Best of 2018 – Albums

Best New Albums

Best of 2018 – Albums

Compiling a “Best Of” list is no easy feat when there’s so much quality music constantly coming out. I burdened over this list for quite some time, laboring day and night to select my top 25 albums of the past year. It is for this reason alone—and not because work and life got in the way—that I am releasing this list on the eve of March. Better late than never!

The following LPs feature a range of genres, spanning from ambient albums to compilations of dancefloor weapons, but there is a consistent theme of quality throughout. I hope these albums find a special place in your collection like they have in mine!

A.A.L. (Against All Logic)2012-2017

In 2011, Nicolas Jaar cultivated an immediate following with his groundbreaking leftfield electronic LP, Space Is Only Noise, and he never looked back. Between his productions and DJ sets, Jaar’s uncompromising sound draws from his extensive and eclectic record collection. Due to his wide-ranging influences, some of Jaar’s work is more accessible than others, but he has achieved a consistent quality throughout his career.

Jaar’s latest release, 2012-2017, however, is among his best and most accessible to date. The compilation features a collection of previously unreleased club cuts under his alias, A.A.L. (Against All Logic). The tracks are diverse and boast a myriad of tempos and styles. Jaar lets his rich sample selections do most of the heavy lifting from track to track, incorporating both classics and rare gems from the realms of disco, funk, soul, and world music. Of course, his signature shadowy aesthetic is present throughout. The result is a playful pastiche of sound that feels both modern and vintage.

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Abul MogardAbove All Dreams

Little is known about Serbian musician Abul Mogard. According to internet legend, he began producing electronic music upon retiring from his career as a factory worker. Yearning for the industrial noise he’d grown accustomed to over decades and recently left behind, Mogard began experimenting with organs, samplers, and synthesizers to create ambient soundscapes. His latest album, Above All Dreams, contains over an hour of sublime ambient drones that resonate with contemporaries like Alessandro Cortini, Deru, Tim Hecker, and William Basinski. This has become a favorite of mine to play before bed as I drift off to sleep.

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Daniel AverySong For Alpha

Daniel Avery ascended in 2012 with his FabricLive 66 mix compilation and his residency at the highly-influential Fabric club in London. The following year he released his club-centric debut album, Drone Logic. Avery has more or less been on tour ever since, riding the wave of his signature acid-drenched sound around the world many times over.

Now five years later, Daniel Avery’s latest LP, Song For Alpha, takes a slight detour from the dancefloor in pursuit of a more-intimate and dynamic sound. It still features some of the hypnotic club cuts that his fans have come to expect, such as “Sensation,” “Clear,” and “Diminuendo,” but much of the album exists in a fuzzed out, shoegaze haze of light atmospheric tones, heavy reverb, and downtempo beats. Here Avery clearly draws inspiration from the IDM golden age of early-Warp Records, as is evident by the Boards Of Canada and Aphex Twin influences in tracks such as “Citizen // Nowhere” and “Days From Now.” Between the extroverted psychedelic dance tracks and the introverted downtempo excursions, Song For Alpha is a welcome evolution of Daniel Avery’s sound that keeps one foot in the club and one at home.

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David AugustD’Angelo

David August gained notoriety for his 2014 deep house hit, “Epikur.” The anthem saw release through Innervisions and received DJ support from the likes of Âme, Dixon, and Solomun. However, if this is your only reference point to August’s work, his new album will come as a surprise. D’Angelo is not a dance music album. August has departed his previous dance-focused sound for something far more personal and experimental.

His latest LP blends various musical influences, such as experimental rock, neoclassical, and R&B. August supposedly sought inspiration in his Italian roots, employing his homeland’s arts and culture as his muse, as well as Greek mythology. If I was a betting man, I’d wager Darkside’s Psychic was a strong influence on D’Angelo, as it bears a striking resemblance to Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s disbanded project. For anyone that is desperate for something to fill the void left by Darkside, look no further.

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DJ Healer Nothing 2 Loose / Prime Minister Of Doom Mudshadow Propaganda

DJ Healer aka Prime Minister Of Doom (aka Traumprinz, aka Prince of Denmark, aka DJ Metatron) had a prolific year with two great LPs, and more than 4 hours of mixes featuring album offcuts. The totality of his 2018 discography is impressive, both in size and caliber. Though both albums dwell in the ambient realm, DJ Healer’s Nothing 2 Loose is far more subdued and incorporates elements of breakbeat and minimal techno, whereas Prime Minister Of Doom’s Mudshadow Propaganda explores deep house and dub-techno. There are moments in Nothing 2 Loose that sound downright heavenly. It’s highlight, “Planet Lonely,” comes halfway through the album. It channels the ambient tones of Brian Eno, the melancholic moods and repetitious vocal samples of Burial, and the nostalgic breaks drum samples of the ‘90s. While the majority of Nothing 2 Loose is too soft and slow-developing for use on the dancefloor, Mudshadow Propaganda is far more applicable. Its tracks contain patient melodies, thumping 4/4 beats, deep basslines, and repetitious percussion.

DJ Healer – Nothing 2 Loose

Prime Minister Of Doom – Mudshadow Propaganda

DJ KozeKnock Knock

No album brought me more joy in 2018 than DJ Koze’s Knock Knock. The album just oozes serotonin. In the follow-up to his delightful 2013 album, Amygdala, the German DJ/producer stuck to the same recipe: 1) cultivate a dense sample library; 2) recruit talented musicians for features; and 3) combine these elements in a manner that both embraces and subverts conventional musical tradition. Knock Knock is not your ordinary electronic album. It incorporates wide-ranging elements: disco, funk, pop, folk, psychedelic, hip-hop, and R&B. There’s even a little dash of country in there. Koze’s album features countless vox samples and includes the vocals of Bon Iver, José González, and Róisín Murphy. With such diverse elements, the combined effort results in an odd, yet welcoming avantgarde electronic album with more energy and character than anything else you’ll listen to this year.

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DjrumPortrait With Firewood

Portrait With Firewood, Djrum’s sophomore album, is a departure of from his past methodology. While it still features all the elements that have come to be associated with the UK producer—such as deep basslines, emotive string and piano instrumentation, and vocal and spoken word samples—Djrum utilizes live instruments for the first time. In his previous works, Djrum aka Felix Manuel built his beats exclusively from samples, predominantly drawing from jazz. While Portrait With Firewood still features plenty of samples, he draws upon his classical piano training to breathe new life into his sound.

DJMag captured it best in their year-end list, that Portrait With Firewood “finds a place halfway between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Special Request.” The album is equal parts melancholic film score and hard-hitting UK bass. There is an undeniably cinematic feel to Manuel’s works that goes beyond the film dialogue he often samples. He frequently borrows from common soundtrack aesthetics through his use of piano and cello samples and recordings.

For a dance music producer, Manuel has a fearless propensity to withhold a beat. Throughout the bulk of his discography, Djrum demonstrates this penchant for patience through his recurring use of somber interludes. These diminished moments act to both compliment and separate the more vivacious segments, oftentimes featuring little more than a lilting piano melody and some whispering dialogue. It’s a style he also incorporates in his masterful DJ sets.

To put it simply, there is no one else that can successfully integrate classical and jazz instrumentation with modern UK bass music like Djrum, and with Portrait With Firewood, he has shown that his sound still resides on fertile groun

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Francis Harris Trivial Occupations

Many will know Francis Harris from his tech house alias, Adultnapper, or from his deep house collaboration with Anthony Collins as Frank & Tony. If you ask me, however, his best music comes from his self-titled discography. This past fall, Francis Harris released his third album, Trivial Occupations, through his own label, Scissor And Thread. It follows 2012’s Leyland and 2014’s Minutes Of Sleep, both created in the wake of his parents’ deaths. Though not an elegy, it carries on the previous the somber tone of the previous two albums.

In Trivial Occupations, Harris employs rich emotive soundscapes, subdued percussion, and a plethora of live instrumentation: dampened piano, soft vibraphones, bowed and plucked strings, and muted brass improvisations. It’s pure, it’s personal, and it’s beauty lasts for nearly an hour. This is the perfect album to play after a long day before curling up in a blanket with a glass of wine and a good book.

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Gacha BakradzeWord Color

Despite its short length, with just nine tracks and a run-time shy of 38 minutes, Gacha Bakradze’s Word Color can hold its own against any other on this list. As the age-old adage goes, “quality over quantity.”

Gacha Bakradze delivered this beautiful and introspective LP via Barcelona’s Lapsus Records last spring. Word Color is an experimental album at its core, and features a pleasant blend of ambient, breaks, and IDM. The Georgian producer employs warped vocals and rhythmic glitches in a style reminiscent of Oneohtrix Point Never, but in a far more accessible manner. While Word Color utilizes broken beats and complex textures, its emotive melodies ground the album in a comprehensive form.

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Jon HopkinsSingularity

In the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2013 Mercury Prize-nominated album, Jon Hopkins reaches similarly epic heights. Singularity was well-worth the five-year wait, and a worthy successor to the already-classic, Immunity. Hopkins’ elegant style features an ambient sound palette that utilizes both electronic and acoustic elements alike, not unlike Nils Frahm. However he employs these thick-textured techno beats that resonate in wild juxtaposition to the gentle moments he creates with his wistful piano melodies.

Singularity is not quite a dance album. Though some of the songs could find their way onto the dancefloor, it is better fit for home listening. It’s delicate melodies and subtle dynamics combine for an intimate and self-reflective listening experience. In an interview with the Guardian, the British producer revealed that Singularity “is designed to follow the build, peak and release of a psychedelic experience.” He adds that “Immunity was more of an MDMA-type album, with the melancholy and the tinge of mild dystopia you get with huge, adventurous nights out. This album is more wholesome, in that it’s geared towards naturally occurring things.”

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Kasper Bjørke Quartet The Fifty Eleven Project

In November 2011, Kasper Bjørke was diagnosed with cancer when a routine scan found a tumor. Fortunately, the Danish producer received a favorable prognosis due its the early detection. By the time he was cleared in October 2016, Bjørke had endured five years of treatment and tests. He documents his personal journey through recovery in this 2-hour ambient album, The Fifty Eleven Project, which derives its name from the department where he received his treatment.

“My ambition was always to create a soundtrack that captured the emotional rollercoaster of what I went through during those five years. A time when cancer played a central role in my life. I wanted to document both the darkness and the light, using these long stretched-out instrumental compositions as the narrative and the titles as a guideline. From the discovery of the tumour, to the operation and frequent hospital examinations; from experiencing a beacon of love and light in the birth of my son – in the very same hospital, just a stone throw from where I was in surgery – to finally leaving that waiting room clear. All the while, acknowledging that once you have been diagnosed with cancer, despite being cured, it will somehow always be a part of you.”Kasper Bjørke

The foundation of the album was recorded by Kasper Bjørke on analogue synthesizers with Claus Norreen, his close friend and member of the Danish-Norwegian pop group, Aqua. The Fifty Eleven Project also features Bjørke’s Kompakt labelmate Jakob Littauer on the piano and Davide Rossi on the cello, viola, and violin. Rossi has previously worked with Ennio Morricone, Jon Hopkins, and Röyksopp, to name a few. Following Bjørke’s lead, these musicians crafted eleven heavenly tracks, and one of the most beautiful albums of the year.

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KhruangbinCon Todo El Mundo

As I wrote in my Best of 2018: Songs article, Khruangbin is a breath of fresh air in a highly-saturated psychedelic climate. Khruangbin is comprised of Donald Johnson on drums, Mark Speer on guitar, and Laura Lee on bass. The Texas trio draws upon a plethora of worldly influences to create their unique psychedelic sound, such as surf rock, traditional Thai Molam, Southern gospel, Caribbean dub, and 70’s funk.

Con Todo El Mundo is the group’s second full-length LP, following up their wonderful 2015 debut album, The Universe Smiles Upon You. This is one of my favorite feel-good albums of 2018. It’s light and pleasant. I played it often due to its cheerful vibes and transcendent qualities. Some highlights include the lead single “Maria También” and it’s music video featuring pre-revolution Iran, the funky single “Evan Finds The Third Room” with it’s adorably wholesome music video of a dancing Japanese woman, and the tempo-changing closer, “Friday Morning.”  

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Leon VynehallNothing Is Still

Leon Vynehall initially made a name for himself through his dancefloor-focused productions. His early discography boasts an impressive resume of labels, such as Martyn’s 3024, Will Saul’s Aus Music, Amsterdam-based Rush Hour Music, and Gerd Janson’s Running Back. However Nothing Is Still is not a dance album. Instead, for his debut on Ninja Tune, Vynehall left the club setting behind to create a highly personal concept album.

Leon Vynehall sought inspiration for Nothing Is Still from the story of his grandparents’ emigration from the UK to America in the ‘60s. Over the course of 40 minutes and across ten songs, he pays tribute to his grandparents’ journey with rich textures and emotive instrumentation. Piano, saxophone, flute, and a 10-piece string section combine to create a composition reminiscent of minimalists like Terry Riley or Philip Glass. Vynehall uses this palette to craft a nostalgic narrative of hazy ambient melodies, warm synth interludes, lazy downtempo hip-hop beats, and flowing textured strings. Nothing Is Still is nothing short of transcendent.

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Maribou StateKingdoms In Colour

Kingdoms In Colour is Maribou State’s second full-length LP through Ninja Tune’s sub-label, Counter Records. Building off of the success of their 2015 hit album, Portraits, Maribou State’s Chris Davids and Liam Ivory stuck close to the recipe with this one. Kingdom In Colour does not deviate far from their characteristic sound with its colorful melodies and pop-oriented vocals. London vocalist, Holly Walker, returned to collaborate with the UK duo on their funky single, “Nervous Ticks,” and on the vocal-driven, “Slow Heat.” Likewise, the album is still firmly rooted in the UK dance music tradition, however there is a bigger focus on elements of world music. This is evident in their collaboration with Khruangbin in the song, “Feel Good.” In fact, due to their shared embrace of foreign musical influences, Kingdoms In Colour pairs well with Khruangbin’s Con Todo El Mundo.

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Mariel Ito2000-2005

Eric Estornel, best known for his work as Maceo Plex or Maetrix, decided to revive his Mariel Ito alias after mounting pressure from friends. His release, 2000-2005, is a retrospective album featuring electro and IDM club tracks from the early ‘00s era.

2000-2005 was released via R&S Records, a fitting home for the project considering the label’s influences on Estornel and electronic music at large in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Though Estornel produced these tracks in the early half of the previous decade, they don’t sound dated as some would expect. The Miami-producer’s selections best exhibit the timeless elements that still thrive in electronic music over a decade later, such as acid, breaks, and warehouse-style techno.

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Max CooperOne Hundred Billion Sparks

As far as I’m concerned, Max Cooper is among the most creative and talented producers currently making music, and his brilliance shines brightly in his new self-released album, One Hundred Billion Sparks. Created in a remote Welsh cottage, Cooper’s latest project explores the relationship between nature and art, social constructs and the individual.

“One Hundred Billion Sparks is my attempt to express what was there after I had removed my everyday life. No phone calls, no emails, no messages, no human contact or conversation for a month, that was the idea. What I found were the constructs we live inside, the fables we tell ourselves about who we are and the system which creates us.”Max Cooper

Cooper’s main strength lies in the construction of dense ambient soundscapes and the dynamic ways in which he occupies them. He is at his best when he juxtaposes these soft ethereal tones with hard-hitting bass and glitched-out melodies and percussion. One Hundred Billion Sparks embodies this method, featuring brooding ambient melodies that are punctuated by fluttery synths and rich drum textures. However, despite his use of a wide range of sounds, Cooper’s sonic palette remains incredibly consistent throughout his discography. Similar to contemporaries such as Jon Hopkins and Luke Abbott, Max Cooper’s experimental instincts and intellectual risks continue to push the boundaries of electronic music into profound new directions.

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Mildlife is a four-piece outfit from Melbourne that plays a psychedelic fusion of jazz, funk, and disco. The group is comprised of guitar, bass, drums, and analogue synthesizers—heavy emphasis on the synthesizers. In their debut album, Phase, Mildlife showcases their musicianship and range across six kaleidoscopic jams. The highlight and opening track, “Magnificent Moon,” was featured in my Best Of 2018: Songs list. It is a 9-minute undulating groove full of spacey synth arpeggios, funky basslines, jazzy guitar noodling, and smooth vocals.

Phase is a hedonistic album that borrows from ‘70s fusion acts such as Alan Parsons Project and Herbie Hancock, and much like the era, it’s best enjoyed while lounging atop some shag carpet in a thick haze of smoke. Along with Tame Impala and King Gizzard And The Wizard Lizard, Mildlife is further proof of Australia’s dominance of the psychedelic music realm.

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Nils FrahmAll Melody

All Melody is Nils Frahm’s ninth solo album and the first he created in his newly-built studio in Berlin’s famous Funkhaus building. Frahm spent two years perfecting his new studio space in order to create this album for Erased Tapes. Much like his previous works, the German producer’s latest album features melancholic ambient electronic music, however its choral and jazz influences set it apart from the rest of his discography.

All Melody is not just a continuation of Frahm’s neo-classical crusade into the electronic genre, however. It is a victory for the avant-garde. In a time when music has become increasingly formulaic, Frahm has managed to find a way to appeal to wide audiences through experimental means, and he is doing so on his own terms. Through his inventive and improvisation style, and utilizing both acoustic and electronic equipment, Frahm creates mesmerizing piano melodies that have been known to bring live audiences to tears.

I am not ashamed to admit my eyes welled with tears when I first saw Frahm’s live RA Sessions performance in 2014, and in every subsequent viewing since. This official release could not have come sooner for Frahms’ fans, many of whom had waited four years since catching this first glimpse of what would become All Melody’s eponymous single and “#2”. But I think most will agree that the end result was worth the wait.

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Pariah Here From Where We Are

Arthur Cayzer got his start in 2010 with a couple of releases for R&S Records under his Pariah moniker. Having caught the dubstep wave after its crest had begun to crash, Pariah’s early work explored an array of bass styles that would come to define the post-dubstep UK sound. Shortly after that, Cayzer joined forces with Blawan for the techno project, Karenn. Now Here From Where We Are arrives after a six year Pariah-hiatus. It may not be what his fans expected, however: an engaging cerebral ambient album that follows in the footsteps of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II.

The opening track, “Log Jam,” begins with a morphing industrial intro that’s reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome To The Machine” before descending into metallic reverberating trills. Pariah introduces this high energy early in the album as if to dissuade any listeners of mistaking it for “sleep music.” Each of the nine songs has its own dynamic, however there are similar evolving textures that exist throughout. Pariah incorporates atmospheric elements such as wind chimes, birds, and rain drops, that grounds the album in a static soundscape. Some songs contain more pronounced features than others, ranging from the Brian Eno-esque ambiance of “Pith” to the engaging rippling melodies of “Linnaea;” however the album is beatless from start to finish. In its best moments, Here From Where We Are achieves Vangelis-levels of ethereal beauty.  

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RippertonSight Seeing

Raphaël Ripperton is a successful Swiss producer and DJ whose career has seen a steady output of deep and hypnotic dance music since the mid ‘00s. His new album, Sight Seeing, is a lengthy 15-track introspective ambient expedition. It was recorded over a three year span and was inspired by the “expansive landscapes and views from airplane windows” he encountered while on the road as a touring DJ. The releasing label, ESP-Institute, describes Raphaël Ripperton’s album as a “collection of postcards to himself.”

There is an element of catharsis within Sight Seeing. The ambiance and simplicity is therapeutic. Created in juxtaposition to his chaotic life as a touring DJ, this project acted as a much needed escape. Even without knowing the personal context behind each song, Sight Seeing achieves its goal as a sonic sanctuary.

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Rival ConsolesPersona

London-based producer, Rival Consoles aka Ryan Lee West, creates cerebral experimental electronic music in the same vein as contemporaries like Jon Hopkins and Max Cooper. For his fifth album, Persona, he sought inspiration in Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 psychological thriller of the same name. West explores the film’s theme of introspection and identity in his fifth album for Erased Tapes.

“My music is generally inward looking. I like finding something about the self within music, that doesn’t have to be specific but maybe asks something or reveals something. This record is a continuation on the self through electronic sounds. Like Legowelt once said ‘a synthesiser is like a translator for unknown emotions’, which I think sums up what I am trying to do. I think all these emotions we have make up our persona. So in a way by finding new ones you alter or expand your persona. And that is what I want my music to try to do. I deliberately aimed to be more sonically diverse with this record. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted to create new sounds and new emotions.”Rival Consoles

Much like his labelmate Nils Frahm, Rival Consoles utilizes both acoustic and electronic instruments to create his music. While both producers also explore rich ambient soundscapes, Rival Consoles’ heavy use of analog synthesizers and drum machines adds a dimension of dynamism that blurs the line between ambient and techno.

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Skee MaskCompro

Bryan Müller, a reclusive DJ/producer from Munich, releases music as Skee Mask, SCNTST, and likely as various other unearthed aliases. His second Skee Mask album, Compro, is arguably one of the top albums of the year. It saw serious rotation from DJs on the world circuit and received the utmost praise across the blogosphere, drawing comparisons to ambient stalwarts such as Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, and Burial. The album’s second track, “Session Add,” exemplifies elements from all three of these influential names: Burial’s crackles, bleeps, and subterranean bass; Boards of Canada’s muffled breakbeats; and the sort of soft melody you’d find in Aphex Twin’s early ambient works.

While Compro is rooted in ambiance, its diverse percussion steals the show. The Ilian Tape release features a wide range of rhythms, spanning from downtempo slow-burners like “Calimance (Delay Mix),” to the crispy breakbeats of “50 Euro To Break Boost” and “Soundboy Ext.,” to the heavy-hitting jungle of “Via Sub Mids” or “Dial 274.”

In a time where nostalgia runs rampant for the halcyon days of ‘90s IDM, jungle, and techno, Skee Mask proves that you can look forward while still embracing the past. Compro is an innovative album with its roots firmly planted in the classics, and for this reason it will stand the test of time.

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Tim HeckerKonoyo

While on a quick trip to London in 2013, I took the Tube out to St. John at Hackney Church to catch a live Tim Hecker performance. He was touring his current album at the time, Virgins, and the show remains one of my most-cherished musical experiences to this day. Hecker’s performance was powerful, both in respect to the musicianship and the decibel levels. The soundsystem was overpowering enough on its own without the amplifying acoustics of the church. Many of us in the audience were plugging our ears, and no, the irony of this happening at an ambient show is not lost upon me.

Hecker’s latest album, Konoyo, is a return to the sublime sounds of Virgins. However, Hecker’s methodology in Konoyo follows that of his 2016 album, Love Streams, in which he employed a sonic palette of woodwind and choral arrangements by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. Love Streams was the first solo album where Hecker drew the focus towards his source material, and not solely the electronic manipulations of it through software and synths. Konoyo builds upon this idea.

For his source material, Hecker travelled to a Buddhist temple outside of Tokyo to record a gagaku group, a traditional Japanese ensemble containing flutes, strings, and drums. The most prominent sound on the album belongs to the shō, a reed instrument that consists of 17 bamboo pipes. It can be heard distinctly in the album’s opening track, “This Life.”

While Hecker did not incorporate any of Jóhannsson’s arrangements in Konoyo, Hecker followed Jóhannsson’s parting advice to embrace a simpler approach. Contrary to his other albums, Konoyo’s songs are fewer in number and longer in length, and explore their themes more thoroughly. The majority of its seven songs are self-contained and without significant transitions between them.

Tim Hecker’s work is not for everyone. The Canadian’s discography, and Konoyo especially, may be a bit inaccessible for some. His music can sound downright extraterrestrial, and his use of Shepard tones and haunting drones can be a bit unsettling at times. But Hecker’s brilliance in his sound design is unparalleled. There is simply no one else out there making this sort of fearless experimental music.

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Tom VR Films

Not much is known about Thomas Nicol aka Tom VR. He’s a cofounder of Valby Rotary, along with his equally elusive partners, Louf and Benito Apollonio. Nicol’s debut album, Films, is only his third release, and came out   via Seb Wildblood’s London label, All My Thoughts.

Though not quite lo-fi house, Tom VR’s productions share many qualities with the emerging subgenre being championed by rising stars like Mall Grab, DJ Boring, and DJ Seinfeld. Tom VR’s sound is more pronounced: his percussion is crisper, his melodies richer. It’s very clean, free of any lo-fi fuzziness.

Despite Tom VR’s minimal production style, Films never gets dull through its use of a variety of genres throughout its 11 tracks. After the pleasant intro track, “Leave,” Tom VR kicks it into high gear immediately with his second track, a lush jungle tune called “Golden Memory.” The majority of the remaining album features deep house, some with elements of dub and others with subdued breaks, as well as three strategically placed ambient interlude tracks.

Tom VR may not have a large discography yet, but his young career is off to an incredible start.

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VrilAnima Mundi

Though the album was initially available for limited purchase in cassette format on the Planet Giegling tour in 2017, Vril’s Anima Mundi was not officially released until the following year on Delsin Records. It was the German producer’s second album with the Amsterdam label, who describes the album as a “deep excursion for mind and body, combining his trademark dub techno grooves with experimental ambient trips.” It’s an apt portrayal.

Anima Mundi contains 13 tracks and over 80 minutes of celestial ambient tones and hypnotic dub-techno rhythms. It opens with “Manium,” a suspenseful ambient track that sounds like it was lifted from a cerebral sci-fi film score from the ‘80s. Like Tom VR’s Films album before this, Vril spaces apart his higher-energy tracks with ambient interludes like “Riese (Rework)” and “Ilojim.” Highlights include “In Via,” a slow-grinding stripped-down dub-techno tune with industrial elements, and “Eos,” an undulating anthem with a subdued yet majestic melody.

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