In the end, I’m not sure that this list reveals anything more than the ossification of my musical tastes.
I only started these year-end reckonings in 2012, but there’s a good chance that Aphex Twin would have topped a list or two of mine in the 1990s, well in advance of his triumphant return here with Syro. Both VHS Head and Wild Beasts released LPs in the past five or six years even better than the ones I rank so highly here. Flying Lotus, fourth in 2014, topped my 2012 list. And, there are a whole bunch of other returnees back in the frame under different names: JJ DOOM is replaced by NehruvianDOOM, Neneh Cherry returns without the Thing, Daphni reverts to Caribou, and Motor City Drum Ensemble is annexed within Vermont.
So, yes, there are a lot of revisitations and repetitions here, but a few new, or at least new-ish, things pop up too. There’s Kiasmos, the electronic project of the ever great Ólafur Arnalds, as well as LPs by Jane Weaver (who, admittedly, fills a void left open by the loss of Broadcast and the silence of Pram), The Soundcarriers, and Trwbador. It’s all enough to give one hope!
1. Aphex Twin Syro (Warp)
2. VHS Head Persistence of Vision (Skam)
3. Wild Beasts Present Tense (Domino)
4. Flying Lotus You’re Dead (Warp)
5. Neneh Cherry Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound)
6. Caribou Our Love (City Slang)
7. Kiasmos Kiasmos (Erased Tapes)
8. Mogwai Rave Tapes (Rock Action)
9. NehruvianDOOM NehruvianDOOM (Lex)
10. patten Estoile Naiant (Warp)
…and a bonus ten more:
11. Gruff Rhys American Interior (Turnstile)
12. Lone Reality Testing (R&S)
13. Jane Weaver The Silver Globe (Finders Keepers)
14. Vermont Vermont (Kompakt)
15. Todd Terje It’s Album Time (Olsen)
16. King Creosote From Scotland With Love (Domino)
17. The Soundcarriers Entropicalia (Ghost Box)
18. Trwbador Several Wolves (Turnstile)
19. Advisory Circle From Out There (Ghost Box)
20. Remember Remember Forgetting the Present (Rock Action)
And if you want to watch just one promo video from 2014, watch this one for patten’s “Winter Strobing.” Directed by Jane Eastlight, it is a walk through Canary Wharf, London. Nothing much happens and that is what makes it so very, very perfect.