The high-quality upholstery is like a knife in my back

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02.16.24 G L I T C H genre tag02.01.24 FEBRUARY of ambi2ent (REC me)
01.01.24 well_2023: "YES" albums (2/2) 12.31.23 well_2023: "NO" albums (1/2)
12.27.23 (be)rate my LP 'collection'12.03.23 2023 BNM: cringedex
12.01.23 New users :: REVIEWED 11.28.23 Your 5s choices reviewed AGAIN
11.15.23 learn from my WORST REVIEWS 11.13.23 Tory stooge music
11.10.23 Feed me 2023 things11.04.23 4000 Ratings // Top 100 albums*
11.02.23 NO AVATAR CLUB10.20.23 SPUT ROYALE: f i n a l e
10.15.23 SPUT ROYALE: FINAL10.10.23 SPUT ROYALE: Round 6 (½ final)
10.06.23 SPUT ROYALE: Round 5 (¼ final)10.03.23 OCTOBER of d o w n t e m p o // ぼreak
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4000 Ratings // Top 100 albums*

See entry #121, but tl;dr I have many ratings now! Here is the full ranking of my 100 fav albums from everything I've heard since my last alltime fav albums list (i.e. my favourite picks from the last 2000 albums I rated)

Last time I did something like this was in 2020, when I hit 2k ratings and dished out a full Fav Albums of All Time ranking.

I was going to do this again, but drafting that list was rough - those first 2k ratings represented roughly 11 continuous, formative years of music discovery, and seeing that total doubled in just over a quarter of that time (three years) left me with a really awkward mismatch of longtime favourites, nostalgia classics, and more recent discoveries that largely suffered as a result of not having time to sink in.

The draft list looked too similar to the 2020 list for reasons that made me regret not spending more time with the second half of my ratings (not to mention weary of having to write on half the returning albums for the millionth time), and so I binned it.

This list is therefore devoted entirely to ratings #2001 thru to #4000! Much more fun, much more exciting, hopefully much more relevant to anyone looking to grab recs, as I must have plugged all my old favourites to death by now.

Will throw in a few shoutouts, but HUGE THANKS to anyone who rec'd anything that appears here - there are a lot of you, and I'm genuinely pretty happy at how many albums from my user-sourced monthly trawl this year ended up here. Fuckin' A, the grind was WORTH IT!

Now, uh, I dunno. Shred me/refute my blurbs/wait patiently while I type this boi up. I'm taking November off from Month-Of listing, so rec me anything you think I need as a follow-up to any of these picks. See ya on the other side?
120Adrianne Lenker

68 scrobbles

119Blue Planet Corporation
Blue Planet

Goa trance
79 scrobbles

Black Messiah

77 scrobbles

117Daisuke Tobari

106 scrobbles

116DJ Sprinkles
Midtown 120 Blues

Deep house
62 scrobbles

115Eiji Nakayama
Aya's Samba

Jazz / samba
30 scrobbles

114Frou Frou

Art pop / indietronica
130 scrobbles

New Light

151 scrobbles

112Global Communication

Ambient / downtempo
67 scrobbles


106 scrobbles

110Lightning Bug
A Color of the Sky

Dream pop / alt country
109 scrobbles

109Neko Case

Alt/gothic country
97 scrobbles


66 scrobbles

107Pet Shop Boys

43 scrobbles

Onryo II: Her Spirit Eternal

Black metal
70 scrobbles

Diaspora Problems

164 scrobbles

104Steve Roach
Structures from Silence

Space ambient
19 scrobbles

103Xploding Plastix
Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents

Trip-hop / breakbeat
130 scrobbles

102Yumi Matsutoya

Folk pop / kayokyoku
86 scrobbles

101Zhou Xun

Mandopop / downtempo / breaks
142 scrobbles

[ed. note: this or DJ Sprinkles should probably have been #100, but what is blurbed cannot be unblurbed -_-]
100Blanck Mass
World Eater

127 scrobbles

I remember stealing this from someone else's Sput secret santa (the someone was Pon and, ungrateful hunk of bunk gristle that he is, I do not believe that he has listened to it since) and getting my socks blown off. This opened new doors to me in terms of the amount of industrial overtones I wanted in my hi-fi vocal-fuckery'd beat trips and boasts one of my favourite 3-song closing combos on any record; when this thing plays it mid-tempo and momentous, or (more rarely) understated and sinister, it's a force to be reckoned with.

It's not quite as convincing when it's busier and more melodic, but it *did* get me into Fuck Buttons as an added bonus (don't love their stuff quite as much end-to-end, but Surf Solar might be the best song between the two projects). Pity this project fell off a cliff on the following album.
99Hybrid (UK)
Wide Angle

112 scrobbles

Break your beats! Break your beats! Wide Angle is perhaps *the* perfect introduction to breaks (especially if chased with Fat of the Land for something nastier and high octane) - this record has it all!

Groovy downtempo = check
Kinetic beat knockouts = check check
Sweeping orchestrations that nail a sense of majesty while entirely eschewing the hamminess of big beat = hella check
Chorus-centric singalongs = generous CHECK!

Wham. My sacreligious take for this is that the Julee Cruise-featuring opening combo of "If I Survive" and "I Know" is my least favourite chunk of the record (both decent songs, but feel they're not as commanding or engaging outside of a dance context as the rest), but phwoar baby she makes up for it on "Dreaming Your Dreams"' utterly sublime vocal. Ironically enough, my favourite thing here might just be the dip into blockbuster-ready trance on "Theme From Wide Angle", but this record covers all bases remarkably well and is always satisfying to come back to.

45 scrobbles

It has come to my attention that 1) the title track on this is the only song I really care for, but 2) fuck a duck, that song is an astounding snapshot of murky nights, crowded spaces and feeling too paranoid to process the passage of time, and it's wound up as one of my favourite electronic tracks and everything I ever wanted in Burial. Ten stars = enough to carry the baggage here
97The Millennium

Psychedelic pop
70 scrobbles

My relationship with '60s psych pop in general is, uh, strained: most of Sgt Peppers, most of Forever Changes, and all of Smiley Smile in particular are finnicky bullshit and can get tae fuck. It's honestly a struggle to pin down what it is those albums drop the ball on that the Millennium gets so very, very right here, but I think it comes down to a certain crispness and clarity that run through the album supporting a *ton* of fantastic melodies and a bunch of innovations that hold up extremely well outside of fuddy-duddy novelty (the earlydays breakbeat on "Prelude" and the oriental megatrip of "Karmic Dream Sequence #1" in particular). The straightforward pop tracks are vintage glory, and the creativity of these arrangements is streets ahead of anything the Beatles ever made and at least on par with the best of Pet Sounds (minus the cloying innocuous good_times overtones).

An unexpected redemption arc for a messy, messy genre then - and a thoroughly overlooked gem.
96Antonio Carlos Jobim
Stone Flower

Bossa Nova
86 scrobbles

This is just too sublime. Prompted by however many crossovers in downtempo or pop records I adore, my foray into real-deal bossa nova so far is suggesting that I get by far the best results when approaching it from a mellow footing rather than hoping to end up as such as a product of listening - not a huge revelation, but does make this more situational than I'd like it to be, because when I'm in the mood this is just heavenly. Shoutout also to Getz/Gilberto, but this inches it out as my favourite so far.
95Miharu Koshi

Art pop / techno kayo
69 scrobbles

Miharu Koshi is the '80s Japanese art pop treasure I never knew I needed (had previously defaulted on Jun Togawa, but 4000 ratings spells new freedom), and Parallisme is just a breathlessly solid slab of creativity (hats off to man-of-all-the-moments, producer Haruomi Hosono). While it isn't quite as raunchy as Koshi's excellent preceding record Tutu, this thing packs sophistication, refinement and an overall grander scope in spades (alongside a verrry generous dose of fun).

Early highlight "Capricious Salad" (yes) shows this off immediately with its decadent melodies, playful delivery of frankly monstrous hooks, coy alternation between energy and restraint, and stylish fusion of techno kayo with cabaret flourish. There's a lot of similar thrills to be had across the rest of the record, but the final three tracks are what cement this as a personal favourite - the title-track in particular is art pop perfection, and the following two have edge for days (the feckin' BASSLINE in the closer has been spinning through my head for what feels like all day now).

Your fave could never play it this crass and this classy all at once.
94Bob Dylan
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

63 scrobbles

Early Bobby's dustiness and timeless airs clicked with me a lot far faster than I was expecting. The number of sardonic quips, insightful musings and lonesome pinings on here is enough to sustain a memorable evening whenever required, and that's to say nothing of the man's ear for a straightforward set of exquisite chord fingerings. Wonderful zany caper.
93Jan Jelinek

Glitch / microhouse
66 scrobbles

No record has ever made me feel sexier while adjusting my glasses in a cafe or skulking round the British Library like a real pretend scholar boy. I have no idea what I'm doing, fucking love shuffling feet(!) to my glitch muzak xo
92The For Carnation
The For Carnation

75 scrobbles

There are a lot of albums that make me question whether or not I have a kink for being swathed in currents of darkness that could power a luxury corporate lounge just as easily as a mildly haunted wine cellar, and then unexpectedly hugged: this is, uh, certainly one of them? Most of it is that straight fix, but then "Moonbeams" comes around and makes me wish my soul would leave my body in response to Brian McMahan's resigned sigh-climax life is not fair. Smoothest slowcore there is.
91The Flashbulb
Kirlian Selections

Breakcore / ambient / classical
408 scrobbles

This bafflingly solid set of zany/nerdy vignettes runs the gamut from chunky breakcore to wispy ambient/classical daydreams - nothing overstays its welcome, almost all of it is individually memorable, and there's so damn many of these tracks that I can never remember what order they come and feel surprised by it anew every time. God-tier real time strategy music - the intermittent changes of style keep a boi on his toes, while those lovely whimsical overtones tie the whole thing together just right
90Sleigh Bells

Electropop / noise pop
196 scrobbles

Bangers bangers comfort music bangers. *This* is how to drop metal guitars onto your freak pop album - the production here is so slick and creative on other fronts, and the guitars themselves so unindulgent in their incorporation that upshot is less a gimmick and more lean fuckin songwriting that packs a dozen jagged edges alongside each sugar bomb of a hook.

Huge vocals throughout this, love that it's no less anthemic at its sweetest than at its most volatile. It could have been a straight-laced synthpop album and still landed as a highlight of its time, but oh baby this was exactly the shot-in-the-arm late 2021 needed for pop. Deceptively tight lyrics also, have found some of these lines sinking in as I've come back to these tracks (which has been a regular occurence lfg!!!)
Dangerous Days

Synthwave / electro-industrial
2014 scrobbles
175 scrobbles

Did this record get me into Nioh 2 max difficulty, or did Nioh 2 max difficulty get me into Perturbator? Unholy good slam-jam combat music regardless, this is the best gaming record and no I will not fuck your Carpenter Butt.

Love how apocalyptically tasteless this is, it bangs and it bangs and I refuse to analyse it any further
88Dream Dolphin
Atmospheric Healing

Ambient / new age
164 scrobbles

Dream Dolphin has too many albums, and (spoilers) shamelessly CHEATS the one-album-per-act rule as such, mainly because this sounds nothing like her other showing here). Atmospheric Healing was, won't lie, a hella slow grower for me, but fuck me sideways if it hasn't proved in the long run to be the most perfectly titled record I've ever come across. These tracks are *so* pure and cleansing, so thoroughly new age but so earnest about it that the kitsch feels genuinely enriching. The bookends have grown into some of my favourite ambient full stop (see my long expo review of her Gaia compilation for why) and "Ichiban Tsumetaku, Ichiban Yasashii Umi" has grown into my favourite hair-saloon-but-at-home song. Deeply precious record
87The Cure
The Head on the Door

New wave
149 scrobbles

The Cure's dorky lil lopsided pop triumph is a real keeper! So many individually attractive tracks and such endearing stylistic leaps (Kyoto Song>The Blood>Six Different Ways is a full-tilt journey through time and space in 3 songs, all of which are earnest and wonderful on their own terms). Absolutely godlike bookends too - this is a great fix for whenever I want some vintage wholesome quirk. Big bless.
86Tim Hecker

Ambient / drone / gagaku noise shit
72 scrobbles

Gotta say that I've been ""whelmed"" by my Tim Hecker discography trawl - the man's reputation as a master of crushing expansive soundscapes into intricate contours is certainly earned, but there's a sound-as-exhibition quality to a lot of his work that, at worst, shirks the rigour of overarching trajectories and leans a little heavily from the shapes it demands the audience to extract from those grainy, grainy tea leaves (Mirages/No Highs/Harmony in UV). Radio Amor and An Imaginary Country both stand out for the way they present album-length emotional arcs, and the gripping parabolas of noise played out across Ravedeath's bookending suites need no introduction at this point, but I've come to terms with the fact that I care far more for the way that Hecker presents his suggested spaces than I do to inhabit themselves (i.e. the 'sound art' aspect of his craft is more engaging than the emotional/imaginary centres of gravity in his music).

Factor into *that* that his consensus weird-cool-shit-happening peak Virgins has too slick an aesthetic/not enough grit for what I look for in Hecker, and you're left with Konoyo as the most enduringly exciting album in his arsenal (Ravedeath was originally on top here, but the middle-third lacuna is just a little too much).

*This* was what I think I was waiting to hear as I advanced chronologically: the clash of tones is among the most volatile in his discography ("Keyed Out", shit damn), the nebulous direction of most of these pieces is so intriguing that it scarcely matters where they end up, the noisified gagaku elements extend the stylistic interplay here beyond the reach of the classic Hecker experience, and the (ironically enough) otherworldly tone of the the whole package lends it a unifying mystique (which I'll accept as a healthy raise on the unifying aesthetic Hecker records tend to lean on). I still have a couple of reservations about how it fares as an album-long experience, but for its breathtaking sound palette and the gloriously oblique development of individual pieces, this easily warrants a healthy spot here
85Dr. Dooom
First Come, First Served

68 scrobbles

Kool Keith is unhinged and this record makes me want to eat my own feet. Absolute savagery across the board here, can smell the attitude like a yeast infection and oh baby there's a lot of that shit to go around. I would happily give up my life if it meant being murdered by bars like these. This album kinda exhausts me there is only so wide a boi can gape stop complaining
84Carbon Based Lifeforms
Hydroponic Garden

77 scrobbles

Personal cyberspace invasion, in the sweetest grooviest way imaginable. There's a density and mystique to this record that I haven't heard from the band's other output; when they catch the right groove or tap into a strong motif (those vocals on the t/t, my lawd), this thing is utterly transportive. Plant space flowers in my bedroom and turn me into a diligent blue alien. The final third of this album drifts for me - would be much, much higher otherwise.
83Lali Puna
Faking The Books

173 scrobbles

The opener on this is a high watermark for indietronica as a whole, absolute perfection in the form of a warm glitchy deadpan teutonic HUG, and, uh, the rest of the record is mighty respectable on its own terms even if nothing else hits quite the same high. Love the edgy paranoid tracks in the middle and the way the almost-closer "Alienation" stutters its way to a disarmingly emotional climax. Could have been a 5 in another timeline, but here we are.
82Candy Claws
Two Airships / Exploder Falls

Noise pop
this is a Youtube jam lmao

Hahahaha this pair of long tracks has a ton of noisy melodies and all of them are good let's get fucked ex dee
81Lexie Liu
The Happy Star

Mandopop / synthpop / R&B
226 scrobbles

For a solid week, this wasn't just the best pop record anyone made in 2022 (not the most prestigious accolade) - it was *the* perfect Mandopop album (ignore the English, ssh) and I would not hear a word said against it. A buttload of repeated listens may have cooled my jets a little on approx 33% of the tracklist, but the number of winners and the height of the highs here is still extraordinary. Lexie Liu is out there strutting her R&B chops to the full and *owning* synthpop - don't care whether or not she's peaked here, I can smell at least a few years of SOTY contenders round the corner [[[[i want dat magic]]]] oomf. Would happily listen through an hour of total shite for another "bad dream" or "i wanna tell u" give me that rush
Fast Forward Eats the Tape

Skate punk
204 scrobbles

When I first heard this record, I felt like it'd been in my life for years - its blend of techy post-hardcore with anthemic as all hell skate punk songwriting is straight catnip for the version of me who was convinced The Illusion of Safety was the peak of all music. Belvedere aren't quite as angsty, though - there's a playfulness to their songwriting, a willingness to adjust their footing between tracks that proves a strong foundation for any number of earnest hollers here. Total highlight record, but such a fun shot in the arm that I'm hardly complaining.
79Takeshi Terauchi and the Bunnys
This Is Terauchi Bushi

Surf rock / enka
91 scrobbles

"What if enka but surf rock" nice one Batman yes indeed, this record is the coolest thing since (*checks notes*) butt sex and riffs like a kabuki deity. Hand on heart, this would have been the entire Kill Bill soundtrack if someone had slutted out a copy to Tarantino, but thank gawd they did not! Now it is yours! Third song is the coolest thing ever made xx

Ambient techno
cba to calculate scrobbles (most are logged under Souvlaki)

Technically been listening to this one since way before the rest of the list, courtesy of my expanded edition of Souvlaki (which had 3 of these 4 tracks pasted onto the end and *really* raised the bar on the whole experience as such), but I rated it late and so it is here! Slowdive's take on ambient techno is just sublime and they need to revisit this sound at some point in the future (iirc, this was the original plan for their latest - a shame :[). Perfect EP.
Crying Over Pros For No Reason

Glitch / glitch-hop
100 scrobbles

Do you like HEART in your glitch? Do you accept "heart" in the form of absurdly sullen downtempo atmospheres getting the living shit bombed out of them by pyrotechnic beat splinterings? Do you practice good aftercare? Uh, I for one feel seen by this record - perfect rec from Sput shitchat champion kevbogz that I've come back to more and more as the year's gone on. To me, this record manifests a steep level of fractious despair with a surprising amount of sensitivity: it's a jagged downer brought to life like the HUG you did not you needed, and 10 watertight tracks in 40 minutes is a hella strong hit-rate for a glitch record this highly-powered. Big bonus points for one of my fav tracks of the year, "dex", which royally saved my arse when I burnt out halfway through making the Sputroyale credits section
76Evan Marc and Steve Hillage
Dreamtime Submersible

Dub techno
56 scrobbles

Lovely eleventh hour entrant right here - this silky-smooth record takes a lot of what I love about dub techno and flexes it across a suite of extended tracks that demand and generously reward whatever patience you throw at them. The rise and fall of this thing pans out so seamlessly that it's almost counterintuitive to see it split into individual tracks at all. Really affirming moment for a lot of the things the rest of the list stands for (minimal compositional style, refined sense of progression), looking forward to returning to this a lot in future
75Veronica Lipgloss and the Evil Eyes
The Witch's Dagger

Post-punk / deathrock
89 scrobbles

LOUD FUCKING SEXY EVIL POST-PUNK, splintering with noise, laden with distorted chromatic bass fuckoffs, seen through with a ton of good hooks but made great by Ms. Lipgloss' powerhouse holler across the board. This lady spits out her lines like she wants to tie you to a shower rail and reinvent you as a cubist collage of smudged lipstick and old leather, and I cannot stress how here you should all be got this. Heavily overlooked record.
Alpe Lusia

Deep house
113 scrobbles

I guess Alpe Lusia is a lowkey sputcore classic at this point, and for good reason - its blend of pounding deep house reveries with ornate chamber arrangements adds cinematic magnetism to the former, and depth and intrigue to the latter: I can see this doing much more than the average house album for the sentimentally-addled, catharsis-siphoning Sput regular, but it doesn't cut any corners when it comes to mesmeric beat marathons (just look at understated superhighlight "Tanz Fuer Drei"). I love how organic this record feels, how intuitively it flows as an emotional journey. The central combo of "22 Degree Halo"/"For My Better Half" is a little sentimentally overdone for me, but the enigmatic motifs on, say, "Symphorine" or "Prepare" had me gripped from the moment I first heard them. Whole lotta heart and mystique on this thing
Liminal Space

76 scrobbles

Am convinced you either need a special kind of love or a special kind of hatred of electronic music to enjoy this, and I honestly don't know which camp I'm in, or how much I actually like this album - all I know for sure is that it cracks me out like nothing else. Whatever wired hysterical bullshit this computermeltshit thrives on, I vibe what it does to my bloodstream. [Everything you thought you already knew about breakcore] x3 experience, definitely something you can choose to listen to for thrills and chills, but deceptively solid in the atmosphere department. Fuck technology, fuck rhythm, blow my brains out etcetc
Xpander EP

Trance / breaks
45 scrobbles

Phwoar baby, this 4-track (40+ minute!) EP is a melting point of everything I love about '90s trance and breakbeat. Love how robust the progressions are, love how high the stakes are, love how strong the melodies are, love the shimmer love the zap love the beats, love how it works equally well to dance to or to vibe hard to sitting down. The trance rush on the t/t is obviously huge, but the rest of the EP is no slouch, and "Rabbitweed" in particular is some gnarly shit that flexes generous amounts of tension for a huge payoff. Yes!
Satin Black

Shoegaze / slowcore / post-rock
75 scrobbles

Paik is big. Satin Black is vast. The genre tags floating overhead are all typically associated with expanse, and shit damn this album still manages to dwarf them all. As a consequence of primarily coming back to nostalgic rush of (relatively) bitesize opener "Jayne Field" as a standalone listen, I often forget this, but shit damn these sluggish overdrivescapes shift everything into a different scale - "Dirt for Driver" is like being stuck in a washing machine the size of a subway station, "Dizzy Stars" sways and eventually lurches like two tectonic plates squaring up, and the aptly named closer "Stellar Meltdown En El Oceano" has what the kids are calling Proper Deadstar Energy. It's stellar alright. This isn't *quite* in the same league as the heaviest shoegaze, but it does hold its own with the heftiest.
70Bell Witch
Mirror Reaper

Funeral Doom

What if metal was suddenly the most beautiful genre of them all what if a bass tone so perfect all other melody instruments were redundant what if being on the brink of tears for 80 minutes was all you ever wanted from this genre? Very rarely come back to this, but I doubt anything will ever take its place.
69Asian Glow
Stalled Flutes, means

Emo / lofi / indietronica
233 scrobbles
I'm amazed at how much of the attraction of this thing's dense smush of every emo/indietronica/lofi trick in the bedroom producer's arsenal survived my initial infatuation with it (and make no mistake, this thing got *repeats* when it dropped). Asian Glow's obscure emotional outbursts pair perfectly with the ever so slightly amateurish production that underpins this otherwise astounding weave of VERY ALWAYS ENGAGING TONES, and for reasons I do not understand yet, this means that attachment is incurable. Is this a catharsis? Can bedroom emo have a canopy? Will Asian Glow's probably-more-polished next venture be even stronger? Don't call me.
68Gezan with Million Wish Collective

Post-hardcore / experimental rock
112 scrobbles

TOTAL APOCALYPSE OF THE HEART fuck yes, gimme that hippy rage, gimme those tragiposi flickers of interpersonal connection the light up this dying planet like fireflies in a corporate net, gimme those HUGE backing vocal arrangements that make me believe in the power of art through the sheer amount of respiration that went into this record, gimme that triumphant fucking 2020s rock music that, just for once, feels like it exists for a larger-than-life reason and swats aside every cynical barb all too easily attached to records like this with a clamourous energy shield too wholehearted to puncture, gimme that stunning album-long emotional journey. One of the most affirming records I've heard in a long while; I look forward to blurbing it again very soon.
67Flipper's Guitar
Doctor Head's World Tower

Shibuya Kei / Psychedelic Pop
93 scrobbles

Oh woe oh woe, I am a poser and this list has a CHRONIC SHORTAGE of the one genre in the world that matters: Shibuya Kei. This is obviously in not way a reflection of any inverse correlation between that objective GOAT genre's pastiche-heavy blend of all things indie pop, 60's-sampleable or lounge appropriate, and its ability to produce end-to-solid albums, but


One thing's for sure, this glorious psych-pop pilfering zany triumph is an early high watermark and quite comfortably the best thing I've heard from Cornelius (who comprised up 50% of this band before moving onto his solo output). The first two Flipper's Guitar albums are an enjoyable jangle pop sugar high, and they prepared me not at all for the sheer scope of this one - from the "God Only Knows" sample that kicks it off to its alternation between cruise-control breakbeats, droning psych soundscapes, scuzzy rock guitar, slick funk pop and surprisingly emotional refrains, the whole thing is imaginative as they come and all the more convincing for how openly it delves into its sentimental side. There's something precious to the muggy hippy daydream these songs set up in succession, of sunny days when everything everyone was happening and now-half-forgotten faces were the most exciting people in the world. Where did it go? Don't ask? Excellent maudlin peace record.
66Skinny Puppy
Too Dark Park

102 scrobbles

By reputation (and from my first encounter, via Bites), I had the impression that Skinny Puppy pioneered electro-industrial by taking an admittedly appealing mix of unforgivingly rigit beats, pulsing synths and the inevitable hobo cannibal vox and wringing it out in homogenous shapes that largely overstayed their welcome (even if they were just about cool enough to warrant a check). Too Dark Park turned that preconception straight onto its head - the songwriting here is *lean* and the development on synth melodies considerably more refined than I was ready for (most especially in the run from "Nature's Revenge" to "T.F.W.O.", which is q comfortably the single strongest stretch I've heard on any industrial record so far).

I enjoy how they drop "Tormentor" early on as a template meat n potatoes banger, only for the record to unravel somewhat in the more fluid structures and ambiguous progressions that "Shore Lined Poison" in particular nails like nothing else I've heard - love how deft this album is at churning the murk and clearing it when appropriate - brings a real mystique (this is my main word for this list/phase of life unfortunately) to a sound otherwise gleefully ugly and propulsive. Excellent "I dislike industrial, but ___" album, and I am very okay with this.

312 scrobbles

Baby's first FOUR COURSE GRIND MEAL is still, uh, oversized and overpowered as all hell. Maybe more than I bargained for - I haven't returned to this as often as I'd have liked, but I still have a ton of love for the way it blew my socks off on release (and highlights "Ba" and "Na" will likely remain grind high watermarks for me regardless of how the rest goes). Is it still AOTY? Don't call me!
64Artemis (UK)
Elysian Fields / Desideradi

Atmospheric drum and bass
35 scrobbles

There are two tracks on this EP-that-is-not-a-single, and both of them are reasons I am starting to rate atmo dnb a helluva lot higher than I have done previously. Exemplary stuff.
63Ada Rook

Industrial metal
131 scrobbles

This is a horrible fucking album, steeped in anger and frustration that bleach everything they touch like a poisonous mist swirling out of a bottomless pit, distorted at times to the point of unintelligiblity, drawing on industrial clatter like a death march and both nu-metal and djent like a corrosive wads of spit gobbed over the crusty prospect of good taste. At points I feel entirely swept up by and deliciously uncomfortable identifying with its vicious purging of however much bile; at others, I just get giddy over the sheer number of squeaky serrated edges the digishit production goes to town on. Think this has long since transcended guilty pleasure territory for me; it sticks the landing on rage and profanity alone. Find this far easier to connect with for negative energy than the angsty cliches trotted out by whichever ragey core band Sputnik is propping up for whichever week.
62DJ Close Your Eyes to Find Me
Angel Trance Edits Volume 1

Trance / breakbeat
60 scrobbles

""Impractically"" ""euphoric"" [[trance]] #progressive# {breaks} ~ah~

61Bowery Electric

Trip-hop / shoegaze
123 scrobbles

~words are just noise~ Absolutely iconic opener aside, Bowery Electric's 50/50 fusion of trip-hop and shoegaze is perhaps the most novelty-proof realisation of an unlikely pairing on this list. The two aesthetics complement one another bafflingly well, but the real draw here is an atmosphere of liminal deadspace that comes off as deceptively soothing given how uneasily its shifting currents of haze and feedback would otherwise suggest. Surprised this isn't a little bigger on Sput - it has crossover appeal between a lot of the right crowds.

207 scrobbles

Dense saccharine nauseating overwhelming shoegaze done exactly right - this is an uncompromising and often overwhelming record and I'm rarely in the mood for the whole thing, but when it hits, it lays it on like the world's most potent electric blanket and there's nothing else in the genre that can compete for the same fix. Scott Cortez can stifle me any day.
59The Goslings
Grandeur of Hair

Shoegaze / noise
33 scrobbles

This is not a record I come back to often. It sounds like being electrocuted by a slow-motion car crash, but there is also something fundamentally therapeutic about it that gives it an edge over the violent timbre assault that - make no mistake - I would lowkey worship it as anyway. Catch a cold, convalesce to "Haruspex" and tell me you don't believe in the healing power of decibels. Beautiful violent record.
58Robbie Basho
Venus in Cancer

American Primitivism
33 scrobbles

Robbie Basho's intricate guitar folkery pokery is unbelievably sublime and I want him to arpeggiate my heart. Man's voice ain't too bad either. Come back to the first songs here at the expense of later tracks too often - this is a record that needs to be played all winter.
57The Wrens
The Meadowlands

Indie / emo
182 scrobbles

reluctant adultposting moment.

Ambient [techno]
50 scrobbles

Hell, I am not going to make you read words about Gas - no-one should this! These tracks are a gorgeous minimal drift that sometimes does the perfect amount with the perfect beats. This record sounds like being hugged by a meaningful silence: listen to it occasionally and utterly!
55Electric Wizard

Doom / stoner hell metal
1 spin was all it took honey

The mental-football-field--sized crater of an impression this scabby profane fucker left on me is vast and swampy enough that I very rarely feel the need to return to it, but that miasmic heaviness and punishingly insistent riffage is always going to have a place in my arsenal. Believe the hype!
54Springtime (AUS)
Night Raver

Noise rock / experimental rock
28 plays

ONE easylistening noise rock bloodletting
+ ONE of the most spellbinding and unsettling lyrical powerhouses laid down in recent history
++ ONE spooky spacey blues noise wind-down that does strange things to my heart and somehow ended up my favourite thing here.

Extraordinarily good EP - absolute quantum leap ahead of these guys' debut and one of the most inspired things of its kind. Wish more noise rock bands had the patience and sensitivity to explore this kind of atmosphere and storytelling
53Mondo Grosso
Big World

J-Pop / House / R&B
286 scrobbles

Probably the most comfort listens I got from any pick 'n' mix pop record last year - Mondo Grosso turns in a diverse range of house/synthpop/jazz/R&B -laced winners and backs himself up with an all-star cast of vocalists to round off an altogether killer package. This isn't an album I think too hard about - it's everything I want from a J-pop record in the current landscape, and the way it gets the best out of several vocalists whose main projects interest me little-to-not-at-all is the mark of a shrewd ear for talent. Still has bops for days.
52Joni Mitchell

73 scrobbles

No new words or insights to add to this one - almost every track is perfect ("My Old Man" catches the only stumble), the last three tracks in particular are phenomenal writing and performances top to tail, the amount of depth and character Joni Mitchell offers up across the board would shift this album closer and closer to anyone's heart given time, and I have successfully bonded with my MOTHER over this record, and now so should you. Bless!
51Faye Wong

Mandopop / art pop / downtempo
160 scrobbles

Right, easy digest: the opening suite of five tracks here (all written by Faye Wong herself) is a high watermark for art pop and one of the smoothest crossovers with all the best turn-of-the-century downtempo tropes I've heard to date, enough to sustain the kind of string arrangements that would crumble into kitsch in the wrong hands and carry Wong's voice (already a formidable asset - name another artist personally approved by the Cocteau Twins to cover their work) into a vehicle for spellbinding mystique. The fifth track in particular is one of the most stunningly understated achievements I've heard from any pop star of this success (you have to reach for Madonna or Beyoncé before you get a real sense of Faye Wong's domestic platform), and warrants Fable a place on this list on its own. The rest of the record is, uh, a passable Mandopop album that exists and is the reason this isn't in the top 10. Bjork could never.
Luv(sic) Hexalogy

62 scrobbles

Look, I've tried to see those iconic first two Nujabes records as more than masterfully produced comfort music peppered with mediocre rap features, and I got pretty closer - but this thing here shifts the level entirely. It might be that it taps into something slightly darker/more urgent than your standard Nujabes chillout package, but Shing02's sentimentally-drenched bars on this are underpinned by a grit and conviction I just ain't hearing elsewhere in this discog. The man's performance is magnetic beyond what his inflections and flow would ordinarily suggest - just so much heart in this, with utterly exquisite arrangements to see it off at every turn. Definitely a once-in-a-while old friend (in the making) for me, which is about the best situation I could imagine for it.

71 scrobbles

becuz u MOVE
Kimono My House

Glam rock / art pop
93 scrobbles

The first time I heard this record, I had an album-long headrush of hysterical proportions and was convinced I had discovered the incontestible best album of the '70s (and also that it was sung entirely by a woman). I've come *slightly* down to earth since then (though having dug more soberly into the mucho entertaining lyrics has counterbalanced this) and find myself drawn to the highlights on Propaganda just as much as these tracks, but this is still a phenomenally spirited pop smash with some of the smartest hooks in the game. Must explore this discog further.
Blue Rev

Shoegaze / jangle pop / C86 / dream pop
228 plays

I tried *so hard* to dismiss Alvvays, and this album in particular, as derivative hipster fluff that spent too much time spinning C86 records and pandering to the retro-cool crowd, but fuck me the songwriting on this album is phenomenal and deceptively subtle and just brimming with heart and emotional fractures - the way whole songs will pivot on the delivery of single lines still stuns me ("Easy On Your Own?" final chorus perhaps the best example, but many examples come to mind) and I've found a steady friend in this album that I never knew I needed. Disarmed and enchanted.
時間 (Jikan)

Alternative rock (+friends)
160 scrobbles

When I first picked up on this record in 2021, I thought it was little more or less than an inspired riff on alt rock mooch, seen off by compositional and songwriting talent considerably more refined than any act I'd put in the same room as it (oddly, it's not Japanese contemporaries that come to mind as much as the flouncey Windmill scene post-diaspora).

That's a decent accolade in and of itself, but keeping up with betcover!!'s subsequent output has given me a much keener sense for a) just how technically adroit main man Jiro Yanase's jazzy theatrics are in upscale form, but mainly b) how much more I appreciate them on these comparatively understated tracks, where subtle languor and creeping anxiety are the order of the day. I love how delicate these songs are, how the noisy punctuations in the rockier picks scan as melancholic outbursts in the face of an ongoing sense of fragility, and how the greatest foundation is often to be found in a craftily foreshadowed coda rather than a central chorus ("piano" is an absolute masterclass in subtle songwriting to this end).

This album is like watching mist settle in over a room you've spent more time than is good for you in, and I think RYM scored a rare victory in blowing it up as one of the decade's greater rock triumphs. Ain't anything quite like this. I'll admit to having spent minimal time with the lyrics on this, but it's become a significant enough record for me that something will have to be done about this!
45Skee Mask

Techno / breakbeat / IDM
207 scrobbles

Fuck I love a BIG album that feels big for all the right reasons. Pool is vast, its (hurr) pool of electronic subgenres is [almost all the good ones], its girth is crippingly, its flow is endless and I still cannot help but l o v e how good it feels to get lost in this thing. Goes back and forth between rave and ambient and in-a-chair-with-spectacles-pushed-firmly-up wavelengths with astounding fluency and packs easily enough individually memorable highlights to sustain however many minutes it is, I cannot recall. Will agree with the hype that this was one of the landmark records of recent years, between all genres
44Trophy Scars
Astral Pariah

Mongrel anime blues
200 scrobbles

There are few artists in the world I feel all of 1) slightly excessively protective of, 2) strongly attached to and 3) genuinely impressed by to the point that I feel earnest pride in them, but hearing the world's most goofball obscure pulp-kitsch-blues-novelty act tighten their shit, cut *all* the fat, double down on the most competent parts of their ridiculousness and churn out a 30-minute murder Western so ruthlessly paced that it takes a full five spins to find all the emotional beats like this makes me fuckin' grin. Fuck that was one sentence. God bless you Trophy Scars, and all your corny too weird to live too rare to die bullshit.
43Jang Pil Soon
Soony 6

Folk pop / downtempo
224 scrobbles

Gosh, I had no idea this would become such an important record to me - the fix here is similar to the folk pop / downtempo blend that I first got into on Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree, and has become a real staple in my comfort music across this record and others. Soony 6 was definitely the point where enjoying this style turned into Something Serious, so props for influence, but more than that shit *damn* Jang Pil Soon's husky voice over these lazy summer evening reveries is just divine.

This album blisses me out like nothing else and evokes associations so strong I feel like a teenager: listening to this I can practically feel the sun on my face, the rustle of grass and the stately splutter of a river, the smell of hummus and sausages slowly grilling on a single-use BBQ, the weight of my eyelids and the levity of being sufficiently on top of the world that the best thing to do is to lay back and let it slip away from me - all strongly late-undergrad memories for me, all scrambled and rearranged by these beautiful zany tracks into an idyll I never realised I needed. Sure it ebbs almost as much as it flows, but I've grown to thoroughly adore this one
Things We Lost in the Fire

165 scrobbles

I rarely jam Low albums end-to-end: almost every full-length I've heard from them evokes dark-night-of-the-soul territory I have neither the patience nor eagerness to contrive outside of its proper time, and yet I still actively love a good deal of songs by them. The compromise has been that I jam my favourites whenever I so please, inadvertently convincing myself that they're something of a highlight act in the process. I don't think I respected them any less for this - far as I'm concerned, they mastered the evocative pause in a way that few rock bands come close to (patience and suspense are both key themes of this list if you look closely) - but coming back to Things We Lost in the Fire now, I'm struck more than ever by how craftily it flits between immediacy and evasiveness.

This originally became my favourite Low album purely by virtue of having the highest total of songs I loved: "Sunflower" and "In Metal" are renowned as accessible bookends, "Laser Beam" and "Like a Forest" are both devastating shots in the arm for this most meandering of acts, and "Embrace" is the kind of central knockout that demands dead space either side. These songs are as poignant as ever, but the tracks I once considered filler - "Whitetail" and the insidious "Kind Of Girl" most of all - are so shrewdly placed in the impact they afford these 'highlights' (not to mention decent enough on their own terms) that I'm banishing a good deal of inconsistency from the patchwork image I once held of this record's fabric.

It *is* for dark nights, and it focuses pointedly on the impact of specific tracks, but its alternation between dazzlers and lurkers provides it with a much more integral shape than I think is generally acknowledge (contrast with, say, In Rainbows, where the contrast between superb odd-numbered tracks and passably decent even-numbered tracks feels simply happenstance). "Closer" is still something of a deadweight, but this deceptively consistent string of dirges has gradually turned into a record I trust to carry whatever weights I need it to bear for me - not the kind of respect I take for granted, but surely the mark of a treasured keeper.
41Tujiko Noriko
Crépuscule I & II

133 scrobbles

Coming back to this one, I have no idea how I wrote a (reasonably elaborate) review - I have so little to say right now about the many many interesting features of this 100-minute trip round art pop treasure Tujiko Noriko's ambient dreamland. It is gorgeous and long (maybe the gorgeousest and also longest 2023 album that I have enjoyed?) and I want it to hold me for a long gorgeous time. Best Grouper album, spirit me away.
94 Diskont

Ambient / glitch
35 scrobbles

Probably the ultimate weapon in the hands of anyone hellbent on making the case that random computershit > aCtUaL mUsIc. I sympathise - name an ambient composer in the world who has a piece half as magnetic as "Do While" rotating its loop through 300 sublime degrees before stut//gli/tering ahead to a full circle, and I'll be stirring my tea while you struggle. Love how easily this transcends the experimental bunk it should have been in 99% of timelines - something utterly transportive about these textures, something *sustained* and allowed to flourish in a way that even my favourite cuts from other Oval records scarcely approach (although "Dok" is a delightful end-to-end!) Towards the end, it goes a little far into the toy-with-low-batteries territory for what I'm looking for here (not to mention that Ovalcommers/Ovalprocess both fleetingly nail that fix with far more intrigue imo), but these stupid machine accident loop clutterings still come dangerously close to an end-to-end ambient masterpiece.
39Dream Dolphin
The Seventh Dream

Breakbeat / atmospheric drum and bass / new age
254 scrobbles

Otherworldly breakbeat odyssey meets bad new age trip and a butt-ton of brimstone? Uh - not what I signed up for when I sat down to burning my way through Dream Dolphin's obnoxiously prolific acid techno/trance/ambient new age miniuniverse of a discography, but this proved her finest end-to-end by a substantial margin. Atmosphere, continuity, consistency (revised version of "Dolphins Talk to You" as a bonus track -type thing makes me forgive its late game dropoff), and a disarming level of beef - this one has it all.

Dream Dolphin's vocals are usually icing on the cake, but on this one she goes on a full-diaphragm shamanistic new age rampage and, uh, her performance is the make or break factor, but jfc hearing her go off her nut in peak rave fever on the likes of "Bloody" and "Fire" gets me pumped than it should. Nasty riffs (sampled) all over this thing too - adds to the grit with an industrial metal bent (not so far removed from good ol' Music for the Jilted Gen). Never felt so ethereal and so sweaty all at once, take me back to that nightmare healing party yo
38John Coltrane
My Favorite Things

41 scrobbles

No, MY favourite things!! There are maybe two bars of solo on the title-track here that sound like absolute shit and should be erased from planet earth forever. The rest is luxuriant comfort music that demands an armchair, a tall glass of red and warm fucking feet. Fantastic record, godlike piano throughout.
37Tuluum Shimmering
These Flowers in Dawn's Twilight...

Psychedelic/drone/ambient folk
15 scrobbles

This 4-ish hour psych-/drone- folk record is, uh, a once in a while listen, but shit damn if it isn't the most soothing thing in the world for extended periods of time where I need a lot of stress soaked up repeatedly. Single-handedly revolutionises the concept of a deadline day, amazing scenes. The longer the track, the better.
36The Prodigy
Music for the Jilted Generation

103 scrobbles

Absolute rave perfection - the only reason it took me so long to get to this shit was a mistaken presumption that the (mighty fine!) Fat of the Land was as good as it would get with the Prodigy. Silly silly. This record is one breakbeat firestorm after another, and what it lacks relative to TFOTL in versatility and imagination, it easily makes up for in its brutish focus. No goofball throwaways here, just pure dance fever from start to finish. When I get wired, I want that BUZZ as hard as it comes, and the adrenaline here is second to none. +1 for No Good packing the most indecently good hook of this band's career maybe. Fuck.
35The Beatles
Magical Mystery Tour

Psychedelic pop
159 scrobbles

The Beatles The Beatles The Beatles The Beatles oh man, I kept a healthy optimism going and found it largely rewarded, even if some of their classic period flopped like a pregnant trout (Sgt Peppers and half the White Album can do one). However, for all the childhood nostlagia and songwriting chemistry in the world, I never expected them to have a record that I'd personally end up considering a firm favourite, but awwww baby, Magical Mystery Tour is just packed with specialness and has none of the dealbreaking bullshit that forfeits every other Beatles record a place on my desert island. Paul McCartney is a universal asset here for the first and only time in their career, and shit baby Lennon and Harrison both deliver their best songs ever in "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Blue Jay Way". "All You Need Is Love" is silly and naive and painful in a way that has ultimately aged all the better for having aged momentarily badly (just the thought of all the hippy dreams that have broken over this song at whichsoever point is enough to give it a tragic raise) and "Hello Goodbye" is a precious hug of a song that *you*, idiot reader, are in the wrong for having overplayed and outgrown. Embrace it! All of it!
34City of Caterpillar
Mystic Sisters

Post-skramz / post-hardcore
115 scrobbles

Skramz used to be about providing a feral petting zoo for your fugliest emotional impulses, kept woke and sharp on a diet of rocket fuel and helium. Whatever freaked up post-skramz caper this record is supposed to be is about going back to that same zoo however many years after it's been totally abandoned, and finding that the baggage you dropped there is grown into a poisonous swamp wraith with an unforeseeable knack for vindictive sass (oh fuck I just did a GeorgeCostanza intertext without consciously intending as such fuck lol based). The upshot on Mystic Sisters is not only one of the rattiest, most riveting guitar records of the decade so far, but also a surprisingly affirming experience that lays on bleach and rust like the point of no return before a paint job, only to whisk it all away in a good ol' climactic singalong for the ages.

Huge extra kudos for this band in SputRoyale prompting the most babyish salt scattering I've seen from an earnest user this year in ArsMoriendi
33The Modern Lovers
The Modern Lovers

Post kinda punk
58 scrobbles / many years of memories!

Bit of a cheat since I've been acquainted with this one since way before rating it, but this halfway house of proto-punk zingers and *almost* tongue-in-cheek goofballs had aged fantastically - while its obvious antecedent The Velvet Underground sounds more jaded and pretentious with every passing year, Jonathan Richman has something pure, personable and infinitely more endearing. For all the cynicism that the likes of "Hospital" and the resplendent masterpiece "Pablo Picasso" (WAS NEVER CALLED AN ASSHOLE!) invite, I can't think of another record that makes me feel more wholesome when I grin over it like a bona fide shiteater. Too good for this world.
Second Toughest in the Infants

Techno / breakbeat / trance
90 scrobbles

Ahem, as the official FIRST toughest in the infants, I'd like to take this moment to acknowledge the good work done by runners up in their respective fields across the world. My former favourite Underworld album Dubnobasswithmyheadman might have one of the greatest 4-track closing combos ever put to record, but phwoar baby there's just no competing with the girth and consistency of this thing (though it does droop a little at the end hmm). I feel this is a *little* less seedy and a fair bit smoother than its predecessor, which suits this sexy lizardband mighty fine on the crowning downtempo epic "Banstyle / Sappy's Curry", but when they blast off to breakbeat heaven on "Pearl's Girl", you know exactly how rough they can take it. Cool shit etc.
Hisohiso banashi (潜潜話)

J-Pop / Indie pop
231 scrobbles

Once upon a time, I checked into a cafe for 'work' purposes and spent approximately six hours straight listening to these absurdly catchy, absurdly densely arranged, absurdly energetic indie pop bangers off the back of more caffeine than my body knew what to do with. It was, uh, an experience and I was convinced that I had successfully fallen in love with and viciously burnt out on the record within the same 24 hours - but no? Somehow? The majority of these tracks have improved the more I've dug into them (and there are *so* many twists and turns to navigate despite the songwriting maintaining a razor sharp focus at all times).

So much heart in this too, unbelievably enlivening vocal performance across the board, riding off a ton of strong melodies and just the right amount of sentimental goodness. There's stuff higher for personal reasons, but this is probably the best J-pop album of the last 5 years.
30Les Rallizes Denudes
'77 Live

Psychedelic / noise rock
45 scrobbles

See everything I wrote lower down for Dopethrone (adjusting swampy/evil descriptors for scuzzy/zany ones), and throw in the addendum that this record has the greatest opener ever recorded and I cannot imagine life without having heard it. Some of the guitar here is distortedly beautiful, but the main sell is the livewire spontaneity that it brings to those waves of feedback and screeching noise - there's a real moment-to-moment volatility here that feels impossible to memorise in the same way that a returning listener usually 'learns' a song, and the steady rhythm section serves to reinforce this (that plodding bass is just *made* to be overpowered, and the disjuncture between its passive role/the star factor of the vox and guitar only adds to this thing's charm). Huge record in all senses, easily eclipses everything the Velvet Underground ever did
29The Necks

Jazz / minimalism
14 scrobbles

Aquatic is dummy cool. Two vast tracks, one languidly coasting over the *floatiest* bassline ever, one tense and turbulent (by the Necks' glacial standards, at least) - this thing bleeds effortlessly between background and foreground listening and adds a buoyant edge to any attempted chillout you throw at it. Most of what I've heard from the Necks is anything from aloof to enigmatic to deadpan, which is all well and (usually very) good, but this record has something bubbly and forthcoming to it that nets it an easy spot here.

114 scrobbles

Four tracks of unpretentious trance bliss that, contrary to the bemusing number of callow takes I've seen pulling the classic online music kneejerk against anything vaguely Easy Listening, pack a deceptive amount of depth: Doss' production and melodies might be candyfloss, but her vocal style is a masterclass in sublime androgynous magnetism, giving these tracks an allure that, honestly, very little else comes close to. Perfect EP.
27Brian Eno
Ambient 1: Music For Airports

57 scrobbles

I never imagined that I'd ever have a significant attachment to the record held up as the font of all muzak, but fuck me sideways if 1/2 isn't one of the most sublime pieces of music I've heard in my days. I feel Eno brought this school of ambient to a pretty imposing peak - today, you're far more likely to hear stuff playing with grain and density in the school of Hecker or Grouper than you are this kind of luminous music, based in space and melody, and while I get the shift in styles, I wish more contemp ambient set its sights on this thing's stop-motion of rays of light through panes of glass than its tendency to initiate and alleviate headaches in alternation. Music For Airports does an absurdly good job of beckoning profound contemplation into empty soundscapes.
26Susumu Hirasawa
Kyuusai no Gihou

Art pop / new age / synthpop
96 scrobbles

Every one of the handful of Susumu Hirasawa solo albums I've checked has at least one or two spellbinding tracks that made me feel like I'd discovered entire new possibilities for forward-thinking synth-driven pop music on first encounter, but this beautiful thing right here is comfortably his greatest end-to-end triumph from what I've heard.

It takes a certain mood to get into his brand of energised grandeur (otherwise known as 'cheese') - I've found him far less rewarding when I've gone in with a tangled, cynical or nervy headspace, but with a clear head and open mind, almost no-one can match the transportive power of this sound. Hirasawa grounds his tracks in a distinctly passionate vocal performance (over GORGEOUS melodies at that) and new-age-meets-utopian-cyberpunk production chops that, 25 years on from this record's release, I've yet to hear anyone else come close to matching. These songs don't just sound futuristic - they preserve a bygone ideal of the future as an attractive prospect.
25Solar Fields
Leaving Home

96 scrobbles

Are THESE the Carbon Based Lifeforms you've been looking for? This thing's momentous dubby grooves and exquisite weave of textures has helped me through however many library sessions by now - it's a chunky record, but all the better to soak up any time you throw at it. Space station janitor music, in the most attractive way imaginable.
Woven Hand

Gothic country / alt country
144 scrobbles

By far the best record to come out of my foray into country, and a comfortable genre peak from everything I've heard since. Far more sophisticated songwriting than 16HP - this thing is surrounded by darkness rather than steeped in it, and its gothic contours are twice as eerie for this. There are a few more David Eugene Edwards records I've been meaning to dip into, but this one is such an any-weather winner that my exploration has been a little stunted. At the time I'm blurbing, I'm unsure whether Neko Case is going to make the list with Blacklisted, so shoutout to her for making the only thing that can contend with this fix for me. For all the sappy horseshit and butt country this site bends over for, looks like the genre does get a redemption arc after all.
23Haruka Nakamura

Ambient / folk / folktronica
260 scrobbles

"""why can't ambient be bitesize and easy and not make feel like i require three pairs of spectacles and a hefty dose of valium to appreciate it""" relax Trevor, for you have been seen. Grace's lovely pastoral whimsy is like a board covered with vintage postcards, and now that I've spent enough time with it to pin individual associations onto each one of these, it's one of the most wholesomely transportive albums in my wheelhouse. Never expected it to carry this resonance (found it a little twee at first, especially the folkstyle pieces), but those do be some utterly sublime female vocals ("Luz", "Cielo"), some robust af motifs ("Arne", "Ralgo") and some godlike indietronica-adjecent production chps ("Lamp" omg). Love how much of a zany stylistic patchwork this is - vignette approach suits it down to a tee, and it is just too blissful
Lula Divinia

156 scrobbles

As one of the few surviving Sputnikers to have discovered Shiner before Mort.'s foul campaign of lies, coercion and unregulated dissemination, I've been more horrified than anyone at the present (police) state of this band's fandom. Get out while you can, it's not too late!

As someone who worships Downward Is Heavenward-era Hum and loves his post-hardcore with extra beef and a glazed-out space cadet sheen, Lula Divinia is the gnarly emulation of rubbing a rocket fuselage with sandpaper 1 hr before takeoff that I never knew I needed. Love how much *heft* this packs (y'all know the deal with tracks 2/3 already), how seamlessly - and disarmingly elegantly!! - it flows (hello "Sideways" hello "Pinned"), the tones and prod across the whole thing, but most of all how much the murky, murky tension it churns up lingers long past the moment of release ("Lula" and "Four Feet of Fence" can haunt me all day erryday). Absolutely essential '90s guitar scenes
Live I

Noise rock / psychedelic / blues
61 scrobbles

Now *this* is the real skronk. Getting into Keiji Haino is supposed to be a rough ride. Don't get me wrong, I've had some significant roadbumps on my forays so far, but starting out with Live I made me an instant believer in the man's garotting guitar heresies and structureless soul-bearings. A stark contrast from the demon-silence free improv of Haino's early solo work, this record kicks off his band Fushitsusha with a psychedelic jam-out, halfway between Les Rallizes Denudes' scuzzy guitar heroics, and halfway evil fucking blues. For the most part, it sounds like black treacle creeping down my wallpaper like a portent of gruelling levels of feedback and Haino's disarmingly angelic holler.

This is quite a generous record in how often it ties itself to comfortably 'musical' bedrock that also happens to be very bloody good - the filthy groove of the opener and the closer's amazingly beautiful climax are two obvious peaks. Guess I'd recommend this record to those curious about Haino just as much as those sceptical - it shows off the pain and excess of his skillset, but also dishes out a surprising amount of traditional catharsis. It is special! Shoutout also to Live II - that record is almost as impressive (and certainly more unhinged), but it's so impenetrably vast that I haven't managed to latch onto it in the same way.
20Material Girl

Experimental hip-hop
230 scrobbles

Leaving aside that this has maybe my favourite production on any album from the current decade, that its choice of samples is rarely less than impeccable, that the burden of grief in Material Girl's vocal performance is enough to turn a shaky rap goofball into stirring pathos trip (something I've seen fall foul of a good number of revoltingly cynical ears over at rym), this ranks alongside Glitch Princess for the most seen any album has made me feel in the past couple of years.

The atmosphere here is just gorgeous, bleeding light through so many sombre overtones that even its heaviest subject matter scans as an invigorating push in the right direction. I feel that this sets to being a cathartic record, but ends up holding up its hands in futility and drawing a different kind of solace from staring at the sunset; I connected with it strongly as I was on the way out from Japan, and still find it remarkably powerful in the way it filters despair and desperation into resilience and calm. A very important album to me personally.
19Nobue Kawana
のぶえの海 (Nobue no umi)

63 scrobbles

Probably the only record on this list that I would be content never to hear again - profoundly affecting snapshot of a prodigious young folk songwriter who lost her life to cancer before this album was compiled by here friends. The bulk of the album's tragedy is drawn from the obvious extent of talent on show - Nobue Kawana's ear for a striaghtforward refrain and a stirring harmony is extraordinarily intuitive - and the intimacy afforded by the album's largely unpolished production; this would have been a great record on its own terms, but hearing something that should have been a cause for joy, acclaim and a fruitful career packaged as a memorial breaks my heart. Don't know if "favourite" is the right word here, but this is one of the better folk records I've heard and left a deep impression on me, so it goes the distance regardless - still can't make it through this without tearing up, but gradually hearing it more and more for the music, and a little less for the context, has changed my opinion of its quality not one bit.
18Seiko Oomori

307 scrobbles

Aaaand we're back to Seiko Oomori. Strange and slightly awkward looking back at this one, given that its release window featured perhaps the most tiring culture clash I've inadvertently kicked off in my time on Sputnik: would be lying if I said that the amount of patience and energy it took to explain the courage and spirit of record's standpoint to an audience aggressively indifferent to foreign-language pop and alternative vocal standards hasn't actively put me off repping similar records in the long run (not that there's been anything nearly as strong as this since its release). Seiko Oomori might not have taught me to hatefuck Sputnik (thanx Loathe), but this record definitely shifted the goalposts and made me realise how I little I care for this site's consensus.

Still love most of y'all, but anyhow - this album? While my most recent spin has confirmed it's the closest thing her notoriously cagey manner will get to a majestic triumph, I've gone from thinking it was one of her greatest achievements on release, to watching it gradually settle into upper-middle territory within her discog and come back to it slightly less as a whole (although plenty of songs from this feature heavily in the 2-3 times a year when I come back and binge her solidly for a day or so). I think this comes down to how I find this one *slightly* harder to jam for pure entertainment than most of its predecessors.

Even compared to her other work, I'm struck by how much confidence her writing shows in flitting between weighty emotional knockouts and tempestuous absurdity (and how there's always a hint of the former in the latter - "Dakyoushi"'s goofball portrayal of a jaded high school teacher gradually climbed the ranks from wtf-is-this to an overall favourite). This thing still packs a number of incredible pop songs and a handful of her most continually engaging lyrics ("Singer Songwriter"'s take on the titular role is particularly brilliant, and I take something different away from its feisty mesh of nuances each time I hear it), and it's no great leap to call it a favourite album without calling it a favourite Seiko Oomori album - it sits comfortably alongside Tokyo Black Hole in that regard. The last couple years have packed ups and, uh, downs in following Seiko Oomori, but I've still yet to hear anyone sharper or more ballsy making pop of this calibre today.
Youth of America

88 scrobbles

Why look at the world in black and white when literally everything is grey. And fugly. And boring. This bunch of Portland doomers playing the rockiest, spookiest depression hardcore bangers never fails to hit the spot - everything about Youth of America in particular feels just right to me; it's never been a good-feels mindblower -type favourite (other than obvious standout "When It's Over"), but whenever it's on it gives me a feeling like no other record, that, huh, there really is nothing better in the world to be listening to. Music sucks, man, feels great.
He Never Spoke a Mumblin Word

Experimental black metal / industrial / lo-fi
45 scrobbles

It's not often that one record plays parasite to my residual feelings for another so successfully, but He Never Spoke a Mumblin Word takes the lo-fi gloom that I originally fell in love with on Deathconsciousness, throws on a bruising level of added heaviness, and throws out all the bloat, self-pitying faff and pretentious concept that ultimately caused that record to drift from my rotation. In just under 30 minutes, it runs a gauntlet of experimental black metal and lo-fi industrial, offering an entirely original spin on a realm of murk I once thought well-chartered. Its overtones of despair are as cloying and seductive as I've heard them on however many Flenser-affiliated records, but fuck me when this thing turns violent the payoff is something else. I've gradually turned away from music for morose, woe-is-me wallowing purposes over the last few years - I prefer artists who dissipate that energy rather than pander to it, hence the amount of ambient on this list - but the manic edge this brings to that fix has got me hanging on. Keep the misanthropy in my melancholy, yes fucking please.

Goa trance
62 scrobbles

Best fake high of my life - this is monstrous trance excess down to a tee, whacked out and ridiculous to an almost intimidating degree but so immaculately structured that riding those kaleidoscopic fuckin' highs is all pay off and minimal work. So full-on that it's a strictly once in a while jam, but the cosmic mind-bender cliches are vindicated for this one. Revolting slapper of a record.
14Charles Mingus
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Jazz (gets no subgenres from me this time around MWA)
21 scrobbles

Was worried I'd feel like a poser dropping this boi so high here, but upon reinspection nope nope nope it still blows my socks off just as hard as it did the first time. Energy and swagger are frankly off the chain here - I could chat bollocks about how well composed and distinctive these four glorious tracks are, but the bottom line is that they make me want to curl my lip and strutt like a wired bitch of no tomorrow. Mingus discog exploration is still in progress, but this is the easy peak so far (Mingus Ah Um too piecemeal, Let My Children Hear Music far too maudlin, Blues and Roots great but not as consistent) and I have no issue with things remaining that way
13Steve Reich
Music for 18 Musicians


Right, so I know I've badmouthed practically everyone and everything that's ever been platformed on this putrid website, and expressed enough hatred of music to kill multiple medium-sized doggos (including on this list), but c'mon Sputnik, you're not going to let that get in the way of the fact that *everyone* can accept this record as heaven on earth, am I right? If you can't see that, you have no business jamming anything whatsoever.
12Arab Strap
As Days Get Dark

Indietronica / post-slowcore baby
215 scrobbles

Fuck me, this was AOTY 2021 by such a wide margin that I can't even remember the runner up (ed. I guess 46 thru 44 are close enough that this is a tough call lol). I love a good yarn as much as the next boi, and will take as many helpings of smut and sordid observations of humanity as are being served - these songs are crass, wily and original in their narrations of both these things and more, and I've found real enduring value in them over the last two years.

Aidan Moffat's gruff blend of bathos and pathos packs enough nuance never to get tiring, and goodness knows there are enough earworms to see them through in style. I do think that this album has acquired a little more kitchen sink status and lost a certain portion of its gloss as it's settled into a old-friend role, hence missing the top 10, but it's still yet to disappoint me.
11Pig Destroyer

183 scrobbles

A theme I'm noticing with several records at the top end is that they're such a *lot* for whatever they go for, yet so cohesive as album experiences that I save them for occasional listens, getting absolutely satiated every time I tune in (and inevitably feel strongly drawn to return when the time's right). Terrifyer is easily the most succinct record in that camp, but the sheer intensity here tides me over just as thoroughly as bulkier Once In A Whiles like An Evil Heat and '77 Live. Wham. It's a little numbing if you throw it on too often, but the way returning to this record's thrills makes my blood sing is an easy ticket to the top. I appreciate how Prowler in the Yard tries to structure the album experience with a tad more ambition, but I know what I want from PxDx and almost all of it is a high octane slammer. Nothing rips harder than this here hunk of fuck.
10Secret Guest
Traumprinz B2B DJ Metatron Live at Planet Uterus

185 scrobbles

I fell asleep to this mix the first time I heard it; I was on a long train to Scotland and even then, dozing intermittently and taking it in through 10-15 second chunks as I drifted in and out, I had the sense it was something special. Coming back to it in full consciousness was a revelation: this is an absolute masterclass in minimal loop&beat music (primarily house, but with some delicious crossovers into trance and drum & bass). Takes a while to get going, but this evolves so seamlessly across such an expansive runtime that it's worth the wait. Just so, so cleansing and understated the whole way through, godlike vocal sampling used sparingly enough to make a huge mark wherever it lands, and I'll be damned if "runaway" isn't at once the most momentous and most delicate emotional payoff this thing could have asked for. Exemplary fucking stuff.
Listening Suicidal

Alternative rock / noise pop / noise rock / Shibuya Kei
316 scrobbles

This zany EXPLOSION of energy and larger-than-life hooks is the most inspired I've felt from any album this year; absolutely adore how this album switches up eclectic curveballs with disarming moments of catharsis, and would probably have had it in the very top spot if it weren't for a conspicuous final-quarter falloff. Crisscross those pop do-do-dos and throat-rending skramz for me, lay down those magical keyboard hooks, make rock a meaningful place again etc.. Astounding hidden gem.
True Color, True Lie

Shoegaze / noise pop / dream pop / jangle pop
288 scrobbles

Pure nostalgic heartattack produced to perfection by Scott Cortez, unafraid to turn up the gain, willing to jangle, catchy enough to cut it as a pop album, dense enough to gaze with the best of them. This album has at least three of the best shoegaze songs ever recorded, and a couple I'd take as runners up; it's not quite the most consistent tracklist on the list and definitely speaks clearest to a maudlin headspace, but the highs are so astronomically high that I habitually forget these things. This is how shoegaze is done.
An Evil Heat

Noise rock
137 scrobbles

"An over arch journey of petrol and fuckage" was my exact original take for this profane sulphurous beast of a record, and honestly there's very little I'd change there. It's overwhelming, dense, intoxicating and far too *much* too jam more than once in a while, but the way Oxbow dismantle, rewire and scum up the whole circuitry of bluesy rock grit here (not to mention that unhinged voice of pimped-out HELL) nails everything volatile and irrestible I love about noise rock. The album-long arc is the best they've ever sustained, the highlights ("Sawmill" / "Stallkicker" / "Sorry") are absurd, and the sheer level of showmanship here is just a seven cuts above the norm for a genre I often struggle to think of above the level of (admittedly enjoyable) gutter fantasy. Absolute classic.
6Saya Gray
19 Masters

Indie folk / psych folk / folk pop
447 scrobbles

It took Saya Gray treating folk songs like hyperpop to ignite my faith in indie folk's creative potential for the first time since Ben Howard's sophomore, but this record is absurdly creative and I've l o v e d getting my claws deeper and deeper into its deceptively coherent (and straightforward) emotional narrative. Devastatingly imaginative breakup record right here. I come back to most of the second half and "EMPATHY 4 BETHANY" the whole time, but this is still a hell of an end-to-end listen and holds up well outside the bizarre 2022 hype bubble that catapulted it to our attention.
Pits Are the Pits (25 Gold = Rare = Debris...

SHIBUYA KEI / noise pop / jangle pop / house / jazz pop
417 scrobbles

Apex scattergun pop zaniness right here. 25 tracks in 56 minutes: most of them are utterly brilliant, a couple are lowkey terrible in a way that makes the good tracks sound gooder, none of them overstay their welcome (apart from the one that plays twice in a row -_-) almost all of them are loud, some of the hooks are frankly ecstatic, the album is too long, otherwise it is perfect. The random C86-styled English language song about a girl playing up Morrisey-esque downer vibes for edgy(/deeply unhappy) optics is hilariously misplaced and gets me every time. The sheer heights of nostalgic euphoria reached by "Crystal Thunder in the Wonder Safari"'s uptempo house caper is one of humanity's finest accomplishments. The chorus on "Wispy, No Mercy" should be tried for crimes against the male vocal range and then awarded an Olympic medal for catchinesss. So much glorious ridiculous shit. Almost recommending me this record specifically remains Havey's greatest and sole noteworthy contribution to the website.
4The Field
From Here We Go Sublime

Minimal techno
241 scrobbles

Utterly spellbinding loop odyssey that single-handedly catalysed my immersion into electronic music and still takes me away like nothing else - "A Paw in My Face" was a one-track watershed when I first heard it, and probably the most effortless like-to-love leap I've taken with any genre. If you don't like the smell of minimal techno, this is where you get to find out how wrong you were. Rest of this album is of course masterful - so much heart to the sound palette here, so much immediacy to many of the progressions (and I've l o v e d getting further into the more static songs that initially evaded me, "Sun & Ice" in particular). The Field's discography in general is an absolute treasure - there's another three records that would have fought over a place on this list if this hasn't been here - but I love this one every bit as much as I did when it leapt up as a personal milestone last year.
3David Bowie
Station to Station

ROCK and stuff
109 scrobbles

C-c-c-c-cocaine??? Awful drug for (mostly) awful people, but - say it with me one last time - PHWOAR BABY I love the buzz on this. 6-for-6 on perfect tracks, probably my favourite Bowie vocal performance (the way he flits between rock and soul within single inflections ("Stay"!) is the perfect kind of delirious for this fuzzy fuzzy rush of a record), definitely his most consistent tracklist, huge highlights, absolutely killer guitar from Earl Slick across the board, huge amounts of heart ("Word on a Wing"!!). Just a bloody perfect record - I want to cook scrambled eggs to it while watching someone else's party gatecrash my lounge. Lfg!
Glitch Princess

Glitch pop
333 scrobbles

Must have blurbed this thing into oblivion by now, so this can be a short one - Yeule's unflinchingly bleak self-portrait across this record is one of the most inspiring things I've heard from any artist in years, and the way their production chases this off with an absolute best-of-all-worlds between old school glitch pop and contemporary no-frontiers digipop is a blessing to the form. Shoutout to Softscars for providing the perfect counterpart, even if it didn't have *quite* the same impact of me - think Yeule has overtaken Seiko Oomori has the most exciting pop artist of our time.
1Vladislav Delay

Ambient / glitch / dub techno
12 scrobbles

Uh, right - ranking this list was a bloody headache (and I write this with about half of it left to go), but there was never any cause for doubt on this placement. One perfect chord loop-splinter-thing over one perfect glitching dub aesthetic = one perfect song = one perfect album. Vladislav Delay has opened a completely new dimension in the way I think about music, space, rhythm, ""progression"" and is comfortably my favourite discovery of the past year; if Anima didn't exist, you bet your arse you'd be seeing Whistleblower somewhere high in the top 10.

Vladislav Delay's approach to ambient dub techno plays an entire different ballpark to most of ye Moderne Ambiente Canonoli insofar as he uses rhythm as a tool to pry open timbre (listen to this back to back with SOTL and Grouper, and either of the latter scans as a mop bucket trip round sentimentalist cliches), and the reason Anima gets the edge is that it's the most transportive and conveniently the longest. The way this thing picks itself and knits itself together so recurrently, so *intuitively* is like hearing an alien mind working in real time, and the levels of subtlety it taps into with its endless peaks and lulls is quite frankly too much to process across an hour. The timeline is too huge and transcends all the variations, and the piece practically sets up its own virtual reality. I want to live in it, and unlike almost every other piece of music that I have ever tried to cling to, to possess or be possessed by for whatever reason, Anima is so immersive that this often seems like a serious possibility.

Unworldly record, nothing else compares.
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