|Jac's Top 20 of 2015|
Took me a little longer than usual to whittle this down to a nice round number but here we are, enjoy.
Ten Impressions For Piano And Strings
Ambient/Modern Classical - I wouldn't scoff at anyone who called this thing "melodramatic" because it is absolutely unflinching in how it tugs the heartstrings, but for those who don't mind that kind of thing, this is a must have.
Techno/Dark Ambient - In a year in which I became a little disillusioned with dark ambient throughout, ENA's Divided remained the only album of said persuasion with an atmosphere that I found convincingly macabre by years' end.
Plunderphonics - This album is highly conflicting for me in that I find it rather aloof - like all plunderphonics - but I caught myself coming back for more with increasing regularity. I'd be lying if I said I could point out what makes it so attractive but some things man is just not meant to know, you know?
|17||Axis of Light|
L'appel du vide
Black Metal - An absolute assault on the ears; this album isn't for the faint of heart, or anyone conditioned for modern, clean production. Those who wade through the mountain of sibilance will find a plethora of top-notch riffs with an atmosphere to match.
Sun Coming Down
Art-punk/Post-punk - While most contemporary post-punk I hear tends to be saturated in contrived grimness, Ought's sophomore album's selling point is its sincerity.
Death Metal - No one can accuse this of being original music in any way, shape or form, but of all the bands who sought to recreate that primal 1991 DM sound in 2015, Cruciamentum did it better than anyone.
|14||Lil Ugly Mane|
Experimental Hip Hop - Call me a slacker but this was actually my introduction to Lil Ugly Mane, which considering this dude flaunts an Incantation shirt is more surprising to me than anyone else.
Air - Works for Flutes and Organ
Lowercase/modern classical - Album won't be for everyone, it relies a hell of a lot on fragmentary, two-to-three-note, achingly slow motifs and some weird textures but if you can manage to lose yourself in whatever mental picture you manage to construct in its likeness then you'll probably have a chilled time, excellent stuff.
To Pimp a Butterfly
Hip Hop - There is nothing to be said about this that hasn't already been said so I won't waste the anaerobic energy in my fingers.
Söngvar elds og óreiðu
Black Metal - The opening track to this remains one of the most intense things I've heard this year, and while I can appreciate the dark ambient elements, I kind of wish this was a full-on frosty assault from start to finish. If that were the case, this could've been metal AOTY.
Choose Your Weapon
Neo-soul - The frequency with which I listened to this trailed off as the year ended but I think that's got more to do with me overplaying it than anything else. I'm not well-versed enough in neo-soul to try and dispel some of the criticisms I've seen of this being derivative, but seeing as these comments tend to be laced with phrases like "lacking cohesion" I'm going to assume they're bullshit. This album is sweet.
Death Metal - In combining the veiled technicality and progressivism of Death with the melodic rock-sensibilities of Carcass, Horrendous have paid homage to their influences without sounding derivative, breathing new life into a movement that appears to thrive off stagnation. [copypaste description, yay]
Ambient - This is the sort of album that requires a very specific setting, in my case - as cheesy as it sounds - I found this album to be most effective when it rains. Listening to it on open-backs, I was perfectly content to let the background noise bleed into the experience, as if the album was devised from the ground up to be listened to in tandem with real-world sounds.
|7||Carly Rae Jepsen|
E MO TION
Pop - Without question the biggest surprise of the year, but not necessarily due to an apparent lack of ability on Carly's part, but simply due to fact that I'd never really considered giving her material the time of day before. Trying to pin-point the album's biggest strength is nearly impossible, but I think it all boils down to its honesty as a concept in the end, notwithstanding it being filled to the brim with bangers #boyproblems
Ambient - Zuyderveldt's 30 minute, single-track album certainly wasn't the most immediate thing I've heard this year, and its purpose remains a complete mystery to me. Is it supposed to be cathartic or haunting? It can't be both, but those are the most apt descriptors I can think of. Whatever, it rules.
Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est
Technical Death Metal - With every band and their grandmother now taking the blueprints laid by Gorguts and sometimes butchering them in the process, Ad Nauseam's debut come as something of a revelation in how it tastefully paid tribute to the Canadians while putting their own spin on this now thriving trend.
EAI/field recordings - This album served as a meditative escape for me this year, even if some of the glints of feedback are less than kind on the ears. My journey throughout EAI has been up and down to say the least, but this album is an absolute, unequivocal highlight from my point of view.
|3||Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot|
The Musical Offering
Baroque/Chamber Music - I'd been looking for this for months until an angel who goes by the name of Maximus dropped a link bestowed upon us by dearest Puntacunt. Until now, my only exposure to this piece was Jordi Savall's interpretation from 2000, which I found a challenge to appreciate, but this one hit instantly, probably due to the more brisk pacing. Yet another brilliant exhibition of the genius that is Johann Sebastian Bach.
|2||Howls of Ebb|
The Marrow Veil
Blackened Death Metal - Of course, I expected HoB's mini-LP to be sublime, but I never expected anything this good. The Marrow Veil doesn't really continue the legacy set by the equally demented Vigils of The 3rd Eye, but it still retains that unmistakable, extra-dimensional aesthetic that made the former so enthralling. I'm not entirely sure where they're going to go after this, but I have the utmost faith that whatever they decide upon, it will rule.
Chamber folk - I know I'm in the minority when I say that Divers is Joanna Newsom's best album but oh well. Too many people have dismissed it as, ahem... not Ys, and while Ys is an amazing album, Divers has an emotional repertoire that the former can't even hold a candle to. Joanna's penchant for extravagant metaphors and scholarly references remains as solid as ever, but it's the sheer weight of her words, in conjunction with the blissful instrumentation and arrangements that separates this from her previous work. Divers is one those albums that only comes by once in a blue moon, joining ranks with Tim Hecker's Ravedeath as one of my favourite albums of the decade so far.