Best music of 2016

De La Soul – and the anonymous nobody

This was without a doubt my favourite album of 2016. I kinda find it baffling that it didn’t make it on to more end of year lists but I guess De La just aren’t as hip as Tribe.

But also, I kinda get why it didn’t. The album is a really great pop album. It’s not really very cool. It’s certainly less hard-hitting than the Tribe album. It’s less hiphop than the Tribe album.

But it’s a beautiful record. It’s line-up of guests slot in so seamlessly – from Estelle to Snoop to Jill Scott to Roc Marciano and Justin Bloody Hawkins. It’s almost like a compilation except for the fact that it flows so smoothly. It reminds me of the Gorillaz albums. It’s eclectic but its hiphop is so warm and it rolls. It’s self-aggrandising but there’s not enough of De La on it. It’s a proper album. It fits together beautifully. I love De La Soul and this album almost made me cry.

A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from here… thank you 4 your service

This was also an unexpectedly good comeback. Q-tip is a genius and he managed to produce an album that was so completely 2016 without sounding like anything else released this year.

David Bowie – Blackstar

Speaking of comebacks….enough has been written about this that I have very little to add. Except to say I listened to this album more than any other since Tin Machine. (I was going to say Let’s Dance and then I remembered how much I loved Tin Machine. I was just 16…) And this really did make me cry. It was just astonishing that he created this masterpiece and then just left. Wow.

The Orb – COW/Chill out, world!

Speaking of comebacks! Another overlooked record. This was a distillation of pure Orb. It wasn’t quite as good as The KLF’s Chill Out. I can pay it no higher praise.

Kamaiyah – A good night in the ghetto

I had almost given up on modern hiphop. For me it’s been diminishing returns since about 2008 as the Future-Kendrick-YG-Young Thug drug-slurred filth beats have taken over. But Kamaiyah’s album was great. It’s 2016 hiphop alright but with a very 70s keyboard sound that’s timeless.

Lord of the Isles – In Waves

Pure organic housetrance…..matched only by Will Long’s Long Trax

Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra

Speaking of organic trance….

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani – Sunergy

Sea, sun, energy….beauty

Christian Fennesz & Jim O’Rourke – It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry

Probably the most beautiful record released this year

Jack Sellen – A study to be quiet

Probably my favourite mix of the year

Various artists – Iran experimental underground 016 survey

Heavy. Jaw-droppingly good. Iran….maan. I need more.

Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy – Darraje

I’ve been looking for Sufi music like this since I discovered Sufism.

Hannah Peel – Awake but always dreaming

This sounded like  21st century St Etienne to me. Which is just fine in my book.

Serpentwithfeet – Blisters

This was possibly the record that surprised me most – a really unique soulful sound. However, I get the feeling he’s only just getting started. The real delight might come on his second album.

 

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