Favourite Albums of 2019

Favourite Albums of 2019

December 28, 2019

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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When all else falls, music will stand up as a true companion. It's that time of the year when we draw a line of what happened in the music world in the past year. 2019 has been a wonderful year for both new and old music discoveries. Welcome to the endless journey through music albums.

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 2019. No constraints; a complete freedom of picking any preferred album (or compilation) which was produced or repressed during the course of this year.

A big thank you goes to everyone who contributed to this list. Together, we compiled a beautiful selection of music that will resist any test of time.

From Andrew Pekler to Ashinoa

Ana Roxanne - ~~~ (Leaving Records)
Ana Roxanne - ~~~ (Leaving Records)
100 gecs, Dylan Brady & Laura Les - 1000 gecs (Dog Show Records)
”I like the feeling of falling on my head and waking up with rearranged limbs when I hear new music. Consider my listening limbs rearranged by 100 Gecs. One of the truly derangedly delightful albums to sing along to. And when you do, you will inevitably dance as well, hence the falling.” Picked by Andrew Choate

Àbáse - Invocation (Cosmic Compositions)
”I can only recommend giving ear to this beautifully made crossover of afrobeat, hip hop, jazz and electronica. Invocation is the debut EP of the Budapest-born / Berlin-based producer, keyboard player and multi-instrumentalist Àbáse. The album has been recorded in different parts of the world and features some of the most talented musicians from the Budapest scene together with guest performers from Ghana and Brazil. A collection of seven pieces with a sublime rhythm section, that invites the listener to a soulful musical journey.” Picked by Dimitra Zina / Piranha Records

Aki Aki ‎- Dishjockey (candomblé)
”Trippy abstract and leftfield, highly addictive trancey stuff from Dusseldorf. The label had 3 releases this year, all great.” Picked by Aggelos Baltas / Anatolian Weapons

VA - Ambientwaves (Soundsphere)
”From the Bucharest based Soundsphere label, here’s a collection of 16 pieces, each having its own unique identity. A mystical, subtle blend of spectral atmospherics, sacral music and experimental noisescapes, Ambientwaves is a transporting album that plays by its own rules.” Picked by Delia Gavrilă

Ana Roxanne - ~~~ (Leaving Records)
”Originally released in 2015 on cassette but first time on vinyl this year. Beautiful spiritual explorations.” Picked by Cuinet Morgan / Hands In The Dark

Andrew Pekler - Sounds from Phantom Islands (Faitiche)
”Back in the days, cartographies where pretty approximative things you know. Sometimes you would think you landed on a new uncharted territory (an island for example) and you would get excited and have that signed on the map and maybe give it your name or so. Fact is, after ages, with the help of satellites and such technologies, human race discovered it had invented/mistaken several non-existing islands. Andrew Pekler and his wife worked on this funny historical phenomenon giving us a fantastic sonic rendition of these imaginary places, their aural landscape, their people and folklore. New-Exotica 10/10.” Picked by Luigi Monteanni / ArteTetra

Andy Stott - It Should Be Us (Modern Love)
”Having been a big fan of Andy Stott going back many years he had fallen off the radar somewhat with this being his first release since 2013; judging by this record perhaps he’s spent copious amounts of time in the studio refining his style.. Pitched down house and techno here that flows seamlessly.” Picked by Alan Currie / Assemble Agency

Angelina Yershova - CosmoTengri (Twin Paradox Records)
”Kazakh composer Angelina Yershova explores themes of ecology and the human exploitation of the natural world, combining her invigorating blend of electronic music with elements of religious and spiritual beliefs from Central Asia. The first track of the album, Korgau is dedicated to "Kok Zhailau", a mountain plateau in the Ile-Alatau State National Park in Kazakhstan, currently at risk of deforestation, its video made in collaboration with Kazakh artist and environmental activist Saltanat Tashimova.” Picked by Andrei Rusu / The Attic

VA - Anthology of contemporary music from Africa continent (Unexplained Sounds)
”What the distinct and yet recognizable paths of this anthology achieve is to depict an alternative. One that’s always been there, one that’s always been contemporary, and yet has also been relegated to the past, anchored to an impossible dissociation of temporality that allows entire cultures to be thought of as living not here, not now, and therefore lesser. To go unheard in such a context is a matter of life and death, and what we have here are truly new voices that emerge not from any sort of national or regional essentialism, but from the movement and vitality of a modernity fractured and repurposed, the knowledge that has been imposed now a weapon in its own demise. We can embark on our "unexplained sounds" journey into Mother Africa.” Picked by Raffaele Pezzella / Unexplained Sounds

Ashinoa - Sinie Sinie (Macadam Mambo)
”Psychedelic masterpiece, especially closing my eyes to Hendwe always takes me to another galaxy. Seeing this band live on Zone Disco Autonome festival this year was one of my highlights - so incredibly talented.” Picked by André Pahl
”Powerful psychedelic Krautrock 4-tracker by the Lyon based band. Telling stories about dirty guitar riffs, cigarette butts and arp odyssey.” Picked by Marius Houschyar

Bastarda - Ars Moriendi (Lado ABC)
”Polish avant-jazz trio playing medieval funeral music in very fresh and freeway. It sounds gloomy, but not like some horror-ambient stuff. Clarinet, cello and contrabass makes really interesting version of “old-music”. One of my favourite projects working with traditional material. Bastarda and Greek MMMD are best in this conception.” Picked by Bulat Khalilov / Ored Recordings
Celestial Trax - Serpent Power (True Aether)
Celestial Trax - Serpent Power (True Aether)

From Bill Orcutt to Dark Day

Benjamin Lew - Le Personnage Principal Est Un Peuple Isolé (Stroom)
”Yet another remarkable release by Stroom! This compilation gathers some of my favourite works by Benjamin Lew, in particular his collaborations with Steven Brown of Tuxedomoon. Le Personnage Principal Est Un Peuple Isolé is a fascinating filmic journey, where percussive rhythms and oneiric atmospheres take the listener to mysterious and unreachable landscapes that likely exist only in the mind.” Picked by Laura Not

Bill Orcutt - Odds Against Tomorrow (Palilalia Records)
”I never get tired of listening to Bill Orcutt and this album is so strong and expressive. In particular the pace of his playing draws me in - captivatingly beautiful music.” Picked by Magda Mayas

Blue Lake - The Parrot (Kiosk 7)
”Mega off the wall, under the radar free jazz experiments recorded a few years ago in rural Scandinavia and self-published this year in a tiny run of 75 copies. I heard the track Kiosk Solo used by my friends Time Is Away as a bedding for the spoken word of W.G. Sebbald on their radio show to incredible effect. Turned out the rest of the LP was equally pleasant on the ears and it's been a late contender for my most listened to of 2019.” Picked by Fergus Clark / 12th Isle

Carter Tutti Void ‎- Triumvirate (Conspiracy International)
Triumvirate is Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Nik Colk Void's final album as a trio, hitting on the same improvisational spirit of their other records. The six-track LP arrived in August via Carter and Fanni Tutti's (aka Chris & Cosey) label. Picked by Florin Oslobanu

Celestial Trax - Serpent Power (True Aether)
”An album for closed eyes and ready minds, starting from "Aura Cleansing" and finishing with "In The End We Ascend", Serpent Power is a remarkable sound-bath full of active ingredients. Attentive listening is sustained by layers of beautifully inseparable elements as we are led to discover that the Way In Is The Way Out”. Picked by Omri Shmulewitz

The Clandestine Quartet - One for the Fossa, Two for the Wolverine (33-33)
”Here's the debut LP from the Clandestine Quartet, a spectacular music project bringing together Alan and Richard Bishop with Michael Flower and Chris Corsano. What happens when these musicians get together in order to play? Well, it's not hard to guess, the result is almost indescribable in words, so I'd probably need to change my ideas about jazz or anything in between, because this is pure musical bliss. Take this album with you anywhere, spread the love, the tense energies, the healing sounds, the dance, the pains, the sorrows, the happiness, the joy.” Picked by Dragoș Rusu

Clara! Y Maoupa – Luna Nueva (Les Disques De La Bretagne)
”I was playing music with one of The Attic's founders in a Bucharest club - the first time I played a track form their first release, Meneo - in 2018. It was also the first time I dropped reggaeton in our set. I saw the strain in his eyes during the two minutes of it. Later I heard it all made sense to the man. Reggaeton, perreo and other modern latino music bare a stigma, they're not for the elitist, they're low on the quality scale. The same with trap, some are still waiting for the good trap to arrive. So, I must be revolutionary, or at least a terrorist or a sexual brute for liking and promoting this wonderful stuff.” Picked by Victor Stutz

Clipping - There Existed an Addiction to Blood (Sub Pop)
”L.A. rap trio Clipping released one hell of an album. A horror-themed album that was produced by digging into the rap archives, connecting the dots between horrorcore hip-hop—a cult ‘90s sub-genre that included artists like Flatlinerz, Gravediggaz, and a gaggle of Memphis rappers—with the eerie audio tricks of vintage horror movies. Every track is an experience and you have no clue where it will take you to. No matter what happens, don’t go into the forest alone.” Picked by Codin Orășeanu

Contagious - Contagious (Morphine Records)
”Contagious is avant-garde instrumentalists Andrea Neumann and Sabine Ercklentz alongside electronic musician Mieko Suzuki. The three oppose, interact, re-interpret and deconstruct each other’s practices and expressions to create work of enormous gravitas. Recorded, arranged and mixed by Rabih Beaini.” Picked by Cosmin Nicolae / Cosmin TRG

D.K. - The Goddess Is Dancing (Good Morning Tapes)
”Tape only, slow burning percussive Hau Dong ritualistic shout-out by the Parisian dude. Character play, they say.” Picked by Bogman
”Research into cultural heritage of Vietnam has acquired a new epic embodied by the musician D.K. Diving into this recording, manifest like union with the archetype of the Hau Dong ritual, which opens the portal to other dimensions that are channel, the dance, combined with spirit that transforms the essence of the listener, exalting in personal, vertical evolution.” Picked by Dima Rabik

Dark Day - Darkest Before Dawn (Dark Entries)
”This album sounds like a soundtrack to a parallel universe.” Picked by Borusiade
”A lost gem from an acoustic chamber ensemble led by DNA originator Robin Crutchfield and reissued by mighty Dark Entries. Differently from his previous outputs as Dark Day, focusing on a more minimal synth electronic sound, this record brings the listener in a time travel through the mists of time: medieval folk music for a new dark age or, as the press release puts it, pagan tunes for private ceremonies.” Picked by Francesco Pappagallo
Das B - Canopy (ТОПОТ)
Das B - Canopy (ТОПОТ)

From Donato Dozzy to Farafi

Das B - Canopy (ТОПОТ)
”The supergroup of key experimental musicians of the world — trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, drummer Tony Buck, pianist Magda Mayas and double bass player Mike Majkowski — formed quite spontaneously back in 2015. Two years later they recorded live material at the Austrian Konfrontationen festival, which came out as the full-length album Canopy this year. A whole herbarium of sounds is hidden under the cover with colorful leaves of trees; the rhythm of improvisation develops in waves, inflated by sensitive streams of air. Mike Majkowski’s double bass and piano of Magda Mayas create a translational effect of deep breath and long exhale along the whole album. While Kerbaj’s trumpet and Buck’s percussion fill this psychedelic journey with unexpected, frightening, bewitching sounds of the forest thicket. This album can safely award the prize in the nomination for The Trip of the Year.” Picked by Eugenie Galochkin

Donato Dozzy - 12H (Presto!? Records)
”Hypnotic, trippy and psychedelic, taking you deep down into the rabbit hole. Transcendental and seductive floating towards paradise.” Picked by Florin Șerban

Driftmachine - Driftmachine Plays Marien van Oers (Ongehoord)
”A re-interpretation of a sound piece from Marien van Oers (1983) by Driftmachine on a massive modular synth, with the aim to get the listener into a state of trance. Incredible release — and also to see this duo live, especially when the artist Mika Shkurat makes the visuals!” Picked by André Pahl

Dub Trio - The Shape Of Dub To Come (New Damage Records)
”The motto of the American band Dub Trio on their latest sixth studio LP, The Shape of Dub to Come (their first album in eight years) is: Dub is a philosophy, not solely a genre, or a SOUND! And bless them, they really prove it! The name and concept are a tribute to Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz masterpiece The Shape of Jazz to Come and Refused’s Hardcore Punk’s golden LP, The Shape of Punk to Come – all in debt to H. G Wells, who’s 1933 The Shape of Things to Come novel changed the world forever by combining science-fiction with socio-political historic drama. The LP is such a sonic collage only DP Holmes (guitar/ keyboards), Stu Brooks (bass/ keyboards) and Joe Tomino (drums/ melodica) could have pulled this off. It simply goes from sludge, heavy metal and post-rock to dub and electronic sounds from song to song, but also even inside a tune’s fragile unpredictable structure. The album features three excellent collaborations with Me'Shell NdegéOcello on Forget My Name Dub, with King Buzzo of the Melvins on the LP’s first single World of Inconvenience, and with Mastodon’s Troy Sanders on the albums heaviest moment on the record, Fought The Line. Each tune has a special haunting video with a dark aesthetic to it. Here comes future sonic danger cooked on recent American politics and Dub philosophy, straight from Jamaica’s turmoil and vibrant sounds of King Tubby, Scientist and Mad Professor (the Holy Trinity of Dub). The visual aspects are taken care of supremely by Norwegian graphic designer Martin Kvamme.” Picked by Andrei Bucureci

Du-Du-A - Du Du Archive 1984-1989 (Discom)
”Without doubt one of the brightest gems from Belgrade. Never released songs compiled together to reveal mysterious two faces of the band, Vanilla and Voodoo side.” Picked by Bojan Živkov

Els Vandeweyer - Debut (90%Wasser)
”This record unfolded as one of big importance to the one who writes as soon as it was heard, very recently, towards the end of the year. And the harder it increasingly became to meet with Els and exchange our music, the more it resonated within. Words fail and that can only be a good thing. We finally met and swap records. Record still sounds disarmingly beautiful. Debut of the year.” Picked by Hugo Capablanca

VA - Elsewhere Junior I: A Collection Of Cosmic Children's Songs (Music for Dreams)
”I already knew DJ soFa via some crazy online podcasts, what I didn’t know until this year was his work as compiler and researcher behind some of the finest records (one over all: Gökçen Kaynatan’s record on Finders Keepers) and the Elsewhere series compilations released on several labels. The latest chapter of the series focuses on children's songs that tends towards the more cosmic and intergalactic end of the musical spectrum. The outcome is a bizarre but brilliant concoction that range from German school choirs singing about robots to bonkers cuts made by parents and their children, and even a dash of kiddie-friendly space disco built around dub reggae rhythms.” Picked by Matteo Pennesi / ArteTetra

Exhausted Modern - Moral Discourse (VEYL)
”As a producer and a curator, Maenad Veyl has impressed me many times over. His VEYL label releases all have a unique sound that blend heavy metal, sludgy electronics and EBM in a unique and danceable way. I DJ this EP by Exhausted Modern out all the time; I love the trudging pace, the distorted synths and the layered percussive sounds that thread through each of the tracks.” Picked by Chloé Lula

Fabio & Grooverider - 30 Years of Rage Part 1 (Above Board Distribution)
”When one talks about raves, clubs and dancefloor, one of the first names that pops up in one’s mind must be RAGE, the fabulous duo of Fabio and Grooverider. RAGE parties were a staple of London’s acid house era. Beginning in 1988 and originally taking place in the iconic venue Heaven, it was in 1991 that the club night recruited DJs Fabio & Grooverider for a residency that would help define its existence. Released in five parts and compiling 32 tracks, 30 Years of Rage Part 1 gathers classic cuts regularly spun by the duo.” Picked by Codin Orășeanu

Farafi - Calico Soul (Piranha Records)
”I have an emotional attachment to this album, so it would have been hard not to include it in the list. Farafi was born from a spirited meeting between Joy and Darlini and their love for African music. Their debut release Calico Soul is a collection of original and traditional songs, inspired by their travels around the world and the musical traditions they have encountered along the way. One of the album’s most important aspects that makes it standout is its strong vocals; Farafi sing in several languages as well as their own constructed language, signifying the limitless ways of organic, unconstrained creation.” Picked by Dimitra Zina / Piranha Records
Félicia Atkinson - The Flower And The Vessel (Shelter Press)
Félicia Atkinson - The Flower And The Vessel (Shelter Press)

From Georgia to Helm

Félicia Atkinson - The Flower And The Vessel (Shelter Press)
“A record not about being pregnant but a record made with pregnancy”, an album which French musician and poet Félicia Atkinson has developed while pregnant on tour, living in hotel rooms in foreign cities. Rather quiet, meditative music drawing on cosmological themes, and including surreal spoken word, field recordings from Tasmania and the Mojave Desert, and a collaboration with SUNN O))) guitarist Stephen O’Malley as the closing track. Picked by Andrei Rusu / The Attic
The Flower And The Vessel is a psychic ambient trip into auditory hallucination. This record conveys extreme emotional intensity by use of voice, ASMR, piano fragments as if evoked from an imperfect memory and various soundscapes. It is a very sensual record and it sounds very deep and personal. I guess if you’re broken enough it could get you into a full PTSD flashback but you’ll feel stronger at the end of it and you’ll be playing it again. Favourite tracks on the paranoia spectrum: You Have To Have Eyes and Open/Ouvre. Damaged catharsis winner by far Shirley to Shirley. Picked by Simona Mantarlian / Dokia

VA – Forever (Haunter Records)
”33 tracks mammoth comp. from some of the finest forward-thinking artists in the electronic and experimental music scene. Feels as the perfect soundtrack for the turn of the decade and one that will stand the test of time. It would be very difficult to put into words such a complex and shapeshifting sonic world, just press play and dive into forever. Picked by Francesco Pappagallo

Frank Hurricane and Hurricanes of Love - Life is Spiritual (Crash Symbols)
”Brutally yet comically authentic, this is a prime-cut of roadside story-telling. A psych-infused philosophical blues reminding us that everything is simply as it is. "Almost everyone is just trying to be free", Frank clarifies in the chorus of the title-track. Judging by the unfiltered character of this album - it seems the Hurricanes, at least, are succeeding.” Picked by Omri Shmulewitz

Free Range - King Of Snake (Osàre! Editions)
”First release on Elena Colombi’s imprint features some bold experimental electronics, tinged by atmospherics and new wave influences. Solid release.” Picked by Chlorys

Georgia - Time (Firecracker Recordings)
”As soon as the first notes from this record were playing, I immediately felt it would have become a longtime fav. The super prolific duo from NYC gives a perfect showcase of their very own sonic language: a multidimensional crossroad in which fourth world ghosts and chopped up voices coalesces in a polyrhythmic, percussive frenzy coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.” Picked by Francesco Pappagallo

Golden Ivy - Kläppen (Malmö Inre)
”Swedish musician Ivar Lantz became known to me through last year’s Monika EP, which totally floored me. It pairs rural, ancient sounding Celtic/Nordic instrumentation with subtle digital effects and rhythms. This new LP quietly slips in to the 2019 list right at the end of December.” Picked by Fergus Clark / 12th Isle

Golden Valley Is Now - Golden Valley Is Now (Intakt Records)
”Reid Anderson, Dave King known from The Bad Plus cooperate with exquisite pianist Craig Taborn since many years. In this album they present short compositions made like electronic droplets threaded on necklace beads. Sounds are rushing not losing their purpose. Fragile and powerful in each piece.” Picked by Magdalena Dudek

Gossiwor - Domestic Saga (5 Gate Temple)
”One-take nautical folk anthems / underwater futures produced by John T. Gast and MC Boli, marrying minimalist, quasi-ceremonial orchestrations and massed pipes of un-peace to spacey Berlin-School electronics and plate-shifting, ship-sinking UK soundsystem pressure.” Picked by Ozan Maral

Guerilla Welfare - The Nature Of Human Nature (Musique Plastique)
”Seminal release invoking political themes of utmost importance in the 80s (power structures, gender, geopolitics) by way of sampled vocals from TV, overdubbed drum computers, guitars and sitar. A must listen.” Picked by Chlorys

Hamlet Minassian - Armenian Pop Music (DOM)
”Do you know that feeling when you really don’t know where the music is from? It is a pure pleasure of being lost in geography and music. Extremely rare and hardly known to Western audience album of Hamlet Minassian from 1979 finally got released by treasure hunters from Numero Group. The album is really cool and mesmerizing at the same time. Minassian serves playful hybrid of disco and traditional Armenian music from Iran. But Hamlet’s music is beyond any nationality. His music took me to Iran, with a stopover in Georgia through Turkey, with a short visit in Bulgaria and absolutely unexpected short holiday in Poland of 70s. I am sure it can take you somewhere else. Armenian free spirit!” Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz

Helm - Chemical Flowers (PAN)
”On this album, I enjoy the general approach and the quality of the mix of diverse influences without complex. I also enjoy its imperfections, the moments when I don’t really know why he changes mood or when I hear some strange floating transitions. I play the album when I need to get lost in my thoughts before composing or writing or after I got an important phone call, it helps me get back to my things. Favourite tracks: the yiddish jazz mood in I Knew You Would Respond. I also like Body Rushes very much, and the one after, too - Lizard In Fear.” Picked by Berangere Maximin
Ioannis Savvaidis - Diataxis (June Records)
Ioannis Savvaidis - Diataxis (June Records)

From Ixna to Karamika

Hiro Kone - A Fossil Begins To Bray (Dais Records)
”I don’t want to sound too hyperbolic, but I think that Hiro Kone is one of this decade’s standout dance music producers. This album in particular transcends the genre boundaries that define which tracks get charted where and how frequently they’re put into club rotations. A Fossil Begins To Bray has spectacular sound design, cinematic song structures and elements of the kind of industrial music I love without falling onto tropes. Picked by Chloé Lula

Ioannis Savvaidis - Diataxis (June Records)
”Hello deconstructed madness, I love you!” Picked by Ma Yss

log(m) & Laraaji - The Onrush Of Eternity (Invisible Inc.)
”I’ve kept returning to this one throughout the year, the original material was recorded in live jams in 2007 by Laraaji and Log (M) and reconstructed into its current form on this album eventually released on one of Glasgow’s best and most consistent labels Invisible Inc.” Picked by Alan Currie / Assemble Agency

Ixna - Knotpop (Concentric Circles)
”San Francisco deviant reversed pop stuff, previously unreleased. Now released. Fun Fun Fun.” Picked by Bogman

Ixuol - Abstraction In High Fidelity (Zabte Sote)
”Ixuol - Abstraction In High Fidelity is a culmination of work deeply focusing on experimental melodic forms, textures, and rhythms. The composer had gathered inspiration from both western and traditional Persian music. The Western influence can be heard within the timing, arrangement, electronic techniques, and scales. The Persian influence is far subtler in each piece with various micro tunings. The music, while entirely synthesized, shows an ear for beautifully subtle timbral and performative changes, blurring the lines ever more of the computer as an instrument.” Picked by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar

JAB - Erg Herbe (Shelter Press)
”A psychotropic moonlit desert ceremony built on the avant-garde sonic poetry of flutes and eerily-tuned oscillators hoping to embody your cognition. Dreamtime harmonies are born out of the tension between the ears, reverberating one's skull with the wise and effortless precision of a martial artist.” Picked by Omri Shmulewitz

Julia Reidy - brace, brace (Slip)
”The three tracks of Julia Reidy’s 6th (!) solo album show many different approaches and aesthetics and draw on different genres – and it really works. Its carefully composed yet organically flowing music which is incredibly original and touching.” Picked by Magda Mayas

June Chikuma - Les Archives (Freedom To Spend / RVNG Intl.)
”Outstanding reissue + bonus material of a mid-80's Japanese pearl by one of my favourite (recent) labels, i.e. Freedom To Spend - love its name too. June Chikuma, known by many as a videogame soundtracks' producer, conceived these tracks as a composition for marimba ensemble, showcasing such a variety and intricacy of melodic and percussive elements that makes it often difficult to realize everything that's going on at first listen. And the sounds.. cacophonic, laser-esque, at times reminiscent of early industrial experiments, others playful like lullabies, yet always rich and charged with emotional depth. There appears to be even one the tracks performed by an ensemble called Michiyo Toda String Quartet. All these sums up in a one-of-a-kind record to me.” Picked by Arcangelo de Castris

K-6000 - Bloodsport (100 Limousines)
”Detroit underground is still fierce and still more than capable of reinventing itself, otherwise I don't know what this 12" would be. Straight outta Hamtramck, a hotbed for a bunch of artists and producers (like the ceramic studio/ music studio / record label Portage Garage Sounds), this 100 Limousines release is a challenging slice of un-functional yet very stimulating music.” Picked by Hugo Capablanca

Karamika - 2.0 (Offen Music)
”A new record from Karamika is a good reason to celebrate. And this year graced us with the release of 2.0 on Offen Music, the adeptly curated label of Vladimir Ivkovic. Karamika is the project of Gordon Pohl of Musiccargo and George Thompson a.k.a. Black Merlin. Lots of great referenes in just one paragraph. The album is packed with slow burners, some eerie ambient, extensive mental beats and definitive vibe builders. 2.0 can be your best friend if you’re a DJ because it establishes a good portal to trust and dive into while you have a lot of tones to choose from. Also, an essential soundtrack to late drives and travels to known or unknown destination. It’s a well-paced, tight record and you are safe not getting lost when listening to it.” Picked by Simona Mantarlian / Dokia
”I love Often Music, and of course I love the Karamika project since their first release. It’s a perfect mood of new sonority between club and ambient sound.” Picked by Matteo Viani / Black Seed
Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith - Songs from the Bardo (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith - Songs from the Bardo (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

From Kreidler to Lee "Scratch" Perry

Klein -Lifetime (ijn inc.)
”I’m fascinated by the world conjured in Klein’s Lifetime, a post-modern, meta-Gospel infused record that marries harmony and noise in a very political statement of self-awareness. Klein breaks down Nigerian heritage, religious upbringing and South London geography to rebuild a skewed hyper-reality that challenges conventional placement on the avant-garde spectrum. Her collaborative track with Matana Roberts further expresses a kinship with unique voices of an alien diaspora.” Picked by Cosmin Nicolae / Cosmin TRG

Kreidler - Mosaik 2014 (2019 Remastered Version) (Italic)
”Apart from Tank and Mars Chronicles, this is my favourite Kreidler release, and got in 2019 a much better mastering. Also, the track Luminous Procuress wasn’t included on the original vinyl release and is now finally on it.” Picked by André Pahl

Kris Baha - Palais (CockTail d'Amore Music)
”Industrial, sensual, obsessive and extremely well produced.” Picked by Borusiade

Lankum - The Livelong Day (Rough Trade Records)
”This wonderful compilation of the late session picker demonstrates how he lit up blues, soul and country recordings over the last half century. From Bobby Bland and The Box Tops to Delbert McClinton and Merle Haggard, there's not a false note here. Perfect.” Picked by Garth Cartwright

Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith - Songs from the Bardo (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
"This is a very, very hard time to be alive" - Laurie Anderson admits in an interview for Bandcamp, referring to the ongoing climate and ecological crisis. And it is, 2019 was a year marked by climate school strikes and other protest movements which managed to bring the reality of global warming back into the public's imagination. Songs from the Bardo is a collaboration between multidisciplinary artist and composer Laurie Anderson, Tibetan multi-instrumentalist Tenzin Choegyal, and composer and activist Jesse Paris Smith based on text of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, an 80 min composition for an age of mass extinction.” Picked by Andrei Rusu / The Attic

Laurence Pike - Holy Spring (TheLeafLabel)
”I got familiar with Laurence Pike’s drumming through last year’s amazing Szun waves record. Man did his homework, meaning he has the technical skills to express a sonic vision that I do fully resonate with. This is percussion music of a guy who has an amazingly steady pulse, but what happens in-between one pulse and the next one is super lush and very decently articulated. Playing Shangaan highspeed riddims with a Steve Reich flavor? - no problem, it’s 2019!” Picked by Nicolas Sheikholeslami / Çaykh

Leoparden - Stilen Er Svimmel (Lyskestrekk Records)
”Scandinavian mutant funk oddities with the right dose of afro synth & deviant pop singing.” Picked by DJ soFa

Lee "Scratch" Perry - Rainford (On U Sound)
”Rainford Hugh Perry aka Lee Scratch Perry aka Pipecock Jackxon is the Mighty Upsetter, with a career that started sixty years ago in Jamaica, producing numerous hits and worldwide success. His latest studio LP Rainford, the product of three years’ sessions, is out since June on On-U Sound, Sherwood’s longtime label and was recorded between Jamaica, Brazil and the UK. This is his Lee Scratch Perry’s sixth joint collaboration with Adrian Sherwood. The players on the Rainford LP include Sherwood’s daughters Denise and Emily, and frequent collaborators like LSK, Skip "Little Axe" McDonald, Lincoln "Style" Scott and Italo-British Dub and Electronica alchemist, Gaudi. Our favourite tunes on the album are Children of the Light and Autobiography of the Upsetter. African Starship is also an excellent Dub Poetry chant, the first song to be finished and promoted on the March release, the eclectically genius On-U Sound celebration compilation: Pay It All Back Volume 7. All the covers and artworks on both releases, their singles and animations are pure bliss work by Peter Harris, who is no stranger of duetting with Lee Scratch Perry. Also a golden collaborations with Brian Eno and Vin Gordon.” Picked by Andrei Bucureci

© Linda Fox - 2020 Dream_Vision™
”I’ve made the encounter with © Linda Fox project part of my manic research into self-enlightenment and with integrating an intense end of the World feeling. The previous 2017 record, Leopards Break Into My Heart also self-released and in free-to-download non capitalist format, is a direct reference to Phil K. Dick’s VALIS Trilogy - especially but not just The Divine Invasion. Since then, I feel this VALIS universe has been having a moment in pop culture and it’s coming back by some channels - which lately culminated with Erik Davis writing an anthology this year called High Weirdness, detailing the mystical psychedelic counterculture that got defined by above referenced writings, as well as Terrence McKenna, Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson. © Linda Fox - 2020 Dream_Vision™ brings some critical dancefloor anthems to your ears and it is packed with sci-fi references, spoken word samples from the dystopian near future, labor critique and just enough balance between theory and play. The lyrics go deep if you want to think about that but most of all they are worded in a fun way - at times poetic and uncanny. I have been playing this album a lot since it speaks to a wide range of human emotions, it’s daydreamer friendly, can get you dance and is incredibly substantial and intuitive in terms of meaning.” Picked by Simona Mantarlian / Dokia

Lowfish - Test(e) (Suction Records)
”Another Canadian, another reissue, another previously tape only (and under a different name), amazing mid90’s ArtificialIntelligenceAutechreAphexTwinkindastuff. Play loud, don’t get lost.” Picked by Bogman
Mohammad Reza Mortazavi - Ritme Jaavdanegi (Latency)
Mohammad Reza Mortazavi - Ritme Jaavdanegi (Latency)

From Madteo to Matana Roberts

Lucid Dreams - Lucid Dreams (The Stone Tapes)
”Released by The Stone Tapes, one of the labels gravitating around UVB-76, Lucid Dreams sets an even further step in the adventurous path bridging DnB, technoid excursions and eviscerated trip-hop that's becoming a signature of the Bristolian collective's music output. Adding up punkish bass-guitar riffs and a sense of otherworldly psychedelia often overlooked in bass music, this multi-layered album crafts such a unique narrative that keeps revealing itself listening after listening. Literally consumed it when it came to building emotional atmospheres in my DJ sets.” Picked by Arcangelo de Castris

MA - AMA (Morphine Records)
”When I first got the initial material from MA, the Japanese experimental rapper, I was immediately aware I had something very special at hand. The way MA lays down his vocal parts on his own made Beats is unorthodox and quite unique. His visionary rapping style goes beyond hip hop and spoken words, it's almost a ritual, a prayer to an invisible entity he constantly worships, or battles.” Picked by Rabih Beaini

Madteo - Dropped Out Sunshine (DDS)
”Madteo is back with a new LP after seven years since the release of Noi No and Mad Dip Revue. Dropped Out Sunshine expose in a full spectrum his twisted and unique take on dancehall, rap, ragga, house and ambient.” Picked by Lukas Danys

Maleem Mahmoud Ghania w/ Pharoah Sanders - The Trance Of Seven Colors (Zehra)
Printed on vinyl for the very first time, one of my all-time favourite records and definitely one of the most important Gnawa music albums; The Trance of Seven Colors by Master Gnawa musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania and free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders. Recorded in a private house in the Medina of Essaouira on June 1-3, 1994, this Bill Laswell production showcases the incredible meeting of two musical legends. Originally released on CD and cassette, The Trance of Seven Colors ranks among the best Gnawa recordings. A delicate fusion of Gnawa trance, free jazz and tribal music.” Picked by Dimitra Zina / Piranha Records

Malphino - Visit Malphino (Lex Records)
”Malphino are one of my favourite bands. It is their freshness and creativity. Their love for music and for people from the whole world. They are based in London and they are from everywhere. I am very happy this LP came out. They released it at the beginning of the year. I hope they can keep playing in many places and keep sharing their music and energy.” Picked by Coco Maria

Manesu, Satis, Geo Mancie, Franck Gerard - Autonomi (Groovedge Records)
”On a small DYI festival called Illusio in a wine-yard in Ardeche I got this record as a present, not yet knowing the person nor the music — and it was one of the nicest surprises of the year. Sensual kraut-ambient, and just the perfect soundtrack for shrooms somewhere in the nature during summer.” Picked by André Pahl

Maral - Mahur Club (Astral Plane Recordings)
“Maral steps into the spotlight on Mahur Club, highlighting a trans-historical collage technique that emphasizes formal experimentation as much as it does personal history. Exploring (rhythmic) psychedelia in both concrete and abstract forms, Mahur Club dials in on mashed out versions of Jersey club, reggaetón and dub, nodding to psych rock and trip hop via whirlwind takes on contemporary battle dance genres.” Picked by Lukas Danys

Mark Fisher & Justin Barton - On Vanishing Land (Hyperdub)
A summer warmth has broken through in spring. On Vanishing Land was the second audio-work collaboration by Justin Barton and Mark Fisher. In 2006 they walked from Felixstowe to Sutton Hoo sifting through encrusted layers of history. OVL was initially part of an exhibition commissioned by The Otolith Collective and The Showroom in London, and after londonunderlondon (2005). The LP cover features photos taken by Mark Fisher and a short essay by Justin Barton.” Picked by Lukas Danys

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis (Constellation Records)
”In what is the fourth chapter of a 12-part suite, Roberts employs experimental composition in what she calls panoramic sound quilting, a re-construction of legacy, lore and memory. In her words, “In these sonic renderings, I celebrate the me, I celebrate the we, in all that it is now, and all that is yet to come or will be... Thanks for listening.” Picked by Cosmin Nicolae / Cosmin TRG

Matmos - Plastic Anniversary (Thrill Jockey Records)
”Marking the duo's 25'th anniversary, this album is an alarm signal about the pollution implied by our growing plastic use. All the songs are beautifully crafted, everything starting from plastic elements recorded and digitally altered, such as bakelite dominos, styrofoam coolers, polyethylene waste containers, PVC panpipes, pinpricks of bubble wrap, silicone gel breast implants and synthetic human fat. Plastic Anniversary is a must-listen! Picked by Miron Ghiu
Notchnoi Prospekt - Health Resorts of the Caucasus
Notchnoi Prospekt - Health Resorts of the Caucasus

From Michael O’Shea to Mutant Joe

Meara O'Reilly - Hockets for Two Voices (Cantaloupe Music)
”The voice of the mouth that makes a sound that expresses and is a part of the body, conscientiously. This record is made by someone living her voice. I turn it up loud, and I sing with her (both of her), adding a third. I've danced by myself to every one of the songs on this record and leave breathless from the bliss of the effort.” Picked by Andrew Choate

Meitei - Komachi (Métron Records)
“I want to revive the soul that still sleeps in the darkness” - Meitei / 冥丁 Picked by Dima Rabik

VA - Mezzo Morra: The sounds of Sardinia (Collection Petites Planetes)
”One more ethnographic release by our friend Vincent Moon. Sound of games, speeches, traditional and experimental music from Sardinia. Great polyphonic singing, pipes and weird string instruments. This recording was made in 2011 for Vincent’s film about music of Sardinia. Now we can not only watch, but listen.” Picked by Bulat Khalilov / Ored Recordings

Michael O’Shea - Michael O’Shea (AllChival)
”I’m aware this homonymous LP became Boomkat reissue of the year. Don't care, it really is one of the records of the year for me if not the one since it found its way to me at Low Company records after a gig in London a few months ago. Magickal.” Picked by Hugo Capablanca
”One of the best reissues of the year, I discovered it few years ago at a friend of mine’s place, a person who collect records from many years! Touching my soul.” Picked by Matteo Viani / Black Seed

Mlin Patz - Sunlimit (Muscut)
”Everything the Ukrainian label Muscut (Мускáт) touch ends up on heavy rotation in my home. This freaky dub record from one of the members of Chillera is probably my top pick for under looked record of the year. Works great at both rpm's.” Picked by Fergus Clark / 12th Isle

Mohammad Reza Mortazavi - Ritme Jaavdanegi (Latency)
”In Mortazavi's recent work something becomes obvious that’s been clear since years: a ritual is related to the body not so much to mechanical tools. Mohammad's playing is highly evolved but no need to show off or to do any instrumental stunts. it just is a stunning ritual by itself. Its dance music / club music in the best sense. This kind of minimalism is visionary - no need for high tech studios packed full with boring and bad smelling plastic - there is just leather on wood creating sounds through attacks and limited but therefore endless possibilities. Mortazavi goes where no sequencer, sampler, globalized modernity or AI would dare to go. Ritme Jaavdanegi shows precisely what it means to transform tradition into something new - without medical aid.” Picked by Stefan Fraunberger
”Mortazavi is considered by many as the musician who revolutionized the Tombak and Daf play. The Persian musician didn't stop at playing the majestic rhythmical patterns from his land's tradition, but went beyond to explore the possibilities of what man can achieve with skins and resonances. The Virtuoso percussionist creates harmonic scales not only from the position and pressure on the skin, but with some sort of a saturation of the sound coming from the ultra-fast playing, creating an effect similar to an oscillator in a Synth, which becomes an easily manipulated sound through the subtle movements of the hand to create the filter effect. Latency released his latest work in a beautifully packed Vinyl, definitely an item to have in your collection of timeless music albums.” Picked by Rabih Beaini

Molforts - Les músiques per a Albert Serra (Urpa i musell)
”Music of four movies of Spanish filmmaker Albert Serra. Beautiful in all aspects — the music, the packaging and booklet! Picked by André Pahl

Morton Feldman - Morton Feldman Piano (Another Timbre)
”Feldman's outstanding piano music in a great interpretation by Philip Thomas. You would never know whether being in a dream or in full wake listening to this. Feldman's textures are not symmetric but seem to weave the carpet from minerals through ears to suns. There is no balanced nature in Feldmann’s piano works, but there is lots of unbalanced chaos in a silent form. Seems to be eternal because it’s way more down to earth then most of human made system illusions. This music is always a reset for the constant onslaught we perceive. It’s a reset because it’s real.” Picked by Stefan Fraunberger

Mr. Tophat ‎- Dusk To Dawn Part I-III (Twilight Enterprise)
”Ambitious debut album of the Swedish house-propagandist Mr. Tophat sprawled into 3 parts and sounds a total of about 4 hours. Dusk To Dawn is a wonderful Christmas present for true diggers — however, you may not have the guts to listen to the whole epic tune at a time. For many years Mr. Tophat plays the groovy house in a duet with another adept of the scene, Art Alfie. In 2016 he created a wonderful disco-album called Trust Me, with pop-singer Robyn. However, the conceptual Dusk To Dawn proved to be an absolutely fearless manifesto on how to make the dance floor empty. This album is like a walk-through museum of house - vocal house, autistic house, epic stadium house, banger house, House Alone, and of course, house of humor - sometimes turned inside out. If a drop is requested in a 12-minute monotonous track at the climax, then it will not be here. And if it does, then after a second the rhythm will stop and new-age inserts will appear, performed for example on a flute or an acoustic guitar. It is precisely the constant violation of stereotypes accepted in dance music in this anti-album that is most interesting to hear.” Picked by Eugenie Galochkin

Mutant Joe - Home Invasion Anthems (Natural Sciences)
”I’m a casual listener of hip hop, not much digging around, I have well-read friends who provide the stuff but never really felt the urge to od on it. Until this album I found myself being lost on a back alley, finding my way to this anarchist label from Manchester. That's the stuff for me: dark, heavily distorted bass, rough and poetic. "Home Invasion Anthems spills its guts over trap, Memphis rap, jungle and street electronics [...] something which is as much rooted in 80's horror as Lil Ugly Mane, black metal, industrial and the stifling paranoia of life in 2019, all festering and morphing together like a tumour feeding on crime scene T.V and terror politics." I was so impressed I ordered merch: You don't make money sittin on your ass.” Picked by Victor Stutz
VA - Radio Verde (Compiled by Arp Frique and Americo Brito)
VA - Radio Verde (Compiled by Arp Frique and Americo Brito)

From Nima Aghiani to Oiseaux-Tempête

Neuzeitliche Bodenbeläge ‎- Leben (Themes For Great Cities)
”Neue Deutsche Welle revived. Top notch 80ties sound with meaningful nonsense lyrics. These guys live show is one of the best I saw this year.” Picked by DJ soFa

New World Science - Osmos (Movements) (Temple Records)
”To raise a visual potential, you can just play one from all these 4 symphonies. Visual forms of the contact improvisation with the universe...flight to the palace of central sun and coming back...but all is changed.” Picked by Dima Rabik

Nima Aghiani - Convergence Zone (Zabte Sote)
”Nima Aghiani - Convergence Zone is about that moment of impact, of clash, of mergence; the acceptance or the rejection of instruments, machines and devices as an expansion to one's body, by the body. The extension of one's body into an object, or into a machine capable of making decisions, to a point where it's a new interaction and no longer a mere utilization. How far can the body expand into the machine and how deep can the machine penetrate the body, where does this growing stop and what are the limits; which one dominates and which one submits.” Picked by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar

Notchnoi Prospekt - Health Resorts of the Caucasus (Gost Zvuk)
”Journey to the exotic Caucasu mountains...That are transforming personality with their magic powers...You can feel it in dreams that guide you, you can feel into your thoughts that move to a higher sources, you can feel it in your physical body, with all feelings active in the same time...Powerful challenge for the bravest souls.” Picked by Dima Rabik

Ocean Youth Club - Divided Self (Hivern Discs)
”Through their alter ego Ocean Youth Club, O Yuki Conjugate decided to explore their other, more hidden, self. The result is an excursion into abstract techno based on the idea of an ambiguous (as the titles of the compositions in the release!) but possible duality. Some of O Yuki Conjugate’s dark ambient textures are preserved but open up to a refined contemporary electronic soundscape. I personally find it very interesting when a band with a fairly long career challenges their established sound by questioning what their music could have been like if they had taken an alternative path. Divided Self is definitely a successful experiment. Since its release, I’ve been playing it quite a lot on the dance floor and I’m not about to stop.” Picked by Laura Not

Oiseaux-Tempête - From Somewhere Invisible (Sub Rosa)
This is the fourth studio album and seventh release on the Belgian label Sub Rosa, 'From Somewhere Invisible' of the free-rock collective Oiseaux-Tempête. Picked by Florin Oslobanu

Olo Walicki & Jacek Prościński - Llovage (Gusstaff Records)
”Listening to this hypnotic music, I get the impression that I am moving in the woods at night or diving in the lake. Mysterious, hypnotic, wonderfully played. The album was created by two instrumentalists (electronics, double bass and drums, which sound like the entire ensemble), which I already appreciate for their achievements so far, I did not expect that the bar could be raised, but it was. A for me album of the 2019.” Picked by Magdalena Dudek

Oren Ambarchi, Mark Fell, Will Guthrie, Sam Shalabi - Oglon Day (33-33)
”This is how contemporary music in 2019 sounds to me. Abstract full-on music. Soundtrack for the battle with the final enemy of a computer game. Highly suited for night drives.” Picked by Nicolas Sheikholeslami / Çaykh

Organizatsiya - Strane Lezioni (besoins premiers)
”A release I have been coming back to for this past year, a thoughtful mix of dub, ambient, ethno affinities and gritty percussions.” Picked by Chlorys

OSSIA - Devil’s Dance (Blackest Ever Black)
”I’ve included this release in many podcasts and opening sets over the last year. I love Radiation and Devil’s Dance in particular—they have such a haunting, dark and jazzy vibe. The entire LP is extremely dynamic, moving between slow, crunchy techno and ambient. But it’s the weirder and more abstract moments that punctuate it that makes it stand out to me.” Picked by Chloé Lula
Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Way (WRWTFWW Records)
Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Way (WRWTFWW Records)

From Razen to Robert Ashley

Paal Nilssen-Love - New Brazilian Funk (Catalytic-Sound)
”My feeling for this album arose before its creation. I heard this line-up at the Roskilde Festival and felt like a tornado, except that this tornado probably also came to life in me. These musicians are unbelievable live, but there is always a fear how the concert version will translate into recording on the album. There was no discussion in this case. The atmosphere and energy are 100% preserved.” Picked by Magdalena Dudek

VA - Radio Verde (Compiled by Arp Frique and Americo Brito)
”Fine selection of funana beauties selected by Arp Frique and Americo Brito.” Picked by DJ soFa

Rafael Anton Irisarri - Solastalgia (Room40)
”Irisarri explores the "human component" of ecological disaster in a cultural discussion he perceives as too often abstract and theoretically driven. He conjures monumental slabs of noise to convey the turbulence and weight of our current climate-inflected moment with bleak, overwhelming, but often eerily beautiful results. I love Irisarri’s panic and powerful music.” Picked by Raffaele Pezzella / Unexplained Sounds

Razen - Ayîk Adhîsta, Adhîsta Ayîk (Kraak)
”This Brussels-based group celebrated their 10 years anniversary in 2019. Every new album is different, every new album is an uncanny minimalist masterpiece. Their next double album will be out on Hands In The Dark early 2020!” Picked by Cuinet Morgan / Hands In The Dark

Reptilian Expo - Xperiametaphone (Pampsychia)
”Reptilian underground crawlers from the sewers of dance music takin' over the surface of bored late 20es; educated by the flow of free time spent killin' joints and special moves learnt spinnin' bandcamp pay-your-price album libraries. A hitting low-frequencies body-muzak cocktail filled with squeaks, wacky samples and a pinch of irony.” Picked by Luigi Monteanni / ArteTetra

Riasni Drova Consort - Live at the Solo Event Cafe
”A great and kinda condensed live record by an avant folk trio from Lviv, Ukraine. In my own terms this is a decent example of modern Western folk as a very personal urban practice. The setlist includes a Medieval troubadour song by Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, some Joyce's poetry translated into Ukrainian and a traditional Ladino song after The Lamentation of Jeremiah. The development of interactions between improvised noise and various acoustic timbres is pure joy.” Picked by Ivan Shelekhov

Richard Dawson - 2020 (Domino Recording Co)
2020 is the sixth solo album from Richard Dawson, the black-humoured bard of Newcastle. The album uncovers a tumultuous and bleak time. Here is an island country in a state of flux; a society on the edge of mental meltdown. Picked by Florin Oslobanu

Robert Ashley - Automatic Writing (Lovely Music Ltd)
”Another essential reissue! No words needed on this. Everyone should listen this record at least once in their life.” Picked by Matteo Viani / Black Seed

Robert Ashley - Private Parts (Lovely Music Ltd)
”I was very glad to learn that this year Private Parts was finally repressed on vinyl, 40 years after its original release. Robert Ashley’s mesmerizing speech, rhythmically articulated to the sound of Kris’ tablas and Blue Gene Tyranny’s keyboards, penetrates the listener’s mind almost as if it were a prayer, while the intensity of the narrative instantly stimulates a deep introspective dialogue. Private Parts is undoubtedly my favourite reissue of the year, and likely one of my favourite releases of all time. Despite knowing the record almost by heart, its mind-blowing character still surprises me with every listen.” Picked by Laura Not

Rojin Sharafi - Urns Waiting To Be Fed (Zabte Sote)
”Rojin Sharafi - Urns Waiting To Be Fed, an abstract music that narrates. Makes you form your own image from the event, story and built up history. Elements turn into characters, characters into myths, myths live together, grow, react and go their paths. The paths that surprise you. The beauty of uncertainty and the beauty of parallel lives. Couldn’t guess where they are going to lead you; in each track and in the whole album. You follow and they chase you.” Picked by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar
Sea Urchin ‎- Tahtib (Bokeh Versions)
Sea Urchin ‎- Tahtib (Bokeh Versions)

From Ruins to Sea Urchin

Romperayo - Que Jue? (Discrepant)
”A mix of emotions sounds from Colombia, Latin America and other worlds. Music that touches your soul and your bones.” Picked by Coco Maria

Ruins - Marea / Tide (Music From Memory)
”Two Italian artists crawling through the unique exhibition spaces across Italy back in the early '80s, in the same time researching connection between sound and image.” Picked by Bojan Živkov

Rupa - Disco Jazz (Numero Group)
Disco Jazz is definitely one of those albums that would fall into oblivion. It was recorded in 1981 in Calgary during Rupa’s short visit to her brother in Canada. Pure coincidence led her to meet great musicians, who just fell in love in her voice and created fast recording of the album. Released without any effort and investment on The Megaphone Company of India in 1982, it went absolutely unnoticed in the country. Rupa and “Disco Jazz” album was not only unsuccessful at all; Rupa never wanted to record any other album after it. Until 2017 even the artists forgot about it. Actually, an unlicensed release on Ovular label and upload to YouTube in 2017, made Rupa famous for the first time. Luckily Numero Group contacted her and kindly asked for a permission to release it again. If you ask me, this album shall be repressed as many times as possible. This album is a beautiful mixture of disco and jazz with an Indian instruments and charming voice of Rupa. And imagine that this masterpiece happened only because Rupa went on holidays to Canada!” Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz

Sampa The Great - The Return (Ninja Tune)
”The debut album of Sampa The Great marks a mile stone in the evolution of hip hop. Zambia-born, Botswana-raised, and now Melbourne-based Sampa The Great‘ 19 tracks surf on a hip-hop board through the intense waves of spirited R&B, jazz, and electronic music.” Picked by Codin Orășeanu

Sansibar - Targeted Individuals (FTP)
”It’s been a big few years for electro, an electronic music style which has been receiving some of the attention it rightly deserves. The standout album in the genre this year for me was from Helsinki’s Sansibar entitled Targeted Individuals. His influences range from ghetto tech to Detroit electro and everything in between but all produced in his own unique style. He's the latest recruit to the Assemble Agency roster, keep an eye out for him in 2020.” Picked by Alan Currie / Assemble Agency

Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Way (WRWTFWW Records)
”Definitely my favorite reissue this year. Seminal Japanese environmental album.” Picked by Cuinet Morgan / Hands In The Dark

Scorn - Cafe Mor (Ohm Resistance)
”After nine years of waiting, the new Scorn album is out! Famous for being the drummer of Napam Death, Mick Harris found time to compose new tracks with his distinctive signature of gloomy dark ambient influenced by dub techniques. The basslines are hypnotic and there's even a track using vocals. Cafe Mor is to be listened on repeat and it can also work as meditation music.” Picked by Miron Ghiu

Sea Urchin ‎- Tahtib (Bokeh Versions)
”Leila Hassan and Francesco Cavaliere’s Sea Urchin blow new age kisses and woozy thought bubbles about Egyptian martial arts in a Arabic and Italian over crimped cubist computer dub and ambient styles. Tahtib is food for your mystical post-exotica musical landscape - hand drums played by computers fall with a squelch into the swamp, horses neigh at dub bassists, there’s water everywhere full of urchins and tarot cards and just when you think you need to breathe this record breathes for you. Their live show in Arkaoda was one of the highlights of the year.” Picked by Ozan Maral

Shellac - The End Of Radio (Touch And Go)
”When you've been listening to a band for 25 years and they continue to thrill you with exorbitant vigor, you have to. The choreography of love that these two Peel sessions induces manifests as a display of clapping and shouting and leg slapping and humming. And that's just a bonus for listening. Guitar-bass-drums, attitude, vocals, trio perfection.” Picked by Andrew Choate

VA - shelTer (Müstesna Records)
”The contributions of 25 artists willing to provide financial support for creating national and international awareness about the trans murders and trans suicides in Turkey, where has the highest trans murder rate in Europe. A compilation for a great cause, we will not accept hate and fear rule our lives.” Picked by Aggelos Baltas / Anatolian Weapons
Tatiana Dordzhieva + Maria Beltsykova Kalmykian - Archaic and Soviet Folk (Sub Rosa)
Tatiana Dordzhieva + Maria Beltsykova Kalmykian - Archaic and Soviet Folk (Sub Rosa)

From Sonny Sharrock to Sven Wunder

Solvychegodsk - Somethin’ Else (Self-released)
”Moscow based Solvychegodsk band, named after the small Russian town where Alexander Pushkin’s uncle and even Stalin were exiled, was always famous for their unpredictable antics and a special sense of humor. Solvychegodsk is the embodiment of freedom. They were the first in the country who organized the free-jazz battle, when one group fights with another one by improvisations. Last year they released a four-hour album of 100 tracks, which they said was recorded in 3 hours. And the last album consists entirely of songs by their vocalist and guitarist — Director of Jazz — which he performs singing in his bathroom. Solvychegodsk never repeats itself and takes it all at once — they play free jazz as unserious as possible, flattering it with YouTube memes, trolling their listeners and bullying their colleagues on the stage. The album Somethin ’Else is another provocative trick. This time under the cover, stylized as the canonical Cannonball Adderley’s album Somethin ’Else all Russian chthonic life is lurking. It is based on real field-recordings of the exorcism rituals made in small Russian churches. Somewhere in the background we can hear the priest’s mutters, the old woman schizophasically shouts and the victim’s groans and yells from whom the Devil is expelled. All this insane sounds accompanied by rough and heavy gloomy free-jazz improvisations played on saxophone, double bass and drums. If you want to see how the gray Russian sky looks like in December, just listen to this album.” Picked by Eugenie Galochkin

Somnoroase Păsărele - Capitol (Sea Of Clouds)
”I have selected this album for its intriguing composition with strong visual content, a sense of space indebted to the pioneering electronics and avant-garde music, depicting a kind of “sea odyssey” with an almost physically and sensorial approach to the image of the Black Sea. A rigorous construction with ascending / descending / cutting / convergence points unfolding a continuous latent movement that could be perceived as well as a total immobility. An atmospheric linear prelude completed by a short interval of what could be heard as silence. Then, the sudden outburst of sharp metallic clusters softened by bright lines, moving upward to what could be considered as the core of the entire composition - a diving immersive dynamo. This mechanical vibrating sound masses evolves continually into a series of stages interweaving simultaneously multiple sonorous lines, finally, to become a dense sound texture.” Picked by Elena Dobîndă

Sonny Sharrock - Ask The Ages (Hive Mind Records)
”A line-up of legendary players and a highly influential producer on this record. This great-sounding studio album by guitarist Sonny Sharrock, originally released in 1991, features the composition Who Does She Hope To Be? that ranks as one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I know.” Picked by Nicolas Sheikholeslami / Çaykh

Star Searchers - Avatar Blue (Pacific City Sound Visions)
”A two-laserdisc release influenced by ‘80s and ‘90s sci-fi cult-movies from mixed-media surfer and spellbinding visionary demiurge Spencer Clark devolving around a brand new, definitely parallel aural vision to forthcoming and not-yet-released masterpiece of future visual technology Avatar II (yeah from the same guy of the boat that sinks). Precambrian entities, prehistoric oceanic ambiences and lotta shredding. Dig!” Picked by Luigi Monteanni / ArteTetra

Stefan Fraunberger - Quellegeister#3. Bussd (Morphine Records)
”I've been looking forward to this record and now I guess it may be a grower for me. This is a third part of Austrian composer's study of baroque mechanics organs left in abandoned Saxon churches throughout Transylvania. This one sounds very visceral. I know that Fraunberger is interested in non-human aspects of being. To this I should add that it's the only record this year that my cat listened to very closely. Of course, I didn't play it loud, I'm a responsible cat owner.” Picked by Ivan Shelekhov
”The kind of timeless album you find and fall in love with-only to discover that it was recorded some decades ago. Somehow, lost in time & place, its maker already dead. Except, Quellgeister#3 is actually a very recent recording. And Stefan is very well alive & kicking. To be honest (and jokes aside), one of the greatest albums that I've ever heard.” Picked by Ma Yss

Stephen Mallinder - Um Dada (Dais Records)
”Stephen Mallinder’s first solo album in thirty-five years does sound from the first minutes as the work of someone who really knows what they’re doing. Mallinder is a prolific name in the industrial territory as a former member of Cabaret Voltaire, as a music theorist and also as a producer to defining projects for the genre. The list of Mallinder’s academic and musical activity is worth digging into and I will not quote it here because it would take a whole essay to track its many underground ramifications. I will just say it’s a good point to start learning about the resistance side of electronic music of the 80s and its contemporary connections. This record is a must listen and I can’t stress this enough. Five stars production, deep lyrics about trans-humanist ideas, consciousness, past lives and what other motives have been popping into your usual techno-shamanic agenda. Some people were worried that a Dada reference in the title track may be a nostalgic touch. I say it’s nothing like that, and mostly on the side of employing futuristic techniques while bringing the Dada intention to a new level of result.” Picked by Simona Mantarlian / Dokia

Spiritczualic Enhancement Center - Me And My Students Have Reached Higher Levels (Akuphone)
This ”ever-morphing spectral-jazz album” produced by eight outernational musicians, once originating from Iran, Israel, America, Russia, Romania and Germany carries a distinct centrifugal force. With their new album out, Spiritczualic Enhancement Center beautifully (and fearlessly) dives into the unknown and challenges the mind, adding another brick to their (already) distinctive music catalogue; imagine an exotic island fuzzed with bananas and psychedelic sounds, twisted harmonies and an overall feeling of time suspension. Picked by Dragoș Rusu

Sun Kil Moon - I Also Want To Die In New Orleans (Caldo Verde Records)
As I longtime fan of Mark Kozelek, I've been on the side of those who don't get his spoken word records; but I now accept them with pleasure. This one presents some really funny or touching or inspiring or even harsh and direct stories in an artform that requires a humble listener with a long-term attention span. Some lyrical reminiscences and instrumentations sound very warming to me.” Picked by Ivan Shelekhov

Susumu Yokota - Cloud Hidden (Lo Recordings)
”A collection of ambient music by Japanese composer Susumu Yokota via Lo Recordings, was released this October, five years after Yokota’s departure from this world. It contains unreleased tracks as well as early compositions of the artist, aiming to honor the spirit and legacy of Yokota’s work.” Picked by Florin Șerban

Sven Wunder ‎- Doğu Çiçekleri (Piano Piano)
”Definitely the trippiest and most interesting album for me in 2019. 'Doğu çiçekleri' means 'flowers from the east' in Turkish. This is an incredible combination of psych fuzz fusion and library style, released in August by the mysterious Piano Piano label from Sweden and instantly out of stock, hitting the 3-digit price on Discogs now.” Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu / JB
Witchcraft & Black Magic In The United Kingdom (Eighth Tower Records)
Witchcraft & Black Magic In The United Kingdom (Eighth Tower Records)

From Talibam! to TV Victor

Swans ‎- Leaving Meaning. (Young God Records)
”Beautiful album with contributions from a wide array of different artists, including Anna und Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee und Jennifer Gira. I love the diverse, hypnotic and often orchestral sound.” Picked by Magda Mayas

Talibam! - The Marimba Files LPE2 (Self-released)
”All the parties and all the DJs I went to since July (when this was released) played Side A Dawn in its entirety. It's a crowd pleaser, and as a DJ, you can’t' help but play it. "This is the first instalment of Talibam!'s "SIDE A / SIDE A" series where Matt Mottel produces one side of the album and Kevin Shea produces the other side. Talibam! feels inspired to paint and mold their music into a new species, blurring the lines between inconspicuous and conspicuous consumption/appropriation. The aim is not merely musical -- one of the main goals is to establish new ways of making and creating music, and to arrive at musical landscapes that we may not have stumbled upon before." Fair enough. Picked by Victor Stutz

Tatiana Dordzhieva + Maria Beltsykova Kalmykian - Archaic and Soviet Folk (Sub Rosa)
”Maybe it’s too egoistic to put our own label’s release, but this LP with Kalmykian grandmas is really beautiful and important for us. Late-folk music from Soviet Era and religious chants singing a-capella and with Kalmykian dombra. Raw, simple and beautiful music. Field recordings was made in 2015, but thanks to Belgium label Sub Rosa now it’s re-issued on vinyl with beautiful cover-art.” Picked by Bulat Khalilov / Ored Recordings

Thomas Brinkmann ‎- Raupenbahn (Editions Mego)
”Such a daring collection of non-edited industry machineries recordings; looms to be precise. Rattling and old-fashioned, these audio pieces bring you back to the rhythmic core of those patterns that are now danced to in basements and warehouses all around the globe. This record is the quintessence of techno deconstruction, bringing-in the ethos of industrial music and rhythmic noise. Also, if you like pleasing yourself (or other people) by mixing music, this is a loops gold mine for rhythmic mind-games.” Picked by Arcangelo de Castris

Tom Of England - Sex Monk Blues (L.I.E.S. Records)
”Thomas Bullock's offering for L.I.E.S. embodies everything I find most dance records today lacking: 101% uncompromising attitude, a rabid originality, a refreshing rawness yet somehow you can also find certain psychedelic character shining thru the cracks. Wish I'd come up with such beast myself.” Picked by Hugo Capablanca
”My favorite DJ in the world, being his freaky self once again. Sex monks represent.” Picked by Bogman
”I would characterize this album as a quite exceptional 'easy-listening' session.” Picked by Borusiade

Tunes Of Negation - Reach The Endless Sea (Cosmo Rhythmatic)
”Shackleton's new release on Cosmo Rhythmatic is an incredible cosmic album including a very special collaboration with Heather Leigh, the American singer famous also for playing the Steel Guitar and touring with one of the toughest musicians in Europe, Peter Brotzmann. Shackleton layered down incredibly simple but yet richly built rhythms and harmonic structures, melting and merging with Leigh's vocal explorations, to become one whole extatic and glorious album.” Picked by Rabih Beaini

TV Victor - Back To The Moon (Lullabies For Insomniacs)
”Some coincidences led to meeting Udo Heitfeld aka TV Victor a couple of times for coffee & cake in Berlin. His album Moondance from ’89 is one my all-time favorites, so I asked him if he’d have unreleased material from back then, and he came back with a couple of CDRs of old tapes — and on it the monster Black Hole Ceremony! Izabel from LFI fell in love with it too, and so it got released on her label just 50 years after the first landing on the moon.” Picked by André Pahl

TV Victor - Moondance (Tresor)
”TV Victor, one of Tresor’s spearhead artists since the label’s very first hour, is an alias of Udo Heitfeld. In 1989, TV Victor launched his first solo project under the form of Moondance. ”These songs are an invitation to your consciousness. Moondance is the sound of your aware body. The moon is the place where your body realizes consciousness. Floating and dancing is the way people come together. A di erent kind of gravity, a di erent state of mind and electricity between man and woman makes it alive. Find your own moon.” Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu / JB

Uboa - The Origin Of My Depression (Uboa)
”A well-crafted album, full of energy, a legit rage mixed with melancholia from a composer who has undoubtedly the spirit of a fighter. So rich and deep. Someone with great eclectic musical tastes as well it seems to me. I got caught on the first listening thinking, wow, good stuff!, though the album is miles away from me or my own music. It has anyway made its way deep into my mind reminding me of things I - or we all have - lived, a very compelling work. She’s become an angel on my shoulder whispering things in my ear, saying that I am not a prisoner inside of myself, that I’m free to absorb the negative flow of feelings I can have sometimes to then spit it out of my system; all of it becoming distant material I can use, remodel the way I want. Favorite track: Lay Down and Rot.” Picked by Berangere Maximin

VA - Unexplained Sounds Group - 5th Annual Report
”Long life to Unexplained Sounds Group! - celebrating five years of activity, USG has released a 5TH Annual Report compilation which showcases all the musicians who haven't made it on to the physical format this year. 54 tracks of rare experimental music that takes you to some unknown territories of sound plateaus moving simultaneously in all directions, uncontrolled and spontaneous, in a state of mystery and revelation. You just can't miss the Raffaele Pezzella’s accuracy of selecting always the best works to experience ambiguous imagery and an unlimited outlook on the possibilities of making music.” Picked by Elena Dobîndă
Wanderwelle & Bandhagens Musikförening - Victory Over The Sun (Semantica)
Wanderwelle & Bandhagens Musikförening - Victory Over The Sun (Semantica)

From Ustad Saami to Zonal

Upperground Orchestra - Euganea (Morphine Records)
”In autumn 2019, Morphine Records put out four substantial albums; this is one of them. Rabih Beaini’s project Upperground Orchestra returns after a hiatus in excellent shape, with this solid Euganea LP, very different than the previous one. One can easily be taken into an adventurous trip exploring the vast connections between free jazz, spiritual jazz, electronics, contemporary breaking into traditional and investigating certain playing methods. This is music beyond music. Pulsating percussions and polyrhythmic harsh drums, wild beasts running out of the reeds, enthralling electronics, tension, clarity, trance, force, guidance, cause and effect, a dive into the abyss.” Picked by Dragoș Rusu

Ustad Saami - God Is Not A Terrorist (Glitterbeat Records)
”This remarkable album captures the ancient vocal drone style Saami specializes in. Its eerie and beautiful and the most striking recording I heard this year.” Picked by Garth Cartwright

Varuna - Metamorph (Amenthia Recordings)
”Probably one of the finest techno releases of the year that nobody heard of. Dub-influenced in every way possible, this album still manages to circumnavigate the typical tropes of the genre; no bland layering and endless hiss waves, but detailed sequencing, lush cosmic pads and sublime melodic developments in every single track.” Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu / JB

Vernal Equinox ‎- New Found World (Aural Medium)
”Fool’s journey perfect soundtrack, blasting from the past - originally self-released in ‘88 in deep, deep Canada. Old new age not new age, aged really well.” Picked by Bogman

Wanderwelle & Bandhagens Musikförening - Victory Over The Sun (Semantica)
Victory Over The Sun is the first Wanderwelle and Bandhagens Musikförening (Isorinne & Hypnobirds) collaborative album, a deep journey through dreamy soundscapes.” Picked by Alur Duvaal

VA - Witchcraft & Black Magic In The United Kingdom (Eighth Tower Records)
”Witchcraft has had a fascinating and turbulent history in the UK. Through periods of persecution and prejudice, it has survived to the present day and many people still practice the tradition now. From the 7th century onwards, attitudes towards the practice began to change. During the medieval period, fears over so-called ‘black magic’ began to emerge. This referred to the power of witchcraft to bring harm to others. An association was also drawn between witchcraft and the devil. This Eighth Tower Records release is dedicated to the memory of Daniel Williams, brilliant music critic, musician and dearest friend, I had the honor and pleasure to collaborate on this project. His sudden departure hurt me deeply, but didn't stop me from carrying on with the work we started together. A work in which his memory continues to be alive.” Picked by Raffaele Pezzella / Unexplained Sounds

Xiu Xiu - Girl with Basket of Fruit (Polyvinyl)
”Premise: I’m not a fan of Xiu Xiu. I stumbled across this album via the catchy videoclip they made for Scisssssssors and stayed for the music. I liked it because it’s not an easy album for almost anyone, the original indie Xiu Xiu fans™ might glitch over the clipping polyrhythms of the title track and the absurd arrangements of the others, the experimental ©omrades might turn off the streaming when Jamie Stewart starts singing (can’t blame). I don’t know if they managed to find an extravagant approach to communicate to both sides or just a random attempt that we’ll forget soon. I’ll let the posterity decide.” Picked by Matteo Pennesi / ArteTetra

Yatta - Wahala (PTP)
”I like the way the artist sticks different atmospheres together in a very short amount of time, almost as if one browses someone else’s scrap book and discover the life of that person through fragmented ideas and pictures. This said the album is really well structured and punctuated. I have listened to it in order and then in random and both fabulously works. She’s brilliant at showing her curiosity and what she feels. Her wittiness makes the songs seem fresh and vivid, they contain this sense of humor that only someone who has struggled in life can have. Favorite tracks: Rollin for the false lightness, Francis for the song structure and Underwater, Now for the lyrics.” Picked by Berangere Maximin

YĪN YĪN - The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
”Yin Yin is the band that openly claims to be lost in space. They live on a perfect imaginary tropical island, where Thai beat meets disco and super psychedelic hippie groove. And don’t think they are like Khruangbin! The only thing that connects them is that they most probably will be as popular as the guys from Huston in a short while. Their Thai inspiration is rough and very hypnotic, while they are keeping the disco groove all the time. The whole album is a good story and you really want to listen to it till the very end. Dutch guys from Yin Yin will take you to a new place, from which you might not want to come back. 2020 belongs to those guys!” Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz

Yoshio Ojima ‎- Une Collection des Chaînons II: Music for Spiral (WRWTFWW Records)
”Une Collection des Chaînons gathers selected music pieces conceptualized and produced for sound-designing the Wacoal Art Center in Aoyama (Tokyo) also known as Spiral. Evolving, organic, adapting, these are notions that perfectly describe Yoshio Ojima's divinely designed brand of environmental music. Reissue released by recent favorite label We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records, and this label does, well, exactly as the name says.” Picked by Ozan Maral

Zonal - Wrecked (Relapse Records)
”Justin K. Broadrick aka JK Flesh and Kevin Richard Martin aka The Bug were pioneers of industrial noise hip-hop with Techno Animal. Rest in Peace Techno Animal! Long live ZONAL! Wrecked is their second LP under this moniker and praised as a fresh comeback on Relapse Records. Pairing with spoken work and hip-hop artist from Philadelphia, Moor Mother, they achieved what is for me probably the best song of 2019, System Error. Moor Mother is herself attuned to the futuristic aims of the duo, being part of the Black Quantum Futurism Collective and has collaborating with forward thinking artists like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, King Britt, Roscoe Mitchell and Saul Williams. Half on ZONAL’s LP features six songs with Camae Ayewa’s vocals and the other half is instrumental. Wrecked is total immediate sonic wreckage with beats, bass, echoes, reverb, dub, drone, noise and riffs, the perfect juxtaposing of alienating out of this world sounds. Just check out the video of their single In A Cage. Longtime The Bug collaborator, Simon Fowler has achieved an excellent visual representation of the music with all the artwork of the LP, but also for the other releases of the band, the ZONAL Versions.” Picked by Andrei Bucureci
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic, sound researcher and allround music adventurer, with a keen interest in the anthropology of sound.

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