Albums of 2021

For over a decade I have been writing an Album of The Year list for the site, highlighting my favourite 5 albums and crowning one my overall favourite.

To feel like I could give a valued opinion on the music of each year took hours of research, listening to hundreds of albums (many several times) to get to a place where I believed I could fairly select my favourites. Unfortunately, this year I have not had the time to dedicate to the selection process and therefore don’t believe that I can give a fair opinion of music from this year.

Those who read the site will know its posts have dwindled over the past few months, Having a child has greatly reduced my time, and I’ve had to make decisions about how I spend my limited available free time. As music goes, I’ve been far more interested in using that time to create, rather than write about music. In the future, the site is going to continue to reflect this, with fewer posts and a focus on my own music.

That being said, there are a few albums this year that I wanted to mention as well worth a listen, so I thought I would spend a little bit of time writing about them here. This is in no way a definitive list, but it is a reflection of my life this year.

Bicep_Isles album Art

Bicep- Isles

One of the first albums I head this year and yet its stayed with me throughout. Isles manages to contine what I love most in electronic music with its focus on sound design.

The albums instrumental focus allows for the records adaptability to different scenrios. It’s as comfortable bubbling quietly in the background of daily chores as it is being cranked up and your main focus. This works in most part because of the quality of the sound design that focuses on rich and complicated textures, both in its sampling and its sythpatches/layering.

This attention to detail continues throughout the record, creating a solid and unified album. With lots to love about the record, it should appeal to more than just the avid electronic music listener.

Although this album fits into my favourite genre, many records of its ilk have fallen to the wayside after several listens, Isles has stuck with me though throughout the entire year and become a musical higlight of it.

Cover for album Promises by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra- Promises

If there had to be an album of the year for me it would be this. A contemplative single composition that over its 46minute play time weaves jazz, electronic and neo classical into a unified, attractive reccord.

On first listen, I wasn’t blown away with the albums subtleties. It’s more minimal approach and focus on a single theme for most of the record left me wanting. However after several listens, and within the right frame of mind, Promises revealed itself to be a masterfull piece of work for all involved.

It has become a staple in my musical diet for many months now. A retreat into something delicate and nuanced that focuses on the intricate sounds of each instrument with exquisite detail. Whether or not the piece was recorded live, it has a feeling of that.

The album builds to movement 6, where the strings swell into full force and lead to one of the most uplifting and powerful pieces of romanticism in modern music. It is worth the price of admission alone.

It is only enhanced by the slow build of the opening movements. These are far more delicate, focusing on the motif and a single other instrument (often Pharoah Sanders voice or horn), which has the exemplarary smokyness acheived from only years of musicianship.

If there was one record I would recommend anyone listen to this year it would be Promises. I guarantee it will continue to be played in my collection for many years to come.

Well that’s it for now. I hope to post again in the not to distant future with some more of my own music. Until then I hope you have a wonderfull year.

TOTW: Taking a Break

Over the Next Few weeks I’m going to take a Break from Writing Track Of The Week for the first time in over a Decade.

I have just had a baby boy with my wife and finding the time at the moment to listen to music, let alone write about it is limited.

So for the next month I’m going to take a break from writing, then see where I’m at and If i have the time to write again I will.

Thanks for your patience at this time and I hope to get back on it with a fresh perceptive in the near future.

TOTW: Groove Armada_ At The River

At The River by Groove Armada was probably one of the first tracks that got me into “Electronic” music.

Up until that time, apart from the music I grew up on, I had got into ska punk. This was due to playing the trombone, and therefore having something to relate to in the music.

Obviously the iconic trombone solo from “At The River” was a key reason I latched onto it from first listen, but repeat listens introduced me to electronic techniques that would then overtake my interest in trombone.

The sampled drum beat, synth bass and vocal melody were techniques that I may have heard before. However, in this slow tempo song, and with my undivided attention, I finally started to hone in on them from an analytical perspective.

It was a stepping stone into the ideas of electronic music production, years before I even knew what sampling or synthesis was. Looking back at this track though, it was hugely influential in getting me to understand, accept and finally use these tools in my own work.

At The River is not just a great track but an essential one for me. Introducing me into the world of electronic music that has become my main interest for many years. It’s melody still holds up as iconic for the time, but is also instantly memorable for new listeners:


TOTW Playlist:


I’ve been listening to the excellent Sonic Talk Podcast for several years now. In the show, a rotating panel of guests who work in the production side of the music industry give opinions about the latest news regarding music technology. They also throw in the occasional story and insight into production.

As a fan of music production I would have always been attracted to this kind of podcast, and I have listened to many in my time. However, Sonic Talk manages to stay in my feed when many have fallen by the wayside. This is due to both the presenting of the podcast by Nick Batt and the guests, who remain effective, genial and relatable.

In June, collaborators of both the Sonic Talk Podcast and its website, Sonic State, released a compilation album on Bandcamp, showcasing their work. It’s a great collection of varied music that is well worth a listen.

Although there are several highlights on the record, Hanka by MATTHS really resonated with me. Its cavernous rasping synth lines tear away at your speakers and are reined in with tight, angular percussion. This creates an aggressive, brooding dance track that realy suits being played loud:


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: A.A.L._Deeeeeeefers

I’m running a little late with my track of the week and don’t have much time so I thought I’d quickly recommend this track.

In Nicolas Jaar’s Alter Ego Against All Logic he oftern pushes the production in his music into the experimental. Deeeeeeefers is produced in a way that pushes its sound as aggressive and harsh as possible adding to its energy but also making it quite a tiring repeat listen but its still defiantly worth your time:


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: Broken Atoms_ Koganoya Adventurer

I heard of Broken Atoms through the excellent “Electronic Music Open Mic.” Started by Martin Christie as a collection of nights for electronic musicians to perform, it has grown into a community outside of the events. Across the world, whatsapp and facebook groups of likeminded people express ideas, music and work together.

I try to listen to everything that gets put up by fellow EMOM performers and thats how I came across “Journey;” an EP by Broken Atoms. I really enjoyed it. The opening track “Koganoya Adventurer” blends synths with guitars in a way that instantly reminded me of one of my favourite bands “65DaysOfStatic.”

Those regular readers of my Track Of The Week will know that this style of music is definitely a favourite of mine. The warbling synth/e-piano melody that provides the foundatons and opens the track is a texture that I instantly appreciated. By its conclusion, I was impressed by the tracks maturity in its production and arrangment. For an artist that only has a handful of records on bandcamp, its impressive to see such high quality output that deserves your attention.


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: M83_You appearing

The Opening to M83’s 2008 album “Saturdays=Youth” is a slow burn. You appearing focuses on a collection of repeating melodyies, vocals and drones that slowly fade in and out of the track.

The track reminds me of the Shoegaze Gnere, Especially on the guitar pad/drones which are reversed to create these wide sweithes of sonic ambience I just love.

It’s an interesting start to the album, almost working as an amuse bouche before the main, more energetic corurse of the rest of the album.

As someone who likes some of my music to be a little more trippy and dreamy, “you appearing” is a supportive album track that holds up in its own right. With a sonic landscape and use of FX that really make this track shine.


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: Plus-Tech Squeeze Box_☆

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on the Tokyo Olympic Games at work. It’s been a fun challenge that brought back visiting Japan, and my facination with the country over the years.

The first Japanese band I really got into were Plus-Tech Squeeze Box. A band who could have only come out of Japan.

Plus-Tech Squeeze Box are musically very hard to define. They wear their influences on their sleeves, often replicating them to perfection. What makes them so different is how scattershot those influences are, and how they’re plastered over their records in such a shotgun blast of frenetic energy that listening to one of their albums sounds close to someone with a low attention span flicking through channels on a television.

It’s an abrasive and frenetic style that could very easily be distracting if it weren’t for their charm. The two albums they have released (fakevox & cartoom!) are done with such an irreverent joy that you can’t help but smile. If I were to expand the fitting analogy of flicking through television channels, all of those channels would be of kids TV; bright vibrant colours of joyful and open innocence.

It’s a shame that they’ve only released two albums. Their last, “cartoom!” was released over fifteen years ago, yet they are so distinctly unique they sound as fresh and exiting now as they did when I first heard their track “Early Riser” all those years ago.

Listening to a full album from Plus-Tech Squeeze Box is where the real joy lies as its their crazed development that makes them so compelling, which isn’t transferred to the listener with a single track. However “☆” from their first album “fakevox” is a great place to start as it captures them at their most rambunctious, with big Simmons drums and brass pad sounds that just bring joy to any listener with a soul.

“☆” also works well as it features the same kind of themes as their track “starship.6” from their second album “cartooom!,” which I have talked about previously in an earlier Track Of The Week post. At that time, Plus-Tech Squeeze Box weren’t available on spotify. Now that they are, I will posthumously add that track below, as well as to my TOTW-playlist for your enjoyment:



TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones_ Chasing The Sun Away

Over the last week there’s been a heatwave over Britain. And with it, a collection of painting chores I needed to do outside the house.

Ska punk was an obvious choice to go to. I had this track come to mind so I put on the album, “Jacknife to A Swa” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and gave the whole thing a listen.

It’s been a while since I listened to much of this genre. It was probably the first genre I truly got into as a teenager, when music became something I was more conscious of and could afford.

It started with hearing the track “Superman” by “Goldfinger” in the Tony Hawks Pro Skater game. As someone who played trombone throughout my youth, the idea of blending brass with the current alternative mainstay genre of Pop Punk was highly alluring. I quickly got into other bands in the genre, and throughout that time would go to HMV and sift through their small batch of records labelled [SKA/PUNK].

It was the first genre of music I truly took ownership of. It nurtured an obsession with studying, and investigating music; buying records purely on their covers and the genre and finding gems in the rough.

Times have changed and the internet has made accessing music easier, and has also far widened the pool to search in. But it was those teenage years spent in record stores, flicking through ska punk cds, that honed the skills and passion I now have.

During those years “The Mighty Mighty Bosstones” were a band that were obviously on my radar as one of the progenitors of the genre, but they never became a mainstay of my listening habits. However, as time has progressed and my taste in music has slightly matured, the bands that were my favourites in my teens have started to feel the oposite.

Listening to “Jacknife To A Swan” in the sun with paintbush in hand brought back memories of disappointment with the record on first listen that no longer make sense to me nearly a decade later. “How could I have been so wrong back then,” I thought to myself, as track after track of great music that I rememberd inside out came out of my headphones. I think quite simply this album was just a little too well made for my younger self and came out in the burnout phase of my love with the genre.

Today It sounds like a very mature vesion of both Ska, punk and its surrounding genre. It had me fistpumping and dancing my way through the sunshine, untill the painting was finished with ease.

I’m glad “Chasing The Sun Away” made me return to this record and enjoy it with a fresh take.


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: Alessandro Cortini_CHIAROSCURO

Alessandro Cortini’s solo work oftern ekes the most out of the electronic instruments he uses. Although his arrangments are often sparce melodically, the instruments he does use are always pushed to new and creative highs with his ablity to experiment and his knowledge of synthesis.

This progressive electronic track CHIAROSCURO slowly builds around a motif. As the track develops, rougher more destorted elements pull the track towards noise, adding a dramatic tension that collapses in on itself on the tracks conclusion.

CHIAROSCURO proves you can create a lot of emotion from texture alone; a great example of getting the most out of limited amounts of equipment when you’re focused on the end result.


TOTW Playlist: