Favourite Albums of 2017

Favourite Albums of 2017

December 28, 2017

Written by:

The Attic

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They say there is a certain kind of wisdom of insecurity. When all else falls, music will stand up as a true companion. Our journey continues, and as 2017 was such an intense year, we met so many amazing people and we connected on such a deep level, that at the end of the year we can say that it's definitely worth it. Everything. 2017 was another great year for new music, as well as for old music resurfaced and brought to new audiences.

Since we dislike lists as much as you do, we asked some of our contributors, collaborators and friends to help us and share their favourite albums of 2017. No constraints; a complete freedom of picking any preferred album which was produced or repressed during the course of this year. The only key element was the release date. A big thank you goes to everyone who contributed to this list.

From Bhob Rainey to Charles Manier

Aclds - Fuadain Liesmas (Entr'acte)
Chris Douglas, somehow totally excluded from the circus of the industry. Leaving me to ponder whether I am crazy or not in my admiration of his art - in all its depth and all its dimensions, that simply blow my existence to pieces. Physical sonic geographies revealed through his unique way of using rhythm - creating forces and tensions that breathe life into his sounds - turning them into visually living emotive organisms. Despite its seemingly chaotic outer-surface, once engulfed this wondrous magical physical awaits. Picked by Ma Yss

Alemayehu Eshete - Alteleyeshegnem / Temar Ledje (Philophon)
This seven inch is like a souvenir from probably the maddest show we put on in the passing year. Working with the "Ethiopian Elvis" taught me about showbiz grandezza the Eastern African style. Lots of confusion, 10 people onstage, a crazy success. Let's do it again. Picked by Christoph Linder (Planet Rock Bookings).

VA - Antologia de Música Atípica Portuguesa (Discrepant)
Antologia de Música Atípica Portuguesa (Anthology of Atypical Portuguese Music) is a series of volumes focusing on new strains of Portuguese music with an (un)characteristic foot in the past musical traditions of the country. The aim being to re-evaluate its musical history, de-construct clichés and re-assemble preconceptions into a new and daring musical landscape. This music will change your mind about any atypical Portuguese music, if ever these kinds of thoughts occurred. Don´t miss this, it can be the perfect companion of a cold winter. Picked by Dragos Rusu.

Basement Sessions - Vol. 4 (The Bali Tapes) (Clean Feed)
Espen Aalberg drums, percussion; Jonas Kullhammar saxophone, flute; Torbjörn Zetterberg bass; Susana Santos Silva trumpet.
The ‘mutated hard bop’ concept followed by the band is in full application, but there’s a substantial difference confirming the subtitle The Bali Tapes, and not only to confirm that the recording was done in Indonesia: all the musicians play gamelan instruments besides their own, and among Aalberg’s pieces one is a Javanese traditional tune. There’s no contradiction of the new proceedings with the post-Coltranean identity of the project – faithfull to the spiritual explorations put in music by the late saxophonist, what we find here is a group ritual diving deep into the inner soul of jazz and the souls of everybody involved, with a mercurian drive and a lyricism that, in the middle of all the fire going on, keeps astonishingly elegant. Picked by George Staicu (Muzica de Vest).

Bhob Rainey - From Null Lands Led, Starrily (Anòmia)
This is Rainey’s first solo, electronic, full-length album. What a relief to be in dialogue with my own destruction instead of just an innocent bystander! For all of Bhob’s seemingly arcane methodology – stochastic procedures, data sonification, and the like – the results are positively primordial. And there’s an unabashed sense of play. Loops emerge from nebulous dust but resist repetition and disintegrate. There are false starts, false endings, abrupt shifts in dynamics – fun for the whole family. In 2017, Bhob Rainey’s – From Null Lands Led, Starrily – arrives at a kind of music that somehow embodies amoral catastrophe – out of our control, nothing personal – but doesn’t exonerate civilization’s role inaccelerating it. Picked by George Staicu (Muzica de Vest).

Brother Ah - Divine Music (Manufactured Recordings)
Robert Northern (Brother Ah) is a lost giant – a name that almost no one has heard – a prodigy once recruited by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Roland Kirk, Donald Byrd, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, and Sun Ra, who ventured out on his own to astounding effect. His discography, playing, being, and humanity are windows into another world – an image of the heights of 20th Century music – a razor sharp unveiling of the sins of time. Divine Music presents an alternate history – an evolutionary music – the joining of Jazz, avant-garde Classical music, Soul, Gospel, the Blues, and New Age, with countless indigenous musics from across the globe. It is the voice of awareness – of heightened consciousness and politic. This is a Black music. This is an American music. This is social and spiritual music. This is a global music, bending time and bridging barrier – offering a new way of understanding ourselves. Divine Music levels the field – a heavy blow to the sins of time. As a collection of music it is stunningly beautiful. As an artifact, it rewrites the past with every note – so unique and diverse in source and result that it is impossible to completely describe. Astounding, mind bending and singular. This is unquestionably one of the most important releases of the year – historically significant – twenty compositions infused with the soaring heights of sonic joy – listening at its best. Picked by George Staicu (Muzica de Vest).

C. Spencer Yeh - The RCA Mark II (Primary Information)
Contemporary art is so overly reliant on conceit that execution, process, and results figure nary a chicken’s cluck. On the flip side, today’s music nerds are too dependent on end results, always wondering, “Can I sample this?” or “Will it fit in my new mix?”. Yeh’s new record makes great music out of a great idea: recording the sounds the now-defunct RCA Mark II synthesizer can still make with busted knobs, corroded wires, etc. It’s fidgety and loopy and has ‘nothing’ to do with the original intentions of the machine: a good reminder that the failure of functionality germs good vitals. Picked by Andrew Choate.

Carlos Casas ‎– Pyramid Of Skulls (Discrepant)
Listen to the secrets behind and inside your face. That's my only input and advice, but here's some info from the label: inspired by the common task (Fedorov) and the people of Pamir in Tajikistan, filmmaker and sound artist Carlos Casas deconstructs far away sights and sounds to create a unique field recording experiment that equally worships past, present and future traditions. Picked by Victor Stutz.

Carpenter Brut ‎– Trilogy (Caroline International)
3 LP's filled with madness for an imaginary film. Faster and louder please. Picked by Reggie Satanas.

Celephais - Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens (Ordo Viatorum)
There’s a certain maturity that comes with high quality ambient which is achieved with a lot of effort and years of experience in listening, digging, playing and producing. This album definitely has this feeling throughout and it is worth consuming several times in order to properly embody its intentions. Picked by Gabriel Leascu.

Charles Manier - Luxus Steroid Abamita (Bopside)
Slow burning, slow creeping and seemingly melting rhythmic patterns. Engulfed in smoky, sexy, gritty and almost dreamy; Nastiness. Picked by Ma Yss.
I am a huge fan of Charles Manier aka Tadd Mullinix aka Dabrye aka James T. Cotton. I follow his output since I bought my first Dabrye record in the early 2000s. He makes the most unique music in all kinds of styles and he is the master of Liasons Dangereuses style synthesizer beats! Picked by Credit 00.

Circuit Des Yeux - Reaching for Indigo (Drag City)
Devastatingly harrowing and deeply intimate avant-folk. On constant rotation from the moment I first heard it. Picked by Wouter Vanhaelemeesch.

From CoH to Dopplereffekt

Children of Alice - Children of Alice (Warp Records)
James Cargill and Roj Stevens, former Broadcast members, alongside Julian House, the musician behind the Focus Group project and co-owner of the Ghost Box label, released in 2017 an album where found sounds, effects, electronic interventions and a special skill in manipulating sounds build a lysergic landscape, looking back to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop days, and, not so paradoxically, to the legendary Cologne studio of Conny Plank. Picked by Rek Abu (Batiscaf Radio).

Chris Cutler - Probes #21 (Ràdio Web MACBA)
I’m such a fan of Cutler’s “Probes” series that I could extol any of them, but this latest episode frankly elucidates so many issues around the notion of “world music” that it deserves extra attention. Particularly because the excerpts from Yoshiro Irino, Zhu Lin, and Gregorio Paniagua exemplify what makes this series so special: mind-expanding examples of stunningly beautiful music that are deeply under-represented in Western society. Picked by Andrew Choate.

Cluster Lizard - Edge of the Universe (Le Cabanon Records)
Cluster Lizard are Dmytro Fedorenko & Kateryna Zavoloka (also known for her solo project, Zavoloka). Their music is haunting and danceable at the same time, ranging from experimental techno to dark ambient and IDM. Picked by Miron Ghiu.

CoH ‎– CoHgs (Editions Mego)
One of the reasons I picked this compilation is that the presence of vocals and narrative is at its core. Even if COH’s work is mainly instrumental, CoHgs gathers his previously released collaborations with vocalists. I’ve always considered very much the role of spoken voice as an instrument in electronic and experimental music, and I find this collection special because it emphasizes it, allowing us also to listen to COH’s production through another perspective. Featuring, among others, spoken word performed by Ann Demeulemeester and vocalizations by John Balance and Peter Christopherson, this record tells many stories all at once. Picked by Laura Not.

Cologne Tape - Welt (Magazine)
The list of attributions I admire in Cologne Tape is long and as winded as a road leading into the unknown. But what I am able to say is, that I am deeply touched by how this collective of artists is able to create a texture beyond artistic egoism. Cologne Tape are Ada, Daniel Ansorge (Barnt), Axel Willner of The Field, John Stanier (Battles), Jens-Uwe Beyer, Jörg Burger (Burger & Voigt), Crato, Philipp Janzen (Von Spar) and Mario Katz – in other words: a true all stars outfit. And still one does not feel this electrifying concentration of artistic egos within the sound and social interzone of the project, instead they manage to find a state of collective freedom. This music means so much, that dropping any genres here would be a sacrilege. So let´s keep it simple: Welt is their latest artefact to be shared with the world and you would be a fool not to get involved. Picked by Thomas Venker (Kaput Magazine).

Crème de Hassan - Technique & Rite (Inversions)
It's all swell on the outernational music front. This one conjures some heavy Arabic sounds, sentences and inflections together with some european effects and phrasing. Imperial stuff. Picked by Victor Stutz.

Cru Servers - Blubber Tottum (12th Isle)
Dubby psych-jams from this mysterious Glasgow duo on the excellent 12th Isle imprint. Absolute favourite: Shot to life. Picked by DJ soFa.

Cüneyt Sepetçi - Bulgar Gaydas (Living Music Duplication)
Insanity - do you feel the Bulgarian / Turkish / Roma noise? Picked by Christoph Linder (Planet Rock Bookings).

V.A. - Da'asa - The Haunting Sounds of Yemenite-Israeli Funk 1973-1984 (Fortuna Records)
Specializing in the obscure sounds of the Middle East, 2017 finds Fortuna Records in top form, gaining more popularity with their monthly show on NTS (A strange attractor) and releasing a much-expected compilation created by immigrants from Yemen, in Tel Aviv. Ranging from heavy psych organ drones to sweet vocal harmonies infusing a '60s garage sound, this collection brings freshness in a tidal wave of Turkish grooves and Bollywood funk of the last few years, blurring melodic boundaries between Israel, the Middle East and contemporary Western influences. Highlight: Reuma Abas - Wa'ana Fda Leumi. Picked by Laura Marin.

Dane//Close - The Miniature Industrial Complex (Power Station)
Special grooves from this underrated man out of London and Berlin. A touch of nostalgic electro feeling in the air. Rockbox is one of my most played warm-up tracks of the year I guess. Picked by DJ soFa.

Der Verboten (Frantz Loriot / Antoine Chessex / Cédric Piromalli / Christian Wolfarth) - s/t (Clean Feed)
I had my first exposure to the music of Frantz Loriot this year when I saw him play live, and this debut recording from a quartet of equally gifted players captures his tripartite agility: physicality, creativity, and thoughtfulness. The tightrope between imagination, philosophy, and ability is dramatized by what he does with his body in relation to the viola. The album is one track of full quartet action - half improvised, half composed, total wonder. Picked by Andrew Choate.

Do Make Say Think - Stubborn Persistent Illusions (Constellation)
As a lynchpin in the roster of the iconic Constellation Records I have waited for nine years for a follow-up to 2009’s Other Truths and my patience has been rewarded. Infinitely more complex and enthralling than the misnomer that is the “loud/quiet” tag they are often unfairly tarred with; it’s the journey from each end of that spectrum (which that clumsy description falls to take into account) that matters and is what keeps DMST firmly in my top 10 favourite bands. Picked by Doug Shipton (Finders Keepers Records).

Dominique Lawalrée - First Meeting (Catch wave Ltd/ Ergot Records)
Since the first time I heard Dominique Lawalrée’s ‘Clandestin’, I’ve been particularly attached to his music: from his minimal piano patterns, perfectly fitting for an introspective walk in the park, to his more experimental compositions. He definitely deserved a compilation that could trace a retrospective of his production and I’m glad that it happen this year. It felt like this music had been left hidden somewhere and it’s beautiful to see it raise under a new light: I would have never imagined I’d see Lawalrée performing one day and it was a such special surprise to hear him finally on stage this year. Surely one of my 2017 highlights. Picked by Laura Not.

DOOL - Here Now, There Then (Prophecy Productions)
Love this album and band, seeing them live is always a treat. Picked by Reggie Satanas.

Dopplereffekt ‎– Cellular Automata (Leisure System)
I am a huge fan of Gerald Donald. I buy everything he puts out. People might say all the new stuff sounds quite similar but it never lost its magic for me. Picked by Credit 00.

Dubmasta ‎- Incredible Survival Stories (SKP Records/Dagawa Release)
This is a sequel to infamous Kyiv DJ/Selecta's debut ambient album, which was heavily influenced by contemporary African dance music styles. The previous record was essentially synth-based and consisted of field recordings done while Dubmasta participated in Ten Cities project in South Africa. This release is less rhythm-orientated and presents a long and thoughtful work of collecting samples that fit in the concept of survival. The sources of samples vary from old Soviet educational records and Ukrainian manuals to protestant speeches, rare movies or quotes in different languages and sound shapes of unidentified origin. The use of synths here is minimalized to keep the main vibe, which may guide a listener through the album’s trippy narrative and, if you wish, lead to ‘therapeutic features’. Picked by Ivan Shelekhov.

From Errorsmith to Juana Molina

VA - Elsewhere MCMXIII (ICI)
Elsewhere MCMXIII is a 12 track compilation, inviting the audience into a journey of future retro oddities that navigates through different waves of electronic territories, all that with a taste for experimentation while being great to dance to, carefully assembled by DJ soFa for débruit’s ICI label. Picked by Dragos Rusu.

Errorsmith - Superlative Fatigue (PAN)
It’s hard to define the spectrum of Errorsmith’s productions, as he is always pushing it further, making some of the most futuristic dance music out there. This guy has an almost mathematical approach to his music and this album is the perfect example. Its fresh and original take on dancehall music and techno blend is done meticulously, layering subtle and tactile textures of abstract and avant-gardist club sounds. Picked by Romansoff.

Félicia Atkinson - Hand in Hand (Shelter Press)
Dog whisperer, cat whisperer, plumbing whisperer,...you can't have enough of those sexy voices, murmuring to you in French on top of SH101 sequences you already know by heart. But one whisperer really whooshed her way into the hearts and inner ears of so many. Félicia Atkinson delivered an instant cult peace. She deconstructed whispers as Bruno Dumont would smash your idea of an innocent kiss. On top of her vocal wizardry and puzzling colleagues of (un)meaningful syntagms, there is a staggering richness of sonic bravuras. Each copy of Hand in Hand should come with blueprint of DIY fireplace. p.s. It’s also important not to forget our local Belgrade whisperer - Stevie Whisper. Picked by Kйr (Drugstore Beograd).

Fresku & MocroManiac ‎- Juice (TopNotch)
This is one of the best Dutch rap albums.. period! Picked by Reggie Satanas.

Gökçen Kaynatan - Gökçen Kaynatan (Finders Keepers Records)
It is no surprise that this massive release of early Turkish electronic music it is issued and brought into light by the Finders Keepers wizards. With a touch of dusted lo-fi sounds, Gökçen Kaynatan is surfing through a very rich and colorful universe of music. Ahead of its time and splendid, this album has the total authority to reconstruct a world in which anyone would like to live. Not necessarily a paradise. Don’t miss this! An absolute secret weapon for any serious music fanatic. Picked by Dragos Rusu.

Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar, Shabaka Hutchings - A.R.E. Project (Technicolour)
Initially overlooked this E.P. that came out in mid summer, but then it hit me hard. Four tracks out of a longer jam which was streamed by NTS. Three master musicians of different musical background together in a room with recording equipment. The result is of extraordinary. Playful, emotional and funky. Picked by Shane Burmania
(The Rest Is Noise).

Ingleton Falls - Champagne In Mozambique (Isle Of Jura)
This cassette reissue on Isle Of Jura was something more than welcomed for 2017. As they state, 'Champagne In Mozambique' is an album from 'Ingleton Falls' that touches upon Ambient, Dub, House and Balearic music, being the result of a love of acts like Dub Syndicate, African Headcharge, Gary Clail, The Orb and The KLF. Inspired by the beautiful Ingleton Waterfalls trail and the (fictional?) library with the same name, the duo from Newcastle stand out with this act, as they manage to create a unique blend of styles. It was originally released in 1991 as a limited run of 100 self-distributed cassette tapes. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu (JB).

JASSS – Weightless (iDEAL Recordings)
A really coagulated and extensive effort from Anunnaki Cartel / Mannequin Records affiliate, subtly and insightfully hinting at her Spanish musical legacy. while also altering the way the hot-tempered industrial musical canon should sound like. Picked by Chlorys.

Jlin - Black Origami (Planet Mu)
Jlin Narlei may have started off as a Footwear producer, but right from the start her productions did not tolerate any wrong boundaries (just re-listen to Dark Energy, the magnificent debut from 2015). The same is to be said for this big mouth of a musician. Those familiar with her posting rhythm and content in the socials know what I am talking about. It is rare to find an artist so much willing to push herself all the time on new and unsafe territory. Or as she said to me once in an interview: ‘It all starts with a white paper’ – and after a long and painful process of folding there it was: ‘Black Origami’. Picked by Thomas Venker (Kaput Magazine).

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society – Simultonality (Tak:til)
It sounds like Julius Eastman, Terry Riley, Laraaji and Maalem Mahmoud Guinia started a band together and played the final scene in Twin Peaks' The Roadhouse. Love it. Picked by Shane Burmania (The Rest Is Noise).

Juana Molina - Halo (Crammed Discs)
Dreamy and mysterious experimental pop-folk from Argentina. Probably my most heard album of the year. Released on Belgium’s mythical Crammed Records. Picked by DJ soFa.

Karen Gwyer - Rembo (Don’t Be Afraid)
Karen Gwyer is a new and exciting name on the scene, producing all of her material on live hardware. Her live improvised shows are also pretty interesting as she shifts between experimental and techno. Rembo is a great attempt at producing club music and a different approach than her previous releases. The tracks are beautifully layered and built and she manages to deliver a variety of dance tracks, ranging from ambient and drone to pumping-techno and mellow house. Picked by Romansoff.

Kelela - Take Me Apart (Warp Records)
Take Me Apart succeeds greatly in melting some of the most recent trends in electronic music (Arca, Jam City, Dubbel Dutch) in an R&B album that juxtaposes expert and daring several proposals for an unpredictable future of pop music. Picked by Rek Abu (Batiscaf Radio).

Kelman Duran - 1804 KIDS (Hundebiss)
Dominican producer and filmmaker based in LA, his debut album 1804 Kids (a reference to the Haitian revolution) is a killer set of reggaeton rhythms passed through an emotive compressor, with a conscious use of pitch, autotune and reverb who donate a spiritual aura to his explosive dembow. In two words: Burial updated. Picked by Giuseppe Cutri.

Konstrukt & Keiji Haino - A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire (Karlrecords)
This exciting collaboration between the Turkish free jazzers Konstrukt & the noise musician Keiji Haino fostered some hallucinatory/whirling pieces of music adorned in a perverted avant-punk garment. Picked by Chlorys.

From La Tène to Midori Takada

La Tène ‎- Tardive/Issime (Three:four Records ‎/ Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Western music before/without baroque lace collars, Gardens of Versailles, taxes, East Indian Company, social contract,...You skinned the rabbit you caught today, put it on the fire, finally sit down beside it to heat yourself up. Rabbit is gone and everyone grabs a fiddle or a piece of wood to slam couple of rounds of Tardive/Issime until each of you is asleep. Picked by Kйr (Drugstore Beograd).

László Hortobágyi - Transreplica Meccano (Lullabies for Insomniacs)
Subtitled 'Annales of Gāyan Uttejak Society', the first solo album initially released in 1989 by Hungarian musicologist László Hortobágyi indeed plays out as the synthesized symphony of a secret otherworldly formation. Transreplica Meccano is quite a blindingly inventive suite, with skeletal hints of Hindustani music, Balinese gamelan, choirs, vocoders, sampled flute and many more Easter eggs sprinkled throughout – all in dialogue with a vague Pan-European industrial sound. Each of these elements would eventually go on to be explored in detail in Hortobágyi's further compositions, just as the idea of Gāyan Uttejak itself evolved into a network of preservationists, a studio and an orchestra. Here, they are pieces of a timeless and placeless labyrinthic puzzle, narrating its own fictional – but possible – history of music. Jon Hassell's fourth world aesthetic has been often mentioned in relation to this, but Transreplica Meccano feels like its less soulful, more cerebral counterpart: at times it evokes the sort of visuals a soundtrack to an Eastern European cult horror B movie usually would, at others it sounds like a commissioned piece for an avantgarde baroque play. Picked by Dan Angelescu (Balearic Goth).
This beautiful reissue of the prolific Hungarian composer & musicologist portrays his mystical musical journey heavily influenced by his initiatory trips to India. Apart from the oriental musicality, his musical realms are also sculpted by his childhood memories in which he summoned benevolent muses to deliver him from the reality of his then-life. Picked by Chlorys.

Litto Nebbia - Antologia 1971-2014 (World's Trees Records)
With more than 50 albums up to date and a career that started in the mid 1960's, Litto Nebbia is a true icon in Argentina. With styles ranging from jazz, fusion, rock, acoustic or electronic grooves, he still releases great music today with an unmistakable latin touch. World's Trees Records has compiled 33 of his best songs on this double CD, with detailed liner notes from top-notch digger Chee Shimizu. While disc 1 contains works published from 1971 to 1980 focusing on the jazz-rock and psychedelic era, disc 2 has a wider perspective gathering material from 1981 to 2014 with a more sensitive and mellow approach. Pretty rare already and released only in Japan, this album will always give a feeling of happiness that something unpleasant has not happened or has ended. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu (JB).

Maalem Mahmoud Gania - Colours of The Night (Hive Mind Records)
First vinyl release and final studio recordings of the late Moroccan Gnawa master Gania. Deep, hypnotic, uplifting, timeless. Remedy for scorpion stings and psychic disorders. Picked by Laura Marin.

Meridian Brothers - Donde Estas Maria (Soundway Records)
Psychedelic cumbia? Yes Sir, bring it on! Colombian musical mistfits Meridian Brothers released in 2017 their fourth album on Soundway Records this, taking their tropical heritage to a new dimension. Picked by Dragos Rusu.

Michele Mercure - Eye Chant (RVNG Intl/Freedom To Spend)
High pitched ‘epic’ synths, mechanical slow paced loops, organic compositions featuring vocoders, baby voices or resembling human corporal processes like breathing, vibrant danceable minimal wave, marvelous improv and some other treats I’ll let you discover on your own, make up for a complex, though not heterogeneous, high quality album. Picked by Gabriel Leascu.

Mhysa - Fantasii (Halcyon Veil)
Deconstructed R & B never sounded more ominous then this. This should be the future. Picked by Wouter Vanhaelemeesch.

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass (Palto Flats/We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records)
The reissue of this 80s lost-and-found gem was truly an act of justice. The serenity of it and at the same time the imaginative polyrhythmic composition work makes me think of percussionist Midori Takada as a scholar-musician of great patience. The comparison with minimalist composers, as well as ambient ones, should not leave her in the shadow of their authority as just sort of a distant follower. Picked by Ivan Shelekhov.

V/A- Miracle Steps: Music from the Fourth World 1983-2017 (Optimo Music)
Anthropologically, the term fourth world is applied to any nomadic people whose cultures are untouched by industrialization, hunter-gatherers, pastoral populations and other subgroups. Jon Hassell's own controversial – and deeply under-theorized – concept of 'fourth world music' is not supposed to be the music of the aforementioned people but rather "what music could be like if 'classical' had not been defined as what happened in Central Europe two hundred years ago". It's a necessary approach, and yet one that can be built only upon speculation. Props then to JD Twitch and Fergus Clark for compiling on Miracle Steps tracks with a slightly different take, bringing a much needed universality to the concept, featuring a diverse roster: from Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, O Yuki Conjugate and Jorge Reyes, to Crammed Discs artists Sussan Deyhim and Richard Horowitz or Staalplaat's Rapoon. In line with this, instruments used here are not meant to be their own signifiers. Trumpets sound like muted voices. Percussions, claps and plucks are one and the same. This is very organic ambient music, aware of its own materiality yet emanating in a hybrid-utopian man-confronts-machine mode; it is music that wishes to be sent in a time-capsule in space. Picked by Dan Angelescu (Balearic Goth).

Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Between August 31 and December 6, year 2016, in a room where his wife Geneviève, 35, had spent her last days, ‘using mostly her instruments, her guitar, her bass, her pick, her amp, her old family accordion, writing the words on her paper, looking out the same window’ Phil Elverum, alias Mount Eerie, wrote the music of what would become the most sincere, brutal, visceral, painful and disturbing musical work released in 2017. Picked by Rek Abu (Batiscaf Radio).

Nadah El Shazly - Ahwar
I saw the Egyptian young force Nadah El Shazly live in Beirut at the Irtijal festival earlier this year and it was a really nice surprise. Another pleasant surprise was the release of her debut album, two years in the making, on the Lebanese imprint Nawa Recordings. Tune in! Picked by Dragos Rusu.

Nico Niquo - In A Silent Way (Orange Milk Records)
Melbourne based Nico Callaghan compositions sounds like grime, but drumless, something between OPN and Riuichi Sakamoto. Evocative and anesthetic meditations. Welcome to the new new age. Picked by Giuseppe Cutri.

Nicola Ratti - The Collection (Room40)
I had the great pleasure to camp in Giuseppe Ielasis studio in the suburbs of Milano (for the work on a story for “Chart – Notes to Consider” magazine) while he was mastering this fantastic album. And there I also met Nicola Ratti, one of Milan’s most interesting personalities, the co-founder of the artist-run space Standards, located in Via Maffucci, which is both art gallery and concert venue, and an exceptional experimental musician. While most of his releases are the result of a concentrated working process on new material, „The Collection“ is more likely, as the titles suggests, the balance sheet of a certain period in his works. That said it comes with great surprise how deeply connected those tracks of the album are, perfectly made for a constant flow of sound and still let each and single one keep its own identity in that process. Truly a masterpiece. Picked by Thomas Venker (Kaput Magazine).

Nidia Minaj - Nídia É Má, Nídia É Fudida (Principe)
Last time I had a friend going to Lisbon I asked her to go to a record store and buy me some Principe releases, as this label is one of my cakes in this world and kuduro is one of my great joys. At the time, Nidia's LP wasn't out, so go to Lisbon again and get me some rough brand of kuduro, girl! Picked by Victor Stutz.

Niña de la Puebla - I'm Always Crying (Death Is Not The End)
Always behind black glasses because blind since she was three days old, Dolores Jimenez Alcantara aka Niña de la Puebla was one the greatest flamenco singers, with a sweet and heartfelt voice, luckily reissued by Death Is Not The End in this cassette of early recordings. Picked by Giuseppe Cutri.

Ninos Du Brasil – Vida Eterna (Hospital Productions)
Coming from Italy, Ninos Du Brasil are creating an ethnic-drums flavored deep techno with many industrial and batucada elements. Picked by Miron Ghiu.

From Oiseaux Tempete to Richard Dawson

V/A - Ocean of Sound - the 3rd annual report (Unexplained Sounds)
This is a mammoth 2-volumes compilation, containing 229 tracks produced by more than 200 artists coming from 40 countries. Dark ambient, electro-acoustic, pure experimental sounds and more. Picked by Miron Ghiu.

Oiseaux Tempete - Al’an (Sub Rosa)
Swirling Eastern influenced, free rock utter brilliance, spiced up with field recordings and spoken word poetry will rip your ego apart and throw it in the cosmic soup. Picked by Gabriel Leascu.

V/A - Oté Maloya (The Birth Of Electric Maloya On Reunion Island 1975-1986 (Strut)
New wave of maloya compilation on Strut that finds outer space is located somewhere on the island of Réunion. Picked by Wouter Vanhaelemeesch.

V/A - Outro Tempo: Electronic And Contemporary Music From Brazil 1978-1992 (Music From Memory)
This compilation explores an overlooked corner in a timeless, cult-status scene that seemed to no longer hide any musical surprises. You will recognize here and there well-known tropicalia and bossa nova soundscapes that take unexpected synth turns, new-age explorations, avant-garde vocal experiments and an overall alternative vision of Brazilian music. Highlight: Os Mulheres Negras – Mãoscolorida. Picked by Laura Marin.

Oxbow - Thin Black Duke (Hydra Head Records)
It does Oxbow a disservice to call Thin Black Duke the noise rock Sgt. Pepper's... but it should at least give you some idea of how much time has been spent on creating this career best album. Picked by John Doran (The Quietus).

Pauline Anna Strom - Trans-Millenia Music (RVNG Intl.)
2017 was no exception for RVNG Intl. high standard. Again they gifted the world with some of the most beautiful albums. Not only Visible Cloaks, but especially their rediscovery of the sound world of Pauline Anna Strom was enriching. With clearness, depth, dance floor flirts and lots of fantasy, the music transcends the mundane. Blissfulness on repeat. Picked by Shane Burmania (The Rest Is Noise).

Phew - Light Sleep (Mesh-Key)
Interestingly, Light Sleep was marketed as a sort of comeback album for Phew, despite the fact that she put out releases in both 2015 and 2016. But she's been around all the way since 1981, collaborating with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, DAF, Neubauten and Otomo Yoshihide; her first album was produced by Conny & Holger & Jaki. What perhaps elicited this Phew revival of sorts is that on this year's release she draws from all these influences and finds out how to channel her own punk attitude of the past, while maintaining the urgency of an intimate DIY sound. It's the analog electronics, old drum machines and screwed-up synths that make this album the Suicide-motorik strobing monolith that it is. Particularly appealing in its case is how, despite its influences + claustrophobic nature, there's no nostalgia about any of the proceedings here. It simply swirls itself in and makes a mess. Picked by Dan Angelescu (Balearic Goth).

Poligam ‎- Poligam LP (Wiener Brut)
Poligam was a Viennese band active from early 80s. Wiener Brut (sublabel of Neubau) presented a collection of Poligam tracks that were recorded in the band members living rooms around 1984. LP comes with dancefloor friendly remixes by Dunkeltier and SpAcelex. Picked by Lukas Danys (Untitled Tricks).

Restive Plaggona - Committed To The Truth (Yerevan Tapes)
If nothing else, this year made my superstitious. I'm really not a label guy when it comes to discovering new music. I'm more like a pig grabbing through dirt, every now and then there is a juicy acorn, but just sometimes there is a crumb of truffle. This years' truffle was Restive Plaggona. Hyper-prolific artist from Greece of whom I don't know much, but as with all artists that you don't know much about, you start building your own personal imaginary world around them. I was hoping that when Villeneuve sacked Jóhann Jóhannsson, he did it because he heard Restive Plaggona...Alas. With an amazing set of circumstances, together with Restive Plaggona, I ended up in the arms of my favorite label Yerevan Tapes, real honor. Among five releases that Dimitris had this year, Committed To The Truth ‎is definitely one that will put you into bandcamp binge. Picked by Kйr (Drugstore Beograd).

Rich La Bonté ‎- Mayan Canals (Dark Entries)
This got repressed in 2017. I had the song White Magician already on a Light Sounds Dark Compilation but there was no track list on the sleeve, so I didn’t know who it was for a long time. This track is absolute magic! Sounds like a ghetto version of the Beatles. Dark Entries on the case again. Picked by Credit 00.

Richard Dawson - Peasant (Weird World)
Those fearing that Richard Dawson would lose some of his visionary vitality in the switch to a full band format had little to worry about. Peasant, makes it four absolutely killer albums on the trot from the peerless Tyneside songwriter. Picked by John Doran (The Quietus).

V/A - Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa (Ostinato Records)
From dusty Somali archives to a Grammy nomination! "Broken Dates", put together by Berlin-based musician Nicolas Sheikholeslami and Ostinato Records boss Vik Sohonie, compiles some of the most seductive music re-released in 2017. Picked by Christoph Linder (Planet Rock Bookings).

Svitlana Nianio and Olexandr Yurchenko ‎– Знаєш як? Розкажи (Delta Shock) and Lisova Kolekciya (Skire)
These two albums have been known as the sides of a self-made cassette tape, which was circulating within mutual friends in Kyiv back in the day. Both were mid ‘90s homemade recordings of local underground composers and performers. First one is a play-like eight piece of gloomy songs with mythology-based lyrics, sung to live keyboard rhythms and outlined by noises and drones of percussive origin. The other one is a totally keyboard-based songbook of poetic imagery reflecting on mysticism. Though most of the repertoire is monotonous, in its own hermetic way, it also shows a variety of harmonies, styles, rhythms, and of course, a haunting beauty of Svitlana Nianio’s voice. The happening of these reissues at the same year in Ukraine and England respectively - was a total coincidence. Picked by Ivan Shelekhov.

From Tomaga to Zeitkratzer

Tapan - Europa (Malka Tutti)
Tapan's Europa can be seen as an answer to 2016's relentless media frenzy about the stories of Syrian and North African migrants trying to escape wars and endless suffering. Aptly titled Europa, Goran and Schwabe's album echoes middle eastern themes and puts them in a stark and industrial landscape. The music feels like soundtrack for what has happened, but also paints an image of what's to come. Picked by Khidja.

Tarawangsawelas - Wanci (Morphine Records)
Rabih Beaini's consistent efforts to bring the Indonesian fascinating traditions of music onto new audiences and territories materialized into this beautiful album by Tarawangsawelas. Trance meditative music at its best, I simply love this album! Picked by Dragos Rusu.

V/A - The Tropical Drums Of Deutschland - Compiled by Jan Schulte (Music For Dreams)
An ingenious title for another brilliant compilation. An album which sent me inadvertently on a trip down memory lane to growing up in 1980s South Germany when monsters of world music 1.0 like Embryo (not on the compilation) and Argile (represented with 2 tracks) toured the area regularly. Picked by Christoph Linder (Planet Rock Bookings).

Tomaga - Memory In Vivo Exposure (Hands In The Dark Records)
An impossible outfit to pigeonhole, the zoetic Anglo-Italian partnership of Tom Relleen and Valentina Magaletti has produced some of the most vibrant and unique music of the last few years. Operating a guerrilla release schedule, working alongside some of the most genuinely forward-thinking labels out there at the moment (including Blank Editions, Kaya Kaya and God Unknown) underpinned by a relentless live calendar, Tomaga’s amorphic sound mutates before each release even has a chance to take root. Picked by Doug Shipton (Finders Keepers Records).

Tornado Wallace ‎– Lonely Planet (Running Back)
Lonely Planet is the debut full-length release for Berlin-based Australian electronic producer Lewie Day. Picked by Ozan Maral (Arkaoda).

Tradition - Captain Ganja and the Space Patrol (Bokeh Versions)
With roots reggae and dub being increasingly popular within the UK from the 1970's onwards, 1980 definitely set up a landmark with this sci-fi jazz/dub LP, which was so ahead of its time. Loaded with echo and sound effects, centered around spacy synths, keyboards and Roland sampler, the music is really "out of the cosmic factor" as we're told right from the start on "The Breathtaking Blast". Don't miss the chance to listen to this great reissue of the London based group's trippy masterpiece, on the excellent Bokeh Versions label. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu (JB).

Tzusing ‎- 東方不敗 (L.I.E.S.)
Tzusing debut LP delivers a hard hitting, yet innovative selection of EBM influenced techno tracks. Title 東方不敗 literally translates to "Invincible East", referencing to swordsman character in a Jin Yong novel ‘who must make the ultimate sacrifice to attain knowledge and transform’. Picked by Lukas Danys (Untitled Tricks).

V/A ‎- ¡Un Saludo! Mexican Soundsystem Cumbia In LA (Dutty Artz, Songs From Home)
I found out about it through Sahel Sounds back in March when it came out and I knew it was going to be good. Still, I didn’t expect I would enter the tunnel. I was a cumbia fan for a long time and yet I've never heard cumbia from Mexico before this. Thanks to Xandao (Alexandra Lippman) for the selection and the people involved: kumbia is quite some shit in Bucharest right now as me and two friends play mexican cumbia parties as Trio Mercur. Picked by Victor Stutz.

Yasuaki Shimizu - Kakashi (Palto Flats, We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records)
Yasuaki Shimizu's rare 1982 album Kakashi was reissued in November, for the first time outside of Japan, by WRWTFWW and Palto Flats. Picked by Ozan Maral (Arkaoda).

Zazou / Bikaye / Cy 1 ‎– Noir Et Blanc (Crammed Discs)
An unsurpassed milestone in European/African fusion, this is a head-on collision between traditional Central African vocals and uncompromising analog electronics. Picked by Ozan Maral (Arkaoda).

Zeitkratzer - Serbian War Songs (Karlrecords)
Another interesting interpretation coming from Reinhold Friedl’s Zeitkratzer ensemble. At almost 100 years from the end of World War I, this record reworks traditional Serbian chants from and about that time. The powerful voices of singers Svetlana Spajić and Dragana Tomić contribute to strengthen the intensity of Zeitkratzer’s arrangements, accompanied by Obrad Milić playing the gusle. Contemporary experimentations blend interestingly with the dramatics of traditional music in a touching composition. Two days after being advised to listen to this record, I found it right in front of me in the first shop I went to, and when I played the first track I instantly loved it. Picked by Laura Not.

Zimpel/Ziołek - Zimpel/Ziołek (Instant Classic)
Two of the most powerful figures from the Polish DIY underground - virtuoso 12 string guitarist Kuba Ziołek (Stara Rzeka) and Waclaw Zimpel (Saagara) finally join forces on a collaborative record, which is a master class in pop minimalism. Picked by John Doran (The Quietus).

Zos Kia/ Coil – Transparent (Cold Spring)
First released 33 years ago; we have here some of the very first released music from both Coil and Zos Kia (the latter being John Balance, John Gosling and Min). Sometime last year, a YouTube video surfaced of the actual 1983 Berlin Atonal performance during which part of this album was recorded. You can see both (John)s and Min performing ….disturbingly powerfully, yet with such fragility. These were the more industrial and gritty days of Coil, and while they eventually reached the moon and the cosmos, their journey seems to have started in the very inner depth of our rawest, most hauntingly vulnerable and naked; human self. Picked by Ma Yss.

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