This is a list of seriously amazing music. The best albums released in 2014, no shit. You probably haven’t heard of some of these artists. That’s okay. That’s awesome, in fact. Most of it’s off the beaten path, and it’d be a shame if that’s the only reason you never heard it. My biggest pleasure with this blog is hearing from friends who discovered something that’s become absolutely essential in their lives. I treasure that feeling and only hope to spread it. Enrich your life. Be adventurous, try out some of the music streaming on this page! It’s free right now and you’re definitely not doing anything better!
I know this is late in the sense that most people publish their lists before the year is done, but I couldn’t care less about being first in judging an entire year’s worth of beautiful music. I’d always rather be finished than first.
Every piece of music on this list deserves attention. You’ll probably love some and hate others, because that’s how taste works.
See the Best of 2014 Honorable Mention list for the greatest albums that didn’t quite make the final cut!
[Note: excepting the ABSOLUTE FAVORITES section, these albums are listed in the order I heard them.]
Seeing ‘with Donato Dozzy’ attached to the first track on this debut album from Marco Shuttle, I absolutely had to listen. As a total unknown to me, the bespoke surrealism of the cover art caught my eye, but Dozzy grabbed my attention. As half of Voices From The Lake and an incredible techno artist in his own right, this guy will always deserve my time.
Featuring on this album is an endorsement that’s paid off handsomely. This is one of the best albums of 2015 so far. The best news is that the entire thing is streaming free:
Here’s Andy Stott spinning dark techno brilliance for almost an hour. I’m totally unsure of how I managed to miss this. Dropping two years ago – just before his stunning full length Luxury Problems – this live set mixes in a whole lot of his signature abrasive 4/4 monstrosities and searing vocal colors from Alison Skidmore. It’s a dark, sinewy construction, shambling its way through the back caves of your mind.
Basically, it sounds exactly how you’d expect Andy Stott to sound like live. Fans of Luxury Problems will be especially pleased around the 19 minute mark.
In typical Boiler Room fashion, the crowd consists of listless hipster types sipping on beers and occasionally tilting their hips. The real draw is the sound. Turn your volume up, and read something interesting while you listen. I suggest this illuminating treatise on the philosophy behind invisible prisons that shape our lives. It’s called The Black Iron Prison, a term birthed by Philip K. Dick in his final novel, VALIS. You should probably read that at some point in your life. It’s a transcendent (and partially autobiographical) dissection of sanity itself.
I don’t have much else to say about this. Just listen. Or watch, too, if you’re in the mood to see people looking miraculously bored at one of the most intimate, brilliant techno sets I’ve ever heard.
This video. This massive tune.
I don’t really have anything to say about this today. Just…
Edit: Ok, I will at least mention that this is one of my favorite moments from one of the best albums of 2012. I will also note that this video is fucking brilliant. You’re welcome.
Demdike Stare hit my radar when a friend insisted I listen to The Stars Are Moving because it was totally my sort of thing – and a massive understatement. Liberation Through Hearing was not only on my Best of 2010 list, but part of the Tryptych compilation serving up a universally praised 160 minute slab of deep nocturnal bliss across three albums and discs. Having so much aural brilliance to chew on felt like an embarassment of riches before the craving for new material hit well before a year had passed. Thankfully the duo of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty were busy interlocking the pieces on an even more audacious free fall into the abyss with a 4 EP / 2cd set which stretches their sound in increasingly hypnotic new directions.
The music here is given more space to move and to sit still. There are great leaps beyond their established spooky dub dream style into riots of kraut percussion, melodic poems buried in noise fields, and climaxes of bloody tribal warfare. This is nothing short of the full realization of their shamanistic trance ritual ethos, both more explicitly sculpted and expansive than all prior work combined. Songs cover wildly varying grounds – from beatless waves of digital grain to mountains of swarming disembodied vocals – while retaining a unified identity that would make the cover artwork jealous. Elemental strikes this perfect duality of technical bass mastery and unhinged manace, igniting every dark pleasure center in my auditory complex. It’s a soundtrack to my strangest apocalyptic dreams and the kind of art we could only wish more artists knew how to craft. This is a self contained cult in album form, a ritualistic palate cleanser which will make other music obsolete for a while.
Elemental, in its 2cd form, is fully streamable on soundcloud, right here:
For those lacking time or attention span, a couple highlights: cinematic Mephisto’s Lament and steamrolling Erosion of Mediocrity both destroy worlds and illuminate vastly different aspects of this set.
The fidelity is great but buy the real thing to fully absorb the meticulous near-chaotic detail in Demdike Stare’s work. If you’ve got the fetish and the cash seek out the extremely sold-out 12″ vinyl set from sellers on discogs or ebay. If you want to hear this masterpiece in optimal form for a reasonable price, grab the 2cd set, featuring alternate edits and new cuts fleshing out the experience; believe me, they’re essential and can’t be considered bonus. Keep in mind that this is selling out quickly as well!
For fans of: Shackleton, Actress, Oneohtrix Point Never, Coil, David Lynch, Joseph Conrad, exciting nightmares