The Very Very Very Best Music of 2011 // The Year of Solid Vertebral Consistencies

In compiling these lists I like to let the neurons do the talking and pull together an ontological representation of months past. Whether this is ever possible is another story for another time altogether, but what happened this year? Was this year all over the place? I am not sure. Utilising the most basic Hobbesian representational methods to reach a preliminary answer, it appears that this year my mind continued to benefit from a clarity refined over recent years, thereby not allowing the year ‘2011’ to provide an overarching sensation of any sort, but rather a perception of a collection of connected feelings and ideas. Perhaps, with regard to music, this is because I must have chosen to avoid consciously delving into new branches, exploring tangents or taking detours, and instead let listening habits take over, which meant that while this list perhaps lacks the breadth of past lists, it is consistent in other ways.

For the same reasons, trying to find a feeling which ties The Top 11 together is difficult. Instead, rather like ‘2011’, the albums cover a range: of methods, sounds and responses, and individually, even though a couple are ‘collections’ and not exactly ‘albums’, they are each uniform entities with a solid vertebral consistency bringing a solidity to the selection.

As ever, time allowed for the discovery for the first time of some brilliant musicians; some of these, like Colin Stetson, Julianna Barwick and Samaritan even made The Top 11, but the real stunners came from those artists developing existing styles, with Tom Vek, Balam Acab and above all Kangding Ray doing this the most successfully.

The Top 11 is highly accessible, and features barrages of tumbling bass drums, vocal loops and oversized instruments. Do explore.

MY FAVOURITE 11 ALBUMS OF 2011:

1. Kangding Ray – OR
2. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
3. Clams Casino – Instrumentals
4. Balam Acab – Wander / Wander
5. Tom Vek – Leisure Seizure
6. Andy Stott – Passed Me By
7. Hype Williams – One Nation
8. Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
9. Co La – Fugitive of Leisure EP
10. Uther Moads – s/t
11. Samaritan – Part of the Jurys Vol. 1

My Other Favourite Albums of 2011:
Standard Alphabetical Order

2562 – Fever
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Summvs
Anne-James Chaton – Événements 09
Braids – Native Speaker
Byetone – Symeta
Clams Casino – Rainforest
Com Truise – Galactic Melt
Cults – s/t
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – ROME
Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys
DJ Shadow – The Less You Know The Better
Ducktails – Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
Emptyset – Demiurge
Eola – Deo Gracias
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
Grimes / d’Eon – Darkbloom
Holy Other – With U
Hype Williams – Kelly Price W8 Gain Vol.II EP
Knxwledge – Konsistensi
Laurel Halo – Hour Logic
MMR-ADM – Archive
Panda Bear – Tomboy
Pinch & Shackleton – s/t
SebastiAn – Total
Surgeon – Breaking The Frame
Teams vs Starslinger – s/t
The Rapture – The Limit to Your Love
Tropic of Cancer – The Sorrow of Two Blooms
Tyler the Creator – Goblin
Zomby – Dedication

Several further EPs & 12″s caught my ear, but these deserve a special mention:

Inga Copeland – s/t
Ital – Ital’s Theme
James Blake – Enough Thunder
Keep Shelly in Athens – Campus Martius EP
Knxwledge – Hexual Sealings EP
Regis – In a Syrian Tongue

I’m too happy to list the disappointments right now, but know there were many.

As for looking forward to The New Year, and looking back on last year’s more colourful Mystic Meg consultations, it turned out that apart from the odd werk carried forward into the summer, our juking was confined to the early months of 2011 (with any further efforts merely being very very ish *-inspired tracks/albums), and most SpaceDrank firmly left in 2010. Upbeat tracks dominated (calculations show SebastiAn’s Embody was my most-enjoyed track!) alongside collapsing beats.

The future may hold some personal revisits to pencil-labelled ‘disappointments’ (mostly of the ‘Darkness-vibe’ so inappropriate for 2011, but eschatologically-relevant for the coming 2012), and I feel a further blending of clean-cut tech with filtrate, but any and all predictions are welcomed, as are comments and further additions. Pray tell.

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