We listened to a lot of diverse music last year and picked some of the records, which resonated most throughout 2018 and were not widely covered.
January has come and gone, and so have the fruitful best music of 2018 lists. It feels like people have stopped chanting the hymns of music’s funeral. And how could they not? It’s completely obvious that there’s plenty of new sonic territories being explored and left for future explorers. Last year was completely thrilling, and so like last year time has come for us to do a list of our own.
We won’t tell you this is the best music released throughout 2018, but these are rarely mentioned records our team loved the shit out of. Special thanks to graphic designer Domantė Nalivaikaitė who made this awesome neon visual. Here’s to another year of music!
Them Are Us Too - Amends - Dais Records
Them Are Us Too delivers another jewel of sublime and majestic synth-driven dream pop. The album is not without its tragic note as it was finished without Cash Askew, one half of the duo, who tragically died in an Oakland warehouse fire. Thus the overwhelming beauty here is soaked in sadness making it one of the most touching swan-song albums ever.
Rosen & Spyddet - Memoria - Posh Isolation/Janushoved
Rosen & Spyddet distills the purity of youthful carelessness, the pastel-colored joys of summertime evenings and fuses it into romantic synth sounds with a hint of melancholy. It is probably their most pop record and this accessibility makes the project’s creative vision even clearer. It gently blossoms throughout these sonic vignettes, inviting us to celebrate the moments.
Black Tape For A Blue Girl - To Touch The Milky Way [Projekt]
After their excursions into neocabaret waters, it was nice to see these legendary darkwavers get back to the dream-poppy brilliance and emotionalism of their early ‘80s records with These Fleeting Moments, released in 2016. This record continues this pattern and with its poetic ambience reminds their 2002 masterpiece The Scavenger Bride. It instantly hops into the midst of their best releases.
Ensemble Economique - Radiate Through You [Denovali]
Radiate Through You is the record celebrating life, love and affection. Brian Pyle’s music has always been quite personal, but here we see one of the most touching pages of his diary, unravelling in sublime ambience and purity. On the cover we see a photo of The Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius, one of the most beautiful places in the city to watch the sunrise, observe the surroundings or just contemplate. The whole atmosphere of the image and the place connects with the record on a very deep level.
Mark Van Hoen - Invisible Threads [Touch]
Mark Van Hoen weaves his dense emotionalism into 7 drone pieces. It is one of his most abstract records, where every subtle twist in harmony or introduced undercurrent evokes a new microworld.
Emma Tricca - St. Peter [Dell'Orso Records]
Emma’s touching and sincere folk goes to the very depths of one’s heart with its smart melodicism, elegantly vivid songwriting and homely moods. These songs flow like a train ride through the Peak District, while passing Victorian stations and small towns with their rich stories.
Laraaji, Arji Oceananda, Dallas Acid - Arrive Without Leaving [Flying Moonlight]
A marvelous spiritual exploration. This is healing music, which helps to regain our inner peace amidst the global turmoil. The ambient waves and zither tapestries flow upwards to the skies, creating a cosmic experience for your mind and soul. A necessary record!
Onyx – Complete Works 1981 - 1983 [Mind Records]
An impressive release reissued by Mind Records. “Onyx” is an early 1980’s Boston based new wave duo consisting of Judd Stone and Beveur. Truly amazing electronica led with general groove and the ignorant vox of Beveur. As the label mentions - this music is meant to be played LOUD - and the statement is absolutely significant.
Offered by Patricia Kokett
Jako Maron – Les Experiences Electro Maloya de Jako Maron [Nyege Nyege Tapes]
Absolutely incredible minimal rhythmic explorations of Maloya ceremonies. The record is captivating in its polyrhythmic motions and indigenous context. The sound is extremely minimal yet fulfilled with curious sound design. Jako Maron explores the full spectrum of Maloya styles through his electronic re-interpretations of the music from his native lands.
Offered by Patricia Kokett
Slikback - Lasakaneku [Hakuna Kulala]
A completely fresh producer from Kenya. It took one year for Slikback to earn the respect of the experimental crowd, having played at Unsound, etc. This EP was released by Nyege Nyege Tapes sublabel - Hakuna Kulala. The music is complete mutant with hybrid club sounds, both slow and fast, strange, and completely unheard of.
Offered by Hìldå
Tapes - Silence Please[Good Morning Tapes]
Tapes is well-known in the dub/reggae field. After a long break (10 years), he has released a super interesting tape on Good Morning Tapes, presenting yet more proof that it is possible to create a tasteful mix of traditional, ethnic (in this case, Arabic, ragga music) sounds and electronics. A mindblowing release.
Offered by Hìldå
De Leon - De Leon [Mana]
A secretive, mystical character with only three releases to his name. This year saw his vinyl debut with an EP on Mana (a brilliant label whose owner curates the Blowing Up The Workshop podcast series). This release is special due to its combination of traditional Gamelan sounds and various shapes of electronic music. Some fascinating mutations to be enjoyed.
Offered by Hìldå
Tozcos - Sueños Deceptivos LP [Verdugo Discos]
Good old Californian hardcore punk in furious Spanish. Music-wise, punk is alive and well beyond the Atlantic and the Sueños Deceptivos LP by Toscos is proof enough. At no point does this succinct and thoroughly amusing record run out of energy.
Collate - Liminal Concerns [Self-released]
A different side of punk - the self-released Liminal Concerns by Collate does a whole lot purely through good ideas and subtle minimalism. The tracks are almost an insult in how raw and almost inept they are, yet every second works.
Richard Devine – Sort\Lave [Timesig]
After 6 years of no releases, Richard Devine comes back with a huge triple LP on Venetian Snares’ Timesig. This is a complex, difficult endeavor with layer upon layer of cold and impersonal modular wizardry - at times catchy, at others murderous.
Holiday Inn - Torbido [Avant!, Maple Death Records]
A weird concoction of noisy lo-fi synths and beats and distorted vocals; occasionally punkish but really best described as a fresh take on something you’d expect from a mid-’80s tape with a black and white xeroxed cover. Must be a blast live!
Sturqen - Survivalismo [Kvitnu]
Like clockwork, Sturqen are back on Kvitnu with another stunning LP, digging deep into their vision of minimal dancefloor racket and slow, brooding cinematics. We like to think of them as the spiritual successors of early Pansonic, developing that relentless style with just as much sensitivity and attention to detail.
Ron Morelli - Disappearer [Hospital Productions]
Ron does uneasy records that always stray off safe paths and don't sound like anyone else. Although it's as noisy, dirty, quirky and potentially traumatic as ever, Disappearer also contains some danceable EBM, dark club aspirations, and static, almost ambientish moments.
Deena Abdelwahed - Khonnar [Infiné]
A Tunisian producer, exploring identity through heritage, culture, and finding her place through that which is unspeakable, shameful, disturbing and ostracized by society (which is the rough meaning of „khonnar“). The album is not only sonically daring - an approachable, albeit uneasy and confrontational record - but also interesting in the sense of the political stance it signifies on issues like gender inequality, the refugee crisis, and the oppressiveness of tradition.
Red Hook Grain Terminal - Latexes [Always Human Tapes]
This record by Jordan Edge was built through disintegration, creating a decontextualized and thus uncanny atmosphere. The lack of context is important because it related to the project title - Red Hook Grain Terminal is an abandoned industrial landmark no one knows much about yet which can't be ignored. This music is just like that.
Warrego Valles - Botox [Kamizdat]
The duo of Nina Hudej and Nina Kodrič give a fresh take on deconstructed club music – instead of repeating common tropes ad infinitum, they opted to create a versatile glitchy collage focused on rhythmic structure, samples and deviations of electronic and dance music, where ruptures in familiar patterns signal ecological, social and economic downfalls of modern society. Warrego Valles plays with futuristic and dystopian visions of society, both aggressive and comatose as if to reflect the interplay of loneliness and greed, domination and submission.
Osheyack - Sadomodernism [Bedouin Records]
The Shanghai musician has been active lately, releasing a few notable records on SVBKULT, as well as Matt Weiner’s CGI Records, but his Sadomodernism is the most complete work. Osheyack is one of the most important harbingers of a new age of hardcore, steeped in an experimental environment and mixed with various other spices. That, however, is just one aspect of this record, which is vivid, dramatic, uncomfortable, and downright banging through and through.
Thugwidow - Moons of Jupiter [BLCR Laboratories]
Alex Lowther-Harris has released a whole lot of material over these past couple of years, showing quite a few different looks. Moons of Jupiter has every right to be just another boring ‘dark’ electronics record inspired by the vastness of space - it’s a tired theme even if we’re suckers for it. But Thugwidow succeeds completely in his achieving his goal. This is a beautifully lonely place inhabited by sharp jungle rhythms, ghostly atmospheres, and even some seductive meditations. One can only hope he can stop long enough to release some more stuff for the ages.
Sigillum S - The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization And Its Mutation Implications [Transmutation LTD]
Decades pass, music trends are born and again disappear into the aether of the sonic whole. Yet the legendary Italians keep coming up with sounds that are full of imagination and life. This record - whose name Paulius was stubborn enough to utter in its entirety during our previous radio show - has a bit of everything: a disorienting storm of noise particles, ridiculously misshapen rhythms, melancholic modular melodies, and even some tribal depths that we can’t seem to escape even after all this time.
Beta Librae - Subspecies [Allergy Season]
Bailey Hoffman is a Brooklyn, NYC producer has released a few very interesting atmospheric records, one of which was this gem on Physical Therapy’s Allergy Season. Stepping between spacious dub, house, and dnb without stepping into any kitchy situations is a difficult thing to do, and here is someone who manages this game of inches with a lot of grace. A beautiful, delicate listen.
01. Them Are Us Too - Amends - Dais Records
02. Rosen & Spyddet - Memoria - Posh Isolation/Janushoved
03. Black Tape For A Blue Girl - To Touch The Milky Way - Projekt
04. Ensemble Economique - Radiate Through You - Denovali
05. Mark Van Hoen - Invisible Threads - Touch
06. Emma Tricca - St. Peter - Dell'Orso Records
07. Laraaji, Arji Oceananda, Dallas Acid - Arrive Without Leaving - Flying Moonlight
08. Onyx - Complete Works 1981 - 1983 - Mind Records
09. Jako Maron - Les Experiences Electro Maloya de Jako Maron - Nyege Nyege Tapes
10. Slikback - Lasakaneku - Hakuna Kulala
11. Tapes - Silence Please - Good Morning Tapes
12. De Leon - De Leon - Mana
13. Tozcos - Sueños Deceptivos LP - Verdugo Discos
14. Collate - Liminal Concerns - Self-released
15. Richard Devine – Sort\Lave - Timesig
16. Holiday Inn - Torbido - Avant!
17. Sturqen - Survivalismo - Kvitnu
18. Ron Morelli - Disappearer - Hospital Productions
19. Deena Abdelwahed - Khonnar - Infiné
20. Red Hook Grain Terminal - Latexes - Always Human Tapes
21. Warrego Valles - Botox - Kamizdat
22. Osheyack - Sadomodernism - Bedouin Records
23. Thugwidow - Moons of Jupiter - BLCR Laboratories
24. Sigillum S - The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization And Its Mutation Implications - Transmutation LTD
25. Beta Librae - Subspecies - Allergy Season