An article by The Silent Ballet Staff


70) Scuba | Triangulation
England

Hotflush

Given the evolving nature of dubstep and electronica, Scuba’s Triangulation naturally captivates the listener with its cathartic assortment of beats and sound effects amidst a modern, industrial atmosphere. With its industrial vibe and dubstep sound, Triangulation creates a musical palette that is easily accessible despite its challenging content. The music’s spacious electronics and danceable beats work to create an enjoyable, musical experience, as well as establishing Paul Rose as one of the year's most refreshing producers. Triangulation cultivates a variety of sounds that should be of interest to fans of many styles of electronica, and even those who do not normally stray into the digital world. (Tom Meagher)

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69) Francesco Tristano | Idiosynkrasia
Luxembourg

InFiné

Idiosynkrasia is just the latest release that makes InFiné a strong contender for record label of the year. A classically trained piano player and one-third of last year's critically acclaimed Aufgang, Francesco Tristano shows that he can more than hold his own on his latest solo release. Unlike his earlier collaboration with Moritz von Oswald (Basic Channel) or his more techno-centric non-classical debut, Idiosynkrasia seems to have learned a lesson from Aufgang, maintaining the emphasis on the piano and helping to pioneer a truly novel expression of classically-influenced composition and playing with electronic tones and beats. Fans of innovative musicians should snatch this up. (Joseph Sannicandro)

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68) Okamotonoriaki | Telescope
Japan

mü-nest

Okamotonoriaki is a film artist turned musician. His cinematic background can be heard in the attention to details on Telescope. The music is piano-based but far from piano music. Varied and precise instrumentation add robustness to the sound that lends an overall vibrancy to the album that is joyful and lasting. Tempos are often quite rapid and create a mood of fanciful delight. This is an album that innovates and never relies on conventions of the modern compositional genre. Telescope is full of lyrical music that effortlessly flows from idea to idea like a well composed film. Rich and complex yet never overbearing in its intentions, Telescope is an album that needs to be absorbed over multiple listens. There is a simple joy in the intricate complexities of this light and moving music, and it is the perfect multi-purpose musical companion to add to any collection. (Greg Norte)

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67) Mulatu Astatke | Mulatu Steps Ahead
Ethiopia

Strut

Coming to us forty four years after his debut, Mulatu Steps Ahead sounds more like an artist in his prime than that of a man who has been charting new territory for decades. The originator of Ethiopian jazz, or “Ethio-jazz” as it is called, combining traditional elements with American jazz and Latin music, Astatke first made a name for himself with his innovative synthesis in the ‘60s and ‘70s, touring with luminaries like Duke Ellington and even challenging the dictatorial laws of his homeland. In addition to acting as composer and arranger, Astatke astounds with his vibraphone and conga playing, resulting in these instruments being incorporation as essential components of contemporary Ethiopian music. His latest album relies mainly on slower, more contemplative compositions than his classics from the ‘70s, but they are just as rewarding of a listen. (Joseph Sannicandro)

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66) Dustin O'Halloran | Vorleben
United States

Sonic Pieces

Considering the number of people in the world who know how to play the piano, it is amazing that a solo piano work can still come across as so striking and original. This is because it is not only the notes that matter, but also the performance. O'Halloran's live set on the night in which he suffered a personal loss is amazing, not just in the very fact of its execution, but in the tenderness with which it is delivered as well. The spaces between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves. O'Halloran has a strong sense of spacing, knowing exactly when to hold back when other pianists might have plowed forward, afraid that the tones might drift too long in the empty air. As a document of place and time, Vorleben is a remarkable achievement, one that will long echo in the hearts of its listeners like the notes drenching the stained glass of the church in which it was recorded. (Nayt Keane)

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65) Teebs | Ardour
United States

Brainfeeder

Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma might be the instrumental hip-hop record that won all the accolades this year, but Teebs’ Ardour deserves some attention too. Mtendere (pronounced “ten-de-ra” ) Mandowa combines a smooth knack for grooves with perfectly punctuating pulses of bassy goodness and a pseudo-jazzy atmosphere to create this album of even-tempered delights. Above all, Ardour excels at setting just the right mood: put this baby on, kick back, relax, and let all the warmth just rush right over you. (Tom Butcher)

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64) Errors | Come Down With Me
England

Rock Action

The second album from Errors, Come Down With Me comes after a wildly successful span of touring with many top bands, including Underworld, Mogwai, and 65daysofstatic. Come Down With Me holds true to the initial electronic inklings of Errors, yet it also relies heavily on live drumming and guitar work to create a masterfully upbeat and pensive album. Guitar and electronics alternate lead and accompaniment roles, which lends to a sound that is organic and moving but extremely complex in timbre and mood. This is a post-rock/electro fusion that is full of joy and passion; Come Down With Me should not be passed up. (Greg Norte)

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63) Aidan Baker | Liminoid/Lifeforms
Canada

Alien 8

If any album can do it, this is the one to take each of us to the very edges of our psyche. It has the unique ability to suspend all sensory perception and occupy a part of our brains directly; it is hypnotic, timeless, and simultaneously primal and sophisticated. Ranging from entrancing ambience to swirling rhythms, Baker incorporates myriad guest musicians into his wild game, and he invites us to explore the ineffably pre-linguistic parts of our minds that constitute the limits of our conscious existences. Things start out gently before percussion is introduced to methodically erode the walls of mental defenses, and once we are fully exposed, an epically amniotic closing track seals our fate. The entirety is frightening and exhilarating, as it demonstrates our limits even as it expands them. (Stephan Sherman)

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62) Hans Zimmer | Inception
Germany

Watertower

It was a year for soundtracks, and arguably none loomed larger than Hans Zimmer's work on Inception. Never has a major record so completely deserved to be called a soundtrack - Zimmer's compositions for the film brings it off the screen and into the mind of anyone listening. Though that trick might not work for listeners who did not experience the film, those who did can testify to how closely the sonic and visual elements are intertwined, and how powerful Zimmer's score really is. A unique triumph in film music, Inception stands solidly as a collection of incredible music on its own while acting as an extension of the film for which it was commissioned. (Lee Stablein)

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61) Noveller | Desert Fires

United States

Self-Released

At thirty-four and a half minutes, Desert Fires certainly is not a particularly long album; it calls one back to the days when records were, you know, records. But the music contained within is relentlessly modern. Sarah Lipstate, aka Noveller, writes music of a sort of drone persuasion, but she employs a rather staggering number of different tones, timbres, and instruments. Lipstate accomplishes this through the magic of computer editing, where layer upon wonderful layer of sound can be heaped on top of each other, cutting in and out to produce soundscapes as sparse or as lush as one desires. This is the sort of music that seems like it can last forever—in a good way—as though the infinite possibilities of life are unfolding before the audience. Desert Fires is timeless.(Tom Butcher)

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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