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Albums of the Year 2016

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

Top 50 Albums Top 50 Reissues Top 50 Bestsellers 'Near Misses'

Reissue of the Year 2016

GAS - BOX

GAS - BOX

In the overcrowded dub/ambient genre the body of work produced by Wolfgang Voigt as GAS has few rivals. Its murky and otherworldly take on the genre is a benchmark in electronic music, and this year most of it was collected on a big, potentially relationship-busting vinyl box set.

Essential and groundbreaking music. So good, in fact, that we've made it our Reissue of the Year despite the fact that it has now sold out. Sorry about that!

Sorry, sold out
2.

Tony Conrad with Faust
Outside The Dream Syndicate

This collaboration between minimalist composer and violinist Tony Conrad and krautrock collective Faust was first released in 1972 and, if you hadn’t already guessed from the people involved, the main focus of Outside The Dream Syndicate is drones. There’s harsh drones, beautiful dro...view item »
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3.

The Third Eye Foundation
Semtex

The Third Eye Foundation’s legendary slice of shoegaze-inspired drum ‘n' bass is finally reissued by Ici d'Ailleurs. Semtex’s brutal, dense and anti-establishment music blends harsh breakbeat rhythms and melancholy samples to create something that still sounds unique 20 years later. It feels a ...view item »


4.

Nurse With Wound
Soliloquy For Lilith

Essential reissue of Nurse With Wound’s epic 3CD masterpiece. Quite possibly my all time favourite Nurse With Wound release. Apparently so popular with fans at the time of it’s vinyl release back in 1988 it funded his family’s move to a farm in Irelan...view item »
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5.

Piano Magic
Son De Mar

First time on vinyl for Piano Magic's wonderful, evocative soundtrack for the Bigas Luna film 'Son de Mar' (which translates as 'Sound of the Sea'). Mixing Godspeed like string arrangements with beautiful Max Richter like neo-classical compositions and rustic field recordings, Piano Magic made a soundtrack ...view item »
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6.

Blonde Redhead
Masculin Feminin

Here’s an excellently in-depth archival release for Blonde Redhead, one of 90’s New York’s finest outfits. Masculin Feminin contains the band’s first two albums in full, plus all the surrounding extra material from the time (singles, radio sessions, demos etc.). Also, for a little perspective, tw...view item »
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7.

Bowery Electric
Beat

Finally available on vinyl pressing after a 20 year wait (to the day), is Bowery Electric's sophomore record - Beat. Slotting into a timeless sub-genre with the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack, the New York-based duo's avant-garde trip-hop stands t...view item »
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8.

Lucifer (Mort Garson)
Black Mass

UK EXCLUSIVE! From the label that brought us reissues from Ruth White and a live LP from Coil's Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson comes a long overdue official reissue of Mort Garson's cult 1971 occult synth fantasy 'Black Mass'. Blackened timbres meet trippy modulations from the dark side of the Moog. Reissued on 1...view item »


9.

Silver Apples
Silver Apples

Pretty much the album which started the sound that is still influencing 77% of the music that comes through our doors. Oscillating synths, proto-kraut rhythms and repetitive grooves that were about a million years ahead of their time and surely influenced everyone from Can to Stereolab to pretty much everyone wh...view item »


10.

Manuel Göttsching
E2-E4

E2-E4: a classic slab of minimal electronica from Ash Ra Tempel wizard Manuel Göttsching. Absurdly, for such a crucial work, the whole hour-long piece was improvised by Göttsching ...view item »
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11.

Sonic Youth
Spinhead Sessions

Here is the sound of Sonic Youth when they were still a very young band (check out the group photo on the sleeve!), rehearsing in 1986. Spinhead Sessions has the band breaking away from the rock and post-punk parts of their early sound, instead pressing into semi...view item »


12.

WOO
Awaawaa

Brothers Mark and Clive Ives have been making strange improv experiments for almost four decades now, and this CD and vinyl LP on Palto Flats and New General Catalogue collects unheard WOO  recordings from 1975-82. On Awaawaa they blend electronic gurgles and modular experi...view item »
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13.

Lifetones
For A Reason

Lifetones was the post-This Heat project of Charles Bullen, in which he worked with Julius Samuel to incorporate West Indian reggae flavours into his music. It’s less bleak and out-there than This Heat, but still retains an unusual, uncomfortable edge: rep...view item »


14.

Arthur Verocai
Arthur Verocai

Well for once, the press release -- "one of the greatest albums ever made" -- sounds less like the usual over-enthusiastic blurb (hyperbole) and more in keeping with widely-held muso opinion. Arthur Verocai's self-titled solo record was a masterpiece produced, directed and created by the self-taught musician. Original copies of ...view item »
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15.

Caroline K
Now Wait For Last Year

Now Wait For Last Year by Caroline K was originally released in 1985 and is the first time it has been reissued on vinyl. The co-founder of ‘80s sound art project Nocturnal Emissions created an atmospheric and soporific work that would be her only solo album. The synth textures here are perhaps le...view item »
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16.

Suicide
Suicide

The 1977 debut by Alan Vega and Martin Rev is a conceptual and sonic assault. Vega’s pithy lyrics and echoed rockabilly vocals over Rev’s seething, primitive beatbox and fuzzed-up synths are a simple and devastatingly effective combination. Ghost Rider and Rocket USA is a killer double whammy to open...view item »
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17.

The Prophet Hens
Popular People Do Popular People

Ah, this is what I’ve been after. The last few weeks have seen a slew of re-issues from bands of varying vintage emanating from New Zealand and they are all very good and we are always very nice and it’s good to see but it’s sooooo exciting to see a brand new band emerge out of the isle who, from the very first seconds, have ev...view item »
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18.

The Cannanes
A Love Affair With Nature

Aussie DIY legends The Cannanes originally released their magnum opus A Love Affair With Nature in 1989. Although the band have always operated at an definite underground level, their legendary status was confirmed when they had a pair of Converse shoes made in their honour. They’ve also been the subject of a book...view item »
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19.

Pedro Soler + Gaspar Claus
Al Viento

Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus (a father and son pairing, don’t ya know) recorded Al Viento, their second album together, in Iceland and Spain, with assistance from Valgeir Sigurössen...view item »


20.

Coil
The Ape of Naples

The Ape Of Naples marks the end of the long, strange journey of Coil, being completed after the death of Jhonn Balance by Peter Christopherson. The nature of its origin gives this record a particularly melancholy and spiritual tone. The LP edition has etchings on the D-side, and bo...view item »
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21.

Shinichi Atobe
World

Shinichi Atobe is one of today’s most enigmatic minimal techno composers. Ever since he brought out Ship-Scope on Chain Reaction in 2001, ambient-techno fans across the world have wondered who this man was. He returned after 13 years with The Butterfly Effect. Now DDS is releasin...view item »
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22.

The Dwarfs of East Agouza
Bes

The Dwarfs of East Agouza is a new trio, formed of Sam Shalabi of Land of Kush, Maurice Louca of Alif, and none other than Alan Bishop of the great Sun City Girls. Recorded in Cairo, Bes is a fantastic set of grooving, ...view item »
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23.

Kate Carr
I Had Myself A Nuclear Spring

Kate Carr is an accomplished field recordist, and the enticingly-titled I Had Myself A Nuclear Spring is what she extracted from the surroundings of the desolate French town of Marnay, which comprise a flooded river and a power plant. She sets of the resulting mixtures of ele...view item »


24.

Anna Homler and Steve Moshier
Breadwoman & Other Tales

A project as unusual as its name, Breadwoman & Other Tales is a collaboration between Anna Homler and Steve Moshier, each veterans of the performative avant-garde. Homler inhabits the voice of Breadwoman with wordless chants, supported by Moshier’s tw...view item »
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25.

Prurient
Pleasure Ground

Furious man Dominick Fernow flips a coin between techno act Vatican Shadow and his noise origin story Prurient, this time coming up heads for a record of doom influenced-dissonance under the latter moniker. Initially released in 2006 on Load, Pleasure Ground is one of the pinnac...view item »
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26.

Andrew Pekler
Cue

This weeks review missive from your humble, though opinionated reporter, Mingus the Lord of the Rude(est) is a little shorter than usual. As I'm away early I won't get my usual quota of guff. I do however get to get the most excited I've been for awhile about the new Andrew Pekler release "Cue" on Kranky. I first became familiar with his ...view item »
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27.

Autechre
Amber

Warp's Autechre re-issue series continues with this their first proper full length album (the earlier Incunabula was in fact a compilation of demos). This one contains some of their most ambient moments as well as forging forward the cut and paste beats and deep acid and techno hinted at on Incunabula. Ess...view item »
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28.

J.D. Emmanuel
Electronic Minimal Music

Texan sound-explorer J.D. Emmanuel was critically and commercially undercover for a long time before awareness flourished a few years ago. This triple LP set should seal the deal, containing 14 early works of spiritual electronic synthesis. Electronic Minimal Music is released by Black Sweat Records....view item »
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29.

K. Leimer
Closed System Potentials

K. Leimer digs into his own archives for this reissue on his own Palace of Lights label. The questing synth sounds on Closed System Potentials were recorded in 1979, and are presented here in remastered and expanded form: a few tracks are previously unreleased. Plus an insert...view item »
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30.

Karen Gwyer
Kiki The Wormhole

Initially released on cassette only on Opal Tapes this is a much required vinyl re-issue of Karen Gwyer's stunning synth and drum machine workout. Featuring just three, slowly unfurling tracks, the record takes influence from '70s cosmic synth soundtracks with mind bending deep techno moves and strange...view item »
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31.

William Basinski
92982

It's amazing to think that William Basinski's '92982' was recorded in 1982 as it's the sort of thing that could come out on Kranky these days. Actually we're reminded of stuff like Tim Hecker, The Caretaker etc. This music features ultra soothing ambience and floating melodies. So much so that Phil just declared "I feel like I'm floating on a fu...view item »


32.

Telefon Tel Aviv
Fahrenheit Fair Enough

Telefon Tel Aviv, a New Orleans act, put out their IDM-flavoured Fahrenheit Fair Enough in 2001, where it sat looking enviously at the (comparatively) busy IDM scene across the pond in the UK. But the American source gave the group access to the house and techno traditions of Chicago and Detroit, making this an exciting...view item »
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33.

Death And Vanilla
Death And Vanilla

The year was 2012 when we first got offered copies of this, the first album from Death and Vanilla. It was a Normans favourite but like all good things disappeared very quickly. Fire Records have since helped take the band to new levels of popularity by unleashing the band's second album 'Where the Wild Things Are' and now that they are playing ...view item »
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34.

Nest
Retold

Nest next. I really liked the look of this album straight away. I felt it looked "glacial". 'Retold' is one of those wonderfully moody, cinematic neo-ambient albums full of small electronic glitches, melancholic keys and an evocative, studious, classical feel. These Nesters are two old Miasmah associates, ...view item »
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35.

Game Theory
Lolita Nation

Game Theory’s Lolita Nation was released in 1987 at the prime of U.S. dream-pop and has been out of print since then. So, Omnivore have got involved and pressed this lost-classic to translucent green double vinyl LP and CD, with new material (it has 48 tracks!). This dense and experimental pop music i...view item »


36.

The Body
No One Deserves Happiness

The album is called No One Deserves Happiness and the band The Body, how do you think it’s going to sound? Predictably, and thankfully, this double vinyl LP and CD on Thrill Jockey is mean, abrasive and inventive experimental metal. There’s plenty of detuned guitars, but the duo also...view item »
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37.

The Brotherhood of Lizards
Lizardland

Been waiting a long time for this to be re-issued. This is the short lived 'other' band of the Cleaners From Venus main man Martin Newell but there's not all that much difference in the sound. It still has that perfect '80s update of classic '60s pop and the sort of melodies that other bands would kill for. Once again it was ign...view item »


38.

The Shaggs
Philosophy of The World

Lots of people hate on The Shaggs, but what the hell do people know? This was a band that played rock music without needed to know how to play rock music, fitting together scraps of sounds into a broken approximation of the familiar. Which is to say that The Shaggs are great! Philosophy Of The World is ...view item »


39.

The Clientele
Strange Geometry

2016 update: 'Strange Geometry' is perhaps the most lush and fully realised of all of the Clientele's excellent LPs. The use of production maestro Louis Philippe seemed to warm their sound up a bit and expand their palette. It's now back out on lovely vinyl with bonus download tracks. Here is my original review from 2005  - a time when ...view item »
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40.

Biosphere
Patashnik

Think back to 1994, when the house-inflected ambience of Biosphere really started to percolate up into territory where people took notice. Patashnik feels like a warm trip through deep space / inner space, one that still feels worth taking today. Reissued on double vinyl and double CD: the CD edition also includes a bon...view item »
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41.

Ekca Liena
Slow Music For Rapid Eye Movement

Originally released in a tin box on Dead Pilot in 2008 our very own imprint Public House Recordings have now given this stellar ambient/post rock/drone/electronica lost classic a brand new vinyl lease of life. Stretched out ambient music with a collage-y feel, like the best bits of Stars of the Lid, Lo...view item »
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42.

Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band
Wede Harer Guzo

Hailu Mergia recorded Wede Harer Guzo with his Dahlak Band in Addis Ababa in 1978, during breaks from spreading wonderful party dancing among the hotels and clubs of the city. This is the very first time these recordings have been made commercially available outside of Ethiopia: celebrate! On Awesome Ta...view item »


43.

Betty Davis
The Columbia Years 1968-1969

Pay attention, this is important! These sessions, recorded by Betty Davis with her then-husband Miles (yeah that Miles) and an impressive cast of late 60’s musicians (including Wayne Shorter, Mitch Mitchell, Herbie Hancock) have never been...view item »
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44.

Deaf Center
Pale Ravine

If you're info floaty ambience and all of that neo classical gubbins then you'll be most happy with the new Deaf Centre CD/LP...view item »
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45.

Public Image Limited
Metal Box

Essential deluxe reissues of essential cutting-edge post-punk: John Lydon and Jah Wobble’s legendary Public Image Limited. 1979’s Metal Box is a dubbed-up experimental masterpiece that you really should own. This reissue on Universal contains 4 CDs / LPs of material, with B-...view item »
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46.

Angelo Badalamenti
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is an all-time television masterpiece. The best reason to own a TV during the early 90s, it was a game-changer that brought weekly instalments of cinema-level quality entertainment into homes long before The Wire and Breaking Bad. The world hadn't seen anything like it before or and hasn't really seen anything like it since....view item »


47.

Murcof
Martes + Utopia

Murcof’s 2002 debut album Martes has become vanishingly rare since that initial release, a great shame for serious Murcof-heads, but also for those yet to hear this powerful brew of clicks’n’cuts and melodic materials. This reissue on The Leaf Label presents the original record, plus t...view item »
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48.

William S. Burroughs
Nothing Here Now but the Recordings

Something of a lost classic, Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson hooked up with William S. Burroughs in his infamous NY pad ‘The Bunker’ in 1980 to assemble these recordings: spoken-word, cut-up sound collages and field recordings abound. Dais Records are making i...view item »


49.

Flying Saucer Attack
Distance

Domino begin their Flying Saucer Attack reissue project with a tough to find singles compilation from 1994. Distance is a reminder of how influential the group’s spaced-out drone rock has become. Waves of feedback blend with field recordings and distorted vocals to create something harsh a...view item »
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