An article by The Silent Ballet Staff


40) The Moving Dawn Orchestra | Dials
England

Fluid Audio

Seldom does a four-track EP carry the capacity to both escalate biorhythms and stylishly distinguish itself from the similar works of other artists. Guy Andrews of The Moving Dawn Orchestra produced the charming tracks found on Dials to reflect the cyclical impermanence of the four seasons. These powerful compositions establish a stimulating and tranquil quality that is immediately evident from the record’s commencement. Each track matches the tone of the respective season and maps its progress with a refined arrangement of piano keys, strings, stifled vocals, and analogue synthesis. Dials is a stunning fragment from Andrews’ inventive and polished vision. (Brent Dare)

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39) The Glitch Mob | Drink the Sea
United States

Self-Released

With a presence like the Mob, the electronica world does not have a chance to grow complacent. This album is a gauntlet, thrown to challenge its brethren to keep up; with its gritty tones, solid grooves, catchy melodies, and memorable hooks, Drink the Sea might just be more than the rest of ‘em can handle. This beast is equal parts dance album and compositional wet dream, overflowing with energetic danceability. It is unfair to other debuts to call this impressive accomplishment a debut when one considers that the group has been together for years and the members all had their own gig prior to the Mob’s formation. Either way, the album is a testament to music that pop sensibilities can, with the right packaging, be as explosive as ever. (Stephan Sherman)

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38) Burning Star Core | Papercuts Theater
United States

Arts & Crafts

The normally prolific C Spencer Yeh has been a bit quiet this year, but that is probably no surprise given the number of hours he had to put in on assembling Papercuts Theater. It is less of a live album, more of an opus built from sixty six Burning Stare Core performances across a number of years and a multitude of venues – like Neil Young’s Arc, but more ambitious. Some of the transitions are obvious, highlighting a contrast in mood, but most of the album is edited together with a Teo Macero eye for seamless splicing. The first two parts are propelled by the outstanding kit work of Trevor Tremaine, who beats out insistent rhythms as if his very life depended on it. There are hints here and there of the live atmosphere, but mostly this is a work built on the fearsome swells and drones of Yeh and his fellow travelers. Possibly rivaling Greg Gillis when it comes to cutting and pasting sound, Burning Star Core has made Metal Machine Music as produced by Girl Talk. (Jeremy Bye)

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37) Hidden Orchestra | Night Walks
Scotland

Tru Thoughts

Though we were not able to give Hidden Orchestra its due earlier in the year, The Silent Ballet would be remiss to avoid recommending such a unique release in our year-end list. Hidden Orchestra's debut album is dripping with cool – the listener cannot help but be taken in by the slick, jazzy bass and precise drumming that dominate the release. While the band's influences are eclectic, ranging from instrumental hip-hop to classical, the jazzy atmosphere that pervades Night Walks is what gives it so much seductive charm. Those who would appreciate Bohren & der Club of Gore even more if the band just picked up the pace a bit, or can't help but give The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble spin after spin would do well to check out this release. (Zach Mills)

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36) Adebisi Shank | This is the Second Album of a Band called Adebisi Shank
Ireland

Sargent House

Don't let the incredibly accurate title of Adebisi Shank's second full-length release fool you; the album is bursting at the seams with creativity. From bursts of technical guitar showmanship to the mellow, bass-centric interlude that is “(-_-)” to the rigorous drumming that keeps the rest of the band from driving right off the rails, there is something new to enjoy on every track. More importantly, the band manages to harness its frenetic energy, allowing the disparate ideas that fill the album to cohere into a unified work. Somewhat like a consistent, full-length You.May.Die.in.the.Desert. release, This is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank should not be missed. (Zach Mills)

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35) Yasushi Yoshida | Grateful Goodbye
Japan

Noble

Appearing in our 2006 and 2008 lists, Yasushi Yoshida is not new to making a splash. The often overlooked Japanese artist sneaks in again with a late calendar release, but Grateful Goodbye certainly does not skimp on the details. The album witnesses Yoshida moving away from the post-rock and electronica influences that motivated his first two albums, and he currently appears to be infatuated with soundtracking. The title track sounds like something that could be featured on the latest RPG epic, but later tracks are laced with a sincerity meant to be experienced on the big screen. What is in Yoshida's future is anyone's guess, but all signs indicate that this multi-talented musician can do it all. (Jordan Volz)

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34) Zoë Keating | Into the Trees
United States

Self-Released

With a title like Into the Trees, Zoë Keating’s latest album conjures music with a bold, adventurous atmosphere. Energized by a blend of cello and electronics, the music engenders exploratory themes by offering an array of catchy yet introspective songs that work to strengthen and preserve the album’s pristine sound. Keating draws upon her deep experience in creating a sophisticated album that is much more than a sum of its individual parts. Countless hours can be spent in a hypnotized stupor greedily consuming Keating's wondrous notes. Whether one takes a liking to classical or electronic music, one should find the music on this album a pleasure to experience. (Tom Meagher)

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33) Haruka Nakamura | Twilight
Japan

Kitchen

Too often the word “inoffensive” is marred as a pejorative descriptor. For Haruka Nakamura, one of Tokyo’s most promising composers, the term is not only accurate but also incredibly affirmative. As his latest longplayer demonstrates, Nakamura does not feel the need to offend in order to be noticed. His compositions are not out to challenge the notion of music. His execution does not need to assault the senses in order to draw attention. To put it simply, Nakamura embraces the beauty of music’s natural aesthetics, maneuvering his instruments through the oft-missed subtleties of harmonies and melodies. On Twilight, Nakamura lays out a minimal foundation of timbres on each of the thirteen tracks and allows their organic resonance to govern the emotive dimension. Nakamura balances his servings of piano, sax, and vocals beautifully, flavored with the occasional field recordings of sonic life after nightfall, all in a tender, poignant, and melancholic dance that delicately soothes the aural senses. (Mac Nguyen)

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32) Gold Panda | Lucky Shiner
England

Ghostly International

As 2010 dawned, the music world declared “let trip-hop be cool again.” Thus came the success of Mercury Prize winners The XX and, to a lesser extent, Gold Panda. Having begun as a prominent remix artist, Golden Panda has also released three EPs on the way to this debut full-length, and the experience shows. Lucky Shiner showcases an intimate understanding for the uses and application of electronics as well, as a neat balance between calm ambience and dance beats. Ranging from chill-out guitar music to borderline-aggressive techno, all the styles and influences blend into one another, making for a dynamic and unique sound. It may not be particularly ground-breaking, but Lucky Shiner is fantastically engaging nevertheless. (Matt Gilley)

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31) Clouwbeck | From Which the River Rises

England

Sustain-Release

When an artist is shaped by mourning, one expects every release to plumb its depths. Yet Richard Skelton's Landings project, which wedded philosophic musings to nature, memory, and sound, may well have been the culmination of his "early period." He seems now to have passed into a middle period, with striking shifts in dynamic contrast and mood. Opening track and album highlight "Come the Aegir" boasts a pulse, a clear shape, and a new, unforeseen confidence, as if the artist's sorrow is no longer an open wound, but a scar of pride. As Skelton's career continues to develop, we cheer for him and wish him well. (Richard Allen)

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Top Albums: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Top Tracks: 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-01