on life, music etc beyond mainstream


  1. Low: Double Negative
  2. Autechre: NTS Sessions 1-4
  3. Damien Jurado: The Horizon Just Laughed
  4. Actress & London Contemporary Orchestra: Lageos
  5. Marianne Faithfull: Negative Capability
  6. Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance
  7. Rival Consoles: Persona
  8. Andy Sheppard Quartet: Romaria
  9. Julia Holter: Aviary
  10. Kira Skov: The Echo of You
  11. Ancient Methods: The Jericho Records
  12. Barre Phillips: End to End
  13. Jon Hassell: Listening to Pictures
  14. Ital Tek: Bodied
  15. Alva Noto: Unieqav
  16. Rosalía: El mal querer
  17. Beach House: 7
  18. Moon Relay: IMI
  19. Charles Lloyd & The Marvels with Lucinda Williams: Vanished Gardens
  20. Deena Abdelwahed: Khonnar
  21. The Good, The Bad And The Queen: Merrie Land
  22. Puce Mary: The Drought
  23. Danish String Quartet: Prism I
  24. Tuomo Väänänen: A Small Flood
  25. Andris Nelsons & Boston Symphony Orchestra: Dmitri Shostakovich Sinfonien 4 & 11
  26. Frode Haltli: Avant Folk
  27. Die Nerven: Fake
  28. DJ Richard: Dies Irae Xerox
  29. Sonar with David Torn: Vortex
  30. Amen Dunes: Freedom 
  31. Anna Calvi: Hunter
  32. Ah! Kosmos: Beautiful Swamp
  33. Michael Gordon & Kronos Quartet: Clouded Yellow


Autechre’s NTS Sessions is the most convincing piece of world-building in music today. Its universe is one whose causal networks are as beautifully balanced and interconnected as our own. (…) comprising around eight hours of music (culminating in an hour-long track, „all end“), this is a magnum opus from one of electronic music’s most influential acts, and proof that, in the quarter century they’ve been making music, Rob Brown and Sean Booth have never stopped moving forward.  (Resident Advisor staff pick their favourite electronic albums from the last 12 months.)

You thought the Duluth trio’s 25 years of slow, minimalist indie rock was gloomy? Well, now it’s doubled down, triple distilled, quadruple concentrated, resulting in the masterpiece that their hugely impressive catalogue has been heading inexorably towards. (…) the rhythm section is closer to Mika Vainio or Thomas Köner than a rock group: shuddering blooms of static in place of snares, blurred whorls of noise for bass, sounds that are violence itself. The bass impact on Quorum and Always Trying to Work it Out is like an angry father beating a fist on the dinner table, the rest of each song shrinking away from him. (…)  

Indeed, the erosion of America and our wider ecosystem, and the psychic state of living amid that erosion, is the focus here, enacted in the very music as well as the lyrics. (…) Across the album, there’s a trudging, incantatory tone that feels almost pagan, like the last rites of a nation – even the planet – are being read out. This ranks alongside the likes of Anselm Kiefer and Cormac McCarthy as a document of contemporary social collapse, and as such is the most important, devastating album of the year.

(Double Negative review – the sound of the world unravelling)


favorite EP: SØS Gunver Ryberg: SOLFALD

music DVD: Ryuichi Sakamoto – Coda / async at the Park Avenue Armory

re-release: Belong: October Language (2006)

box release: Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles

archive release: Prince: Piano and a Microphone 1983

potential top 20 albums in 2017, but discovered only in 2018:

EMA: Exile in the Outer Ring / Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa / Niels Rønsholdt: Songs of Doubt


Other (Re-)Discoveries:

  • Alice Coltrane: Journey in Satchidananda (1971)
  • Herbie Hancock: Mwandishi (1971) / Crossings (1972)
  • Moor Mother: Fetish Bones (2016)
  • Curve: Doppelgänger (1992)
  • Stephen Malkmus

This entry was posted on Mittwoch, 26. Dezember 2018 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. ijb:

    I had some difficulties to limit myself to 30 albums this time.

    I almost wanted to choose 35 albums (e.g. Jon Hopkins and what about Møster!, Martyn, U.S. Girls, Sigurd Hole, Andrew Cyrille, Daniel Blumberg, Meshell Ndegeocello … and so on … so many beautiful albums), but you have to stop at some point.

  2. Uli Koch:

    It’s sometimes not the point where to stop, because there will always be more than one good album to be droped at the end of a list, it’s more the question where to begin. And your favourite album „Double negative“ is a widely underestimated work of the last year.

    When I heard it for the first time I was irritated and to be honest a bit shocked, which usually is a good sign. Low are really exploring their slow-core-borders in very fascinating way reminding me to the works of Scott Walker or David Sylvian. Great stuff!

  3. ijb:

    Yes, Uli, I had heard of Low a lot over the years, in various contexts, but never really listened to their albums. But I really liked „Ones and Sixes“ (which I later saw them perform as opening act on PJ Harvey’s most recent tour) and later discovered also the „Great Destroyer“ album as well as the one produced by Jeff Tweedy („Invisible Irgendwas“), which is pretty nice, too.

    „Double Negative“ also blew me away the first time I heard it. I thought it was the most blowing-away-kind-of rock album of the year. Reminds me of Andy Stott and Ben Frost and, yes, some rock-related artists who crossed lots of boundaries just like the two you mention.

    Even though I find it’s a little bit of a pity that they retreat to some stylistic elements of previous albums with some of the later tracks (No.5 etc), I also think it is great that they did something really unique – and I re-discover the album (and its individual tracks) each time I listen to it (usually on a very high volume, and it works great in a car, too).

  4. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Not yet heard LOW aside from moments. Funny: to mention Thomas Köner in the review. In old days in Dortmund he had told me how he liked the „stoic stasis“, something like that from LOW albums of those years. DOUBLE NEGATIVE is album of the year in UNCUT, btw. Will reserve time for some deep listening.

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    No. 3 – really?!🤨 but everyone has her his feel fine album, i think

    … thank you so much for LOW, I finally had my deep DOUBLE NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE TODAY. Went up from zero to No. 3

  6. Brian Whistler:

    Thanks for this intriguing list. I’ll definitely be checking these out. Happy New Year Ingo.

  7. ijb:

    Damien Jurado „feel-good album“? Not really. Maybe listen again..?
    It may not be the most innovative album (especially when compared to most other albums in my “top 10“), but Jurado’s songwriting qualities are in no way inferior to those of Father John. A highly accomplished and complex album for many different occasions, The Horizon Just Laughed strongly reminds me of Kurt Wagner’s / Lambchop’s best albums – among the best classic songwriting about America I have heard in recent years.

    […] this is an album guided by a sense of displacement and quest, but where [previously] odd and beautiful records culminated in a science fiction-like quest of spiritual transcendence, here one is treated to a sequence of more terrestrial snapshots, Jurado’s narratives presenting a collection of travelers linked by a sense of disconnection and dislocation. These song stories all find individuals struggling to make a connection with others in a continually fractious world while surrounded by common signifiers whose messages have become disjointed.

    The narrator of „1973“ contemplates his disappointments and personal delusions, […] In „Percy Faith“ the narrator bemoans the loss of that great singer’s voice from the nation’s airwaves while wandering a future landscape where „the people never look you in the eye / and there is no need to talk and the sidewalks they walk for you.“ […]

    Many of the figures who populate these songs are engaged in a search for self, whether suffering from a sense of a self previously lost or hoping for a new version to slip into like a new coat. Whatever the situation, whether carried or created, identity is a burden. „I forgot I was human and I laid out my emotions, and I knocked them like dishes to the floor,“ Jurado sings in „Carry Me Over Rainbows and Rainier“. For the characters Jurado created in this collection, all searching for some revelation, it is self-revelation that brings the deepest conflicts and risks the greatest dangers. (…) It’s hard work, and harder still to maintain one’s sense of perspective and, maybe more so, decency, which the singer of „Florence Jean“ seems to acknowledge with a mix of sincerity and regret: „I had a way to express myself / I had a way, to be honest.“


    Two decades into his career, these songs are among the most incisive but somehow most complex ones Jurado has ever written, lined up from end to end without a wasted note, layer, line, or word. […] The Horizon Just Laughed — Jurado’s best record to date and a magnetic middle-aged reflection on a lifetime of basic but profound changes in the world — funnels a quarter-century of trial-and-error into thirty-seven minutes of triumph. The Horizon Just Laughed is an intricate personal diorama, teeming with characters and scenery culled from stacks of diaries and snapshots.


  8. ijb:

    The Horizon Just Laughed is stuffed with so many people and places it’s more like teleportation than travel. In less than forty minutes, we’re whisked through Nebraska, Maine, Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Jurado’s home state of Washington, with stops in Seattle, Wenatchee, and Mount Rainier. The songs are addressed, often in epistolary form and always confidingly, to female interlocutors with names like Mary, Lucy, Vera, Alice, Mali H., Cindy Lee, Lou-Jean, and Florence-Jean. The dramatis personae include novelist Thomas Wolfe, inventor Garrett Morgan, sitcom actor Marvin Kaplan, easy-listening bandleaders Percy Faith and Ray Conniff, Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, that news anchor who was held hostage on-air, the guy who wrote “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” the angel Moroni, Lucifer, and God.

    Belying this abundance, the music is stripped down and close-miked so that it pools in your ears as if it were coming from inside your head. Spectral campfire song “Over Rainbows and Rainier” is so intimate you can hear the creak of Jurado’s chair, the soft click of saliva. The songs variously evoke Motown, soft rock, classic girl groups, blues, seventies country-rock, and even disco without being any of them; the trickling soul music of “Dear Thomas Wolfe” and the barrelhouse pop of “Percy Faith” are cut from the same homespun cloth. Jurado’s soft voice is filling in with deeper tones; it seems to go higher and lower at the same time, and it’s never sounded better, recorded with holographic presence and warmly bathed in electric organs, strings, horns, and Anna Lynne Williams’s entrancing close harmonies, all so sparing that songs like “The Last Great Washington State” turn imperceptibly from miniatures to epics.

    […] this is movingly solemn music with an emphasis on “moving.” It outlines lyrics that resolve the literal narratives of Jurado’s early albums and the opaque Christian sci-fi of his recent ones into something evocative between story and sensibility, catching rich traces of lives and dreams in swift, longing swipes. Tapping an idiosyncratic vein of twentieth-century Americana, “Percy Faith” is a tour-de-force of clever quatrains to rival Randy Newman, though the single greatest line appears on “1973”: “Somebody shouted your name and I swear they yelled fire.”

  9. ijb:

    PS: Die Platzierungen 3 bis 12 sind für mich so ziemlich gleichrangig. Ich kann da kaum guten Gewissens das eine „besser“ als das andere klassifizieren. Jede dieser Platten hat vielleicht einen etwas anderen Hörkontext…

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