What a year for music 2018 has been! Here, in no order, are our top 25 favourite releases and reissues of the year:
A recently discovered recording from 1963 - this brilliantly captures the intensity of Coltrane’s great quartet and hints at the boundary-stretching musicality to come.
Jon Hassell - Listening to Pictures
His first album since 2009, this LP is rich with melody and unbounded rhythms, exploring in a dreamlike manner but still grounded in its vision. One of our favourites from the Vault!⠀
Haruomi Hosono - Philharmony
This is the second solo record from the unbelievably prolific Haruomi Hosono, one of the major architects of modern Japanese pop music. Philharmony is a wild listen, veering from abstract ideas, to synth pop, to tight, funky tunes for the dancefloor.
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Self Titled
The first album by the legendary Yellow Magic Orchestra, made up of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yukihiro Takahashi and Haruomi Hosono. This boundary smashing debut from 1978 blends synth pop with early electro, hip hop and bleep techno. Seminal and essential!
Ryu Fukui - Scenery
Unquestionably one of the most important Japanese jazz albums ever recorded! Scenery reveals Ryo Fukui as a miraculously brilliant self-taught pianist fusing modal, bop, and cool jazz influences for a very personal, dexterous and game-changing take on classic standards made famous by Bing Crosby and John Coltrane among others.
Sons of Kemet - Your Queen is a Reptile
A mainstay in our Modern Jazz collection, this emotionally and rhythmically-charged jazz album is definitely worthy of repeated listens!
N'Draman Blintch - Cosmic Sounds
One of our favourite reissues of the year - A synth-heavy, psychedelic disco record, with artwork to match, Cosmic Sounds marries the sci-fi boogie sounds of US and European dance floors with a Afro-funk grooves for an endless boogie.
Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth
Saxophonist Kamasi Washington's 2018 release is such a thrilling multi-genre journey through musical ideas, cementing his place as one of the Jazz greats of today.
Various - J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969 - 1984
This amazing compilation is packed with obscure and sought after rarities that takes the listener on a wonderful journey. From deep spiritual jazz, post-modal Impressionism and dance floor material from artists & composers whose names are generally known to committed collectors of Japanese Jazz.
Various - We Out Here
An incredible compilation by Gilles Peterson's label Brownswood Recordings from earlier this year, this brilliantly showcases the UK's flourishing jazz scene. Spearheaded by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, who is credited as musical director, and features sounds from Hutchings, Maisha, Ezra Collective, Moses Boyd, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia, and more
Arthur Verocai - Self Titled
In this LP lies perfect doses of Bossanova, Samba, Jazz, Funk, Breaks and Psychedelic Rock. Listeners here can expect a 29 minute long LP of unique song arrangements and interesting sonic timbres. Perfect for a windy day and lovers of Madlib, as described as an album he could listen to every day for the rest of his life :)
Various - Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were 1984 – 94
An awesome compilation selected by Millos Kaiser, one half of Sao Paulo's Selvagem DJ and digging duo. This LP features 16 rare tracks from the 80s & 90s, exploring sounds from Brazil. Packed tight with balearic rhythms, synth driven melodies and classic drum machine grooves of the 80s, this LP is a must have for both DJs and vinyl heads. Perfect for a samba-boogie and an ice cream while listening!
Nujabes – Metaphorical Music
After a long, long wait, this genre defining breakbeat album from the late great Nujabes has finally been made available on our favourite medium, vinyl :)
Various – Untinted: Sources for Madlib’s Shades of Blue
Untinted contains the source material for Madlib's seminal 2003 project 'Shades of Blue' and is a fantastic intro to compare all the material from both recordings. It's a great dose of jazz in which Madlib focuses on the soul and jazz he used for the remixes. With songs by among others Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver and Donald Byrd the 12-track album gives you an indication of the way Madlib created his pieces.
Alfa Mist – Antiphon
Perfect for a late night listen, an insight into Alfa Mist's journey as an artist. Here, modern jazz meets hip hop with style, finess, and tasteful musical vocabulary.
Nils Frahm – All Melody
Nils Frahm's 7th studio album is actually the first out of his works from his new studio in Berlin, painstakingly crafted over two years, deconstructing and reconstructing the entire space from the cabling and electricity to the woodwork, before moving on to the finer elements; building a pipe organ and creating a mixing desk all from scratch with the help of his friends. All Melody is born out of the freedom that his new environment provided, allowing Nils to explore without any restrictions and to keep it All about the Melody.
Weldon Irvine – The Sisters
Throughout the 70s, Weldon Irvine released a series of seminal albums full of deep, soulful, funky grooves. "The Sisters" is a collection of lost tracks and demos from his late-1970s studio sessions with fellow Jazz-Funk luminary Don Blackman. Soul-Jazz at its finest!
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
Moving effortlessly through acid house and ambient bliss, Jon Hopkins' first album since 2013 is a wonderful journey through electronic styles, constantly changing - his tracks feel unbound from the metronome, his style cemented and present, his emotions ever so resonant. Singularity is a keeper.
Joe Armon-Jones – Starting Today
Mixing jazz with hip-hop and dub production influences, Joe Armon-Jones - Starting Today features a band including Nubya Garcia (whose new solo EP Armon-Jones plays on), Moses Boyd, Oscar Jerome, and Maxwell Owin.
Charles Mingus – Jazz In Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery
A must have for Mingus fans - nearly four hours of previously unreleased live material by the legendary bassist, all recorded on a single night in February 1973 for Detroit public radio. This is the glowing intersection of tradition and abstraction.
Mkwaju Ensemble - Mkwaju
The 2018 reissue of MKWAJU (Midori Takada's first album). Here Takada leads the ensemble with marimbas, vibraphone and other percussive elements blending Eastern and Western minimalistic traditions along with afro-latin rhythms to give a truly unique LP. The album covers a wide spectrum of sound, ranging from the spirit of Jazz through its improvisational qualities to hypnotic dance-floor ready percussive pieces, a beautiful listen throughout.
Abstract Orchestra – Madvillian Vol.1
A jazz deconstruction & re-imagining of the classic MF Doom/Madlib collaboration played live! A jazz album as much as it is a hip-hop album, Madvillain, Vol. 1 explores the reciprocal territory between the genres.
Mansur Brown – Shiroi
An integral part of the groundbreaking Yussef Kamaal album, (and also a contributor on one of the standouts on this year`s We Out Here collection), guitarist Mansur Brown comes into his own with his debut, Shiroi. Drawing on on percussive electronics, trap and jazz fusion, Brown's dextrous playing comes into full form on this one.
Carlos Maria Trindade / Nuno Canavarro – Mr. Wollogallu
On this fantastic collaboration, Carlos Maria Trindade and Nuno Canavarro manage an enchantingly adventurous and sophisticated soundscape from a range of sources; disparate instruments from across the globe, synthesizers and samples melt into each other with the use of vintage electronic production techniques. Packed with distinct, contrasting elements, the movements make for a baffling, yet comforting journey. A lovely LP to get lost in.
Aphex Twin – Collapse EP
How often does a late career comeback happen? Richard D James aka Aphex Twin is making some of the best music of his life right now. Joyous, meticulous, skippy, and smooth, Collapse has to go down as one of his finest. The joy is infectious, the programming and sound design ever virtuosic. A definite grin generator for any raver.