Updated: Jan 17, 2019
As we reach the end of the end of the year, we look back on our favorite releases. At the enthusiastic nudging of friends we have decided to include a list of our favorite releases from 2017 & 2016 for you to dive into.
Here are our favorite releases of 2018
Combining power electronics with harsh noise, deep dark drones and mournful neo-classical infused ambient pieces Prairie's debut on Denovali is a towering work and an immense statement from this talented Belgian.
Using crushed excerpts from films pushed through an overload of filters the album opens with Flash Flood & Raindeaf powerfully drawing your ears into a whirlwind of restrained chaos.
A highlight has to be the megalithicly powerful distorted anthem 'Underwater body hunting'. Its deep bass kicking in from the first second pushing forward a tornado of harsh, distorted synths and guitar shreds. It will guarantee attention on any darkened floor when dropped into a dj set.
The album ebbs and flows through various atmospheres, at times sounding like a Vatican shadow lp and others sounding like a field rotation piece.
All in all a fantastic release & one of the best albums from a great year over at Denovali.
An epic collaboration between Czech electronic wizz kid/clarinet player Floex & London based pianist Tom Hodge with help from a symphony orchestra.
Dark Ambient drones from Moon Zero & Bruised Skies. Lovingly presented by the Blank Editions label. Tim Garret (Moon Zero) & Matthew Hayward (Bruised Skies) named their collaborative project after an industrial town in northern Scotland.
Clearly quite a dark place with melancholia spread throughout, the label calls it 'The soundtrack to walking through a storm of ash'
Certainly if you find this work to your liking you should check out the solo output of both of these fantastic artists. Bruised Skies in particular, although sadly under-represented by any label, is a master at creating dark ambient soundscapes, many of which he has released for free through soundcloud.
An incredible collection of re-works from the amazing third studio album by Scottish masters Hidden Orchestra. Ranging from deep house to melodic techno and ambient - this is one that will allow re-listens for a long time. Particularly listen to the remix of Wingbeats by Max Cooper. Clocking in at over 10 min it is an immense journey.
Almost sounding like the score to an epic film Ben Chatwin's Staccato signals was without compare in 2018. Listen to the track 'helix' to get a feel for this one.
The latest in the pattern series is a score for a Danish film by Erik Skodvin aka Svarte Greiner and Rauelsson, it also has guest instrumentation by Christoph Berg and Otto A Totland & was recorded by Martyn Heyne so its really a monster of a neo-classical release. Limited to 500 copies with a beautiful laser cut cover this one (like all Pattern releases) is not to be missed.
Inner is the third lp to be released on wax by the legendary N5md label out of Oakland CA, it feels like the end of a trilogy that was conceived of from the inception of the first LP back in 2014. Ocoeur himself recently mentioned in an interview that 'Reversed' (the LP that preceded 'Inner') 'was certainly an evident move for achieving ‘Inner’ afterward. It is the logical progression of synths treatments and cinematic focusing. I wanted to design electronic instruments in a more orchestral way, to conduct the whole pieces into a very deep and organic course. Beats may be here only for a specific purpose like to enhance the force of the track for example.'
I recently listened to the three lp's I have of Ocoeur one after another and the entire journey was fantastic - moving from beat orientated glitch & downtempo to ambient and neo-classical in a way that very few have managed to successfully achieve.
I love to hear the evolution of an artists exploration in music and Ocoeurs progression from beats to ambience is comparable to Jon Hopkins movement from ambience to beats.
Inner is certainly one that will demand many many rotations - start with the track 'Mother' to get a taste for this one and then dive into his back catalog.
Another gem from Sonic Pieces. The incredible follow up to Vora see's Rauelsson ditch the dreamlike quality's of his last release on Sonic Pieces in favor of the darker more intense beat driven neo-classical and electro-acoustic rhythmic numbers.
The long awaited fifth studio album by Jon Hopkins, centered around Hopkin's experiences with meditation and psychedelic experiences Singularity is the rightful air to Immunity. Lush ambient pieces interweave with coarse techno in ways only Hopkins know how. For fans of Kiasmos, Moderat, Parra for Cuva and Christian Loffler.
Nils Frahm yields to the masses of fans and finally delivers his new album. Hiding away in a secluded building in Berlin the maestro has been concocting a simply beautiful follow up to Spaces and Solo. Whilst not as accessible as the aforementioned LP's All Melody reveals more with each listen (I am on my 150th already and still discovering more and more each time)
Here are our favorite releases of 2017
Ben Lukas Boysen retains his title as our favorite musician. This was always going to be #1 and, due to its four hour length, created as the soundtrack to the PS4 game 'Everything' this amazing work still provides hidden gems after the 300th listen.
Made entirely from field recordings on subway platforms - succeeds at being both a dark ambient and a dance floor album in one - very rare feat.
The fourth album from Dictaphone was worth every second of the almost six year wait. Dark minimal smoky noir jazz infused electro acoustic numbers.
Another flawless album by Richter. Working again with Wayne Macgregor to soundtrack a ballet about the life and writings of Virginia Woolf. So much emotion and energy in this album.
A very sad, mournful record, right up our alley.
Swedish duo Gidge use forest sounds to create downtempo dance tracks. Slow, soft and meandering the atmospheres they create are really soothing and exciting at the same time.
Combines dark ambient, field recordings and orchestral movements together into an incredible work.
Monique Rocknagel's Pattern imprint was created to release some of her favorite music quickly, as her main label Sonic Pieces' roster remained constantly backlogged and full. Just like Sonic Pieces it is home to some of the finest forward thinking drone/classical and electronic sculptures around and Pattern 004 is no exception.
With Traced, Jasmine finds a way of naturally ratcheting the tension of each track as it unfolds. She claims to have been inspired by digital surveillance technologies, and the very tech driven nature of the pieces does bring this to mind. One could imagine a music video of CCTV footage quickly cut together showing the general public out and about. According to the Sonic Pieces website, Jasmine "examined data generated from facial recognition systems and global monitoring networks and translates their algorithms into auditory shapes". Whilst I am not entirely sure what that actually means it sounds very artistic and interesting and allows extra weight to mentally drive the pieces when listening.
For the DJ, these tracks would fit very well in a set next to the likes of Ketev's I know no weekend and the first Raime LP. Either way, it is, like all pattern releases, an LP that will provide endless hours of re-listens.
The classic - finally repressed and sounding just as good as ever.
This introduced us to alot of musicians we listen to on a daily basis now.
Here are our favorite releases of 2016
(Some of these titles were released prior to 2016 but had their first vinyl release in 2016)
The magnum opus of Hecq's (AKA Ben Lukas Boysen) career. Night Falls is a grand tome of dark ambient moving from industrial and noir soundscapes into minimal and sci-fi territory. First released in 2008 it is now lovingly re-pressed in a beautiful vinyl edition from Erased Tapes Publishing and Hymen Records.
Another re-issued gem 'Pale ravine' is a monolith of dark minimal haunting neo-classical infused ambience and doom acoustics.
Darkjazz does not get much better then this deep dark and brooding release from Bohren. Finally made available on wax by the good people at PIAS it is a doom infused descent into the darkest realms of slow jazz.
One of the best film soundtracks of all time lavishly pressed (albeit in a way too small run) by Mondo)
Max Cooper returns with a glorious follow up to Human and certainly his most accomplished release to date. His music carries such emotion similar to the sounds of Gidge, Kiasmos, Parra for Cuva and Jon Hopkins.
Berlin based Ben Lukas Boysen has been crafting neo-classical electro accoustic numbers for the best part of two decades. Spells is hos second LP under his given name and the momentous and long awaited follow up to 'Gravity'. It' a towering work of Neo-classical expression. One of the finest examples of the genre you are likely to find.
Not since The Haxan Cloak's Excavation or Raime's Quarter turn over the living line has an album been so soaked in bass and tape manipulation. A deep and dark exploration of dance floor slow movers.
Gidge' soundtrack to a short film consists of two epic 20+ min long pieces of minimal ambient and electro-acoustic numbers.
The incredible end of the Moderat trilogy of lp's. A superb example of Melodic Techno.
With 'Reversed' Ocoeur dived further into his neo-classical exploration summoning up ten pieces of restrained haunting beauty. A fantastic follow on from 'A Parallel Life' and a superb primer for 'Inner'