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Albums of the Year 2013

After the usual careful deliberation, here are our Albums of the Year.

Top 50 Albums Top 50 Reissues Top 50 Bestsellers

Reissue of the Year 2013

Ruth White - Flowers of Evil

Ruth White - Flowers of Evil

Simply put this is a dark occult masterpiece - originally released in 1969 it makes much contemporary dark electronic music sound like playskool. It is in my opinion one of the finest electronic music records one could ever wish to hear. This LP was sonically advanced at the time and still sounds positively evil. Ruth White was a self taught synth pioneer who's name rarely gets mentioned in the avant-garde electronics history books. Here she assembled her electronically treated readings of Charles Baudelaire's poetry with spooky synth-scapes, strange electronic backdrops/ drones and tape collage to create an eternal classic in a leauge of its own. Imagine if Delia Debyshire were possessed by Aleister Crowley.

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2.

Vangelis
Blade Runner

Composed by Vangelis for Ridley Scott's 1982 classic, the Blade Runner soundtrack has assumed legendary status amongst fans of synthesizer music. Its combination of classical compositions with synth work perfect mirrors the futuristic atmospheric ambient noir of the original film. A classic of the genre. ...view item »
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Oneohtrix Point Never
Betrayed in the Octagon

Oneohtrix Point Never took us by surprise the other day. I stuck it on thinking it sounded pretty intriguing from the label's description (often a dangerous thing to trust as I'm sure you all know) and it blew us all right away, sugars. Opening up with a long, droney hum that sounds as if it might be emanating from some far-flung radioactive ...view item »
5.

Edward Artemiev
Solaris - Original Soundtrack

It’s fair to say we love our old film soundtracks here at Norman, so I’m delighted to get my teeth into this new vinyl pressing (for the first time ever) of Edward Artemiev’s score to Tarkovsky’s influential 1972 sci-fi classic ‘Solaris’. Both film and score were way ahead of their time, with a mixtures of dys...view item »
6.

Boards of Canada
Music Has The Right To Children

Boards of Canada’s legendary debut LP tapped charmingly into its generation’s nostalgia for dodgy TV reception, public service announcements and unforgettable classroom mnemonics. It did so within a contemporary framework of analogue synthesisers and hip-hop rhythms, with a great ear for groove and melody. Today, the...view item »
7.

John Carpenter
The Fog

My copy of Death Waltz's re-issue of John Carpenter's The Fog arrived today. This is seriously a soundtrack I've been dying to get. I've grown up with both the music and movies by John Carpenter, but There's Something In The Fog that makes it the best soundtrack ...view item »
8.

Various
The Conet Project: Recordings Of Shortwave Numbers Stations

Here’s a head-scrambling 5CD collection (the original 4CD set plus a book and a newly added fifth CD) of recordings of shortwave numbers stations called The Conet Project, which has had me thinking increasingly paranoid thoughts for the last hour or so. Numbers stations are an shadowy collection of shortwave broadcasts which transmit regul...view item »
9.

Arthur Russell
Another Thought

Here’s the first ever vinyl pressing of Arthur Russell’s ‘Another Thought’, a posthumous collection compiled from 800 tape reels recorded between 1982 and ‘90. What’s immediately surprising is how coherent it sounds as an album. The performances often hushed, sparse and sou...view item »
10.

Popol Vuh
Hosianna Mantra

'Hosianna Mantra' represents a point of transition for Popul Vuh, recorded at a time between the darker analogue synth experiments of 'Affenstunde' and the broader almost easy-listening vibes of the mid-70s albums (Einsager & Siebenjager perfect case in point). For reasons best known to them, they produced a u...view item »
11.

WOO
Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong

Woo are one of those bands who, from the sound that they make, and their longevity, I should know about. But I didn’t...until very recently. They came to my attention via their excellent split 7” with Nite Jewel early this year and now we have a lovely re-issue of their d...view item »
12.

David Alexander Hess
The Last House on The Left

Here’s the latest product of the current horror soundtrack reissue boom; a deluxe reissue of the score to Wes Craven’s grisly classic ‘The Last House On The Left’, unusually written and performed by the film’s star and the man performing a large portion of the on-screen violence, the late David Alexander Hess. ...view item »
13.

Honey Ltd
The Complete LHI Recordings

A girl group called the Mama Cats used to perform around Detroit with the likes of Bob Seger and Glen Frey. The girls moved to LA where they were signed by psychedelic cowboy Lee Hazelwood, renamed Honey Ltd and recorded with the Wrecking Crew as their backing band. This collect...view item »
14.

Mike Ratledge
Riddles Of The Sphinx

Here’s a fascinating discovery from Mordant Music, a synthesizer score from 1977 to Laura Mulvey’s experimental film ‘Riddles of the Sphinx’, performed by Soft Machine’s Mike Ratledge on synthesizers developed ...view item »
15.

The Breeders
LSXX (Last Splash 20th Anniversary Edition)

If you didn't like Last Splash the first time round, then you shouldn't be allowed out on your own. Also, you won't find anything on here to change your mind. The number of people who actually need this many versions of 'Divine Hammer' and 'Cannonball' are going to be pretty limited... This made a lovely christmas present, but there's nothing on...view item »
16.

Nirvana
In Utero - 20th Anniversary - Deluxe

Once a grunge kid, always a grunge kid. Nirvana’s painfully prescient swansong ‘In Utero’ came out 20 years ago, which is making me feel old. I was only 11 when poor Kurt shuffled off the mortal coil but this album, and their other two for that matter, were a staple to me throughout my awkward te...view item »
17.

Simply Saucer
Cyborgs Revisited

If you have a fetish for going back in time an unearthing the lost treasures of yesteryear (Ok, somebody does all the work for us, we just buy it) then jump on this. You've seen the reviews: Early Pink Floyd meets the Stooges with some Hendrix guitar and Sun Ra electro. That's for the mind to decipher, I let the ears do the work. This is guita...view item »
18.

BBC Radiophonic Workshop
BBC Radiophonic Music

Necessary vinyl reissues of this pair of classic LP’s from the legendary British institute that is the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. These LP’s have been unavailable individually on vinyl in their original format/ running order for donkeys years (Rephlex&nb...view item »
19.

BBC Radiophonic Workshop
The Radiophonic Workshop

Necessary vinyl reissues of this pair of classic LP’s from the legendary British institute that is the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. These LP’s have been unavailable individually on vinyl in their original format/ running order for donkeys years (Rephlex reissue...view item »
20.

Igor Wakhevitch
Docteur Faust

I like to listen to this album because it makes me feel normal. It sounds like a mental hospital and it's all over the place. There are French 70's type funk grooves, very avant-garde orchestral interludes, funny bleeping synthesizers, strange sound effects, people saying things in reverse, a blaring trombone, Stone Age grunts, and a few bits of...view item »
21.

John Harrison
Day Of The Dead (Original Score)

What a treat! The 2LP soundtracks to George Romero’s ‘Day Of The Dead’ just hit our office, with one LP on lurid yellow and the other on a spooky green marble. It’s in a chunky thick gatefold with lengthy liner notes from the Romero and composer John Harrison as well. This label Waxwork did a...view item »
22.

epic45
Drakelow EP

This was a bit of a milestone in the E45 back catalogue as it centred greatly on their instrumental electronica constructing capabilities and much less on the chiming pastoral post-rock they won their fan-base with. I'd say if you like drone, glitch, minimal composition and ambient electronic styles this will...view item »
23.

Vangelis
Sex Power

Here’s an intriguing reissue, well timed to coincide with the deluxe new ‘Blade Runner’ pressing is a very limited repress of Vangelis’s debut ‘Sex Power’, originally released in such limited quantities that originals fetch a fortune on the collectors’ market. Anywa...view item »
24.

Silver Apples
The Garden

I'm enjoying this SILVER APPLES reissue jobber on Bully Records of Canada. Only got the vinyl here but to be honest vinyl is the only format you'd want for this beast. This is the missing 3rd album issued for the 2nd time (it came out about 5-6 years ago I think) but now it's on vinyl with oodles of extra tracks. Loads of new and unrele...view item »
25.

Craig Leon
Nommos

I checked a bit of this online a few weeks ago and it sounded so awesome that I decided to get a few in to see if you, the general public agree. One thing I didn’t realise about this release is that it originally came out on John Fahey’s Takoma label back in 1981. I though...view item »
26.

The Clean
Vehicle

Christ on a sausage, I remember this album from my penny pinched youth when I would veer into Newcastle Our Price and raid the cheap cassette section. Everything for a pound was quite a bargain back then when we all had to pay if we wanted to listen to music. Listening again, I feel the exact same about this record that despite it not reaching t...view item »
27.

Batsumi
Batsumi

Here’s a reissue of some classic African jazz from 1974, the latest in Matsuli’s series of rare Afro-jazz reissues. This Sowetan eight-piece put together an urgent, throbbing sound with pulsating rhythms on traditional and trap drums, warm repetitive bass cycles, energetic ivory-tinkling and breathy sax and flute over five tracks whi...view item »
28.

Robbie Basho
Visions Of The Country

Out of print for 35 years until Gnome Life decided to resurrect it, here’s the late, great Robbie Basho’s 1978 album ‘Visions of the Country’ making a welcome return to vinyl. For those who don’t know, Basho was a master of the folk/raga guitar pick...view item »
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Devo
Hardcore Vol: 1

This is a bit special. Superior Viaduct have only gone and done a first ever vinyl pressing of DEVO’s Hardcore Vol I and Hardcore Vol II, with three LPs worth of four-track recordings from Akron, Ohio’s finest documenting their pre-punk de-evolved blues b...view item »
31.

Devo
Hardcore Vol: 2

This is a bit special. Superior Viaduct have only gone and done a first ever vinyl pressing of DEVO’s Hardcore Vol I and Hardcore Vol II, with three LPs worth of four-track recordings from Akron, Ohio’s finest documenting their pre-punk de-evolved blues b...view item »
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Sand
Golem

Reissue of little-known kraut rock band Sand's only album, 1974's 'Golem'. The album was once chosen as Julian Cope's record of the month, and you can see why. Trippy synthesisers accompany a blend of drum-less rock and folk. It's properly psychedelic and totally weird and ace. Buy it as it should be heard, on vinyl. On Rotorelief records....view item »
37.

John Carpenter
They Live

Well this is exciting. Death Waltz’s Carpenterpallooza continues with the soundtrack to his bleakly satirical dystopian sci-fi romp ‘They Live’, which you might remember saw wrestling icon Rowdy Roddy Piper up against an Icke-ian legion of body-snatching aliens bent on world domination....view item »
38.

Four Tet (Fourtet)
Rounds

Ten years since the original release, Domino reissue Four Tet's Rounds on CD and vinyl. This masterwork of leftfield beats, sampling and melodic sound construction came at a pivotal point in Four Tet's journey to fame. On the reissue the album comes with a bonus live recording of a performance in Copenhagen....view item »
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The Monochrome Set
Volume, Contrast, Brilliance... (Sessions & Singles Vol. 1)

The Monochrome Set’s compilation of singles and session tracks was released back in the (80s) day, but is given a new reissue here. Volume, Contrast, Brilliance makes for a pretty good introduction to this little institution-of-a-band - in their initial phase, at least. There’s a couple of bonus song...view item »
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The Flaming Lips
Zaireeka

After a while of putting off buying Zaireeka - since it seemed too bizarre - I finally gave in and got it. Listening to it was totally unlike listening to any other album I've ever heard. The album has its highs and its lows, but the whole time the listener is taken on a journey. The music isn't some part of the background, it becomes a part of ...view item »
44.

COUM Transmissions
Home Aged & The 18 Month Hope

Opening (unbelievably) with an interview between a stuffy of-the-era BBC type and a very, very camp Genesis P- Orridge on Humberside radio in 1973,  this is a collection of unheard recordings from the pre- Throbbing Gristle outfit. We have a live performance opening for Haw...view item »
45.

Yoshi Wada
Earth Horns with Electronic Drones

Over the last few years drone music seems to have been slowly gaining momentum and popularity. At one point the market become so over saturated it seemed like every other release turning up was a drone record and I really got fed up with the whole drone thing as a lot of it was what our Brett once succinctly referred to as "cookie cutter drone"....view item »
46.

Butthole Surfers
Rembrandt Pussyhorse

Weirdo bullshit from ear-to-ear grin rockers Butthole Surfers, who continue to draw on -- and then scribble over -- genres as far and wide as punk, surf psych and avant-garde. They use their powers for evil, of course, offering the silly Rembrandt Pussyhorse, full of catchy, fuzzy tunes about disgusting nothin...view item »
47.

Franz Waxman
The Bride Of Frankenstein OST

Horror film soundtrack time! Seeing as though everyone is shitting themselves left right and center to either release or buy horror soundtracks you can now sorta hear where it all started with this spanky new reissue of The Bride Of Frankenstein. Here’s a few bits of info... ...view item »
48.

Come
Eleven : Eleven

This is a classic, the Bostonians' debut album and their best. “Eleven:Eleven” was released in 1992 at the height of grunge and mixes contemporary influences with dark, rockin’ blues. “Submerge” is a brilliant opener, rolling along, gathering pace very gradually until it reaches the chorus at Thalia Zedek spits out ...view item »
49.

U.S. Steel Cello Ensemble
Bitter Suites

Those marvellous people at Holidays have sent us a couple more records this week which I’m pleased about because their output is at worst interesting. This one here is a deluxe reissue of an LP originally issued in 1979, containing music performed on Robert Rutman’s Bow Chime and Single St...view item »
50.

Orange Juice
Rip It Up

Rip It Up was the second album by Glasgow’s Orange Juice. The band, fronted by Edwyn Collins were known for writing intelligent yet catchy pop songs. The title track was also the band’s biggest hit, reaching number 8 in the UK singles chart in February 1983. Rip It Up is one of four...view item »