An article by The Silent Ballet staff


50) Pg.Lost | In Never Out
Sweden

Black Star Foundation

Pg.Lost initially caused a ripple in the instrumental world in 2005 when a collection of demos and live tracks surfaced on the internet. Since then, the youngsters have gone from strength to strength, reinforcing the notion that Sweden is the epicenter of all things post-rock in the process. With liberal smatterings of guitar-focused quiet-loud dynamics, tremolos, and delay, Pg.Lost seldom strays from the generic. However, with In Never Out, the band has succeeded in distancing itself from the majority of MONO or Mogwai wannabes with a mature, highly-polished sound. A certain darkness has crept into its music – a far cry from the upbeat tones evident in their debut Yes I Am – but its sound is all the better for it. It’s been said many times before, but Pg.lost truly is one to watch in the future. (Richard White)

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49) Mouse on the Keys | An Anxious Object
Japan

Machupicchu

Mouse on the Keys is a Japanese post-millennial jazz act with rock tendencies. How it has managed to make such a full-sounding record with nothing but a wealth of pianos and a drummer is the true mystery of An Anxious Object. Is it the band's limber drummer, whose hands and feet sound like they're doing the work of two, maybe even three people? Is it the bed of intertwining piano and keyboard licks that provide the brunt of Mouse on the Keys' sound, chasing each other's leads around in a frantic game of cat and mouse? When the music is this good, it doesn't matter. The fact is that Mouse on the Keys makes the most out of a limited set of resources. It helps that each member is a preternaturally skilled player, and the resulting interplay between them is a glorious noise. (Craig Jenkins)

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48) Paniyolo | I'm Home
Japan

Schole

Acoustic instrumentation is at the heart of Paniyolo, but electronics are added with great subtlety to create music that is folksy, yet complex. Guitar is the predominant lead instrument, however it is by no means solo. Rich accompaniments of strings, electronics, percussion, and countless other instruments create a robust sound that swells and fills the air. Experimental glitch sounds accompany the slow rambling melodies of the guitar, adding an experimental air that promotes constant re-evaluation of the music. Paniyolo is continually experimenting on I’m Home and always looking for new ways to express the pleasures of simple, sweet music. This is a complex but sweet and joyful album that explores happiness through music. (Greg Norte)

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47) Danny Norbury | Light in August
England

Lacies

Ever since I first set ears upon this masterful album of cello, piano, and found sounds, I felt that I simultaneously had endless things to say about Light In August or nothing at all, as I strained to get my breath back. There’s a sense that Norbury has purposefully penned a soundtrack that captures the feelings of a funeral, a break-up, falling in love, and the attainment of Nirvana. Lifetimes worth of emotions are packed into Norbury’s full-bodied, yet intuitively restrained cello to the point of nearly overwhelming the listener, who will receive no breaks until the album is over. Make no mistake that, while Light In August is an album of uplifting beauty, its dark side is a test of constitution that will purify the listener and weigh him down into the murky depths all at once. Be prepared to shed a tear while smiling! (Gabriel Bogart)

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46) Aufgang | Aufgang
France

Infiné

Every once in a while a band comes along and does something we’ve never heard before. For anyone who has ever wondered what two pianos, a drum kit, and plenty of electronics would sound like together, the answer lies in Aufgang’s first full-length album. From the outset, the French trio inundates the listener with this festive pairing and the results are immensely satisfying. “Channel 7” opens the album with an energetic exploration of the band’s sound. By following this track with the seemingly chaotic and avant-garde feel of “Channel 8” and the sophisticated groove of “Barock,” the band makes it a point to not only display its talent and imagination, but also its dynamic range. For those who believed that Aufgang’s debut EP, Sonar, showed enormous potential, this album serves as the fulfillment of those aspirations. (David Boss)

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45) Rameses III | I Could Not Love You More
England

Type

If the sepia stained bucolic cover art isn’t evocative enough, then song titles like “Across the Lake is Where My Heart Shines” and “Cloud Kings” should be emblematic of the mood and direction of this tightly composed, yet beautifully untethered ambient release from Rameses III. Gently strummed front porch guitar subtly oozes into rolling passages of lap-steel drone that could equally spend their day snoozing on the beach or pressing their forehead against a cold and raindrop speckled window. Each track swells with nostalgia, tickling one’s earlobes like blades of grass or the whispers from a summer love, and while it is arguable the album subdues expression for this pleasantness, one can’t help but have his thirst for ambient sentimentality quenched by this sincere and serenely haunting album. (Jonathan Brooks)

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44) Shogun Kunitoki | Vinonaamakasio
Finland

Fonal

Vinonaamakasio sounds like the anthem of a group of Alternate Earth musical Luddites, who have dedicated themselves to the elimination of digital instrumentation. With music this exciting, I certainly couldn't blame them. The album feels simultaneously familiar and astonishingly new; with its warm, dueling organs and aggressive, dense atmosphere, Vinonaamakasio feels like an album from the late 60s dredged through the decades until it was coated with fresh perspectives on old technology. If Alternate Earth had more bands like Shogun Kunitoki, I'm sure even the most devoted fans of the digital medium could survive as Luddites. (Zach Mills)

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43) Ultre | The Nest and the Skull
England

Audiobulb

Finn McNicholas, the mind behind Ultre, manages to make his second effort rather special. There are violins, electronics, guitars, and pianos recreating a bedroom project sound with a twist, for the album's production is something of a dazzle, and electro-acoustic enthusiasts will surely find this provides a good ride. Despite its melancholy and temporal bleakness, there is a peculiar freshness and energy floating among the visceral melodies and textures, turning the somewhat repetitive overall mood into an attention-holding mechanism. Anyone who is yet to hear this one, delay no further and warm up the repeat button. (Diana Sitaru)

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42) Loren Dent | Anthropology Vol. 1
United States

Infraction

Dent’s signature style is the digital deconstruction and reconstruction of pre-existing works, augmented by string and saxophone samples. This lends his productions a smeared quality not unlike that of frosted glass. Passages that might once have seemed serene now border on the majestic. Time-stretched tones become the foundation for additional layers. Wisps of melody detach themselves from the main body like cotton candy. A regal tone permeates these proceedings; one can imagine a young king, scepter in hand, surveying his kingdom from a balcony. And yet, the most remarkable thing about Anthropology Volume 1 may not be the music, but the generosity of the composer. For an additional pittance, fans may purchase Anthropology Extras, a USB drive containing three dozen additional songs. From these, they may choose to create their own rival albums, or simply marvel at the wealth of the material before them. Should more artists follow this path, we may one day discover that the best albums of the year are not those offered by artists, but those compiled by fans. (Richard Allen)

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41) Altar of Plagues | White Tomb
Ireland

Profound Lore

Black metal has always dealt in the big themes: the intersections of religions and cultures, Nietzschean critiques of received morality, the power of elemental nature, and so forth. So it’s fitting that many of its most ambitious bands have welded huge sounds to their ambitious ideas, but none have summoned a sound more enormous than White Tomb. Over the course of two songs in fifty minutes, Altar of Plagues uses the dense, rhythmic metal of Weakling and the jagged, tectonic heft of Neurosis as jumping-off points to weave a bleak canvas of ecological degradation and collapse, the corresponding purgation of society, and the cleansing flames of pestilence and extinction, shifting effortlessly as it journeys into misanthropic crust punk, menacing sludge-doom, and dead-eyed dark ambient. There are notes of hope in this nihilistic maelstrom, if we look for them – hope for the future of the planet, not for homo sapiens. (Lucas Kane)

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