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Stephen’s Albums of the Year

These were the records that kept me company on this long, long year. Thanks to everyone who was a part of IC this year–I’ll be back in January for another year!

  1. Ezra Feinberg – Recumbent Speech. The most assured, clear statement of a unique compositional vision that I encountered this year. Blends minimalism, melodicism, new age, and more into evocative, inspiring pieces. An easy pick for album of the year.
  2. Gabriel Birnbaum – Nightwater. A charming, careful record that blends indie-pop, ambient, and soundtrack music into a deeply personal vision of the ephemera that make up homes, neighborhoods, and life in general.
  3. Standards – Fruit Island. Math-rock but replace the harsh guitar patterns and brittle guitar tone with delicate melodies and warm, round guitar tone. Truly beautiful.
  4. Joshua Crumbly – Rise. A brilliant debut from bassist Crumbly, who mixes jazz, rock and ambient in these lush, svelte pieces that display grief and triumph.
  5. Chassol – Ludi. A truly mind-bending record that interprets the rhythms and patterns of the human voice in regular situations (playing games, having conversations) as the grounds for piano-led outsider R&B, weird jazz, and ELO-style pop cuts. A monumental creative achievement in scope and vision.
  6. Fernando Lagreca – Infamous. A dense, punchy collection of dark, thumping techno cuts. The arrangements and melodies stand out throughout, making this the rare techno album to feel strong as an album and not just as pieces for the club.
  7. YĪN YĪNThe Rabbit That Hunts Tigers. Engaging, energetic Thai-style funk with grooves for days.
  8. Sen3 – Live. Fuses post-rock and jazz in a deeply satisfying way.
  9. STARFKR – Ambient 1. STARFKR’s attempts at ambient are the sort of ambient tracks you’d expect from an erstwhile dance-rock outfit: bubbling, burbling, bouncing pieces with lots of melodies. Still peaceful, but in a “small stream moving quickly” sort of way.
  10. Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas – III. This immersive collaboration splits the difference between ambient, techno, and sweeping soundtrack work to produce what seems like one long sonic hug. Ideal for this year, truly.