Judging any year’s music output can imply a degree of omnipotence; after all, it’s only possible to listen to an insignificant fraction of what has been created at any given time. So while I’m aware that the vast majority of music has passed me by, here are five pieces of music which made an impact, taken from a year which felt more musically fruitful than most:

Kamasi Washington / Askim

‘The Epic’ is one of the most powerful jazz albums released in my lifetime. I’m still working my way through its 3 LPs, but this visceral track stood out in particular. It references various masters of jazz such as Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, Kenny Garrett, and Chris Dave, while retaining an identity of its own and breaking new ground.


Lau & Elysian Quartet / The Bell That Never Rang 

I had the pleasure of hearing this piece performed twice this year. Each time the audience fell completely silent with total concentration. Lau is Britain’s leading experimental folk trio, and the Elysian Quartet are a virtuoso contemporary string group. Each group compliments the other effortlessly, creating a melancholic but soothing piece which travels a long way in 17 minutes.

Lau have disabled embedding for this track though you can listen to it here

Anna Meredith / Honeyed Words

Anna is a classically trained composer, currently creating electronic music. This quirky track is comprised of several sliding electronic tones, which combine to create an anxious, lamentful piece. The video compliments the track excellently.


Kabeção Rodrigues / Practice session

One of the charms of cheap recording technology and the internet is that musicians can now put a mic and a camera in their room and capture moments of musical inspiration that previously would never have been documented. Kabeção is one of the finest handpan players in the world, and during this practice session he is alive with inspiration and full of intense, free-flowing ideas.


Jamie xx / The Rest is Noise

Presumably named after music critic Alex Ross’s popular book on 20-century music, this electronic track comes from Jamie xx’s debut album ‘In Colour’. The piece is a slow building crescendo of well-crafted electronic sounds, which marks its peak with a wailing police siren.




The very concept of ancient computers might sound bizarre, and the notion of centuries old open source computer music stranger yet, but both represent historical realities with roots far deeper than is generally recognised. At the time of writing this article The Science Museum in London is running an exhibition called The Information Age, with subject matter that ranges from personal computers and the internet, to the telegram and Congolese talking drum. (more…)

Few would have predicted that one of the most successful and sought-after musical instruments to have been invented since the millennium would be a hand-hammered steel instrument that resembles a UFO. It even surprised its inventors, Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, who in 2001 began selling their “Hang” through their small Swiss-based company PANArt. The instrument was immediately popular with street musicians because of its portability, aesthetic elegance and attractive, harp-like tones. (more…)

The French economist Jaques Attali wrote in 1977 that “music is prophecy”. If this is true, what is to be made of the resurgence in vinyl album sales over the last few years?

The sale of vinyl albums in the UK went up from 205,292 in 2007 to 780,674 in 2013. For a recording medium invented in the late 19th century to have such a resurgence in the early 21st century is remarkable to say the least. (more…)

Despite persistent marginalisation from the process of music-making, certain women have still managed to change the course of music throughout history. Take the 12th-century radical nun Hildegard of Bingen, who was an abbess, diplomat, writer and composer. Or child prodigy Amy Beach, who despite the repressive influence of her mother and husband became a world-famous composer and pianist in the Victorian era.

So, who are the women changing music today? (more…)

Over the next fifty years city soundscapes will change radically as a result of new technological developments, but predicting those changes, and the sounds they will create is far from simple.

At its worst we could face a future soundscape crammed full of branded individualistic sounds, skies of buzzing drones surveying citizens and delivering products, and miserable urban noise deserts scarce in animal life and its accompanying music. (more…)