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Quietus Charts

tQ's Reissues Etc. Of The Year 2023 (In Association With Norman Records)
The Quietus , December 11th, 2023 08:07

These are our favourite reissues, compilations, live albums, mixes, OSTs and etceteras of the last 12 months, as voted for by tQ staff, columnists and core writers

Illustration by Lisa Cradduck

Spoiler alert, but our favourite reissue of 2023 is a thing of absolute beauty: Dorothy Carter's 1978 masterpiece Waillee Waillee. In her review of the record for tQ, Jude Rogers homed in on its central instrument, the dulcimer, trying to get to grips with just what it is that makes it so resonant, that evokes such a deeply spiritual response in the listener in so many different contexts. In the introduction to last year's reissues chart I wrote about how the divisions between 'old' and 'new' music are ceasing to mean that much to me, and over 2023 that sense has only increased. I wonder if it's the way in which so much of the music you'll find compiled below, like Carter's, seems to tap into something deeper than nostalgia, anniversaries, box sets and so on. That sheer, stark feeling that the best music can inspire.

The music that I've enjoyed the most this year is the music that evokes that primal 'something'. There's a theory I've long enjoyed that human speech first evolved as an imitation of birdsong, so perhaps that's why Mappa's superb compilation Synthetic Bird Music (also high in our chart) resonates so deeply. As Daryl Worthington's piece on both that record and Kate Carr's fantastical A Field Guide To Phantasmic Birds points out, it's music that evokes a relationship between art and nature that has likely existed as long as art itself, whether that's via compositions by Handel or Vivaldi, or the presence of animal sounds on 'Sumer Is Icumen In', one of the oldest documented English folk songs, or what must have existed in the still-older songs now lost.

The latest revival of Arthur Russell's work, relatively under appreciated in his lifetime, Picture Of Bunny Rabbit, has been widely acclaimed, and his increasing influence over artists today has been written about ad nauseum. I wonder, though, if that influence is not due to any kind of pining for Russell's own era, but rather a pining to reach the same sense of timelessness that he was able to. Most of this compilation of previously unreleased pieces was recorded in New York in the late 1980s, but it sounds nothing like New York and nothing like the 1980s. Eerie, ethereal and disconnected from base reality, Russell's music sounds like something unknowable, something sublime.

There are, of course, releases in the chart below that are tied specifically to certain times and places. Yet for me such records still live and breathe just as much today. I have no direct experience of, for instance, the Peruvian disco pop explosion of the 1970s and 80s collected on Buh Records' Viva El Sabado, or the proto-electronic music made by students at India's National Institute Of Design in Ahmedabad from 1969 to 1972, newly released as The NID Tapes, but I enjoy those records not just as time capsules or historical artefacts. I feel their rawness and their power – not just the songs these people made but in the energy they evoke. This is energy that feels real to me at the end of 2023, and is a source of nourishment as we at tQ begin to prepare for next year.

As Luke Turner mentioned in his introduction to our albums of the year chart earlier last week, it was the overwhelming response to our Hail Mary call for more subscribers in the spring, as finances became so precarious that they threatened to end the site for good, which means we can enter 2024 at all. Having weathered the storm for now, however, we're still in need of more signups as we look to the site's future. If you're able to subscribe, please consider doing so here. The Low Culture tier gets exclusive essays, podcasts, playlists and newsletters every month, while the Sound & Vision top tier also includes exclusive music. Indeed, if you sign up as a Low Culture or Sound & Vision subscriber today, you can instantly get stuck in to over nine hours of music in our albums of the year chart playlists, available here. To say we’re grateful for your support is a dramatic understatement.
Patrick Clarke

This chart was voted for by core tQ staff, columnists and writers. It was compiled by John Doran, and built by Patrick Clarke and Christian Eede.

100. Techno Animal –
Re-Entry (2023 Remaster)
For all their combined ability to make music of, at times, extreme heaviness, Justin 'JK Flesh' Broadrick and Kevin 'The Bug' Martin never do so at the expense of dynamic richness and tonal variation. This is none more clear than on their 1995 collaboration Re-Entry, released under the Techno Animal moniker, and brushed up for reissue this year. The project name and mid-90s origin might evoke some squat crusty gurning through his own dank locks, but this journey through fourth world atmospheres and an evolution of post punk dub is warm, rich and psychedelic.
Luke Turner

99. Phew –
Our Likeness
Masterminded by Chrislo Haas of D.A.F, and also featuring the considerable talents of Jaki Liebezeit, Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten, and Thomas Stern of Crime & The City Solution, Phew's third album lives up to the promise of its stellar lineup and then some. Recorded at Conny Plank's studio in Cologne, the album's 11 tracks construct a unique and diverse sonic universe that sounds as exciting today as it did when it was originally released in 1992. Phew and Liebezeit are perfect foils for each other, with the Can drummer putting in some of his best work of that era. Opener 'The Last Song' is airy and mysterious, 'Being' an almost overwhelming rush of intensity, and 'Spring' slow-building and powerfully euphoric. This is an essential release for anyone interested in any of the personnel involved, or the possibilities of experimental music in general.
Sean Kitching

98. Various Artists –
Anima POP: Music From Estonian Animations 1965-1986
(Raadio Kohlia)
In almost every country behind the Iron Curtain, distinguished musicians from the avant garde and academic music world had a chance to present a "second face" as a mainstream composer. Usually, they also wrote music for TV, radio, movies and animations in styles that were entirely different. For almost two decades from the mid-60s onwards, the Estonian Tallinnfilm animation studios brought together composers born in the 1940s and 1950s. Chamber music was interspersed with huge orchestrations, pop art merged with pop music, and solo showpieces intertwined with the catchy sound of synthesisers or Rhodes. Among the recordings documented on Anima POP are the funky themes of Olav Ehala, phenomenal work by ensemble Apelsin, the prog rock of the Rein Rannap Band, and catchy hooks by the well-known Arvo Pärt. They all showed how fresh and original music for children's fairy tales could be, giving them an extra dimension.
Jakub Knera

97. Annea Lockwood –
Glass World
Glass World, originally released in 1970, is an essential album in Annea Lockwood's catalogue. She set out to create micro-compositions – short sound events that were compositions in and of themselves, and contained enough nuance and detail to draw a listener into their dynamics. With the enthusiastic support of a glass manufacturer, she experimented with different types of glass – from large panes strung up in a performance hall, micro glass, a bottle tree, bulbs, ribbed glass and more. This year's Room40 reissue was essential schooling in sound and listening.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

96. Messa –
Live At Roadburn
Italian doom quartet Messa went above and beyond for their 2022 Roadburn set, performing a selection of tracks from last year's breakthrough album Close with additional musicians covering some of the more outré instrumentation like saxophones, synths, ouds and duduks. The sound is huge and drenched in atmosphere, as the band jam out tracks like the soaring 'Pilgrim', highlighting the songs' Eastern folk influences and making them feel even more dramatic and evocative than their studio counterparts.
Kez Whelan

95. Ellen Zweig –
Fiction Of The Physical
(Phantom Limb)
Poet and performance artist Ellen Zweig originally recorded these strange, lapidary cuts back in the late 70s and early 80s, at a time when she was embedded in a thriving Bay Area scene alongside artists Jim Pomeroy and Eleanor Antin, composers Charles Amirkhanian and Paul DeMarinis, experimental film-maker Al Wong, and writer Kathy Acker. Re-approaching them in the 2020s with co-producers Dylan Henner and David Weinstein, they become hypnotic, mildly hallucinogenic forays into a neon-lit night time world. But it's Zweig's charged and highly musical use of language that sets these tracks apart.
Robert Barry

94. Dawson –
It's pretty cool that a label from Melbourne, by the name of Sorcerer, took it upon itself to compile everything recorded by Dawson, a Glaswegian band who operated in a niche of great energy and invention in the early 90s. They've done so using the reliable 'compact disc' format and are selling it for about £15, though this will no doubt disappoint those out there who wanted it as a vinyl box set for six times that price. As it is, here's about two-and-a-half impeccably uneven and borderline overwhelming hours of open-eared leftist post-hardcore surrealism.
Noel Gardner

93. Accident du Travail –
The duo of Julie Normal and Olivier Demeaux have rummaged around in their archives to bring us this album of demos, live recordings – including one at Cafe OTO – soundtracks and more. The idea of a compilation cobbled together from mothballed tracks perfectly suits the faded, sepia-toned beauty of the pair's delightful vignettes, which combine the sounds of the ondes Martenot, harmonium and various "machines".
David McKenna

92. Hydroplane –
Selected Songs 1997-2003
(World Of Echo)
Pieced together from a selection of 7-inch singles and three albums, Selected Songs 1997-2003 provides a snapshot of the dreampop of Melbourne trio Hydroplane, whose past work as the Cat's Miaow was previously highlighted in another compilation put out in 2022 by World Of Echo. Drawing on folk ballads, tender psychedelia and drum machine-aided indie bangers, the enduring material featured across this latest compilation is brought together by the gorgeous, delicate vocal talents of the group's Kerrie Bolton.
Christian Eede

91. Ela Minus & DJ Python –
♡ (Ricardo Villalobos Remixes)
(Smugglers Way)
Clocking in at 40 minutes, Ricardo Villalobos' remix of Ela Minus & DJ Python's collaborative cut 'Abril Lluvias Mil' is his longest reworking to date. A winding journey through feverish, bleepy synths and Villalobos' distinctive percussive tweaks, it's also one of his best outings on record for years. Comparatively short at 13 minutes long, his remix of 'Kiss U', which completes the record, carries the minimal hallmarks of his best dance floor material for labels such as Perlon and Playhouse.
Christian Eede

90. Various Artists –
Prends Le Temps D'Écouter: Tape Music, Sound Experiments And Free Folk Songs By Children From Freinet Classes 1962-1982
(Born Bad)
This is not the first compilation to feature music performed by school children but unlike, say, the Langley Schools Music Project, the tracks on Prends Le Temps D'Écouter are original compositions, the work of kids in rural French schools who were being taught according to the principles of the Mouvement de l'École Moderne instigated by Célestin Freinet and his wife Élise. The work collected here ranges from cheerful chanson and weepy folk ballads to wonderfully creepy, freeform experimentation and wild vocal treatments.
David McKenna

89. Various Artists –
YU Wave
Castra, the American label behind this compilation, says it's taken "years" to find the musicians on it, with a view to licensing their songs. Not a huge surprise, given YU Wave comprises ten acts from 1980s Yugoslavia on a broadly synth pop/ electro/ cold wave tip: quite a few were pretty obscure in their own day and opportunities for such bands to be heard outside the Iron Curtain were inevitably scarce. Here and now, though, is austere jewellery from – especially – Psihokratija, Romantične Boje and Trio AGe.
Noel Gardner

88. Milford Graves, Arthur Doyle, Hugh Glover –
Children Of The Forest
(Black Editions Archive)
The latest in Black Editions' series of previously unreleased recordings by the late, great Milford Graves takes us back to the first quarter of 1976 for a series of wild and restless jam sessions with tenor sax players Arthur Doyle and Hugh Glover (the former also playing flute on one track, the latter also credited with percussion, klaxon and "vaccine"). The recordings are raw and unvarnished, dominated by Graves' tumbling, clattering kit. But the playing is just thrilling. A real treat.
Robert Barry

87. John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy –
Evenings At The Villa Gate
Supposedly captured on a single microphone during a residency at New York's Village Gate in 1961, this mammoth live set is a relatively lo-fi affair (although still much clearer than, say, your average harsh noise or black metal tape), which has the unexpected bonus of bringing Elvin Jones' drums right to the front of the mix; in fact, he probably deserves an equal billing alongside John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy given the percussive masterclass he lays down here.
Kez Whelan

86. Blue Dolphin –
Robert's Lafitte
(Cleta Patra / Present Medium)
Robert's Lafitte compiles all 25 minutes of music Blue Dolphin recorded in the one year they existed (2016). Its tonal shifts and overall production aesthetic is legitimately bizarre, many songs riddled with wow and flutter or background noise leaching into a song like battery acid. The band rock out and come on like a Meat Puppets live bootleg circa 1983 on the countrif(r)ied 'Licking & Kissing' and 'Cowboy In The Sky', while early Rough Trade impulsiveness and crude playground-chant punk defines 'Ida' and 'Buying Time'. 'Virginal Mystery', one of four songs the group didn't get round to releasing until now, would've graced a thousand unplayed crush mixtapes three decades ago, with its needling Sterling Morrison guitar and Thinking Fellers Union wrong-twang.
Noel Gardner

85. Naná, Nelson Angelo, Novelli –
Naná, Nelson Angelo, Novelli
Brazilian percussionist, vocalist and berimbau player Juvenal de Holanda Vasconcelos, known as Naná Vasconcelos, was noted for collaborations with the likes of Pat Metheny, Don Cherry, Jan Garbarek and Milton Nascimento, as well as his many solo albums. This acoustic session with two members of Clube da Esquina, from 1975, likely didn't receive the attention it deserved at the time – a situation this reissue, from Berlin's Altercat Records, should hopefully rectify. Enigmatic but highly accessible and frequently stunningly beautiful, this is a release that lovers of Brazilian music need to seek out. Vasconcelos' berimbau-playing sets this apart from other acoustic guitar-based music, referencing, of course, the incredibly skilful and acrobatic Brazilian martial art, capoeira.
Sean Kitching

84. Various Artists –
(Rocket Recordings)
Launch300 marks Rocket Recordings' 300th release, featuring eight potent, previously unreleased mind-benders, while celebrating the label's silver jubilee, the most important milestone thus far. Having spent 25 years crystallising and setting the course for the next 25, Rocket is eternally darting forward in the unmovable essence. The compilation is exemplary of the label retaining deep core stability values, while simultaneously defying convention.
Danijela Bočev

83. Various Artists –
Happy Land (A Compendium Of Electronic Music From The British Isles 1992-1996)
(Above Board Projects)
The music on Happy Land isn't obviously futuristic as such – not in the way that, say, drum & bass was around the time of much of the material here's original release. But it does sound surprisingly fresh now, for all its muddiness and stoned murk. It's not just through the continuing careers of Aphex Twin, Matthew Herbert and Plaid that it moved forwards: the LSD-soaked, Megadog / Megatripolis zone in which a lot of this music existed helped nurture the likes of Orbital, Underworld and Leftfield. The eerie psychogeographic echoes of Old Weird Britishness merging into dub basslines would resound through the works of Andrew Weatherall right to the end. And the dreamy free party house groove which Herbert and Max Brennan channel would beget talents like Atjazz, Charles Webster and Phil Asher, whose beats and textures have had global influence – even, incredibly, on the South African house music that is currently revolutionising global club sounds.
Joe Muggs

82. Tolerance –
This year saw two reissues by Tolerance out on Japanese reissues label Mesh Key (who were also responsible for re-releasing material by The Jacks and Aunt Sally). Tolerance was the project of Junko Tange, and both albums were originally issued on the legendary Vanity Records. This album is dreamy and earwormy, with bedroom industrial and lonesome post-punk textures. It's an altogether unmissable instant in the infinite sprawl of early 80s post-punk.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

81. Bardo Pond –
Peel Sessions
The greatest psych-rock band of all time in session for the greatest radio DJ of all time? What's not to love? Those BBC engineers did a top-notch job of recording the mighty Bardo Pond, in 2001 and 2004, doing fine justice to the group's heavy, gloopy, floaty, crunchy, fucked-up sound.
JR Moores

80. Harvey Milk –
(Chunklet Industries)
Noise rockers love REM. Butthole Surfers moved to Winterville, Georgia just to be near them. Despite the bootleggy nature of the recording, Harvey Milk's live recital of the band's entire Reckoning album is fondly faithful to its source. At one point someone can even be heard accusing the band of lip-syncing. Michael Stipe was in the audience that night in 1993 and he was said to be delighted.
JR Moores

79. Hatred Surge –
Horrible Mess 2005-2007
(Iron Lung)
Before they embarked on a more metallic, mid-paced direction towards the end of their tenure, Texan powerhouses Hatred Surge released some of the most incendiary, abrasive and chaotic powerviolence of the mid-2000s. This handy collection rounds up the absolute cream of the crop, including their first EP and splits with the likes of Insect Warfare and The Endless Blockade. If anyone tries to tell you powerviolence died in the 90s, chuck them a copy of this.
Kez Whelan

78. A.R. Kane –
A.R. Kive 1988-1989
(Rocket Girl)
Much of A.R. Kane's most compelling science fictional dreams are captured on A.R. Kive 1988-1989, which compiles their first two albums, 69 and "i", plus the preceding Up Home! EP, released over a remarkably productive two-year period. It's easy enough to trace back A.R. Kane's influences – Cocteau Twins, Can and Miles Davis at their most oceanic, Sun Ra at his most spacey – and the myriad of musicians from My Bloody Valentine to Tricky to Seefeel who have drawn on them since. But what comes through most clearly, listening to these tracks, newly remastered by the duo's Rudy Tambala, is the sense of play. From their punning name, suggestive of obscure occult knowledge, to the gleeful abandon of their all-channels-open approach to music making, A.R. Kane made play central to their operations.
Jonathan Thornton

77. Ikoba –
When tQ do their annual lists, boring dweebs do shit cry-laugh emoji posts about how half the albums must be made up. In nearly all cases there is actually plenty of information available concerning the featured artists: Transcode, it must be said, is an exception to this rule. I'm pretty sure Ikoba lives in Newport, South Wales and grew up in Kampala, Uganda, but otherwise I know nothing about him at all. This may not even be in the correct poll, but I'm assuming a 45-track, three-hour Bandcamp release to be an Aphex Twin-style hard drive dump. The reason I voted for it in this chart is because the music, in toto, is incredible polyrhythmic lo-fi techno/ noise/ jazz, and I want there to be other people trying to wrap their heads around it like I've been.
Noel Gardner

76. Jean-Michel Jarre –
Les Granges Brûlées
(Transversales Disques)
Following a period spent with Pierre Schaeffer's Groupe de Recherches Musicales and working in Karlheinz Stockhausen's studio in Cologne, but a few years before international breakthrough Oxygène, Jean-Michel Jarre began writing songs for French artists including Françoise Hardy and Christophe, and was commissioned by director Jean Chapot to score his 1973 "rural thriller" Les Granges Brûlees. An Aphex Twin favourite (according to Jarre himself), it combines the classical melodicism of the main theme with electro-acoustic sound-pictures like 'Une Morte Dans La Neige' and the quirky synth-pop of 'Zig-Zag'.
David McKenna

75. Hidden Cameras –
The Smell Of Our Own (20th Anniversary Edition)
(Rough Trade)
Indie music in the early 2000s was depressingly heterosexual, on both sides of the Atlantic, whether it was The Strokes' tired pastiche of louche 70s new wave / rock masculinity or Razorlight's damp cokey limpness rubbing against you in a one-pillow bed. Against such awfulness, Joel Gibbs' Hidden Cameras were a breath of fresh air or, indeed, glorious rush of warm piss, as album opener 'Golden Streams' had it. This is a beautiful, at times almost spiritually exuberant, record which is devoted to queerness, romance, kink and being yourself. It makes much of today's wearily generic sex-positivism (the tedious flipside of the beta str8 laddism of 20 years ago) seem rather vanilla in comparison.
Luke Turner

74. Andrzej Korzyński –
The Devil Tapes
(Finders Keepers)
I would venture to say there has not been a (film) composer in Poland with such broad stylistic and genre horizons as Andrzej Korzyński. He wrote rock, funk, synth pop, jazz and disco-style compositions using the workshop of a classical music composer. He reached for baroque, neo-romanticism, and neo-classicism, the achievements of the avant-garde. He realised himself in pop songs, theatre music, television, dance, and musicals, plus film music, which became his most important field of activity. Most likely, interest in Korzyński's work in recent years would not have happened without the Finders Keepers label, which has been putting out previously unreleased recordings of the composer for many years. Andy Votel, its co-founder, first became aware of Korzyński on a trip to Poland taken while an art student during the mid-90s. At the time, he bought many recordings because of the covers – only discovering how fascinating the music they contained was when he got home.
Jakub Knera

73. Various Artists –
Searchlight Moonbeam
(Efficient Space)
Compiled by the London-based DJ duo Time Is Away (Jack Rollo and Elaine Tierney), whose monthly NTS radio show is always worth a listen, Searchlight Moonbeam follows on from 2022's A Colourful Storm-released Ballads, which the pair also curated. The material featured across this latest collection draws on the weird and wonderful old and new, touching on autumnal pieces by the likes of Taiwanese folk artist Chen Ming-Chang, Indian-Australian violinist Bhairavi Raman, French pianist Delphine Dora and Japanese 'super-group' Kasumi Trio, among plenty others. There's also room for a psychedelic reworking of PiL's 'Poptones' by Simon Fisher Turner.
Christian Eede

72. Patrick Gibson –
Elbow Room In Paradise
(Efficient Space)
Elbow Room In Paradise takes in 19 solo pieces by the late Australian musician Patrick Gibson, which he originally recorded between 1981 and 1992. Outlining the breadth of his talents, the release ranges from wonky guitar experiments ('Eno Thing') and creepy synth jams ('Swooping Churning') to fantastical DIY pop pieces ('I Needle The Oven!', 'Church Of England TV') with ephemera such as vacuum cleaners, toiler roll holders and contact mic'd woks all popping up as unlikely sound sources through the collection.
Christian Eede

71. Šarūnas Nakas –
(Music Information Centre Lithuania)
The music of a Lithuanian composer from 1985, made for a dance ballet, doesn't sound like a soundtrack; Šarūnas Nakas' avant-garde ideas are better associated with dadaism and merz art. 'Lonelier Than All Of Us' recalls the music of Lea Bertucci or Dickie Landry. Electroacoustic experiments include 'Merz-Machine' for 33 electronic and acoustic instruments or 'Vox-Machine' for 25 electronically modified voices. Lithuanians have always been good when it comes to creating the most bizarre and surreal of music.
Jakub Knera

70. Ian Elms –
Good Night
(Dark Entries)
Dark Entries probably has a better handle on cult weird Brit shit of decades past than most people who were at ground zero in the era. As such, there seems to be very little chat online about Ian Elms' 1982 DIY synth LP Good Night that doesn't pertain to this label's reissue of it. When you've built a rep, you can make that chat happen. Most of Good Night's 15 songs feature a human drummer, Geoff Sears, who generally plays with a machinist rigidity; lyrics (on the parts of the album that have them) are reeled off in sullen London-accented monotone and giving the impression they were first written as poetry. Elms displays nous for melody, and pretences to cinematic grandeur, but to the extent we can assess his intentions, harboured ambitions to touch listeners emotionally rather than ape the trajectory of, say, Tubeway Army.
Noel Gardner

69. Vidéo-Aventures –
Musiques Pour Garçons Et Filles + Inédits
(Souffle Continu)
Vidéo-Aventures were a French 70s underground supergroup of sorts, led by Camizole's Dominique Grimaud and featuring members of Etron Fou Leloublan, Urban Sax, Maajun and more. This album was originally released at the dawn of the 80s and combines the free experimentation of the previous decade with the short sharp shocks and minimal electronics of the new wave, while harking back to 60s futurism with its cover of The Tornados' 'Telstar'. The original release is barely over 20 minutes long but this reissued package throws in an extremely generous helping of rarities and unreleased treats.
David McKenna

68. Various Artists –
Cease And Resist: Sonic Subversion And Anarcho Punk In The UK 1979-1986
(Optimo Music)
Cease And Resist is an 18-song compilation of anarcho punk, all UK-derived apart from The Ex's 'Ay Carmela', and it has a major advantage over most collections addressing this genre because its compilers – JD Twitch, whose Optimo label it is on, and Chris Low – have got permission to include songs released on Crass Records. Crass' own 'Bloody Revolutions' is one of these, longer than the version most know by virtue of a half-minute Thatcher impersonation at the end, and the band's Gee Vaucher designed Cease & Resist's front cover. Supposedly taking ten years from conception to release, the compilation prioritises the anarcho scene at its least conventional, with selections informed by disco (Poison Girls' 'Underbitch'), jazz (Cravats' 'Rub Me Out'), proto-techno ('Here's What You Find In Any Prison' by Hit Parade, which I can barely believe is from 1982), hip hop (D+V's 'Conscious') and Stockhausen ('Hello Horror' by Annie Anxiety).
Noel Gardner

67. DJ Znobia –
Inventor Vol 1
(Nyege Nyege Tapes)
Presenting his stripped-back experimental take on kuduro, the uptempo style of dance music that he popularised in Angola in the 1990s, DJ Znobia's Inventor Vol 1 offers a vital entry route into the origins of a sound that has since exploded owing to his 21st century collaborations with MIA and the Portuguese group Buraka Som Sistema, as well as the genre's wider breakthrough via the output of labels such as Príncipe Discos. There's a distinctly lo-fi charm at play across the 11 tracks featured on this compilation – the first in a series of four records showcasing Znobia's work – as clipping, distorted basslines battle it out with toe-tapping drums across a variety of tempos. Never losing sight of making dancers move, this anthology of Znobia's work is inherently playful, be that in the referencing of the Cameroonian makossa song 'Zamina mina (Zangeléwa)' on the bass-ridden 'Zabinamina' or the low-slung dembow-esque drums of standout cut 'Esfregado'.
Christian Eede

66. Hiroyuki Onogawa –
August In The Water: Music For Film 1995-2005
As a massive fan of punk film director Gakuryū Ishii, the strange synth motifs from his dreamiest film, August In The Water – about ancient aliens, diving and a heatwave – are etched in my mind. That film isn't easy to find in decent resolution with English subs, and so this reissue of Hiroyuki Onogawa's music for the film meant I could conjure the uncanny feeling of stillness that film induced.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

65. Hermeto Pascoal –
(Far Out)
Hermeto Pascoal released music in the late 60s with the Sambrasa Trio, Trio Novo (who became Quarteto Novo) and Brazilian Octopus. His first album under his own name featured a large ensemble of more than 30 musicians, and stakes an early claim to territories he would investigate in more detail throughout his career. A goofy looking Pascoal looks entirely at home on the cover, nestled amongst an array of instruments, but there's no mistaking the serious intent of the opening track. Breathy sounds, like bottles being blown into, hang opaque and dreamy in the air. A murmuration of voices can be heard alongside other scraping percussive sounds. A violin or viola drones alongside a suggestion of natural, animal sounds almost obscured in the background, the rhythmic bowing of its strings almost percussive. Then out of this bed, which begs some comparison to the contemporary radical sounds of AMM, Pascoal's flute emerges, still ghostly but distinctively his own. It's a clear statement of intent, acknowledging where experimental music is and has been, and providing a tantalising glimpse of where Pascoal intends to take it next.
Sean Kitching

64. Art Ensemble Of Chicago –
The Sixth Decade: From Paris To Paris
This sprawling double-CD, recorded live at Festival Sons d'hiver in Paris in February of 2020, represents something of a victory lap for the revived Art Ensemble Of Chicago, that began, under Roscoe Mitchell, in 2017 at London's Cafe OTO. A massively expanded lineup, with Mitchell and long-time percussionist Famoudou Don Moye surrounded by a top-flight crew of improvisers spanning generations, dropped another ambitious double album, We Are On The Edge, in 2019, and this performance followed suit, transforming the group into something of an orchestra. The repertoire toggles between older and newer pieces, but in typical fashion Mitchell is only looking forward even when revisiting classics like 'Leola', with an ominous recitation from Moor Mother, or his early game piece 'Cards', where the improvisational mettle of trumpeter Hugh Ragin, trombonist Simon Sieger, and Mitchell sparkles in a garrulous introduction before the strings of cellist Tomeka Reid, violinist Jean Cook, violist Eddy Kwon, and three bassists (Silvia Bolognesi, Junius Paul, and Jaribu Shahid) swoop, scratch and soar.
Peter Margasak

63. The Heads –
Under Sided (20th Anniversary Edition)
(Rooster Rock)
So heavy are the waves of cabinet-wrecking psych-punk energy emanating from the cursed grooves of the four sides of vinyl that make up this 20th anniversary reissue of The Heads’ Under Sided that they have irreparably disengaged the constituent elements of the space time continuum. So while a less well-seasoned traveller of the astral highways, byways and dual carriageways who is trapped on an all too pathetic and predictable plane of linearity might, perniciously and pedantically, claim that this fantastic-looking and sounding double LP was actually reissued in September 2022, it falls to us to point out that the actual deeper, more resonant, more spiritual, more fine-smelling truth is that in many ways it very much didn't, and it is, in fact, simply happening continuously right now, man. Stop looking at your calendar, you squares, and submit to the freakout.
John Doran

62. Peter Brötzmann, Majid Bekkas & Hamid Drake –
Catching Ghosts
One of the last live sets recorded before his passing earlier this year, Catching Ghosts finds free jazz titan Peter Brötzmann exploring his growing fascination with Moroccan gnawa music, alongside drummer Hamid Drake and Majid Bekkas on both vocals and a two-stringed, camel skin-backed guembri. There are peaks when Brötzmann's fiery sax blows across the duo's tranquil grooves like thick storm clouds, but he’s uncharacteristically meditative for most of the set, the trio in lockstep as Brötzmann finds inventive ways to nestle between the hypnotic rhythms. As a swansong, it's testament to both his powerful stage presence and his ever-inquisitive nature.
Kez Whelan

61. Adela Mede –
(Night School)
There is closeness and distance on the stunning, detail-rich debut album by Slovak experimental musician Adela Mede, which was reissued to a wider audience this year by Glasgow's Night School label. She layers ambient compositions with field recordings, digital vocal manipulations and minimalistic electronica, while the record is also embroidered with folkloric melodies. On Szabadság (Hungarian for freedom, or vacation), Mede documents her inner homecoming journey. The record finds its grounding solace in landscapes, both real and dreamily esoteric.
Miloš Hroch

60. Therapy? –
(Music On Vinyl)
The fanfare that has surrounded Radiohead's 1997 album OK Computer since its release has muffled the praise deserved by a record that came out the following year: Semi-Detached by the punk/ metal/ alternative rock band Therapy? Their fourth album was finally issued on LP this year, its only prior vinyl version being a limited box set of multiple seven-inches which is, let's face it, the most ball-aching way to listen to a full album.
JR Moores

59. Carl Stone –
Electronic Music From 1972-2022
(Unseen Worlds)
Where previous compilations of Carl Stone's music have focused on a couple of decades each from his colourful career, Electronic Music From 1972-2022 takes a bird's eye view. Journeying from early tape-mangling experiments through to contemporary computer led abstraction, these 11 songs map the development of the lifelong experimenter's process as he hacks new technologies and delves into an ever-expanding archive of recorded sound. There's an abundance of ideas and possibilities, juxtapositions and unlikely interactions explored across these tracks. But what comes across most clearly is that for Stone, a sound's potential doesn't end when it's been recorded. It's only just beginning.
Daryl Worthington

58. Conal Blake / Regan Bowering / Li Song –
Music For Snare Drums And Portable Speakers
(Infant Tree)
Music For Snare Drums And Portable Speakers' title reveals the tools Conal Blake, Regan Bowering and Li Song work with, but it doesn't capture their mesmeric effect. Their process is built around a changing exploration of resonance, feedback and motion, a recent live performance seeing the trio swing snare drums and mics from a venue's ceiling to create a richly textured miasma. What's most intriguing about this tape is how the effect of their process lands when you take out the visual component. The A-side was recorded live at Hackney Marshes. At the centre, a feedback whine takes on a pendular gait, swaying in a way that's tentatively melodic, almost voice-like. Thicker snare vibrations amass alongside trembling low-frequencies, reaching looming stasis within the outdoor sounds that surround. The second side, recorded indoors at Cafe OTO, dwells in a less serene, more possessed zone where chirrups, rattles and clunks splutter out of a ghostly ether. Taken as audio alone with no idea what the three players were doing, it has a supernatural edge, objects animating seemingly of their own accord through fields of resonance and feedback.
Daryl Worthington

57. Thee Alcoholics –
Live At The Piper
(Human Worth)
Fronted by ex-Hey Colossus guitarist Rhys Llewellyn, Thee Alcoholics are so smitten with the quality end of 90s alt rock that for this live album they copied the design of Therapy?'s classic 'Opal Mantra (Live)' seven-inch. A studio album is on the way but for the time being there are plenty of repeated scuzzy riffs and much indecipherable yelling to enjoy here.
JR Moores

56. Devo –
Art Devo 1973-1977 Box Set
Across three LPs, one seven-inch and a set of art cards, one of which includes a scratch and sniff image that releases the "smell of an authentic Akron, Ohio tire factory", this collection of rare and previously unheard tracks by Devo offers a fascinating glimpse of the band transforming from their art project origins into the group that David Bowie would later declare "the band of the future". 'Live Forever', 'Androgyny', 'Man From The Past' and 'I Don't Know Why' are all previously obscure gems. Early versions of classic tracks such as 'Uncontrollable Urge' or 'Shrivel Up' showcase the band at a more confrontational stage playing at an almost Flipper-like slowed-down tempo amid distorted electronic swathes of noise. The sound quality varies, as one would expect, but the overall dirty, fuzzy vibe seems entirely in-keeping with the band's express intention of combining the caveman of the past with the future devolved human, "sort of like The Flintstones meets The Jetsons", as founding member Jerry Casale once said.
Sean Kitching

55. Jeanne Lee, Gunter Hampel, Michel Waisvisz, Freddy Gosseye, Sven-Åke Johansson –
Scheiße '71
(Black Truffle)
Scheiße '71 is the work of an energetic and agitated ensemble that includes personal favourite, the free jazz vocalist Jeanne Lee, as well as drummer Sven-Åke Johansson; Lee's other half Gunter Hampel on vibes, flute and bass clarinet; live electronics pioneer Michael Waisvisz on synthesiser; and Freddy Gosseye on electric bass (who even the sleevenotes say is largely unknown). From the very start, the audience all sound like they're wriggling unhappily in their seats, then Waivisz farts in on a series of fizzy and flatulent exclamations that must have driven them up the wall. The quiet passages are quite beautiful and strange, and there's a wonderful interplay between moments of particularly caustic synths and angelic vibes whereas in the thicker passages the electronics make things harsh and beastly. Lee rides the waves of sound in essential utterances – at one point repeating "get it out, get it out" in a stuttering delivery I'm not sure isn't directed at the rabble of an audience. An amazing document of ensemble and audience.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

54. The Body –
I Shall Die Here / Earth Triumphant
(RVNG Intl.)
Where Christs, Redeemers, The Body's album before 2014's I Shall Die Here, represented the zenith of their ever-expanding scope, and showed the broadest, most varied ranges of their despair, I Shall Die Here plunged to even greater, more remote and isolated depths, stripping back most of the existential adornments to leave behind something altogether far more nightmarish. With The Haxan Cloak's warped bass and electronic undulations bleeding through the Portland duo's actually rather restrained, but no less punishing assault, it's actually the comparative lack of clutter (not to mention the sound bites of people talking about suicide, as opens 'Hail To Thee, Ever Lasting Pain') that makes the record so much more threatening. And so painfully rewarding. This reissue expands the record, taking in additional material recorded around the same time as the album.
Toby Cook

53. Pauline Anna Strom –
Echoes, Spaces, Lines
(RVNG Intl.)
Of the various musicians who, having once been part of the private-press American new age scene of the 1970s and 80s, were then discovered by post-millennial Blogspot guzzlers, the reappraisal of Pauline Anna Strom – a blind synth arranger whose exquisite compositions tapped into a spirit world – had especially posi vibes. Her death in 2020, just before the release of a new album, was therefore especially sad, but this box set of her first three LPs, plus the previously unreleased Ocean Of Tears is a justly lavish tribute.
Noel Gardner

52. Suicide –
A Way Of Life (35th Anniversary Edition)
(Mute / BMG)
Suicide's origins in the early 70s New York arts scene were so chaotic that it must have surprised many that in 1988 they were managing to release a third album, not to mention one that in many ways was their most coherent and structured. As ever with this wonderful, still under-regarded partnership, it was a perfect marriage of Martin Rev's interest in electronics and machines and Alan Vega's belief that the best tribute he could pay to his beloved rock & roll was to butcher it, but with love.
Luke Turner

51. DJ Shufflemaster –
Originally released in 2001 and given a much-needed reissue by Tresor at the start of 2023, DJ Shufflemaster's debut and only album to date is a forgotten classic of the hardgroove techno genre that dominated the dance floors of underground clubs in the late 90s and early 00s. 'Imageforum' and 'Fourthinter' pair the hardgroove sound with pads reminiscent of the best 90s Detroit techno, while cuts like 'Innervisions' and 'Onto Your Body' hypnotise with their rolling, minimalist loops. At a time when European dance floors are being overloaded with pile-driving kick drums and hackneyed references to old rave music, EXP is a reminder of the funk and groove that is integral to all of the best techno.
Christian Eede

50. Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt, Jim O’Rourke –
Tonic 19-01-2001
(Black Truffle)
During the first half of Tonic 19-01-2001, the density of Tony Conrad’s carefully chosen pitch combinations is almost overwhelming. But what happens in the final stretch is quite remarkable. Light and space gradually seep into the thick string textures, with Conrad cutting through the drones with a pizzicato figure on monochord. The instrument's mid-range thunk has a gentler sonic impact than the violent bow strokes of the first half, but it marks a significant shift in the music. With Jim O'Rourke's hurdy gurdy maintaining a shimmering drone, Arnold Dreyblatt is free to carve out distinctive figures of his own, his gulping bass glissandi complementing Conrad's stately violin. Over time, these shapes fall away, as the trio unites in a gorgeous pastoral drone that slowly fades like the sun setting on the horizon. It's an incredible performance, up there with Four Violins in the Conrad discography, and a landmark release from an essential label.
Stewart Smith

49. Various Artists –
Richard Sen Presents Dream The Dream: UK Techno, House And Breakbeat 1990-1994
(Ransom Note)
Richard Sen has been here and there in UK club culture since acid house kicked in, but it might be as a curator where he's most valuable. Basically, someone lets him compile a crucial bunch of old singles about once a decade, and following Powercuts (mid-80s electro, 2002) and This Ain't Chicago (early Brit acid, 2012), here's Dream The Dream. These ten early 90s UK techno cuts showcase the genre's rapid flux, highlighting its trance, pop, jazz, prog, hardcore and bleep tendencies before everything got more stylistically rigid.
Noel Gardner

48. Various Artists –
A Moi La Liberté: Early Electronic Raï, Algérie 1983-90
(Born Bad / Serendip Lab)
Raï music, a rebel folk style which originated in the Algerian port city of Oran, has had checkered fortunes. It was initially derided by the Algerian intelligentsia, struggling with censorship and even the murder of musicians in the 90s before finding mainstream acceptance, and in France, a number of raï artists had enormous success for a period from the late 80s until the genre started to fade from view over the course of the 00s. But at the end of 2022, raï was inscribed by UNESCO on their lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage Of Humanity, and recent documentaries and compilations are provoking a revival of interest. Born Bad's superb compilation surveys an era when the musicians were absorbing electronic influences – rather as a younger generation have engaged with Auto-Tune and global dance sounds – giving rise to, for example, Houari Benchenet's spectral, pulsating 'Malika' and the squelchy basslines and wayward synths of Chaba Fadila's 'Ki Kount Ouelite', as well as reggae-raï fusion and propulsive electro beats.
David McKenna

47. Liars –
Sisterworld opens with a gentle, a cappella lament. A scene that draws you in with its stupefying mysticism; inviting you to feel the sensation of staring at somebody who is bleeding out on the floor. Somebody in the process of dying. That feeling of time stopping as you realise that this is an image that will be frozen in your mind for the rest of your life. But the world doesn't work that way. Time doesn’t stop. There’s somebody actually there – life disappearing from their body; their guts spilling out onto the floor – and you need to spring into action. Adrenaline hits, and guitars and hectic drums flood the scene as 'Scissor' drags you back and forth. Then, things calm, and the blood begins to dry as you realise that your cowardice and inability to act will define you. It’s a staggering opening to a record, and not one I've considered in these terms for years. But now is the right time to revisit, with Liars' fifth album, Sisterworld, having been reissued as part of an ongoing excavation of their back catalogue.
Oobah Butler

46. Various Artists –
House Of God: Brum As Fuck
(House Of God)
As uncompromising and unpretentious as the club night it celebrates, this box set invites you in but doesn't organise your response for you. Nor does it engage with the inevitable drift of club culture into the cold stasis of the museum. It is not mixed, micro-managed or fussily curated. It would laugh with derision at the very idea. There are 12 artists here and, in-keeping with the club night's general 'no rules' approach, each was asked to provide one old tune and one unreleased one as they saw fit, and that's what you get. The result is pleasingly consistent but varied. Nothing jars, and it makes just as much sense however you shuffle the tunes. It also doesn't drag even while running to nearly two-and-a-half hours. The trick is in trusting who you ask I guess.
Jared Dix

45. Cheval De Frise –
Fresques Sur Les Parois Secrètes Du Crâne
(Computer Students)
Following last year's reissue of their debut album, defunct French duo Cheval De Frise – comprising Thomas Bonvalet (L’Ocelle Mare, Powerdove) on nylon-string guitar and Vincent Beysselance on drums – have been treated to another deluxe package, complete with beautiful artwork, courtesy of New York-based Computer Students. Their sound had affinities with math rock, flamenco and jazz while remaining utterly distinctive, and appears in a slightly more concentrated form on Fresques Sur Les Parois Secrètes Du Crâne. Each piece is still a dazzling, spiralling high-wire act, but melodies sing out more clearly and cut even deeper.
David McKenna

44. Hermann Nitsch –
Das Orgien Mysterien Theater
This 105-minute double-CD live recording, performed by the seemingly uncredited Orchester des Orgien Mysterien Theaters, sounds vast and expansive: symphonic, tonally evolving organ drone, eternal music with the essence of the theatre. What's even more remarkable is that it's just a small part of the 'six-day play' conceived by Austrian performance art radical Hermann Nitsch and performed here in a castle, a few months after his death last year. What a guy, what a tribute.
Noel Gardner

43. Various Artists –
Unruly Records Anthology: 1991-1995 (The Early Years)
Back in the early 90s, Scottie B and the crew behind Unruly Records pretty much defined the Baltimore club sound and were amongst the first to seal it on wax. This is the first of three anthologies planned for release by the label to celebrate its 30th anniversary and it is just about the purest, dumbest, biggest fun out there, all chopped up breakbeats, whoops, yells, exhortations to "break it down", "smoke that shit" or "say ho" and frankly not much else. But what more do you need? This record is a little packet of pure party. In case of emergency: break glass and shake that thing.
Robert Barry

42. Richter Band –
(Infinite Expanse)
A hidden gem of the 90s Czech music scene, Smetana is a mesmerising record from a band gathered around the figure of Pavel Richter, who played in several avant-garde rock groups, including Švehlík, Marno Union and Elektrobus, and became one of the foremost figures of the Prague scene, which opposed the country's socialist regime of the 70s and 80s. Smetana is a meditative, subtle work in which musical structures develop gradually in the spirit of the American school of minimalism and the shifting soundscapes of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. The most significant elements are the subtle passages of Richter's electric guitar and the fidlerophone – a unique percussive instrument invented by Luboš Fidler, made of jars and struck by plastic strainers, which sounds like Tibetan bowls or Gamelan. Some ambient, fourth-world elements intertwine with new age and ethno-experimental sounds, as well as Slavic mysticism in the spirit of Svitlana Nianio or Księżyc.
Jakub Knera

(Perpetual Flame Ministries)
Before retiring the LINGUA IGNOTA moniker for good, Kristin Hayter let the project go out with a bang with two final shows at London's Islington Assembly Hall earlier this year. THE END captures the first night in full, as Hayter holds a packed room rapt in uncomfortable reverie while she performs a host of songs from her back catalogue as an hour-long medley, armed with just a piano and her extraordinary voice. The intimate setting makes these songs feel even more cathartic and harrowing than they do on record. When Hayter finishes and sarcastically quips, "What a bunch of bops, huh?", it slices the tension like a knife; you can practically feel the air breezing past you from the crowd's collective sigh of relief. The closing covers of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' and Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' are a necessary palette cleanser after such an intense and confrontational listen, feeling like a warm hug from a friend after bawling your eyes out for 60 minutes straight.
Kez Whelan

40. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 –
These Things Remain Unassigned
(Bulbous Monocle)
Bulbous Monocle's third release of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 material gathers together remastered tracks from singles, compilations, outtakes and previously unreleased gems across a double LP. There are covers of The Residents, Ennio Morricone, Krzysztof Komeda, The Shaggs and fellow San Francisco-based industrial bluegrass-experimental-noise collective Caroliner, as well as an amusing reworking of a John Cale and John Tudor piece. 20 tracks range from the relatively accessible Sonic Youth-esque '2x4s' and the gently goofy 'Strange Mail' with its twanging western guitar and quaintly charming Optigan keyboard, to more bizarre tape manipulation experiments like 'The Kids Are In The Mud' and the brilliantly propulsive banjo electro of 'Shiny Pig'. Listeners who are new to these guys may be initially confused by a band who can sound like Yo La Tengo or Pavement at times, and The Residents or Negativland at others, but that's all part of their ineffable appeal. The first three tracks are idiosyncratic but wonderfully hummable bits of wonky pop Americana, and the Ennio Morricone medley is thrillingly epic, but the weird bits that initially make you think "WTF?" will also get under your skin if you let them.
Sean Kitching

39. Bulbils –
(Tor Press)
Bulbils began life as a lockdown project by Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington, converting their living room into a makeshift studio, with synths, vocoders, keyboards, guitars and drum machines in an effort to stave off the pandemic's existential dread through relentless creation. There they recorded more than 60 albums, music that was for the most part hypnotic, lo-fi, beautiful and ambient – gently evolving, growing and shrinking from one album to the next. Though lockdown is now a memory that grows gradually more distant, these songs remain just as powerful – testament to the ability of beauty, intimacy and human connection to stand firm against whatever darkness might encroach.
Patrick Clarke

38. Jacqueline Nova –
Creación de la tierra: Ecos palpitantes de Jacqueline Nova (1964-1974)
Jaqueline Nova, who began learning piano when she was seven and continued across the 50s and 60s, quickly broke into the conservative musical community in Colombia, when female musicians were mostly confined to roles as teachers. An out lesbian, she charted new paths in Latin America using amplifiers, filters, microphones, transformers and oscillators. Her music was played by orchestras, and she also contributed to the visual arts, theatre and cinema. She tested the boundaries of acoustic instruments, electronic sounds and human speech. On Creación de la tierra, based on vocal recordings of indigenous U'wa peoples of northeastern Colombia, she interacts with found sound, modulating it without resistance and distorting it. The voice is constantly transforming and shifting, deliberately becoming less and less understandable. Nova perversely modulates the voice from the dominant group's perspective, amplifying its sound-replicating quality. She reflects on the relationship between society and indigenous groups, questioning the political implications behind the intelligibility of speech, history and place.
Jakub Knera

37. Triumph Of Death –
Resurrection Of The Flesh
Recorded over the course of three shows earlier this year, Tom G. Warrior's live tribute to his early work serves up a banquet of classic Hellhammer tunes, performed with utmost gusto and an absolutely monstrous guitar tone that just oozes out of the speakers with a jet-black menace. This would be a perfectly solid live album in its own right, but given Warrior’s well-documented dismissal of Hellhammer's artistic merits after the project’s dissolution, it feels like more than that; it's the sound of one of metal's most visionary and pioneering artists finally coming to terms with – and embracing – his past, and that's a beautiful thing.
Kez Whelan

36. Cardiacs –
A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
(The Alphabet Business Concern)
This fantastic-sounding remastered version of Cardiacs' classic 1988 album was completed in 2021 but only this year saw the light of day, originally in deluxe, box set form and later as a standalone gatefold LP. The vinyl remastering offers additional clarity and a warmer bass tone whilst reigning in the treble just a touch and is particularly welcome on fast, complex tracks like 'Dive'. The 50-page book is clearly a labour of love, full of previously unpublished pictures alongside some heartfelt and informative words from journalist, author and long-time Cardiacs fan Cathi Unsworth. Additional material on four CDs includes radio sessions and an imperfect but dynamic live concert from 1987. The album itself sounds even more unique with the passing of time and the benefit of hindsight. No one else sounded like this, then or now, which is undoubtedly why the band continue to find new fans online, despite playing their last gig in 2007.
Sean Kitching

35. Slapp Happy –
Sort Of
Slapp Happy may not have made particularly futuristic music, but the offbeat and exploratory sounds they pioneered using ideas from folk rock and free jazz make Sort Of an unusually prescient album. In the last five years, Black Country, New Road and Squid have used a similar collision of sonic ideas that still sounds fresh, unlike other more exhausted tropes. Slapp Happy would reform sporadically – an ICA show in 1983, an opera for Channel 4 in 1991, two nights with Faust at Cafe OTO in 2017 – and it's a legacy that rests largely on the back of Sort Of.
Fergal Kinney

34. Soft Cell –
Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
There are many different strands to Soft Cell's debut album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. The record filtered the faded seaside sleaze of Dave Ball and Marc Almond's upbringings, in Blackpool and Southport respectively, through the bold electronic experimentation that brought them together at art school in Leeds. At once, it captured the euphoria of legal ecstasy in early 80s New York clubs, the banality of bedsitting in Thatcher's England, and the sordid release of Soho at its peak. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret is tender, outrageous and daft. Even after four decades it's hard not to be bedazzled by the melodrama of it all. Beyond the megahit 'Tainted Love', for which it's most commonly remembered, it's a record that's constantly freewheeling its way down one nefarious alleyway after another.
Patrick Clarke

33. Various Artists –
Jon Savage's 1980-1982 (The Art Of Things To Come)
Jon Savage's ongoing series of compilations for Ace Records remains the essential antidote to endless TV documenarties using the same old prog / overflowing bins / punk / bloke with a 10lb mobile phone narrative of 70s and 80s Britain. Here, in what he describes as "a period when the underground discovered the overground", we hear two years in which cultures and styles cannoned off one another in joyous abandon, and Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force rub shoulders with Soft Cell and The Cure, while Grace Jones pops along for a Joy Division cover.
Luke Turner

32. Peter Gutteridge –
(Superior Viaduct)
Something unidentifiable and Pavlovian is triggered in me when I hear the specific jangle of guitar often found in that Dunedin sound – like nostalgia for something I never knew; an abstracted comfort in sound. I never knew this record first time around: it was originally released on a cassette in 1989, the lone solo album by Peter Gutteridge, who was a founder and/or member of The Clean, The Chills, Snapper, and The Great Unwashed. 'Hang On' is my favourite: a puck of Suicide via Aotearoa, complete with Alan Vega whoop. Unmissable.
Jenifer Lucy Allan

31. Kristen Nogues –
Marc'h Gouez
(Souffle Continu)
Kristen Noguès' Marc'h Gouez is muffled as it begins. You hear footsteps crunching along gravel, walking toward the sound of a harp that grows gradually louder until you hear the squeak of a door opening and closing. Suddenly you hear the harp in full, enchanting and otherworldly, as if the door you've stepped through has not just taken you to another room, but another realm. The song then shifts quickly to acoustic guitar, delicately twisted by synthesiser, then strings, then woodwind, as Noguès' vocals – entirely in her native Breton – loop and flutter with a rare, delicate power. It is a magical introduction to a magical album, a record that blends folk with drifting jazz, eerie psychedelia and more, and features over a dozen collaborators from across a thriving Brittany music scene. Rare since its original release in 1976 via an arm of the Névénoé collective, whose aim was to celebrate Breton culture, this first-ever reissue via Souffle Continu is an absolute must.
Patrick Clarke

30. British Sea Power –
Man Of Aran
(Rough Trade)
It seems pointless to pick out specific songs, for Man Of Aran's strength is its wholeness – to choose highlights would be like picking out your favourite raindrops in a summer shower. Instead, all you can do is lie back on an imaginary bed of pebbles and let the likes of 'Spearing The Sunfish' and 'No Man Is An Archipelago' wash over you as they evoke the strong smell of kelp, the screech of a distant seagull high up overheard.
Ben Myers

29. The Darkness –
Permission To Land… Again (20th Anniversary Edition)
Taken as a whole, the material collected on this reissue of The Darkness' Permission To Land hasn't aged all that badly; the group were so at odds with the zeitgeist when they arrived in the first place, that they’re essentially able to sidestep the issue of sounding dated anyway. Most of all, it merely strengthens the argument that The Darkness were a band who knew from the very start that they were to be all about immediacy; early pub gigs, by all accounts, were performed with the same bombast with which the band would later headline arenas. In an extensive interview that serves as the liner notes to the physical release, the band recall that even in his pre-Darkness days, a teenage Justin Hawkins tried (and failed) to perform guitar solos behind his head during his first gig with a band called Biff, and then found local notoriety in his native Lowestoft opening for a local pub covers band under the name Bionic Reg, performing on guitar to a drum track wearing a purple tailcoat and a helmet.
Patrick Clarke

28. Patrick Wolf –
The Circling Sky
With the wonderful The Night Safari EP and his first live dates in years, 2023 has been a year of rebirth for Patrick Wolf and this compilation gives an opportunity for further reflection before the enticing prospect of a new album in 2024. Made up of B-sides and rare tracks from the Lycanthropy and Wind In The Wires-era, this is Wolf at his most reflective and pastoral, all gently plucked ukulele and dancing viola lyrics from the time when, as a youngster, he was finding his way into what it was to be a man.
Luke Turner

27. Khanate –
Things Viral
(Southern Lord)
The power of Things Viral lies in the tension built between its whispers and its shrieks. On 'Commuted', Stephen O'Malley's guitar and James Plotkin's bass trace a five-note sequence, stretched unevenly over Tim Wyskida's percussive pulse. This creepy-crawl is clean and quiet, but unsteady and off-kilter. Khanate's other weapon is juxtaposing the irregular with what appears regular, or at least metrical. At the heart of this is another tension: between Plotkin's arrangements and the band members' execution. Eventually it was too much, they were pulling in different directions, and the band tore itself apart (for the time being) in 2006.
Dan Franklin

26. Sandwell District –
Feed Forward
(Point Of Departure)
There was never meant to be a Sandwell District album. Certainly the idea had never crossed Karl O'Connor's mind – and wasn't he in charge, kind of? He had impulsively minted Sandwell in 2002 as a German-distributed offshoot of his Downwards label, but he had no grand plans in terms of what to do with it. Over the course of that decade, he guided its metamorphosis into something else entirely: not just a label proper, but an artists' collective, a laboratory for the post-minimal techno experiments of four battle-hardened producer allies: David Sumner (Function), Juan Mendez (Silent Servant) and Female (Peter Sutton) and Regis (O'Connor himself). By 2009, and by word of mouth alone, Sandwell District had come to be revered by the global techno underground; each of its sporadic, imperious 12-inch releases feverishly anticipated and slavered over. Why would they want to do something as old-fashioned as make an album?
Kiran Sande

25. Various Artists –
DJs Di Guetto
Seen through a cultural history lens, the impact of this compilation reminds me of that of Gqom Oh! The Sound of Durban, Vol. 1, which shed light on gqom music coming from the South African city of Durban, and Nyege Nyege Tapes' Sounds Of Sisso, which presented Tanzania's singeli sound. Listening to it feels a bit like discovering early hardcore records or even early blues records. It's marked by a sense of urgency, exemplifying creativity out of need, not out of trend-hopping ambition. There's almost an amateurish aspect to it, a kind of "let's find out what happens next" approach. The intensity of these riddims speaks volumes about the sincere experimentalism that fuelled their creation. They sound as fresh today as they did back then. Considering the open-mindedness of modern ravers, they are sure to cause as much devastation on modern dance floors as they did at local street parties where dancers, caught in a dancing spree, would allegedly climb walls.
Jaša Bužinel

24. The Black Dog –
I feel IDM is honest music. That's what The Black Dog sounds like to me. A friend once compared something I made to them, but I hadn't previously delved into their discography. This made me explore their work, which introduced me to Plaid. They serve as the gateway to IDM and are possibly the true pioneers of the genre. The Black Dog's music feels genuine, unpretentious and timeless. It's characterised by distinctive, heartfelt, and thoughtful melodies. It's quirky but cool and straight from the heart.
Mike Paradinas, Planet Mu

23. Autechre, The Hafler Trio –
ae³o & h³ae Box Set
(Vinyl On Demand)
The Hafler Trio comprised Scottish artist Andrew M. McKenzie, sound-recordist Chris Watson, who has long since departed the line-up, and third member Dr Ed Moolenbeek, who never actually existed, and this is a lovely-sounding vinyl version of the 2005 double-CD release (which was reissued on 5.1 Surround Sound DVD in 2011) they recorded with Autechre. If any records genuinely demand deep listening (which will inevitably fall away eventually into some kind of reverie) then this is among them. Within this thrill of synthetic pads, electrical hums and digital reverb exists some of the quietest music ever recorded; much quieter than Robert Ashley's Automatic Writing; much, much quieter than Nurse With Wound's A Missing Sense even. In fact it's so damn quiet that in order to convince yourself that you're not listening to a blank disc, the volume must be turned up so high that when someone in the studio brushes against a mic or disturbs the equipment, the ensuing sonic boom is so great it threatens to blow out your windows and partially collapse your house. An extraordinary listening experience.
John Doran

22. Pharoah Sanders –
(Luaka Bop)
If one were petty-minded, one could do the maths. 'Harvest Time', a track which has undergone a change of fortune over the 47 years since it was recorded, lasts for 20 minutes. This box set, released by Luaka Bop with that track placed front and centre, costs 50 quid. That's £2.50 per languid minute, presuming that's all you came for. It's hard to feel languid with a calculator in your hand perhaps but time is a relative concept – especially when one is adrift in the beautiful bardo-like fathoms of this track – and who can put a price on beauty anyway? The word isn't snatched at random; the bardo is the transitional state between death and rebirth in some schools of Buddhism, but also it makes a workable metaphor for the position some groundbreaking artists find themselves in when moving out of one well-received, red hot phase of creativity and preparing to make a necessary move into another. And at such a crossroads is certainly where Pharoah Sanders found himself in 1976.
John Doran

21. Chris & Cosey –
Pagan Tango
I've no idea if Chris and Cosey had a kitchen rave after half a pinger each, but Pagan Tango's opener 'In Ecstasy' and 'Synaesthesia' have an early-night acid house warmth that evidences why the late, great Andrew Weatherall was such a fan. From then on in, it gets saucy – 'I Belong To Me' (Cosey singing, not without menace, that "the man is mine") leading into utter banger 'Take Control', where squelchy, leathery rhythms sit under a mantra, "I'm gaining power / I take control", an intense reversal of the male gaze and domination. Similarly, 'Feel To Me' combines breathy vocals with a nerve-tingling synth line and rhythms that drop like hot wax, and 'Sin' is BDSM intonation "whipping, burning, rolling, turning, lashing, writhing, tasting, dying, dying on the bed of sin" that turns into a ruthless 4/4 pounding. It makes most other electronic body music of the era sound like the Belgian bloke off Eurotrash who liked to dress as a penguin wanking over a pack of kippers. Pagan Tango has it all – the tunes, the bangers, the desire – and ought to be seen as one of the toughest, yet most accessible, albums that emerged from the great post-Throbbing Gristle explosion.
Luke Turner

20. Earth –
Earth 2.23 Special Lower Frequency Mix
(Sub Pop)
'Angels', The Bug & Flowdan's remix of Earth's 'Seven Angels', pumps urgency into the original with its 'foot to the pedal' refrain. The duo supplant the original's meandering exploration with the focused overstimulation of a world scrupulously documented for "likes" and "views". The Bug's other (solo) remix of 'Like Gold And Faceted' transmutes it to a lower realm of even greater sub-frequencies where you can hear the air being pushed through the track – ghosts rushing to oblivion. 'May Your Vanquished Be Saved From The Bondage Of Their Sins' by Loop's Robert Hampson is a Ligeti-esque cosmic nightmare. Untethered from our earthly realm, the lashings of the bass guitar seem to simulate a destructive event. Adrift in LSD-ified space, cold comfort comes by way of fizzing guitars panning in and out of the mix like barely intercepted transmissions. Brett Netson's take on 'Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine' begins with an engine growling to life. In his hands, the song is the ghost of a new machine – burnished and eternal.
Dan Franklin

19. Various Artists –
Tokyo Riddim 1976-1985
(Time Capsule)
The basic premise of Tokyo Riddim is intriguing in itself: a collection of tracks that document a fascination with Jamaican music in the Japanese cultural consciousness of the 1970s and 1980s. Yet to call this compilation merely 'Japanese reggae' belies a cultural exchange that goes beyond just those two countries. Though Bob Marley & The Wailers' enormously successful 1979 tour of Japan is often seen to have skyrocketed reggae's popularity there (and you can hear his influence strongly here, particularly on Miki Hirayama's wholesale lifting of 'Natural Mystic' for her track 'Denshi Lenzi'), it also explores the way that even before that, Japanese producers were lifting from British reggae-influenced pop bands like The Police and UB40, and combining those sounds with their native commercial city pop. Throw in anti-apartheid protest track 'Johannesburg' and the album's scope stretches across four continents. Sometimes naïve, sometimes infectious, always immensely likeable, the songs on this compilation make for a deft exploration of the way music's evolution is not always neat and tidy.
Patrick Clarke

18. Neil S. Kvern –
Doctor Dancing Mask: Pianoisms
(Freedom To Spend)
Neil S. Kvern never played live (out of choice) and he released this cassette in 1983 mostly to friends and by word of mouth. I will put a pound in the swear jar for saying this, but it is hypnagogic (and also hypnopompic). I don't mean to tag it with a passé genre, but to indicate that a number of tracks feel like they genuinely originated in the space between sleeping and waking. It reminds me of the jetlagged headspace when you've woken up at the wrong time and access a clear and unflustered type of consciousness; moments of insight when you haven't yet woken up enough to get in your own way. Kvern was explicitly inspired by the minimalists, although the concert hall high culture of someone like Philip Glass is downshifted here to a tactile Pacific Northwestern lo-fi minimalism, imbued with the hiss and play of whatever the imperfect techniques were by which he captured some of these overdubs and spontaneous compositions (some of which would have been made with support from Eugene Electronic Music Collective and Soundwork, a public-access studio and performance space in Seattle).
Jennifer Lucy Allan

17. Wolf Eyes V/A –
Difficult Messages
Wolf Eyes' extreme sonics feel less an end in themselves than a mirror slipped beneath the cold underbelly of what's normal to get a glimpse of what's festering away on the flipside, treating noise as a way to boost the signal that unsettles normality and normalises the unsettled, rather than just a means to obliterate cochleas. This nuance comes across acutely on Difficult Messages. This compilation might represent a comparative toning down of the band's extremes, but it doesn't dilute their ability to evoke something unnerving, latching on to the underside of the every day. Slowing down and spacing out, if anything, allows that creepy sense of realisation to be experienced in higher definition.
Daryl Worthington

16. Cromorne –
Live @ Raymond Bar
A collective worth embracing is L'Engeance, based in Dijon and home to psych-folk quartet La Ruche and Cromorne, among others. On Cromorne's Live @ Raymond Bar, hurdy-gurdy is present, played by Nicolas Virey – one-half of the duo – but its sound here is less abrasive, a rippling, psychedelic stream that flows throughout the nearly 18-minute 'Comme Dans Les Films', while Kévin Valentin provides a synth bassline and holds down a rolling drum groove. 'Le Lieu Est Cool' is a dreamy, drumless interlude before the drums and a driving, two-note synth kick in for final track 'Ça Va T'es Jeune'. Addictive stuff wrought with minimal means.
David McKenna

15. Various Artists –
The NID Tapes: Electronic Music From India 1969-1972
(The state51 Conspiracy)
I'm stoked to hear this collection of early synth music made in the late 60s at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, which has far more head-noddingly heavy pieces on it than you'd expect from early institutional synth experiments. NID had an electronic music studio containing an early Moog synthesiser, and this collection brings together work made there, by S.C. Sharma, Atul Desai, Gita Sarabhai, Jinraj Joshipura and I.S. Mathur, as well as one piece by David Tudor, who helped set the place up when he visited. There is much play in the sounds collected, notably in the mischievous manipulated voices and filtered laughter in one of Gita Sarabhai's pieces, and there are a few heavy, noisy workouts too, including the David Tudor tape feedback piece that is, frankly, Pan Sonically dense and industrial, as is the rising tone of Jinraj Joshipura's 'Space Liner 2001 I' and the deliciously clanging slow shred of I.S. Mathur's 'Once I Played A Tanpura'. S.C. Sharma's work is all rhythmic bloops – both 'Dance Music' pieces are in a lineage with other solo synth experimenters like Mort Garson or Martin Bartlett, and over everything there is the comforting duvet of vintage fuzz to the warm Moogy pulses, that ripple and shift in melodic bloops.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

14. Various Artists –
Steven Wilson Presents Intrigue: Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979-89
DJs and compilers have leaned towards focusing, understandably, on the clear influence that dub, funk and free jazz had on what became tagged as post punk. Earlier this year, though, Demon released this outstanding corrective compiled by Steven Wilson. Seemingly aimed at an imaginary fogeyish and arms-folded early 70s prog bore living rent free in Wilson’s head, across 58 tracks by artists including Wire, XTC, Ultravox, Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins, the compilation painstakingly evidences how the ambitious and conceptual spirit of early 1970s prog quite obviously flourished on the other side of punk’s supposed hard border. At what point in the future might these genre distinctions about similar musicians making similar music in a similar geographic space fall away as historical signifiers?
Fergal Kinney

13. Sex Swing –
Grade A Peanut Sauce
(Sonic Whip)
Grade A Peanut Sauce captures Sex Swing's live set at the Sonic Whip Festival in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 2022. Standing in for usual saxophonist Colin Webster was Otto Kokke from Dead Neanderthals who can be heard blowing like a man possessed over the band's fearsome kraut-psych-noise repetitions.
JR Moores

12. Datblygu –
Terfysgiaith 1982-2022
Terfysgiaith 1982-2022 is a two-disc compilation of songs selected by Datblygu's David Edwards and Patrick Morgan, along with a third disc of live tracks, rarities and session recordings. It was to be a celebration of 40 years of the band, but Edwards' sudden passing in 2021 means that it now exists as a fitting full stop to an incredible creative partnership that has left a mark on Welsh culture that will be impossible to replicate. While the days of Cool Cymru are now more than two decades in the past, Datblylgu's legacy lives on during a new golden age of Welsh language music.
Leigh Jones

11. Sonic Youth –
Live In Brooklyn 2011
(Silver Current / Goofin')
It's been another bittersweet year for Sonic Youth fans with both Thurston Moore's memoir and this spectacular live album reminding the planet of the sorely missed band's unrivalled art rock powers. Although it wasn't public at the time, we now know the group was on the cusp of ceasing activities due to the end of Moore's marriage to Kim Gordon, so the concert recorded here would turn out to be their final one on home soil. The setlist from that night is a treat because it eschews the hits (if that is what they can be called) in favour of deeper and darker cuts from the majestic back catalogue. This could be down to hindsight, to be perfectly honest, but Gordon sounds particularly, cathartically ablaze. After 30 years in the game, far from morbidly fulfilling contractual obligations with the end in sight, the band sound less burnt out than a freshly purchased multipack of Swan Vestas. Live In Brooklyn is a sobering reminder, then, that all good things must come to an end, even those which, at the point of termination, are still really bloody good.
JR Moores

10. Oleksandr Yurchenko –
Recordings Vol. 1, 1991-2001
Solo recordings of Oleksandr Yurchenko, made during the last decade of the 20th century, draw attention to how he experimented with sound and sought out new paths towards creative freedom. His drone symphony can be compared with the works of such avant-garde composers as Glenn Branca or La Monte Young. Listening to them now, retrospectively, I would also add a comparison to the music of Swans and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Yurchenko wasn't able to have his music released officially in the 90s and made only a few copies of these tracks for his friends. He was a forgotten figure for many years due to the lack of documented, officially released recordings. In the 2010s, he was asked for an interview but refused, already suffering from a severe illness. In April 2020, he died, leaving behind a great, if mainly unknown, musical legacy.

Like Valentina Goncharova, Yurchenko searched for sound in how he played and by constructing unconventional hand-made instruments. On Recordings Vol. 1, 1991-2001, the label Shukai once again unearths a forgotten (also for political reasons at the time) gem of the Ukrainian underground to a broader audience and broadens our perspective on the country's experimental scene in the 1990s.
Jakub Knera

9. Various Artists –
Viva el sábado: Hits de disco pop peruano (1978-1989)
This compilation takes its name from a music video programme that Panamericana Televisión broadcast between the 80s and 90s, which Buh Records founder Luis Alvarado says was a substitute for a nightclub at home, bringing colour to a grey reality where violence and anxiety dominated. Disco, heavily centered around the Iempsa record label, transitioned from a fascination with rock to an interest in tropical music and salsa. Viva el sábado is the most pop-oriented release yet in the Buh Records catalogue, which perfectly demonstrates the limitlessness of this label (as well as the beginning of a series of immersions into disco in Peru).

A great example of the turn from rock to disco comes from the brothers Saúl and Manuel Cornejo, who played in Laghonia in the early 1970s and later formed the band We All Together, inspired by British psychedelic and progressive rock. Taking advantage of the fashion for roller discos, they later formed Rollets and recorded the tracks 'Patinando' and 'Lady Rock' in 1980, where Saúl took care of bass, guitars, Hammond organ, piano and synthesisers, while Manuel played percussion and vibraphone, building a unique disco sound from live instruments. As a result, 'Patinando' is a proper boogie-era disco hit with a crisp beat and shimmering swirling keyboard parts, guitar and Malena Calisto's endearing vocals. It was such a national success that the Cornejo brothers released an LP early the following year even though the fad for roller discos had passed.
Jakub Knera

8. Les Rallizes Dénudés –
CITTA' '93
(Temporal Drift)
After years of consuming only lo-fi recordings, listening to CITTA' '93 is like the first gallery visit after a new glasses prescription, the first conversation after having your ears syringed. As you've never heard them before, Les Rallizes Dénudés sound spectacular, and this clarity adds another dimension to the band's sound. Who'd have thought the greatest band of all time might still sound phenomenal when they aren't just recorded and mastered like total shit?

'White Awakening' is the case and point here. Its first section sees the band sounding like a terse alternative rock group, not a million miles away from math rock, with lots of showy guitar licks presented in a tidy fashion, until, with a gratuitous stamp to his pedalboard, Takashi Mizutani opens Pandora's box, unleashing torrents upon torrents upon torrents of messianic noise. What follows is total skronk, and a sea of reverb that would put MBV to shame, as well as some fretwork that would make John McLaughlin feel inadequate. Razortight motorik playing from Kodo Noma is the only thing that prevents a hellish descent into total chaos, on what is undoubtedly the best rendition of this classic number in the Les Rallizes Dénudés discography.
Cal Cashin

7. Various Artists –
Synthetic Bird Music
There's been a trend, since the onset of industrialisation at least, of people wanting to bring bird sounds into their homes. To hear their songs without having to, or perhaps being unable to, go out into the wild. In the 19th century, inventors such as Pierre Jaquet-Droz and Blaise Bontems built businesses developing and selling clock-work singing automatons. In the early years of the recording industry, it wasn’t possible or practical to make wildlife recordings. Instead, human imitators, virtuosic vocal artists capable of mimicking the sounds of wildlife, were brought into the studio. The most well-known descendent of this tradition, for a British audience at least, is perhaps Percy Edwards, but he was just one in a long, globe-spanning history of animal impersonators.

Synthetic Bird Music is as tied to this history as it is Handel and Vivaldi. It's in how so many of these tracks sound artificial. They don't disguise the fact they're imitations but embrace it. Jon​á​š Gruska's 'Svitanie', Vic Bang's 'Whizz' and Ursula Sereghy's 'Kolib​ř​í​k' don't hide the electricity and circuits behind their creation. On Ecka Mordecai and Malvern Brume's 'Pigeon Tones For Eggflute', you can hear the human breath and a passing car, underneath the coos and wooden warbles.
Daryl Worthington

6. Various Artists –
Disco Discharge Presents: Box Of Sin
Long term readers of this site will know how much Luke Turner and I adore the work of the label Disco Discharge. We ran one or two essays by Saturday Night Forever: The Story Of Disco author Alan Jones, heralding the launch of the original CD compilation series with such tantalising names as Pink Pounders, Cruising The Beats and Disco Exotica, before I interviewed original compiler Mr. Pinks himself. Over 16 compilations and a series of artist-specific reissues by the likes of Voyage and Tantra, a very pleasing aesthetic was unveiled, one that eschewed deathless northern soul-style obscurantism while avoiding any obvious rehash of mainly played out wedding-disco standards. Instead we were treated to a curatorship that was comparable to the extremely knowledgeable yet relaxed vibe that Soul Jazz brought to, say, their New Orleans and reggae compilations: putting wildly innovative tunes next to smash hits, with deep cuts next to evergreen standards. Finally after a gap of 10 years, the compilation series has been resurrected, the main differences concerning quantity and a temporal shift.

While the original series covered a lengthy enough period – its spiritual core could easily be located in the 1970s – A Box Of Sin is firmly ensconced in the full stretch of the 1980s. You now get five CDs instead of two, but with no noticeable decline in quality, just a shift in focus. Mark Wood, of Duckie residents Readers Wives, is the compiler but the spirit is the heart of the dance floor at Heaven. Early on, a thumping long version of the chart destroying 'Jump (For My Love)' by The Pointer Sisters rubs shoulders with the kind of club music that New Order and (future) Pet Shop Boys were clearly all over in the mid-80s such as 'I Like You' by Phyllis Nelson. The sequencing isn't chronological, more designed to mirror the trajectory of a long DJ set; opening pop fare by Hazell Dean and Taylor Dane giving way to tougher beats and stripped down arrangements; booming synths and chanted refrains. In among crucial cuts by The Flirts, Divine (her barefaced but fabulous 'Blue Monday' rip 'Love Reaction') and Lisa is Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish's 'The Male Stripper' freshened up in its US club mix guise. Any compilation that can deploy a track as pulverisingly brilliant as the Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing-mix of Soft Cell's 'Memorabilia' and not flag afterwards deserves some kind of award.
John Doran

5. Kate Bush –
The Dreaming
(Fish People)
The Dreaming remains a terribly sad record. A treatise on "how cruel people can be to one another, and the amount of loneliness people expose themselves to". Perhaps John Lennon's murder and the dog-eat-dog ethos of Thatcherism had cast their shadow here. While the record was being made, the Falklands crisis escalated and unemployment rose. Many of The Dreaming's characters seem to be caught in the vice grip of western 'civilisation'; the hapless robber in 'There Goes A Tenner', the aboriginal way of life on the brink of erosion on the title track, the Vietnamese soldier meeting his American nemesis on 'Pull Out The Pin'. They may symbolise the tightrope walk Kate Bush felt she was embarking on with the record. But this dense and allusive stuff with twists and turns requiring as many footnotes as T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, shares that poem's occidental disenchantment.

And like that modernist masterpiece, The Dreaming glimpses at a very metropolitan melancholy. Bush would never make an album in London again, a city she felt had an air of dread hanging over it. 'All The Love', a forlorn musical sigh, features percussive sticks imitating Venetian blinds turning shut. It climaxes with messages from Bush's actual malfunctioning answerphone: all very modern alienating devices, straight from the same world of Bowie's 'Sound & Vision'. This was after all, the year Time magazine voted the computer as person of the year. Del Palmer's ECM-like drowsy bass almost sobs with regret. Throughout The Dreaming, sound speaks. 'All The Love' is subdued relief. But its constituent parts hover desolately in the mix, pitching a 'lack of love' song with a choirboy, somewhere between Joni Mitchell's road trip jazz on 'Hejira' and the void of Nico's 'The End'. Full of space and loneliness. At the centre of this creative storm is Bush.
Matthew Lindsay

4. Mark Jenkin –
Enys Men (Original Score)
If anything, Mark Jenkin's score for the film Enys Men is an even more minimal work than Bait's soundtrack, perhaps reflective of the former picture's near plotless first hour. Most of the pieces here are assembled from just a few elements: a simple repeating drone, some found sounds and maybe a small fragment of speech. And so the opening 'Enys Pt. 1' is a ten-minute ambient drift that's both ominous and serene. The cold coastal air seems to move through the piece, both in a recurring four-note motif and in the cavernous echoes that howl around in the background. Waves crash in the distance on 'Menhir Pt. 1', a shorter, sweeter track that captures a moment of uneasy calm. By contrast, 'Hunros Pt. 2', opens with a playful, burbling melody reminiscent of early Aphex Twin, before what sounds like a chorus of abandoned ice cream vans join in the fun.

It is a meditative and, in its own odd way, soothing record, but Jenkin has sequenced it to stop you from getting too comfortable. Some of the noisier moments, 'Hunros' and 'Bleujen' particularly, recall the haunted audio of Drew Mulholland's albums for the Castles In Space label, all rapidly decaying tape loops and snatches of intercepted AM radio. A sudden burst of static and a MAYDAY call for help at the end of 'Menhir Pt. 1' is jarring enough to make you leap out of your seat, while the two 'Jynnji' tracks alternately clatter with the tools of long dead miners and reverberate with the pounding of something massive at work deep beneath your feet.
Will Salmon

3. Mykolaiv Singers –
Winter Songs, Wedding Songs
I've been waiting for this project to emerge for a few years. It was started before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but since then, the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine has suffered enormously, so this is now a very different album than was originally intended. In the context of now, it becomes a document of people and their songs under threat; a more significant document because it contains something that has been damaged to a yet unknown extent.

It collects recordings of various unaccompanied singers and groups from the 1980s through to 2012 – Mykolaiv Singers are not one group, but rather the collective name for all those recorded here – sourced by Tetiano Chukno, and featuring songs about weddings, seasons and lyrical poetry. For my next book I've been reading a lot by, and about, archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, whose work focused on southeastern Europe. She thought that some of the folk traditions that exist in the present might bear traces of our most ancient past, and while listening to these songs sung in full voice I thought about how far back some of the seasonal winter songs might run – songs about bread, green groves and birch trees, songs that still have a bearing on the present in more ways than one.
Jennifer Lucy Allan

2. Arthur Russell –
Picture Of Bunny Rabbit
A Picture Of Bunny Rabbit may not be an obvious revelation for those already familiar with Arthur Russell's World Of Echo, but it's as if this singular, unfathomable place has become more vast, or perhaps that new depths have been uncovered. Mere moments into 'Fuzzbuster #10' and we're back there, all cello scrapes, pulsing keys and aching wail, while the picked guitar notes on 'Fuzzbuster #06' and ‘Fuzzbuster #09' add a gently unfamiliar element to the equation, like a private communion being made with The Durutti Coumn's Vini Reilly. It might seem odd that Russell's most radical period is so bone-bare, such slight embellishments, but he's clearly working at some kind of foundational level, blurring the distinction between confessional song, Buddhist mantra and minimalist exploration, right down at the roots. Watch him perform this material and you see a man enraptured, caught in the quiet intensity of a trance.

The title track is the least familiar thing on here, like a glitched-out premonition of Oval's 94 Diskont, any sense of formal cohesion torn apart in a manner akin to The Caretaker's Everywhere At The End Of Time series. Russell is an explorer who doesn't want to conquer, but be humbled by his discoveries. Much of the album is song-focused, albeit borderless songs that drift between states, no verse-chorus-verse etc. Russell's voice is often subsumed, or lost in echo logic. Bob Dylan may not seem like an obvious kindred spirit, but the two artists share an obsession with the idea of their songs as constantly evolving entities, ripe for rework and recontextualisation, or, in many cases, to be reshaped beyond recognition. Closer 'In The Light Of A Miracle' has existed in many forms, as has much of Russell's work. You see this as a reflection of Russell, the forever displeased perfectionist, but then again in jazz, folk and blues you have the standard, so why not treat your own material in that same sense, as something malleable, unmoored and free-floating.
Eden Tizard

1. Dorothy Carter –
Waillee Waillee
(Palto Flats / Putojefe)
The sound of a zither or a psaltery or a dulcimer – a wooden-bodied, finger-plucked or hand-hammered, fretless instrument, often held in the lap or manipulated near to the body – can provoke a bracing, often spiritual sensation in the listener. Where does that come from? Is it because of powerful albums like Laraaji's Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance, PJ Harvey's White Chalk or Jean Ritchie's The Appalachian Dulcimer? Is it about the survival of these old, fragile instruments as we shift into an increasingly digital world? Or is it about the contact of a fingernail or soft skin with thin metal or gut, and the noise this startling connection produces, a sound that ultimately vibrates in a body held tightly and tenderly by the performer to his or her own, or is manipulated carefully by touch?

For me, it's all three. A resonant, historical imagination always trembles in recordings of these distinctive, usually handmade instruments, and on Dorothy Carter's Waillee Waillee, oceans of feeling oscillate, undulate and reverberate after only a few bars of track one. This is partly about the way Carter's instrument is played – she creates patterns of repetitive shiver rather than shimmer, at the ends of phrases or through whole melodies, often on top of heavy drones played on bowed chimes and steel cellos – but also because the initial sonic hit has a tough edge, cutting and slicing through the surrounding silence like a knife, before shaking all over. There is so much to revel in, to be stunned and staggered by in this astonishing record, but when Carter's sound is indistinguishable from the sound of her instrument, when her vocal chords and her hammering hand become one, tightly and tenderly, the bracing, spiritual sensation is enough to make me believe in anything.
Jude Rogers

The Quietus Reissues Etc Of The Year 2023

  • 1: Dorothy Carter – Waillee Waillee
  • 2: Arthur Russell – Picture Of Bunny Rabbit
  • 3: Mykolaiv Singers – Winter Songs, Wedding Songs
  • 4: Mark Jenkin – Enys Men (Original Score)
  • 5: Kate Bush – The Dreaming
  • 6: Various Artists – Disco Discharge Presents: Box Of Sin
  • 7: Various Artists – Synthetic Bird Music
  • 8: Les Rallizes Dénudés – CITTA' '93
  • 9: Various Artists – Viva el sábado: Hits de disco pop peruano (1978-1989)
  • 10: Oleksandr Yurchenko – Recordings Vol. 1, 1991-2001
  • 11: Sonic Youth – Live In Brooklyn 2011
  • 12: Datblygu – Terfysgiaith 1982-2022
  • 13: Sex Swing – Grade A Peanut Sauce
  • 14: Various Artists – Steven Wilson Presents Intrigue: Progressive Sounds In UK Alternative Music 1979-89
  • 15: Various Artists – The NID Tapes: Electronic Music From India 1969-1972
  • 16: Cromorne – Live @ Raymond Bar
  • 17: Wolf Eyes V/A – Difficult Messages
  • 18: Neil S. Kvern – Doctor Dancing Mask: Pianoisms
  • 19: Various Artists – Tokyo Riddim 1976-1985
  • 20: Earth – Earth 2.23 Special Lower Frequency Mix
  • 21: Chris & Cosey – Pagan Tango
  • 22: Pharoah Sanders – Pharoah
  • 23: Autechre, The Hafler Trio – ae³o & h³ae
  • 24: The Black Dog – Spanners
  • 25: Various Artists – DJs Di Guetto
  • 26: Sandwell District – Feed Forward
  • 27: Khanate – Things Viral
  • 28: Patrick Wolf – The Circling Sky
  • 29: The Darkness – Permission To Land… Again (20th Anniversary Edition)
  • 30: British Sea Power – Man Of Aran
  • 31: Kristen Noguès – Marc'h Gouez
  • 32: Peter Gutteridge – Pure
  • 33: Various Artists – Jon Savage's 1980-1982 The Art Of Things To Come
  • 34: Soft Cell – Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
  • 35: Slapp Happy – Sort Of
  • 36: Cardiacs – A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
  • 37: Triumph Of Death – Resurrection Of The Flesh
  • 38: Jacqueline Nova – Creaci​ó​n de la tierra: Ecos palpitantes de Jacqueline Nova (1964​-​1974)
  • 39: Bulbils – Map
  • 40: Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 – These Things Remain Unassigned
  • 42: Richter Band – Smetana
  • 43: Various Artists – Unruly Records Anthology: 1991-1995 (The Early Years)
  • 44: Hermann Nitsch – Das Orgien Mysterien Theater: Musik Des 6-Tage-Spiels 2022
  • 45: Cheval De Frise – Fresques Sur Les Parois Secrètes Du Crâne
  • 46: Various Artists – House Of God: Brum As Fuck
  • 47: Liars – Sisterworld
  • 48: Various Artists – A Moi La Liberté: Early Electronic Raï, Algérie 1983-90
  • 49: Various – Richard Sen Presents Dream The Dream: UK Techno, House And Breakbeat 1990-1994
  • 50: Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt, Jim O'Rourke – Tonic 19-01-2001
  • 51: DJ Shufflemaster – EXP
  • 52: Suicide – A Way Of Life (35th Anniversary Edition)
  • 53: Pauline Anna Strom – Echoes, Spaces, Lines
  • 54: The Body – I Shall Die Here / Earth Triumphant
  • 55: Jeanne Lee, Gunter Hampel, Michel Waisvisz, Freddy Gosseye, Sven-Åke Johansson – Scheiße '71
  • 56: Devo – Art Devo 1973-1977 Box Set
  • 57: Thee Alcoholics – Live At The Piper
  • 58: Conal Blake / Regan Bowering / Li Song – Music For Snare Drums And Portable Speakers
  • 59: Carl Stone – Electronic Music From 1972-2022
  • 60: Therapy? – Semi-Detached
  • 61: Adela Mede – Szabadság
  • 62: Peter Brötzmann, Majid Bekkas & Hamid Drake – Catching Ghosts
  • 63: The Heads – Under Sided (20th Anniversary Edition)
  • 64: Art Ensemble Of Chicago – The Sixth Decade: From Paris To Paris
  • 65: Hermeto Pascoal – Hermeto
  • 66: Hiroyuki Onogawa – August In The Water: Music For Film 1995-2005
  • 67: DJ Znobia – Inventor Vol 1
  • 68: Various Artists – Cease And Resist: Sonic Subversion And Anarcho Punk In The UK 1979-1986
  • 69: Vidéo-Aventures – Musiques Pour Garçons Et Filles + Inédits
  • 70: Ian Elms – Good Night
  • 71: Šarūnas Nakas – Ramblings
  • 72: Patrick Gibson – Elbow Room In Paradise
  • 73: Various Artists – Searchlight Moonbeam
  • 74: Andrzej Korzyński – The Devil Tapes
  • 75: Hidden Cameras – The Smell Of Our Own (20th Anniversary Edition)
  • 76: Jean-Michel Jarre – Les Granges Brûlées
  • 77: Ikoba – Transcode
  • 78: A.R. Kane – A.R. Kive 1988-1989
  • 79: Hatred Surge – Horrible Mess 2005-2007
  • 80: Harvey Milk – Reckoning
  • 81: Bardo Pond – Peel Sessions
  • 82: Tolerance – Anonym
  • 83: Various Artists – Happy Land (A Compendium Of Electronic Music From The British Isles 1992-1996)
  • 84: Various Artists – Launch300
  • 85: Naná, Nelson Angelo, Novelli – Naná, Nelson Angelo, Novelli
  • 86: Blue Dolphin – Robert's Lafitte
  • 87: John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy – Evenings At The Village Gate
  • 88: Milford Graves, Arthur Doyle, Hugh Glover – Children Of The Forest
  • 89: Various Artists – YU Wave
  • 90: Various Artists – Prends Le Temps D'Écouter: Tape Music, Sound Experiments And Free Folk Songs By Children From Freinet Classes 1962-1982
  • 91: Ela Minus & DJ Python – ♡ (Ricardo Villalobos Remixes)
  • 92: Hydroplane – Selected Songs 1997-2003
  • 93: Accident du Travail – Galéjade
  • 94: Dawson – Discography+
  • 95: Ellen Zweig – Fiction Of The Physical
  • 96: Messa – Live At Roadburn
  • 97: Annea Lockwood – Glass World
  • 98: Various Artists – Anima POP: Music From Estonian Animations 1965-1986
  • 99: Phew – Our Likeness
  • 100: Techno Animal – Re-Entry (2023 Remaster)