Favourite Albums of 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018

December 27, 2018

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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When all else falls, music will stand up as a true companion. 2018 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 2018. No constraints; a complete freedom of picking any preferred album (or compilation) 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.
VA - African Scream Contest Vol.2 - Benin 1963-1980 (Analog Africa)
VA - African Scream Contest Vol.2 - Benin 1963-1980 (Analog Africa)

From "A" Trio to Afrodeutsche

Shanghai-based electronic musician 33EMYBW released the incredible album Golem, which relates to contemporary themes such as technology, arts and modern reality. Picked by Lukas Danys

51717 - Paranoia Star (L.I.E.S.)
New York's Lili Schulder has already appeared on L.I.E.S. as a part of Shadowlust and this year debuted on the label with her solo album "Paranoia Star". As 51717 Schulder evolves in creating murky atmosphere introducing seven beautiful pulsating sound design pieces accompanied by her haunting voice. Picked by Ranishe Niyaak

"A" Trio & AMM ‎- AAMM (Al Maslakh)
As always; completely different from previous works. Also, as always: you have no idea what, or how, each sound. Unfamiliar territories, yet filled with such warmth, and such humanity. Each sound, each frequency, each moment, and each movement- handled so subtly, so gently and so beautifully. Stunning, and mind bending release by ”A” Trio & AMM. Picked by Ma Yss.

Abul Mogard - Above All Dreams (Ecstatic Recordings)
Another masterpiece by the one and only. My obsession with him remained throughout 2018 and beyond. I guess you can expect his name to appear on the Malka Tuti roster, sometime in the future. Picket by Katzele

VA - African Scream Contest Vol.2 - Benin 1963-1980 (Analog Africa)
Some labels are just awesome since their beginnings. 10 years after the first “African Scream Contest” compilation, which literally changed my perception about African music, Analog Africa delivered its second edition. It is hard to believe but it is even better than its predecessor. All the vintage funky, ska, afrobeat tracks from Benin compiled by Samy Ben Redjeb sound in 2018 absolutely amazing. It is a double LP compilation with only good tracks and plenty of incredibly groovy songs. The selection is impressive but it has a trap – some songs are too strong and too addictive to flip to B side or skip to the next LP. For me it was Stanislas Tohon’s “Dja Dja Dja” – a never – ending ecstatic dance festival kind of track that hopelessly trapped me. I hope to move to B side in 2019. Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz

Afrodeutsche - Break Before Make (Skam)
Although there's no official vinyl release, Break Before Make is one of the most essential LP's in the electro genre. It was released on the legendary UK label Skam Records. Picked by Alan Currie / Assemble Agency

Akira Rabelais - Eisoptrophobia (Boomkat Editions)
I have a personal emotional attachment to this album, so I could not miss the chance to feature in this list its first vinyl edition, issued this year on Boomkat. In this very subtle release, compositions by Satie, Bartok and Akira Rabelais himself are deconstructed through the composer’s sophisticated sound manipulation, using softwares such as his own Argeïphontes Lyre. Listening to the album in a whole is for me an anamnestic journey into the broken and the dissolved. Classical and familiar piano pieces decay gradually and its fragments expand into space, evoking the perception of a distant but never forgotten beauty. The title, which means “fear of mirrors”, is what completes the sensitivity of this work: the mirror is a limitation, but the sound goes beyond the imposed constraint of a reflection. Picked by Laura Not
VA - Anthology of Electroacoustic Lebanese Music (Unexplained Sounds Group)
VA - Anthology of Electroacoustic Lebanese Music (Unexplained Sounds Group)

From Anadol to Asnakech Worku

Alex Zhang Hungtai, David Maranha, Gabriel Ferrandini - Eight Black Horses Crown Snake (Violante Do Céu)
I discovered this album just a few weeks ago. Even if it was released in September, it has been (and I guess it still is) under the radar for some time. I stumbled upon it looking for Alex Zhang Hungtai’s much praised “Divine Weight” album, which in the end I found quite boring, while I was totally captured by this collaboration with Portuguese musicians David Maranha and Gabriel Ferrandini. Differently from the long sustained and eerie drones of “Divine Weight”, here there’s a focus on the earthly and trance-inducing power of percussions and the echoes of resounding bodies that gives the record a kind of “timeless” and primal aura. Picked by Francesco Pappagallo

Anadol - Uzun Havalar (Kinship)
Anadol’s third album, Uzun Havalar was recorded on tape by Kinship Records. Anadol is a traditional continuation of lone synth experimentalists like Bruce Haack and The Space Lady with their childlike curiosity for electronic sounds, pushing the boundaries of minimal equipment. You can hear drummers laughing and playing guitars, composers howling, screaming, record collectors playing synths, actors mumbling and tuning in to the geography of Anadol's synth compositions. Picked by Ozan Maral

VA - Antipodean Anomalies (Left Ear Records)
Probably the release I revisited the most since I found out about it, packed with gems produced in Australia & New Zeeland in the 70’s & 80’s. Specific anomalous/mutant sounds regarding the geographical & cultural isolation of the artists. Picked by Chlorys

Andreas Hofer - Feuer Auf Dem Dach Der Welt (Second Thoughts Records / Platform 23 Records)
Sick reissue from Swiss guy originally put out in ’87, consisting of 18 highly addictive treats to play on repeat. It has everything I like – dreamy suggestive guitar reverb and sexy vibrato vocals similar to Roter Rot’s Get Away Dark Side or Foot and mouth’s I want my mummy. Picked by Mai Nestor

VA - Anthology of Electroacoustic Lebanese Music (Unexplained Sounds Group)
Super sexy selection by Raffaele Pezzella (Sonologyst), who curated this document on the Lebanese new alternative scene with finesse. It paints a very strong image of a really important group of musicians. It paints a picture of an intellectually evolved, humorous, cultivated and refined scene which produces mighty powerful music blending East and West. This music scene evolved from a war scene and these people stuck together against bombs and hate, blasting their own mind melting sounds. Picked by Victor Stutz

Asnakech Worku ‎- Asnakech (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
When all the Suns burn at the same time on the planet’s intensity, you don't know what's happening... Is it sunrise, is it sunset, is it yesterday, is it the end of the world? Don't be afraid, sweetie, it's just the future, it's here. It's Ethiopia mid-1970s, it's Ethiopia's greatest and most controverted woman singing her knowledge and her beauty, shooting her world ending krar, with Hailu Mergia by her side. Picked by Victor Stutz
The voice that touched me the most this year (alongside Zabelle Panosian on the track called “Groung”), haunting straight from the 1975 Ethiopia. Picked by Chlorys

Autechre - NTS Sessions 1-4 (Warp Records)
My favorite composers of all time. Until now, there hasn’t been a single release by them that I don’t adore. Their works are complete compositions via state-of-the-art technology, and their sounds acting as individual instrumentalists with an aim of harmonic entirety by master conductors. Picked by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar
David Sylvian & Holger Czukay – Plight & Premonition Flux & Mutability (Grönland Records)
David Sylvian & Holger Czukay – Plight & Premonition Flux & Mutability (Grönland Records)

From Bakunin Commando to Deena Abdelwahed

Bakunin Commando - Bakunin Commando (Vague Output)
Baltimore label Vague Output releases a mini comp of Francesco Baudazzi tracks under most of his aliases. Surface noise and clever hidden melodies are in there, start to finish. Picked by Andrei Rusu of Khidja

Bamba Pana - Poaa (Nyege Nyege)
I resent all the parties I ever went to, every single one was musically boring as fuck for not playing this grandiose gift, field recordings turned electronic, born by the master of everything, God Bamba Pana in the Mburahati ghetto, Dar Es Salaam. Picked by Victor Stutz

Black Replica - Black Replica (Metaphysik)
I totally missed out on this one take masterpiece recording only to discover it a decade later. And not until this year it finally has an official release. I’m very weak for this haunting and imposing electro that feels timeless. Picked by Mai Nestor

Bicikl - Mnogoljetije LP (Balkan Veliki)
Bicikl operates in a chaotic atmosphere with frequent instrument rotations, where everyone plays what he/she feels like at the moment. There are over 20 instruments used on the album, ranging from east to west, acoustic to electronic, analog to digital etc. Consequently the style of the album varies drastically making it hard to fit into any genre. If a single name had to be chosen, experimental world music would be the most appropriate term. Picked by Dragoș Rusu

CLNK - Thrak (listen2me)
listen2me is a fresh collective of Romanian artists and electronic music producers, operating under a Bucharest based record label and a series of club nights. Thrak is CLNK’s second album to date, an intriguing journey through dark evocative soundscapes. Call it techno, house or whatsoever, but if you’re digging for rough electronics to melt your brains and dry your muscles, you’ve come to the right place. Picked by Dragoș Rusu

Dame Area - Centro di Gravitá (Màgia Roja)
This colorful LP is a set of tracks recorded between 2015 and 2018. Born in the bedroom of Silvia Konstance, this project took another dimension when Viktor L. Crux (honcho of the Barcelona based Màgia Roja’s collective) joined her. I only can recommend to put an ear into this opus, where ritual poetry and broken iterative rhythms are melting together. Picked by Low Bat

David Sylvian & Holger Czukay – Plight & Premonition Flux & Mutability (Grönland Records)
Falls off the list for its new choice of artwork (you’re better off buying the originals) but stays on because of the music and the public reminder of what was one of the most imaginatively beautiful creative pairings: one of the greatest singer-songwriters and the collage prankster delivering after several collabos two albums of beautifully textured dreamscapes. And speaking of reminders, David Sylvian’s ambient masterpiece Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities (featuring none other than Czukay and Jon Hassell) is getting a repress next year (alas, with different artwork). Picked by Andrei Tănăsescu

Deena Abdelwahed - Khonnar (InFiné Music)
Catharctic bass music (partially) aimed at clubbing, marrying North Africa and Middle East melodic oozing with a very personal foray into electronic music. Picked by Rek Abu
Eddie Ladoire & Pierre Bastien – Phantoms (Un Je Ne Sais Quoi)
Eddie Ladoire & Pierre Bastien – Phantoms (Un Je Ne Sais Quoi)

From Die Wilde Jagd to Eva Geist

Demdike Stare - Passion (Modern Love)
Do correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost certain this LP got released completely unannounced. Demdike Stare continues to impress the crowd after releasing that smasher of a tape earlier this year—The Feed-Back Loop—with what’s left of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. What we’ve got here is an ecstatic pot-pourri of British memorabilia and futurism, crushing together everything they know how to do best in the most sophisticated way I could possibly imagine. Have a scotch egg, crack open a lager and rewind. Picked by Aki Yamouridis

Die Milchstrasse Flockt - Die Milchstrasse Flockt (Bohemian Drips)
Crazy and intense live-experience (saw at the S-H – some wonderful gloomy venue located in NK, Berlin), this project made of Ruth-Maria Adam, Alexander P. Jovanovic, Inox Kapell, Josefine Lukschy and Alexander Meurer propose with this LP a one-week-shot experiment. With a truck filled with uncommon instruments and pieces of irons, the quintet went to a castle and recorded, impregnated by the location, this opus, a post-wired experience where the gongs free your mind in less than one minute. Don’t forget to have a look into the whole catalog of the label, you might discover the meaning of life. Picked by Low Bat

Die Wilde Jagd - Uhrwald Orange (Bureau B)
The first time I played at Camp Cosmic six years ago, I opened the set with ‘Moogwalzer’ of ‘Der Räuber Und Der Prinz’. A little bit later the track would change its name to ‘Durch dunkle Tannen’ and the band to ‘Die Wilde Jagd’ and I think almost every time I’ve DJed since then, I’ve played a track of them — an absolute favorite. Picked by André Pahl

Eddie Ladoire & Pierre Bastien – Phantoms (Un Je Ne Sais Quoi)
The composer and visual artist Pierre Bastien celebrated for more of 40 years of musical and poetic inventions teamed up in 2013 with Eddie Ladoire, a musician and artist working on sound installations and soundscapes to create a show around Dance: “Phantoms”. The aim with “Phantoms” was to edit and loop old movies of dancers from all times and spaces (from African tribal dances to Frères Lumières experiments) to create an original choreography accompanying the music played live by the two musicians. Picked by Dragoș Rusu

Etnik Sentetik "Selected Works 1995-2006" (Müstesna Records)
Important release consisting of a selection of tracks recorded by the Turkish synth-pop band between 1995-2006. ‘90s infused grittiness worth checking. Picked by Chlorys

Eva Geist - Desfãn (Macadam Mambo)
When I wake up and have as surprise a new demo track of Andreina (Eva) in my e-mail the day can’t go wrong any more. So incredibly talented, also when playing live. Big highlight this year was, apart from this record, her concert at Funkhaus Berlin. In times where many people tend to do quite cold and hard electronic music I find her way of composing songs — organic, dreamy and soulful — very unique & refreshing. Picked by André Pahl

G. B. Beckers - Walkman (Music From Memory)
G.B. Beckers’ languid, etheric minimalist variations around acoustic guitar, guitar synth, rhythm box and with wordless female vocals. G.B. Becker’ ‘Walkman’ drifts in and out of moods; it is a unique and hauntingly beautiful album that resurfaces in its entirety on the inestimable Music From Memory. Picked by Rem Gow

Geins't Naït / Laurent Petitgand ‎- Make Dogs Sing (Offen Music)
This collection is such a spellbinding and beautiful journey. It makes me think a lot about death and I get sentimental at. It’s one of those albums that oblige you to listen consecutively to the very end, experiencing your life in review, while being brutally pierced by its narrative. Picked by Mai Nestor

VA - Girth: Iranian Sound Artists (Zabte Sote/Opal Tapes)
This compilation of 40 artists on my new label ‘Zabte Sote’ and the label itself, is my attempt of providing a home for Iranian electronic composers whose work I like to listen to. There will be some fantastic individual album releases of left-field electronic music in 2019. Picked by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar
Inturist - Trip (Incompetence)
Inturist - Trip (Incompetence)

From Giuliano Sorgini to Jerusalem In My Heart

Giuliano Sorgini - Africa Oscura (Four Flies Records)
Very Safari’esque, these formerly unreleased tracks were apparently recorded during or shortly after his amazing ‘Zoo Folle’ album, but have a much more mellow and mysterious vibe to me. Yesterday night, when it was gloomy & foggy outside, it was the perfect soundtrack. Picked by André Pahl

Gossiwor - Lighthouse (5 Gate Temple)
The collaboration between electronic producer John T. Gast and saxophonist MC Boli as Gossiwor has given birth to one of the most beautiful records of the last few years. It comes up as a mixture of almost orchestral, dissonant arrangements and dreamy synthetic patterns, recalling tension and longing at the same time. It reminds me the mittle-european, obscure and sacred atmospheres of some Popol Vuh works painted in an even more ambiguous and contemporary language. Picked by Francesco Pappagallo

Ill Considered - An Ill Considered Christmas
Not only are Ill Considered proving to be the greatest butter for UK's contemporary jazz scene since sliced bread, but their level of output is incredibly prolific (and a curse for your wallet). Any of their six (!!!) releases for 2018 would’ve sufficed, but just when the year was coming to a close, they threw another curveball – a Christmas album. One listen to the fury of Jingle Bells and you’ll realize this ain’t your grandmother’s gingerbread cookies blowing off steam. Picked by Andrei Tănăsescu

Ingus Baušķenieks - Spoki (STROOM.tv)
Spoki (Ghosts) is the sound of an artist putting their private world to tape. Of exploring and pushing the limits of themselves and technology to realise the music in their head. Recorded in Riga between 1988-2011. Picked by Lukas Danys

Inturist - Komandirovka (Incompetence)
Inturist is a free-form project from Moscow recently started by one of the most interesting Russian musicians Jenya Gorbunov. The boundless configuration of Inturist may vary from solo to a full jazz-band under the same name. Most of the songs are made on the fly with Gorbunov tirelessly handling the layers of no-wave sound while delivering subconscious wordplay about everyday life. Although this may sound very local to Russia, the music has already proved to be easy to understand without any context. Inturist's debut album “Business trip” is intended to take you to forgotten places inside your mind. Picked by Ranishe Niyaak

Jay Glass Dubs - Plegnic (Ecstatic)
Jay Glass Dubs was up there with this year’s most consistent producers, culminating in the full length 'Plegnic', a dark meander through dub. Picked by Alan Currie / Assemble Agency

Jean-Pierre Boistel / Tony Kenneybrew - Percussions Pour La Danse (Left Ear Records)
If you were searching through the finest record stores worldwide a few years back, chances to see this percussion jazz treasure framed on the wall, were probably big. Fetching up high prices on the second-hand market as one of the most sought-after abstract/jazzdance/african LP's, 'Percussions Pour La Danse' was a collaboration between North American born jazz & contemporary-dance instructor Tony Kennybrew and French musician Jean-Pierre Boistel. Tony, a Washington native who had studied, taught and danced professionally since the age of 12, found himself in France in the late 80’s. It’s here that he linked up with like-minded musician Jean-Pierre; who had recently returned from a 6-month trip to West Africa." Now in 2018 thanks to Melbourne's respectable Left Ear Records, this effective sound construction that emphasizes the vibes of the live percussion as a whole, sees another light of the day. Highly recommended. Picked by Alexandru Drăgănescu/JB

Jerusalem in my Heart - Daqa'ip Tudaiq (Constellation Records)
It was quite an experience to see Radwan Ghazi Moumneh perform live at Cafe Oto 2 years ago. What I love the most about his sound is how he manages to process his instruments and voice. Sounds like granular synthesis. The track "Thahab, Mish Roujou', Thahab" is a very nice example of that. The whole album is great but this track is standing out. Picked by Flore of Khidja
Luc Ferrari ‎- Atelier De Libération De La Musique (Alga Marghen)
Luc Ferrari ‎- Atelier De Libération De La Musique (Alga Marghen)

From Khruangbin to Maria W Horn

Koray Kantarcioglu - Loopworks (Discrepant)
Originally released by Wounded Wolf Press as a limited release (only 100 cassettes were made) back in 2016, “Loopworks” compiles Turkish visual and sound artist Koray Kantarcıoğlu's loop based work composed of samples taken from Turkish records released in 60's and 70's as source material. “Loopworks” impacts almost instantly mainly because it shows some familiarity with the recent work of Leyland Kirby as The Caretaker, particularly with the “haunted ballroom” effect. Picked by Ozan Maral

Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo (Night Time Stories)
The band of the year! ”Con Todo El Mundo“ has become the soundtrack of 2018. The album proved to be mesmerizing piece in any possible life situation, time and geography. These Texas based guys (and girls) are new modern classics by no means. Their sound is extremely contemporary, even though inspired by vintage various sounds from 70s and 80s – Cambodian, Persian, Lebanese, Caribbean and Texan to mention just a few. The album of last decade! Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz

Luc Ferrari ‎- Atelier De Libération De La Musique (Alga Marghen)
Previously unreleased recordings from contemporary composer super star Ferrari from ‘75. These were actually improvisations recorded whilst he and other of his musicians (including brilliant French musician and producer Philippe Besombes) were rehearsing for a concert. This relaxed context somehow led them to produce something less intellectual than usual with beautiful harmonic soundscapes mixed between some eerie drones and horn outbursts. Picked by Aki Yamouridis

Maoupa Mazzocchetti - Gag Flag (Editions Gravats)
In many ways, I think of Maoupa Mazzocchetti as the Holger Czukay of our times. Favorite tracks: Y'a un Petit Probleme / Dazzilo / Private Investigator on a Guitar Men / How To Hate You Without H. This video portrays his absurdity very well. Picked by Flore of Khidja

Maria W Horn - Kontrapoetik (Portal Editions)
A real gem of sound design and instant ambient classic! Picked by Branislav Jovancevic aka Kӣr

Michele Mercure - Beside Herself (RVNG Intl.)
A collection of Michele Mercure’s early minimal synth and experimental electronic compositions. 'Beside Herself' is an anthology of Mercure’s self-produced and distributed cassettes released between 1983 and 1990. Mercure’s sound is a porous electronic art that overlaps ambient, abstract, and industrial sensibilities. Night lit synth music evokes non-confined environments, at once expressionistic and minimal and always aware of its surroundings. Acoustic elements such as voice and stringed instruments add a haunting lyricism to the non-tonal space unoccupied by electronic presence in Mercure’s music. Her self-released album-length cassettes included Rogue and Mint (1983), A Cast of Shadows (1984), Dreams Without Dreamers (1985), and Dreamplay (1990). Picked by Rem Gow

VA - Midday Moon - Ambient And Experimental Music From Australia And New Zealand 1980 - 1995 (Bedroom Suck Records)
Just discovered this one yesterday (thanks Théo!) but already on repeat. Never heard of any of the artists except for John Elder (Antarctica LP is amazing!) — i’m looking forward to dig into the universe of each one and see what else they released. Picked by André Pahl

Münchener Studioorchester - Twilights Of Bali (Sound-Star-Ton)
Ever since Chris Hinze’s Meditation & Mantras records I’ve been keeping an eye out for Balinese influenced jazz and fusion records from the past and this re-issue managed to fill a bit of that gap. Few excelent tracks on it, vinyl only, no online links. Check out Terang Bulang or Bedaja! Picked by Andrei Rusu of Khidja
VA - Par Les Damné.e.s De La Terre # Des Voix de Luttes 1969-1988 (Hors Cadres)
VA - Par Les Damné.e.s De La Terre # Des Voix de Luttes 1969-1988 (Hors Cadres)

From Muslimgauze to Niño De Elche

Muslimgauze - Mullah Said (Staalplaat)
I haven't begun to scratch the surface of Bryn Jones vast output but this must be amongst his most hypnotic and complete works, originally issued on CD in 1998. Picked by Alan Currie / Assemble Agency

Muqata'a ‎- Inkanakuntu (Souk Records/Discrepant)
The music of Muqata'a was once described to me as Kibbeh nayyeh - the Levantine’s version of steak tartar. Frankly, I cannot top those words. His music is so raw, so punitive yet so beautiful and sensual, without a doubt my favorite release this year. Not to mention; it heavily defined and inspired; the colors & visions of my DJ sets. Picked by Ma Yss

Niño De Elche - Antología Del Cante Flamenco Heterodoxo (Sony Music / Legacy)
Francisco Contreras Molina (aka Niño de Elche) is one of the most experimental and forward-thinking voices of flamenco today. He combines synth drones, doom metal influences, experimental theater and traditional flamenco into very vibrant, daring and bold expression. This album is his magnum opus. Picked by Branislav Jovancevic aka Kӣr

Nu Guinea - Nova Napoli (NG Records)
Second LP of Nu Guinea is a pure revelation. Lazy disco sounds, funky pace, warm and cosmic synthesizers blended with reminiscences of African vibe. The band paid a visit to their authentic neighborhood – Napoli late 60s and 70s. Good in every inch. Nu Guinea recommends listening to the album while strolling on the streets of Napoli. But the music literally takes you there! A great journey! Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz

Osheyack - Sadomodernism (Bedouin Records)
In Sadomodernism, Osheyack fuses sounds of IDM with gabber, techno, ambient, drone wrapped up with horror film, something-bad-about-to-happen aesthetics. Picked by Lukas Danys

Pablo's Eye - Spring Break (STROOM.tv)
The most special label from last couple of years; Stroom, run by great selector Ziggy Devriendt, Pablo’s Eye’s Spring Break compilation is the science of studio pressure, when engineer becomes artist. Pablo’s Eye uses the mixing desk to examine and exhaust the possibilities of moments. Pablo’s Eye is a record of that examination and exhaustion, but it is also a record of its own inner space. Picked by Ozan Maral

VA - Par Les Damné.e.s De La Terre # Des Voix de Luttes 1969-1988 (Hors Cadres)
I found this compilation while searching for a song at the end of the movie about Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man. The title refers to pivotal book on neo-colonialism, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, which I strongly recommend for everyone to read. The album compiles francophone artists from French colonial countries around the worl, and illustrates the uniformed suffering of oppressed, but also gives hope and insight on how music is a powerful tool in fighting against the global and particular tyranny of capitalism that we all live in. Recently interviewing one of the young-up-and-coming artists, all the questions that were referring to any political issues were refused to my big surprise, with explanation that we should talk only about music, yet: "Without this struggle, without this praxis there is nothing but a carnival parade and a lot of hot air" - Frantz Fanon. Picked by Branislav Jovancevic aka Kӣr

Praed - Doomsday Survival Kit (Akuphone)
Doomsday Survival Kit is PRAED’s fourth album. The Lebanese duo delivers a raging interpretation of the chaabi – popular Arabic music – using synthesizers, drum Machines, samples and other devices. The result is hypnotic and psychedelic, on the verge of trance. The clarinet of Paed Conca and the soaring lyricism of Raed Yassin sound like distant calls for help emerging from a world that is falling apart and slipping away. Picked by Dragoș Rusu
Spiritczualic Enhancement Center - Who Corrupted Our Wave, Back In 1969? (Kinship Records)
Spiritczualic Enhancement Center - Who Corrupted Our Wave, Back In 1969? (Kinship Records)

From Reymour to Sebastian Gandera

Piero Milesi & Daniel Bacalov - La Camera Astratta (Soave / Cuneiform Records)
La Camera Astratta is the soundtrack to a large-scale dance/performance work. A work that is simultaneously high-tech and organic. It's an evocative ambient sound, with rhythmic cadence, soft and repetitive, full of airiness; the music expresses the scenic aims and investigates and reproduces their sensations, marking the engendering of silences and melting moments of higher performing tension. A balanced combination between the whispering power of the voices, the electronic modulations, the rhythmic inserts and the aquatic and biological samples; each of those elements analyze the narrative intention of an almost microcosmic-embryonic exploration of the inner space-body. Picked by Rem Gow

Reymour - Enigme (Kinship)
New family member on the young tape label based in Berlin of the infamous Etkin Cekin, Reymour is a duo of Lou Savary and Luc Bersier. These two gentle birds are based in Fribourg (Switzerland) and are working in the venue named ‘Le Mouton Noir’. This musical love story cradles my nights since a few months already, oscillating between classical, charged of emotions, synth pop, latent violence and sex in between the waves. Picked by Low Bat

Salm: Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides Of Scotland Volume One (Arc Light Editions)
A beautiful, contemporary companion piece to last year’s I'm On My Journey Home: Sacred Harp Singing, 1928-1934 and an astounding example of the power of collective singing to elevate the soul. Whereas harp singing is more structured, here it’s something of a free-for-all: each psalm is sung by a ‘precentor’ who is then followed by the entire congregation in unison. The effect is that of a tidal wave hitting you each time, a flood of piety and heterophony cradling you in embrace. There’s nothing quite like it, and it really begs to be heard in a room with the sound filling its every crevice. Besides the added ethnographic context this is simply beautiful, sacral music. Picked by Andrei Tănăsescu

Scald - Kyjch Uyr[st (Amhain)
Chris Douglas (Aclds, Dalglish, Rook, Scald etc.) remains forever a favorite, and in my opinion, one of the greatest living musicians. Somehow, he is completely sidelined by the circus of industry, leaving me to ponder: how such a musical genius, continues (even after decades) - to go unrecognized? I cannot help but ponder: I am crazy -in my admiration of his art? Are other artists who play his music (like Autechre) also crazy? Regardless of the answer, it is clear many are now copying his sounds. Alas, if anything I’ve learned: that this is how the circus works. Pay your respect to the vultures. Picked by Ma Yss

Sebastian Gandera - Le Raccourci (Efficient Space)
Released mostly on industrial cassette labels between the end of the eighties and the middle of the nineties, Sebastian Gandera’s work has been mostly unknown to an extended audience. Julien Dechery (co-compiler of Sky Girl, alongside DJ Sundae) was one of those who had the occasion to stumble upon his production, paying a particular attention to it. After years of meticulous searching, listening, culling and digitizing released and unreleased material, “Le Raccourci” was ready to be released this year. The result is a passionate attempt to compile an exhaustive introduction to the French prolific artist’s underrated work. From melancholic piano pieces to sampler tracks where field recording loops are featured almost as echoes, this release wishes not only to unearth Gandera’s work, but its nostalgic tone also aims to represent his vision of composition: an intimate process, a refuge from the outside. The intimacy of this record, its beautiful pieces and passionate history made me think it’s worth being mentioned in this end of year chart. Picked by Laura Not

Sophie - Oil Of Every Pearl's Un-Insides (Transgressive Records)
The unscrupulous hyperpop performed by SOPHIE ─ the Smartest Product Placement Award goes to "My face is the real shop front,/ My shop is the face I front,/ I’m real when I shop my front!". Picked by Rek Abu

Spiritczualic Enhancement Center - Who Corrupted Our Wave, Back In 1969? (Kinship Records)
If Woodstock had happened in an alien, technologicallly advanced universe, this is probably how it would have sounded like but we might’ve never got to experience it. Fortunately, it was recorded this year in Berlin by seven illuminated musicians that created a timeless dialogue of textures, grooves and beats, which you can use as a post-hippie spaceship to take you wherever the fuck you want. Picked by Gabriel Leașcu

From Sugai Ken to Tirzah

VA - Tales From the Far East (OKVLT)
VA - Tales From the Far East (OKVLT)
Stine Janvin - Fake Synthetic Music (PAN)
In Fake Synthetic Music, Stine Janvin operates a great work of vocal manipulation that extends the possibilities of voice as a flexible instrument, able to blur the borders between “real” and “fake”, “synthetic” or “organic”. The vocal rearrangements tend to separate the voice from its human characteristics, resulting in hypnotic patterns made of otoacoustic emissions and obsessive vocal loops that take part in a haunted space in which the power of physical aspect of sound is explored. A very interesting release that I highly recommend! Picked by Laura Not

SUGAI KEN meets G禁禁禁禁 – 岩石考 yOrUkOrU (Yerevan Tapes)
Sound or music? Where do you draw the line? Picked by Flore of Khidja

Suso Sáiz - En La Piel Del Cruce - Live In Valladolid 1986 (Bcosof)
Even though this is a live recording from 1986, it was in fact never issued, and has seen the light of day for the first time on a cassette release to coincide with Suso Saiz’s tour. 40 minutes of pure bliss from one of the unsung heroes of guitar ambient textures. Perfect for morning/evenings at home or for some time in the forest, on the beach, in the garden. Picked by Dragoș Munteanu

VA - Tales From the Far East (OKVLT)
Suffocating, dirty, distorted, Eastern electronics. Picked by Flore of Khidja

VA - The Harvest Of A Quiet Eye (Opal Tapes)
Stephen Bishop is by far one of the most creative and honest curators in the electronic music world. He knows his history and I have utmost respect for his taste and output via his diverse and unpredictable Opal Tapes label. This compilation is proof of my words… A wonderful collection of sonic beauty. Picked by Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar

Tirzah - Devotion (Domino Records)
Disintegrated and minimalist pop music, with a romantic (post-)punk vibe, grown from Mica Levi's anti-geometric loops, and the unashamed & laconic soulness of Tirzah's voice. Picked by Rek Abu

Tropical Fuck Storm ‎- A Laughing Death In Meatspace (Tropical Fuck Storm Records/Mistletone)
Mind-bender of psychedelia and political post-apocalypse. This is dense in all the right places and senses. It’s got Oompa-Trumpa-Loompa fuck you’s, an imaginative fantasy-turned-sobering-reality of the impending singularity via Kasparov’s defeat, tales of loves lost rooted in urban reality or Jodorowskian imagination. All this delivered via muscular lyrics of plosive force and no-bullshit intelligence that jaunts metronomically to an instrumentation that recalls a totally doped-out freak-baby of Byrne and St. Vincent – but much more original. Picked by Andrei Tănăsescu

Various ‎– Turkish Ladies. Female Singers from Turkey 1974 - 1988 (Sony Music/Epic Istanbul)
Kornelia Binicewicz's Ladies on Records project has grown into consistency this year with the release 'Turkish Ladies. Female Singers from Turkey 1974 - 1988', an important anthology of rare songs coming from the under-represented or even completely neglected Turkish female singers. The song 'Yıkılla Köyler' of Dilber Doğan is hauntingly beautiful; it got me completely hooked. Picked by Dragoș Rusu
Vactrol Park - Music from the Luminous Void (Malka Tuti)
Vactrol Park - Music from the Luminous Void (Malka Tuti)

From Vakula to Young Echo

Unknown Artist - Early Sampling Puzzle (Delodio)
If you’re really interested in the story about how the Deledio guys discovered this tape and what gear was used to produce it, it’s all very well explained on the insert. The bottom line is that supposedly no one knows who and when this music was made. It sounds like a typical 80s bedroom-producer trip with all the synth exuberance, early sampling techniques and digital age fascination but for some reason, it’s really been hitting the spot. Picked by Aki Yamouridis
Naive, playful and downright crazy, this music has lost its owner but not its identity. Discovered at a thrift store, created (maybe) by a French movie director with what appears to be an array of early samplers a Korg Mono-Poly and perhaps a wavetable synth, flanger & delay, it has a great sense of humour and intense story behind it. Picked by Andrei Rusu of Khidja

Vactrol Park - Music from the Luminous Void (Malka Tuti)
I might be biased, but this is my album of the year. It just captured perfectly my experience of 2018, and was the soundtrack for both the best and the worst moments of the year. Picket by Katzele

Vakula - Metaphors (Leleka)
Another sublime trip from the master of emotional body movements. It’s almost impossible at this point for any release on Leleka, Vakula’s own imprint, to get unnoticed and especially one from the man himself. A melting pot of tribal percussion, ambient and even some Krautrock elements make this one of my most listened to and played out record, with a perfect balance between the two. Picked by Dragoș Munteanu

Young Echo - Young Echo (Young Echo Records)
When I first heard this new (awaited but not expected) effort from the Bristol collective I immediately thought that it would have been my album of the year. After months of listening I still love it a lot, especially for that “unfinished” vibe that often characterizes the outputs of the artists involved. It presents a collection of sketches covering a wide spectrum of different influences: from spacey trip hop to emotional rnb, spoken words and dirty, perverted beats all drenched in a hazy, early morning light. Picked by Francesco Pappagallo
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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