The Best Albums Of 2017 Thus Far – And A Quietus Appeal For Help

In association with Norman Records we've turned our ears molten with listening and put together a list of the 100 best records released in the first six months of 2017. While we're at it, we've also got an appeal to you to help us continue doing what we do

Earlier this year, we ran an article explaining that a sudden, marked decline in advertising revenue meant that we needed to ask you, our loyal readers, for help. A thousand times thank you to those who did donate to the site – your money has helped us get through one of the most difficult periods of The Quietus’ nine-and-a-half-year life. The big brands who accounted for the majority of our ad revenue are putting nearly all of their money – as much as 80% according to some reports – into platforms like Facebook, Google, Snapchat and so on. In this climate, small publishers like The Quietus are being squeezed out of existence. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising from big brands is down around 90%, a figure that puts the website’s continued survival into question. The new algorithms that decide where advertising revenue goes don’t respect quality, but quantity.

We want to be able to continue bringing you music by the huge breadth of artists that you can see represented on our 2017 half year list, or the year end for 2016, and so on. We’re not going to follow trends, or change what we do in an attempt to chase the dwindling ad budgets that there are – what point would there be in carrying on if we did?

For most if not all of the artists on the list below times are incredibly tough, in part because it’s so hard to get their voices heard above the cacophony. With more music being released than ever before but the number of press outlets shrinking, to put your music in front of an audience is increasingly difficult. Our key motivation running this website is to do that, because we know it works: an artist on one of our end of month best of lists who operates with no label support told me he’d sold copies within minutes of the review going online. As well as the squeeze from the corporate monoliths like Facebook, most of the labels who released the records below are so screwed by illegal music consumption and streaming that they have zero budget to spend on advertising them.

We’re constantly trying to think of new ways to generate revenue, but with a website that’s creaking and ancient this is tough to do. That’s why we’re renewing our appeal to you for a virtual subscription, as it were, that will enable us to continue and make it to ten years of The Quietus. You can donate via PayPal in a one-off chunk, or make a regular donation each month. Do both here.

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We only need a small fraction of our regular readership to regularly donate the price of a pint (not Wetherspoons, more high street premium) or an old print mag cover price in order to make The Quietus a going concern beyond our first decade.

The sole reason John, Christian, Anna, Paddy and myself do The Quietus is to share our love of music, to try and celebrate those artists who simply do not get covered in many other mass audience publications. We won’t give up trying to do what we can to bring that music to you but now, more than ever, we need your help.

We hope you enjoy the list below. We say it every year and once again it’s true – this year is shaping up to be one of the best for music since we pressed go on the site somewhere in the middle of 2008. Let’s celebrate it together. – Luke Turner, 3rd July 2017.

This chart was voted for by Patrick Clarke, John Doran Christian Eede and Luke Turner, with some suggestions made by Bobby Barry and Mat Colegate. It was compiled by John Doran with essential assistance from Kathryn de la Rosa and Veronica Irwin

100. Stromboli – Volume Uno
(Maple Death Records)

"No pussyfooting around here for Italian tape master Stromboli as he uses his Revox A77 to conjure up a crepuscular mix of Industrial hiss, ambient techno and gently unfurling, Krautrock influenced synth noise."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

99. Black Cilice – Banished From Time
(Iron Bonehead)

“If you’ve always been intrigued by the concept of lo-fi black metal but have struggled to get into it previously, this could be a decent entry point. It’s nearly as raw and minimal as the classics, but with the kind of washed out, melodic pulse and wistful vocals that could definitely catch the ears of those who prefer old Spacemen 3 demos to, say, Ildjarn – the end of ‘Channelling Forgotten Elegies’ almost drops into a motorik groove before settling back into a brash Bathory stomp, for example, and ‘Boiling Corpses’ skips along with a post-punk-ish feel (well, amidst flurries of evil, frostbitten tremolo, of course). A gripping listen, both for black metal connoisseurs and lovers of strangely textured avant-garde music in general.”
Kez Whelan

Read our review of Banished from Time here

98. Dutch Uncles – Big Balloon
(Memphis Industries)

"Few records surge into focus with the immediacy or intent of Dutch Uncles’ latest. An emphatic, bass-driven prog-pop gem, the title track and ultra-confident lead single from their fifth studio album Big Balloon doubles up as a concise blueprint of Greater Manchester’s finest shoulder-padded foursome’s continued upward trajectory.”
Brian Coney

Read our review of Big Balloon here

Buy from Norman Records

97. Uniform – Wake In Fright
(Sacred Bones)

Wake In Fright is an extremely – even joyfully – bleak record, dealing with the lobotomised gloom of addiction, caustic ennui and existential grind. It’s concerned, says Berdan in the record’s PR, with ‘psychic transition… This is what happens when old ways of thinking become exhausted and old ways of coping prove ineffective. Something must change or it will break.’ Concept and craft align in unbroken symbiosis.”
Tom Howells

Read our review of Wake In Fright here

Buy from Norman Records

96. Sly & The Family Drone + Dead Neanderthals – Molar Wrench

"A meeting of two of music’s most maniacal minds – the punishing noise of Sly & The Family Drone and the anchorless free jazz of Dead Neanderthals – Molar Wrench is every bit as cataclysmic, cacophonic, and utterly, mind-bendingly brilliant as that combination reads."
Patrick Clarke

Buy from Norman Records

95. Roger Robinson – Dog Heart City

“Dub music plays with the sense of authorship. Listening to old Tubby/ Lee Perry/ Prince Far I, it’s undoubtedly human music but the identity in it is scattered because of the production tech…Similarly – dub poetry is made by one person but scatters identity – it’s a poet opening up other voices”
Neil Kulkarni

Read our interview with Roger Robinson here

Buy from Norman Records

94. Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages Vol. 2

“A ‘Thankful Village’ is a village in Britain where every soldier returned alive from World War I and Darren Hayman visited each of the 54 Thankful Villages to develop his latest project making a piece of music and a short film for everyone. ‘Some take the form of instrumentals inspired by the location, some are interviews with village residents set to music, others are new songs with lyrics or found local traditional songs.’ "
Darren Hayman & Christian Eede

Buy from Norman Records

93. Akatombo – Short Fuse

“It’s an album of multiple, oblique atmospheres, visual in its muffled evocations – Kirk is also a filmmaker – its layers of samples and field recordings undergirded by grinding, pneumatic beats and broadsides of carefully calibrated noise.”
David Stubbs

<a href="” target="out">Read our interview with Akatombo’s Paul Kirk here

Buy from Norman Records

92. SZA – Ctrl
(Top Dawg)

Ctrl offers up a candid, confident airing of insecurities; be that via the prism of relationships – flings, affairs as the other woman, and longer-term romances – or the prism of her own self-esteem.”
Tara Joshi

Read our review of Ctrl here

91. Moor x Jewelry – Crime Waves
(Don Giovanni)

"Crime Waves is a collaboration between Philadelphian producers Moor Mother and Mental Jewelry, which drags a heavy industrial dub, lo-fi rap aesthetic all the way to Bristol and back."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

90. Emptyset – Borders
(Thrill Jockey)

Borders re-examines and reboots the duo’s sound, taking an entirely different approach, swapping out their clean digital source material for a pair of rugged and simplistic self-built instruments.”
Tristan Bath

<a href="” target="out">Read our interview with Emptyset here

Buy from Norman Records

89. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Murder Of The Universe

"The kind of hectic, ridiculous, riff heavy, life-improving righteousness about a balrog, an "altered beast" and a cyborg who dreams of being able to vomit that could only come from an Australian psych prog group with dilated pupils, banks of vintage equipment and multiple narrators."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

88. The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time Stage Two
(History Always Favours The Winners)

“Tracking not just a mind succumbing to dementia through all of its stages, as if in real time but the entire project itself dissolving through forgetfulness, into chaos and then nothingness.”
John Doran

Read our interview with Leyland Kirby here

Buy from Norman Records

87. Blanck Mass – World Eater
(Sacred Bones)

“As its title and cover image of a snarling canine mouth implies, World Eater is a timely and prescient album, which was inspired by the social and political turbulence of recent times…the album is something of a comment on the genetic hangover that many humans have, particularly those in power, of being predatory and territorial.”
Eamon Sweeney

Read our interview with Blanck Mass’ Benjamin Power here

Buy from Norman Records

86. Here Lies Man – Here Lies Man

“On self-titled debut Here Lies Man, Garcia amps up the fuzz with a record that evokes the heat haze, weed blasted LA stoner rock slipstream, basing it not just around monolithic riffery but, crucially, the ‘clave’ rhythmic theory that underpins so much Afrobeat, Cuban jazz and Salsa – and arriving at a truly cooking conclusion.”
Harry Sword

Read our interview with Here Lies Man here

Buy from Norman Records

85. Karen Gwyer – Rembo
(Don’t Be Afraid)

“A number of the album’s tracks have come about from gradual evolution across various live shows. ‘What I’m doing is trying to challenge a certain way of thinking,’ she adds. ‘I feel like, without it being said, I get treated as a warm up act for DJs. And I also feel like when I go and play, I want to disprove that notion. I’m standing there for an hour, and I don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. I have a loose idea, but I’m definitely working the crowd. I’d like people to shift their thinking in regards to what producers are doing, and to acknowledge the fact that there’s a lot of decision making happening on a second-by-second basis, and a lot of it is improvisational."
Karen Gwyer

Read our interview with Karen Gwyer here

Buy from Norman Records

84. Pharmakon – Contact
(Sacred Bones)

“Each sonic world that Chardiet creates is intense, emotionally exhausting, and – quite frankly – terrifying…With Contact, there’s a sense that she’s starting to become more at peace with how our physical form can fail us. The artwork’s depiction of Chardiet’s covered mouth naturally leads to thinking about bodily and intellectual autonomy – and to whom society affords that luxury.”
Aurora Mitchell

Read our review of Contact here

Buy from Norman Records

83. Roe Enney – Glare
(Root Strata)

"Her first album in six years, on Glare, Roe Enney’s combination of bass guitar, drum machines and her own mercurial vocals offer a searing, contemporary take on the synth-led coldwave sounds that dominated the 1980s."
Christian Eede

Buy from Norman Records

82. Gravetemple – Impassable Fears

“The aim is to break boundaries and to find new horizons via the challenging of our own concepts of existence via the channels of musical trance. To me, it is like a contemporary way of Shamanism,”
Attila Csihar

Read our review of Impassible Fears here

Buy from Norman Records

81. Harriet Brown – Contact
(Innovation Leisure)

"This ear-boggling mix of NPG-era Prince, Humanoid, Scritti Politti, Breakwater and Harold Faltermeyer is as fresh as merry hell and as mad as a box of frogs."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

80. Daniel O’Sullivan – Veld
(O Genesis)

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

Read our review of Veld here

Buy from Norman Records

79. Young Thug – Beautiful Thugger Girls
(300 Entertainment)

"Described by Young Thug himself as his "singing album", Beautiful Thugger Girls sees Thugger continue to throw his idiosyncrasies at the pop/hip hop combination that he’s been experimenting with, with varying results, across numerous mixtapes and singles in recent years."
Christian Eede

78. Umfang – Symbolic Use Of Light
(Ninja Tune)

Symbolic Use of Light marks a significant step forward for Discwoman co-founder Emma Olson – more commonly known as Umfang, whose trajectory is undoubtedly an exciting and encouraging sign – not just for Olson and her cohorts, but inevitably also for promoting inclusivity and equality within certain areas of dance music.”
Mollie Zhang

Read our interview with Umfang here

Buy from Norman Records

77. Ex Continent – La Perspectiva Racional
(Arnau Sala Saez)

"Arnau Sala’s first full release as Ex Continent, La Perspectiva Racional channels the dub techno, ambient-infused experimentations of producers connected to labels such as Scape and Chain Reaction, while offering more glimpses at more glitchy tendencies elsewhere, recalling the excellent collaborative works of Mark Fell and Gábor Lázár released last year."
Christian Eede

76. UnicaZürn – Transpandorem

“Once again, Unicazürn’s strange synthesis is rendered through august audio design to take its listener on a transformational journey. Yet, on Transpandorem, the fanciful impact of this function is secondary to the sheer marvel of their large-scale sound forms.”
Russell Cuzner

Read our review of Transpandorem here

Buy from Norman Records

75. Sleaford Mods – English Tapas
(Rough Trade)

“There’s a strange sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ bubbling just under the language of self-destructive hedonism through which Williamson largely communicates. It’s a pragmatic acknowledgement that we live on an island full of fuck-ups, leaning on our addictions in the face of a future that looks like a "flag pissed on in a full-sized bag of quavers" (‘Carlton Touts’).”
Josh Gray

Read our review of English Tapas here

Buy from Norman Records

74. L.Pierre – 1948-

“The record ends with a locked groove, which Moffat says adds "another wee element of interaction – the album won’t stop until the listener decides it should (which also works as an analogy for the resilience of vinyl in our digital age). And because the death of the album is proclaimed every few months these days, I wanted it to sound like a sort of ironic requiem. The title’s an unfinished tombstone with no date of death: 1948 – ."
Aidan Moffat

Buy from Norman Records

73. Basic Rhythm – The Basics

"A clutch of muscular and minimalist rave and grime inspired techno tracks that are as raw as they are future-facing."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

72. Alt-J – Relaxer

“The bods at tQ liked – nay loved – lead single, ‘3WW’, from their splendid new album, Relaxer. To be fair, it is an incredibly ambitious track; part-folk, part-hymnal lullaby and compellingly hypnotic.”
John Freeman

<a href="” target="out">Read our interview with Alt-J here

Buy from Norman Records

71. The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert
(Ninja Tune)

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

Read our interview with The Bug vs Earth here

Buy from Norman Records

70. The Charlatans – Different Days

“Perhaps the confidence writ throughout comes from the band being pushed by the presence of an impressive array of guests, from Paul Weller to Johnny Marr, Nik Void of Factory Floor, New Order and even the writer Ian Rankin, who contributed a spoken word passage to ‘Future Tense’. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear a band decades into their career continuing to make some of their boldest, finest work.”
Luke Turner

Read our review of Different Days here

Buy from Norman Records

69. Bargou 08 – Targ

“Rarely documented, the musical traditions of the Tunisian mountain highlands has been given an electronic makeover by Bargou 08, whose reworking of a selection of folk songs allows ancient music to be heard by the outside world for the first time, like never before.”
Richie Troughton

68. D Glare – 4 Oscillators & 130 Samples At 130bpm
(Opal Tapes)

“In other words, 4 Oscillators is ripe with elemental, insatiable drama. But drama is all too often mistaken for conflict and this album is far too confrontational to be confined to the album format alone. Its duration, which clocks in at 120min, is double the length of a standard attention-friendly long player. Instead, it suggests a more elaborate, permanent staging.”
Ilia Rogatchevski

Read our review of 130 Samples at 130 BPM here

Buy from Norman Records

67. Vieux Farka Touré – Samba
(Six Degrees)

“The live setting suits Touré’s guitar playing as his mastery of the instrument unlocks hidden musical sequences. In live performances Touré induces a trance-like effect on audiences, and there is space on the tracks here to unravel intricate tapestries of sound. While the energy of the live show is captured, this is clearly a studio album, with no audience applause from the onlookers (although whether or not they were able to sit still in their seats has not been disclosed).”
Richie Troughton

Read our review of Samba here

66. Bill Converse – The Shape Of Things To Come
(Dark Entries)

“Hailing from Austin, Texas, Converse immersed himself in the early days of the 90s midwest rave scene, having begun DJing at a young age in Lansing, Michigan, with his analogue-driven sound taking in acid, techno, noise and tape experimentations.”
Christian Eede

Read our review of The Shape Of Things To Come here

65. Hey Colossus – The Guillotine

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

Read our review of The Guillotine here

Buy from Norman Records

64. Konrad Spenger – Stack Music

"Across four pieces of various lengths, Konrad Spenger explores noise, baroque-infused minimalism, musique concrète and even veers somewhat closely to the soundtracks of old Nintendo video games, adding another timeless chapter to PAN’s flawless back catalogue."
Christian Eede

Buy from Norman Records

63. Peverelist – Tessellations
(Livity Sounds)

"Peverelist has undergone a series of reinventions over the last two decades whilst always remaining a forerunner in the bass music scene of Bristol and beyond, starting out as a jungle DJ in the 1990s, producing some of the finest quality dubstep into the next decade and now co-running a label synonymous with the UK techno scene of the city he calls home. On Tesselations, the producer pushes at the edges of what has come to be expected from Livity Sound with a series of darkly atmospheric cuts that offer something to the home listener as well as the clubber."
Christian Eede

Buy from Norman Records

62. Vom – Initiation

“This new tape Initiation is on another level: a completely implausible midpoint between death rock and free improv. The former element is apparent in the relentless drums and rigid-yet-groovy basslines; the latter derives from Ewen McCulloch’s guitar, which sounds like the piercing, feedbacky bits from the bridges of, say, Bauhaus or Banshees records, except stretched over a whole album."
Noel Gardner

Read our review of Initiation here

Buy from Norman Records

61. Saagara – 2
(Instant Classic)

“Zimpel said that the ‘main aim for this album was to create a bridge between Indian sounds and Western music logic in order to go against some popular trends,’ adding that ‘Saagara’s first record was a deep dive into Karnatic tradition but I had to admit to myself that I am by no means a classical Indian musician. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to steer the band to the West but avoiding popular world music clichés.’”
Waclaw Zimpel

60. Harriet Tubman – Araminta

Araminta, the latest album from the power trio Harriet Tubman, begins with an electric bass striding through thick cosmic slop, while tritium beams of guitar intersect with diamond sharp trumpet angles…But this is no retro fusion exercise: guitar Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis imagine a contemporary free music that absorbs dub, hardcore, avant-rock, electronic music and visual scores."
Stewart Smith

Read our review of Araminta here

59. Aquaserge – Laisse ça être
(Almost Musique)

“An album that’s miraculously uncluttered and fleet of foot, but which still finds room for exquisitely melancholy progressions, sudden left-turns and pataphysical humour.”
David McKenna

Read our review of Laisse ça être here

58. Nídia – Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida

"Translating to English as ‘Nídia is bad, Nídia is fucked up’, the album offers a no-holds-barred distillation of the riotous energy that has punctuated all of her music and DJ sets over the last couple of years. Lead track ‘Sinistro’ is a smoky sub-100BPM collision of percussion, as adept at getting a dancefloor moving as any speedier Príncipe cut."
Christian Eede

Click here to buy from Norman Records

57. Overlook – Smoke Signals

"Sitting somewhat closely to the techstep sound pushed by labels like No U-Turn and Tech Itch in the 1990s, the drums across Smoke Signals pack a mighty punch, with the atmospheres conjured by the producer across the record offering enough distinction to ensure that the record’s tracks offer enough variety while all mostly serving the same primary function: to be played loud on soundsystems. A sure highlight amongst the glut of excellent drum and bass around at the moment pushing the genre into deeper and darker corners."
Christian Eede

56. Temple ov BBV – Temple ov BBV

“A brilliant tribute to Bart Huges, the scientist and psychedelic pioneer who drilled into his own skull in order to achieve enhanced mental power and a permanent high. Sonically, the record feels not dissimilar as an experience – a dentist’s drill of nausea, noise and utter brilliance, straight to the brain."
Patrick Clarke

Read our review of Temple ov BBV here

Buy from Norman Records

55. Part Chimp – IV
(Rock Action)

“There have been biblical aural meltdowns, scouring rages and hoarse squalls – and IV proves, if proving was needed, that Part Chimp are masters of us all.”
Brendan Telford

Read our review of IV here

Buy from Norman Records

54. WaqWaq Kingdom – Shinsekai

Shinsekai is the work of three fevered and inventive minds, who have cooked up, perfected and put a lid on their own genre of trimba psych reggae in a 35-minute explosion of dayglo invention that sings with the freedom of creativity.”
Ben Cardew

Read our review of Shinsekai here

Buy from Norman Records

53. Al Namrood – Enkar
(Shaytan Productions)

“Al Namrood, whose utterly uncompromising and utterly brilliant new album Enkar was released in May, are [Saudi Arabia’s] only black metal band, one of the most intense musical forces in the world, let alone the Middle East, but must remain anonymous for their own safety. Their music takes a fearless stance against the country’s authoritarian regime, and were they to be identified they would be stoned to death or beheaded for apostasy”
Patrick Clarke

<a href="” target="out">Read our feature on metal in the Middle East, including an interview with Al Namrood, here

52. Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
(Ecstatic Peace)

Buy from Norman Records

“The songs on Rock N’ Roll Consciousness ponder more universal themes rather than the current political topics. They are songs I want to have and play forever. ‘Cusp’, for example, is about springtime. That moment when you are so close to something you can feel it, but there is still the joy of experiencing it reveal itself, the blossoming.”
Thurston Moore

Read our interview with Thurston Moore here

51. Cloudface – VARIATIONS
(Opal Tapes)

“The pieces contained within the record appear to be born of improvisational processes carried out by the producer as he goes to work on the Korg Mono/Poly’s arpeggiator controls, resulting in sounds that are simultaneously deeply off-kilter while also sounding like the perfect flotation tank soundtrack.”
Christian Eede

Read our review of VARIATIONS here

50. Ricardo Villalobos – Empirical House

"Consisting of four tracks, Ricardo Villalobos is on expansive, free-flowing form as ever on Empirical House, each meandering, unpredictable minute pushing the listener further down the rabbit hole. On the record, his first LP release in five years, Villalobos pulls together his ear for crafting infectious club grooves and experimenting with just what he can get away with, improvisation remaining key to his success and no doubt helped by work on alternative collaborative projects with the likes of Max Loderbauer among others."
Christian Eede

49. Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory

“An envelope-pushing solo album”
Cian Traynor

Read a list of Colin Stetson’s favorite LP’s here

Buy from Norman Records

48. Aaron Dilloway – The Gag File

"Aaron Dilloway produces a lot of music, combining various solo outings often released without fanfare as well as collaborations with numerous other noseniks such as Jason Lescalleet, Andrew Coltrane and Robert Turman. The Gag File, though, is his best record in some years, his tape loops sounding equal parts hypnotising and terrifying."
Christian Eede

Buy from Norman Records

47. Simon Fisher Turner – Giraffe
(Editions Mego)

"As ever with Turner’s work there’s a sense of an outsider to the sound art canon throwing himself in with a boyish enthusiasm and gusto – when he sticks his neck out, as here on Giraffe, it’s impossible not to be charmed."
Luke Turner

Read our review of Giraffe here

Buy from Norman Records

46. Benedict Drew – Crawling Through Tory Slime

“The record, across its 45-minute runtime, moves from almost psych-influenced synth landscapes to more uncomfortable fare that at times distantly calls to mind the muffled cadence of dub techno.”
Christian Eede

Read our review of Crawling Through Tory Slime here

Buy from Norman Records

45. Khotin – New Tab

"New Tab unfolds serenely, its glowing textures sitting somewhere between Brian Eno’s loop-driven ambient and Jon Hassell’s fourth world take on the genre, and the gorgeous, otherwordly techno of early Warp output such as the Artificial Intelligence series."
Christian Eede

44. Shinichi Atobe – From The Heart, It’s A Start, Work Of Art

“In parts, the record serves as a snapshot of a particularly important time in techno, when the Chain Reaction label was still active, while also delving into Atobe’s present motivations and processes as a still active producer.”
Christian Eede

Read our review of From The Heart… here

Buy from Norman Records

43. Rose Dougall – Stellular

“Lush, hook-laden four-minute pop with touches of Destroyer’s gloriously louche Kaputt.”
The Quietus

Read our interview with Rose Dougall here

Buy from Norman Records

42. No UFO’s – NU LP For RS
(Root Strata)

"Folllowing up his 2010 debut LP released via Spectrum Spools, producer Konrad Jandavs finds a new home at Root Strata for the impersonally titled NU LP For RS. Produced using tape machines and an array of rare synthesisers, the record reveals some elements of tranquility, but only very rarely amongst the doom-ridden drones generated by his tools."
Christian Eede

Click here to buy from Norman Records

41. Smagghe & Cross – MA
(Offen Music)

MA, the first collaborative release between Ivan Smagghe and composer Rupert Cross, melds new age with the balearic, frequently calling to mind the polyrhythms of Don’t DJ.”
Christian Eede

Read our review of February’s Electronic Music here

Buy from Norman Records

40. Powertrip – Nightmare Logic
(Southern Lord)

“Power Trip, unwittingly, have soundtracked our anger, confusion and desperation in 32 minutes of tormenting thrash metal.”
Louise Brown

Read our review of Nightmare Logic here

39. Brian Eno – Reflection

Buy from Norman Records

Reflection is a continuous 54 minutes of ambient music at its best: an inviting, yet provocative space to do exactly that which the title demands.”
Andrew Lindsay-Diaz

Read our review of Reflection here

38. MXLX – Kicking Away At The Decrepit Walls Til The Beautiful Sunshine Blisters Thru The Cracks

“Matt Loveridge is one of the finest artists working in the criminally-undernourished but verdant British leftfield at the moment and this might well be his best work to date.”
Luke Turner

Read our review of Kicking Away… here

Click here to buy from Norman Records

37. Wire – Silver/Lead
(Pink Flag)

“For a band whose extant trajectory is precisely posited by their PR as “uniquely addictive,” Silver/Lead is an exhibition in restraint whose brilliant corners and burrowing phrases reward both the keen ear and repeated listen.”
Brian Coney

Read our review of Silver/Lead here

Buy from Norman Records

36. Ibibio Sound Machine – Uyai

“The message is all positive. It continues from our previous album by using storytelling, African highlife and a whole load of other musical influences mixed together. Empowering women is a key theme hence the name of the album, Uyai, which means ‘beauty’. In the Ibibio language, this also relates to nature and the beauty of making music.”
Eno Williams

Read our interview with Eno Williams here

Buy from Norman Records

35. Chino Amobi – PARADISO

"PARADISO is a dizzying, constantly shifting mixtape that captures exactly what the NON collective is about. Across the tape’s two sides, the producer flits between pointillistic trance synths, scattershot samples and dystopian, but all too real, visions as expressed in his impassioned spoken word narratives."
Christian Eede

Buy from Norman Records

34. Actress – AZD
(Ninja Tune)

"AZD arrives like a jolt of energy, welcoming some much needed colour into his oeuvre, despite what the record’s somewhat oblique central theme might have you believe."

Christian Eede

Read our review of AZD here

Buy from Norman Records

33. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
(Top Dawg)

"If To Pimp A Butterfly‘s power derived in part from its sense of community, well, there’s little of that on DAMN. He’s not lonely at the top – save that self-pity for Kanye – but more than once you think: Who are you addressing with this album, now you’ve ascended to a higher plane and know it?"

Alex Macpherson

Read our review of DAMN. here

Buy from Norman Records

32. Broken English Club – The English Beach

"Though the sound palate is coldly austere, Ho orchestrates a dubwise sense of dynamic space – each sparse part honed to savage efficiency – affording an elemental effect that perfectly matches the source matter: the alien, barren Dungeness."
Harry Sword

Read our review of The English Beach here

Buy from Norman Records

31. Kite Base – Latent Whispers
(Little Something)

"Savages’ Ayse Hassan and fellow bassist Kendra Frost join forces for a captivating exploration of the lower registers. This, their understatedly opulent debut album is equal parts slick, lush grooves and warm, immersive gloom."
Patrick Clarke

30. Siavash Amini – TAR
(Hallow Ground)

"In tandem to this, there is a also a sense of something like melting that runs consistently through TAR — particularly on its namesake track, ‘Rivers of Tar’, where swells, strings and a kind of ticking, near-percussive synthesiser drone combine to create the unsettling feel of a steady drip."

Karl Smith

Read our review of TAR here

Buy from Norman Records

29. Diamanda Galas – All The Way
(Intravenal Sound Operations)

"All The Way is particularly strong for both the production of Galás’ piano and its melodies – there is an added, foreboding subtlety which comes through with more clarity here."

Lottie Brazier

Read our review of All the Way here

Buy from Norman Records

28. Rûwâhîne – Ifriqiyya Electrique

“The album sees guitarist and field recordist Francois Cambuzat team up with fellow Putan Club member, bassist Gianna Greco, and a collective of Sufi trance musicians – namely Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala – to explore Sufi traditions and the ritualism enshrined in the music.”
Mateusz Kaczynski

Read our review and interview with Francois Cambuzat here

Buy from Norman Records

27. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Feed The Rats

"Feed The Rats is gloriously over the top, tipping towards the precipice of ridiculousness, yet the sheer brutality of it is what steadies the ship here. To see the band unleash these behemoths is a more frightening and exhilarating a proposition, but this debut album makes a damn good fist of catching that viscous lightning in a bottle."

Brendan Telford

Read our review of Feed The Rats here.

Buy from Norman Records

26. Arca – Arca

"With Arca, Ghersi has created a world that lives by Keats-ian tautology, where ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’ and each signifier is in harmony with that which it signifies. For all intents and purposes, this is Arca laid bare."
Karl Smith

Read our review of Arca here

Buy from Norman Records

25. The Inward Circles – And Right Lines Limit And Close All Bodies
(Corbel Stone Press)

"Anxious sequencer patterns maintain a certain rhythmic pulse as gristly noises flutter back and forth, heralding And Right Lines as Richard Skelton’s most unsettled – and most unsettling – album to date. Where even as The Inward Circles, but especially under his own name, Skelton would previously allow notes to linger like the cries of birds echoing across a valley, now he engages in a sort of folk-drone sensory overload, the massed tones aggregating to form sepulchral excavations as deep and unfriendly as a charnel pit."
Joseph Burnett

Read our review of And Right Lines limit And Close All Bodies here

24. British Sea Power – Let The Dancers Inherit The Party
(Golden Chariot)

"Nearly everything on Dancers positively shimmers, from the bombastic ‘International Space Station’ to the melancholy ‘Alone Piano’. Their only proper album with no tracks over six minutes, this is BSP at their most distilled. It’s as concise a statement as the band seems capable of, as unified and coherent as any of their soundtracks."

Bernie Brooks

Read our review of Let the Dancers Inherit the Party here

Buy from Norman Records

23. Nicole Mitchell – Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds

"Chicago-based flute player Nicole Mitchell (recorded her with her Black Earth Ensemble) is a radical renaissance woman: an established science fiction author, a composer, a musician, a theorist and a lecturer. And many of these strands have been woven into this remarkable and head-spinning Afro-futurist jazz fusion album which was recorded live at Chicago’s Museum Of Contemporary Art in May 2015."
John Doran

22. Vanishing – Vanishing
(Tombed Visions)

"Vanishing is not an exploration of something that has already happened or something that is going to happen but something we are currently enduring. It is a sonic metaphor for how we are refusing to feel right now. The stab of panic late at night when anxiety stalks the hallway outside the door, when no amount of digital distraction will quell the thought, "What have we done?" Smith isn’t saying what we’re all thinking, he’s saying what we’re all desperately trying not to think."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

21. Algiers – The Underside Of Power

"In a year where demagoguery, cronyism and the real-life consequences of neoliberalism have been exposed to the world en mass — when we have, for ourselves, seen the underside of power that has been so fastidiously hidden from us through dark mechanisms up until this point — Algiers have provided a reference point for what feels, tentatively, like the earliest eye-rubbings of a political awakening. And the alarm they are sounding is loud."
Karl Smith

Read our review of The Underside of Power here

Buy from Norman Records

20. Japan Blues – Sells His Record Collection

"On his past two releases as Japan Blues, Williams used the loosely-defined edit format to put old records into the hands of people that they might not dream of ever being able to afford, but on this album he uses this format to create something that feels wholly new. By stitching together various different records taken from across his collection, differing in style or sometimes era, he showcases the rich depth of the music by which he is so drawn to."
Christian Eede

Read our review of Japan Blues Sells His Record Collection here

Buy from Norman Records

19. Visible Cloaks – Reassemblage
(Rvng Intl.)

"Reassemblage feels in many ways like the realisation of Visible Cloaks as a unit with something unique to offer as they craft a vivid and distinct sonic world from vapour and bamboo."
Christian Eede

Read our review of Reassemblage here

Buy from Norman Records

18. Adult. – Detroit House Guests

"Despite having such disparate and distinctive vocalists (including Kuperus’ own controlled snarl) the record holds together beautifully. Indeed, that’s what gives it such power – vocal lines eddy and unfold over the thick and dense analogue synths, like the tip of a whip making its way gently down your spine."
Luke Turner

Read our review of Detroit House Guests here

Buy from Norman Records

17. Davy Kehoe – Short Passing Game
(Wah Wah Wino)

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

Read our review of Short Passing Game here

Buy from Norman Records

16. Perc – Bitter Music
(Perc Trax)

"Bitter Music might be brutal, unforgiving and, at times, painful, but it forces to acknowledge that deep down we might actually like the Tetsuo-like transformations to mind and body we are being subjected to."
Bob Cluness

Read our review of Bitter Music here.

Buy from Norman Records

15. Chloe x Halle – The Two Of Us

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

Read our review of The Two Of Us here.

14. Teleplasmiste – Frequency Is The New Ecstasy
(House Of Mythology)

"Empowering utopianism or hippy-dippy life-affirming twaddle? What could so easily be the latter is assuredly not so in the capable hands of Teleplasmiste at the knobs and controls. They demonstrate conclusively that frequency is the same old ecstatic progenitor it ever was, lifting off and enveloping time and space through the essential purity of all-consuming sound."
Richard Fontenoy

Read our review of Frequency is the New Ecstasy here.

13. Endon – Through The Mirror

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

Read our review of Through The Mirror here

12. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async

"It is these contradictions … that make clearest the album’s concern with duality: the way in which Sakamoto imbued those everyday objects with further significance, or the quantum mathematics hidden behind the manifestation of each sound – these are all ways of approaching the idea that any one thing is more than just that one thing."
Karl Smith

Read our review of Async here.

Buy from Norman Records

11. Man Forever – Play What They Want
(Thrill Jockey)

"With Play What They Want Colpitts and Man Forever have crafted something truly unique: a spiritual jazz album for agnostics. Where Coltrane – and more recent voyagers such as Kamasi Washington and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – look to the stars and the heavens for inspiration, Man Forever’s muse is grounded in the spit, brick and steel of their city.
Mat Colgate

Read our review of Play What They Want here.

Buy from Norman Records

10. Oxbow – Thin Black Duke

"By rights no group should be peaking after 30 years of making music together, yet that is the situation in which Oxbow find themselves. Will they ever transcend Thin Black Duke? Such are the ideas and attention to detail on this record, only a fool would bet against them."
Sean Guthrie

Read our review of Thin Black Duke here.

Buy from Norman Records

9. Yossarians – Fabric Of Time

"Manchester’s Yossarians sound, somehow, like Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Egon Schiele and Iggy Pop fronting the Bad Seeds or mid-period Swans.”
John Doran

Read our interview with Yossarians here.

8. Jlin – Black Origami
(Planet Mu)

"Sure, you could spend hours obsessing over the rhythmic detail on Black Origami. But you could also dance, drink and be merry to it, much like the best work of Aphex et al."
Ben Cardew

Read our review of Black Origami here.

Buy from Norman Records

7. $hit & $hine – Total Shit!

"Whatever it is, Total Shit is a fucking blast, man. It opens with some weird electro rockabilly deep dub on ‘Hot Shovel’ before hitting paydirt with the stuttering and lysergic schaffel of ‘Chklt Sht’. It’s probably best we skip over the cavalier (but excellent) use of sampling here and simply observe that Total Shit is $hit & $hine’s best album, but as with The Fall, by now you should expect that from the current one."
John Doran

Buy from Norman Records

6. Justin Walter – Unseen Forces

"What’s so astonishing about Unseen Forces is that its nine tracks never feel directionless despite Walter’s decision to pull the record together from a process of improvised experimentation."
Christian Eede

Read our review of Unseen Forces here

Buy from Norman Records

5. GNOD – Just Say No To The Psycho Right-​Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine

"Gnod’s use of noise is similar in their confrontation of the hateful and disturbing head-on, with the fact of its 2017 release making this album more of a direct anti-Capitalist political revolt against the kind of wallpaper ambience that wouldn’t be too disruptive to a Starbucks coffee morning. Whether you like it or not, Gnod’s music is present – undeniable, even – especially in the quality of its vocals. A slurred, wailing cadence – slightly, presciently, off-key.."
Lottie Brazier

Read our review of Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine here

Buy from Norman Records

4. Circle – Terminal
(Southern Lord)

"Terminal is a fascinating reconstruction of lives lived by forty-year-olds. It has a taste of breakthrough and a sense quiet insignificance, a balance of new beginning and end of everything."
Jussi Lehtisalo

Read our interview with Jussi Lehtisalo here

Buy from Norman Records

3. Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology

"What makes Jane Weaver and Modern Kosmology such a joy is that it comes as sharp and welcome relief to so many of the serious and po-faced purveyors of cynically cosmic vibes. This is music that simultaneously celebrates and explores, that takes pop as its foundation and then builds a multi-layered space on it that welcomes one and all.”
Julian Marszalek

Read our review of Modern Kosmology here

Buy from Norman Records

2. The Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics

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"Quintessential outcasts, Flanagan, Honer, Saoudi, Adamczewski and co. have unraveled the sweet spot between countless relatively tricky dichotomies: from fabulous to hyper-cool, hard-hearted to camp and impermeable to boundlessly fragile. Forging bombast with bravura, silliness with sentiment and homage with fist-clenched individuality, this is a trip worth taking.”
Brian Coney

Read our review of Interplanetary Class Classics here

Buy from Norman Records

1. Richard Dawson – Peasant
(Weird World)

"Politicians use the term “community” when they really mean “demographic”, and togetherness is nothing more than a marketing buzzword. On Peasant, Richard Dawson searches for a way that we might reclaim these ideas. Through the empathetic exercises of lyrical role-playing or the creation of a personal folk tradition through ritual community music, Dawson suggests that we can regain an authentic sense of community by seeking out commonality.”
Danny Riley

Read our review of Peasant here

Buy from Norman Records

ONE. Richard Dawson – Peasant
TWO. The Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Classics
THREE. Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology
FOUR. Circle – Terminal
FIVE. GNOD – Just Say No To The Psycho Right-​Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine
SIX. Justin Walter – Unseen Forces
SEVEN. $hit & $hine – Total Shit!
EIGHT. Jlin – Black Origami
NINE. Yossarians – Fabric Of Time
TEN. Oxbow – Thin Black Duke
ELEVEN. Man Forever – Play What They Want
TWELVE. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async
THIRTEEN. Endon – Through The Mirror
FOURTEEN. Teleplasmiste – Frequency Is The New Ecstasy
FIFTEEN. Chloe x Halle – The Two Of Us
SIXTEEN. Perc – Bitter Music
SEVENTEEN. Davy Kehoe – Short Passing Game
EIGHTEEN. Adult. – Detroit House Guests
NINETEEN. Visible Cloaks – Reassemblage
TWENTY. Japan Blues – Sells His Record Collection
TWENTY ONE. Algiers – The Underside Of Power
TWENTY TWO. Vanishing – Vanishing
TWENTY THREE. Nicole Mitchell – Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds
TWENTY FOUR. British Sea Power – Let The Dancers Inherit The Party
TWENTY FIVE. The Inward Circles – And Right Lines Limit And Close All Bodies
TWENTY SIX. Arca – Arca
TWENTY SEVEN. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Feed The Rats
TWENTY EIGHT. Rûwâhîne – Ifriqiyya Electrique
TWENTY NINE. Diamanda Galas – All The Way
THIRTY. Siavash Amini – TAR
THIRTY ONE. Kite Base – Latent Whispers
THIRTY TWO. Broken English Club – The English Beach
THIRTY THREE. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
THIRTY FIVE. Chino Amobi – Paradiso
THIRTY SIX. Ibibio Sound Machine – Uyai
THIRTY SEVEN. Wire – Silver/Lead
THIRTY EIGHT. MXLX – Kicking Away At The Decrepit Walls Til The Beautiful Sunshine Blisters Thru The Cracks
THIRTY NINE. Brian Eno – Reflection
FORTY. Powertrip – Nightmare Logic
FORTY ONE. Smagghe & Cross – MA
FORTY THREE. Rose Dougall – Stellular
FORTY FOUR. Shinichi Atobe – From The Heart, It’s A Start, Work Of Art
FORTY FIVE. Khotin – New Tab
FORTY SIX. Benedict Drew – Crawling Through Tory Slime
FORTY SEVEN. Simon Fisher Turner – Giraffe
FORTY EIGHT. Aaron Dilloway – The Gag File
FORTY NINE. Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory
FIFTY. Ricardo Villalobos – Empirical House
FIFTY TWO. Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
FIFTY THREE. Al Namrood – Enkar
FIFTY FOUR. WaqWaq Kingdom – Shinsekai
FIFTY FIVE. Part Chimp – IV
FIFTY SIX. Temple ov BBV – Temple ov BBV
FIFTY SEVEN. Overlook – Smoke Signals
FIFTY EIGHT. Nídia – Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida
FIFTY NINE. Aquaserge – Laisse ça être
SIXTY. Harriet Tubman – Araminta
SIXTY ONE. Saagara – 2
SIXTY TWO. Vom – Initiation
SIXTY THREE. Peverelist – Tessellations
SIXTY FOUR. Konrad Spenger – Stack Music
SIXTY FIVE. Hey Colossus – The Guillotine
SIXTY SIX. Bill Converse – The Shape Of Things To Come
SIXTY SEVEN. Vieux Farka Touré – Samba
SIXTY EIGHT. D Glare – 4 Oscillators
SIXTY NINE. Targ – Bargou8
SEVENTY. The Charlatans – Different Days
SEVENTY ONE. The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert
SEVENTY TWO. Alt-J – Relaxer
SEVENTY THREE. Basic Rhythm – The Basics
SEVENTY FOUR. L.Pierre – 1948 –
SEVENTY FIVE. Sleaford Mods – English Tapas
SEVENTY SIX. UnicaZürn – Transpandorem
SEVENTY SEVEN. Ex-Continent – La Perspectiva Racional
SEVENTY EIGHT. Umfang – Symbolic Use Of Light
SEVENTY NINE. Young Thug – Beautiful Thugger Girls
EIGHTY. Daniel O’Sullivan – Veld
EIGHTY ONE. Harriet Brown – Contact
EIGHTY TWO. Gravetemple – Impassable Fears
EIGHTY THREE. Roe Enney – Glare
EIGHTY FOUR. Pharmakon – Contact
EIGHTY FIVE. Karen Gwyer – Rembo
EIGHTY SIX. Here Lies Man – Here Lies Man
EIGHTY SEVEN. Blanck Mass – World Eater
EIGHTY EIGHT. The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time Stage Two
EIGHTY NINE. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Murder Of The Universe
NINETY. Emptyset – Borders
NINETY ONE. Moor x Jewelry – Crime Waves
NINETY THREE. Akatombo – Short Fuse
NINETY FOUR. Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages Vol. 2
NINETY FIVE. Roger Robinson – Dog Heart City
NINETY SIX. Sly & The Family Drone + Dead Neanderthals – Molar Wrench
NINETY SEVEN. Uniform – Wake In Fright
NINETY EIGHT. Dutch Uncles – Big Balloon
NINETY NINE. Black Cilice – Banished From Time
ONE HUNDRED. Stromboli – Volume Uno

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