For me, this year was pretty much all about the piano.
|Poppy Ackroyd – Escapement
This is the album of the year, as far as I’m concerned. Poppy Ackroyd won me over with her intimate miniature creations, built entirely from her own piano and violin performances.
Listen to Mechanism
Also, here’s a cool video that uses one of Ackroyd’s compositions as its soundtrack.
The best albums are listed below in order order of pianoness, followed by the best individual tracks. The tracks have a link to an mp3 file that will be available for a while.
The Other 9 Albums
|Loscil – Intervalo
Definitely quiet music for late night listening (or in my case, very early morning GO train rides). Scott Morgan (aka Loscil) teams up with Kelly Wyse, on piano, to reinterpret some of Morgan’s electronic compositions.
The results are at least equal to the originals, and definitely bring a more human dimension to Morgan’s fairly intellectual tunes.
Listen to Endless Falls
|Agnes Obel – Aventine
More piano. This time, paired with Obel’s crystalline vocals. Nice, sharp, memorable.
Listen to Fuel to Fire
|Lubomyr Melnyk – Corollaries
6 dreamy examples of Melnyk’s “continuous piano” style of music. In the play “Amadeus”, Salieri complains that Mozart’s music has “too many notes”. Melnyk takes the number of notes to “11”, and I liked the result.
Pretty much all piano, all the time.
Listen to Le Miroir D’Amour
|Ólafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter
Last year, Arnalds’ collaboration with Nils Frahm (Stare) made by “best of” list. This year he’s back with “For Now I Am Winter”. Bleak, forlorn, desolate….and lovely.
Listen to For Now I Am Winter
|Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
New Zealand based Fat Freddy’s Drop know their groove. This one doesn’t go anywhere new, but its super comfortable.
Piano here and there.
Listen to Bohannon
|Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
Heavily layered and reverbed vocal stylings. Very nice, but quite similar to Barwick previous release. She needs to take her music somewhere different.
No piano to speak of.
Listen to Crystal Lake
|Deepchord – Tonality Of Night
Just 2 tracks on this EP, but it has a very nice feel.
Piano? You must be kidding!
Listen to Spiral 1
|Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit – Secret Rhythms 5
Pure percussion. Pure awesome. Explorations in all sorts of rythmns, so long as it isn’t 4:4.
Not a trace of piano, I’m afraid.
Listen to 124-09
These are tracks that don’t come from the best albums; they stand on their own. Some are pure pop (Lissie and Tristen), some are kind of funky (Mapei and Claptone), one is pretty deep house (Jonsson/Alter), and one is a beautiful sprawling ode (Phosphorescent).
I really liked them all this year, and listened to them a lot.
Click on the name of the track to listen.
- Anthony Valadez – Before Sandy
- Archie Pelago – Avocado Roller
- Claptone – No Eyes
- Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal
- Jonsson/Alter – Brevet Hem (Vocal)
- Lissie – I Don’t Wanna Go to Work
- Mapei – Don’t Wait
- Moby – The Perfect Life
- Phosphorescent – Song for Zula
- Tristen – Goldstar
Very interested in what discoveries others made this year. Feel free to agree/disagree/go on a tangent by adding a comment below.
Here’s my list from 2012