Best Albums of 2017

In the 70s music critics had an edge on the fans – if Richard Meltzer is to be believed, they got free records, invites to parties studded with stars, drugs and other party favours. In 2017 it is becoming increasingly common to not get sent the biggest new releases at all, never mind before they come out. (I note the dry irony in Taylor Swift’s album cover art appropriating newspaper logo fonts – several critics I know still haven’t received the promo.) In the mid 2000s I used to keep stacks of CDs in my desk, ordered by release date. When you opened the drawer, they stared back at you – imploringly, for less known artists, and reproachfully for the big names. Now digital promos from the majorspo arrive in dribs and drabs, sometimes expiring before you have a chance to hit ‘Play’ on track one. You can hear practically everything on demand via streaming, which is not new, but for me the landscape has finally flattened into a featureless horizon – your access is limited only by your time management. Everything is available, and everything is passing you by.

The effect on my listening is two-fold: I focus on genres I know I like, because there’s no force pushing me to engage with pop – it isn’t playing in the bars I go to, it doesn’t cross my twitter feed, I never hear commercial radio. (Pour one out for the major label marketers.) But I also feel perpetually behind, listening to records only once or twice because there’s an endless supply of new records being pushed by my genre outlets of choice (media content farms and ever-scrolling social feeds) and the FOMO is real, y’all.

So aside from the emergence of two new sounds, ‘weightless’ beat-deprived grime and dusty electro-ish drum machine industrial funk I’m dubbing CabVoltCore – neither of which I’ve seen trend pieces about so I’ve just guessed they exist – my listening this year roamed in a vast but fenced-in auditory landscape. And really, aside from the FOMO, it’s all good. I don’t miss what I don’t know exists (or don’t put at the top of a playlist). For what I didn’t miss, read on.

1. Jlin - Black Origami (Planet Mu)

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I really liked Jlin's debut, but I was a little suspicious of it being named The Wire's disc of the year - arriving amid the explosion of footwork at the time it seemed more like they wanted to celebrate the idea of experimenting with its rhythms than the actual result. Now I think they were just more perceptive than me - Black Origami is not conceptually that different from 2015's Dark Energy but it hit me like a bolt of lightning, maybe not coincidentally because the micro-bubble in radically strange footwork albums seems to have burst. With the field now largely to herself, Jlin's vision comes across as truly her own - a haunted landscape of reptilian hihats and shakers snapping menacingly over sand-blasted vocal snippets. If David Lynch remade Dune this would be the perfect soundtrack, all alien tones and martial snares conjuring a frightening yet fascinatingly unique planet ruled by huge worms. I don't know what worms sound like but they're in here somewhere, I'm sure of it.


The List

*** Not on Spotify

1. Jlin – Black Origami (Planet Mu)
2. Kendrick Lamar – Damn. (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
3. *Sinjin Hawke – First Opus (Fractal Fantasy)
4. Floating Points – Reflections – Mojave Desert (Luaka Bop)
5. Richard H Kirk – Dasein (Intone)
6. Eric Copeland – Goofballs (DFA)
7. Peverelist – Tessellations (Livity Sound)
8. Gnod – Just Say No To The Psycho Right Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine (Rocket)
9. Fjaak – Fjaak (Monkeytown)
10. Errorsmith – Superlative Fatigue (Pan)

11. Pissed Jeans – Why Love Now (Sub Pop)
12. Ekoplekz – Bioprodukt (Planet Mu)
13. Blondes – Warmth (R&S)
14. Wolf Eyes – Strange Days II (Lower Floor)
15. Kingdom – Tears In The Club (Fade To Mind)
16. Claude Speeed – Infinity Ultra (Planet Mu)
17. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory (Artium/Blacksmith/Def Jam)
18. Sampha – Process (Young Turks/XL)
19. Delia Gonzalez – Horse Follows Darkness (DFA)
20. Bjorn Torske and Prins Thomas – Square One (Smalltown Supersound)

21. Yo Gotti and Mike Will Made It – Gotti Made-It (Gotti Made-It/EMPIRE)
22. Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains (Matador)
23. Mura Masa – Mura Masa (Polydor/Interscope/Downtown/Anchor Point)
24. *Drake – More Life (OVO Sound/Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money/Republic)
25. The Mole – De La Planet (Maybe Tomorrow)
26. Future – HNDRXX (Epic/A1 Recordings/Freebandz Entertainment)
27. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (DFA/Columbia)
28. ***Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Kulthan (Latency)
29. Farbror Resande Mac – Farbror Resande Mac (Horisontal Mambo)
30. Kelela – Take Me Apart (Warp)

31. Sherwood and Pinch – Man Vs. Sofa (On-U Sound)
32. Dizzee Rascal – Raskit (Dirtee Stank/Island)
33. Joakim – Samurai (Tigersushi/Because)
34. Gas – Narkopop (Kompakt)
35. Clap! Clap! – A Thousand Skies (Black Acre)
36. *Egyptrixx – Pure, Beyond Reproach (Halocine Trance)
37. *Daphni – FabricLive 93 (Fabric)
38. Sote – Sacred Horror In Design (Opal Tapes)
39. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy (Columbia)
40. *Jacques Greene – Feel Infinite (Arts & Crafts)

41. Special Request – FabricLive 91 (Fabric)
42. *Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers (Constellation)
43. ***Craig Taborn and Ikue Mori – Highsmith (Tzadik)
44. Circle – Terminal (Southern Lord)
45. Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time sndtrk (Warp)
46. Ikonika – Distractions (Hyperdub)
47. ***Weightless Vol 1 (Different Circles)
48. ***Weightless Vol 2 (Different Circles)
49. The Horrors – V (Wolf Tone)
50. ***Jay-Z – 4:44 (Roc Nation)

The 50 Best Albums of 2016

In this post: an introduction, reviews of the top 10 albums of the year, a complete top 50 list, and a streaming playlist with a track from every top 50 album save for those not on Spotify. See you in 2017!

There were no seismic shifts in the pop landscape in 2016, nor in 2015, nor in 2014, nor in recent memory. The last time I remember feeling a legit sense of the earth moving under my feet (um, ears?) was when in 2006-2007 the Neptunes and Timbaland ceded ground to Kanye West’s now-dated chipmunked vocal samples, The White Stripes (and before them, The Strokes) firmly rewrote the pop-rock template and the Dixie Chicks told the world they weren’t ready to make nice. All the change since then has felt incremental, which may be a function of my age, but aside from maybe Drake and 40, who has rewritten the playbook — anyone’s playbook? Maybe it doesn’t work like that anymore. Technological change can generally be seen only in the rear-view mirror, but I can’t help thinking it’s changing the way the music evolves. Weep for the future historians who have to find a through-line in the evolution of music in the teens.

If that’s the way things are, or will be, then 2016 was the year I stopped worrying and learned to love the absence of a bomb. None of the albums on my top 10 list feel like any kind of quantum leap forward, but they are all masterful and constantly stimulating, even surprising, on the tenth or even fiftieth listen. It’s pretty shocking to me that a straight-up gangsta rap record like Still Brazy or an instrumental-rock spazzout like Return To Sky would end up atop my list, to the point that I often wonder whether I’ve started privileging the familiar over the unexpected as a kind of defensive mechanism, against the shell-shock of the new. But the flipside of that is my disdain for the records proclaimed as epochal (Arcade Fire *durrr*, Taylor Swift *yawn*) has made me more enthusiastic about records that feature maturing talents, like Blonde, and that showcase mature artists operating at their peak, like Anguis Oleum and A Moon Shaped Pool. It’s exciting to be around when the music world is being turned upside down, but it’s no consolation prize to bear witness to a crop of artists who be doin it and doin it and doin it well.

1. Frank Ocean - Blonde (Boys Don't Cry)

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Team Frank Ocean was already a heaving bandwagon when Blonde dropped, though to these ears the hype was premature when Channel Orange was the only evidence on offer. Whatever, I probably wouldn't have thought Prince was a genius on the basis of his first album, and yet, and yet. Blonde is plenty full of genius-signaling greatness, in flashes of wry lyrical humor ("did you call me from a seance? You from my past life") and epic ballads like "White Ferrari" that just scream This Is Everything You Never Dared Hope He Could Become. There's something in Ocean's ability to leave a line hanging in the synth-soaked, sometimes guitar-wrist-flick-punctuated air. He owns the space between words, shapes it invisibly with the last line and the next one. Even the funkier moments like "Pink + White" are expertly paced hops from one melodic cloud to the next, with his signature move of brightening the harmony in mid-lyric. More than any other impulse he seems to have, Frank Ocean just loves to yank the listener from nostalgic, sometimes idyllic images drenched in romance to mundane, pungent detail about drugs or, often, driving. "We're alone, making sweet love, taking time / but god strikes us!" To me, the centerpiece of the album is "Solo" for the simple reason that it works on a granular detail level -- capturing a moment of pure bliss from an acid trip on a dance floor -- but it also works its way gradually through a heartbreak that left him alone, exposed without a lover and without the rhythm section whose absence leaves a joy-shaped hole in the track. Absence and space are the most expressive parts of the album, and knowing how to play them is irrefutable proof that Frank Ocean has ascended to a higher plane. Though if he really were some kind of god, he'd be the kind that likes to day-trip back to earth, maybe as a swan, just to mess with some poor human for a few hours before returning skyward.

 Selections from a-void’s Best Albums of 2016

 The List: 1-10

1. Frank Ocean – Blonde (Boys Don’t Cry)
2. YG – Still Brazy (400/CTE/Def Jam)
3. Lorenzo Senni – Persona (Warp)
*4. Tim Berne’s Snakeoil – Anguis Oleum (Screwgun)
5. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani – FRKWAYS Vol 13: Sunergy (RVNG Intl)
6. Causa Sui – Return To Sky (El Paraiso)
7. Pangaea – In Drum Play (Hessle Audio)
8. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
9. DVA [HI:EMOTIONS] – Notu_Ironlu (Hyperdub)
10. Kaytranada – 99.9 (XL)


11. Pet Shop Boys – Super (X2)
12. Vince Staples – Prima Donna EP (Def Jam)
13. Weaves – Weaves (Buzz)
14. Parquet Courts – Human Performance (Matador)
15. Dinosaur Jr – Give A Glimpse Of What Yr Not (Jagjaguwar)
16. Matmos – Ultimate Care II (Thrill Jockey)
17. Gucci Mane – Everybody Looking (Atlantic)
18. *Purling Hiss – High Bias (Drag City)
19. A Tribe Called Red – We Are The Halluci Nation (Pirates Blend)
20. *Useless Eaters – Relaxing Death (Castle Face)
21. The Gaslamp Killer – Instrumentalepathy (Gaslamp Killer Music)
22. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (Dirty Hit/Interscope/Polydor/Vagrant)
23. Skepta – Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know)
24. Bardo Pond feat Guru Guru and Acid Mothers Temple – Acid Guru Pond (Fire)
25. Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial (Matador)
26. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You For Your Service (Epic/Sony)
27. Kenny Barron – Book Of Intuition (Impulse/Universal)
28. Poirier – Migration (Nice Up!)
29. Hieroglyphic Being And The Configurative Or Modular Me Trio – Cosmic Bebop (Mathematics)
30. Camera – Phantom of Liberty (Bureau B)
31. Rihanna – Anti (Def Jam)
32. The Field – The Follower (Kompakt)
33. Trevino – Front (C Birdie)
34. Marquis Hawkes – Social Housing (Houndstooth)
35. Warpaint – Heads Up (XL)
36. *Fp-oner – 6 (Mule Musiq)
37. Lone – Levitate (R&S)
38. *Lawrence – Yoyogi Park (Mule Musiq)
39. Black Milk and Nat Turner – The Rebellion Sessions (Computer Ugly)
40. Pye Corner Audio – Stasis (Ghost Box)
41. Africaine 808 – Basar (Golf Channel)
42. *Andrew Cyrille – The Declaration of Musical Independence (ECM)
43. Dr. Lonnie Smith – Evolution (Blue Note)
44. Jakob Skott – All The Colours of the Dust (El Paraiso)
45. Dynamis – Distance (Tectonic)
46. Gerry Read – Chubby Cheeks (Timetable)
47. Solange – A Seat At The Table (Columbia/Sony)
48. Steve Haushcildt – Strands (Kranky)
49. Future – EVOL (Epic/Sony)
50. Prins Thomas – Principe Del Norte (Smalltown Supersound)

* = not on Spotify

New mix: Who needs a drink?


The house-y, four-on-the-floor tracks for my November mix were chosen a while before I actually mixed and posted it, and, uh, things are a bit darker now. The title says it all, really. Show up and pour up.

Download from Mediafire

1. Wareika Hill Sounds – Mass Migration (Dub) – Mass Migration (Honest Jon’s)
2. Four Tet + Designer – Mothers – Mothers / Dark (Text)
3. Keita Sano – Unknown Forest – High EP (Unfulfillment)
4. Will Lister – After The Light – Phantom EP (Phonica)
5. Nautiluss – Odyssey – Reflections EP (Spectral Sound)
6. Prins Thomas – C (Ricardo Villalobos King Crab Remix) – Principe Del Norte Remixed (Smalltown Supersound)
7. The Orb – Alpine (Prins Thomas Diskomiks) – Alpine Diskomiks – Sin In Space, Pt. 2 (Kompakt)
8. Marquis Hawkes – Discopuss – Doornroosje (Aus Music)
9. Privileged Pup – Houze – white label
10. DJ Slym Fas – Luv Music – Selectors 001 (Dekmantel)
11. Mickey Pearce – Old Habits – Michael (Swamp 81)
12. Herbert – Deeper – Deeper (Petite)
13. The Field – The Follower – The Follower (Kompakt)
14. Trevino – Elements – Front (Birdie)
15. Joakim – Daemon – Daemon (Life and Death)
16. Answer Code Request – Neume – Neume (Ostgut Ton)
17. Pangaea – More Is More to Burn – In Drum Play (Hessle Audio)

Mixed Nov 12/2016 by Deemo for

New mix: Autopilot


This one goes out to all the self-driving cars, vacuum-cleaning robots and anything else doing stuff we humans would rather ignore so we can play Pokemon Go. PS: That Marquis Hawkes album is killing it.

Download from Mediafire

01. Margaret Dygas – Wishing Well – Even 11 (Perlon)
02. Stimming – Pressing Plant – Alpe Lusia (Diynamic Music)
03. Mr. Fingers – Nodyahed – Outer Acid (Alleviated Records)
04. Blond:ish – Nada Brahma (The Persuader Mix) – Welcome To The Present – The Remixes (Kompakt)
05. Horsepower Productions – Kuriosity – Crooks, Crime and Corruption (Tempa)
06. Todd Terje & The Olsens – La fête sauvage (Prins Thomas Remix) – The Big Cover Up (Olsen Records)
07. Simian Mobile Disco – Staring At All This Handle – Staring At All This Handle EP (Delicacies)
08. Lawrence – Clouds And Arrows – Yoyogi Park (Mule Musiq)
09. Shadow Child – Work – Waves & Shapes Vol. 1 EP (Food Music)
10. Maymind – Prophet – Prophet EP (New Kanada)
11. Audion – Sucker – Alpha (!K7)
12. Tangents – Jindabyne (Four Tet Remix) – (bandcamp)
13. Patrice Bäumel – Dum Dum – Speicher 89 (Kompakt)
14. Marquis Hawkes – Fantasy – Social Housing (Houndstooth)
15. Donato Dozzy – A.Ritmica – That Fab (Spazio Disponible)
16. Junior Boys – And It’s Forever – Big Black Coat (City Slang)

Mixed June 23, 2016 by Dave Morris a.k.a. deemo for

New mixes: Subscript/Superscript

If January is for resolutions, what does it mean that most of them never see out the month? I’d argue that January is just where the regrets of the past year go to die. With that in mind, I’ll be getting two regrets out of the way right now – I regret that I didn’t upload either of these four on the floor mixes when I made them, because they both rule. Enjoy. One more post coming, then see you (with renewed vigour) in February…


Click here to download Subscript from Mediafire

Deemo – Subscript by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Freeform Five feat. Róisín Murphy     – Leviathan (Tom Trago Dub Mix) – Leviathan (Eskimo Recordings)
2, Martyn – Two Leads and a Computer – The Air Between Words (Ninja Tune)
3, Lord Of The Isles – Horizon Effect – 301C Symphony EP (Permanent Vacation)
4. Danny Benedettini     – Blown Away – Correspondant, Compilation 02 (Correspondant)
5. Ciara – Body Party (Kaytranada’s never going to release this shieeet) – web
6. Gui Boratto – Take Control (Come And Hell Mix) – Take Control (Kompakt)
7. KZA – Taking It – Dig & Edit 2 (Endless Flight)
8. Hayfever – Ground Collapse (Maddslinky ‘Nj Shuffle’ Mix) – Ground Collapse (Formula Records)
9. Moon man – The Great Speech – Lucky Star Ship (Daisy)
10. Röyksopp & Robyn – Say It – Do It Again (Dog Triumph)
11. Paul Kalkbrenner     – Böxig Leise (Pig&dan Remix)     – X (Paul Kalkbrenner Recordings)
12. GoldFFinch – Stronghold – Stronghold (Turbo)
13. Ill Blu – Clapper – Hyperdub 10.1 (Hyperdub)
14. Cardini&Shaw – Pepper Labejia – In The Ballroom (Correspondant)
15. Youandewan – FM Jam – Youandewan EP (Aus Music)
16. Avatism – Adamant (Lake People Remix) – Adamant Remixes #2 (Houndstooth)

Recorded June 29 2014


Click here to download Superscript from Mediafire

Deemo – Superscript by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Vermont – Dynamik (Prins Thomas Version 1) – The Prins Thomas Versions (Kompakt)
2. Dauwd – Moiety – Saleh EP (Kompakt)
3. Romare – Roots – Roots (Ninja Tune)
4. Huxley – Give 2 U (Will Saul & Komon remix) – Give 2 U (Aus Music)
5. Bonobo – Pelican – Flashlight EP (Ninja Tune)
6. XDB – Afrikk (Philogresz Remix) – Afrikk (Echocord)
7. Massimiliano Pagliara – Native Tribes Of Jaguar (With Credit 00) – With One Another (Robert Johnson)
8. Sascha Funke – Zug Um Zug (Original Mix) – Zug Um Zug (Kompakt)
9. Marc Antona – The Fifth Season – Rattle Snaps EP (Dissonant)
10. Graze    – Banding – Soft Gamma Repeater (New Kanada)
11. Jimmy Edgar – Burn – Saline (Ultramajic)
12. Bruce – My Legs Wouldn’t Go Quick Enough – Not Stochastic (Hessle Audio)
13. Tarjei Nygård – Suratkorps (Tarjei’s Handarbeidsversjon) – Suratkorps (Full Pupp)
14. Kim Ann Foxman     – Be Mine     – Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams with Kim Ann Foxman, Soul Clap (Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams)
15. Max D – High Life – High Life (Hot Haus)
16. Redshape – Leaves (Stripped 2 Clip & 303) – Leaves (Running Back)
17. Audion, Troels Abrahamsen – Dem Howl Feat. Troels Abrahamsen (Michael Mayer Instrumental Mix) – Dem Howl feat. Troels Abrahamsen (Kompakt)
18. Hieroglyphic Being and The Configurative or Modular Me Trio – The Human Experience – The Seer Of Cosmic Visions (Planet Mu)
19. The Black Dog – Fraction Slide – Sound Of Sheffield Vol. 03 (Dust Science)

Recorded Nov. 29, 2014

What I listened to on my summer vacation


The Air Between Words
Ninja Tune

A quick scan over my mixes will confirm what you already suspected, that if I thought I could get away with it I would only ever mix Martyn tunes always. (Ok, maybe with a bit of Night Slugs and R&S’ roster in there as well.) He’s one of maybe three left-field/bass music producers whose embrace of four-four kick drums didnt feel like a concession, and The Air Between Words just cements his mastery. There’s a dusty, from-the-catacombs air to choons like “Like That,” whose erotic moans and swishy house piano mixed with a gloomy baseline sounds like Lil Louis’ “French Kiss” remade for a rainy day in Wales. And the languid Fender Rhodes-isms of “Drones” are perfectly offset by the insistent groove, which never lets the track sink into melancholia or pander to baser instincts. That’s really the genius of Martyn in a nutshell: capturing a feeling of unease or tension while keeping the music itself animated and alive.  Or maybe its just my overpowering urge to drop something dark and stormy like “Forgiveness Step 2” at peak time, turn the lights down – except for maybe a strobe – and see what happens.


Prins Thomas
Full Pupp

Apparently Prins Thomas loathes the phrase “cosmic disco,” which makes me think it means something different from what he thinks it means. I read it as Kosmiche disco, a descendant of Can and other outfits bent on bringing experimental sensibilities to whatever cool shit was happening, including but not only dance music. If the definition of the subgenre doesn’t include a cut like the echo-laden, circular synth riff-driven, rolling drum hypnosis that is “Trans,” I don’t know what the hell you’d call it. In some ways this is the most stripped down of the three solo discs; it’s the most cerebral, but “cerebral” in the sense that, while the language it speaks isn’t really of the dance floor, it is viscerally intense. Not to mention sexy – I was struggling for a metaphor for bass lines that didn’t involve asses in skin-tight leather, and then I gave up, and here we are. Still. People forget that the brain is biggest erogenous zone, you know.


Maria Minerva
Not Not Fun

Dubby bass, hazy layers of sample smog, a singer who sounds like  she’s talking in her sleep, how can you go wrong? Even now I’m not sure. Maria Minerva seized my attention with the DIY tape underground diva vibe of Cabaret Cixous – Toronto, there are three vinyl copies in Rotate This’ deep discount bin, which tells you how many people shared my affection – and a little more polish shouldn’t have gone astray. But Histrionic always seems to be beguilingly on the verge of getting good, and after a few listens, the fact that it never does gets damnably annoying. Not even a cheeky flip of a Pet Shop Boys lyric could dispel the air half-assed art schoolism. Go away and take your sub-Lana Del Rey schtick with you.

Mix: Night Vision


There are some chuuuuunes in this one. The TARAVAL cut, for starters; Hercules and Love Affair obviously; Tiga & Audion sounding deliciously creepy; and that Vitalic remix is enough to make me completely forget about his not-all-that-great last album. Check the cool wax, as the Beasties would say.

Click here to download from Mediafire

1. Automat – TXF – Automat (Bureau B)
2. Tiga & Audion – Fever (Original mix) – Fever (Remixes) (Turbo)
3. Juju & Jordash – Waldorf Salad – Waldorf Salad/Third Planet from Altair (Dekmantel)
4. Prins Thomas – Labyrint – Prins Thomas III (Full Pupp)
5. Kaytranada – ATM Jam (No label)
6. Gerry Read – Charcoal – Socialize / Charcoal (Fourth Wave)
7. Percussions – KHLHI – KHLHI / Sext (Text)
8. Miajica – Impressions – Space Future Communication EP (New Kanada)
9. Daphni & Owen Pallett – Julia – Julia / Tiberius (Jiaolong)
10. TARAVAL – Gonna Rain – Streetways EP (Text)
11. The WacH feat. IBOWON – It’s Time [Chant] – If 2.0 (Ninja Tune)
12. Hercules and Love Affair – Do You Feel The Same? (Feat. Gustaph) – The Feast Of The Broken Heart (Moshi Moshi)
13. Paul Kalkbrenner – Altes Kamuffel (Vitalic Remix) – Altes Kamuffel (Vitalic Remix) (Paul Kalkbrenner Music)
14. Boddika & Joy Orbison – Tricky’s Team – Tricky’s Team (No label)


Night Vision by Deemo on Mixcloud