I’m really enjoying the recent spate of top 100 threads, and felt inspired by how quickly people took up the challenge following the launch of Bamnan’s awesome illustrated video game thread tat I should turn my own hand to one.
I can’t do a true all time list as I’m too inconsistent in my tastes over time to do justice to what I once loved and what I now think I would have loved, and also many of my favourites would be repeats of the existing threads, so I’m instead going for depth rather than breadth and focussing on the month of May specifically, given that I am only just finishing up my releases playlist now and have found it an especially strong spread.
I hope that in this thread I can highlight some albums that would have otherwise gone completely under the radar, so if even a couple of people get turned onto something good and/or interesting that they would otherwise have missed then I will see my job as done.
Content Warning: this thread will contain frequent and gratuitous jazz
First on the list is a piece of prog psych big band music which can sound like Muse and Bjork had to work together with only the instruments they could find at the concert hall to write a jazz opera about Final Fantasy boss battles. It doesn’t always hit the mark which is why I haven’t placed it higher but it does enough to make it worth a listen if you’re not immediately put off by the proposition; it’s pretty likely you’ve not heard anything else quite like this.
An enjoyable little idyll of pastoral electronica with a flavour of the Rocky Mountains from Colorado’s M. Sage.
One of interest to the ambient/modern compositional thread I expect, and with a 7.8 from Pitchfork it may already have caught a few eyes though the artist only had one mention on this site from 2019 ( @bifolsou ).
Spellbinding, captivating, lush. A rewarding mix of ambient, folk and dream pop from a US based Pakistani artist fusing unmistakably traditional South Asian vocals with the rich instrumentation of modern ambient-leaning pop.
Wouldn’t feel right not to have any French regional bagpipes in my list. French folk experimentalist Ernest Bergez expands his solo project Sourdure into a four-person band producing traditional folk from the Auvergne region of France, sung in the Occitan language with lyrics allegedly covering patriarchy, autonomy, spirituality and the need to rebuild community, but I don’t speak Occitan so maybe they’re singing about eggmen and walruses.
This is maybe the hardest LP in the list to truly recommend. It’s not musically very accomplished, not especially melodic either. But it’s some evocative weird-ass folk that really transports you to some medieval Provencal tavern and I stuck with it for that.
Ochoa was the youngest member of the original Buena Vista Social Club recording, leading vocals on much of the record including the opener Chan Chan which is one of my absolute all time favourite tracks. I certainly haven’t followed his career since then so it was a pleasure to discover that this record basically sounds exactly how you might expect a record from an ageing member of that club who dresses like Johnny Cash and has named his record “Peasant” would. Joan As Policewoman ACAB is amongst the guests.
I mean, it’s better than I could do! But it really did have the feel of an impromptu drunken get together of not especially well-suited musicians more than the relaxed but confident tight-knit groups in some other folk albums still to come in the list.
I love that kind of thing, I meant it completely sincerely!
Not quite the same because it’s not folk, but this disjointed, stop-start version of a 14th Century piece (Solage’s *Fumeux fume par fumée) is a real favourite of mine, would definitely be in a top 100 if I did one
[And, speaking of occitan music - which I don’t know much about - Acid Mothers Temple do a great La Novia]
A delightful record of solo percussion with birdsong. It’s not full of bangers, at times the drumming is so in tune to the bird song that it has almost become part of nature and the sound is more like simply ambient nature sounds, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
It is literally the perfect accompaniment to a game of Wingspan, which we have been playing a lot of lately.
A collective of San Francisco Bay Area musicians making incredible vintage-sounding, achingly well orchestrated cinematic sounds. Few albums could transport you more immediately into another time and place.
Swedish industrial ambient techno, with particularly snappy track titles as Periferin (Till A.B, E.K, S.E) Vila i frid P, R, M and Skriv något på väggen så att andra får veta hur du har det (Till M. Isorinne).
Sneaking into the list with the help of some wonderful cross-stitch album art (note to self, get this in the great album art thread), this is a pretty cool Japanese slice of psychedelic avant-electronic art-pop.
Third album of indie alt-country from a Toronto band with a pretty diverse range. This album opens with a 13 minute tune which sounds largely like a 4 minute folk tune slowed to 1/3 speed, and it took me a few attempts to stick with it through and beyond that track - was worth it though, there’s a cracking album here.