I do love a concept album (or admire the endeavour, at least). My favourite of the year was this celebration of the 100th anniversary of Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R. It is ambient electronica using excerpts from a 1937 radio performance of the play to tell the story.
Čapek’s play was a fundamental work about artificial, factory-assembled servants called “robots”, a word derived from Czech term for forced serfs’ labour. This word was suggested to Čapek by his brother Josef but it was the very play, R.U.R., that introduced it to the world.
Shizuka - Paradise of Delusion
Oh Sees - The Chapel, SF 10.2.19
Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies
My Morning Jacket - At Dawn 20th Anniversary reissue
BOX SET / REISSUE / PHYSICAL ARTEFACT OF THE YEAR
PAUL Quinn - Unadulterated / Unincorporated Boxset - includes the 2 PQ & the Independent Group LPs plus live cuts and rarities as well as a hardback book featuring photos and press cuttings, and a couple of prints.
I bought all of these on vinyl.
EDIT: Forgot the EPs
Sofia Kourtesis - Fresia Magdalena
Satomimagae - Colloid
Sort of cheating cos it’s not really a compilation themed around anything other than the year of release, but the Bleep 100 is always worth buying I think (I don’t think they stay available for too long each year, not sure).
Loved Habibi Funk II md Somewhere Between (both mentioned by @zanimos above)
A few others
A brilliant compilation which ranges across some spritely electro pop and lots of gossamer light ambient instrumentals. FFO Talk Talk, Blue Nile, Eno, YMO etc.
A companion piece to the above - mostly U.K. stuff from the same era and in a similar vein.
Great reissue of a superb album by the Japanese pop singer Akiko Yano, recorded in London in the eighties with members of Japan and Ryuichi Sakamoto (her romantic partner at the time) providing the music. Incredibly catchy eighties electro pop.
Everything Logic1000 touched last year was pure gold. If she ever puts an album out rather than just keeping releasing singles/EPs, it’s going to be special! House/electronic goodness and championed by Kieran Hebden:
My other big favourite EP from 2021 was Tamaraebi’s Spectrum. I’ve seen him list Prince, Outkast and Tame Impala as his big influences and they’re a good indication of the sound. Maybe some D’Angelo too? Really addictive stuff and he deserves to be huge.
I did enjoy this EP, The Dream We Had by a Polish band called Midsommar that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned in any other threads. Very pretty shoegaze/dream-pop. The guitars are nice but the vocals are probably what make it for me - layers of ethereal type stuff that sort of refract all over the place. Very chilled.
The Record Club releases from reissue label Melodies International have been pretty tasty. “Artist curated mini compilations” …very mini, only two tracks on each release. First one was put together by Four Tet
Only two releases strong, very much looking forward to what comes next.