These are my favourites. Not the ones that sold the best, or had the biggest impact, just the ones I liked the most. I urge you to check them all out.
Despite being a light 4-track EP, this has their most vital work to-date. Folding post-punk, apocalyptic sci-fi, acid folk and trip hop into their Can-heavy catalogue is a master-stroke, and done with ease and confidence. Cannot wait for LP three.
Free-jazz philosophy and aesthetic over a Chicago-house foundation. I'm a laymen, but definitely a fan.
Simply the most interesting and engaging piece of Post-Rock or Neo-classical music this year. Excellent stuff rolling in from Nils Frahm, Godspeed etc, but this LP is just a cut above in it's delivery and mood throughout. at points, truly haunting, and others, saturated in beauty.
Modern pop music as imagined by an academic sonic arts composer. Herndon manages to interpret Grimes, Beyonce, and Dance Music using futurism, minimalism, avant garde techniques and some weird, non-musical influences. Brilliant.
As dense as any work as he's produced before, A Year with 13 Moons pulls the 4AD 80's catalogue, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and even Merzbow into a hazy, nostalgic wall of noise. At its most monolithic, this is the euphoric, sunset-on-the-beach alter-ego of SunnO))), and rumbles and shakes huge warm waves of tone through the speakers.
I've been an on/off fan of Hey Colossus since their first LP (and my first record-store job). This LP will be regarded as their seminal work, I have no doubt. They have pushed the boundaries of doom/noise/rock/metal or whatever, to new levels of creativity. Opening with an almost Eno-like ambient synth track, they then launch into what becomes equal parts Beefheart, Can and Jesus Lizard. Whats so impressive about this, is with how large the group is, and how potentially dense and un-dynamic this could be, they have mastered texture and dynamics like a group playing together for over ten years should be able to. They can assault with a three-guitar riff, and change to a whisper in a master-stroke. The tracks are psychedelic, modal, and colourful in tone, if you buy one rock LP this year, make it this one.
There's been such interesting and challenging pop music these last five years it feels like the underground is taking the genre back, and the word is once again, clean and a badge of honour. No more evident is this in Sacred Bones' release of Jenny Hval's latest LP. Sonically and compositionally there are touches of Bjork, Lennon and Ono, Serge Gainsbourg, and hip-hop. Anchored by members of Jaga Jazzist and Swans, Hval has produced a piece of work so powerful, feminine, confrontational and down-right catchy, I've found myself coming back to it again and again.
There's been a slew of excellent punk and post punk this year, Sauna Youth, DIAT, Negative Scanner, Institute, Safewords, Flesh World, Dawn Of Humans, Violent Reaction etc; the genre is in rude health for sure. These three lads from Lincolnshire via Sheffield have recorded an LP so vital and energetic, it just, for me, wiped the floor with the rest. The rhythm section is so rooted in the members hardcore past; I can hear The Wipers or Rites Of Spring, Dag Nasty and that classic Revolution Summer in the fast, thrashy beats throughout the record. It's the songs though, Davey Walker's compositions play out like Killing Joke covering Wedding Present songs. His voice hollering with that deep, long reverb, weaving in and out of his razor-sharp, slap-back delay guitar lines. His vocals and guitars roll and wave over the rest of the band's freight train punk-rock, and although only just scrapping a 2015 release, has shot to the near-top of my list. Well in lads.
After an almost chance-meeting, Asa Osborne and Hanna Olivegren have made some of the most beautiful and hypnotic music this last decade. Osborne's signature modal/drone style, used so powerfully in Lungfish shines through with his organ and synth work. Dense yet singular, sharp yet comforting, he is flanked by Olivegrens incredible Swedish folk tales, that rise and fall as the record progresses. The production is sparse, intimate yet warm with the fuzz of an overdriven drum machine and the vocal hooks are playful yet abstract. This new LP is the one I have come back to more than any other in 2015, I urge you to play the whole thing as soon as you can.
As with most of these reissues, the music itself is new to me, and therefore, I've been able to treat them as new music as much as anything else on the list. Superior Viaduct, Finders Keepers Records, Futurismo and Soul Jazz have dominated my year, blowing my mind with some of the most incredible music I've heard, and without the need for tired new-release campaign methods, these records are simply being archived for the works of genius they are, and I've been able to experience them in a cold isolation. This has not been exemplified more than with the Savant anthology released by RVNG Intl. Kerry Leimer is something of an enigmatic composer, and this set comprises work released between 1983 and 2014, including his Neo-Realist LP and the simply jaw-dropping Stationary Dance 12", as well as some newer material.
What is on show here is Leimer's work away from the heady-scenes of New York or London at the time, yet still managing to act in parallel with acts such as 23 Skidoo, David Byrne, John Cage, Bryan Eno, Fripp and latter-day Can. An incredible journey through loop and sample based performance, proto-hip-hop, polyrhythmic tribal world music and hallucinatory sound-scapes.
This is probably my favourite LP of the year overall, you need to hear this, immediately.