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.
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.