Albums Of The Year 2018

I spent most of this truly awful year hiding away in quiet, melancholy music and not paying as much attention as I should to what was going on outside my door, so this isn’t the most varied or eclectic end of year list. But the albums that made the cut are still absolutely worth your attention. I’m surprised I even got it together to do this, and there’s definitely no write-up this year. But check all of these out if you haven’t:

stick in the wheel


  1. Stick In The Wheel – Follow Them True / This And The Memory Of This (From Here)
  2. Low – Double Negative (Sub Pop)
  3. The Ex – 27 Passports (Ex)
  4. Hen Ogledd – Mogic (Weird World)
  5. Anna & Elizabeth – The Invisible Comes To Us (Smithsonian)
  6. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – King Of Cowards (Rocket)
  7. Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile (Impulse!)
  8. Woven Skull – Woven Skull (Oaken Palace)
  9. Ill – We Are Ill (Box)
  10. Workin’ Man Noise Unit – It’s Not Nothin’ (Riot Season)
  11. Shannon & The Clams – Onion / Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville (Easy Eye Sounds)
  12. Gnod – Chapel Perilous (Rocket)
  13. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens (Sub Pop)
  14. Nathan Bowles – Plainly Mistaken (Paradise Of Bachelors)
  15. Henry Blacker – The Making Of Junior Bonner (Riot Season)
  16. Death & Vanilla – The Tenant (Fire)
  17. Eli Paperboy Reed – Meets High & Mighty Brass Band (Yep Roc)
  18. Jon Spencer – Plays The Hits (In The Red)
  19. Steven Adams & The French Drops – Virtue Signals (Hudson)
  20. Rattle – Sequence (Upset The Rhythm)
  21. Alexander Tucker – Don’t Look Away (Thrill Jockey)
  22. Haiku Salut – There Is No Elsewhere (PRAH)
  23. Alison Cotton – All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre (Bloxham Tapes)
  24. Group Listening – Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Vol. 1 (PRAH)
  25. Portland Vows – Your Corners (Concrete Tapes)
  26. Carla Bozulich – Quieter (Constellation)
  27. Lovely Eggs – This Is Eggland (Egg)
  28. Christine & The Queens – Chris (Because)
  29. Chlorine -The Velvet Teeth (TQ)
  30. Cath & Phil Tyler – The Ox And The Axe (Thread)

And honourable mention to these (some of which might have placed higher if I’d heard them sooner):

Angelique Kidjo – Remain In Light // Autechre – NTS Sessions // Big Lad – Pro Rock // Blawan – Wet Will Always Dry // Bodega – Endless Scroll // Carter Burwell – Ballad Of Buster Scruggs // Charlemagnes – 3 Chords And A Half Truth // Chris Carter – Chemistry Lessons // David Terry – Sorrow // Death Pedals – Death Pedals // Delphine Dora & Sophie Cooper – Divine Ekstasys // Dickon Hinchcliffe – Leave No Trace // Dylan Carlson – Conquistador // Ekio Ishibashi – The Dream My Bones Dream // Ekoplekz – Impressionz // Elysia Crampton – S/T // Gazelle Twin – Pastoral // Gem Andrews – North // Girl Sweat Pleasure Temple Ritual Band – Hyper Rituals // Grouper – Group Of Points // Guttersnipe – My Mother The Vent // Half Man Half Biscuit ‎– No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut // Hawthonn – Red Goddess // Helena Hauff – Qualm // Holly Golightly – Do The Get Along // James Hunter Six – Whatever It Takes // Josephine Foster – Faithful Fairy // JPEGMAFIA – Veteran // Kamasi Washington – Heaven & Earth // Kate Carr – I Ended Out Moving To Brixton // King Champion Sounds – For A Lark // Laibach – Sound Of Music // Laura Veirs – The Lookout // Left Outsides – All That Remains // Lonny Holly – Mith // Lykke Li – So Sad So Sexy // Melting Hand – Faces Of Earth // Mesange – Gypsy Moth // Miss Red – KO // Mogwai – Kin // North Sea Dialect  – Local Guide // Orchestra Of Constant Distress  –  Distress Test // Papa M – Broke Moon Rises // Parquet Courts – Wide Awaaaake // Richard Youngs – Belief // Richmond Fontaine – Don’t Skip Out On Me // Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis – Wild! Wild! Wild! // Sauna Youth – Deaths // Shit & Shine – Bad Vibes // Sleep – The Sciences // Surgeon – Luminosity Device // Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time // Necks – Body // Tunng – Songs You Make At Night // Uniform – The Long Walk // Ursula Le Guin – Music Of The Kesh // Vince Staples – FM // William Basinski & Lawrence English – Selva Obscura // Wreaths – The Sea To Which The Body Is Drawn // Yo La Tengo – There’s A Riot Going On




R.I.P. M.E.S.

The sad but inevitable end has come. The Fall never were going to retire, he was always going to go to the death wasn’t he? Seems a little too soon though. New Facts Emerge is a fierce and still great record, had hoped against hope to see them again next year, fit and working again. Sadly not to be. The media eulogies are blankly amusing mostly because of the scorn he would plainly have had for them. So here he is baffling some afternoon festival crowd in Scandinavia with a tirade about how murderous doctor Harold Shipman could have maybe spared some of them drugs for ol’ M.E.S.

all the info you could wish for –

official –

Remembering Syria

Seems a good day for a listen to this fine collection of recordings from Syria. The country seems set to continue filling news broadcasts for a while to come as a gaping open sore of humanity’s worst failings, an ongoing war in which everyone loses. In Gergis’s recordings it’s everything else . . .

A jaw-dropping expose of music, news, interviews, and field recordings from one of the least-known quarters of the Arab world. The country of Syria has been politically and culturally exiled for decades by the western media, leaving little known of its rich heritage of art, music, and culture. Recorded and surgically assembled by Mark Gergis from two trips to Syria in 1998 and 2000, the first 25 tracks feature recordings made in Damascus, a virtual documentary of sound from the legendary capital including street scenes, a wedding, a mosque interior, spontaneous live music and interviews with citizens, radio broadcasts, a song about Saddam Hussein, and the mystery of an underground city called “Kazib.” The final 15 tracks extend to Greater Syria with the same approach, capturing live musicians, political opinions, radio excerpts, an interview with an anonymous homosexual, and unique sound documents from this small but highly influential corner of the Middle East.

I Just Want You To Stay


This record seemed to arrive on the morning after the referendum result last year, and the title ‘I Just Want You To Stay’ seemed almost too serendipitous to bear. A scouring but soothing way to wash off the fatigue of it. I have to admit it’s that issue of european identity that pulls it back into focus again now. Actually released a month before, in May 2016, and recorded the previous September in Japan there’s even less reason for the actual music to be tied to this whole farce than to its disquieting and slightly contentious cover image of a dog but, here we are. Two giant slabs of drifting, cycling, guitars and effects magic from two giants of improvisation, two thirds of Fenn O’Berg. Music like weather and sea, the listener a tiny boat bobbing on the waves. Storm clouds over the channel – here’s a thing, how hard could it be to find an image of the stormy sky off the coast of the UK, an island nation? If I lived there I’d be taking them every day just to see the light change, indeed when I visit I often feel compelled to and am never sure why I did when I look at the results. The weather’s a national obsession and yet all of them are covered in stock photo decals and logos as if a camera allows you to own the sky, as if it wasn’t always there, always changing, limitless. Click on the, admittedly impressive, pic at the top for a bunch more lightning photos at a site where they didn’t bother with that crap.


Bye Bye Butterfly


First time I heard Pauline Oliveros I was pretty gobsmacked by it. Still am really. Just the idea of recording in the cistern to hear it resound, the very concept of ‘deep listening’, the ideas were amazing enough without the music. I have not listened as deeply as I might, I feel there’s still so much to learn from her music and ideas.

13 mins ‘silence’ in memory of a remarkable pioneer