We’re almost there! To say 2020 has been a tough year would be the mother of all understatements but we’re at the finish line and Christmas (even with the limitations) was still fun. One thing that wasn’t rubbish in 2020 was the music as there were so many amazing releases and here is a selection of our favourites. We’ve even created a playlist for you too so please have a listen while you read on…

Autechre – Sign

Glitch lords assemble! Your high priests have awoken. ‘Sign’ is a surprisingly accessible work by Autechre’s standards and was followed by another release ‘Plus’ a few weeks later which may be even better, we just haven’t had time to listen to it yet.

Andrew Wasylyk РFugitive Light and Themes of Consolation

This is an absolute corker. Beautiful instrumental music evoking wintry landscapes and frosted dawns. This album is the final part of a trilogy of works examining Scottish landscapes and pastimes. For fans of David Axelrod, John Barry et al.

Anna Von Hausswolff – All Thoughts Fly

Inspired in part by the ‘Sacro Bosco’ gardens in Italy’s Northern Lazio region this is a meditative album featuring only pipe organ. Released on Southern Lord Records, it’s definitely one for the drone heads.

Ben Salisbury/The Insects/Geoff Barrow – Devs OST

The soundtrack to Alex Garland’s latest sci-fi masterpiece was created by frequent collaborators Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow (Portishead) who enlisted Bristolian production duo The Insects to assist in realising an emotive and sombre modern classical score.

Clipping – Visions of Bodies Being Burned

The second half of a horrorcore diptych, Visions… is full of contradictions. At times commercial while also avant garde; there’s often thoughtful and melodic vocals laid over noisy, chaotic beats. It’s an essential modern hip hop record.

Craven Faults – Erratics & Unconformities

Bubbling synths and swathes of drone imagining desolate moors, Craven Faults creates music that’s perfect for the ‘Magic Hour’ (that period of time just as dawn breaks or dusk falls).

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full

Baton Rouge sludgers Thou combine with LA doom-folk singer songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle to create a melodic grunge record similar to the sonic universe Thou previously explored on their Rhea Sylvia EP but with added emotional depth thanks to ERR’s vocal range.

Jonnine – Blue Hills

HTRK founder Jonnine Standish’s sophomore solo record was recorded in the Dandenong mountain range outside Melbourne and released in July via Boomkat. On it she creates a dreamy, blurred vision of supermarket zombies and the ocean flooding the living room floor.
N.B. Unfortunately ‘Blue Hills’ isn’t currently on Spotify so we included a track from her debut album instead.

Kamaal Williams – Wu Hen

Henry Wu aka Kamaal Williams’ second full length was created to explore his vision of modern jazz combined with funk, grime, house and cinematic strings known as ‘Wu Funk’. Wu Hen features a cast of US musicians including Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and it’s a varied and intriguing piece of work.

Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi

They released our album of the year back in 2016 and the Finish pysch-black metal troupe have returned with another woozy masterpiece.

Pulled By Magnets – Rose Golden Doorways
 
The Guardian described this album as ‘sludge rock disguised as ambient music’ and we can’t really put it much better than that. Except to add that in a world saturated by great music it’s rare to find something that sounds as fresh as this and it’s certainly unlike anything you will have heard before.

Richard Norris – Elements

A concept album based around the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space) this is a deep listening tour de force packed with lengthy synths and staggered arpeggios

Sault – Untitled (Black Is)

Protest music for the modern age, Sault’s first release of 2020 (they followed up with ‘Rise’ a few months later) is a thought provoking mix of soul, funk, afrobeat, modern RnB and gospel.

Shackleton – Primal forms

We’ve been huge fans of Shackleton for a long time now and 2020 has been a busy year for him with an album from his ‘Tunes of Negation’ project being released in November as well. Primal Forms is a collaboration with Waclaw Zimpel and the title is very descriptive of the music found within.

Soul Jazz Records present…Deutsche Elektronische Musik 4 (Experimental German Rock And Electronic Music 1971-83)

For some reason we’ve been listening to a lot of German music from the 1970’s in the office throughout 2020. Perhaps it was the blissful pastoral sections allowing an escape from the drudgery of the news? Or maybe the motorik beats of cluttered urban landscapes gave us a sense of direction in these muddled times. Either way it’s been ever-present and the three earlier volumes of this Soul Jazz compilation series have been a big part of that. So when the fourth edition was announced we were very excited. And obviously it’s brilliant and it comes complete with lovely pink artwork.

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