Meshes of Voice by Jenny Hval & Susanna
Plotting a course between pretension and striking beauty, this album features more exquisite moments than any other this year. Jenny Hval’s impossibly high falsetto weaves in and out of Susanna’s warmer tones. Contrasting hummable melodies, the most unexpected elements are the unsettling drones, reaching a pinnacle in ‘I Have Walked This Body.’
Nothing Important by Richard Dawson
The title track is the single most exciting song I’ve heard all year. It’s folk music for this century. It’s punk music without the posturing. It’s the short story I wish I’d written.
Quixotism by Oren Ambarchi
Every so often I revisit a location important to me during my childhood. Each time, when I arrive, I worry that the magic won’t remain. Each time, I’m surprised all over again. Quixotism works in just the same way. Its simplicity seems mundane at first, until you begin to notice all of the irregular elements. Then it becomes hypnotic, even when the thump segues into jerky techno. It’s my favourite 2014 album for driving in the dark, occupying a similar place to Carter Tutti Void’s 2012 album Transverse.
Everybody Down by Kate Tempest, for its genre-busting storytelling. Pipes by Katie Gately, an artist who’ll no doubt produce something even more astounding in the near future. La Isla Bonita by Deerhoof – an unexpectedly direct and fun return to form. Wilderness of Mirrors by Lawrence English, for soundtracking my writing in 2014. And possibly, although it’s a bit soon to tell, Shadow of the Monolith by Lawrence English and Werner Dafeldecker.
My absolute favourite is Gipsy Rhumba: The Original Rhythm of Gipsy Rhumba in Spain 1965-1974 from Soul Jazz, strange and diverse and loved by my son. Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra: In The Orbit Of Ra on Strut is outstanding. The French Avant-Garde in the 20th Century on LTM is terrific, too.
Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1 by Craig Leon – astounding proto-techno from early-80s Takoma label. Money by Nath & Martin Brothers, the funkiest ride of the year. Furia by The Fates, a weird folk/post-rock diversion from 1985.
Favourite record labels
Thrill Jockey (new releases by Skull Defekts, Man Forever, OOIOO), Hospital Productions (Vatican Shadow), Exotic Pylon (Time Attendant, Isobel Ccircle), Editions Mego (Oren Ambarchi).
Favourite albums overall, new to me, from any year
Even before the release of Quixotism, 2014 was, for me, the year of Oren Ambarchi. I heard 14 of his albums for the first time, five of which I adore (Connected, Grapes from the Estate, Intermission 2000-2008, In the Pendulum’s Embrace, Quixotism). The combination of The Glass Trunk and Nothing Important puts Richard Dawson in close second place. Free jazz was another predominant theme – I love Karma by Pharoah Sanders and World Galaxy by Alice Coltrane. Hillbilly Tape Music by Henry Flynt is an eye-opener. What?? by Folke Rabe was on constant rotation for a while, during writing stints. Material by Emptyset is terrifying and exhilarating. Inspiration Information by Shuggie Otis features killer tunes. I felt embarrassed I’d never before heard Slates by The Fall. And Go Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley is another of my son’s favourites and therefore mine too.
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