Best of 2015: Part #1 (50-41)

December 26, 2015

End-of-year lists became something like a plague these days. Like a constant mass of unrequested baby pictures or wedding photos on social media – you know they are coming sooner or later, but you are aware of the fact that you cannot really hide from all of them. Secretly, you also admit that eventually all this is more than okay if they make someone happy. Let it flow. It’s basically the same thing with these lists – we’ve been pregnant with these albums for at least 12 months, and now that another year is coming to end, we would like to share these experiences with you. Since we don’t publish (or hardly ever read!) reviews throughout the year, this list has been composed out of honest passion and the utmost respect for all the labels and artists who worked hard to provide a special aural dessert for us. Keep up the great work, because someone is out there and listening! Be it techno, ambient, modern classical or shoegaze – we tried to collect our favourite sounds for your listening pleasure. The list could be longer but it could be shorter as well. Consider it as a guide if you like. We hope that everyone can discover at least 1 album they missed before. Then it was already all worth it.

 

50. Yen Pox – Between The Horizon and the Abyss

[Malignant Records]

 

50. Yen Pox - Between The Horizon and the Abyss

The dark force is strong with this one. Yen Pox are Michael J.V. Hensley (Blood Box) and Steven Hall (Veil of Secrecy) and they are definitely not new in the scene. ‘Between The Horizon and the Abyss’ marks their first solo release in 15 years, making dark ambient relevant again as a result. Just as the album title suggests, this immersive album invites us to a rather apocalyptic journey filled with unsettling and disturbing surprises, consciousness becomes irrelevant, time and space dissolves into dystopian shadows.

“Between the Horizon and the Abyss is remarkably polished and fluid. Within its realm, no seconds feel wasted, and every sound feels purposefully placed, even as it moves and flows in perpetual motion; strains of a distant angelic choirs fall beneath a complex array of arcing tones, liquidous, molten textures, & harrowing orchestral shimmer, with fervent masses of malevolent atmospherics billowing forth in glorious detail.” Jason Mantis (Malignant Records)

49. Bersarin Quartett – III

[Denovali]

49. Bersarin Quartett - III

Cannot really say that Bersarin Quartett’s sound has changed too much throughout the years, but at the same time it’s always such a pleasure to look forward to their new releases. Why do we even say ‘their releases’? It’s good to know that even though it’s called a ‘quartett’, only one person, Thomas Bücker is acting as four. The consistency through all his three albums makes the whole discography feel like one long anthem of melancholia. Soft ambient music combined with string elements, field recordings and even some beats and vocals make ‘III’ yet another mesmerizing album in this comforting collection. We just wish the track titles would be just as easy to remember as the album titles.

“Much like his two predecessors, III is a pure paradox. It is the creation of a perfectionist, an adamant control freak. Every element, be it a note, an ambience layer, a string arrangement, a field recording, a baseline, a vocal (Clara Hill on Track 11) or a beat, is meticulously modified and then assigned its place in Bücker’s vast but still minimalistic arrangements. Thus, superficially Bücker’s pieces seem to radiate a certain mechanical bleakness. However, there is a unique reduced warmth and liveliness emerging from these stainless compositions and transcending them.” (Denovali)

48. XOSAR – Let Go

[Opal Tapes]

48. Xosar - Let Go

Did you know that Xosar studied neuropsychology before getting into music production? Anyway, Sheela Rahman aka Xosar is definitely a refreshing sparkle in the testosterone-heavy techno scene. We don’t really care whose girlfriend she is or she is not, she has built her own reputation with outstanding releases on such well-respected labels like Rush Hour, Crème Organization, L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems). Her first full-length release found a fantastic home at Opal Tapes’s vinyl dedicated offshoot, Black Opal and it’s a quirkily playful lo-fi trip!

“It’s perhaps a little less colourful and synthesizer-heavy than previous excursions, instead focusing on dark, fuzzy, heavily percussive takes on acid house and techno. Of course, there are curious interludes –  see the wonky industrial IDM of ‘Prophylaxis’ and the beatless synth madness of ‘Gnome Circle’ – but it’s the more floor-friendly excursions (and most profoundly the bleak and intense ‘Hades Gates’) that really stand out.” (Juno Records)

47. Ash Koosha – GUUD

[Olde English Spelling Bee]

47. Ash Koosha - GUUD

The first time we pushed play and started listening to ‘GUUD’, it did not take more than a few seconds to get immersed by this mysterious fusion of Iranian folk motifs and dazzling electronica. This was way before we did some research to find out a bit more about Ashkan Kooshanejad, who turns out to be one of the most passionate musicians out there who was forced to make immense sacrifices in order to keep doing what he happens to be the best at. Even without being aware of the background story, this record is a chaotic yet precise and well-crafted love letter to music.