Blog: Our five favourite albums of the year
By Alfred Mayaki - The 22nd year of Anno Domini has proven to be another progressive year in terms of musical innovation. We have therefore taken the liberty to put together a list of five top albums we have come across this year that we felt deserved a mention. Enjoy the listen.
- Royksopp - Profound Mysteries III - 3/5
The first indication that Profound Mysteries 3 is a good album is when you hear 'The Night'. Typical Royksopp, a chilled, mellow, and soothing ambient/downtempo vibe. This is easy listening but not too easy. The duo's mood formula is tried and tested. 'Lights Out' gives a sort of 'Karl Jenkins - Aeidamus' imitation to the sound of the album. That's a compliment if I ever gave one, I love the classic Karl Jenkins. But you know when an artist in their niche is so good that it becomes difficult to compare them to others. Royksopp have long passed that level. Unashamedly poppy.
- Daniel Avery - Ultra Truth - 3/5
Like most of Ultra Truth, 'New Faith' is ironically very emotive and inward-looking (this is a self-conscious album that consists of songs like 'Wall of Sleep' and 'Devotion' that make for a purposeful detour into the Ambient genre), yet given this boundary constraint, the Ultra Truth album never attempts to exceed this initial potential or the potential of its producer. It's arguably a consistently average exploration.
What is noticed, however, is that there is this rather feint and recurring effect mid-way through the album that possibly reveals what Avery chooses to portray with this project. The fragility of electronic realism (and some badly mixed synthesized pads I might add). In Avery's Ultra Truth, we must accept a creatively nonchalant formative utopia.
Very interesting projections.
- Various Artists - Adrian Sherwood Presents Dub No Frontiers - 3/5
Dub No Frontiers is an exciting compilation of 10 international reggae-inspired songs, presided over by an eclectic mix of vocal talent ('I Dupe' is sung in a very familiar Nigerian language and 'Haste Makes Waste' in what seems to be Mandarin Chinese). The message of the album from Sherwood in each collab is resounding. Music is, at its finest, a universal art, so we must strive to embrace this universality, and all its diverse forms, at all costs.
- Björk - Fassora - 4/5
This is the absolute definition of experimental. Björk's velvet voice wraps itself mysteriously around a series of viruoistic electronic beats throughout the course of this, her delectable 10th studio album, entitled Fossora available through One Little Independent Records. Björk told Apple Music: "I would sample my own voice making several sounds, several octaves. I really wanted to break out of the normal sort of chord structure that I get stuck in". The sub-theme of songs like 'Sorrowful Soil' is sacrificial. Great albums usually don't have such an experimental feel, but Bjork is an exception. Feelings of perennial fragility are mass communicated aptly through the use of the deep brass instrument that is topped off by the sounds of what could only have been a marvelous set of orchestral performances. These songs by the collaborative artists on the album are explored in 'Allow', and continued through to 'Fungal City'. 'Freefall' is just absolutely incredible, so incredible that it made the shortlist.
- Bugseed - Idealism - 4/5
Crazy how instrumental hip-hop has come so far. I could listen to this album on repeat for the whole day. Produced with the conscientious listener in mind. Idealism by Bugseed is a very well-imagined and exceptionally well-executed production. The powerful kick and snare combinations and eloquent keys on 'Really Know' are easy on the ear and exemplify the quality of production in no uncertain terms. Magnifique.
Favorites: 'Slo Hot Wind', 'Berao' and 'Nao Chora'.