This year has been another one for the books. Still in the midst of a pandemic. Stupid selfish people everywhere. Now a new variant that spreads quicker. Staying in all the time has gotten old, but this has been a good year for new music. It seems people being stuck indoors is really helping their creativity. I feel like I’ve bought less music this year, but it’s still a ton more than I’ve made. What I have purchased, though, has been solid. This was a hard list to make, so I’m going to throw a couple of honorable mentions in at the end. Bandcamp links where possible. ~Edweird
Without further ado:
- Hide – Interior Terror
This band is my new obsession. I had all three of their records thrown at me at once. I review this one since it came out this year. This is pure and proper Industrial music. Knowing they come from Chicago, though, you should not assume Wax Trax rehash. Think England in 1979-80 then bring it forward. This is definitely not for anyone looking for “pretty” music. Eric Brown brought this band to my attention and we are bound and determined to somehow see them live once it’s safe to do so.
- DJ Muggs – Dies Occidendum
Unsettling and funky at the same time. Best listening experience was in the car at night during a rain storm. I wish I could program drums this well. Eric Brown sent this one to me too.
- Bossk – Miration
To call this a “metal” record would be a disservice to what was accomplished here. Dark ambient, noise, grindcore, and stoner, with tidbits of found sound, and 80’s post industrial. This record was a complete revelation. Pete Larson found this one and I bought it on the strength of the first track. Solid throughout.
- William Parker – Mayan Space Station
This is literally the best new jazz record I’ve bought in a very long time. This record feels like it was done in the mid to late 70’s then shelved, because no one got it. Then someone in 2099 discovered it and sent it back to 2021 in some mad hope that it would influence music for the rest of the century. Again, Pete Larson turned me onto this one.
- Loscil – Clara
This is the ambient record of the year. Lush, yet dark and foreboding. Bright, yet chilled to the bone. Immersive without interrupting ones thoughts. Spacious.
- Silk Sonic – An Evening with Silk Sonic
I hate this record! I hate it because it’s too goddamn short! This record is the auditory answer to butter dripping off a hot biscuit.
- Aaron Dilloway – Lucy & Aaron
I think this is some of Aaron’s best work here. I really think Lucrecia pushed him into areas he’s not used to going. Less immediate and more contemplative. The production level on this is extremely well done too. Definitely requires headphones.
- The Grid/Fripp – Leviathan
This comes close to beating Loscil for best ambient record this year, but not quite. The difference is where Loscil’s Clara record feels fresh and new, Leviathan feels a little more by the numbers. Comfort food for the ambient head. It’s Fripp so it could only be good and The Grid are a revelation to me.
- Child of a Creek/Fallen – Her Name is a Whispered Lullaby
From the opening piano chords this record grabbed me. Lorenzo Bracaloni has outdone himself on this record. I’ve been listening to his work for awhile now, but this record is far above his previous records. It’s as if written against the backdrop of a silent sci-fi film.
- Dr. Pete Larson and his Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band – Damballah
Not quite as good as their first effort, simply because it lacks the vocal work they did last time around. As hypnotic as that first record. Fred Smith’s guitar work is the shining feature here,though, dancing around Pete’s nyatiti in the mix like a storm on a river.
- Mastadon – Hushed and Grim
This is a long record. I’ve honestly not had the time to really listen to all of it. What I have heard is pretty fantastic, though. If this had come out two months earlier I’d likely have thrown this on the top ten list.
- Gallery Six – The Inner World
Rather than self release, Hidekazu Imashige has released his latest effort on Diffuse Records. This is on par with his other releases, but adds a bit more depth by using field recordings.
- Kowloon Walled City – Piecework
This is another record I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with (it was released a short time ago) but so far it’s just as solid as Grievances, the first record I bought of theirs.
- Sagan – Anti-Ark
This record was 15 years in the making. I still don’t understand fully why it took so long to release, but it’s pretty accomplished. This would’ve made the main list if it felt more coherent. It feels like it’s been a long ass work in progress.