuin – all together in one deeply weird and utterly compelling, unpackageable package.
Robert Barry

40. Deerhunter -
Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
(4AD)
This album isn’t a call-to-arms or doom merchantry, but rather a poetic statement of fact – short stories of and for the anthropocene, the product of a resignation to our inevitable demise. We’re lucky to have got this far, anyway – is it not truly remarkable that everything hasn’t already disappeared?
Diva Harris

39. SPAZA -
SPAZA
(Mushroom Hour Half Hour )
South African experimentalists SPAZA sound equal parts incantation and cosmic message, with shades of Arthur Russell in their rolling congas and staccato strings. A trip, for sure.
Robert Barry

38. Shellac -
The End Of Radio
(Touch & Go)
Shellac of North America played their first Peel Session in 1994, three months before their first album, At Action Park, was released on Touch And Go. Of the four songs they played for BBC radio, only ‘Crow’ made it onto the debut, with ‘Canada’ and ‘Disgrace’ ending up on Terraform in 1998 and ‘Spoke’ only surfacing on Excellent Italian Greyhound in 2007. The second part of the album is more of an honorary Peel Session, given that it is an eight-track live album recorded in front of an audience at Studio 4 of Maida Vale. According to Ken Garner’s very useful book The Peel Sessions, after the DJ died unexpectedly in October 2004, Rob Da Bank hosted his show for the rest of the year, "using Peel's already planned running orders, and already commissioned or recorded sessions" which included this blistering December 1 set. The band dedicated the session “and probably the rest of our career” to the DJ. The undoubted highlight is a strident but poignant ‘The End Of Radio’, complete with alternate lyric: “John Peel was a hell of a man.”
John Doran

37. Altarage -
The Approaching Roar
(Season Of Mist)
Spanish band Altarage revel in the maelstrom of their chaotic metal, and their third album is a swirling pool of noise you’ll never escape. ‘Urn’ takes us on a journey of discovery, beginning on a calm note before the silence is broken to reveal an inner horror, with vocals dredged from the very pits of hell. ‘Hieroglyphic Certainty’ pulls us into the abyss with fiery guitars, and its scant running time is unnerving: there’s the nagging thought that this terror will never end, and Altarage play with this feeling deftly, creating a moment of relief before dragging us back into the whirlpool of horror.
Cheryl Carter

36. Ariana Grande -
thank u, next
(Republic Records)
Coming quickly off the back of 2018 album Sweetener, thank u, next finds Ariana Grande delivering further on that previous LP’s promise. Swapping the balladeering and guest features of past records, thank u, next feels more carefree and vibrant, with Grande linking up with frequent production collaborators Max Martin and Tommy Brown and delivering some of the year’s best pop music in the process.
Christian Eede

35. Astral Social Club & Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra -
Plasma Splice Trifle
(VHF Records)
The music on Plasma Splice Trifle is relaxed, confident and expertly assembled. The three musicians play cheerfully with a roster of wild and cosmic sounds – to their evident pleasure. But the album is more than an exercise in mutual admiration. It channels uninhibited psychedelic joy directly into the listener’s head. Astral Social Club and Grumbling Fur have experienced a meeting of minds, and it is a pleasure to enter their collective headspace.
Tom Bolton

34. Ifriqiyya Electrique -
Laylet El Booree
(Glitterbeat Records)
With the frantic call and response of 'Habeebee Hooa Jooani', the heavy gothic rock of 'Mabbrooka' and the ten and a half minute dancefloor banger 'Galoo Sahara Laleet El Aeed' that fuses Banga chants to Depeche Mode-like darkwave and trippy acid techno, the music of Iffriqyya Electrique is a thing in itself. Neither post-punk with world music textures nor any attempt at an authentic representation of pure Banga, it's a genuine collaboration between French and Tunisian musicians from very different cultures, creating something new while finding exciting common ground.
Ben Graham

33. Hey Colossus -
Four Bibles
(ALTER)
While the higher end of the guitars and electronics ring in your ears, the bass notes are hitting at your central nervous system, stimulating your fight or flight response. It’s not to say that the music sounds panicky, but Four Bibles has energy. It has frazzled electric undercurrents, as on ‘(Decompression)’. Some of the tracks, like ‘Confession Bay’ and ‘Babes of Plague’, combine that frazzled energy with traditional enough song structures to play at being pop songs that could blot you out with noise at a hairpin turn.
Amanda Farah

32. Yugen Blakrok -
Anima Mysterium
(Iapetus Records)
Anima Mysterium makes you engage with its cryptic nature without necessarily giving you any answers. Yugen Blakrok isn’t trying to sell you the myth or the mysticism of astrology et al, it’s just a sphere she exists within; it’s the space she views the world from. She doesn’t explain the codes, she only presents them. And she subverts and mutates rather than pandering to expectations of what a TDE-cosigned rapper ought to sound like. In that way, she stands in a lane disinterested in the fads or fashions of the west – and she’s all the more intriguing for it.
Tara Joshi

31. Lizzo -
Cuz I Love You
(Nice Life)
The result of ‘Cuz I Love You’, ‘Exactly How I Feel’ featuring Gucci Mane – a welcome surprise – and ‘Better In Colour’ was me pretending I was in a modern rendition of Dreamgirls, hairbrush and all. A match made in thicc heaven, ‘Tempo’ features hip hop royalty Missy Elliot, two of the most notable artists to preach self acceptance, telling negative individuals to do one while twerking. “If you see a hater, tell ‘em quit” is something we all need to hear and practice.
Yewande Adeniran

30. My Disco -
Environment
(Downwards)
An exercise in rigorous minimalism, Environment employs a necessarily limited palette. After 'Act', you'll have heard nearly every sort of sound, tempo, and approach you can expect to. What saves the album from being unbearably austere or monotonous is the way MY DISCO attack with nearly every single sound they employ. If not exactly violent, each carries with it the threat of violence, and with that comes tension.
Bernie Brooks

29. Sarah Davachi -
Pale Bloom
(W.25TH / Superior Viaduct)
On Pale Bloom, Davachi returns to her hometown without luggage and pays a heartfelt homage to the revered teacher who enlightened her. She doesn’t do it with an ambitious postmodern masterpiece nor a grand symphonic tribute, but alone on the vast emptiness of the stage. Just a soul and a piano.
Kareem Ghezawi

28. Teeth Of The Sea -
Wraith
(Rocket)
Teeth of the Sea have excelled themselves on this highly rewarding record. Their collaborators - Chlöe Herington and Katharine Gifford as well as Magaletti, and the production skills of Erol Alkan - has given them a new polish, a sophistication, even. While there was never any doubting their psychedelic influences and their way with a groove, Wraith offers something more. Full of variety and unpredictability, like the best science fiction it maps out a dreamworld of our times, a tonic against the deathly thoughts of the small hours.
Tom Bolton

27. Elsa Hewitt -
Citrus Paradisi
(ERH)
Elsa Hewitt’s tracks are like images of the floating world. Blissed out and effervescent, synthesized marimbas and the plucked strings of infinite lyres cascade against fragments of voice, more breath than tone. Programme percussion, like a myriad tiny machines in intricate concert, whirrs and clatters up close in the mix, lending everything in its path an inexorable, unquenchable bounce. You could call Citrus Paradisi vaporwave – it certainly is both vaporous and wavey – but there’s none of the arched brow and conceited pose of that meme-cum-microgenre of the late 00s. Instead this feels more like bubblegum pop from an alternative timeline in which Seefeel and Ryo Nagamatsu were on Top of the Pops every week.
Robert Barry

26. Ossia -
Devil's Dance
(Blackest Ever Black)
The album’s closing tracks - ‘Inertia’ and ‘Vertigo’ - push the LP back into the unknown. The shadowy vocals of the latter suggest a step away from the gloom that runs through much of the album’s first half, but the extended runtime of the record’s closer creates a kind of auditory purgatory, fluctuating between moments of redemption and retribution. A deep and engrossing listen, Devil’s Dance is unapologetically murky.
Christian Eede

25. Sleaford Mods -
Eton Alive
(Extreme Eating)
In Eton Alive we hear one of the finest political lyricists of the time turning inwards as he still follows a rich and empathetic way, dealing with highly relatable issues around the terrible behaviour patterns that are imposed on men by the patriarchy as much as they are on anyone else. This is exactly the sort of conversation that we need to hear men having in this day and age as we work on reconfiguring what masculinity is and can be. As Williamson has it, once again in 'Negative Script', "it's hard work being kind".
Luke Turner

24. Christian Wolff -
Preludes, Variations, Studies And Incidental Music
(Sub Rosa)
John Cage always said Christian Wolff was the most ‘musical’ of the New York School experimentalists. This two disc set from Sub Rosa reveals the Burdocks composer at his most tender and reflective. Played with great sensitivity by Apartment House’s Philip Thomas, these twenty-three mostly short, bruised fragments toy with space and silence, melody and memory like a kitten with a ball of yarn. The influence of Erik Satie is acknowledged by several of the titles and it is with that distinctive mischief and elegant wistfulness of the great velvet gentleman of Arcueil that Wolff leads us, teasingly, across the piano keyboard. Best played with the windows open to mingle with the street noise.
Bobby Barry

23. Anna Meredith -
Eighth Grade OST
(Columbia)
The one-time Camberwell Composers Collective co-founder has produced an electronic soundtrack of dizzying intensity, like EDM with all the macho drops and pumping bass stripped out, still left with all of its thrills, its high-wire fervour, its maximalist delirium. This music plunges the audience immediately and forcefully into Kayla’s emotional world.
Robert Barry

22. Rian Treanor -
ATAXIA
(Planet Mu)
Treanor embraces bass and breaks, often with greater gusto than his first three 12-inches might have led one to expect. He is a greatly skilled programmer who walks that thinnest of lines – music that confounds obvious ideas of what dance music can be, while still being possible to actually dance to – with nous comparable to Aphex or Squarepusher, or fringe footworkers such as Jlin and DJ Paypal.
Noel Gardner

21. MSYLMA -
Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum
(Halcyon Veil)
MSYLMA’s voice drips with sadness, anger, despair and hope, each line delivered in a wash of reverb and echo to make matters all the more otherworldly. To delve into Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum is to submerge oneself into a dream world, drifting along or swallowed whole by Myslma’s bold combination of ragged electronics, subtle melodies and impassioned delivery. On ‘Li-Kul-i Murad-in Hijaa’, this explodes into a cosmic vortex as free-form drums, crackling guitar and buzzing bass all collide like a hurricane sweeping down on a house.
Joseph Burnett

20. International Teachers Of Pop -
International Teachers Of Pop
(Desolate Spools)
It might be tempting to label International Teachers Of Pop escapist, but that does them a deep disservice. This is a deeply English-sounding record, and a clear product of a country that’s sinking further into despair; just because they don’t make some lame attempt to capture our complex national decline, that doesn’t mean they’re burying their heads in the sand. The joy on this record is a defiant one, a call to dance in the face of depression, in the knowledge that though nothing can be fixed, we can still have an excellent time when we all get together. ‘After Dark’ begins the record with an invocation – you’re fed up, it tells us, but the Teachers Of Pop are having a party.
Patrick Clarke

19. Richard Skelton -
Border Ballads
(Aeolian Editions)
Border Ballads comes as something of a shock, featuring some of Skelton’s most concise and melodious work to date, perhaps waymarked by his one-off track ‘Cresserelle’, released earlier this year. This album is a rich cartography of cello and viola contours, gentle piano streams that patter forth and dry up, all eddying and surging like a shaft of light piercing ragged clouds to illuminate, however briefly, a landscape in flux. The result is a deeply melancholic, reflective, evocative album that yet again shows the bizarrely marginal Skelton is in a class above and beyond the trite mundanity of most of the modern classical types doing the rounds at the moment, showing them up as the sonic lifestyle accessories they are.
Luke Turner

18. Brìghde Chaimbeul -
The Reeling
(River Lea)
The Reeling is an album of mostly Gaelic tunes, that is both a tribute to the well of cultural history from which Chaimbeul draws, and a fresh, exciting take on a music that is not nearly as widely appreciated as it deserves. A couple of Bulgarian tunes are sonorous and reflective, not as airborne as the Hebridean music, but equally suited to the style. The four musicians on The Reeling have produced a unique, exciting and forward-looking album that set the bar for 2019 very high indeed, and strongly suggests that Scottish folk music is both living and thriving.
Tom Bolton

17. Gum Takes Tooth -
Arrow
(Rocket)
This isn’t an easy listen, or at times even an enjoyable one – Arrow grabs you by the back of the neck and proceeds to electrocute you from inside out, hissing “do you see?” in your ear every 30 seconds. From the artificial heartbeat and shattered, sinuous vocals of opener ‘Chrome Cold Hearts’ to the outer-space metallic maelstrom of ‘House Built On Fire’, Gum Takes Tooth make sure that this is not escapism, but a shackling to the Hellmouth that we have all helped to create.
Brendan Telford

16. Matmos -
Plastic Anniversary
(Thrill Jockey)
There is plenty of air and swing and human physicality expended, beyond the twitching of a mouse pointer on a digital audio workstation. Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier brings a propulsive, dynamic sense of rhythm to several tracks (played on Pelican cases, plastic pots, and water bottles). The entire drumline of Whitefish High School are beating in time, samba band-style, on penultimate track ‘Collapse of the Fourth Kingdom’. And yet it all remains – literally – plastic, the very byword for the fake and the insincere. Everything now may be synthesized and mass-produced – even our own flesh. Welcome to the Plastisphere. This is the sound of the earth becoming artificial. Robert Barry

15. Nkisi -
7 Directions
(UIQ)
The seven tracks on 7 Directions run together, mainly, and you can lose track of where you are as you listen. Are there underlying patterns? The design on the cover – based on a symbol in cosmology that denotes cycles, movement, connection, life – suggests so. It shares ground, maybe, with Gabriel Roth’s 5 Rhythms, a process of dance and meditation where you might feel anger, fear, joy, compassion, sadness. There is a plaintive echo on ‘V’ that makes you feel like a cold cavern has opened up in your chest; the sharp jabs of vibra-slap and the shallow panting (one of very few organically human noises on the record) on ‘II’ can induce a giddy panic, a feeling that you are being hunted; there’s tumbling, reassuring softness on ‘VII’: you can’t pull it apart or translate it as easily as that though, there is no formula or rigidity.
Anna Wood

14. Underworld -
Drift
(Smith Hyde Productions)
To say that the Drift series has reinvigorated them is unfair to Underworld. Their excellent 2016 album Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future and Karl Hyde’s second collaborative album with Brian Eno, High Life, from 2014 are just two examples of how the duo, who formed in Wales four decades ago, remain a vital presence well into the 21st Century. The ambitious scheme - which launched last November and is now half-way complete - to release new material every week for an entire year, has propelled them into surprising and fertile new ground. Working quickly and collaborating with such varied musicians as the Necks, Melt Banana and Black Country, New Road hasn’t made Underworld more relevant so much as it’s further exemplified that they are the modern electronic equivalent to Can, rather than some stadium techno hangover from the 90s.
John Doran

13. Errant Monks -
Psychopposition / The Limit Experience
(Tesla Tapes)
The two Errant Monks releases here, Psychopposition cassette on the Tesla Tapes label and an LP, The Limit Experience, on Maternal Voice from Sweden, are the first by the Manchester group to exist in physical form to a meaningful degree. As such, you might be tempted to think of them as a clandestine secret only shared with the (albeit well populated) underground in the city that cooks its collective head to gonzo techno and psychedelic noise. This isn’t exactly the case, however, and in fact an early Errant Monks tour far beyond their homestead forms part of the backstory to the remarkable, energising music found here.
Noel Gardner

12. Cosey Fanni Tutti -
TUTTI
(Conspiracy International)
Unlike Cosey Fanni Tutti's autobiography, there's no straightforward chronology to TUTTI. Both self-titled in the sense of it being the title track and containing one third of her adopted name, the opener 'TUTTI' is tight industrial techno with Tutti's cornet leading the listener through its frenetic pulse like the rogue hand of a friend in a packed rave. Her faraway voice takes the same role on 'Heliy', bringing a more improvisational quality to the hypnotic lurches of its spidery modular synths. When you reach album closer 'Orenda' you've made a post-club excursion down to the North Norfolk landscape where Cosey Fanni Tutti recorded the album and lives.
Lottie Brazier

11. Alameda 5 -
Eurodrome
(Instant Classic)
Concerned with generating and maintaining grooves and hypnotic rhythms through co-operation and playing on each others’ strengths, Eurodrome is a stunning collection of music that frequently challenges, seduces and beguiles. Sometimes all at the same time. Consequently, the ten-song journey is best experienced with time on your hands, distractions left at the door, and a desire for some intense empathy.
Julian Marszalek

10. Bill Callahan -
Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
(Drag City)
Callahan has played with the limits of language to properly describe an emotional state – on 2009’s ‘Eid Ma Clack Shaw’ the only intelligible response to a traumatic loss is a nonsense rhyme – and on this record the focus on states both before and beyond life emphasises how the processes of having children or seeing people die brings us closer to our animal state. Even the album’s title hints at this; the shepherd is human, but in his coat he partly resembles the animals he tries to herd. There is one cover on this record – a version of The Carter Family’s ‘Lonesome Valley’ – a song which emphasises how we must all make a part of our journey alone, but while the valley is lonesome it is nevertheless still a valley and not a desert, and that lonely journey only accentuates the importance of our moments together. “Well, I never thought I’d make it this far” sings Callahan. It’s our privilege that he has done.
David Hering

9. Holly Herndon -
PROTO
(4AD)
Each one of the tracks feeds off one another, trade processing power for instinct, make mistakes and rectify, awaken spirit within another. It’s a beautiful, worrying thing to witness – a machine that often knows more about us than we do ourselves beginning to find their own interpretation of its small world of human stimuli. But if PROTO’s central question is what are we heading toward, the answer must be a coming together.
Michael Appouh

8. These New Puritans -
Inside The Rose
(Infectious Music)
Lyrically as well as sonically, this is a visionary record, rich with fire, energy, elements, the sky, and invocations - as the opening track, an ode to a Luciferian fallen star, has it "An addiction / To the impossible / Let's go back to the underworld / Let's go back inside". In all this rich abstraction and nuance, These New Puritans remain at odds with their time. In a recent interview with Crack Magazine they attacked the UK for its anti-art tendencies where the "ultimate sin" is to be serious about your work. "I think there are two ideas of what art should do," Jack Barnett added, "one that it should reflect and be a mirror to its age, and another that it should go beyond it. I always prefer stuff that sits in the latter category."
Luke Turner

7. Carly Rae Jepsen -
Dedicated
(Interscope)
The songs of Canadian popstar Carly Rae Jepsen have always succeeded best when capturing the heady rush of uncontainable emotional excess. With Dedicated, she leaves behind the wide-eyed whitebread pop of 2015's Emotion and 2011 breakthrough hit 'Call Me Maybe' in favour of a cooler, slinkier sound inspired by Donna Summer and Italo disco. But she's lost none of her exuberance, none of her gift for making pop melodies glisten brightly. Songs like 'Now That I've Found You' and 'No Drug Like Me' are already close to eliciting the same highs as earlier hits, with the latter, in particular, seemingly tailor made to soundtrack a wedding on Stranger Things.
Robert Barry

6. Little Simz -
GREY Area
(Age 101 Music)
It's a cathartic album, most evident on the stinging, soul-baring 'Therapy', where she gets honest about her struggles – "sometimes we don't see the fuckery, til we're out of it," she deduces, admitting that hard times mean she's considered dipping out, disgusted by a society of "frauds and counterfeits". She won't though – dip out that is – and she looks to a future with a daughter who'll ascend to take the kingdom she's made for her, a king regardless of gender. 'Flowers', with a Michael Kiwanuka guest feature, is equal parts hopeful and fearful of the future, stepping out of herself for one singular moment on the record to survey the price of fame for idols in the 27 club – Winehouse, Hendrix – for a totally stunning, tender closer. Her pace and fervour sees her straight through.
Anna Cafolla

5. SunnO))) -
Life Metal
(Southern Lord)
Even without the hum of the organ, horses, or Guðnadóttir's vocals, Albini's production has given the record a deep sensuality, the riffs of 'Aurora's opening few minutes as warm and as potent as running finger tips on the rolling skin of a new lover. That track is restrained too, in how it unfolds and teases, builds to a near climax and then gradually slips back, before doing the same all over again before the final effulgence around 18 minutes. It might sound odd to hear Sunn O))) described as music that has at its core a deep eroticism, but it's something I have thought about before and, without giving more away than is strictly necessary in a review most likely consumed in the workplace, something that might be worth experimenting with in the company of a loved one in the privacy of your own home.
Luke Turner

4. Caterina Barbieri -
Ecstatic Computation
(Editions Mego)
The nod to sensuality and romance evoked by a title like Ecstatic Computation finds an echo in the track names: ‘Spine of Desire’, ‘Closest approach to your Orbit’, and ‘Pinnacles of You’ hint at seduction and sensuality but could also just be odes to the machines that Barbieri clearly adores, and the way they interact with the human psyche. ‘Spine of Desire’ builds and builds over ninety seconds, an unstoppable crescendo that leaves the listener gasping for more. Disquieting synth noise opens ‘Closest approach to your Orbit’ but is quickly subsumed by warm pads and melodies that teasingly run the boundary between organic and artificial. On ‘Arrows of Time’ a ghostly choir of female voices soars over stunted harpsichord chords, their beatific groan tending towards the spiritual.
Joseph Burnett

3. Fat White Family -
Serfs Up!
(Domino)
As a collaborative effort (one look at the sleeve notes shows the vast array of musicians involved) Serfs Up! is pitch-perfect. It’s no surprise that this was a tough record to make, but from pain and hardship comes great art. Their previous release, Songs for Our Mothers, clearly represented a vile descent into Hades, and was peppered with a violent undercurrent that ran through its veins. With their third album, the band has taken an about-turn, reaching out from the circles of purgatory towards a realm of blissful enlightenment. Yet the uneasy listening and lyrical bite still resonates beneath lush strings and saxophone flourishes. There is a subversive pulse even in its brightest corners, and unexpected moments of silliness and joy throughout. Serfs Up! provides a glistering antidote to the wasteland of Britain in 2019.
Adelle Stripe

2. Vanishing Twin -
The Age Of Immunology
(Fire)
Though many have hailed the group as a successor to the psych-pop legacies of Broadcast or Stereolab, Vanishing Twin are one of the most original and exciting acts of the moment, deserving of their own spotlight for effortlessly weaving their style through multiple mediums. The Age of Immunology finds the group tightening some bolts and adding depth to their mythology, and it’s really quite a treat. The album is an escapist dream, blending fantasy with philosophy and silliness with high art. With The Age of Immunology, Vanishing Twin have established themselves as diplomats of their own fantastic planet and it’s high time we meet them there.
Anna Rahkonen

1. black midi -
Schlagenheim
(Rough Trade)
Schlagenheim pivots from choppy math-rock to ticking tetchy guitar pop with ease, and then to stoner rock and deafening noise sections that come close to drawing parallels to the dense note clusters of the internet genre the band share their name with. black midi have stated before that they simply want to make album after album after album, never stalling or staying the same. If Schlagenheim is just a taste of what’s to come, we could be sitting on a really, really special group.
Cal Cashin

The Quietus Albums Of The Year So Far 2019

  • 1: black midi - Schlagenheim
  • 2: Vanishing Twin - The Age Of Immunology
  • 3: Fat White Family - Serfs Up!
  • 4: Caterina Barbieri - Ecstatic Computation
  • 5: Sunn O))) - Life Metal
  • 6: Little Simz - GREY Area
  • 7: Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated
  • 8: These New Puritans - Inside The Rose
  • 9: Holly Herndon - PROTO
  • 10: Bill Callahan - Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
  • 11: Alameda 5 - Eurodrome
  • 12: Cosey Fanni Tutti - TUTTI
  • 13: Errant Monks - Psychopposition / The Limit Experience
  • 14: Underworld - Drift
  • 15: Nkisi - 7 Directions
  • 16: Matmos - Plastic Anniversary
  • 17: Gum Takes Tooth - Arrow
  • 18: Brìghde Chaimbeul - The Reeling
  • 19: Richard Skelton - Border Ballads
  • 20: International Teachers Of Pop - International Teachers Of Pop
  • 21: MSYLMA - Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum
  • 22: Rian Treanor - ATAXIA
  • 23: Anna Meredith - Eighth Grade OST
  • 24: Christian Wolff - Preludes, Variations, Studies And Incidental Music
  • 25: Sleaford Mods - Eton Alive
  • 26: Ossia - Devil's Dance
  • 27: Elsa Hewitt - Citrus Paradisi
  • 28: Teeth Of The Sea - Wraith
  • 29: Sarah Davachi - Pale Bloom
  • 30: My Disco - Environment
  • 31: Lizzo - Cuz I Love You
  • 32: Yugen Blakrok - Anima Mysterium
  • 33: Hey Colossus - Four Bibles
  • 34: Ifriqiyya Electrique - Laylet El Booree
  • 35: Astral Social Club & Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra - Plasma Splice Trifle
  • 36: Ariana Grande - thank u, next
  • 37: Altarage - The Approaching Roar
  • 38: Shellac - The End Of Radio
  • 39: SPAZA - SPAZA
  • 40: Deerhunter - Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
  • 41: Abdu Ali - FIYAH!!!
  • 42: J Majik - Full Circle
  • 43: The Specials - Encore
  • 44: Årabrot - Die Nibelungen
  • 45: Jennifer Walshe - ALL THE MANY PEOPLS
  • 46: slowthai - Nothing Great About Britain
  • 47: Solange - When I Get Home
  • 48: Harrga - Héroïques Animaux De La Misère
  • 49: Art Ensemble of Chicago - We Are On The Edge
  • 50: 75 Dollar Bill - I Was Real
  • 51: LOFT - and departt from mono games
  • 52: The Comet Is Coming - Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery
  • 53: Deaf Kids - Metaprogramação
  • 54: Rainer Veil - Vanity
  • 55: Pheeyownah - Silver
  • 56: Anthony Naples - Fog FM
  • 57: Black To Comm - Seven Horses For Seven Kings
  • 58: Robert Worby - Factitious Airs
  • 59: The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time (Stage 6)
  • 60: Theon Cross - Fyah
  • 61: Tyler, The Creator - IGOR
  • 62: Xiu Xiu - Girl With Basket Of Fruit
  • 63: Maayan Nidam - Sea Of Thee
  • 64: Autechre - Warp Tapes 89 - 93 1 & 2
  • 65: Ondness - Not Really Now Not Any More
  • 66: Nivhek - After Its Own Death / Walking In A Spiral Towards The House
  • 67: MoE / Mette Rasmussen - Tolerancia Picante
  • 68: Membranes - What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Awa
  • 69: Johanna Knutsson - Tollarp Transmissions
  • 70: Lafawndah - Ancestor Boy
  • 71: Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow
  • 72: Jtamul - Lubuni
  • 73: Spaceship - Outcrops
  • 74: Sote - Parallel Persia
  • 75: Boards Of Canada - Societas X Tape
  • 76: Erland Cooper - Sule Skerry
  • 77: Nodding God - Play Wooden Child
  • 78: Laura Cannell - The Sky Untuned
  • 79: King Midas Sound - Solitude
  • 80: Equiknoxx - Eternal Children
  • 81: Ela Orleans - Movies For Ears: An Introduction To...
  • 82: Low Jack - Jingles du Lieu-dit
  • 83: SØS Gunver Ryberg - Entangled
  • 84: Rose Elinor Dougall - A New Illusion
  • 85: Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano - FRKWYS Vol. 15: serenitatem
  • 86: Jane Weaver - Loops In The Secret Society
  • 87: Sly & The Family Drone - Gentle Persuaders
  • 88: 9T Antiope & Siavash Amini - Harmistice
  • 89: Kate Tempest - The Book Of Traps And Lessons
  • 90: Black Peaches - Fire In The Hole
  • 91: Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky - Droneflower
  • 92: James Holden - A Cambodian Spring OST
  • 93: upsammy - Wild Chamber
  • 94; Hannah Peel & Will Burns - Chalk Hill Blue
  • 95: VC-118A - Inside
  • 96: Charlemagne Palestine x Rrose - The Goldennn Meeenn + Sheeenn
  • 97: Rakta - Falha Comum
  • 98: Budokan Boys - Dad Is Bad
  • 99: Kevin Richard Martin - Sirens
  • 100: YERÛŠELEM - The Sublime

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