Quietus Albums Of The Year So Far 2012

It's only half way through the year and already it's shaping up to be a classic for albums. Here's our halfway mark chart

Listen to our Albums Of The Year So Far spotify playlist here

Friends and anonymous commenters alike can come away from reading the Quietus with a slightly skewed impression of what my own personal taste in music is like, or what the combined taste in music Luke Turner, Rory Gibb and I have is like.

Either way I do seem to end up having conversations like this when I run into mates at gigs.

FRIEND: Hello there Doran.

DORAN: Ah, hello. Out and about?

FRIEND: Ah, same as yourself.

DORAN: Good good.

FRIEND: I hear you’re into hipster house now.

DORAN: Wha…What?

FRIEND: How did you get interested in that type of thing?

DORAN: Who said I’m into hipster house?

FRIEND: Everyone’s saying it. [Sarcastic] Should we all be into hipster house now? What’s the official line the Quietus is taking on this? So you think we should be giving away all those dream sludge/ harsh wall noise cassettes and Samurai doom picture discs and getting into Stay + instead?

DORAN: No, no. That Ital album was only resting on my turntable…

Of course, a lot of the time this site accurately reflects the kind of music that we’re passionate about. You’d have to be fairly unobservant or just passing through to not realise that we’re all into Throbbing Gristle, Sunn O))), The Fall and The Bug for example. However when we reach consensus on this stuff, it’s more of a happy coincidence than anything else. We’re all of the opinion that consensus in general about music is not only harmful but is dead boring, which is why, on a good week, hopefully we’ll be covering music that few other sites will be.

The criteria we apply to music we cover on the site means there’s a relatively large shaded area on the Venn Diagram of music I listen to at home and stuff we cover extensively online. (After all, who would be one of those music journalists who spends all day writing about Muse and Kings Of Leon but then goes home to listen to Trout Mask Replica?) It doesn’t necessarily follow that we like or even personally approve of all the music we cover though. A good example of an act that we can all see has artistic worth and can appreciate, without liking that much is maybe Grimes. I definitely feel that Claire Boucher is someone we should be covering but am personally so immune to her charms that I can’t even tell which track is supposed to be the "good one". But the important distinction to be drawn here is that I don’t think she’s bad – I just don’t get what other people see in her. No doubt this will annoy some people but personally I think it’s pretty insane to expect us to like all of the music that everyone else does.

If you want a good idea of what we’ve been listening to at home and at work (mixed in with The Fall and Slayer) then the twice yearly charts that we run are the best indication that we can give. They are voted for by Rory, Luke and myself and no-one else. In short, these charts are what we’re into.

At this point I should explain what this chart isn’t. It isn’t an attempt to prove definitively and objectively what the best albums of the year so far are. As crazy as it must seem we genuinely haven’t forgotten Django Django or Lana Del Rey or Jack White or The Maccabees… we just don’t like them that much. (Although I can tell that ‘Default’ is the really good song by Django Django.) All apologies. Likewise, I don’t think that Cannibal Corpse’s Torture will be for that many people but if a handful of people take a chance on it because of this chart and enjoy it, then that’s a few fewer days in purgatory for me.

This isn’t an attempt to make ourselves look cool via obscurantism either. Chance would, indeed, be a fine thing. The most bewildering complaint we have about these charts is that we’re picking music that the reader hasn’t heard of. There are plenty of sites out there that exist just to re-enforce the spending habits of people who have a consumerist relationship with music. It would actually be really beneficial to us in terms of advertising money to pretend that we liked the latest U2 or Coldplay album but then, what would be the point? The rules for what makes something the recipient of hipster kisses or even, what constitutes a hipster these days are so convoluted that I no longer understand them. (No doubt the smoking gun admission that makes me a hipster… who knows? Someone younger than 41, wearing narrower trousers than me probably.) This said, we do think we knock spots off nearly all other music sites out there. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly if we didn’t. And the only other magazines and sites I read almost certainly feel the same way.

Overall however the chart shows what a massive influence Rory Gibb continues to have on the Quietus. The youngest, clubbiest and most hummus powered member of the team is actually off work for health reasons this week, so here’s wishing him a speedy recovery and thanks to him for all the sterling work he’s done over the last year or so.

And as for the number one? Yeah, we know it’s a live album but then it’s just so damn good it had to go in the albums chart plus, as any fule kno, all of Throbbing Gristle’s albums were recorded live in one form or other, so we felt it only right to put Tranvserse in its rightful place.

So that’s the self-indulgent navel gazing over and done with. Until we run our next chart at least…

Please let us know what albums you would have featured in the comments below. We listen to the ones we’ve not heard before and these albums end up in the end of year chart.

50. Howse – Lay Hollow

"Not exactly renowned for being the most relaxing of tempos – it’s closer to drum & bass than house, for example – 150bpm has been receiving some extra attention as of late. In the wake of Machinedrum’s Room(s) last year, a number of people have been sinking footwork’s rapid-fire drum machine chatter into clouds of pillowy distortion. Howse’s Lay Hollow is one of the best: like the hazy rap instrumentals of fellow Tri Angle signee Clams Casino, its tracks pull off the seemingly contradictory trick of being simultaneously languid and adrenalising. It’s at its best on ‘Old Tea’, whose tumbling rhythms elicit a sense of freefall that evokes LTJ Bukem’s heady ambient jungle, but with the dancefloor violently subtracted from the equation, to be replaced with ominous swells of background ambience." Rory Gibb

49. Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury – Drokk

"It’s also a lovingly accomplished and slick restoration job. The aforementioned artists never sounded quite so crisp and visceral, but this isn’t entirely surprising when you consider that Drokk is the work of a professional film composer and the man behind Portishead. It demonstrates that in the right hands vintage synths can be a precise tool used to achieve very particular sounds, rather than being just another affected gimmick to be pursued half-arsed in the name of cloying indie fuckwittery." James Ubaghs

Read our review of Drokk here

48. Locrian/Mamiffer – Bless Them That Curse You

"There are a roll-call of bands such as Sunn O))), Barn Owl, Skullflower, Aethenor and Sylvester Anfang II who have successfully incorporated free-improvisation into the heavy, head nodding world of tightly structured extreme riffology. And you can add Chicagoan ambient noise/experimental black metal/dream sludge merchants Locrian and Faith Coloccia’s electronic neo classical project Mamiffer to that list on the strength of this collaboration. Recorded live at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios to capture the intensity of the onslaught as well the nuanced pairing of chiming, Takoma style, finger picked guitar lines with howling walls of feedback and reverberating percussion with abyssal Buchla-style Modular drones." John Doran writing for Metal Hammer magazine

47. Melvins Lite – Freak Puke

"It goes without saying there is a small amount of irony that comes hand in hand with the Melvins’ ‘new’ name which suggests that they have become a watered down version of the real thing now fit for mainstream consumption. Certainly the fact that Big Business drummer Coady and bassist Jared have stepped down in the studio in favour of Fantômas double bassist Trevor Dunn, means their sound has become, perhaps, less belligerent. But really the main move is one back toward the leftfield, incorporating elements of John Zorn style jazz metal fusion, the more freaked out bass playing of Primus’ Les Claypool and the unhinged prog pop of the Cardiacs, in with their unshakable feel for killer US rock riffs n’ rhythms." John Doran

46. Astra – The Black Chord

"If you like psychedelic drugs, you’ll love this." Toby Cook

45. Pharaoh Overlord – Lunar Jetman

"Circle and Pharaoh Overlord are becoming more and more alike one another. The purpose is that eventually they will become inseparable. We will lose the headline under which we operate." Jussi Lehtisalo

Read our interview with Circle/Pharaoh Overlord here

44. Death Grips – The Money Store

"Then there’s the genre game: mad-as-shit new classifications bandied about like a photogenic baby at a Tory Conference. It’s art-hop! No, it’s tech-beat! You’re both wrong, it’s psycho-rap (actually… that was us). Nay sir, it’s Anticon-punk, it’s Def Jux joins the army, it’s (my personal favourite) ‘post-rap’! Until… Pfft… Is it even rap music?! (See also every incensed hip-hop forum in existence). And indeed, if it isn’t rap, then it’s time to circle around, in a crazy hell-loop, back to square one and… What in God’s name is it? Well we’re gonna make it easy for everyone. Because in outlook, sensibility, and sonics, these godless Cali fucks, with their liquid, obliterated anomaly that has baffled half the Western internet… Well, they’re as Brit post-punk as Keith Levene at a raincoat convention." John Calvert

Read our review of The Money Store here

43. Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

"Though Lanegan baulks at the suggestion, he’s always been a soul singer in the widest definition of the phrase. His is a voice that tells the tales of horrors and things that should not have been seen, much less done, and has lived to come out of the other side wizened, if not entirely unscarred. Here it’s impossible to remain unmoved as he strains, “Baby, don’t it feel so bad?” though several layers of emotion and sinew on the hypnotic groove of ‘Bleeding Muddy Waters” gothic Americana." Julian Marszalek

Read our review of Blues Funeral here

42. John Talabot – ƒIN

"More than most modern producers tackling sound palettes associated with disco and early Chicago house, Talabot understands the tug of war between celebration and catharsis that made those musics so viscerally thrilling to listen to and dance to. At its best there’s a dark side to ƒIN, a slight melancholy buried beneath superficially quite airy and lighthearted music… Though Talabot is from Barcelona, this emotional and physical rawness aligns him more closely with current Stateside deep house experimentalists like Theo Parrish and Omar-S. "They didn’t care about clean sounds," he said of Parrish and his fellow Detroit house producers when I interviewed him last month. "They come with a philosophy behind it – to try to find an organic sound, a personal sound, a way to approach the soul." His music might sound quite different on the surface, but at times during ƒIN he could just as easily have been talking about himself." Rory Gibb

Read our review of ƒIN here

41. Bong – Mana Yood Sushai

"There was a time where Bong almost didn’t make sense unless you’d smoked so much weed that David Ike started to make sense, you were worried that your landlord was a shape-shifting lizard alien and you thought that pure love and a bong made out of a drain pipe could save the world – fucking hippy! – not least due to the fact that their ‘as live’ recordings, whilst by no means shoddy, had a condensed, raw earthiness to them. Recorded in a professional studio, here Bong’s tantric drone feels horizon-straddling and unfurls in eternally-resonating waves of slothful, relieving bliss." Toby Cook

Read our review of Mana Yood Sushai here

40. Mothlite – Dark Age

"Daniel O’Sullivan will be no stranger to regular readers of the Quietus, who’ll know him from collaborations with the likes of Stephen O’Malley and Alexander Tucker, who you’ll be able to find residing elsewhere in this list. While O’Sullivan’s collaborative projects are wanders on the borders of the avant-garde, Mothlite is defiantly pop in its bold ambition. Taking its cues from the chrome-in-the-wild-wood elegance of Tears For Fears and Talk Talk, The Dark Age is a startling, frank examination of the human (and perhaps especially male) condition delivered via synth bombast and towering choruses." Luke Turner

Read our interview with Daniel O’Sullivan here

39. The Pre-New – Music For People Who Hate Themselves

"If Earl Brutus in your mind’s eye was the Metropolitan Police Force’s rock band, then we wanted The Pre-New to be as if Foxtons The Estate Agents had formed a rock band." Jim Fry

Read our interview with The Pre-New here

38. White Hills – Frying On This Rock

"Where most bands struggle to come to terms with living in the real world following an intense bout of touring, White Hills simply head back into the studio to harness the power they’ve been generating over a concentrated period of time. Of course, there’s a danger to such a tactic. A dearth of ideas could simply lead to noise for the sake of it, or the worst kind of noodly jamming that would undoubtedly create a black hole as they disappeared up their own arseholes. Rest easy, heads – planets may be destroyed in White Hills’ sonic wake, but it won’t be down to them sucking." Julian Marszalek

Read our review of Frying On This Rock here

37. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

"I’ve made classic records, and going into making R.A.P. Music, I was determined to top the entire legacy of the Pledge series, and the fact that I won a Grammy, and the fact that I was associated with OutKast, and the fact that I’m a Dungeon Family member. I needed a piece of work to set me totally outside of the previous work I put in. That’s the mindset with each new album: I need to kill the last version of me." Killer Mike talks to Pitchfork about R.A.P. Music

36. Cannibal Corpse – Torture

"Meshuggah, Black Breath, Napalm Death, a new Billy Joel greatest hits and Cannibal Corpse, all in the same month!? You lot don’t know how lucky you are! There’s a special place in Hell (not the good kind, the kind that is like an episode of Supermarket Sweep that goes on for eternity and the only prize is Dale Winton giving you something nasty by way of a rusty spoon) reserved for people that constantly whinge: "Wahhhh, new Cannibal Corpse isn’t as good as old Cannibal Corpse!" – although if the last three or four albums haven’t convinced you, then Torture bloody well should." Toby Cook

Read our review of Torture here

35. Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Fetch

"Part of the album’s cunning is owed to the time allotted for disparate strands to develop and take form. Although there may be moments that feel as though the Trio could be flailing off uncontrollably, they seem to resolve themselves through an amenable musical dialectic. The ostensibly incongruent ideas and genres present in Fetch could have easily fallen apart in less adroit hands, yet there is an air of articulate conversation and commentary to these four improvisations – an experienced group of musicians speaking and listening to one another through their instruments." Ryan Alexander Diduck

Read our review of Fetch here

34. Man Forever – Pansophical Cataract

"The two tracks featured here, ‘Surface Patterns’ and ‘Ur Eternity’ are condensed from their full lengths into 18 minute pieces. ‘Surface Patterns’ sees Millions’ tattoo eventually submerged in a violent, unpleasant eddy of abstract noise before the toms eventually return. ‘Ur Eternity’, meawhile, features a nastier scratch of electronic noise hovering above the endless roll, like a Biblical plague where stampeding buffalo accompany a swarm of locusts toward your apocalypse. This is not listening for the faint eared: when, at 18:45 it ends with a click of stick on drum rim, the silence of The Void comes as blessed relief." Luke Turner

Read our review of Pansophical Cataract here

33. Killing Joke – MMXII

"This record should silence any remaining doubters. It is as if a giant magnifying glass has been held shakily over the key elements of the band’s time honoured sound, teasing them out of the delicious murk. A pounding hypnotic and all-encompassing wave of noise that crashes the senses. Yes, you can swim happily here and there lies the key. For all its doom-laden prophecies, this is music that gladdens the heart." Mick Middles

Read our review of MMXII here

32. Ital – Hive Mind

"I always feel like everything I do in a piece, I always try to keep it minimal, or keep it to things that are serving a purpose and worth exploring or elaborating on. The changes that you make should not just be arbitrary – ‘Now I need three more synthlines, just to make it sound big’ – but they’re related to something else, and have their own undertones that play out over the course of a track. That’s something I picked up doing improv stuff for sure. Even just listening to it – no-one wants to hear a procession of thirty ideas, that’s pretty much always going to sound like shit." Daniel Martin-McCormick

Read our interview with Ital here

31. Burial – Kindred

"Burial’s treatment of the human voice, premiered in full on second album Untrue, has a lot to answer for. In London at the moment, it feels as though you can’t travel more than a few metres without bumping into another producer using similar pitchshifted vocal inflections to far lesser effect (the law of diminishing returns ought to be a powerful deterrent, but somehow at this point the message just isn’t getting across). And it’s not as though he even invented the approach – as with so many producers working within the regions skirting UK garage and 2-step, its roots lie in the deft cut & paste collages of Marc Kinchen and Todd Edwards in the 90s. So why, when Kindred‘s opening title track flickers to life and those tiny slivers of human life immediately start to bob and weave in and out of frame, do Burial’s productions still elicit such a powerful emotional response, despite operating within such an ostensibly familiar idiom?" Rory Gibb

Read our review of Kindred here

30. Black Breath – Sentenced To Life

"Do you know what? There just aren’t enough bands like Black Breath. There aren’t enough bands that make albums that are so full of crusty-as-fuck riffage that its sole purpose seems to be to make you want to crack open a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and headbang like a hillbilly in seizures from necking poisoned moonshine – and this is supposed to be their ‘difficult second album’!" Toby Cook

Read our review of Sentenced To Life here

29. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

"Old Ideas excels in “brief elaboration”, arranging its generous instrumentation with eloquence and simplicity, reflecting the grace of the man himself. It veers between the Tom Waits bar footstep of ‘Amen’, which also has a strange slowed-down take on the pace of ‘I’m Your Man’, and the blue collar rock and organ-laden swirl in ‘Darkness’." Luke Turner

Read our review of Old Ideas here

28. Donato Dozzy & Neel – Voices From The Lake

"Sound travels differently underwater. Water’s higher density allows vibration to travel around five times faster than through air, reducing the time lag between the arrival of a sound at each ear, and making it more difficult to locate the direction of its origin. As a denser medium, it also changes attenuation across the frequency spectrum. Higher frequencies die away more quickly than in air, but low frequencies, with their longer wavelengths, can travel for miles with relatively little drop in intensity (the reason why whales communicate over long distances via subsonic and infrasonic song). All of which changes the way we perceive sound underwater: our auditory systems, having evolved over millions of years for optimal use in air, are ill-equipped to deal with these differences." Rory Gibb

Read our review of Voices From The Lake here

27. John Foxx & The Maths – The Shape Of Things

"Foxx continues to deliver the best vocal form of his life, sounding like some kind of android with human lungs. Often, they sound like incantations or digital plainsong. The musician as cyborg was of course a popular trope of the synthpop era, but thirty years on Foxx is arguably one of the few artists to pull it off without sounding dated. No retro tour knackers yard for this beast." Luke Turner

Read our review of The Shape Of Things here

26. Jam City – Classical Curves

"Classical Curves. The name puts me in mind of some Ballardian auto-erotic daydream, of polished chrome surfaces and spoilers streamlined for minimal resistance, of human design striving to mimic the efficiency and fluidity of nature, of bodies sliding smoothly across warm leatherette. But where Crash‘s protagonist was fixated on messy and organic unpredictabilities, Jack Latham’s debut album as Jam City deals in hard physics, mathematics and fixed angles." Rory Gibb

Read our review of Classical Curves here

25. Traxman – Da Mind of Traxman

"Sumptuous, grand, straight up soulful? This is footwork, Jim, but not as we know it."

Read our review of Da Mind Of Traxman here

24. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – Black Is Beautiful

"Blunt and Copeland’s work is like hearing rival stereos from adjacent apartments, thumping cars and treble-heavy earbuds, while finding our way within the labyrinthine metropolitan maze. Its erratic rhythmic and harmonic arrangements are akin to the upheaving asphalt that city folk walk on, through diversely inhabited neighbourhoods, over cobblestone streets, between graffitied walls of concrete and brick, around crumbling cloverleaf overpasses and into dead ends, above crooked rooftops, down diagonal fire escapes and spiral staircases, piloting the cleaved strata of competing and contested histories." Ryan Alexander Diduck

Read our review of Black Is Beautiful here

23. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

"This is easily the best metal album of the year… so far!" Toby Cook

Read our review of De Vermis Mysteriis here

22. Dope Body – Natural History

"There’s a lot of heroin in Baltimore. And when we would be done practising we would be completely worn out and dripping in sweat from playing so aggressively and we would look out of the practice room window at people strung out on heroin and say, ‘Man, I feel like that person looks right now.’ It became this joke… that we had dope bodies.” David Jacober

21. Alexander Tucker – Third Mouth

"Third Mouth is an inward journey. It’s not, as some have suggested, a folk album; it belongs to no tradition, and the lyrical references to place and nature are mostly imaginary and symbolic. The only landscape the songs reflect is that of the mind – a mind – and the only community a community of one. If it evokes a sense of mythology, then it’s strictly personal, rooted in Tucker’s own memories, associations and dreams." Ben Graham

Read our review of Third Mouth here

20. Sir Richard Bishop – Intermezzo

"In which the former Sun City Girl signs to Stephen O’Malley’s label Ideologic Organ, for a playful set of instrumentals that traverse the length and breadth of Bishop’s musical (and geographical) interests. Easily ranking among the best of his solo work, this follow-up to 2009’s Egyptian-leaning The Freak Of Araby is a reminder of his singular six-string prowess, journeying through heatsick ragas, moody folk forms, open tunings and subtle studio modification. On gorgeous two-minute long sketch ‘Reversionary Tactics’, Bishop counterbalances the forward drive of his pirouetting guitar figures by setting them above a backdrop of tape-reversed guitar, lending the piece a sense of blissful stasis. At the other end of the spectrum, the 14 minute ‘Inner Redoubt’ wilts, twists and distorts time, as though it’s been left out in the desert sun for too long. As ever, the sense of space and atmosphere Bishop is able to wring from minimal means – essentially solo guitar, with few overdubs – is stunning, and a reminder that drawing from across the globe for inspiration need not lead to simplistic imitation or paper-thin, novelty music for easy consumption. ‘Instantly we were entranced by his playing,’ says O’Malley of watching Bishop perform live, in the notes accompanying the release. ‘So many beautiful elements of why I love guitar come through in his music and presence, without floating around in genre space at all.’" Rory Gibb

19. Necessary – Galgeberg/Gimle

"I think the genres covered are basically everything that we’re interested in, which would include hip-hop, dub, goth, world music, drum & bass, ambient techno and industrial. I guess I should invent a catch-all term like Post-Dictatorial Troll-Hop, but I hope to still be making music in a year." Tony Wilson

Read our interview with Tony Wilson of Necessary here

18. Richard Skelton – Verse Of Birds

"For this release, the West coast of Ireland has supplied inspiration. Yet aside from a spray wash of cymbal in ‘Vearsa Ean’, he chooses to lead the mind and imagination rather than proscribe. Although Skelton explores the natural world with his music, he never falls into twee, pastoral evocation. Instead, this is a grapple with the sublime. So the high treble of ‘Promontory’ brings to mind slopes of scree and sharp rocks, around which a wild sea thrashes itself into foam. ‘Grey-Back (For Ceapaigh An Bhaile)’ meanwhile, uses strings to create a similar primeval eddy to what Tim Hecker achieves with organ and electronics. ‘A Kill’ has the feel of a swell rolling in from the Atlantic, still powerful days after the storm." Luke Turner

Read our review of Verse Of Birds here

17. JK Flesh – Posthuman

"Justin Broadrick’s vision for Post Human is a Britain of ‘alleys and shadows and cut-throats’, and the horror of this is exacerbated by the way that rock’s offer of hedonistic release keeps getting rescinded… Ultimately, this is a work possessed of ‘windows’, but none of them reveal anything uplifting. Such bleakness is Posthuman’s triumph." Joe Kennedy

Read our review of Posthuman here

16. Actress – R.I.P.

"If Splazsh and 2008 debut Hazyville were macro-level explorations of Detroit electro and techno and UK-rooted dance music, R.I.P. is more like electron microscopy. Here he’s delved so deep between the beats that they’re often difficult to discern clearly." Rory Gibb

Read our review of R.I.P. here

15. Chromatics – Kill For Love

"Chromatics’ new album Kill For Love, their second for the Italians Do It Better label, at first listen surrenders its pleasures readily, all nocturnal, cigarettes-and-tears gothisms stretched over 92 minutes, like a worry that you can’t shake. When I first heard the record, it initially earned far more time in the ears than Liars’ at-first perplexing WIXIW. Since then, that record has mutated into a dark Janus, while Kill For Love‘s sweet pop echo is a lighter soundtrack to 2012, a reminder that much beauty can be found in the artfully, and prettily, maudlin." Luke Turner

Read our live review of Chromatics here

14. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing

"In a weird sort of way the project that ended up happening with The Thing ended up feeling like my ultimate comfort zone. But what’s amazing about this project is that it had to be a collaboration to work. They’re such power house musicians, we didn’t really know what was going to happen when we got together, so it basically just took off. We recorded three songs – one take of each song… right? And we didn’t really know what we were going to do, but we’d spoken via email and we’d said that we were going to use other people’s music as a starting point, so we were definitely going to do versions. So choosing the right songs that were going to be definitive and not difficult to get a handle on was important. But I felt a bit like I had grown wings instantly [laughs], you know?" Neneh Cherry

Read our interview with Neneh Cherry here

13. Thomas Köner – Novaya Zemlya

"Like the remote Russian archipelago from which it takes its name, from a safe distance Thomas Köner’s Novaya Zemlya is beautiful and barren, its frozen wastes and jagged terrain seemingly populated by little other than snow, whipping wind and the rhythmic breaking of waves." Rory Gibb

Read our review of Novaya Zemlya here

12. Shackleton – Music for the Quiet Hour/The Drawbar Organ EPs

"So these latest recordings bring to mind Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and Jhonn Balance’s work as Coil. They’ve started to bring all of the above traits, which were heightened to skin-prickling, erotic intensity in the best of Coil’s music, to the table. Pockmarked with chimes and the striking of various instruments meant to aid meditation – calls to secular prayer and contemplation – they ripple through the body via sub-bass, forcing physical submission and locking body rhythms directly to the surrounding earth and air. Far from the toxic lure of the church organ, this subtle, very British mysticism feels instead part of a far deeper and longer push to reclaim notions of spirituality back from organised religion, and ground them in earthly, bodily, biological reality. And in a modern world designed especially to part self from body, reinforcing the Cartesian duality in the service of hyper-capitalism and impulse control, who better than Sam Shackleton to take up that quest?" Rory Gibb

Read our review of Music For The Quiet Hour/The Drawbar Organ EPs here

11. Forward Strategy Group – Labour Division

"Indeed, while Forward Strategy Group has cooked up a serious racket imbued with poise and balance, undoubtedly aimed at serious techno folk – elemental beats for discerning lifers – there is enough chilly industrial atmosphere, decadent night funk and mutant swing on display to see that Labour Division will escape the dank, airless basement it must surely have sprung from." Harry Sword

Read our review of Labour Division here

10. Gravenhurst – The Ghost In Daylight

"We really should be thankful that we have people like Talbot still plugging away, honing their peculiar craft with artistic and moral compass still intact. Even if this may at times make them feel like one of the musicians on the deck of the Titanic solemnly performing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’, knee deep in icy water." John Doran

Read our review of The Ghost In Daylight here

9. Kassem Mosse & Mix Mup – MM/KM

"So the overall impression here is of two producers unafraid to toy with their listeners, especially those used to house music whose beats land with near-metronomic precision. Wendel and Mix Mup are clearly highly skilled at taming the unpredictabilities and more turbulent tendencies of their equipment – much as the prevailing wisdom states that the use of analogue gear makes it easy to get a looser and more ‘human’ sound, it takes a dab hand to make tracks this abrasive so infectiously groovy." Rory Gibb

Read our review of MM/KM here

8. UFOmammut – ORO: Opus Primum

"There’s a classic episode of The Simpsons in which Homer, after having lambasted every single entry in Springfield’s annual chili cook-off, samples several of Chief Wiggum’s ‘Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango’ and, as a result, proceeds to embark upon the most densely cosmic and hallucinatory journey imaginable. After encountering a giant snake, a psychedelic butterfly and accidentally breaking the sun, Homer’s trip culminates in a deeply spiritual encounter with a space coyote who leads him to question the very foundations of his own existence. Now, in your minds, if you can replace the image of a space coyote with that of three imposing stoners with long hair and massive beards, you should be left with the visual equivalent to an ungodly slab of psychedelic doom metal that goes by the name of Opus Primum." Jack Pudwell

Read our review of Opus Primum here

7. Laurel Halo – Quarantine

"Remember when the utopian images of the digital world projected by corporate interests seemed almost convincing? When swifter net access was heralded by the friendly AOL lady, whose taut frame would lead the children by the hand into the computer room, where they’d be dazzled by the delights that lay within the little white box? Where terms like ‘surfing the net’ and ‘information superhighway’ were still thrown around naively, suggesting it was perfectly plausible just to get your feet wet while glibly sliding across the surface of the data sea – without fear of getting snagged on seaweed, eviscerated by a shark or simply plunging headlong into its murky depths? Laurel Halo does. Her music to date has addressed these beautiful notions of unlimited learning, no-strings online fun and freedom of communication. But it’s placed them in the context of their darker flipsides, which have become particularly apparent since the advent of social networking." Rory Gibb

Read our review of Quarantine here

6. KTL – V

"V cements KTL as more than just a side-project of two of modern underground music’s most celebrated figures, crystallising their vision and expanding it beyond everything that they – and other drone artists operating in the same field – have done before. It retains their sinister stamp, but takes the fear into new realms, like demons breaking out of the ground into muted sunlight." Joseph Burnett

Read our review of V here

5. Vatican Shadow – Kneel Before Religious Icons

"Vatican Shadow’s music is relentless and repetitive, haunting in the sense that it gets under your skin and lingers, but without a tangible hook or melody to focus on. Even at its harshest, the music on Kneel Before Religious Icons feels elusive, its synth patterns and oblique sound effects or samples buried under a layer of haze, as if being broadcast from an isolated radio in the desert." Joseph Burnett

Read our review of Kneel Before Religious Icons here

4. The Congos, Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras – Icon Give Thank

"Well, to be honest, Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras’ music is a new experience and a new vibe for me but music is still the one way. It is universal. If someone introduces you to something new and it’s not going to hurt you, go along with it and see how far you can go." Cedric Myton

Read our interview with The Congos here

3. Liars – WIXIW

"[A] leap of faith and new range of instrumentation and writing techniques has created an album where vocal washes sit on top of skittish electronic beats, such as on opening track ‘The Exact Colour Of Doubt’. The resulting sound invites comparisons with Radiohead, with whom the band toured and who similarly attempt to constantly push themselves forward. Yet for whatever reason Radiohead have become so insufferably dour and pompous that, aside from the increasingly anaemic wheedle of Thom Yorke’s vocal, they sound joylessly inhuman. Liars, however, can never help but allow that rambunctious humanity shine through. You can hear that in the way that ‘Number One Against The Rush’ ends by seeming to trip over itself in a hurry to announce the jolly, Beck-ish clatter of ‘A Ring On Every Finger’, which in turn gives way to ‘Ill Valley Prodigies” eerie field recordings of cawing carrion birds, the Brocken Witches of They Were Wrong…. reimagined as LA valley girls. ‘Brats’, meanwhile, is a juddering drunk punk masterpiece." Luke Turner

Read our review of WIXIW here


"Of course I was really surprised, because I’d never in my wildest imagination thought that Vince might contact me and think we’d do a project together. So when I received that email it was a total shock. Once I’d got over that, it seemed like a really good idea because apart from the fact that it was nice to be doing something with Vince again after 30 years, I’ve been into techno music for a long time now." Martin Gore

Read our interview with Vince Clark and Martin Gore here

1. Carter Tutti Void – Transverse

"The four ten minute long pieces that were performed at the small space at the Roundhouse Theatre – known simply as ‘V1’ – ‘V4’ – were written and practiced at Carter and Tutti’s converted schoolhouse home/studio in Norfolk and then performed live on the night with all three members using electronics and Tutti and Void playing guitars. (Void also provided vocals that she manipulated with effects.) The way the trio faced the audience under minimal, unchanging white lights, heads down over tables of equipment was not combative but at the same time it didn’t even pay lip service to notions of showmanship or stagecraft. Yet had this tiny space been stage managed by Industrial Light & Magic the intensity of the performance could not have been any greater. (In fact, more to the point, the intensity would probably have been lessened.)" John Doran

Read our review of Transverse here

  1. Carter Tutti Void – Transverse
  1. VCMG – SSSS
  1. Liars – WIXIW
  1. The Congos, Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras – Icon Give Thank
  1. Vatican Shadow – Kneel Before Religious Icons
  1. KTL – V
  1. Laurel Halo – Quarantine
  1. UFOmammut – ORO: Opus Primum
  1. Kassem Mosse & Mix Mup – MM/KM
  1. Gravenhurst – The Ghost In Daylight
  1. Forward Strategy Group – Labour Division
  1. Shackleton – Music for the Quiet Hour/The Drawbar Organ EPs
  1. Thomas Köner – Novaya Zemlya
  1. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing
  1. Chromatics – Kill For Love
  1. Actress – R.I.P.
  1. JK Flesh – Posthuman
  1. Richard Skelton – Verse Of Birds
  1. Necessary – Galgeberg/Gimle
  1. Richard Bishop – Intermezzo
  1. Alexander Tucker – Third Mouth
  1. Dope Body – Natural History
  1. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
  1. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – Black Is Beautiful
  1. Traxman – Da Mind of Traxman
  1. Jam City – Classical Curves
  1. John Foxx & The Maths – The Shape Of Things To Come
  1. Donato Dozzy & Neel – Voices From The Lake
  1. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
  1. Black Breath – Sentenced To Life
  1. Burial – Kindred
  1. Ital – Hive Mind
  1. Killing Joke – MMXII
  1. Man Forever – Pansophical Cataract
  1. Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Fetch
  1. Cannibal Corpse – Torture
  1. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
  1. White Hills – Frying On This Rock
  1. The Pre-New – Music For People Who Hate Themselves
  1. Mothlite – Dark Age
  1. Bong – Manna Yood Sushai
  1. John Talabot – ƒIN
  1. Mark Lanegan – Blues Funeral
  1. Death Grips – Money Show
  1. Pharaoh Overlord – Lunar Jetman
  1. Astra – The Black Chord
  1. Melvins Lite – Freak Puke
  1. Locrian/Mamiffer – Bless Them That Curse You
  1. Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury – Drokk
  1. Howse – Lay Hollow

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