Athletic Progression – cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air
Danish /Tanzanian jazz trio Athletic Progressions are ones to watch in the years to come. Their third album cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air is an incredible body of work, one navigates through drum-heavy soundscapes, incredibly lush and soulful percussion and synth leads that are emotive, impactful and just so powerful. The drum arrangements and syncopations are mesmeric, and the sequencing of the album is just flawless. It’s the intensity and expressiveness of each band member that makes this an incredible album, and it’s one I couldn’t recommend enough.
Jeff Parker – Forfolks
Jeff Parker’s Forfolks is of the most recent albums on this list (released just a few weeks ago), but the impact it’s had on me in this short space of time makes it hard for me to leave out. Only with his guitar, the now California-based musician, who has been an essential part of Chicago’s growing experimental jazz and rock scene, has created one of the most mesmeric and hypnotic albums I’ve listened to this year, and that is no exaggeration. There’s something truly magical about the way he’s able to communicate so much with guitar loops and meandering melodies, and this album pure sonic bliss, and I am truly in love with his sound and artistry.
John Glacier – SHILOH: Lost For Words
Swirling electronics, hypnotic melodies and infectious energy, John Glacier’s SHILOH: Lost For Words is quite the statement. The London-based artist has crafted a dense, punchy album, with futuristic beats (executively produced by Vegyn) that sound way ahead of their time. The fact that she is able to sound at times monotonous and unbothered while simultaneously being able to draw me into her mesmeric artistic vision is something to applaud. Seeing her perform this album live not too long ago was also an amazing experience, and I got to truly appreciate the vastness of the production and her unique delivery.
Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air
Moor Mother’s music defies categorisation. She’s played an integral role in two additional albums on this list (Open The Gates with Irreversible Entanglements and BRASS with billy woods), but on Black Encyclopedia of the Air, she takes centre stage. Her compositions on this particular album are eerie and unsettling, as she is able to create moody soundscapes, with dystopian poetry that draws you into her twisted, eclectic artistic vision. It’s an expansive listening experience, almost visual, in its ability (at least for me), to paint a disconcerting picture of what life is like in the darkness. An truly incredible album.
Backxwash – I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses
This year introduced me to the Zambian-Canadian genius that is Backxwash. This year, she released I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses, a disorienting, loud and abrasive hip-hop album that sounds as urgent as it is necessary. The industrial production is mached by her horrorcore lyrics and delivery, with piercing raps that see her channel a vulnerability I haven’t heard from her to this extent. It’s one of the most striking albums I’ve listened to this year, at least sonically, and for that I couldn’t leave it out. Whenever I’m pissed off or feel the need to just let loose, this album is the perfect remedy.