top of the top: 2016
2016 was again a fantastic music year, made of a different shades of guitar tones, from tender notes to raging, devastating sound experiences. the bands and albums listed are presented in no specific order, because this year, a crazy number of albums simply turned our heads inside-out. but these are the ones that will be remembered.
our favourite albums
— Beak>, Couple In a Hole, Music from Tom Geens Film
the quintessence of krautrock, a clever mixture of restlessness and disquieting grace. with absolutely killing bass and drums, this mesmerizing hooting maze is a genuine blast. who said that bristol genius belong to the past?
sensational: Spittin’ Feathers
— Civil Civic, The Test
a very essential bum-shaking space rock album that conveys a certain appetite for life and happiness, with mordant guitars and jiggling synthesizer vibes (and a drum machine that will exhaust your frog’s legs). joyful as jumping into a roll-coaster to reach the moon. fantastic, chirpy, on cloud nine.
essential: The Shift
— Nothing, Tired of Tomorrow
it’s impossible to get tired of Nothing, whose hook-laden melodies and humming guitars translate a powerful longing for skygazing tenderness. the band’s third album evinces once again Palermo’s heartbreaking songwriting that blows hot and cold, spreading some beautiful sadness. simply sumptuous.
— Russian Circles, Guidance
wow, a grand, grand album, a genuine head-splitting shot that encapsulates any organic emotions. Guidance is a swelling masterpiece, an irresistible panel of ambivalent sentiments, tender and brutal, crystal clear and tenebrous, incandescent and placid. better than the familiar imagery for post-rock and post-metal, this album is the perfect expression of an ireful contemplation.
— Suuns, Hold/Still
well, Suuns’ music isn’t colourful, it doesn’t try to seduce or allure, but it penetrates your skin as a drill machine would puncture the thickest wall of sound. Hold/Still may be the band’s most hypnotic album to date. thrilling drones and benumbing beacons intend nothing else but depicting beautifully a desperate, stony tomorrow.
— Piano Interrupted, Landscape of the Unfinished
this new record conceived in Senegal is a graceful, captivating odyssey of pieces that were first deconstructed before being recomposed. a beautiful travel to fruitful soundscapes, where delicate piano notes and a sunny double-bass intertwine with traditional instruments of senegalese musicians, a humming clarinet and amazing sounds from the landscape. to put it simple, the nonpareil of beauty.
soul-stirring: Sara Ba
— Yeti Lane, L’Aurore
with L’Aurore, the duo’s third album, the songs are replete with the caressing assonance of psychedelia. electrifying and intoxicant as the most heavenly drug, this record is highly addictive and pulls off a major coup in the french musical panorama by defining a new paragon of virtuosity. awesome, exhilarating, sensational.
— Nicolas Jaar, Sirens
once again, the magic of Nicolas Jaar is vivid. the young alchemist mix ingredients very patiently in order to give birth to a skilful celebration of delicate sounds and warm, tender beats. Sirens starts progressively, with Jaar’s voice as a guide. floating in luxuriant waters is always a treat before surrendering to frenetic jazzy or oriental notes. now beats can come into sight and serve as a wake-up call. superb, outstanding, good vibes guarantee, and cherry on the cake, a short interaction with his dad, Alfredo.
appealing: Machine/Decide + No
— Roots Manuva, Bleeds
actually released at the end of 2015, Roots Manuva’s last album could not remain absent in this yearly compilation. both beautiful and tragic, Bleeds doesn’t give Britain the highest praise one could give it. this poignant opus is a wide open wound, from a magnificent observer of our time, whose profound and significant lyrics and hip hop are essential to Britain’s grandeur. sad, alarming, essential, and served by Manuva’s remarkable voice and phrasing.
urgent: Hard Bastards
— Jóhann Jóhannsson, Orphée
14 years after his blissful first album Englabörn, the classical composer returns with another impressive and magnificent studio album. released the very same year as a sumptuous soundtrack written for Denis Villeneuve’s The Arrival, it is impossible not to succumb to the beauty of this both disquieting and spellbinding Orphée that takes you to a fantastic journey, made of beautifully-textured shades of grey. both inspiring and Kafkaesque.
mesmerising: The Drowned World
among the best songs
these are the very thrilling songs of the year, with the exception of BEAK and Suuns, which albums are now copyright-protected on soundcloud. a simple click on the band’s picture (or on any of the aforementioned bands/musicians) will redirect you to their bandcamp page or website, where their music may be streamed freely. and do not forget to purchase the albums that you enjoyed the most to support the bands’ remarkable work.
K-X-P @ The Great Escape Festival, june 2016
Russian Circles @ Kesselhaus, september 2016
the killing surprise of the year
The Low Frequency in Stereo, a very surprising post-rock band from Norway, which 2002’s eponymous, sublime, first album shook the pond as we discovered it on Byte.FM Schnittstelle. highly recommended for post-rock aficionados who also have a squint at jazzy tunes.
the amazing Boobs of Doom, whose noisy inspiration seems genuinely tireless.
best album artwork
A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead, again another amazing piece of art by Stanley Donwood and Dr. Tchock. the 32-page magnificent artwork was made from huge canvases painted by Mr. Donwood, which were exposed to warm winds and thunderstorms in the french riviera. the darkness of a few drawing is a pure wonder. such as Radiohead’s is.
amazing creator of the recordstores.love website that lists all record shops in the world, Marcus Maacks also presents a non-less amazing broadcast on byte.FM called Back To The Basics. the programme airs every thursday at 9pm and is mostly dedicated to bass. the pond shares quite a lot of Maacks’ favourites, such as dubstep, electro, hip hop and the bristol scene. BTTB is the very first programme we have been following for years, and every thursday is a bass day. can’t stop, won’t stop, as Maack would say.