Ana Caravelle - Basic Climb
Beautiful, original compositions, seamlessly combining classical harp with a plethora of other instuments and elegantly delivered vocals. All the quirky drama of Kate Bush and the intricate beauty of Joanna Newsom yet somehow more alluring than either of the above.
Downliners Sekt - Hello Lonely Hold the Nation & We make hits, not the public
Unspeakably brilliant next level productions that allude to almost every facet of contemporary music yet somehow defy any attempts at categorisation. Where they get their ideas from is beyond me, the same head-scratching wonderment probably goes for the majority of the electronic music community.
Darkstar - North
Brooding, melancholy songs inseamed with a rich sense of cultural milieu. I was a bit sceptical after hearing that Darkstar had left their computer laments behind and incorporated a singer into their lineup, but the fears were unfounded and the results were spot on.
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Not much more can be said about Lotus' third album than hasn't already been repeated endlessly. Suffice to say there's a number of very good reasons why this sonic opus appears at the top of so many best of 2010 lists.
Lorn - Nothing Else
As sombre as it is exhilarating, as angst ridden as it is awe inspiring, Nothing Else was a sharply inhaled breath of fresh (if a little murky) air when it dropped. Subsequent commercial success was a remarkable achievement and a testament to the somewhat unlikely mass appeal of this album.
Four Tet - There Is Love in You
Considering his formidable reputation, Four Tet's foray into 4/4 rhythms could have been received as a terrible oversight. Fortunately we were treated to an unquantifiably beautiful album that has been on constant rotation my house since the beginning of the year, and will probably remain so for years to come.
Susumu Yokota - Kaleidoscope
Whirling, disconcerting, eclectic compositions from a bafflingly versatile, genre hopping producer. In accordance to the title, Kaleidoscope is a shimmering, multifaceted journey through sonic worlds that are alien and familiar in equal measure.
Forest Swords - Dagger Paths & Rattling Cage
Haunting and epic in every sense, Dagger Paths and the subsequent single Rattling Cage deserve to be recognised as the two of the most original and evocative releases of the year. Like embarking on a feverish oddessy across a fractured world where nothing is quite as it seems.
James Blake - CMYK & Klavierwerke EP
After an accomplished start to the year with the Bells Sketch EP on Hessle Audio, James Blake has gone on to prove that he is even more talented and inventive than any one could have foreseen. Although I'm trying not to play favourites here, I don't mind saying that these two EP's are my favourite releases of the year.
Clubroot - II/MMX
Another gem of an album from the mysterious Clubroot, who manages to somehow make forward leaning music whilst maintaining a constant focus on retrospective themes. Comparisons to Burial abound, but they do nothing to diminish the mercurial, haunting beauty of this sophmore release. It's wistful, rave imbued textures and pulsing wood block beats create a sound that is as euphoric and uplifting as it is mournful and reflective.
Special Mentions go to:
Jneiro Jarel - Fauna
Dam Mantle - Purple Arrow EP
Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner
Johann Johannson - ...and in the endless pause came the sound of bees
oOoOO - oOoOO EP
Balam Acab - See Birds EP
Flying Lotus - Pattern + Grid World
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
Asura - Asura
Brian Eno - Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Shigeto -Full Circle
Dimlite - Prismic Tops