2019 is coming to the end so it’s that time of the year when we look back and see what caught our attention the most. As the tradition is on our side, we look first at the preferences of our readers and this is a top 3 of the most appreciated albums, compilations, mixes and other stuff.
Patrick Cowley – Mechanical Fantasy Box [Dark Entries]
The most sought after album from 2019 is “Mechanical Fantasy Box” by Patrick Cowley released by Dark Entries. “Mechanical Fantasy Box” is a collection of 13 unreleased songs recorded between 1973-80, a collection of Cowley’s work from the years preceding his meteoric rise as a pioneer of Hi-NRG dance music. This was before drum machines, before programmable, polyphonic digital synthesis, this is experimental music in every sense. Sounds flows from funk to kraut to psychedelic ambient electronics.
John Di Stefano – For The Moment [Concentric Circles]
The next one is also a collection of old tracks from the 80s and 90s from experimental composer and performer John Di Stefano. Concentric Circles collected tracks from some of Di Stefano’s early cassette releases from the 80s, as well as a number of unheard explorations of Indian polyrhythms from the early 90s. Living in San Francisco, Di Stefano had access to multiple University electronic music studios, where he had an impressive array of synthesizers at his fingertips, including both Buchla and Serge modular systems. Di Stefano combined his knowledge of modular synthesis with a background in percussion, his early releases were a uniquely human approach to electroacoustic music, with flourishes of post punk in the mix.
Space Dimension Controller – Redemption Of The Cryonauts [Not On Label]
The third album from 2019 is coming from the electro-funk master Space Dimension Controller. “Redemption Of The Cryonauts” is a surprise 13 tracks double-LP that landed on no label. In this album SDC addresses a future-proofed electro chassis, resulting in strong highlights strewn between the rolling D&B/electro turbulence, his scudding Stingray-style and a number of slick, chromed-out electro singers.
Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 [Light In The Attic]
The most appreciated compilation by our readers is “Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990”, an unprecedented overview of the country’s vital minimal, ambient, avant-garde, and New Age music – what can collectively be described as Kankyō Ongaku, or environmental music. The collection features internationally acclaimed artists such as Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, as well as other pioneers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yoshio Ojima and Satoshi Ashikawa, who deserve a place alongside the indisputable giants of these genres.
Spiritual Jazz 9: Blue Notes [Jazzman]
The next one is a compilation of jazz from Jazzman Records. The “Spiritual Jazz 9” compilation series is something of an epic, as it explores the little known and under-celebrated spiritual gems lurking within Blue Note’s vast catalogue. Given the staggeringly high quality throughout, picking a mere handful of highlights is tough. The music selected shows how musicians working with the label responded to a period of dramatic social and sonic change, charting the route toward the esoteric and spiritualised sounds that would dominate the deepest jazz of the 1970s. As ever, Blue Note had lit the path, and this new Spiritual Jazz collection shows that the progressive and underground jazz sound of the 1960s was not only the preserve of obscure artists and private pressings.
Cuneiform for Pumapunku [Light Sounds Dark]
Also the third compilation is about experimental and ambient music. “Cuneiform for Pumapunku” released by Light Sounds Dark is a quality ambient excursions from start to finish, touching on post-punk textures and mildly orientalist tonalities.
Retina.it – Formant [Nonplus]
Retina.it’s debut on Nonplus Records is by far the most looked up release from 2019 by our readers. Retina.it is an Italian electronic music producer duo based in Naples and this release features five tracks of analogue driven Techno/Electronic music. Somehow I’m a bit surprised this is the most appreciated 2019 release by our readers, but also the next two EPs are a bit special.
Ebo Taylor & Pat Thomas – Disco Highlife Reedit Series [Comet]
The second most looked up release on Hipodrome it’s a Comet afrobeat “Disco Highlife” re-edit EP, featuring remastered originals by Ghanaian legends Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas and disco reedits by LeonxLeon and Leo Nanjo.
Rocco Siffredi – Per Aspera Ad Astra [Barba]
The next one came very close to the previous release and is the infamous release of the Ukranian producer Vakula under his new name Rocco Siffredi on Barba Records. Maybe you know this release since it created a huge dispute in the electronic music scene between Vakula and female artists portrayed on the cover of the release.
Next are three mixes podcast or live recording that our readers appreciated the most.
Exhausted Modern – Phormix Podcast #155
Fist is the Exhausted Modern podcast for the podcast label from Athens, Phormix. Ladislav Zensor formerly known as Layup and now as Exhausted Modern is the co-founder of Endless Illusion crew from Prague.
Interstellar Funk @ Boiler Room x Dekmantel 03.08.2019
This is one of my favorite recording from Dekmantel festival this year and I’m happy that our readers enjoyed it also. The video is available also.
Andrew Red Hand @ Griessmühle, Krake Festival 2019
The next one I’m really happy to see it here since is coming from a Romanian DJ. Andrew is one of the most committed to the cause and I would like to see him playing more, but unfortunately he is playing more in Berlin than in Romania and this is a bad indicator for our scene here.
The following section is dedicated to releases by Romanian artists. Production wise 2019 was not the best year for the Romanian artists, with just a handful of notable releases. The most prolific projects were Lisière Collectif with releases on Pariter and on their own LSR and the well known Khidja and Cosmin TRG. The next three are the most looked up Romanian releases on Hipodrome.
Khidja – In The Middle Of The Night [DFA]
The Romanian duo Khidja had again a strong year. This is their debut release for DFA. With four tracks of inner city insomnia, “The Middle Of The Night” soundtracks the realm between being half awake and asleep. With jagged and pulsating synths and dubbed out howling vocals, we are left disorientated in the underground tunnels that connect the clubs of Bucharest, London, and Berlin.
DYL – Sonder [Paradise Lost]
DYL aka Eduard Costea is a Drum & Bass producer and DJ from Deva. He is not very known in Romania, but “Sonder” is his second album and features a dark ambient sound.
Lisière Collectif – LSR No. 03 [LSR]
The trio from Ploieşti, Lisière Collectif aka Andu Simion, Bogdan Ardeleanu, Dan Gheorghe, became in the last three years a steady name on the Romanian electronic music scene and this is the third release on their own label LSR.
This was 2019 in the eyes and ears of our readers. We thank you for being faithful followers and wish you all the best in the following year.