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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'

Album of the Year 2016

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith had already pricked our very own ears with last years Euclid but with EARS she has created an out-of-nowhere future classic which is both impressionistic and sprawling as well as warm and inviting.

Bubbling electronic soundscapes are warmed with woodwinds, flute and Smith's floating vocal hooks - giving an exotic almost out of body listening experience.

A worthy winner of our coveted Album of the Year...we implore you to give it a go.

Buy it now
2.

The Veldt
The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation

The Veldt's back story is an astonishing tale of two identical twin brothers who went against any kind of grain and made music throughout the '80s and '90s that baffled any record labels that tried to take them on but in 2016 sounds almost insanely influential. Their brand of soulful shoegaze most recalls like minded Londoners ...view item »
3.

BEAK>
Couple In A Hole Soundtrack

Invada have built up a strong reputation for issuing film soundtracks over the last few years, and their latest release finds label-owner (and Portishead co-founder) Geoff Barrow firing up his kraut-pulse trio BEAK> ...view item »
4.

Bracken
High Passes

Excitement alert. Brand new album from Chris Adams (Hood/Downpour/On Fell etc) under his Bracken moniker. Now you will all remember that his previous album 'Exist/Resist' won our coveted Album of the Year award in 2014, previous to that he released his debut 'We Kno...view item »
5.

Oliver Coates
Upstepping

Oliver Coates is an acclaimed contemporary cellist, and yet this album sounds like a fully-fledged modern electronic dance record. Believe it or not, almost every single sound on Upstepping was originally derived from Coates’ cello, who then applied an absolute ton of processing to make this club ...view item »
6.

Bayonne
Primitives

Austin, Texas based musician Bayonne creates hypnotic dream-pop which pushes together Philip Glass/Steve Reich trance inducing repetition and Joanna Newsom’s folk-pop balladry. Listen to Spectrolite a few times and you’ll pick out something different to love...view item »
7.

Western Skies Motel
Settlers

Gorgeous acoustic fingerpicking from Western Skies Motel aka René Gonzàlez Schelbeck. The dense instrumental ballads on Settlers are dedicated to the plains of the American West and capture a sense of vastness and melancholy. Schelbeck also spices his beautiful guitar playing with ...view item »
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8.

Gold Panda
Good Luck and Do Your Best

Essex born producer Gold Panda moves from Ghostly International to City Slang for his third album. As ever he is always developing his sound and approach, and with Good Luck and Do Your Best he leans towards warmer and more fully formed ‘songs’ than on his previous release. With Time Eater being an ...view item »
9.

Huerco S.
For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)

Soft and soothing underwater ambient techno from one of the masters of the genre.  Huerco S. drops what could be a landmark missive that is sure to appeal to fans of Deepchord, Gas and Basic Channel. Delicious and serene sounds for your laid back summer listening.  Dou...view item »
10.

Jason Sharp
A Boat Upon Its Blood

Constellation's fall batch includes a new signing in Jason Sharp, whose music feels both quintessentially out-Montreal and also incredibly fresh: a saxophonist and sound artist, his music absorbs drone, techno and musique concrete, weaving together instrumental anthologies that cross all three paths. There are horrendo...view item »
11.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani
FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy

Synth maestro of the present meets synth maestro of the past AND present in the next chapter of the intergenerational FRKWYS series from RVNG Intl. Since they've both twiddled, bleeped and blooped for the good of all things vibrant, textural and chill, this promises to be a wondrous and rich collaboration....view item »
12.

David Bowie
★ (Blackstar)

David Bowie has another new album out! The mysteriously titled ★, which is less mysteriously known as Blackstar is his first new material since the weird single Sue (or in a Season of Crime) in 2014 and first album since the brilliant The Next Day in 2013. ★ is available on CD and on vinyl wit...view item »
13.

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Stranger Things: Season 1 - Volume 1

I don't really have to sell this to you do I? First up it's the soundtrack for Netflix new telly programme that Phil tells me is good. Secondly it has a synth vibe reminiscent of all those synth guys you know and love. You can bet your house that the first name I'm going to throw at you is John Carpenter closely followed by...view item »
14.

MJ Guider
Precious Systems

Influenced by the landscape around her New Orleans home, Melissa Guion has made a record of pastoral drifting electronic haze that coupled with her dream like, affected voice makes the whole thing sit somewhere between Grouper and early Cocteau Twins. Therefore she is almost the perfect artist for Kranky. O...view item »
15.

Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool

Hello. Thom. It's me. The Radioheadmaster. Your teachers and I are all becoming a little concerned with your workrate. We all agree you're spending a little too much time on BitTorrent and not enough time on your studies. As such we're decided it's best you repeat the fourth grade -- I trust a second attempt at "True Love Waits", "Identikit" and...view item »
16.

Carla dal Forno
You Know What It’s Like

Carla dal Forno, who has previously been active in Tarcar and Mole House, has a thickly melancholy singing style that somewhat recalls Nico. Solo debut You Know What It’s Like is an album of highly personal songs, but, because this is out on Blackest Ever Black, i...view item »
17.

C. Diab
No Perfect Wave

No Perfect Wave is a stunning tonal mix of bowed guitars and tape manipulation that creates waves of shifting drones that are melancholic yet beautifully uplifting, no tension, just resolve. Arthur Russell, Colin Stetson, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor but if they spent the week with ...view item »
18.

Hintermass
The Apple Tree

Hintermass is the duo project of The Advisory Circle’s Jon Brooks and Tim Felton of Broadcast. In appropriate Ghost Box style, they slink around they combine sweet melodic song with uncanny electronic touches: komische was a particularly strong influence h...view item »
19.

Ulrika Spacek
The Album Paranoia

Ulrika Spacek (the name may or may not be a conscious echo of John Weise’ Sissy Spacek project) are a rock band who tilt towards the experimental: lots of fuzz hypnosis. The Album Paranoia is their debut record, bursting with excitement and promise. CD or (white) vinyl LP on the T...view item »
20.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree

The subject of a much-anticipated forthcoming documentary by Andrew Dominik, 'Skeleton Tree' is the latest offering from much-revered Aussie dark overlord Nick Cave and his inimitable Black Seeds. Hot on the heels of 2013's critically acclaimed 'Push the Sky Away', this new work will no doubt delight Cave's many admirers. Released the day after ...view item »
21.

Tim Hecker
Love Streams

Brand new full-length from Tim Hecker, who here brings his flaring waves of electronics into contact with woodwinds and the Icelandic Choir Ensemble (as arranged by Johann Johannsson). Love Streams builds on previous album Virgins, and was partly recorded in the same Reykjavik ...view item »
22.

Cavern of Anti-Matter
void beats/invocation trex

Cavern of Anti-Matter is a new group led by Tim Gane of Stereolab! void beats / invocation trex has the classic gorgeous motorik vibe that Stereolab alumni do so well, sucking you into its world. Guest appearances from Bradford Cox of Deerhunter...view item »
23.

eagle/deer
The Summer Of Sepia

A dense, sad and strange neo-folk record from Eagle/Deer. Summer of Sepia is a collection of American folk music driven by Sara Charles solo banjo and guitar playing and delicate vocals. Her haunting mountain tales and multi-instrumentalism bring to mind Sufjan Stevens, and this vinyl ...view item »
24.

Ian William Craig
Centres

Ever-prolific tape chemist Ian William Craig is readying yet another record of gorgeous crackle pop. Having broken our hearts with the fragmented opera loops of A Turn of Breath in 2014, he's since released the understated but equally beautiful Cradle For The Wanting ...view item »
25.

Jóhann Jóhannsson
Orphée

Night in with some wine for this one. One of the greats of modern classical, Johann Johannsson, returns with a new studio album after 6 years of soundtracks and collaborative efforts. Cinematic and immersive, Johannsson uses electronics, ambient textures and drones around masterful piano and string pieces. For fans of Ma...view item »
26.

Olafur Arnalds
Island Songs

Island Songs documents Olafur Arnalds recent travelling project, in which he visited 7 different towns in his native Iceland and composed a new piece with a local artist in each town. The assembled results (including a DVD of visual documentation if you choose the CD edition) mix Arnalds’ stately ...view item »
27.

Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition

The new Danny Brown lands on Warp Records. Atrocity Exhibition is his third full-length, and it pulls no punches at all. Guest producers include Evian Christ and Black Milk, and guest vocalists include Kelela, Earl Sweatshirt and Kendrick Lamar...view item »
28.

Anohni
Hopelessness

Anohni of Antony And The Johnsons presents her solo project. Production assistance from big-guns Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never make this a kaleidoscopic electronic experience, her ever-soaring vocals above a busy dance-swirl. Ecstatic and experimen...view item »
29.

Thomas Koner
Tiento de la Luz

The completely singular drone and ambient pioneer Thomas Köner is back on Denovali. Köner’s Tiento de la Luz is a unique release for the artist as it subtly blends classical instrumentation and live electronics in homage to a 15th century musical form. This deep and graceful...view item »
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30.

Pye Corner Audio
Stasis

Synth expert Martin Jenkins rolls another one out as Pye Corner Audio. This is his second LP on Ghost Box and in a way it is a sequel to 2012's 'Sleep Games'. What you can be sure of is massive big old fashioned synth sounds that reference all the greats including Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and...view item »
31.

Mitski
Puberty 2

New Yorker Mitski makes weird-indie music with a defiant angle: as a Japanese-American woman in a scene dominated by white males, she has plenty of fun mocking and undermining traditions with songs like ‘Your Best American Girl’. Puberty 2 is a sharp and confident songs, released by Dead Oceans....view item »
32.

Sarah Davachi
Dominions

Electroacoustic composer Sarah Davachi has undertaken her sophomore album Dominions in a more reserved way. Her debut, Barons Court was a much weightier affair in texture and tone. She recorded the album at her home in Vancouver using vintage synths and the beloved lo-fi sampler the Orchestron. Davachi’s ...view item »
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33.

Mark Pritchard
Under The Sun

Under the Sun is the hugely anticipated solo album from Mark Pritchard, his first in 5 years. Features guest performers Beans from Anti-Pop Consortium, Thom Yorke, Linda Perhacs, and Bibio. Opening with ‘?’ which wa...view item »
34.

Steve Hauschildt
Strands

Steve Hauschildt, formerly of synth-wizards Emeralds, is still going strong as a solo artist: this is his fourth solo record for the ever-excellent Kranky label. Strands is a particularly personal release for Hauschildt, as it engages with aspects of his Cleveland hometown. Expect all t...view item »
35.

Mary Lattimore
At The Dam

More essential material from Mary Lattimore, the Baltimore-based harpist who puts her instrument through subtly-tweaked delay with astounding effects. At The Dam was inspired by an American road trip, with much of the album apparently recorded in the desert and in the mountains. LP release on Ghostly International....view item »
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36.

GNOD & Anthony Child
Behind The Lids

Anthony Child AKA Surgeon was a fan of Manchester’s Gnod for a long time, finally got in touch and began a small collaboration. Noisy, droning pieces that show Gnod’s krautrock influences and mixed with Surgeon’s modular dirt shift it from a me...view item »
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37.

Omni
Deluxe

Featuring former members of Deerhunter, post-punk outfit Omni hail from Atlanta, Georgia. The band combine über-precise beats and riffs with laid back Talking Heads style vocals. Recorded in the bands own practice space by Carnivores' Nathaniel Higgins, you can stay old school with the traditional black vinyl, or, for the more adventurous, ...view item »
38.

Botany
Deepak Verbera

On the edges, with Fennesz in tow, and you want to make a psych record, oh, too late, Botany has beaten you to it. Using mixtures of genre defining equipment, from MPCs and samplers to trippy guitar dronings and choirs he crafts free-form psych soundscapes, that sound like Leyland Kirby may have...view item »
39.

Matt Elliott
The Calm Before

Matt Elliott launched his career with ferocious albums of experimental drum and bass under his The Third Eye Foundation alias, but on his subsequent solo work he’s focused that energy on inventive folk and acoustic music. The Calm Before continues this approach with six pieces of delicate ...view item »
40.

Thee Oh Sees
A Weird Exits

Didn’t Thee Oh Sees split up a year or so ago? I’m pretty sure they did, but it obviously didn’t last long, because they are back back back with a new album! I guess John Dwyer just couldn’t hold the garage-rock energy back any longer. A Weird Exits is extra-rhythmic (two drummer...view item »
41.

The Hecks
The Hecks

The Hecks have a whole world of alt and avant-rock styles under their belt, and they deploy what they know with real aplomb. This self-titled album often feels like some vintage Sonic Youth, with just the right balance between indie-poppy songcraft and flared-up noisi...view item »
42.

Helen Money
Become Zero

Helen Money is the recording name of cellist Alison Chesley. Become Zero was recorded digitally, despite her using analogue recording equipment in the past with Steve Albini. She felt that the range of sounds on offer was wider and easier to build on, manipulate and edit in the digital medium. The ...view item »
43.

Resina
Resina

Rehydrated FatCat imprint 130701 continue to rain down new classical treats with the debut record from Resina, alias of cellist and general sound artist Karolina Rec. Resina emerged from an impressive demo tape and suggests an interpretation of the Polish underground scene -- as with most 130701...view item »
44.

Angel Olsen
My Woman

Angel Olsen has made some really good records that are sorta singer and quite songwriter but equally rock and quite roll, too: Burn Your Fire was a complex and sprawling record at times, jubilantly anthemic at others, and occasionally isolated in its acoustic balladry. 'My Woman' is her third...view item »
45.

clipping.
Splendor & Misery

More diseased-sounding noise-electronics hip-hop from Clipping. Splendor & Misery is something of a concept album, telling an Afrofuturist space story with narrative touches as heavy as the harsh-blast soundscapes they flow over. Indeed, the album’s sounds are intended to be the sounds of the imagined space sl...view item »
46.

Loscil
Monument Builders

Drummer and saxophonist for Destroyer but If you haven’t heard any of Loscil’s 12 albums this is as good a place as any to start. Warm synthesis, subtle dubby chords meet field sampling in an ambient space-capturing setting, a sense of place and the grandeur within it. Droney, but so very musical. &n...view item »
47.

Shirley Collins
Lodestar

The day that many thought would never come is now nigh upon us: a brand new album by Shirley Collins. The folksong heroine’s last recording was 38 years ago, and her voice has finely matured in the intervening years. Lodestar gives life to a set of various antique songs that Shirley has assembled,...view item »
48.

Anxiety
Anxiety

Anxiety are a proper-hard hardcore band from Glasgow, and this is their debut release. They have the speed and ferocity of hardcore punk (9 tracks in 20 minutes: yep, that passes the hardcore test), but also the sonic-fuckedness of a lot of noise rock. Everything is messed-up and uncomfortable, and it's wonderful. Vinyl release ...view item »
49.

Sarah Neufeld
The Ridge

Fresh from her stunning, album-of-the-year-from-Norman-Records-award-winning collaboration with Colin Stetson (who also guests here), Arcade Fire member Sarah Neufeld puts out her second solo record. The Ridge takes her violin to higher planes of hypnotic, dramatic melodicism. Also feat...view item »
50.

Thor & Friends
Thor & Friends

Everyone’s favourite Swan has finally done what people have been long been clamouring for: a grand project of his very own devising. Thor & Friends features the beardy multi-instrumentalist leading pals from A Hawk & A H...view item »