Looking back on 2016: my top 80, and the rest of the (unsorted) 2016 loves…

Alright, no use trying to get around it: 2016 was a disaster. Unrelenting tragedy both personal and national for so many of us around the world characterized it. Here in America we got a generous helping. Everything seems to be up in the air at this point. Not so good…but what else is new?

Tough times are ahead; as with the close of any other year, we have to move on and pick up the pieces. Everything will be okay, I think. At least we still have art, music, friends, family (in whatever form they take)…

As always, what I listened to in 2016 was determined largely by who reached out to this site and by what arbitrarily caught my interest (i.e. I checked out the new Seahawks because I have been a fan for a while now, the new Marc Richter as Jemh Circs because I was so affected by Alphabet 1968 and Earth…). I am perpetually feeling as though I am missing out on stuff I may really take a shine to simply because it might be outside of that bubble.

There is still a lot from 2016 I have to catch up on or revisit: I never really made time for Solange’s three-hour A Seat at the Table, which seemed to organically generate the most praise out of everything from 2016. Casino Versus Japan’s Frozen Geometry, too, seems too daunting to take on at the moment. Though I was saddened, like millions of others, by Bowie’s passing, I didn’t take too much to Blackstar, but I  did moreso to John Cale’s M:Fans and Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker. Nevertheless, I try to keep things eclectic as best I can, though year after year I always find myself most caught up with ambient and drone out of it all.

My top 80 list is ordered logically for only about the first fifty releases… after that, I’m not completely sure that there is any meaningful correlation between number and list item. These are just some albums I connected very strongly with. I’ll probably want to revisit them at some point in the near future and it is my hope that you’ll check them out if you have not already. Who knows why Kib Elektra‘s lovely, early-Eno-esque EP for Bezirk Tapes Blemishes did not garner more attention. Similarly, I’m not sure why I have not seen either of Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist’s fantastic collaborations made much mention of this year. I liked both of 36‘s releases for this year so much that I would say I consider them both favorites, but I think people overlooked the EP, Seconds and Forever. So, here they all are.

All the albums in the top 80 are hyperlinked for your convenience, since it perplexes me when someone goes to the effort to compile a list and then makes it almost like a chore for the reader to get an idea of what the different items are actually like. The honorable mentions are not ordered in any way other than alphabetically, by the first letter in the artist’s moniker or name.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me this year and to everyone who stopped by to read my thoughts. While I have been plugging away at the site, learning more every day from new discoveries, I managed to get on with Decoder magazine, and to organize two shows of local musicians/sound artists at Turn! Turn! Turn! that I think turned out well. Looking for a place to host more shows in 2017, the first being with my friends Noisegasm— hoping that pans out. That I am able to do this is a privilege for which I am grateful. Happy New Year to you, reader.

  1. 36- Seconds and Forever [Mystic & Quantum]
  2. Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist- Wandering Eye [Glacial Movements]
  3. Donnacha Costello– Mono No Aware [Self-Released]
  4. Cass Mccombs– Mangy Love [Anti-]
  5. Loscil– Monument Builders [Kranky]
  6. Chihei Hatakeyama- Grace [White Paddy Mountain]
  7. Marco Marzuoli- Appunti [ÉTER]
  8. Paul Jebanasam- Continuum [Subtext]
  9. Black Spring & Miles Cooper Seaton- West of Will & Cvrst Patience / Adige (for Luigi Lineri)
    [Monocreo]
  10. Kate Carr- It Was a Time of Laboured Metaphors [Helen Scarsdale Agency]
  11. Brian Eno- The Ship [Warp Records]
  12. Various Artists– Absence [Flaming Pines]
  13. Forest Management- Acclimation [Amethyst Sunset]
  14. Hakobune- Apsidal Motion [White Paddy Mountain]
  15. Ant’lrd- Sleep Drive [Whited Sepulchre Records]
  16. Kyle Landstra- Variables of Resolve [Twin Springs Tapes]
  17. Roarke Menzies- Corporeal [Self-Released]
  18. Kib Elektra- Blemishes [Bezirk Tapes]
  19. Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet- Catalina [Lobster Sleep Sequence]
  20. Steve Hauschildt- Strands [Kranky]
  21. wndfrm- A Land of Falling Waters [Dragon’s Eye Recordings]
  22. Siavash Amini & Matt Finney- Familial Rot [Umor Rex]
  23. Haruo Okada & Fabio Perletta- Genkai [LINE]
  24. Koen Holtkamp- Voice Model [Umor Rex]
  25. Mike Weis- Sound Practice [Monsastral]
  26. 7FO- Water Falls into a Blank [Rvng Intl.]
  27. Seahawks- Escape Hatch [Ocean Moon]
  28. Ifsh- Be Locus//Be Limpid [Big Ear Tapes]
  29. The Caretaker- Everywhere at the End of Time [History Always Favours the Winners]
  30. Bio Services- Probiotics [Self-released]
  31. Deison- Any Time Now [Many Feet Under Concrete]
  32. Sam Shalabi- Isis and Osiris [Nashazphone]
  33. Rezo Glonti- Budapest [Dronarivm]
  34. Biosphere- Departed Glories [Smalltown Supersound]
  35. Thomas Köner– Tiento de La Luz [Denovali Records]
  36. Giulio Aldinucci- Goccia [Home Normal]
  37. Tomonari Nozaki- Decadence [Forwind]
  38. Sarah Davachi- Dominions [Jaz Records]
  39. Acre- Beyond Cease to Exist [Monorail Trespassing]
  40. Pulse Emitter- Through the Portal [Phinery]
  41. Eric Schmid- a channel: dedicated to Michael [Recital Program]
  42. Lorenzo Balloni- 創生の最果て (Sōsei no saihate) (The farthest ends of creation) [murmur records]
  43. Damian Valles- Strand [VoxxoV Records]
  44. Solemn Embrace- Arc [Cromlech Records]
  45. Vanessa Rossetto- The Way You Make Me Feel [Unfathomless]
  46. Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek– Schaum [Faitiche]
  47. Dreamboat- Dreamboat [MIE Music]
  48. Altars Altars- Small Hours [Home Normal]
  49. The OO-Ray- Vespers [Lifelike Family]
  50. Cheap Galapagos & Hybrid Palms- Internet Holidays™ [ArteTeTra]
  51. Kane Ikin– Modern Pressure [Type]
  52. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani– Sunergy [Rvng Intl.]
  53. Andrew Chalk- 彼岸 / 悲しき配分 ‎(Higan / Kanashiki Haibun) (The opposite shore/ Sorrowful allotment) [Self-released]
  54. Pjusk- Syklus [Self-released]
  55. Channelers- Essex [Inner Islands]
  56. Porya Hatami- Phonē to Logos [Audiobulb]
  57. 36- The Infinity Room [A Strangely Isolated Place]
  58. Ennio Mazzon- Pavement Narrows [Discreetrecords]
  59.  øjeRum- Væv [Eilean Records]
  60. Benjamin Finger- 9,5 [Sellout! Music]
  61. Saåad- Verdaillon [In Paradisium]
  62. Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement- Green Graves [Hospital Productions]
  63. adzuki- Radio Sea [Shimmering Moods]
  64. Council Estate Electronics- Arktika [Glacial Movements]
  65. Daniel Lanois- Goodbye to Language [Anti-]
  66. pinkcourtesyphone- Taking into Account Only a Portion of Your Emotions [Editions Mego]
  67. Jemh Circs- Jemh Circs [Cellule 75]
  68. ABSV- In Line, In Chains [Self-released]
  69. Ethernet- Prophania [Truth or Consequences]
  70. Hep!Collective- How to Draw a Bunny [Phinery]
  71. Don Gero- Weirding [Ewe of Now]
  72. Tarnovski- Tapping, Crinkling & Scratching [Jipangu]
  73. Andrew Tomasello- Sundialing Transmissions [Self-released]
  74. Dolphin Midwives- Orchid Milk [Self-released]
  75. Celer- Tetra [Self-released]
  76. Sean McCann- Music for Public Ensemble [Recital Program]
  77. Peter Kris- Labrador [Never Anything Records]
  78. Braeyden Jae- Fog Mirror [Whited Sepulchre Records]
  79. The Lavender Flu- Heavy Air [Meds]
  80. Alex Cameron- Jumping the Shark [Secretly Canadian]

Honorable mentions…

Ados 33- Seven Sounds in Grey, aἰών- Correspondances, Ak’Chamel- Transmissions from Boshqa, Andrea Valle- Cortège d’Alsaxy, Andrew Henry- The Sky Never Ends, Andrew Pekler- Tristes Tropiques,  Antenna- Primavera, anthéne – permanence, Aria Rostami- Return, Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist- Signal Artifact, Arsari- Scavare, Autistici & Justin Varis- Nine, Basho- Japan, Beak>- Couple in a Hole, Benjamin Finger- 10, Black Spring- Golden Ghost/No End, Body Shame- You Look So Under Fed, Bracken- High Passes, Cello + Laptop- Transient Accidents, Channelers- Space Makes Clearing, Chihei Hatakyama- Above the Desert, Chris Abrahams- Fluid to the Influence, Chris Dooks- Accretion Disk, Chris Strickland- Excruciating Circumstances in the Kingdom of Ends, Christian Fennesz & Jim O’Rourke – It’s Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry, Christine Ott- Tabu, Cloud City Cars- Magic Guard, Consumer. & The Translucent Spiders- Con / Tra, Corvino/Incorvaia- Perugia, David Vélez- Apathy Spreads, Dimitar Dodovski-DériveDino Spiluttini- Christmas Drone for the Sad and Lonesome, Emiliano Romanelli- Tabulatura Volume 1, Eluvium- False Readings On, Ethernet- Outside of Time, Federico Durand- A través el espejo, Gaetano Cappella- Maiella, Galaxy Research- Cryptic Fortune, Gareth Davis & Merzbow- Atsusaku, Geneva Skeen- Dark Speech, Gidge- Lulin, H Takahashi- Body Trip, Heejin Jang- Binary Breath, Heron Oblivion- Heron Oblivion, How to Cure Our Soul- Luna, Huerco S.-  For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have), IXTAB- Alea, Ian William Craig- Centres, Inner Travels- Clear Seeing, James Murray- Eyes to the Height, Jari Pitkänen- The Raven Trilogy, Jason Van Wyk- Attachment, Joel St. Julien- Every Rise, Johanna Warren- Gemini I, John Cale- M:Fans, Julianna Barwick- Will, KEDA- Hwal, Kirill Mazhai- Small Hours, Klara Lewis- Too, Kyle Landstra- Jeweled Moon Codex, Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker, L’eoscombou Couti- Five Cambridge Utilities, Llay Llamas & Tetuan- Split, Lorenzo Masotto- Rule and Case, Lost Trail Orchestra- Lost Trail Orchestra, MO~DU- MOD02, Machinefabriek- Crumble, Martijn Comes- Radio Oblivion, Matmos- Ultimate Care II, Matt Christensen- Prowl, Matthew Barlow- Hatha, Matthew Sullivan- Skene, Melodium- Luminol, Michaela Antalová- Oblak Oblek Oblúk, Moss Covered Technology- Speicherbank, Motion Sickness of Time Travel- Affinity, My Cat is an Alien & Gelba- Tape Crash #15, Mytrip- Filament, Nathan McLaughlin & Jeremy Purser- Levain, Neglect- This is Not a Door, Nevada Greene & Scott Tuma- Ragged Glory, Nhung Nguyen- Nostalgia, Noisegasm- Bad Trips & Chromosome Damage, Not Waving- Animals, Offthesky- Silent Went the Sea, Oliwa- Patagon, Omrr- Music for the Anxious, Orphax- Music for Thái Ngc, Our Solar System- In Time, Parallelism- Angular Geometry, Patkus- These Are But Dreaming Men, Breathe, and They Fade, Peder Mannerfelt- Controlling Body, Phi Bui- Unnoticed Moments, Philippe Lamy & MonoLogue- Blu Deux, Rapoon- Song from the End of the World, RON- Invisible Though Not Implacable, Rootless- Distant Cities, Sceptre Fretpen- A/B, Schoolhouse- Fade, Scott Monteith- Qawwali Quatsch, Simon Scott- Floodlines, Solo Andata- In the Lens, Sophia Loizou- Kathexsis, Stag Hare- Velvet and Bone, Sustainer- Medicina, Talc- Bicameral Mind, Tasos Stamou- Koura, The Green Kingdom- Harbor, The Myrrors- Entranced Earth, Tomonari Novaki- Concession, Tomonari Nozaki- Credence, Ujjaya- The Landing Zone, Valanx- The Towering Pillars, Vanessa Amara- You’re Welcome Here, Viewfound- Memorate, Waclaw Zimpel- Lines, Wander- Kat Gat Sea, William Fowler Collins & James Jackson Toth- Under Stars and Smoke, Yann Novak- Ornamentation

Good luck to you all.

 

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