Albums Of The Year 2015
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from putting together this year’s lists, it’s that your feelings towards a record can change dramatically once you’ve allowed it time to settle.
In 2015 there were unescapable albums with big budget PR campaigns that have failed to leave a lasting impact, and there were overlooked releases which have slowly revealed themselves to be low-key classics. We’ve compiled 100 full length releases. Some of them achieved great commercial success, some of them remained defiantly underground – but those factors have been mostly irrelevant in our decision-making. Instead, the criteria here is that these are records our staff, contributors and readers are passionate about.
Marching ChurchThis World Is Not Enough Sacred Bones
This year Iceage’s genial frontman Elias Rønnenfelt recruited some trusted Copenhagen scene regulars including Lower’s drummer and bass player to contribute to the latest instalment of his solo project, Marching Church. This World is Not Enough was a Nick Cave-worshipping, emotionally troubled collection of the kind of ballads hinted at in Iceage tracks like Morals and Against The Moon. It spoke volumes on his talents not just as a great leader but also as a truly unique songwriter.
Denzel Curry32 Zel / Planet Mushrooms Cinematic / Dream Entertainment
An impressive 14 track release split into two sides, 32 Zel / Planet Mushrooms saw Florida’s Denzel Curry ferociously rap in double time over high-octane, trap-orientated beats before throwing himself into the aural LSD trip of the album’s psychedelic latter half. Curry is a sharp-minded MC whose lyrics are delivered with agility, and the successful experiment of 32 Zel / Planet Mushrooms has solidified his status as an underground hip-hop artist you’d be foolish to ignore.
NozinjaNozinja Lodge Warp
Nozinja Lodge was a 10-track invitation into the astonishing and hyperactive realm of Shangaan Electro from its proud founder. With the irresistible palpitations of Tsekeleke at its centre, the LP proudly flaunted its kinetic, almost bass-free sound. While it might have been more of an induction than a fully formed long-player, Nozinja Lodge triumphed by amplifying all the most human traditions that the genre is built from; movement, togetherness and untamed positivity.
EVENIFYOUDONTBELIEVE might be the perfect title for Glaswegian producer Rustie’s third full-length offering; even his detractors are forced to stand back and marvel at the sheer, glistening spectacle and of the music he makes. Reflecting on his less successful second release Green Language, Rustie admitted that he felt the album was “too A&Red” and had been diluted by external influences. EVENIFYOUDONTBELIEVE returned to form and attacked the platitude that less is more, obliterating it with white hot lazers and monolithic crystals of sound, demonstrating the dazzling power of an artist surrendering himself fully to an unapologetically bizarre personal vision.
After hearing Miss Red’s fiery tones over The Bug’s heavy, hypnotic Mi Lost last year, we were eager to hear more from the enigmatic Israeli MC. With Kevin Martin on the controls, her debut solo mixtape saw Red flex her signature sonorous force around instrumentals from leftfield bass producers. The result was a formidable entrance to the cannon of dub exploration.
OctoberBlack Body Radiation Skudge
Julian Smith’s debut LP under his October moniker delivered dense slabs of brutal, EBM-informed techno. The combo of stripped-back, bone-crushing rhythms, white noise workouts and crap cop show synths made for a tense, confrontational listen. Tracks like Slow Release are enough to prompt a serious fight-or-flight response – tunes that make a run for your panic room.
M.E.S.H.Piteous Gate PAN
Whether it’s disorientating push-pull rhythms, trancey synths or faux-medieval lutes, M.E.S.H. has an incredible knack for blending the artificial and the natural. Taking the sounds at face value, the Janus associate’s album was sonically brilliant and, while dark, also playful. The blending of cheesy dance elements with ‘serious’ music came off as both subversive and fun, and drew us further down the rabbit hole of his sound.
DeerhunterFading Frontier 4AD
Back in August, Deerhunter announced their new album Fading Frontier with a video for lead track Snakeskin, which cited everything from macabre skulls to Faustian montages. The record’s drifts swept through Deerhunter’s halcyon dress-wearing days, but in the lightness of the album’s ambient twirls and dream-pop accessibility lay darkness reminiscent of Deerhunter’s previous works, with Cox’s lyrics adding to the altogether sinister tone. Cox may have lost his marbles on this one, but that only fuelled the album’s allure.
King Midas Sound & FenneszEdition 1 Ninja Tune
Edition 1 was the first of four collaborative albums between Kevin Martin’s King Midas Sound and luminaries from the periphery of experimental music. It was a sprawling, dystopian distillation of King Midas Sound’s sub-aquatic sonics and Austrian guitarist Fennesz’ swirling soundscapes, with vocalists Roger Robinson and Kiki Hitomi sprinkling forlorn melodies onto the dark side of dub. This engulfing album was a master-class in delicate desolation, and a beautiful merging of two restless innovators.
BlacklistersAdult Smalltown America
While Blacklisters might sound like they’d take pleasure in ripping up your carpets, setting fire to your spider plants and chucking your cat in a blender at first listen, all their aggression is served with a wry grin that suggests that they could quite easily charm your nan, too. Adult has certainly charmed us: clever, introspective and as controlled as it is crazed, Blacklisters prove that you can be both mental and methodical on this pleasingly cathartic effort.