Albums on Loop, the 2019 Edition

A bit later than normal, but I’ve finally got to my album list for 2019.  As per the last few years, the albums listed and a whole load of others that I’ve been binging on are included in playlists on Apple Music and Spotify – possibly even a surprise or 2 in there for folks… but onward to my list of what made the top 20:

  1. Dominik Eulberg – Mannigfaltig: Epic electronic bliss with beats that can somehow serve to chill or make you want to dance – this album is a work of art!  The album is 87minutes long, and every track delivers.  I’ve put 3 of the tracks from it on to my playlist, !K7 Records posted a video of another which is ideal for animal lovers, and for good measure here’s one of the best tracks of the decade from his previous.
  2. MoMo Ready – Soft Hard Body: I have no idea how I stumbled upon this album, but once I found it I couldn’t stop listening to it (and so it continues)… it belongs alongside the classic Detroit Techno albums from the 90s.  He has a few albums and EPs on bandcamp that are worth checking and he has a range of styles in there – I hope there’s more to come on this techno tip because when on it, he’s up there with the very best…
  3. Coma – Voyage Voyage: My phone has a mystery setting that decides to play tracks that I’ve not lined up, and this year the tune my phone selected was Coma’s A-Train.  I’m grateful for whatever gremlin set this up, and this became a real soundtrack for 2019 and one that never failed to capture me.  I have absolutely no idea what genre this should be classed as… but it sounds like a regular band set-up (vocals, guitar, drums, electronics) producing something that goes from chill to dance throughout.
  4. Christian Loffler – Graal (Prologue): Similar vibes to Dominik Eulberg and the likes of Kiasmos, the sound served up here by Christian Loffler is spot on from start to finish.  It is a shame it is so short (30mins) but it is very easy to listen to on loop, and also his Cercle set is great to listen to (with cool background visuals, as is Cercle’s standard).
  5. Little Simz – Grey Area: Hip hop came right back into my listening rotation this year and Little Simz was up at the top of that, and it was a bonus to see her live show in Glasgow!  Such amazing energy, combined with super smooth delivery – the beats and vocals are on point.
  6. Blue Hawaii – Open Reduction Internal Fixation: I was late to the party with Blue Hawaii but given that I saw their live show along with ~30 others, I can only assume that I’m earlier than most… the vocalist Ra (also from Braids) is super talented and she is backed up by great electronic production – the same can be said for most bands from their record label Arbutus (Grimes being the best known).  This is their 3rd album, and I’d recommend it along with the rest (the 2013 album ‘Untogether’ is one of my highlights of the decade).  As a starting point to their sound, check out this mixtape that they put together back in 2015 – as per the rest, it is superb.
  7. Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe: The combination of The Cinematic Orchestra and Roots Manuva has set a very high bar in the past, and the track on this album comes up close to that classic.  The mix of guest vocalists across this album really make it come together to a form a beautiful thing – this album delivers melancholy and euphoria at the same time.
  8. Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima: There are parts of this album that sit up alongside Air’s Moon Safari. It isn’t all at that level, but it is all excellent and I don’t think I can pay much higher praise than that!
  9. Jacques Greene – Dawn Chorus: My introduction to anything from this album was a Night Service remix from this outstanding Cercle mix.  The tune was a highlight for me, but it wasn’t until listening to this album that I discovered the producer behind it… the album that floats nicely between chilled and more upbeat electronic sounds.
  10. HVOB – Rocco: Another album to slot into the category of chilled but upbeat electronics, and also another one that was spectacularly presented by Cercle.
  11. Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA: Not too far from Paolo Nutini for me, Kiwanuka’s rasping vocals are backed up by the works here – superb guitar, choir, awesome drums.  High up on the list of acts that I’ve not seen live, but really want to see live…
  12. Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet: When I first saw this release I’d assumed it was a greatest hits, but it was quickly obvious that wasn’t the case and the sounds were new.  Unusual considering the main vocalist Guru died several years ago, but this review explains how the album was pieced together.  Outstanding work from DJ Premier and a great tribute to one of the best of all time.
  13. Maps – Colours. Reflect. Time. Lost: I’d lost track of Maps since his debut release We Can Create (Mercury nominated way back in 2007!), but thankfully his 2019 release came into view. Strings, soft vocals, horns, crescendo a-plenty…
  14. Bibio – Ribbons: I’m always really excited when I see a new release from Bibio, because I’m not sure what I’ll find. With Ribbons, it is an acoustic treat with a wide range of instruments introduced that at points make it feel like you’re listening to something ad-libbed in a celtic bar packed with talent.  The following track on the album will remind you that you’re actually listening to one of Warp Records finest talents from the last ~10 years.
  15. Thom Yorke – ANIMA: It is a sign of Thom Yorke’s genius that this album is sat back in 15th place – his ability to release albums that combine his vocals with a complex structure of electronic sounds has become par for the course.  It still blows my mind though.
  16. Leif Vollebekk – New Ways: When listening to this I had to check that this wasn’t one of The Barr Brothers releasing under an alias, but not this is just another really talented Canadian that happens to be on the same label, Secret City Records (Patrick Watson also had another excellent 2019 album too). Fitting that I was able to put a track called ‘Transatlantic Flight’ on my playlist this year – that flight has become all too familiar…
  17. Agoria – Drift: When I first listened to this album from Agoria I wasn’t sure about it, but when I found myself listening to it for the 20th time I realised that I actually loved it!
  18. Aleksi Perala – Resonance: Picking Aleksi Perala’s album of the year is a mission in its own right – he somehow managed to release 8 albums during 2019, all of them superb techno sounds.  Some very chilled, some more upbeat and the one I’ve picked is one of the more upbeat variety.
  19. French 79 – Joshua: YouTube introduced me to French 79‘s Hometown and I was quickly hooked – if you like JUSTICE then you should find that you’re onto a winner here… classic French electronic vibes.  His own story behind each song from the album here.
  20. Beck – Hyperspace: I made reference to albums of the decade earlier (Blue Hawaii) and Beck’s Morning Phase probably tops it all for me… this Hyperspace album feels like a sequel to Morning Phase that doesn’t quite hit the same mark, but the variation is a great listen too.
  21. Top 3 Mix Releases: I wasn’t sure how to place Kolsch’s Fabric mix, which is all entirely produced by him but here you go it can start my top 3 mix releases of 2019.  2nd spot goes to DJ Hell for his second mix for the Faze series – Faze #86 is superb! And the best mix release of 2019 for me is Bonobo’s Fabric.  So good we even managed to have it entertain the large family gathering for Christmas dinner at the end of the year…



About stuartmdarling

I live in Motherwell & work in role that takes me around the world. My passion for politics and music go with me every step of the journey...
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