2017 was Donald Trump’s first year as president of the United States. Perhaps it is “outrage fatigue” at play, but it seems in retrospect that the albums that resonated with me this past year share certain qualities. Most of my favorites exhibit patience, steadfastness, focus, and determination. I needed music that is restorative. I needed it to provide space for my brain and my soul.
Jared C. Balogh — Between Probabilities (Evgeny Gerasimchuk, Grigory Bazhanov and Jared C. Balogh)
Balogh’s compositions are complex thorny things sometimes. Rhythmically dense, melodically spiky, angular in all the best ways. What a treat to hear this set of compositions realized with live guitar (played by Evgeny Gerasimchuk) instead of rendered via computer. Available as a free download on WFMU’s Free Music Archive. Disclosure: Jared is my friend and bandmate.
Andrea Belfi — Ore
Live percussion with synth textures. Exploratory, propulsive, and edgy.
The Bug vs Earth — Concrete Desert
Two of my musical heroes join forces for a full-length album of forbidding atmosphere and heavy dread.
Sarah Davachi — All My Circles Run
Slow-building drone manipulations of strings, voice, piano, and organ source materials. Skillful and musical editing transforms and reveals the source material’s essence in a manner reminiscent of Phill Niblock’s work.
Carla dal Forno — The Garden
Slow, brooding, post-punk‑y sounds with icy minimal wave melodies. Flawless use of drum machine in service of the songs.
Sharon Jones — Soul of a Woman
Swan song. Gone too soon. This is a meager consolation for the loss of such a talent.
Jonwayne — Rap Album Two
Introspective and brutally honest with himself. Jonwayne at his most vulnerable and exposed. A rarity in rap music.
Kid Koala — Music To Draw To: Satellite
A far cry from what one might expect of DJ-created electronic music. Patient, delicate, enveloping, tender.
Wayne Snow — Freedom TV
Alt/future R&B music with influences ranging from broken beat to deep house to Dilla/Spacek.