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Top 10 Albums of the Year 2019

Top 10 Albums of the Year 2019

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.

  • 95424
  • Artist
    Caterina Barbieri
    ReleaseProduct
    Ecstatic Computation
    Label
    Editions Mego
    Catalogue Number
    EMEGO259

    Caterina Barbieri – Ecstatic Computation

    After releasing a couple of albums through Important Records, Italian sound artist Caterina Barbieri now rocks up on Editions Mego for the release of her new LP Ecstatic Computation. The pairing makes sense - Editions Mego is an imprint dedicated to issuing work by forward-thinking artists, and Barbieri is certainly one of those.

    To create Ecstatic Computation, Barbieri explored complex sequencing procedures and pattern-based music-making. While there is plenty of machine music from the past few decades that has used similar techniques, Barbieri’s deployment of them is potent and hypnotic. The cell-by-cell evolutions of Steve Reich’s electric period are frequently invoked here, and the constant rearranging of tone rows makes Ecstatic Computation come off as the aural equivalent of someone doing a rubix cube.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Alessandro Cortini
    ReleaseProduct
    VOLUME MASSIMO
    Label
    Mute
    Catalogue Number
    ISTUMM443

    Alessandro Cortini – VOLUME MASSIMO

    Expanding on some 4 albums with Important Records (including 2 collaborations with stalwarts of modern electronic music Merzbow and Lawrence English), two with Hospital Productions and one with Point Of Departure - 2017’s Avanti - the prolific Alessandro Cortini returns to join Daniel Miller’s Mute Records with VOLUME MASSIMO.

    Here we see him deviate slightly from the industrial noise he’s previously honed to a fine art and venture towards a brighter cinematic sound full of saturated, processed synthesisers and undulating melodies. Some parallels can be drawn to recent work from Pye Corner Audio in the slowly unravelling melodies (Amore Amaro) drawing you ever closer. Or to seminal Boards of Canada material, sleep deprived electronic excursions to a place not yet known.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Flying Lotus
    ReleaseProduct
    Flamagra
    Label
    Warp
    Catalogue Number
    WARPCDD291

    Flying Lotus – Flamagra

    We’ve waited five long years for a new LP from Flying Lotus. Steven Ellison has kept busy in the time since 2014’s You’re Dead!, largely by making music for films and directing his own movies, but he’s given us precious little in the way of new music.

    One listen to Flamagra and you understand why this thing took so long. This is the sort of album that needs half a decade to reach its final form. A record of huge range, Flamagra finds Flying Lotus applying the directorial scope of his screen output to his music. Even by Ellison’s standards, Flamagra is an ambitious record - and it’s also the sort of thing that only Ellison could pull off.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    FKA twigs
    ReleaseProduct
    MAGDALENE
    Label
    Young Turks Recordings
    Catalogue Number
    YT191DA

    FKA twigs – MAGDALENE

    Set against the backdrop of an emotional rollercoaster year. In 2017 the one born Tahliah Barnett split from fiancé Robert Pattinson, and later that year the singer underwent surgery to remove tumours from her uterus. Barnett channels these traumas to emerge, bruised yet defiant, with her second studio LP MAGDALENE.

    The whirlwind of the past couple of years manifests itself in MAGDALENE's lyrics. Unsurprisingly there are moments of pain here - ‘Would you make a wish on my love?’ Barnett sings on ‘sad day’ while on ‘day bed’ she mourns that ‘vacant are my nightmares, rest becomes my nowhere’. However, there are also points where twigs looks to draw strength from her experiences. The album’s almost-title-track ‘mary magdalene’, for instance, is a fine instance of musical self-care (‘a woman’s time to embrace, she must put herself first’).

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Rian Treanor
    ReleaseProduct
    ATAXIA
    Label
    Planet Mu
    Catalogue Number
    ZIQ405

    Rian Treanor – ATAXIA

    After Rian Treanor's Contraposition EP, the first release on the revived Warp Records sub-label, Arcola and his releases on Death on Rave, we have been waiting with our ears and feet at the ready for his debut album, and it surely does not disappoint.

    The record’s title is the term given to medical conditions that make bodies move in unpredictable ways. It is an apt descriptor for a record in which the beats never settle and each track seems intent to outdo the others for rhythmic inventiveness.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Nathan Micay
    ReleaseProduct
    Blue Spring
    Label
    LuckyMe
    Catalogue Number
    LM058D
  • Artist
    Klein
    ReleaseProduct
    Lifetime
    Label
    ijn inc.
    Catalogue Number
    IJNINC001

    Klein – Lifetime

    Lifetime, the debut LP from Klein, is the sort of grand and ambitious statement that she has been threatening for a couple of years now. This is a set of dense and interlinked sonic vignettes from the London-based sound artist, one that is by turns abrasive, beautiful, mesmerising and hostile.

    While the tracks of Lifetime often flow into one another, this does not mean that the record allows the listener to settle. Rather, what Klein does here is more akin to how Dean Blunt structures his albums - the onward rush of tracks can be disorienting, and strange sounds often come in to destabilise prettier passages. See, for instance, how ‘Silent’ flits abruptly between Sakamoto-esque piano sections, drumline rhythms and screeching noise.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Danny Brown
    ReleaseProduct
    uknowhatimsayin¿
    Label
    Warp
    Catalogue Number
    WARPCDD307

    Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿

    Danny Brown’s fifth studio LP uknowhatimsayin¿ drops at an intriguing point in the rapper’s career. After breaking out with his second album XXX, consolidating fame with the follow-up Old and then blowing the game wide open through 2016’s landmark Atrocity Exhibition, Brown’s status as king of the underground feels assured these days. The question as he surveys his domain, is; what next?

    Brown’s answer is to make his most focused record yet. A svelte eleven tracks - short when compared to the sprawling opuses of his past - uknowhatimsayin¿ is a more thoughtful affair than anything Brown has previously released. Gone are the tales of all-night benders yammered with cartoonish intensity over beats that sound like an EDM rave in hell. Instead Brown comes off as considered and in control, his flows spun out with poise and eloquence.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Barker
    ReleaseProduct
    Utility
    Label
    Ostgut Ton
    Catalogue Number
    Ostgut CD 46 D

    Barker – Utility

    Barker has recently emerged as one of the more thoughtful and innovative voices in modern techno. Having come to prominence as co-founder of Leisure System, Barker’s 2018 EP Debiasing saw the Berghain favourite create a set of euphoric synthscapes that were club-friendly despite a concerted absence of kick-drums. This thesis - techno in which the primary drive comes from rhythmic synth play rather than slamming beats - is expanded on Utility, Barker’s debut solo LP.

    Best of 2019 Edition

  • Artist
    Lee Scratch Perry
    ReleaseProduct
    Rainford
    Label
    On-U Sound
    Catalogue Number
    ONUDL144

    Lee Scratch Perry – Rainford

    Even at the ripe old age of 83, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry shows no signs of slowing down. The Upsetter continues to average over an LP a year, and recent times have seen the dub legend make music with everyone from The Orb to Mad Professor.

    Perry’s latest album Rainford is another collaborative affair. This set finds Perry teaming up once again with his old friend Adrian Sherwood. The pair’s relationship dates back to the 80’s, and as such it’s no surprise to find that Rainford is a record with a friendly, easy atmosphere to it. Tunes tend to stay on the sunny side even when confronting heavy subject matter, and the melodies come easy throughout.

    Best of 2019 Edition

Top 10 Albums of the Year LP Bundle

  • Top 10 Albums LP Bundle (FKA Twigs Black Vinyl)
    Artist
    Various Artists
    ReleaseProduct
    Top 10 Albums LP Bundle (FKA Twigs Black Vinyl)
    Label
    Bleep
    Catalogue Number
    BLEEPTOPTEN20192
    Release Date
    December 2019
    • All records from our top 10 albums of the year 2019 in LP format (x14 disc total) + additional extra material + free tote bag!

      $255.00

    Gift This Product

    Every album in our Bleep top 10 of the year on LP format
    Please note this now includes FKA Twigs on black vinyl only

    Caterina Barbieri Exclusive clear vinyl limited to 200 copies

    Alessandro Cortini Turquoise vinyl + MP3 + signed print

    Flying Lotus Red vinyl + WAV + 12x12 print

    FKA Twigs Black vinyl

    Rian Treanor Black vinyl + MP3 + exclusive track ATAXIA_E1 + 12x12 print

    Nathan Micay Black vinyl + WAV + x4 sticker sheet 12cm x 20cm

    Klein Black vinyl + 12x12 print

    Danny Brown Black vinyl + WAV + air freshener

    Barker Black vinyl

    Lee Scratch Perry Black vinyl + WAV + Adrian Sherwood Time Boom X The Upsetter Dub Sessions mixtape CD + sticker + poster

    Bleep X Tote bag

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