Source : Phonica
Best Of 2019: Albums
 
    

Our album selection gets more and more varied each year and it’s not only electronic & club music we are embracing. Our top 100 reflects both the diversity of opinion amongst staff members here at Phonica and the records you, our Phonica customers, buy. When compiling the chart, we look at both the bestsellers and those lesser-known records we have fallen in love with over 2019 and also to see what records have made a difference, given us a new sound or provided the soundtrack to our year.

But these new, exciting records is what makes our life more interesting at Phonica, not knowing what we are going to hear as we open boxes from far-flung labels and distributors from all over the world who just keep on finding us mind-blowing music. Unique electronic albums from Boreal Massif, Flaty, Aardvarck, Leif and Eye No No has led to a truly outstanding selection of outstanding long-players this year. Some familiar names return such as E.R.P (Convextion), FKA Twigs and Special Request who manages to be the first artist to have 3 albums included in a Best of chart! Although Anthony Naples should also get a mention too for 2 excellent albums this year!!

We welcome comments on our Off The Record page where we will also list our Best of 2019 charts, but please remember this is just an opinion, or an amalgamation of many opinions here. We are not saying that any record is better than another, it is merely a recap of the records we have loved and ones we want to shout about. For it to be included here, it just needs to have arrived in the shop in 2019 and be available on an LP or CD, so no digital only releases. Some others that haven’t arrived by Christmas will be on next years chart! So please enjoy listening……

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ANDY STOTT

It Should Be Us LP

MODERN LOVE

Buy

Andy Stott’s first release since 2016, ‘It Should Be Us’ is classed as a double EP (but for charting purposes here, we class it as a long-player) Slow and raw productions for the club, these 8 tracks harness a pure and bare-boned energy, melodies subsumed by drum machines and synths; slow, rugged abandon. It’s all about rhythmic heat and disorientation, pure dance and DJ specials rendered at an unsteady pace, from percolated house and percussive rituals to moody tripped-out burners.

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LEVON VINCENT

World Order Music LP

NOVEL SOUND

Buy

Levon Vincent unleashed his brand new triple LP ‘World Order Music’ via his own Novel Sound imprint in November, featuring eleven of his euphoric, raw and minimalist house creations. Top-notch!

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VIOLET

Bed Of Roses LP

DARK ENTRIES

Buy

The debut album from Violet, Inês Borges Coutinho, Lisbon born and raised DJ, producer boss of Naive records, co-founder of Rádio Quântica, and mina resident. Violet began producing music in 2012 and uses her seemingly boundless energy to amplify other artists all the while progressing her own creative practice, perfectly illustrated here that showed another side from her stonking club twelve inches!

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NILS FRAHM

All Encores CD

ERASED TAPES

Buy

Nils Frahm’s magical ‘All Encores’ CD merged all three of his ‘Encores’ EPs into one full length album. Whilst Encores 1 focused on an acoustic pallet of sounds with solo piano and harmonium at the core, and Encores 2 explored more ambient landscapes, now Encores 3 sees Nils expand on the percussive and electronic elements in his work. And the cd includes ‘Spells’, on of the best tracks of the year!

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THE COMET IS COMING

Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery LP

IMPULSE

Buy

The second full-length LP from London-based jazz trio of The Comet Is Coming aka Max Hallett, Shabaka Hutchings and Dan Leavers features nine slices of futuristic, jazz-infused compositions. Magnificent stuff from start to finish!

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JORGE VELEZ

The Saturn Star LP

UTTER

Buy

Just sneaking in before the end of year cut-off is the fourth release on Utter, this time a brand new album from cult producer Jorge Velez of L.I.E.S, Berceuse Heroique and Rush Hour infamy. ‘The Saturn Star’ takes sonic inspiration from Coil and Carlos Peron to soundtrack the imaginary tale of a 16th century alchemist pursued by The Inquisition. It makes for a unsettling yet captivating listen and includes an A5 riso-printed booklet illustrated by Velez titled ‘Systema’ inside the LP’s eye-popping sleeve.

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A MAN CALLED ADAM

Farmarama LP

OTHER RECORDS LTD

Buy

Returning after a long-lasting hiatus, Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones are back with a brand new album of melodic, emotional, pop-not-pop tracks, moving from soulful slow jams to lo-fi disco, Balearic house to dub, post-rock electronica and art-house ambience, there are glistening horizons and windswept beaches conjured up at every turn. Full of vintage warmth, analogue synths and intricate textures, Rodgers, Jones and new collaborator, Paul Smith, combine experimental touches with an undeniable catchiness, balancing electronic elements, with acoustic sparkles. An emotionally charged, intelligent and enlightening body of work that’s Balearic to the bone.

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FLYING LOTUS

Flamagra (Standard Version) LP

WARP

Buy

We had great fun transforming Phonica into a special pop-up store for the launch of this excellent album earlier in the year – with Fly Lo himself sticking around to sign copies and take selfies with his adoring fans. The album in question, Flamagra, features a collection of the LA producer’s iconic hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz and IDM inspired jams. Props to Warp Records for this one!

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EFDEMIN

New Atlantis LP

OSTGUT TON

Buy

The fourth album from Berghain resident Efdemin was a big one. Eight super tight techno, drone, ambient and experimental cuts feature on this LP. It’s been a strong year for Ostgut Ton!

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ALEKSI PERALA

Sunshine 3 LP

DUB

Buy

Aleksi Perälä makes stunningly attractive electronic music using the Colundi system. For those of you who don’t know what Colundi is, it’s an alternative tuning system that Perälä and his Rephlex-founding mate Grant Wilson-Claridge came up with a few years back. Some comparisons to Gamelan music have been made, this album is incredibly well sequenced regarding the running order of the tracks. His best album yet in our opinion. Play from the start and wait until the end. We recommend a morning listen, with freshly brewed coffee.

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UPSAMMY

Wild Chamber LP

NOUS’KLAER AUDIO

Buy

Upsammy delivered her debut LP for Nous’klaer Audio this year and it’s killer! Drums and percussive bleeps scatter and dance around the record keeping the rhythm behind her and plucky synths and dreamy pads.

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FLATY

Generic Targz LP

SODA GONG

Buy

Insane drum programming and dizzying rhythmic experimentation all over Flaty’s Generic Targz album. A big one for lovers of broken techno, ambient and footwork. Its the Russian artist’s 2nd LP under his best known moniker. Meshing digital synth work with precision drum programming. Most may know him from the Gost Zvuk label, or as Aem Rhythm Cascade on 12th Isle. But this album of ambient-electro patterns and razor sharp machine music feels like his most serious proposition to date. Fans of Actress, Sad City, Jan Jelinik, and Autechre need to check this.

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FKA TWIGS

Magdalene LP (Standard Edition)

YOUNG TURKS

Buy

A landmark release for 2019 from FKA twigs. Her second album, fully produced by herself and showcasing some excellent songwriting ( with shades of Kate Bush too in her vocals) and production skills,it also features major contributions from Nicolas Jaar and others.

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SABA ALIZADEH

Scattered Memories LP

KARLRECORDS

Buy

Saba Alizadeh’s ‘Scattered Memories’ is probably the best attempt at combining traditional eastern sounds and electronic production we’ve heard this year. Although the two worlds are easy to differentiate on the album, Saba managed to create the feeling of a third imaginary world where the two fuse together in an imaginary future/past eastern/western world.

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LEIF

Loom Dream LP

WHITIES

Buy

‘Loom Dream’ is an ambient release that really caught our ear this year. Leif delved even deeper into the ambient genre with a lot less club elements and than his previous work but with even more lush chords and field recordings.

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BOREAL MASSIF (PESSIMIST & LOOP FACTION)

We All Have An Impact LP

PESSIMIST PRODUCTIONS

Buy

Pessimist and Loop Faction’s collaborative album was undeniably most Phonica staff members’ sleeper hit of the year, mining vintage trip hop, deep dub, breakbeats and field recordings resulting in a dark and immersive listening experience. A stunning piece of work born in response to the current destruction of the natural world.

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AARDVARCK

Monkey Formula LP

CROWD

Buy

Monkey Formula is made up of mostly unreleased Aardvarck tracks. Here the Dutch enigma delves into some deeper, more ambient focused territories. To say this album is blissful would be an understatement, stunning beatless synth washes coat the mind, while reverb-drenched samples loop for infinity, the operatic vocals on ‘U Are, Not What U Think’ is a highlight – was there a more hauntingly beautiful track released this year? Mike Kivits aka Aardvarck has provided Phonica and the world with incredibly accomplished music over the years, unbound by genres his productions have veered from techno, broken beat, dubstep, dancehall, house to ambient. A truly unique talent who is definitely underrated in our opinion. The fruity loopy sleeve design and concept was overseen by print wizard, Gilles De Brock. Each sleeve is unique with this killer album too. A top package!

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CATERINA BARBIERI

Ecstatic Computation LP

EDITIONS MEGO

Buy

Buchla-maestro Caterina Barbieri’s live-shows have become spectacular events over the past year or so and those expecting her new album to reach the same heights weren’t disappointed, with opening track ‘Fantas’ containing the most emotive and creative sequencing we’ve heard this year. The inventive electronic explorations on this album are truly impressive with shifts and changes throughout making for an emotionally intriguing and suspenseful listen right to the end.

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SPECIAL REQUEST

Vortex LP

HOUNDSTOOTH

Buy

Special Request’s third album of the year got us completely ‘SP4NN3R3D’! His jungle and hardcore infused sounds return harder than ever after the more house and electro tinged excursions on his two previous LPs. Face melting bangers and tears in the club breakdowns galore.

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NATHAN MICAY

Blue Spring LP

LUCKY ME

Buy

Nathan Micay’s first album is an amazing piece of work, the production and sound design is incredible! The mix of trance like synths and elements of hardcore and jungle is perfectly executed and the cartoon insert is a lovely touch!

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GENE ON EARTH

Local Fuzz LP

LIMOUSINE DREAM

Buy

In a chart full of home listening albums, its good that we can feature so highly a solid dancefloor record from the mysterious Gene on Earth, apparently a Berlin-based producer from Canada! A whole albums worth of tracks on this doublepack enabled it to become one of our biggest sellers of the year, lets hope for a repress in 2020!

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OCTO OCTA

Resonant Body LP

T4T LUV NRG

Buy

Octo Octa’s ‘Resonant Body’ is full of hands in the air breakbeat bangers and 90’s house jams, very much a club focussed album, tracks like ‘My Body Is Powerful’ also illustrate Octo Octa’s ability to create powerful emotional soundscapes. Check out the mad acid track that breaks out into a full on rave piano riff halfway through on ‘Spin Girl, Let’s Activate!’

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FLOATING POINTS

Crush LP (Standard Edition)

NINJA TUNE

Buy

For us, and many others, Floating Points is one of the most important modern day UK artists, we’ve sold every release he’s put out in the shop – one of our biggest selling and most consistent producers. While previous albums have sometimes felt a bit too labored and over-thought (compared to his singles and EP’s), Crush seems a bit more spontaneous and free, consolidating his intuitive theory of ensemble playing, combining it with modular synth experiments. Sensibilities from some of Sam’s favourite jazz and classical music seem to sit really well with the structure and discipline he’s learnt from the house and techno scenes. At times you’re reminded of Autechre, Aphex, Jamal Moss, Nils Frahm, and Brian Bennett. It feels like he’s achieved creating his best ever long player. Which is a big deal when you consider Sam’s talent and his body of work to date.

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ANTHONY NAPLES

Fog FM LP [repress pre-order]

ANS

Buy

We’ve been big fans of Anthony here for years now, rarely putting a foot wrong with each release, especially his 12″s and EP’s. We enjoyed his two previous mini albums, they were a more deep listening hazy affairs. But this full 10 track really struck a chord with Phonica staff and wowed and customers alike.. this time a combination of his previous works ambient strains melding with a new purer dancefloor offering, providing both a full album journey of electronica from beginning to end while also including at least 7 bullets of streamlined tech-house/dub-techno for DJ’s. For fans of Shinichi Atobe, Carl Craig, Terekke.

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BARKER

Utility LP

OSTGUT TON

Buy

It is always hard to pick out the No.1 album and it was stiff competition for this position from Anthony Naples but, in the end, this stunning ambient, beatless electronix album from Sam Barker was our choice. The Berghain resident and Leisure System co-founder has spent the last few years exploring the euphoric potential of altering key variables in dance music formulas. And of course, the main ingredient in most dance music and most techno is the kick drum. His 2018 EP ‘Debiasing’ hinted at the sounds to come, sans kick-drum – the tracks worked on the floor despite this. With his debut solo album, Barker expanded this idea, in his own words: “After ‘Debiasing’ it occurred to me that my musical decisions were often unintentionally utilitarian, following an instinct to maximize pleasure in one way or another. It’s sort of unfashionable to admit, but by removing elements that have strong genre associations, this became a natural consequence.” The atmospheric and, at times, psychedelic outcome of his experimentation is here for us all to hear…..