We asked to different musicians, producers, bloggers, journalists, label owners to make a short list of their best albums of this year. This is the one of Dutch musician and producer Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek. 

 

Ellen Arkbro – For Organ and Brass
A other new name for me this year. Had to check out the album after reading that Hilary Jeffrey (trombone) and Robin Hayward (tuba) are playing on it. And as hoped, this is right up my alley. It took some time to get used to the strangely tuned organ, which sounds quite dissonant. But it gives a nice edge to the  dirge-like 20-minute opener. Super stately music, really beautiful. Simultaneously calming and powerful.
Giant Claw – Soft Channel
I hadn’t heard Keith Rankin’s music as Giant Claw before I saw a review on Tiny Mixtapes. I checked it a Bandcamp and it was unlike anything I’ve heard before… It’s quite nuts actually, his super synthetic classical/musique-concrete/electronic constructions… sometimes a bit like Oneothrix Point Never making musique concrète. It’s just super exhilerating and over-the-top, but also strangely emotional and beautiful.
Nicola Ratti – The Collection
Nicola Ratti’s music is great. I started with his (still fantastic) 220 Tones album, and also fell in love with the music of Bellows, his collaboration with Giuseppe Ielasi. So I was excited when a new album of his came out on Room40. Ratti claims it’s a collection of sketches, but it holds up really well as an album. It’s all synth-stuff, spacious and minimal, hypnotically rythmical. Like a dubbed-out Autechre maybe?
Yasuaki Shimuzu – Music for Commercials
This is a re-issue from an album from 1987, with -as the title suggests- music by this Japanese composer for various commercials (Honda, Seiko, Sharp, etc.). Most tracks are just a series of repeated loops, with synths, orchestral samples, and sometimes saxophones and voice. A bit quirky but quite lovely.
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
Now this is a really heavy album (it deals with the death of a former band member), but with loads of beautiful, contemplative moments that recall Low or Mogwai at it’s sparest. And the searing melodic guitar lines in the heavier parts remind my of My Dying Bride (which I listened to a lot when I was younger). It’s all super sad, super slow… one long 80-minute track. Ambitious and really impressive.

Other releases that I loved this year, and for some reason didn’t make the top-5, but could’ve easily (but hey, choices…)
  • Michael Pisaro – Asleep, Street, Pipes, Tones
  • Saltland – A Common Truth
  • Jürg Frey – Ephemeral Constructions
  • Rhodri Davies / David Sylvian / Mark Wastell – There is No Love
  • Felicia Atkinson – Hand in Hand
  • MXLX – Kicking Away at the Decrepit Walls til the Beautiful Sunshine Blisters Thru the Cracks
  • Irreversible Entanglements – Irreversible Entanglements
  • Michael Pisaro – Asleep, Street, Pipes, Tones
  • Taylor Deupree – Somni
  • Krallice – Go, Be Forgotten