December 29, 2011

Top 50 Albums of 2011: 30 - 21

Emanuele Errante “Time Elapsing Handheld"

Time Elapsing Handheld is Italian ambient composer Emanuele Errante's third full-length release. Subtle use of guitar, harp and piano are layered under tasteful washes of warm and fuzzy electronics. This makes for some seriously gorgeous headphone listening and, like Ezekiel Honig, at times so subtle you could almost miss it.

(Karaoke Kalk)
tUnE-yArDs “w h o k i l l”

Oakland, California-based Merrill Garbus blends indie, punk, funk and more besides with a heavy African inspiration that comes across more genuine and informed than a million Vampire Weekends. Wielding lo-fi ukelele, plenty of tasteful sax, proud feminist lyrics and hella powerful tonsils, tUnE-yArDs is bold, playful, highly-percussive and mind-bogglingly unique.


Ricardo Donoso “Progress Chance”

Ricardo Donoso is a composer and percussionist from Brazil currently residing in Boston. This is (officially) his debut album as a solo, and electronic, musician. The layers of arpeggiated synths and voice samples are reminiscent of a cleaner, stripped-down Emeralds crossed with Cliff Martinez. Progress Chance is a superb release.


Roll The Dice “In Dust”

Hot on the heels of 2010's debut, In Dust is a stunning, cinematic slice of kosmische from a duo of Swedish composers, Peder Mannerfelt and Malcolm Pardon. The Stockholm-based electro-acoustic outfit have created a beautifully understated yet cinematic work that is at times brooding and in other moments outright menacing.

(The Leaf Label)

Africa Hitech “93 Million Miles”

Africa Hitech comprises two talented British ex-pats now living in Australia, Mark Pritchard (Global Communication, Harmonic 313) and Steve Spacek (formerly of Spacek). A dizzyingly polyrhythmic yet dancefloor-ready album of Bass loaded with influences from techno, dub, reggae and UK Garage to name a few. Heavy, unique and bloody good.


Kreidler “Tank”

Rhythmic and pulsating, a gorgeous slice of contemporary Krautrock. Here Kreidler sound more organic than ever. Tank is a fantastic album of tight seven-minute jams. Somewhat of a surprise comeback and probably their best release since Weekend, back in the mid-nineties. It'll be interesting to see what they do next.

(Bureau B)

Machinedrum “Room(s)”

While Machinedrum's early work was akin to the cut'n'paste hip-hop of Prefuse 73, this latest release has more in common with the manic, post-modern production styles of Wagon Christ or Bibio. Rhythm-heavy, yet soulful and accessible, Room(s) is built upon a base of organic-sounding drum samples and a killer kick-drum.

(Planet Mu)

Austra “Feel It Break”

Toronto's Katie Stelmanis, Maya Postepski and Dorian Wolf were justifiably on this year's Polaris short list. Austra come across as a more electronic Zola Jesus or a poppier Fever Ray. Perfect for those days when you want to listen to The Knife but don't want to enter the dark place!

(Paper Bag)

Ezekiel Honig “Folding In On Itself”

Ezekiel Honig's sixth release and his debut for experimental label Type. Brooding ambience interlaced with field samples and minimal techno beats as rumbling dubby bass weaves in and out of the intricate soundscape. A delicate, unrelentingly melancholic work and perfect headphone listening for a grey, rainy day in the city.


The Psychic Paramount “II”

Six years had passed since The Psychic Paramount's debut and with II, they waste no time getting back on the rails. Making an inordinately large racket for their size and even more expansive than their debut, the end result is forty minutes of high-octane post-rock bliss that'll leave you feeling breathless.

(No Quarter)