2019 has seen the release of a great many brilliant albums from across the musical spectrum. After much deliberation, we at Bleep have settled on the ten that we think deserve to be called the year’s best.
Caterina Barbieri’s Ecstatic Computation took the world of deconstructed electronics to new heights. The sonics of trance, rave, minimal synth and electroacoustic composition were spun out into new forms on her Editions Mego debut after previous work on Important and XKatedral. Another Italian, Alessandro Cortini, turned in a similarly impressive set of electronic compositions in VOLUME MASSIMO - though his tendency towards hauntology and beatific synth ambiences stands in contrast to Barbieri’s choppy, stormy music. No discussion of 2019’s most impressive electronics-based records can go without mentioning Barker’s Utility, a set of beatific techno that emphasised deft synth work rather than slamming beats.
Flying Lotus conquered all with the sprawling Flamagra, his first LP for half a decade reminding us that there are few who can hold a candle to his conceptual ambition. Few, perhaps, apart from FKA twigs, another artist who broke a five-year silence - and made a triumph of trauma - on the crystalline art-pop masterpiece MAGDALENE. Danny Brown is another artist who knows a thing or two about concept, though after a run of breathless LPs it was the clear-headed, almost old-school focus of the rapper’s latest full-length uknowhatimsayin¿ that impressed us most.
It was a good year for the debutants, too. Nathan Micay turned in an anime-inspired club masterpiece in the form of Blue Spring, his first full-length since swapping out his former moniker Bwana. Klein made the masterpiece she had been building up to for years with experimentations of Lifetime, and Rian Treanor proved himself a dance music producer of rare dexterity with joyously innovative ATAXIA. Mind you, 2019’s last word goes not to a young gun but an old flame - Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, whose Rainford LP proved that The Upsetter can still kick it with the best of them more than fifty years since he first came on the scene.