Recordings from the Aland Islands – Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer
So, it seems I do like jazz after all. For years, I’ve hated jazz. I always thought it was that shite that pretentious people liked. I’ve tried to like it. Oh, how I’ve tried. I listened to all that stuff you’re meant to like. I’ve tried Miles. I’ve tried Coltrane. It always sounds great for about 20 seconds and then it’s just like “christ, put it away!”
I would like to think jazz has caught up with me, rather than me catching up with jazz. Floating Points and Nala Sinephro hinted at a new jazz I could get on board with last year. A jazz without the wank. A jazz that doesn’t make you want to leave the room, throw something at the stereo etc and so forth.
Recordings from the Aland Islands was probably the album I played most this year. A beautiful organic trip.
In these times – Makaya Craven
Proper jazz. Probably. But with grooves-a-plenty and no wanky solos. Comes across like the soundtrack to one of those wistful movies where kids play in sunny New York streets, frolicking gaily in the spray of a broken fire hydrant. Warms the cockles.
Meeting with a Judas Tree – Duval Timothy
Yet more jazz but this one sounds like it could have been Matthew Herbert’s follow-up to the wonderful Bodily Functions.
Shiki – Fuubuutsushi
Fuubuutsushi’s Shiki was one from 2021 that I missed but listened to more than any other this year. A four-album sprawl with each record devoted to one of the seasons. Shiki cam across like The KLF’s Chill Out played by jazzers. It is just beautiful, calming, organic music for any occasion.
Shebang – Oren Ambarchi
Frankly, this could probably filed under jazz too. But this is proper trance music. In C done by jazzers. Properly psychedelic though.
Tonkori in the Moonlight – Oki
Finally leaving the jazz behind, this album was the most WTF moment I’ve heard this year. But unlike many WTF musical moments, it is also gorgeously listenable. Just a bit…alien, I guess. Music coming from the indigienous Ainu people of Japan will probably sound fairly alien to most Anglo-Saxon ears, I guess. But Oki combines his folk roots with reggae, throat singing, African drumming, toytown pop and a jazzy strut. Truly wonderful. Probably my favourite record of the year. Brings a smile to my face every time it plays.
Future Oceans Echo – Zion I kings
The first of a bunch of great dub records and the only one to come from Jamaica. Actually, I think they come from the Virgin Islands but they’ve done a lot of work with Jamaican artists and can fairly confidently claim to be at the vanguard of Jamaica’s modern roots movement.
They’ve produced a series of great dub albums but this is probably the best of the lot. It has an oceanic quality that is extremely soothing.
Acid Dub Versions – Om Unit
Here begins the global dub diaspora section. Like a mix between Voices from the Lake and Dubkasm. This is great stuff. See also a shitload of remixes and Acid Dub Versions II. Roll on part III.
Root, Stalk, Leaf and Bloom – Deadbeat
Kinda similar in style to Om Unit but with a deeper dub techno thing going on. Deadbeat has been doing this for years. He’s a master.
Njhyi – Nok Cultural Ensemble
Lots of fucking drumming and dub is just DJ Steve catnip. Modern nyabinghi with a spacey twist. This lot are undoubtedly jazzers too. Drum solos? Yeah, kinda. Which is why you might not listen to it too much. But these guys make the drums sing and dance. There’s melodies and grooves in these drum workouts that make me sing and dance!
Sinai Dub Box – Al Cisneros
Dub from former metalhead…
In Dub – Lil Obeah
Dub from Romania with help from Count Dubulah of Transglobal Underground and Dub Colossus…
Antidawn – Burial
Dub (kinda) from Burial…
Ghosts – Haress
Enough of the dub. Now it’s time for new wyrd folk…
Wires Turned Sideways in Time – Duncan Marquiss
Birl of Unmap – Kinbrae
Some strong albums came outta Scotland this year…
Earth mothers – Clair
More from the Scottish contingent. Some lovely pastoral ambient leftfield niceness here
Hyperincandescent – Polypores
Not from this year but discovered through a remix he did for Clair (above). This is joyous ambient music. It’s relatively easy to make beautiful mournful minor key ambient. This is very different. Ambient music to make you smile.
Music for the Moon and the Trees – Morgan Szymanski
More hybrid uncategorisable almost ambient, almost jazz, completely brilliant
Antidotes 1&2 – Lucinda Chua
Most beautiful voice of the year
Carmen Villain – Only love from now on
More ambient, not ambient, organic ting
Ali – Vieux Farka Toure and Khruangbin
I had no idea how popular Khrangbin are until seeing a poster advertising them headlining a festival this past summer. Unpronounceable name no obstacle to success it seems. Smooth, warm grooves. Lovely.