It seems fitting that as the decade closes out our founder DJ Deep Field dig's back through the last ten years and selects the albums that had the greatest impact on him.
"The journey these albums have taken me on has been absolutely insane and unpredictable. A decade ago I would have found the #1 favorite album an offense to my harsh-noise loving ears and yet here we are. When it comes to music that is this deep and emotive one could be forgiven for thinking that the pieces choose the listener as opposed to the listener deciding upon them.
So this is really a list of the pieces of music that had the most power over me and the ones which steered my ears into the musical realms I find myself in today."
Without further ado here are the ten albums that rose above all the rest in the last decade.
10. Dictaphone - Poems from a Rooftop (Sonic Pieces)
Released 13th April 2012
Over the last eight years 'Poems From A Rooftop', Dictaphone's third LP, has woven its way into my DNA, it's nine pieces each recall different memories and moments from my life. Released on the ever-reliable Sonic Pieces label, (one that feels like an old friend at this point, a look back over their imprint is akin to looking back at my own musical journey, each release being a new adventure that took my ears and mind to places I had never encountered before).
Dictaphone are now a household name in the electro-acoustic world, thanks mainly to Nil's Frahm who included a track from their first EP on his Late Night Tales Compilation back in 2015.
The five-year wait between the genre-defining 'Poems from a Rooftop' (released on Sonic Pieces) and 'APR 70' led fans to believe the outfit was no more. 2017, however, marked the glorious return of Dictaphone (a return re-enforced by the legendary folks at Denovali re-issuing their long out-of-print and highly sought after back catalog in one of the most beautiful box set editions we have ever seen). Indeed one could say that the tail end of this decade was the best time to be a Dictaphone fan. The core duo of Oliver Doerell and Roger Doring went on an extensive international tour culminating in a flawless '20 years of Dictaphone' performance to a full house 'Saal 1' at the legendary Funkhaus in Berlin. We even secured a recording of Oliver diving deep into his record collection for an hour and we had the privilege of having him answer some of our questions.
All of this aside, however - even if they had just given us the album 'Poem From A Rooftop' it still would have been the best time to be a fan as the album satisfies every single craving they created when they established their unique sound back in the early 2000s. The restrained mutated dark jazz one finds on each of the pieces is unlike anything you will hear coming from any band or musician past or present. The artistic quality and originality is at such a high level that one really can't help but be bowled over in awe by the compositions. You can purchase the 2017 repress of this LP here.
Dictaphone perform 'Seance' at '20 years of Dictaphone' Berlin November 2019.
9. Loscil - Endless Falls (Kranky)
Released 1st March 2010
According to the communal Spotify player in Quiet Calm Records office, Loscil was our most listened to artist of the last decade, certainly a statistic that does not surprise us a bit. When putting this list together I knew there would have to be one Loscil album on it. The Vancouver based sound artist has steered my musical ship to so many amazing places since we first heard his subtle atmospheres on 'Endless Falls' way back in 2011 (it was featured on the amazing ASIP mix by Rhian Sheehan - a mix that also introduced us to Max Richter & Clint Mansell so we are truly in debt to that guy.)
Opening with an immensely intense neo-classical track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Stefan Wesolowski album the LP moves into familiar lush Loscil atmospheres before ending in the magnum opus 'The Making of Grief Point' containing some of Loscil's most lauded work Endless Falls was on rotation for the full decade after our first listen. Certainly, an album that will please anybody with an interest in diving into the genres of contemporary ambient & drone music.
The wall of Loscil (in the Quiet Calm Records office)
8. Field Rotation - Acoustic Tales (Fluid/Facture/Denovali)
Released 17th November 2011
Few electro-acoustic albums have had a greater influence on me than Acoustic Tales by Christoph Berg's Field Rotation moniker. In fact, that artist as a whole is responsible for guiding my musical journey more than most. Moving on from his melodic down-tempo debut and subsequent nocturnal ambient 10"s & 12"s Acoustic Tales is an album that bowls you over with its opening track and carries that high level through till the last second. It is a supreme feat of musical craftsmanship.
You will notice that most of the albums in this list are from several years back - this is due to the complexity of the pieces requiring immense spans of time to truly absorb. Acoustic Tales is a perfect example of this kind of artistic profundity a first, second or third (even a tenth) rotation won't give you access to the true inner workings of this album. My prediction is that if I am still alive in 80 years recounting the best LPs of the last 100 years this one will be on the list.
7. Kiasmos - S/T (Erased Tapes)
Released 27th October 2014
Kiasmos set down the landscape for melodic techno when they released there s/t debut. After a few ultra-rare appearances on 12' (65 in 2009 and Thrown/Wrecked in 2012) the duo of Olafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen released their debut full length in 2014 to a rapturous reception.
At the time the burgeoning Neo-classical/Melodic Techno scene was still directionless with half of it sounding more ambient orientated (led by Ben Lukas Boysen, Olafur Arnalds, and Nils Frahm) and the other half (led by the likes of Piano Interrupted and Jon Hopkins) heading more towards experimental IDM.
Kiasmos galvanized the scene and gave its devoted followers a standard against which to measure all other attempts at real neo-classically driven techno.
Followed by whirlwind touring and a string of 12's that have never quite reached the peak that their s/t did, the album remains to this day the #1 record I give to people who ask for a recommendation in this genre.
The release itself is a concept lp with each track blending seamlessly into the next. From start to finish it traverses introspective down-tempo, melodic floor movers and crescendoing anthems which makes it a go-to record in the crate of any forward-thinking DJ. Throughout the 9 tracks, there isn't a single moment that doesn't emit an overwhelming sense of quality of production and refinement of technique.
If you only listen to one Melodic Techno record in your life it should be this one!
6. Ben Lukas Boysen & Sebastian Plano - Everything (Erased Tapes)
Released 25th July 2017