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The Quietus Albums Of The Year So Far Chart 2021
John Doran , July 5th, 2021 09:34

At the year's half-way mark, all of tQ's editorial staff, core writers and columnists have voted for their essential 2021 albums released between mid-December 2020 and mid-June

Illustration by Lisa Cradduck

I went through a mix of emotions recently when I read The Melancholia Of Class: A Manifesto For The Working Class, Cynthia Cruz’s highly personal polemic published this month by Repeater. I can identify with much that the author says. My childhood, spent growing up in the suburbs of Liverpool in the 1970s as part of a household financed solely by the paltry wages of a factory floor worker who had overextended simply by buying a house instead of renting, was punctuated by periods of not particularly discreet poverty by the 1980s.

Shoes resoled until the leather uppers shredded and tacks pierced young feet; jumble sale cardigans recycled for knitted school jumpers; socks darned so many times, they ended up close to ship of Theseus-like, few threads from the original garment remaining. My family were inveterate coupon clippers, unpluggers and cadgers; givers of careworn, recycled Christmas and birthday gifts (not to mention reused cards and wrapping paper), and one particularly grim year the givers of no gifts at all. There was a lot of sitting round in what I (but not my father) perceived to be the cold and the dark. We knew exactly when to get to supermarkets on a Saturday in order to buy marked down goods.

My birthday meal on my 16th birthday was a plate of boiled potatoes. My girlfriend at the time assumed my parents hated her, which was far from the truth. It just felt inevitable when I ended up in a series of dead end jobs, simply because that’s what my school trained me for and I had always subconsciously expected it would happen.

But what of it? It was hardly The Road To Wigan Pier and I’m pretty much middle class now. I haven’t lived in rented accommodation since I turned 40, I finally got out of debt by 45 and now that I’ve just turned 50, I don’t mind admitting I’m no longer a couple of missed pay cheques away from financial ruin (though this is solely due to a recent insurance payout after a road accident). My stretch of working in factories, warehouses, pubs, clubs and yards; as a roofer, gardener, barman, pot washer, cleaner and call centre stooge ended a quarter of a century ago this year.

Plus, it is at best unhelpful me taking up too much space talking about this stuff. As Cruz says, the largest growth in numbers of working class people today is among those who are “women and non-white.” While Cruz might well be American, Reni Eddo-Lodge, the author of the incisive and necessary Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, isn’t. She suggested that the avatar for working class people in this country should no longer be an old White man in a flat cap but a young Black woman pushing a pram. I'd be the first to agree that a lot more needs to be done to break down the problematic assumption that working class is a synonym for White and northern or White and cockney etc. and I also hope we can achieve some balance without erasing anyone’s experience or story. My genuine wish is that as soon as humanly possible we will abandon ideas of simple horizontal or vertical solidarity and achieve a unity that travels in all directions, encompassing everyone who has felt belittled, or marginalised, or left behind, or undervalued, or discriminated against; and that we will recognise the clear and obvious enemy whom we could unite against.

At this point I want to apologise for the support this site has given to Noel Gallagher in the past. It was my fault entirely and I take full responsibility. Buoyed by his association with the Chemical Brothers and Amorphous Androgynous, I genuinely felt at one point that he might make good on the “goes experimental in the mainstream” bit of his Beatles obsession. I concede that in retrospect this was a risible hope. But still: selling an exclusive front page story to the progress-destroying Sun newspaper, all but coming out as Tory and declaring himself the enemy of the marginalised? What an irredeemable arsehole, and a class traitor to boot.

When I look at this top 100 chart – probably the strongest Albums Of The Year So Far chart we’ve ever compiled, thanks to our core team of editors, staff, columnists and most regular writers – I see many vital voices that speak clearly and loudly about the 21st Century experience of social class and financial instability not just in this country but around the whole world. And none of them, as far as I'm aware, are indulging in woeful working class/ precariat cosplay. It is especially gratifying to see former album of the year artist, Loraine James back near the top of the chart next to one of our favourite groups, Sleaford Mods, as both give realistic voice to lived experience at the margins in a way that some multi-millionaire, decades spent living in a Primrose Hill town house, obviously can’t dream of. They help to drag the conversation some distance away from unhelpful stereotypes concerning regional accents and geographical birthplace back towards the sphere of circumstance; but not totally. As much as lack of inherited wealth and assets, an inability to afford a mortgage and having nothing to sell bar one's labour are all of primary importance, we can’t ditch the social aspect of class altogether as it’s still the neighbourhood, family and school that help shape aspirations and mindset to an important degree.

Some may draw a distinction between Sleaford Mods and Loraine James. Don’t the former live in nice houses now? Don’t they have a few quid in the bank? It certainly seems that way but so what? Let them speak their truth, after all, telling working class people they cannot record their experiences in the form of art because the process would render them middle class, is simply another form of class erasure. Let us instead ask who the people who hand these diktats down to us actually are. After financial position and social background, memory is the most important factor we must consider when talking about what defines class. If you can remember what it was like with clarity and urgency then why not tell people about it? Those who have clearly forgotten on the other hand should clearly have their class status reassessed.

There are many people on this list who probably don’t identify as working class or even think about class full stop, but still face an existential threat to their livelihood regardless, thanks to COVID-19 and the continued collapse of the music industry at the edges. The artists of New Weird Britain, DIY artists the whole world over, rappers, grime producers, hurdy gurdy psych freaks, post rock revivalists, grindcore ragers, modular synth wranglers, transcendent metallers, techno punishers, hardcore experimentalists… nearly every single person on this list has a bandcamp page, please show your appreciation for their work if you enjoy it by putting your hand in your pocket. And if it’s a keeper, think about buying a slab of wax or CD from Norman Records.

And if you come away from this top 100 feeling like you have gained something – a new favourite band, some thrilling sounds that are going to soundtrack your summer – please consider taking out a subscription to this website if you can afford it. Membership to the Quietus comes with a host of perks, including exclusive podcasts, essays, playlists and music, plus the fuzzy warm feeling that comes from helping us remain one of the few large independent online music magazines left in the world who will carry on supporting and reporting on the counterculture into 2022 and beyond.

We love you! You’re a genuine class act.
John Doran

This chart was voted for by Anthea Leyland, Kez Whelan, Adam Quarshie, John Doran, Noel Gardner, Aaron Bishop, Peter Margasak, Jennifer Lucy Allan, David McKenna, Christian Eede, Jaša Bužinel, Patrick Clarke, Luke Turner, Robert Barry, Ella Kemp, JR Moores, Stephanie Phillips, Daryl Worthington, Sean Kitching, Bernie Brooks, Fergal Kinney. The feature was built by Patrick Clarke and Christian Eede.

100. ZULI –
All Caps
(UIQ)
Simultaneously coarse and polished, the transfixing palette of ZULI’s latest EP makes for a tour de force in what Simon Reynolds describes as texturology. The producer's rhythmically convulsive tracks may be tailored for forward-thinking dancefloors but they're also a commentary on the perpetuating orientalisms that plague the music industry, encapsulated in the self-referential skits on closer 'Bro! (Love It)'. An amalgam of both global and regional electronic subgenres, All Caps has everything one can expect from a contemporary vanguard producer: a signature style, ultramodern sound design, inventive recombinations of past forms, and socio-political references to the here and now.
Jaša Bužinel

99. Muqata’a –
Kamil Manqus
(Hundebiss)
Breaking down systems through sound has come to define the approach of a producer, who since the early 2000s has been one of the most important voices to come out of the Palestinian electronic music scene. One of the founding members of hip hop collective Ramallah Underground, Muqata’a now works as a solo artist. Over almost two decades, he has been developing a sound characterised by stuttering beats, grainy samples of traditional Arabic music, and field recordings documenting daily life in the streets around him. “There are a few things that unite these tracks and I've figured out that it's the errors in them”, he says of his new record, Kamil Manqus, which is Arabic for ‘whole imperfect’. “The beats are not exactly on the grid, things are changing the whole time. When you feel like you've got into a certain groove, it's gone all of a sudden. It's this inconsistency, and the constant breaking of any kind of system – that's the connection I found.”
Adam Quarshie

98. BIG BRAVE –
Vital
(Southern Lord)
While BIG BRAVE’s previous records often chose one mood and one mode of attack – like the static but growing drones on 2017’s Ardor or the harrowing sonic punches of 2019’s A Gaze Among ThemVital sways between styles, surrendering form to matter. The album embraces Robin Wattie’s self-reflective lyrics about identity and race completely, becoming an exploration of the dynamics between individuals and a (hostile) society. Take the opening ‘Abating The Incarnation Of Matter’, for example, which guitarist Mathieu Ball and drummer Tasy Hudson explode with the impact of a thousand drone and doom metal bands playing a folk song in unison. Above, within and around them, Wattie’s voice soars with the stirring mixture of fragility and venomous spite of a person needing to tell their story and wanting to be heard even when it seems no one is listening.
Antonio Poscic

97. Eilien –
Digital Lovers
(Genot Centre)
Eilien is Helsinki-based Ellen Virman, and on Digital Lovers, released on Czech label Genot Centre, they make music which sounds like sweet nothings transmitted through code and liquid crystals. Virman created these tracks using a text-based audio coding platform, but the real story is the sweeping allure Virman’s compositions have. ‘There Is Someone Who Looks Like Me’ sounds like the exact midway point between Enya and Holly Herndon, a strident love song to the digital ether, while ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘SMS’ come across like synthetic odes to synthetic panoramas. It feels intimately connected to that imagined space Sterling described, an attempt to chart the network’s emotional coordinates and possibilities.
Daryl Worthington

96. Poison Ruïn –
Poison Ruïn
(Urge)
Mysterious guy gothic post punk hypebeast project out of Philadelphia which is henceforth a multi-person band, one understands, but on these ten songs – two tape EPs compiled into a long player – was all the work of one Mac Kennedy. He likes donning medieval fancy dress for photoshoots, interspersing his hook-heavy rockers with creepy synth intros, and cooking up a vibe equal parts anarcho punk, early NWOBHM and proto-hardcore.
Noel Gardner

95. Tune-Yards –
Sketchy
(4AD)
Sketchy plays on the themes of generational trauma, white privilege, and the climate crisis without losing any of the bombastic, DIY charm Tune-Yards are known for. It is a record that allows pop sensibility to flow naturally through the band's curiosity for the world and the future of humanity. Politics with a side of avant-garde funk.
Stephanie Phillips

94. Vapour Theories –
Celestial Scuzz
(Fire)
If you are one of the Bardo Pond Believers, here's the latest recording from the band's sibling guitar-and-effects maestros, John and Michael Gibbons, under their Vapour Theories alias. You probably know what to expect by now. You'll be right, and you will not be disappointed. Beautifully thick, intertwining guitar tones, yanked down from heaven itself and presented to you on a golden turntable. 'High Treason' has an acoustic hippie-folk vibe to mix things up a bit but it's the surrounding heavier and denser numbers that really fool your brain into thinking you've died and are now floating in lysergic limbo. There's something about the wonkily melodic guitar line that bobs around below the fatly distorted surface of 'The Big Ship' that really brings a tear to my (third?) eye.
JR Moores

93. Ghetts –
Conflict Of Interest
(Ghetts Limited / Warner)
On Conflict Of Interest, we see Ghetts battling between himself (J.Clarke) and his alter egos, Ghetto and Ghetts, almost like there is an angel and demon on his shoulders. On 'Proud Family', the warmer side, J.Clarke shines through, whereas on the phosphorous, Stormzy-assisted 'Skengman', Ghetto returns. On the otherworldly 'Mozambique', with Jaykae and Moonchild Sanelly, Ghetts emerges once again, perfectly balanced between the ferocious Ghetto and the family man, J.Clarke.
Denzil Bell

92. Manslaughter 777 –
World Vision Perfect Harmony
(Thrill Jockey)
The architects of Manslaughter 777 are two drummers: longtime buds and collaborators Lee Buford, of genreless doom mutants The Body, and Zachary Jones, late of Braveyoung, now of MSC. That this rhythmic crusher has essentially nothing to do with metal or any related or complementary subgenres – but is instead more closely linked to, say, dub and dancehall and jungle – might come as a surprise, depending on your point of view, on how closely you've been paying attention.
Bernie Brooks

91. Facta –
Blush
(Wisdom Teeth)
Blush is a deeply evocative listen, like a wanderer's dream, fit for tranquil early morning contemplation, quiet city saunters and offline weekends spent in nature, the only exception being the eldritch-tinted jittery track ‘Brushes’. It’s hard not to write purple prose when describing the album, to not mention the feeling of a light breeze on one's sun-kissed face, but why should there be any embarrassment? I couldn’t ask for a better soundtrack for walks through the floating petals of the blossoming cherry, peach and apricot orchards of my home region.
Jaša Bužinel

90. Goat Girl –
On All Fours
(Rough Trade)
When looking back through my notes I have written the phrase “wonderfully wonky.” This must have been an important thing as I underlined it three times. After giving myself a break and listening back to the latest release from Goat Girl, the evocatively titled On All Fours, I think I might have been on to something. The thirteen tracks that make up the album are wonderfully wonky. They are also incredibly catchy, with subtle sci-fi tinges to them. But this is what we’ve come to expect from the South London post-punk outfit.
Nick Roseblade

89. Avon Terror Corps x Exist Festival –
Resist to Exist قاوم لِوجودك
(Avon Terror Corps)
Hulkingly large digital compilation of weird electronics jointly devised by the Bristolian label/collective/organism Avon Terror Corps and a self-described countercultural festival in Palestine; it costs a tenner, all of which will go straight to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. These sorts of charitable Bandcamp enormities often end up feeling fatiguing, frankly, but a really high quality is maintained over three hours here. A wealth of Bristol heads (Harrga, Ossia), plus buds from further afield, stand with multiple Palestinian producers who were mostly new to me and consistently exciting.
Noel Gardner

88. Leather Rats –
No Live ‘Til Leather '98
(Bokeh Versions)
Leather Rats is like Hasil Adkins on tour with Suicide when Craig Leon was on the desk; it's Lux Interior and Keith Hudson for On U Sound. This is dub music for sewer dwelling punks. Think Escape From New York dystopia dancehall emanating from a subterranean basement club – damp and rotten, infested with low echo and sound seepage – only with a Wembley-sized audience green screened in. Apparently Leather Rats were a psychobilly punk act but Bokeh is going for psychodubilly and I can dig the concept, big time, if not quite get behind the neologism. The story is they never made it into a studio – these live recordings are allegedly from Japan in the late ‘90s where they also allegedly had a huge following... but make of that what you will. I can enjoy any fictional backstory if it comes with zombie licks like this.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

87. Shame –
Drunk Tank Pink
(Dead Oceans)
The breadth of Shame’s sound is a key contributing factor to Drunk Tank Pink’s appeal. It’s not one for complacent listening as they are quick to pull the carpet from under you. Songs have a tendency to morph into storms. It’s turbulent, but also exhilarating. You cannot help but feel rejuvenated after listening to it. With this record, there’s certainly a good time to be had.
Zara Hedderman

86. Nick Hudson –
Font Of Human Fractures
(Self-Released)
There isn't really anyone making music like Nick Hudson at the moment – grand, romantic and overwrought (in a good way). Last year we praised his work as part of Brighton-based band The Academy Of Sun, for its "richness and lavishness," and this follow-up is no less full for being a DIY, self-released, solo affair. That this is so defiantly unfashionable and of the now is its greatest strength, somehow combining the vocal dexterity of Brett Anderson with the sonic invention of later-period Coil and the dramatic oddness of Marc Almond – an unholy trinity that pretty much ticks all of my boxes and desire for the kind of high-tension sonic flouncing (in a good way) that feels so sadly absent in these times.
Luke Turner

85. Alpha Wann –
Don Dada Mixtape Vol. 1
(Don Dada)
Don Dada sees Alpha Wann opening up the floor to collaborators new and old, frequently trading verses but quite often letting them have the spotlight to themselves. Another former member of French rap group 1995, Nekfeu (hugely successful in his own right), tackles the rainy-day beat of ‘Malevil’ alone, while Ratu$ stomps all over ‘Velux’, but Alpha Wann still gives himself plenty of space for his own technical but effortlessly engaging flow on the gleaming ‘Apdl’, the melancholy piano ripple of ‘Farenheit 451’, and the fried funk of ‘Carrelage Italien’.
David McKenna

84. [Ahmed] –
Nights On Saturn (Communication)
(Astral Spirits)
The third searing album from this European quartet continues to investigate the compositions of the American bassist and oud player Ahmed Abdul-Malik, who connected traditional Arabic modes with jazz in the 1950s. Pianist Pat Thomas, reedist Seymour Wright, bassist Joel Grip, and drummer Antonin Gerbal deconstruct a pair of their namesake’s tunes — cited in the piece’s title — as a launch pad for its own feverish journey, a single 41-minute track cut live at Cafe OTO in December of 2019 that collides simple Arabic modes with a series of riveting, almost violent trances. In this particular iteration Grip and Gerbal hold steady with buoyant rhythms that swing and stutter, giving the pianist and saxophonist a platform to explode a couple of terse patterns.
Peter Margasak

83. Time Binding Ensemble –
Nothing New Under The Sun
(Kit)
A solo venture despite the name, Nothing New Under The Sun is Helena Celle, AKA Kay Logan’s, first double LP, and its rigid concept (“24 parts of equal length, the collection cycling through each key of the musical scale”) harbours a remarkably expansive, ambitious and moving confluence of ambient drone and modern classical.
Noel Gardner

82. Kevin Richard Martin –
Return To Solaris
(Phantom Limb)
Kevin Martin says he was drawn to the film Solaris’ “struggle between organic, pastoral memories of a lost past, and the harsh, dystopian realities of a futuristic hell.” But Return To Solaris mostly avoids those two obvious extremes. A drift through alien space, it feels distant from the pastoral mood common to ambient music. Less visions of forests and oceans; more the oily protean mirror of Solaris itself. Equally, there is enough human warmth and feeling left in it to avoid the caustic finality of a “futuristic hell.” There’s more stillness, more space, less abrasion. The fear that all may be ruined and lost is not yet a certainty. Overall the album is more akin to purgatory, a suspension, a purifying reckoning with human failure. A volatile mix of drone calm and paranoia.
Jared Dix

81. VTSS –
Borderline Tendencies
(VEYL)
As on VTSS’ previous releases, the more straightforward productions on Borderline Tendencies, like 'C.E.T. Unlimited', 'To Whom All Lovers' and 'Sytuacja Jest Beznadziejna', borrow from the EBM and industrial traditions. The earworm 'MDM508' comes across like a 3.0 version of the Nitzer Ebb classic 'Let Your Body Learn'. There are two tracks, though, that mark a departure from high-octane abrasiveness towards booty-shaking science. Judging by its captivating erotic undercurrent, the collaborative track 'Going Nuts', featuring club provocateur LSDXOXO on vocals, will certainly make the rounds at future raves. The master stroke of this EP, though, is the psytrance meets jungle paranoia of 'Woah', built around syncopated bleeps and bloops, wavering "woahs" and blistering 168 BPM breaks. If this is the shape of things to come from VTSS, then there's plenty to look forward to.
Jaša Bužinel

80. Jorja Chalmers –
Midnight Train
(Italians Do It Better)
Smooth-but-wavey slowburner synthpop from a multi-instrumentalist Margate resident who can also be found playing saxophone for Bryan Ferry, and just because such a role is an almost self-parodic idea of ‘classiness’, it doesn’t mean that Jorja Chalmers’ second solo album isn’t very classy. Strolling hither and yon between ambient, electro and jazz, Chalmers produced Midnight Train herself (although Chromatics’ Johnny Jewel “executive produced” this, the meaning of which is mysterious as ever) and generally comes off like an auteur to watch out for.
Noel Gardner

79. Punkt.Vrt.Plastik –
Somit
(Intakt)
The second album from what might be the most exciting piano trio today raises the stakes from their bracing eponymous 2018 debut. Pianist Kaja Draksler, bassist Petter Eldh, and drummer Christian Lillinger proceed with clockwork exactitude on material that perpetually teeters on the edge of an abyss. Rhythms splinter and fracture, forging uneasy alliances with melodies that seem to mock the polyrhythmic, post-hip hop propulsion. The simple repeating piano melody of Eldh’s 'Natt Raum' — played, like everything here, on an upright — sails along gleefully impervious to the way the wildly careening groove seeks to practically crush it, while Draksler’s sparkling tones on 'Vrvica' use their own splattery logic against the roiling grooves of her partners.
Peter Margasak

78. Les Filles de Illighadad –
At Pioneer Works
(Sahel Sounds)
It’s been four years since the last full album by the excellent trio of Fatou Seidi Ghali, vocalist Alamnou Akrouni, and Amaria Hamadalher, and so this live album is very welcome, more so since the rolling guitar rounds of Tuareg desert blues feel at their finest with an audience, and don’t much suit being shoehorned into studios. Recorded in New York in 2019, this set starts with the pace-setting ‘Surbajo’, picks up through ‘Eghass Malan’ to the album’s centrepiece ‘Telilit’ that crackles with constrained energies. There is much to enjoy in the control in the raptures of Les Filles de Illighadad – they are never explosive, but loose vocal flourishes or low-end percussion upon the form.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

77. Olivia Rodrigo –
SOUR
(Geffen)
Olivia Rodrigo is not the first teenager to write about her raw, corrosive feelings, and she makes little attempt to break the mould – SOUR offers eleven angsty, vulnerable songs in which a girl sings about, and to, a boy who didn't deserve her, didn't respect her, yet still had an unshakeable hold on her. It works because those feelings are familiar, her voice is spectacular, and the guttural resentment of Alanis Morrisette's 'Jagged Little Pill' courses through this album like an IV drip. Rodrigo might seem like she has no reason whatsoever to be so distraught about such trivial things at 17, but that's the point: you can be as beautiful and pure and comfortable as the world might want you to be, but there will always be one loser who will inadvertently ruin your life.
Ella Kemp

76. Kas –
Like Sunlit Threads
(Ilian Tape)
Like Sunlit Threads sees Scottish producer Mark Kastner introduce the world to a new alias, having come to be known since 2008 for the high-tempo, often intense electro he’s released under the name Galaxian for labels such as Shipwrec and Helena Hauff’s Return To Disorder. As Kas, the high tempos remain, but Kastner’s in a more pensive mood. The album is peppered with interludes of spoken word, much of it lifted from various literature, and beatless cuts that shift between the dazzling (‘Outwardly Attaching’) and the downright haunting (‘Self Aware Field Pt. 1’). When the beats are let loose though, as on the title track and ‘In The Absence Of Becoming’, they’re accompanied by some of the most breathtaking melodies Kastner has committed to record yet.
Christian Eede

75. Virginia Wing –
Private LIFE
(Fire)
The tracks on Private LIFE often feel like performers stumbling groggily on stage, elegantly shooting themselves in the foot, then somehow pirouetting off, perfectly choreographed, in unison. Unquantised drums knock under Richards’ warm sprechgesang, samples whistle and ping-pong throughout while Duffin's sax honks along, sometimes bursting free, charting a course all its own. It's paradoxically both chaotic and comforting, mirroring the way everyday life carries on during crises, wrestling just a little bit of order away from entropy.
Bernie Brooks

74. Bloody Head –
The Temple Pillars Dissolve Into The Clouds
(Hominid Sounds)
Punx, metalheads, metalpunx and general ne’erdowells develop (ugh!) their Nottingham-located project from a sludgy noiserock dirge with psychedelic leanings into… a psychedelic dirge with sludgy noiserock leanings. The result, Bloody Head’s second LP, sits pretty on the Hominid Sounds label alongside bands like Casual Nun and Melting Hand; the clouds of the title rain down acidic chaos and deceptively sharp riffs.
Noel Gardner

73. Badsista –
HITS DE VERÃO (SUMMER HITS) Vol. 2
(Self-Released)
Badsista’s Bandcamp page is a veritable treasure trove of party music, ranging from the baile funk of her native Brazil to rip-roaring trance and techno. The second instalment in her HITS DE VERÃO (SUMMER HITS) series offers six killer cuts with eyes only for the dancefloor. ‘MANDELÃO 3000’ taps into an electro swagger of sorts, while ‘SORRY DAD’ calls to mind the kind of thumping, cheeky techno that you might expect to hear from Russian producer Vladimir Dubyshkin and the трип label stable. There are also nods to baile funk, gqom and trance across the remaining four tracks, as Badsista links up with a number of other emerging Brazilian artists, such as EVEHIVE, JLZ and Mu540.
Christian Eede

72. Melvins –
Working With God
(Ipecac)
With the re-addition of Mike Dillard, Melvins are back to their 1983 lineup, last visited on 2013’s Tres Cabrones. With this, Working With God carries the air of a heady reunion. It careers from familiar, high-energy, hooky sludge rock to little snippets of in-jokes, and then back again. These ideas are occasionally extended over multiple tracks, as in the case of ‘Brian The Horse-Faced Goon’, which – bewilderingly – is a story that requires two parts to be realised.
Tom Coles

71. St. Vincent –
Daddy’s Home
(Loma Vista)
The more I listened to this album to write this silly, bitchy review, the more I liked it; the more forgiving I felt towards the OTT production and schmaltzy lyrics. I don’t believe for a moment that someone as obviously hellbent on technical brilliance as Annie Clark has the capacity to put out a spontaneously loose, dirty, blues-inspired album, unpolished and restless. If you want to think about grubby late mid-century New York, go and read Just Kids or something. If you want a high-production, catchy album that's cheesy, fun, and occasionally a bit naff, buy Daddy's Home.
Eve Willis

70. Khalab & M’berra Ensemble –
M’berra
(Real World)
The Tuareg music that makes it into ears outside of the Sahara is often that of tishoumaren, the loping, bluesy, guitar-based music that was pioneered by Tinariwen and skyrocketed to the über-cool with artists such as Imarhan, Mdou Moctar, and Bombino. It would be easy for Khalab to focus on the guitar styles, but instead, he gravitates towards the deeper roots. On this album, the sounds of M’berra are the acoustic strains of the banjo-like tehardent lute, the one-stringed imzad fiddle and the tinde drum. The tishoumaren guitar still has its place, but as an equal in the music’s pantheon rather than acting as its overarching definition.
Jim Hickson

69. William Parker –
Migration Of Silence Into And Out Of The Tone World
(Centering)
This is music with aspirations beyond any boundaries. Never mind genre bracketing, this is work that gleefully tramples the fences we generally use to divide art forms. One disc (Lights In The Rain) features a suite of compositions inspired by and dedicated to Italian film directors. Poems are deployed as lyrics in some places, cited as inspirational source texts in others. Jo Wood-Brown’s paintings (appearing on the cover and in the booklet) of migrant workers have been chosen carefully, and two pages of the booklet are devoted to her work. Different disciplines seep into one another: Parker associates tones with colours, sounds with imagery, notes with poetry. The end results are less music than a kind of magic.
Angus Batey

68. Francisco Mela –
MPT Trio: Volume 1
(577)
The MPT Trio are a real power trio in every sense of the word. Whilst occasionally capable of gorgeous little ditties (see: ‘Naima’), they’re at their best when each member is giving it both barrels. Each player is totally off-kilter, and at their best – like on fragmented closer ‘El Llanto de la Tierra’ – when it sounds like they could each be playing different songs. Whilst there are gems in each player’s discography, and Mela has spent a career lighting up every recording he drums on, this is the boldest and best entry point into each of the trio’s discography. With a lot of bleak shit happening in the world right now, and little to look forward, thank your lucky stars that this is only MPT Trio: Volume 1.
Cal Cashin

67. Prolaps –
Ultra Cycle Pt. 2: Estival Growth
(Hausu Mountain)
The gargantuan, swarming beats of Prolaps rip dance music down to its rawest energy and then explode the essence. Ultra Cycle Pt.2 is the second of four albums planned from the duo of Machine Girl (AKA Matt Stephenson) and Bonne Baxter (vocalist producer in Kill Alters) this year – one coming out on each solstice and equinox. Their tracks boldly mangle together BPMs into a maximalist whole. Footwork hyperactivity battles tectonic low end, frantic drum & bass accelerates into gabba euphoria, polyrhythms sprout more polyrhythms before detonating into twisted robot mulch. It variously sounds like multiple amen breaks colliding, an AI drum circle collapsing or, on ‘You Cant Ddddiiiieeee’, as if the duo somehow managed to sidechain an ecosystem. They sometimes hit a straight house or techno groove, but there’s always an absurd texture, or gloriously unpredictable beat switch to knock the whole thing on its head.
Daryl Worthington

66. Dialect –
Under~Between
(RVNG Intl.)
Last time we heard from Liverpool-based Andrew PM Hunt was his work as one half of gorgeous psychedelic duo Land Trance, who released their exceptional debut album last year. His latest under solo moniker Dialect is equally beautiful but far more delicate, a lavish record peppered with endless little touches of texture – whispers of vocals, rich piano chords, shattered fragments of found sound. Originally written as chamber pieces for fellow Liverpool outliers Immix Ensemble, allowing Hunt to experiment with woodwind and strings, the record is delivered with the utmost finesse but packs considerable emotional heft. Like a glorious garden in full bloom, with every petal pruned to perfection, Under~Between is incredibly arresting.
Patrick Clarke

65. J. Cole –
The Off-Season
(Dreamville)
For all the brilliant flashes of agile lyricism, much of J. Cole’s work of recent years could always be said to have taken itself just a little too seriously. Not such on The Off-Season, on which the first artist to sign to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation way back in 2009 sounds refreshed. Gone is the hackneyed conceptualising of 2018’s KOD, Cole opting instead to simply have a bit of fun as he draws on various flows and a cast of well-known guest collaborators (21 Savage, Lil Baby, Cam’ron, Diddy, Timbaland) that help to bring out the best in him.
Christian Eede

64. Thomas Ankersmit –
Perceptual Geography
(Shelter Press)
Perceptual Geography is music as actor, not scenery. It moves, it interacts, it plays a role and shifts the listener. The album is dedicated to Maryanne Amacher, the late American composer who was a friend and influence on Ankersmit. In Lisa Rovner’s documentary Sisters With Transistors, Kim Gordon recalls meeting Amacher, “She said: ‘I’m gonna make this whole house vibrate and come alive.” That spirit of disrupting the domestic shines through in Ankersmit’s composition when taken as a home listening experience. He suggests the listener plays it in on speakers, a bold request when so few of us have access to either the time or the equipment, but it makes sense. Although it’s a fascinating listen on headphones, listen to it out loud and it becomes a different, all-encompassing beast.
Daryl Worthington

63. Yu Su –
Yellow River Blue
(Music From Memory)
Yellow River Blue is joyful stuff. The propulsive opener 'Xiu' bounces Yu Su's voice along a looped pipa, with live drums and bass. 'Melaleuca' is a lush cut of tropical house reminiscent of Palmbomen II that grows and grows from its initial sparse beat. And 'Touch-Me-Not' is just a lovely bit of sonic deconstruction, taking a simple synth part and melting it down into ambient soup. It feels like catching an icicle and watching it dissolve through your fingers.
Will Salmon

62. La Nòvia –
Le soleil ni même la lune
(La Nòvia)
La Novia are a French collective who play various strains of traditional and experimental music. Their associated catalogue and various assemblages are a wormhole, and they’re also connected to one of my favourite bands, the chugging drums, hurdy-gurdy and bass trio France. This new release is a duo by Perrine Bourel on violin, and Jacques Puech on cabrette (a type of bagpipe) and singing. It contains waltzes, polkas, mazurkas and rigadons – the latter a French Baroque form with hopping steps, although don’t be fooled, none of these tracks are pretty dances. What I love about various La Novia-related releases is on evidence here: theirs is not polite folk music, never sweet and rarely soothing. It is, often, music that bares its teeth.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

61. Xiu Xiu –
OH NO
(Polyvinyl)
For Xiu Xiu’s latest release, Jamie Stewart’s voice is bolstered by fifteen guest singers on a series of duets. Featuring indie-folk star Sharon Van Etten, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, punk legend Alice Bag and dark waver Drab Majesty, OH NO was instigated as a way to reflect on the redemptive power of human connection. Composed following “several incidents involving being thoroughly fucked over by a number of friends,” the album’s uplifting impetus is at odds with the music itself. Take ‘One Hundred Years’ with Chelsea Wolfe, where the pair sing about longing to escape from abusive parents, while the collaboration with composer Owen Pallett is punctuated by apocalyptic, unplaceable electronic fallout and contains the lyrics: “I dream of someone else entirely/ You said to me when I think of this family and who is in it/ How is that supposed to make me feel about myself?”
Hannah Pezzack

60. KMRU –
Logue
(Injazero)
Logue takes in rippling ambient/drone lushness from a well-travelled Kenyan, Joseph Kamaru, who is now resident in Berlin. Recorded between 2017 and 2019, it's built equally of nu-new age synth melodies (with outbreaks of what seems to be live instrumentation) and field recordings which, inscrutable in their origins, transport KMRU’s music to somewhere more sinister than blissful.
Noel Gardner

59. Mndsgn –
Rare Pleasure
(Stones Throw)
Spending time with Rare Pleasure, Ringgo Ancheta’s first full-length release in five years, is akin to being carried aloft on candyfloss clouds. The world turns woozy. It isn’t always clear where you are going. You’ve never felt better. It’s a happy-go-lucky and free-floating album. But the project is aware of its roots and of the debts it owes. It carries the ecstatic ache of religious music – something with which Ancheta will have been intimately familiar, going back to the gospel songs he heard in church every Sunday through his childhood.
Ed Power

58. Jap Kasai –
OWN ℃
(CHINABOT)
There's an idea in Japanese called 'onkochishin', roughly meaning to create new ideas from studying the past. It's this that drives producer Jap Kasai, aka Daisuke Iijima, on his new album OWN ℃. Cutting up vocals sourced from traditional Ondo folk music, and combining them with juke and footwork instrumentals, it makes for an intriguing push and pull between different tempos and rhythms. It's more than just two extremes clashed together, however. The vocal samples Iijima employs, which reverberate with deep soulfulness, are elevated, not dampened, by the skittering beats.
Patrick Clarke

57. Ripatti –
Fun Is Not A Straight Line
(Planet Mu)
Fun Is Not A Straight Line certainly isn’t the first time Vladislav Delay has experimented with footwork having first launched the Ripatti project (named so after his real surname) in 2013 with a series of releases that certainly shared musical headspace with the Chicago-originated genre. Eight years on, he develops those ideas into a full album for Planet Mu, which is just as inspired by his lifelong love of hip hop and classic records such as Nas’ Illmatic as it is a desire to break with the simplicities of 4/4 house and techno. The result is a dizzying trip through chopped rap vocals, disembodied R&B warbling, head-scratching rhythms and all-out bass pressure.
Christian Eede

56. Sunburned Hand Of The Man –
Pick A Day To Die
(Three Lobed)
Remember the days when Sunburned Hand Of The Man put out a new CDR every week and if you heard a noise coming from a shack in a forest and then crept in to see what was going on, you'd likely find this wacky free-rock collective in there, improvising some wild psych jamz into the early hours of the morn? I think that era was called the 2000s. Anyway, the freaky so-and-sos are back and in a slightly surprising way they're sounding better than ever. The cuts here even seem to have a proper studio finish as opposed to having been recorded in, let's say, a tiny loft space owned by a Scandinavian promoter wearing colourful-if-grubby yoga pants and smelling musty at best. I mean, the spacy 'Flex' sparkles almost as brightly as Trans Am. Vocalist Shannon Ketch brings a welcome earthy feel to a couple of numbers, making for a compelling Kosmische Beefheart vibe.
JR Moores

55. Noga Erez –
KIDS
(City Slang)
Five tracks into this new masterpiece by Tel Aviv-based singer/rapper/musician/producer Noga Erez, you will have stomped your living room to dust with more frenzy than you’ve felt since Missy dropped Under Construction. It’s that addictive, that essential, that demanding of immediate and endless rewind, and it’s definitive and emblematic of how rap – so long seen as a fad that pop could utilise – has now swallowed pop whole.
Neil Kulkarni

54. Claire Rousay –
a softer focus
(American Dreams)
There’s a sketch-like quality to a softer focus. It could almost be a diary. Moments recall Henry Collins and Robin Foster’s sound practice dubbed ‘rummaging’, in which miscellaneous objects in a container or drawer are shuffled and manually intermixed, allowing the sounds of their scrapes and collisions “to improvise with others of their own accord.” Talking to composer Simon Fisher Turner a while back, he told me of his disdain for the term ‘field recording’, preferring instead ‘life recording’. The term feels apt here, too. On the second track, ‘Discrete (The Market)’, we accompany Rousay on a trip to her local farmer’s market. Elsewhere, we hear the putter of idling car engines, the crack and pop of distant fireworks, ice tinkling against the side of a glass.
Robert Barry

53. Panopticon –
...And Again Into The Light
(Bindrune)
...And Again Into The Light is a return to form and then some. It also sounds fucking enormous – after the absolutely beautiful title track kicks things off with Austin Lunn's signature bluegrass bathed in celestial ambience, 'Dead Loons' is surprisingly doomy, with big, dense chords left to ring out on booming eight string guitars. When it explodes in a flurry of metallic riffing and Lunn's characteristically intense drumming, it's backed by stirring, powerful strings, creating a really rich, emotive wall of sound. In fact, And Again is perhaps the most elaborately orchestrated Panopticon album yet.
Kez Whelan

52. Dawn Richard –
Second Line: An Electro Revival
(Merge)
On Second Line, Dawn Richard continues to tap into the dance music that has dominated much of her work since 2015’s Blackheart. Fusing house, techno, electro and all manner of other club sounds with the R&B on which she first emerged as a member of US group Danity Kane and then as part of the Diddy Dirty Money trio, Richard intersperses some of her most assured, soulful work yet with clips of herself interviewing her mother, lending the album a deeply autobiographical slant. Above all, Second Line’s irresistible grooves and hooks see Richard continue to chart a path all her own within the modern R&B landscape.
Christian Eede

51. Tomaga –
Intimate Immensity
(Hands In The Dark)
When Valentina Magaletti’s oblong tank drum cycles emerge from the dark to form a tuneful skeleton for ‘Idioma’, the opening cut of Tomaga’s final release, it’s a sound at once known and unknowable. Evolved from 2016’s The Shape Of The Dance, yet embedded with a deeper meaning in light of Tom Relleen's passing. On Intimate Immensity, the breathless reverberations of his Buchla synthesizer are just that bit more incisive than before as they saturate the sound space and grow emotional branches around echoing polyrhythms. Bass textures bubble up and wash over lurking, shy noises with newly discovered weight. An electronic pulse whistles for the first and last time.
Antonio Poscic

50. Valentino Mora –
Underwater
(Spazio Disponibile)
Valentino Mora takes his ambient techno sound to its deepest depths on his debut album. Ranging from abyssal, pulsating drones (‘Hadal Zone’) to stunningly hypnotic, arpeggiated synth cuts (‘Morphosa’, ‘Membrane’), Underwater sees the French producer find a perfect home on Donato Dozzy and Neel’s Spazio Disponibile label as he crafts a psychedelic, deep sea world to get fully lost in.
Christian Eede

49. Japanese Breakfast –
Jubilee
(Dead Oceans)
After a year of lockdown records, it’s time to welcome into our lives the new genre of ‘post-pandemic’ album. One such example is Japanese Breakfast’s Jubilee. Celebratory and suffused in optimism, it chimes with the sense of a long dark night finally drawing to a close. This isn’t by coincidence. Michelle Zauner – the Korean-American native of Eugene, Oregon, who has used Japanese Breakfast as a stage name since 2016’s Psychopomp – could write the book about coming out of the shadows and facing towards the dawn. Following an extended and disorientating lockdown of the soul, she’s ready for change. Jubilee finds her figuratively cracking open the shutters and engaging once again with the outside world.
Ed Power

48. Part Chimp –
Drool
(Wrong Speed)
This might be blasphemy, but when I hear an MBV or Dinosaur Jr. track, I don't think, “This has got to be the loudest live band in the world.” I'm not sure they need to be. It’s arguably an ancillary thing. The opposite is true of Part Chimp, easily one of the world’s heaviest guitar squads. Pop on Drool and it’s altogether likely that you’ll immediately reckon something along the lines of, “I bet the sheer, unholy thunder of these knuckleheads playing in a cramped bar could explode an unlucky dove just like a 2001 Randy Johnson fastball in a spring training game against the Giants.” Well, maybe you wouldn’t think that, exactly, but the point is it comes through on record. It is immediately evident. You don’t even need to imagine it, to suss out how their gigs might go. You just know it to be true. Would it even work otherwise?
Bernie Brooks

47. AMOR –
AMOR/LEMUR
(Night School)
46. Mirage –
Mirage
(Peatonal West)
Think of all your favourite songs by Scritti Politti, Grace Jones, Mylène Farmer, Adele Bertei, Wham. Now imagine that none of the people who wrote those songs really wrote those songs. Imagine they all ripped them off – the melodies, the rhythms, the sound, the feel, the lot. Imagine it was all stolen from some other artist, some obscure studio-bound hermit without the looks and the money and the record label pull. Imagine some baroque conspiracy to have the music of that original artist suppressed. Every copy of their work deleted and pulped. Just one third gen copy remaining, buried in a ditch for decades, then finally dug up, a little warped, a little grimy. Do you ever hear a record and feel like it’s been made just for you?
Robert Barry

45. Pauline Anna Strom –
Angel Tears In Sunlight
(RVNG Intl.)
Composed in the apartment where Pauline Anna Strom lived for years, Angel Tears In Sunlight narrates a non-visual encounter with an alternate, sci-fi inspired reality. Opening track 'Tropical Convergence' is like an auditory experience of an Ursula K. Le Guin novel. Nature and magic are entangled – shimmering, glockenspiel beats are raindrops landing on the forest canopy. The jungle theme returns with 'Tropical Rainforest', which is punctuated with watery sounds, calling to mind Strom's recollection of her early sound experiments. During the 1980s – alone while her husband was at work – for hours, she would manipulate a bowl of water with one hand and hold a microphone in the other, attempting to weave the splashes into a melody. It's from these small, clandestine details that dense, psychedelic worlds emerge.
Hannah Pezzack

44. MXLX –
Nebula Rasa
(Kindarad!)
Self-released, self-produced and home-recorded, Nebula Rasa was apparently worked on almost non-stop for six months before Matt Loveridge’s laptop was stolen from his Bristol flat, then somehow retrieved a few days later. Thoughts: being able to fit this much sound inside a clunky tea tray blows yer mind, don’t it? Being able to back it up on cloud storage is even wilder! And we nearly missed out on a pretty phenom suite of music here. Every given song is formed of multiple segments, with most of those segments suggestive of a few stylistically different things, so rather than trying to liveblog the 44 minutes it might be better to note (some of) what one might hear on Nebula Rasa. Slimelight industrial pop, synthesised folk-metal like Goblin doing Korpiklaani.
Noel Gardner

43. serpentwithfeet –
DEACON
(Secretly Canadian)
Emotions are not something serpentwithfeet’s Josiah Wise does by halves. The artist who described his grief in such rich and sometimes agonising detail is just as present when he describes his happiness. The details on DEACON are rooted in the mundane rather than escapism: chance meetings, watching Christmas films in July, corny clothes and jokes, the man who calls everyone’s mother ‘Mama’. This new focus is reflected throughout the tenor of the album. Wise’s vocals – reaching sky-high falsettos and weaving in the gospel traditions he was raised with – are a calling card for his work. The emphasis for DEACON, however, is more on dexterity than drama. The effect is often collage-like, with calls and responses, wordless flourishes (at their most playful as a trumpet on ‘Same Size Shoe’) or as a show of mutual strength as, like when they are layered on the outro of ‘Fellowship’.
Amanda Farah

42. CHAI –
WINK
(Sub Pop)
WINK is Chai’s first record working with external producers, and tellingly pushes the group to a wider sonic scope than ever. It pulses with an excellent hip-hop and R&B polish, blending waves of sheen with their proclivity for brash pop and the cascading dance-y punk energy of a group like Le Tigre. Take ‘It’s Vitamin C’, which shimmies with the echoes of the dancefloor while also playing with breezy jazz hip-hop inflections.
Tara Joshi

41. Francesca Ter-Berg –
In Eynem
(Phantom Limb)
This eerie small-album suite of pieces by Francesca Ter-Berg has a sense of levitating above and around the material world. These pieces are perhaps best triangulated by other recent (excellent) strings-based records: by the story-telling of Silvia Tarozzi in the links to song, the places that are present in cellist Leila Bordreuil’s work, and the rich dynamics Lori Goldston pulls from her solo playing. The cover perhaps makes it look a bit ambient (I spit), but what's on here never approaches that genre's wallpaper-ish tendencies, drawing tunings and songs from Ter-Berg’s studies of Klezmer music, including traditional Yiddish song 'Oi Ihr Narishe Tsionistn' and short Sinti song 'Me Sunowa'.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

40. Manni Dee –
A Low Level Love
(Perc Trax)
A Low Level Love, while by no means without its subtleties, goes full tilt on most of its eleven tracks and was clearly made for grotty basements with lights turned down low as legally permissible, or lower. What do you predict something called ‘You Puked In The Alley Where We Kissed’ sounds like? Maybe the most rambunctious moment on the album, it has a BPM akin to European schranz techno and intermittent outbursts of distortion like a gargoyle’s unhappy digestive system. So you predicted right. In more linear moments, Dheensa seems to be telegraphing his trance fandom: the brief ‘Yesterday’s Hope’, clean, drumless laser show-worthy ‘No More Heroes’ and the audacious ‘Pivotal Summer’, its riff straight outta hard trance’s early ‘00s pomp.
Noel Gardner

39. Mosquitoes –
Mosquitoes
(World Of Echo)

38. Lisel & Booker Stardrum –
Mycelial Echo
(Luminelle)
Mycelial Echo, the long-distance collaboration between Lisel and Booker Stardrum, is above all a feat of production. Though both have carved out their own corners in experimental music — Lisel (the solo project name of Eliza Bagg) as a classically trained avant garde singer-producer and Stardrum as an electronic musician and producer — their pairing has pushed each individual’s work beyond predictable progressions, beats, or vocal hooks. Much of the album is a decoupage of Bagg’s vocals, her atmospherically high soprano cut up sometimes to the syllable, copied and pasted in layer upon layer. The kaleidoscopic rotation of vocals throughout the album frequently makes it impossible to determine which central point they pivot around. Vocals are easily mistaken for synthesisers or stand in for percussion. It’s a treat to listen to on headphones as sounds ricochet from ear to ear, somehow in agreement but still butting up against one another.
Amanda Farah

37. Dry Cleaning –
New Long Leg
(4AD)
With New Long Leg, I think Dry Cleaning have put away childish things, and as for the production, the imagery, the craft on display: they’re all the better for it. To start, there’s certainly more time to fill here. Florence Shaw’s formerly rapid delivery now allows for instrumental breaks, encouraging Lewis Maynard and Nick Buxton to build loftier soundscapes. A two-minute pause in ‘Every Day Carry’ envelops the listener in the band’s own biosphere, completed by Shaw’s references to the flora, fauna, fatbergs, and firearms that have all been accumulating in her lyrical repertoire since the heady-days of 2019.
Nancy Collinge

36. Scotch Rolex –
Tewari
(Hakuna Kulala)
All five of the guests on Tewari, as well as Shigeru Ishihara himself, are uncompromising artists, yet in very different ways; Lord Spikeheart’s sprawling screams, MC Yallah’s punchy staccato bars, and Swordman Kitala’s ferocious dancehall flow all mine the same depths of intensity, albeit through different routes. The album that came out of their sessions is a record that embraces that shared penchant for extremity. On ‘Omuzira’ and ‘Juice’ Ishihara creates a thick, heavy, but somehow spacious beat that’s tailor-made for Yallah’s terse flow, and on ‘Nfulula Biswa’ provides Swordman Kitala with a pummelling, industrial dub track redolent of Kevin Martin at his finest.
Patrick Clarke

35. Howie Lee –
Birdy Island
(Mais Um Discos)
The success of Howie Lee’s music on Birdy Island is its own act of balance. Just as on his imagined island, investment companies and theme parks mingle with animals and ancient spirits, the music sways hypnotically between the organic, the electronic and the cosmic. Beneath the teeming organic canopies of sound created by interwoven traditional melodies can be found throbs of bass like a tectonic plate moving far below, or skittering footwork rhythms like falling soil. A four-piece choir Lee formed remotely with Chinese vocalists West By West, Fishdoll and Yehaiyahan adds a brushstroke of humanity. Subtle electronic manipulations of those vocals and of birdsong hint at the artificiality of the investment company’s plans.
Patrick Clarke

34. Psychic Hotline –
The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline
(Disciples)
The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline works equally well as swan song and introduction to Psychic Hotline. Throughout, Special Interest’s Ruth Mascelli challenges our ideas of what punk could and should be. By using drum machines, synths, and keyboards, they craft iridescent lo-fi pop that still has passion and power. Of course this is nothing new, but in Mascelli’s hands it does feel exciting and subversive. If Psychic Hotline is over then Mascelli can feel proud to leave a strong body of work.
Nick Roseblade

33. Erika de Casier –
Sensational
(4AD)
Drawing on the sultry throwback energy of ‘90s and ‘00s R&B, Erika de Casier’s second album is a subtle masterpiece. Working with frequent collaborator Natal Zaks (AKA DJ Central, of Denmark’s Regelbau collective), the pair look to a number of trademarks of the R&B that defined the turn of the millennium, drawing as much on the acoustic guitars that appeared on classic Destiny’s Child and Brandy album cuts as the overall oeuvre of Sade’s best work. Crucially though, Sensational isn’t simply a pastiche affair, as de Casier refines the smoky afterhours energy of her 2019 debut LP, Essentials, and builds ever more confidently on the music of her upbringing.
Christian Eede

32. Kìzis –
Tidibàbide / Turn
(Tin Angel)
The last time we heard form Mich Cota she had just released her debut album, Kijà / Care. Back in 2017, that record dealt with trauma, oppression – and also love. Now she has re-emerged as Kìzis. In her Algonquin language, Kìzis means ‘Sun’. This is a fitting name to perform under as her music is filled with light vocals that drift over bright melodies. Her latest album, Tidibàbide / Turn is fearless and proud, featuring over fifty artists including Beverly Glenn Copeland, Mabe Fratti and Owen Pallet spread over thirty-six tracks and three-hours. Yes. This will be a long ride.
Nick Roseblade

31. L’Rain –
Fatigue
(Mexican Summer)
L’Rain envisions a kind of psychic city on Fatigue, each dominion anchored to distinct emotions. We fly through it, amongst the buzz of city life, roads with police sirens and the resistance of air. We catch glimpses of people’s interactions on the street, hear their laughs, hums, cries, claps, stories and feelings. In L’Rain’s genre-subverting world, emotions do not exist in singularity.
Georgie Brooke

30. ioulus –
oddkin
(Rhizome)
Billed as both a mixtape and a debut album, ioulus’ oddkin hedges its bets. If you take it as a mixtape, you needn’t rationalise its quicksilver sixteen-minute running time and head-wrecking restlessness. See it as a fully realised set though, and it really has to be something special to justify its short stay. Still, that’s the most rewarding choice. Succumbing to oddkin as a complete album lets you marvel at how much can be crammed into such a small space, a trinket box of wounded feelings and musical invention.
Matthew Horton

29. Andy Stott –
Never The Right Time
(Modern Love)
The delicate voice of Andy Stott’s regular collaborator Alison Skidmore can be heard across Never The Right Time. Functioning as the fulcrum of his vaporous pop songs, the album leans heavily on his signature multi-faceted sound-art stereo imaging, and the fine balance between anxious atmospherics and forlorn club bangers for which he is known. Similar to many of his momentous releases, the album functions like a fictitious rainy day playlist that might be played regularly at the Black Lodge, “a place of dark forces that pull on this world,” in the words of Twin Peaks character Hawk. Seeing release in April when the premonition of a possibly different summer dwelt on the horizon amid vaccination boosts, it might all seem rather gloomy, but there are still plenty of us enamoured with Stott’s phantasmatic soundtrack to 2010s anhedonia.
Jaša Bužinel

28. Fatima Al Qadiri –
Medieval Femme
(Hyperdub)
It feels a touch wrong to call Medieval Femme an album, per se – not only do modern releases vary wildly from the forty-minute limit of the LP, but they also have singles and album cuts. This is rather a suite, a collection of pieces reflecting on a similar theme, in this case “the state of melancholic longing exemplified by the poetry of Arab women from the medieval period”. Fatima Al Qadiri’s approach to songwriting bears some similarities to classical form (exposition, development, recapitulation) – and very little to pop structures.
David Burke

27. Special Interest –
Trust No Wave
(Disciples)
In 2016, a hitherto unknown band from New Orleans released a demo tape. The music was raw, ramshackle, and frayed around the edges, blurring punk, no wave, industrial, noise, and avant-garde music. It was a visceral twenty minutes that left you dizzy, shaken, but delighted. That band was Special Interest. Since their self-titled demo tape the band have gone on to release a couple more singles and albums, but their debut release still stands out, like nuclear shadows on buildings after an accident. But now it has been re-released on cassette and vinyl with a new cover and zine.
Nick Roseblade

26. Ed Dowie –
The Obvious I
(Needle Mythology)
It’s very easy for an artist with such an obviously well-stocked larder to throw the entire plate of spaghetti at the wall – meatballs, sauce, and all – and see what sticks. Dowie’s minimalist instincts temper those potential excesses. The Obvious I never swings for the fences and misses, never over-reaches, and doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s sculpted and contoured to within an inch of its life. At the same time, such admirable restraint occasionally stops the record from living up to its promise. ‘Dear Florence’ could soar into something huge and stirring but is content to stay modest, even meek. Closer, ‘Robot Joy Army’ grows some teeth but never has the conviction to truly sink them into anything.
Marc Burrows

25. The Weather Station –
Ignorance
(Fat Possum)
Musically, the tone and tempo seamlessly shifts across Ignorance. A cluster of 1970s California-tinged pop sensibilities casts a gloriously sunny disposition across ‘Tried To Tell You’ down to ‘Separated’. Heralding Fleetwood Mac’s buoyant hooks, these compositions are soaked with nostalgia brought to life via a bright smattering of piano, bumbling bass licks, and lush string parts to fill the spacious arrangements. Airy and accessible, Ignorance consistently delivers songs designed to fill a room with their communal spirit. For those coming to the group late, this serves as a wonderful entry-point as the subtle complexities present are enough to spark one’s curiosity to explore the remaining back-catalogue.
Zara Hedderman

24. Senyawa –
Alkisah
(various labels)
The core emotional intention on Alkisah is to create a mortifying sense of dread, which Senyawa achieve through clashing vocals, sinister repetition of single notes and bassy percussion rolls, held to create tension. The homemade instruments bridge the gap between traditional folk styles and contemporary music; the bamboo creations create an esoteric sound, enormous stringed instruments and arcane percussion clattering over one another. There’s something particularly spiky and abrasive here that immediately shares common ground with heavy metal; it’s heard in every idea that strains toward ending in raw noise and every unusual sound that feels like it was engineered deliberately to create discord.
Tom Coles

23. Rochelle Jordan –
Play With The Changes
(Young Art)
Play With The Changes signals a slight departure from the forward-leaning fusion R&B of the singles ‘How U Want It’ (2017) and ‘Fill Me In’ (2019), towards gleaming dancefloor anthems that celebrate life and reflect both the rich history of UK club genres and R&B mutations brought about by artists like Kelela and FKA twigs. The album, produced by KLSH, Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum, who’s been working with Jordan since 2015, stylistically transmutates from track to track in a flawless manner. Shifting between liquid D&B, UK garage-infused R&B, shuffling breakbeats, inspired feel-good house, bedroom trap, subdued lovers rock 2.0 and so on, here you’ll find some of the finest pop tunes of the year, light-years ahead of the mainstream’s hackneyed disco nostalgia. Jordan’s feathery but round voice makes her part of a long lineage of R&B divas, but instead of retracing the same old paths, she bets on a fully contemporary sound.
Jaša Bužinel

22. Dean Blunt –
Black Metal 2
(Rough Trade)
In contrast with its predecessor, Black Metal 2 is anti-dynamism. There’s far less formal fuckery. It’s a headstate record, all gully no peak, with swells of intensity that then ebb away. You’ll find nothing like the brash shoegaze of ‘Heavy’, an avalanche of crystal chimes and debris. What’s it sound like then? Well, it sounds a fair bit like some other songs on 2014’s Black Metal, that same blurring of samples and instrumentation. “Here we are, back on the guitar,” sings Blunt on ‘SEMTEX’, while ‘VIGIL’ has the same midi strings that gave The Redeemer its shoddy grandeur, and sees the return of long time collaborator Joanne Robertson, contributing guitar twangs and vocals. There’s a potent presence of Mazzy Star, the dubby dream world of AR Kane, also Felt and The Pastels – the socially acceptable alternative to C-86 type jangle. They’ll even steer dangerously close to emblems of US slackerdom, Kurt Vile and the like.
Eden Tizard

21. The Transcendence Orchestra –
All Skies Have Sounded
(Editions Mego)
Anthony Child and Dan Bean’s well-named Transcendence Orchestra returns with a new album, All Skies Have Sounded, which from the first track, ‘Having My Head Is Felt’, on exudes a sort of trippy, oozy warmth. Indeed, that title sums up the record rather well. Apparently inspired by, or a channeling of, “Gonzen, uminari or retumbos” – mysterious sounds that come from the heavens – the record recalls Coil, Tangerine Dream and, weirdly, Brian Eno, but the interludes on the 70s ‘pop’ records rather than his ambient moments. There are even Stephen O’Malley-esque guitar lurges, weird subsurface watery gloops and beautiful drones. It's highly recommended for long mountain valley drives, or a summer wander with a pot of honey imbued with the magical bounty of Dartmoor’s close-cropped sheep pasture for company.
Luke Turner

20. Årabrot –
Norwegian Gothic
(Pelagic)
Årabrot’s ninth album is as dynamic and unpredictable as ever, stuffed with squalling sex and death anthems that could career off the rails at any moment. Like every Årabrot album, Kjetil Nernes has roped in a revolving cast of musicians, this time including Lars Horntveth (Jaga Jazzist), cellist Jo Quail, Tomas Järmyr (Motorpsycho), Anders Møller (Turbonegro, Ulver) and Massimo Pupillo (Zu), but Karin Park’s influence slices through the noise. Squeezed in amongst the nods to punk, black and industrial metal, anthemic choruses push Årabrot’s sound into new dimensions on ‘Kinks Of The Heart’ and ‘The Lie’, in the snakelike grooves and synths of ‘The Rule Of Silence’. It’s like sherbet for Swans fans.
Danii Leivers

19. Colleen –
The Tunnel And The Clearing
(Thrill Jockey)
Inspired by African and Jamaican musicians’ ethos of maximising creativity with a modest setup, Colleen’s singular sound is informed by principles not the emulating of another’s style. Influences like Arthur Russell, Lee Perry, or even Broadcast appear pleasantly oblique, like a washed-out collage. Following a particular instrumental focus on each album, her eighth centres the organ, enhanced by a carefully reduced set of analogue electronics. With just six items of gear, Schott crafted the most intricate tapestry of minimally composed, contemplative moods with a beating heart underneath.
Danijela Bočev

18. Skee Mask –
Pool
(Ilian Tape)
Considering the hundreds of press releases that end up in my mailbox daily, most of them blatantly hyping the next big thing, in the case of Pool, it was really refreshing to just get a totally unexpected new record. The absence of a press release, an industry standard that has unfortunately come to define how most people write about music, opened up a possibility for everyone to develop their own intimate relationship with the record. (I must add this has been the case with most Ilian Tape releases.) Be sure to take 100 minutes off for this one — it's a beast of a record. You'll know what I mean when you hear the '80s hair metal solo in the track 'Harrison Ford'.
Jaša Bužinel

17. Tanz Mein Herz –
Quattro
(Standard In-Fi)
If you’ve already come across drone-folk monsters France then TMH are their slightly less monofocal cousins, with Mathieu Tilly and Jeremie Sauvage (who also runs the Standard In-Fi label) appearing in both. While France will plough a single furrow for the entirety of a release or a show (thrillingly, I should add), Tanz Mein Herz – who here also include Ernest Bergez (AKA Sourdure), Alexis Degrenier, Guilhem Lacroux, Pierre-Vincent Fortunier and Pierre Bujeau – have a more wide-open sound, while still keeping faith with the hypnotic power of repetition. Even by their, previously excellent, standards, Quattro is pretty monumental – the shortest track is just over seven minutes, the longest clocks in at over 26, but what’s striking isn’t so much duration as the tension between savagery (of the drones and the see-sawing fiddle) and the poise of the milky guitar arpeggios, plunking bass and rumbling drums that draws you in as the grooves intensify and trails of synth start to glow like comet tails.
David McKenna

16. Gary Numan –
Intruder
(BMG)
Intruder is Gary Numan’s nineteenth album. It’s a concept record, sang from the point of view of the Earth itself to the bipedal aliens that crawl across its surface, wreaking irreversible toxic havoc. That sounds a bit pretentious, and maybe it is, but it’s exactly the sort of apocalyptic narrative Numan has been spinning for years now, and the themes are depressingly timely. Fortunately, so is the music. Working with longtime collaborator Ade Fenton, Numan has created a tapestry of atmospheric, claustrophobic and, occasionally, toweringly pissed musical strands reflecting the mood of a heartbroken and livid planet as its colonisers continue to belch fumes in its eyes and chisel at its face.
Marc Burrows

15. Squid –
Bright Green Field
(Warp)
The best thing about Bright Green Field – and Squid in general – is how fun it is. There is a tendency with similar post-punk acts to be dour or morbid. There is nothing wrong with that. The themes that they write about are generally downbeat. But Squid manage to inject bouncy rhythms to their tales of modern living. After the scene-setting forty-second opening track ‘Resolution Square’, ‘G.S.K.’ comes at you with lumbering rhythms and roguish guitars. Think The Fall covering ESG and you’re on the right lines. Over this, drummer and vocalist Ollie Judge shouts “As the sun sets on the Glaxo Klein / Well, it’s the only way that I can tell the time” after which huge funky horns explode from the speakers before a jaunty, yet incredibly catchy, guitar motif appears, disappears, then reappears. It sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Nick Roseblade

14. Eimear Reidy & Natalia Beylis –
Whose Woods These Are
(Self-Released)
The day after I got my jab I felt a bit washed out; nothing serious, but enough to make me shrink from any, well, serious listening. This album was a salve, it got me out of bed into clothes and out of the house for a walk. Beylis picks out simple piano and organ lines, an easy fluency that caresses the resonant warmth of Reidy's cello running breathy and low. These three tracks are about trees, prompted by Robert Frost's 'Whose Woods These Are', which moved into the public domain this year. Beylis and Reidy imagine a utopia where the trees go public domain (imagining the disintegration of land ownership by proxy). There is much space to breathe here and those who crave more might be similarly settled by hearing the seasons unfurl in the monthly sessions Laura Cannell and cellist Kate Ellis are recording and releasing throughout this year.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

13. Jane Weaver –
Flock
(Fire)
Flock is the 1990s as taped-from-the-TV versions of Naked and KLF vanity projects, the ticking beats of Trans-Europe and Trans-American compilations, Suede’s electric grimoire, Beta bandaids, The Family of God LP and the collective psyched-out idiocy on Ochre Records, Giant Steps from various switched on Scouse and Wool bands, Superfurry animism, Broadcast’s divinations into the underground currents of Eurofilm, Stereolab laying down their subliminal grooves akin to an amped-up Philip Sidney gig, and a Krautrocksampling Cope acting as underground cheerleader. Interesting, offbeat people doing their thing, in other words. And Jane Weaver is one of them.
Richard Foster

12. Black Country, New Road –
For The First Time
(Ninja Tune)
Just the six tracks in total, there is an air of familiarity to For The First Time. Rather than a collection of new music, the band have recorded the best songs from their live set into one cohesive and satisfying package. (With the notable exception of ‘Track X’, which has been part of Wood’s solo live set as The Guest occasionally for some time.) Indeed, for the indoctrinated, this debut is low in surprises, but the songs are very sharp and done a great justice by the production. It’s rare that a band this noisy, an album where chaos reigns, is recorded with this much clarity. There are so many different musical ideas, and none of them get lost along the way.
Cal Cashin

11. The Armed –
ULTRAPOP
(Sargent House)
It's a mark of The Armed's deftness and intelligence that their fandom can remain both obsessive and inclusive at the same time, never bordering on the weaponised toxicity that has scarred 'Stan' culture elsewhere online. What elevates The Armed from the enjoyable to the essential, however, is the extraordinary strength of their art. The driving force behind all their fans’ energy is music that feels genuinely vital. ULTRAPOP is an attempt to take the intensity of the hardcore music the band grew up on, and by injecting it with modern pop's forward-facing maximalism, up its energy even further still, emerging with a brand new genre from which the album takes its name. In the process, they’re gleefully undercutting the hypermasculine nonsense that can sometimes dog heavier music. Sneer at their ambition if you will, but they've succeeded in that mission. ULTRAPOP is as bold, dynamic and addictive an album as you'll hear all year.
Patrick Clarke

10. Godspeed You! Black Emperor –
G_d's Pee AT STATE’S END!
(Constellation)
Split into four tracks – two twenty-minute passages of dense instrumentation with equally dense titles (the record opens with ‘A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First of the Last Glaciers / where we break how we shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)’), and two shorter cuts – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! is ironically the group’s least dystopian record to date. Church bells chime under layers of driving guitars and militaristic drums, and amongst the AM radio static that fills the background, there’s birdsong and, whisper it, a sense of hope. As the album’s opening track comes to an end, it’s punctuated by distant explosions; they could be gunshots, but also, they could be fireworks.
Mike Vinti

9. Sons Of Kemet –
Black To The Future
(Impulse!)
Whilst much of Sons Of Kemet’s prior material was shaped live, finding its final form in sweaty venues, that has simply not been the case with Black To The Future for fairly obvious reasons. Whilst there are moments of fizz, pure energetic zip, the album as a whole is more meditative. For the most part, Shabaka Hutchings favours clarinet over saxophone, welcoming brass contributions from the likes of Steve Williamson, Kebbi Williams, and Cassie Kinoshi of SEED Ensemble. In this slight transformation, though, nothing has been lost. Tracks like ‘Never Forget the Source’ and ‘Envision Yourself Levitating’ reach slow sprawling ecstasy through patient constructions. The latter especially, sees Hutchings’ woodwinds and Kebbi Williams’ tenor sax dovetailing around Theon Cross’ wilting brass bassline daintily in pursuit of the absolute. It’s transcendent stuff.
Cal Cashin

8. Divide And Dissolve –
Gas Lit
(Invada)
The 90 seconds or so of pastoral sax dappling which opens ‘Oblique’, thus the album, is like something you might expect to find on the ECM label. The guitar and drums, when they enter, are decidedly less so: Reed’s riffs don’t drone, exactly, but seem to melt into each other while sucking all the oxygen from the room. Nehill plays like a jazzer tasked with flattening their kit, snares leading a merry – if non-linear and skull-jabbing – dance. D&D’s drummer has an especially singular technique, a Neubauten-like leaden clang cutting through ‘Prove It’ (this may to some extent be credited to Gas Lit’s producer, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman Ruban Neilson) and ‘Denial’ wielding cymbals like ancient weapons during its seven and a half-minute journey.
Noel Gardner

7. Arab Strap –
As Days Get Dark
(Rock Action)
There’s a funny thing that happens on this record. Wretched misdeeds and thoughts slip more thoroughly into the third person. There’s a sense of remove. Aged, the lecherous scumbags seem more pathetic than ever. They’re much too old for wherever they are and whoever they’re creeping, just barely louche at best. You can almost smell the flop sweat of the dude in ‘I Was Once A Weak Man’ as he tries to convince himself that his behaviour isn’t deeply, deeply embarrassing – at minimum. Other tracks are nightmarishly parabolic. A grease-stained god of nocturnal dalliances sweeps up the nightlife in ‘Here Comes Comus!’; doomed foxes seek refuge; the past haunts a train traveller in the first-person ‘Sleeper’. Is it possible there are lessons to be learned here? Maybe even a little bit of wisdom?
Bernie Brooks

6. Gazelle Twin & NYX –
Deep England
(NYX Collective)
Deep England takes its name from a strain of identity diagnosed by academic Patrick Wright as “this deep-frozen English nationalism.” It unfolds like chapters in a bedtime story that’s taken a plunge into the uncanny, as Elizabeth Bernholz deploys a shifting palette of wind instruments, textured shrieks, horror-movie FX, and lurching techno. Chiming church bells usher in opening track ‘Glory’, which quickly whips itself into a terrible rhapsody of female voices, like the ghosts of England’s unresolved sense of self swirling through all at once. The folk horror sensibility that infuses the record is acknowledged directly on ‘Fire Leap’. This is a spectral rendering of the fertility song from The Wicker Man – one that makes the original sound like a Teletubbies singalong by comparison.
Ed Power

5. MICROCORPS –
XMIT
(ALTER)
Alexander Tucker has innovated a novel way of processing signal on XMIT, cutting and splicing segments of speech into time-stretched non-sequiturs, a disquieting technique used to effect, for example, on Simon Fisher Turner’s outing, entitled ‘OCT’. ‘ABII’ with Astrud Steehouder elasticises the album’s most classical vocal elements, whilst orphan electrics are set to gurgle and bray in the background. Nik Void’s contribution, ‘ILN’, is the record’s most straight-ahead knees-up, an analogue, heavyweight raga built for the world’s abandoned dancefloors. At its best, XMIT nods adroitly to Radiohead’s woofer endangering ‘Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors’, and adeptly advances the wild forward/backward vocal simultaneity of ‘Everything in its Right Place’.
Ryan Alexander Diduck

4. Black Midi –
Cavalcade
(Rough Trade)
David Lynch likened creative ideas to fishing – you wait and when they start biting, it’s showtime. Keep in the shallow waters and you’ll catch the small ones. But “down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” Creatively sincere, their instincts radically open, black midi pack a bucketful of pretty big catches on Cavalcade. The concept revolves around a series of third person narratives where each tells their oddly allegorical story in a procession. Each track is a universe of its own, doing what art should do: using its own virtual space as an experimental testing ground to try those limits of taboo and impossibility that remain limited IRL.
Danijela Bočev

3. Loraine James –
Reflection
(Hyperdub)
Like Loraine James’ last album, Reflection is dizzying in scope. James re-imagines classic elements of dance and club with drill, R&B, grime, dub, electro and trap. Drill and R&B feel more predominant here than the other genres this time round, something James herself feels has seeped more into her work after a time spent listening to both forms throughout the early part of 2020. Her last album, whilst not overtly political, explored what it was like to be a queer, Black woman from a working-class background in a rapidly disappearing area of London. Here, there’s more of that too but with a greater urgency and boldness, like on ‘Simple Stuff’ and album centrepieces, ‘Insecure Behaviour and Fuckery’ (which features Nova) and ‘Black Ting’ (made with frequent collaborator Le3 bLACK).
Elizabeth Aubrey

2. William Doyle –
Great Spans Of Muddy Time
(Tough Love)
Although 1960s girl groups don’t immediately spring to mind when listening to William Doyle, there’s something about the emotional honesty of some of the lyrics and singing on Great Spans Of Muddy Time that recalls how groups like The Ronettes, The Girlfriends, or The Crystals could sing songs wreathed in uncertainty and doubt, using plain language in a heartfelt, direct delivery. In the stunning lead single, the compact, kaleidoscopic pop symphony of ‘And Everything Changed (But I Feel Alright)’, the passionate repetition of the line ‘I feel alright I believe’ in the chorus suggests a narrator trying to convince him or herself of something; the word ‘believe’ can imply both conviction and faith/uncertainty. The sense of pain or anguish just lapping at the edges of the music is used to great effect on Great Spans Of Muddy Time, sometimes even wordlessly. In the introduction of ‘And Everything Changed (But I Feel Alright), just before Doyle starts singing, the intake of breath seems more in reaction to pain, rather than in readiness to sing.
Will Ainsley

1. Sleaford Mods –
Spare Ribs
(Rough Trade)
When else in history have the purportedly censored sounded so unbearably loud? Political correctness – that fusty old Enlightenment idea of making an effort to treat people fairly and equally – is castigated as the worst possible tyranny imaginable. Any act of human kindness, however great or small, is dismissed immediately as "virtual signalling". Not even Marcus Rashford can save us now. This is the sorry state into which Sleaford Mods' latest album announces itself like a punch in the belly from a stubbly stranger outside the small Sainsbury's. Recorded quickly under lockdown, the music feels urgent in an almost skeletal way. The very bass lines themselves groan and sigh with both exasperation and aggression. Crucially, they still contain just enough swing to get the old hips swaying from side to side. The beats are harsh, icy and precise, with extra electronic embellishments used slyly and sparingly. There are barnstorming guest performances too, from Billy Nomates and Amy Taylor from Amyl & The Sniffers. As for Jason Williamson's always engrossing lyrics, there is little point in quoting any of these gems directly. They might look great on paper but they have to be heard first-hand to be properly enjoyed and absorbed. A large part of the pleasure of hearing any Sleaford Mods album is in the sheer accumulation of Williamson's poetic dismay, as well as the perfect positioning of a particularly cathartic rant or foamy mouthed slur.
JR Moores

The Quietus Albums Of The Year So Far 2021

  • 1: Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs
  • 2: William Doyle – Great Spans Of Muddy Time
  • 3: Loraine James – Reflection
  • 4: black midi – Cavalcade
  • 5: MICROCORPS – XMIT
  • 6: Gazelle Twin & NYX – Deep England
  • 7:Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
  • 8: Divide And Dissolve – Gas Lit
  • 9:Sons Of Kemet – Black To The Future
  • 10: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d's Pee AT STATE’S END!
  • 11: The Armed – ULTRAPOP
  • 12: Black Country, New Road – For The First Time
  • 13: Jane Weaver – Flock
  • 14: Eimear Reidy & Natalia Beylis – Whose Woods These Are
  • 15: Squid – Bright Green Field
  • 16: Gary Numan – Intruder
  • 17: Tanz Mein Herz – Quattro
  • 18: Skee Mask – Pool
  • 19: Colleen – The Tunnel And The Clearing
  • 20: Årabrot – Norwegian Gothic
  • 21: The Transcendence Orchestra – All Skies Have Sounded
  • 22: Dean Blunt – Black Metal 2
  • 23: Rochelle Jordan – Play With The Changes
  • 24: Senyawa – Alkisah
  • 25: The Weather Station – Ignorance
  • 26: Ed Dowie – The Obvious I
  • 27: Special Interest – Trust No Wave
  • 28: Fatima Al Qadiri – Medieval Femme
  • 29: Andy Stott – Never The Right Time
  • 30: ioulus – Oddkin
  • 31: L’Rain – Fatigue
  • 32: Kìzis – Tidibàbide / Turn
  • 33: Erika de Casier – Sensational
  • 34: Psychic Hotline – The Wild World Of Psychic Hotline
  • 35: Howie Lee – Birdy Island
  • 36: Scotch Rolex – Tewari
  • 37: Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
  • 38: Lisel & Booker Stardrum – Mycelial Echo
  • 39: Mosquitoes – Mosquitoes
  • 40: Manni Dee – A Low Level Love
  • 41: Francesca Ter-Berg – In Eynem
  • 42: CHAI – WINK
  • 43: serpentwithfeet – DEACON
  • 44: MXLX – Nebula Rasa
  • 45: Pauline Anna Strom – Angel Tears In Sunlight
  • 46: Mirage – Mirage
  • 47: AMOR – AMOR/LEMUR
  • 48: Part Chimp – Drool
  • 49: Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
  • 50: Valentino Mora – Underwater
  • 51: Tomaga – Intimate Immensity
  • 52: Dawn Richard – Second Line: An Electro Revival
  • 53: Panopticon – ...And Again Into The Light
  • 54: Claire Rousay – a softer focus
  • 55: Noga Erez – KIDS
  • 56: Sunburned Hand Of The Man – Pick A Day To Die
  • 57: Ripatti – Fun Is Not A Straight Line
  • 58: Jap Kasai – OWN ℃
  • 59: Mndsgn – Rare Pleasure
  • 60: KMRU – Logue
  • 61: Xiu Xiu – OH NO
  • 62: La Nòvia – Le soleil ni même la lune
  • 63: Yu Su – Yellow River Blue
  • 64: Thomas Ankersmit – Perceptual Geography
  • 65: J. Cole – The Off-Season
  • 66: Dialect – Under~Between
  • 67: Prolaps – Ultra Cycle Pt. 2: Estival Growth
  • 68: Francisco Mela – MPT Trio: Volume 1
  • 69: William Parker – Migration Of Silence Into And Out Of The Tone World
  • 70: Khalab & M’berra Ensemble – M’berra
  • 71: St. Vincent – Daddy's Home
  • 72: Melvins – Working With God
  • 73: Badsista – HITS DE VERÃO (SUMMER HITS) Vol. 2
  • 74: Bloody Head – The Temple Pillars Dissolve Into The Clouds
  • 75: Virginia Wing – Private LIFE
  • 76: Kas – Like Sunlit Threads
  • 77: Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR
  • 78: Les Filles de Illighadad – At Pioneer Works
  • 79: Punkt.Vrt.Plastik – Somit
  • 80: Jorja Chalmers – Midnight Train
  • 81: VTSS – Borderline Tenderness
  • 82: Kevin Richard Martin – Return To Solaris
  • 83: Time Binding Ensemble – Nothing New Under The Sun
  • 84: [Ahmed] – Nights On Saturn (Communication)
  • 85: Alpha Wann – Don Dada Mixtape Vol. 1
  • 86: Nick Hudson – Font Of Human Fractures
  • 87: Shame – Drunk Tank Pink
  • 88: Leather Rats – No Live ‘Til Leather '98
  • 89: Avon Terror Corps x Exist Festival – Resist To Exist قاوم لِوجودك
  • 90: Goat Girl – On All Fours
  • 91: Facta – Blush
  • 92: Manslaughter 777 – World Vision Perfect Harmony
  • 93: Ghetts – Conflict Of Interest
  • 94: Vapour Theories – Celestial Scuzz
  • 95: Tune-Yards – Sketchy
  • 96: Poison Ruïn – Poison Ruïn
  • 97: Eilien – Digital Lovers
  • 98: BIG BRAVE – Vital
  • 99: Muqata’a – Kamil Manqus
  • 100: ZULI – All Caps