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2018 Highlights

December 30, 2018

Hi there, blogosphere. Even though this past year has seen me work harder, raise more kids and post even less, some habits are hard to break… like my traditional end-of-year favourites. So, for the 12th year running, here they are.

rodrigo tavares – congo (hive mind)
An instrumental album that sounds simple, but gets deep. Every time I hit play I end up listening to the whole album. Melodies and textures popping up in my head for days afterwards. Sounds like: nineties Tortoise, mellow library music. Feels like sharing a meal after a long hike.

ben lamar gay – downtown castles can never block the sun (international anthem)
This kaleidoscopic album often sounds like the human condition – fragile, outspoken, searching, joyous. It’s fuelled by jazz, a healthy imagination and living in (or surviving) an urban environment. I was hooked from the first listen. Reading the press blurb, I didn’t take the fact that the album is made up from the highlights of seven unreleased albums too seriously.  This was back in May. Since then, I have seen Ben Lamar Gay perform my favourite live show of 2018 (soulful, fearless and intense). And three of those seven albums have been released… with another four in the pipeline.

lightman – roots (helmi levyt)
My favourite Jamaican release of the year is new. And from Finland. ‘Roots’ channels its JA heritage while sounding fresh and uplifting. I did not see this one coming at. all. Thanks to HJ for the heads up.

va – patina echoes (timedance)
Dreamy synths, deep subs and wisps of melodies snaking around occasional drums and other pieces of rhythm? Count me in. This weightless collection of tracks is the first album release on Batu’s Timedance label. Each track is by a different artist, but the result sounds like they were in touch… musically at least. ‘Patina Echoes’ has been in heavy rotation since its release in May 2018.

warren sampson – traveller (love all day)
This album snuck into my musical landscape. “Never mind me, I’m just an overlooked 1987 hybrid of loner guitar, ambient synths and deep melancholy”. I took notice, and ‘Traveller’ has been my go-to soundtrack through ups and downs all year. Thank you, Love All Day, for this reissue.

va – gatto fritto – the sound of love international (love international)
A compilation that sounds like that weird party you end up at… where you feel free, alive and in sync with the universe. A wormhole of elastic basslines and dubby outlooks. Lovely stuff.

fatima – and yet it’s all love (eglo)
Four years after her debut album Fatima sounds like she has nothing to prove – at least not to outsiders. This is a musical diary, and the songs are sung for you. Unique and daring.

jay daniel – tala (watusi high)
On his second album, Jay Daniel goes AWOL – no rules, no conventions, just the sounds he feels are relevant. The result is a forward-thinking album that sounds familiar from the first spin.

mary jane leach – (f)lute songs (modern love)
Four slow-moving drones that hit the sweet spot between building tension and deep release.

Bonus basement

State of the art of the uk hardcore continuum
laksa – it feels like i’ve been here before (whities blue 04)
pangaea – bone sucka (hessle audio)
overmono – daisy chain (poly kicks)

Best music related documentary
Being Blacker (Molly Dineen, BBC)

Best soundtrack to a book
VA – Lament from Epirus (Tompkins Square)

Deadly content combo
Erykah Badu’s Tiny Desk-performance and the interview she gave on “What’s good’ with Stretch & Bobbito” made for an honest, hilarious and spiritual look into the life of an artist. Give it a spin!

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