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  • TOP 20 releases of 2021!
  • Post author
    Nick Bong
  • 2021New ReleasesTop 20

TOP 20 releases of 2021!

TOP 20 releases of 2021!

As the year comes to a close, the time has come for us to pay tribute to the albums that have soundtracked our year here at TAV. In no way is this list a definitive one, nor is it a bestseller list - we've chosen to focus more on the albums that have struck a chord with us; albums we've cherished and had moments with, albums that we've found ourselves connecting with and recommending to you guys repeatedly! These, in no particular order, are 20  albums that have been flowing out of our speakers in 2021. 

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1. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

Fond memories of our first listen to this incredible album - we first heard it while stocking new arrivals while a heavy storm raged on outside. It was a visceral experience to say the least, and immediately, the significance of this LP made itself known. True enough, amongst the stacks of praise it has received across the year, it has most recently found its place as TIME magazine's album of the year. 


This extraordinary collaboration is truly deserving of no less than excellent speakers and a soft couch to catch your swoon. One track, nine movements and five years in the making - a late career masterpiece for Pharoah Sanders and a glowing testament to the musical mind of Floating Points. Absolutely beautiful.

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2. Various Artists - Indaba Is

 

A truly special compilation released on Brownswood Recordings around the start of the year, pulling together a slew of current South African improvised music and jazz. Rooted in a wide range of styles, questions about lineage, community and spirit thread through the tracks, while also oozing their rich musical vocabulary. This is the sound of communities being built through collective creation.

Available here

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3. Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio - I Told You So

DL03 here with another lovely album of funked out / feel good tracks stripped down to its essence of groove and rhythm! Unfortunately, it's been sold out for a long while, but remains a firm favourite.

Delvon summons the stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette through his organ, while the groove of the trio is reminiscent of The Meters mixed with the soul strutting of Booker T & The M.G.’s. 'I Told You So' is their second studio album and is as classy as it gets! Perfect with a cuppa and on a Sunday arvo.

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4. Charles Lloyd – Tone Poem



The first ever new release under Blue Note's Tone Poet series! 

This is the third full album by Charles Lloyd & The Marvels - the genre bending quintet that features master saxophonist Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell on Guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Reuben Rogers on Bass and Eric Harland on Drums.

Some lovely covers on here by Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Gabor Szabo - flipped in true Lloyd style.

Available here



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5. Amanda Whiting - After Dark



Taking cues from Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby at their most delicate, this is Amanda Whiting with her debut full length LP for the Jazzman label after 2020’s Sunflower. After Dark is a special one to gladden your evening soul! Amanda is as warmly received in the lecture hall as the concert hall, being a jazz harp teacher at Royal Welsh college of Music and Drama.

An excellent Sunday Night listen, or any day of the week really! Unfortunately, this is sold out, but we highly, highly recommend checking this out. ❤️ 

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6. Sons Of Kemet - Black To The Future

The fourth studio album by Experimental Jazz quartet, Sons of Kemet released via Impulse! Records. 11 tracks of free flowing soul and improvisatory jazz instrumentation with poetry and spoken word laced on-top of some of the tracks. Led by tenor saxophonist, clarinetist and Composer Shabaka Hutchings, Black to the Future is strong in its message, with hope as the driving force and spirit as the guiding consensus. Like all Hutchings albums, the LP comes with a manifesto-cum-sleeve note, translating the message of the music onto paper. Have a listen and don’t forget the source ❤️ 

Available here.

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7. Madlib - Sound Ancestors



A rare entry in his vast catalog - a solo Madlib release, curated, edited and arranged by none other than Four Tet! Echoing 2003's Shades Of Blue, the process was similar here with Madlib instead providing his vault of hundreds of tracks while Four Tet listens and assembles. A special listen from start to end, with the journey taking you through various deep corners of sampled gems, cuts and skits from the mind of the loop digga. A must listen!

Available here.

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8. Kensuke Ide With His Mothership ‎– Contact From Exne Kedy And The Poltergeists



A mysterious Japanese pop rock album with quite the cult following! Recorded with producer Hiroshi Ishihara and engineer Soichiro Nakamura, this was initially released on CD last year and finally got the vinyl treatment a year later! A quirky and intriguing album based around the concept of a fictional character named Exne Kedy, featuring really nifty songwriting and great arrangements. 

Available here.

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9. Trees Speak – Posthuman



Fully hypnotized by this cosmic wonder of an LP by duo Trees Speak. Released on the label Soul Jazz Records earlier this year, it’s a brilliant trip that connects the dots between Tangerine Dream inspired synths, driving Krautrock beats reminiscent of classic bands like Can, and spacey desert psychedelia inspired by the Arizona landscape. Housed in retro artwork so perfectly suited to the gatefold format, comes with a 7’’ single and loads of night time magic.

Available here.

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10. Carlos Niño & Friends ‎– More Energy Fields, Current



Incredible release on International Anthem this year! Heavy contributions on this masterpiece with Carlos Nino at the helm - featuring Laraaji, Shabaka Hutchings, Randy Gloss, Jamire Williams and many more transcendental humans. The 44 minute program is imbued in a loving, universalist ethos, elegantly presenting a unique spiritual, improvisational space collage.

Available here.

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11. Halal Sol – Dijamin EP



For the dance music heads! This EP from Singaporean producer Halal Sol blew us away with its 90's style House bangers, woven together with crafty arrangements, tight sound design and a sense of cohesion that's just on point! Released on the mighty Darker Than Wax label, this EP features remixes from the label's co-founder Kaye as well as peer Bongomann. Unfortunately this is sold out, but you can still cop the digital here

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12. Kaye - Distant Dancefloor



Speaking of Kaye, his full length release Distant Dancefloor was a brilliant follow up for Darker Than Wax and an absolute joy to listen to. Crafted early on during the pandemic, Kaye's debut LP is a ray of sunshine that, initially, seemed to be made in anticipation of clubs reopening. Although it looks like that dancefloor is still pretty distant in Singapore, this album is an absolute winner to have in the bag for when that moment does come.

Fusing great hooks, solid basslines, uplifting samples and expressive solos, Distant Dancefloor is an incredible album from one of our music scene's most enduring stalwarts, bringing everything we love about jazz and dance music into a slick package.

Available soon at the vault!


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13. Sven Wunder - Natura Morta

We first heard of Sven Wunder on his wonderful 2019 release "Eastern Flowers" - a mix of psychedelia, folk sounds that explores the chimes of the easternmost part of Mediterranean Sea, around the Levantine Sea. Sven Wunder has a special gift of sculpting melodies that explores a specific narrative to allow listeners follow, an ode to 60s / 70s library music. 2021's Natura Morta is yet another masterpiece, exploring art as a bridge between nature and the human ability to judge and observe in eleven musical compositions with brightly colored textures and an emphasis on vibrant melodies. If you like soundtracks, this is for you!

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14. Greg Foat, Aleksi Heinola And Teemu Åkerblom – Gone To The Cats

Improvised beat-laden jazzy soundtrack jams to zone out to. Even better in the company of cats. Greg Foat, Alexis Heinola and Teemu Akerblom here with ‘Gone To The Cats’ out on #jazzaggression this year! This LP contains 8 spaced out seventies-style soundtrack/library music jams, built up with a jazzy backbone and spontaneous improv. You’ll hear Greg Foat on the new Moog Grandmother here along with the Fender Rhodes and Roland JX-8P synthesizer, backed by Aleksi Heinola on drums and Teemu Akerblom on bass. Perfect for those working from home and those looking for a soundtrack for your mind while you are busy.

Available Here.

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15. Greentea Peng - Man Made

Just when you thought the music was getting stale, Man Made brings that fresh energy back to life with spot on productions fronted by London based singer Greentea Peng for her Debut LP. The shroom-soaked spirit of a month long wilderness retreat radiates out from this album while remaining rooted in strong structures. Imagine the spirit of Erykah Badu, supported by the styles of RnB, UK Dance music and Modern Jazz inflictions. We first fell in love with her name and now we are left with more than just an iced green tea! Call it what you may :)

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16. Sarathy Korwar – My East Is Your West



A live album “My East is Your West”, a performance fusing elements of Indian classical music and blending it with different strains of jazz. Recorded live at London’s Church of Sound, the album is a tribute to the great musicians and seekers from the 60s and 70s - covering the likes of Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson. A lovely record that celebrates musical and cultural diversity. 

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17. Eddie Chacon - Pleasure, Joy and Happiness



One of our favourites! A 2020 release that found its way to the vault this year. It's been sold out, and for good reason - it's a thoughtfully considered album of quiet, confident R&B: it doesn't jump out at you, but rather gets in you.

Timeless writing from producer John Carrol Kirby on the keys, synths and arrangements, matched with very restraint percussion from Lamar Carter and excellent lyrics, vocal hooks and mood from the main man Eddie Chacon. 

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18. Meitei - Kofu



A late 2020 release that had significant play here at TAV in 2021! 

‘Kofū’ allows full immersion into fragments of the past without the trappings of nostalgia. ‘Kofū’ is a definitive conclusion with an open invitation to listeners from Japan and beyond — encouraging continued appreciation of this sacred part of history, wholly untethered from the world at large. 

All up, a special listen from start to end and a lovely conclusion to his trilogy. Released by one of our favourite Singaporean labels, Kitchen Label - the packaging / design is immaculate and LP sounds amazing. Comes with a 16-page insert! Still available right here. ❤️

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Nils Frahm - Tripping With Nils Frahm



Also a 2020 release that had a special part to play in 2021 here. An extraordinary musical trip - rare and exclusive, close and intimate, bringing a unique concert experience to the screen (and record). ‘Tripping with Nils Frahm is an illustration of Nils’ lauded ability as a Composer and passionate artist as well as the enchanting atmosphere of his captivating, and legendary Funkhaus shows.

A wonderful record for any electronic music lover; sounding excellent on our system, fully capturing that live experience with the signature Nils Frahm touch.

Available here.

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Godtet - III



We've come back to this record time and time again, sharing moments with visitors to our shop who are into a mix of contemplative jazz and lots of sub bass. This record was released in 2020 but had plenty of play here at the vault this year!

Godtet's III is a masterful contemporary jazz LP to dip into, perfect to get lost in as you take refuge from whatever chaos life might throw at you. Organic development, evolving motifs and a sense of perpetual searching drive the musical explorations forward, with tasteful electronics colouring the sound gently.

Available here.

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The End - See you 2022 :)

  • Post author
    Nick Bong
  • 2021New ReleasesTop 20

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