Source Mixmag

THE 50 BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2019

The albums that defined the year

by: LYDIA WEBB, EDEN MACAULAY, LOUIS CHANT 18 DECEMBER 2019

 

50 SEB WILDBLOOD ‘SKETCHES OF TRANSITION’ (ALL MY THOUGHTS)

This album is so beautifully calming that you may find yourself beginning to physically float above ground if you listen too carefully.

49 PHOTONZ ‘NUIT’ (DARK ENTRIES)

This album’s addictive, atmospheric house comes straight from Lisbon’s underground scene. Be sure to check out the sex positive club night Mina where Photonz often plays.

48 MOUNT LIBERATION UNLIMITED ‘MOUNT LIBERATION UNLIMITED’ (STUDIO BARNHUS)

Five years in the making, this album displays breadth of Mount Liberation Unlimited. They have made their own sound and will only keep developing it.

47 96 BACK ‘EXCITABLE, GIRL’ (CPU)

Dive in to a variety of vibes on this excellent debut LP.

46 LENZMAN ‘BOBBY’ (METALHEADZ)

Lenzman’s unique approach to d’n’b is displayed in full on this thrilling album. Always one to watch – but you knew that anyway.

45 BURNA BOY ‘AFRICAN GIANT’ (ATLANTIC)

Burna Boy has staked a claim for the leading artist in afrobeats on this varied but consistent LP. It lands alongside a string of high profile collabs which have made 2019 Burna Boy’s year.

44 CALIBRE ‘PLANET HEARTH’ (SIGNATURE)

Calibre has said he wanted to create an album that “didn’t need to be played in a club… It could be whatever I wanted.” And he’s done a beautiful job during this new experiment.

43 E-SAGGILA ‘MY WORLD MY WAY’ (NORTHERN ELECTRONICS)

Beauty, distortion and speed – dive in to this awe inspiring record by E-Saggila.

42 EQUIKNOXX ‘ETERNAL CHILDREN’ (EQUIKNOXX MUSIC)

A short but sweet record that contains more dancehall evolutions from the highly reliable JA outfit.

41 ELLEN ALLIEN ‘ALIENTRONIC’ (BPITCHCONTROL)

Ready to be taken to another dimension? Pumping basslines, intergalactic melodies and Allien’s mysterious, whispering voice come together magically here.

40 CRAZY P ‘AGE OF THE EGO’ (WALK DON’T WALK LIMITED)

Another impressive and lively album from the UK group. It features funky basslines as well as synth pop and disco influences that come together to create a joyous listen, as usual 

39 STENNY ‘UPSURGE’ (ILIAN TAPE)

Get immersed with Stenny, who makes you feel like you’re underwater at a state-of-the-art aquarium, living among coral reef and rare species of fish. It’s a nice alternative to real life.

38 SAMPA THE GREAT ‘THE RETURN’ (NINJA TUNA)

The versatility, depth and variety in this album is something to be marvelled at. On this eclectic record, the Sampa isn’t shy to manifest every one of her talents and inspirations.

37 FREE LOVE ‘EXTREME DANCE ANTHEMS’ (OPTIMO MUSIC)

Life affirming protest music. Get on it.

36 SOLANGE ‘WHEN I GET HOME’ (COLUMBIA)

Solange is one of the most important artists of a generation and this album is the latest showcase of her incredible artistry.

35 FOX ‘JUICE FLOW’ (SWING TING)

One of the best albums to come out of lively record label Swing Ting. It’s a great dancehall LP from Fox and an impressive full-length debut.

34 NKISI ‘7 DIRECTIONS’ (UIQ)

Dance music of industrial intensity, Nkisi is a force to be reckoned with.

33 FLUME ‘HI THIS IS FLUME’ (FUTURE CLASSIC)

This tenacious mixtape features some of Flume’s personal favourite artists. Clocking in at 17 tracks, it’s a weighty drop from the Australian producer.

32 DAVE ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ (NEIGHBOURHOOD)

A captivating debut album from Dave, one of the UK’s best lyrisicts.

31 BELLA BOO ‘ONCE UPON A PASSION’ (STUDIO BARNHUS)

The Swedish producer brings us an album that doesn’t stay in one lane. Predictably good things from the Studio Barnhus.

30 HEADIE ONE ‘MUSIC X ROAD’ (RELENTLESS RECORDS)

This album is Headie One’s commercial debut and it delivers from the very first second to the last.

29 SOUNDBWOY KILLAH ‘HALCYON DAZE’ (SNEAKER SOCIAL CLUB)

Soundbwoy Killah takes us back in time with his bass-heavy house and UKG.

28 ANTHONY NAPLES ‘FOG FM’ (ANS)

Naples explores the emotive side of house and techno on this finely crafted LP.

27 JACQUES GREENE ‘DAWN CHORUS’ (LUCKYME)

‘Dawn Chorus’ is a sumptuous listen with its soft house vibes, perfect for the end of an epic night out, which is what it was written for.

26 GENE ON EARTH ‘LOCAL FUZZ’ (LIMOUSINE DREAM)

Nine tracks of Gene On Earth’s stylish dance music? It’d be rude not to. The Berlin-based artist flexes across an LP originally released as a tidy vinyl double pack.

25 GIANT SWAN ‘GIANT SWAN’ (KECK)

A full showcase of Giant Swan’s unconventional techno with a punk edge. Unmissable.

24 GALCHER LUSTWERK ‘INFORMATION’ (GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL)

The New York producer is back with this deep house banger. A jazzy undertone runs throughout and adds charisma and warmth to his lights-low jams, complete with enigmatic vocals.

23 THOM YORKE ‘ANIMA’ (XL)

Possibly the icon’s most ambitious solo project yet, this album was accompanied by a beautifully accomplished short film that’s a must-see.

22 CHASE AND STATUS ‘RETURN II JUNGLE’ (EMI)

The duo head back to their roots in order to bring jungle into the future.

21 FLYING LOTUS ‘FLAMAGRA’ (WARP RECORDS)

Flying Lotus’ bouncing take on jazz and funk feels limitless and takes you into a cosmic universe. ‘Flamagra’ is his latest epic.

20 PARANOID LONDON ‘PL’ (PL RECORDS)

This epic acid house album will keep you going for hours. Paranoid London’s superb formula is sleek and sensual while taking you on an electric trip.

19 SPECIAL REQUEST ‘OFFWORLD’ (HOUNDSTOOTH)

Special Request shows how adaptable he has become in this futuristic album. The diverse range of tracks showcase his immense energy.

18 O’FLYNN ‘ALETHEIA’ (SILVER BEAR RECORDINGS)

The London-based producer O’Flynn broke onto the electronic music scene in 2015. In this unconventional album he brings his euphoric rhythmic influences into play with animated drum work and feverish rhythms.

17 KANO ‘HOODIES ALL SUMMER’ (PARLOPHONE)

A captivating full length from grime OG Kano commentating on the UK’s broken society. The rapper is one of the few keeping it old-skool in the evolving world of grime.

16 HOT CHIP ‘A BATH FULL OF ECSTASY’ (DOMINO)

It doesn’t seem like Hot Chip will ever go out of fashion. This album brings us alternative synth bangers that leave us wondering if the band will ever disappoint us.

15 SKEPTA ‘IGNORANCE IS BLISS’ (BOY BETTER KNOW)

Skepta had a lot to live up to on this one and did not disappoint. ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ is inventive and features collabs with the likes of J Hus and the rest of the BBK crew.

14 ERIKA DE CASIER ‘ESSENTIALS’ (INDEPENDENT JEEP MUSIC)

Erika de Casier demonstrates her 90s nostalgia in this trendy soulful house album. Hypnotic to say the least.

13 LITTLE SIMZ ‘GREY AREA’ (AGE 101)

The actor and musician granted us her unapologetic third album in 2019 which showcases her unmatched style and presence.

12 NATHAN MICAY ‘BLUE SPRING’ (LUCKYME)

Nathan Micay presents an unmissable and trippy journey on this impressive nine-track album.

11 ​THE COMET IS COMING ‘TRUST IN THE LIFEFORCE OF THE DEEP MYSTERY’ (IMPULSIVE!)

The London-based band are known for blending jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic rock to create an astral fusion. ‘Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery’ brings an otherworldly atmosphere throughout.

10 SPECIAL REQUEST ‘VORTEX’ (HOUNDSTOOTH)

Paul Woolford’s Special Request alias returned with a number of releases this year. This was the pick of the bunch, a dense and eclectic trip through acid, techno, UK funky and his staple breakbeat sound.

MOODYMANN ‘SINNER’ (KDJ RECORDS)

Five years after his last proper album, Kenny Dixon Jr’s latest arrived with little fanfare (he first sold a few copies by hand in Detroit) but plenty of acclaim for the resonant and moodily funky groove it maintained.

SHANTI CELESTE ‘TANGERINE’ (PEACH DISCS)

Shanti Celeste’s debut album drew on Detroit techno, the soundsystem culture of Bristol and the sound of the kalimba – recorded at her father’s home in Chile – to create a diverse listening experience.

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS ‘NO GEOGRAPHY’ (VIRGIN EMI / ASTRALWERKS)

Undercutting the predictable excellence of The Chems’ rave, soul, big beat and techno was a sense of euphoric internationalism designed to smash the political crap we’ve all had to bear this year.

 

JAYDA G ‘SIGNIFICANT CHANGES’ (NINJA TUNE)

Having built a name with euphoric sets of pure disco and house, Canada-via-Berlin’s Jayda Guy wrong-footed everyone with a debut on Ninja Tune which forged a soulful but tech-heavy third way between both styles.

KORNÉL KOVÁCS ‘STOCKHOLM MARATHON’ (STUDIO BARNHUS)

From tender lullaby ‘Purple Skies’ to the playful jazz melody of ‘Szombat’ and ‘Ducks’ light house groove, Kovács’ second record is a proper album, a well-constructed whole that was more than the sum of its parts.

LORAINE JAMES ‘FOR YOU AND I’ (HYPERDUB)

The Hyperdub debut of Enfield raised producer Loraine James was of its time, taking influence from growing up queer and working class on a multicultural London estate, drawing on jazz and electronica, grime and drill.

 

OCTO OCTA ‘RESONANT BODY’ (T4T LUV NRG)

If Octo Octa’s third album ‘Where Are We Going?’ reflected her arrival in public as a trans woman, the exuberant house and blissed-out ambient of ‘Resonant Body’ spoke of a spirit at ease.

FLOATING POINTS ‘CRUSH’ (NINJA TUNE)

Polymath, pianist and Eglo Records boss Sam Shepherd returned with an album as eclectic as his CV for the follow-up to 2015’s debut ‘Elaenia’, taking in house, garage, ambient and minimalist orchestration.

BARKER ‘UTILITY’ (OSTGUT TON)

A decade after he co-founded Berlin’s Leisure System party – and subsequently label – as a home for what it called “modern electronic music for dancing”, Sam Barker emerged with a release that captured the harmony in eclecticism that had made LS such a success. That record, 2018’s ‘Debiasing’ EP, brought gorgeous, infectious techno, yet did so very overtly without resorting to the use of a kick-drum throughout. It was a conceptual warm-up – alongside the white label release of BARKER 001 in June of this year – for the unleashing of his debut album, which follows a similar format. Released on Ostgut Ton, ‘Utility’ is a record which sparkles rather than explodes into life through the constellation of looping, descending notes and magnetic cloud synthesiser hiss of ‘Paradise Engineering’ and into the scything bullet train song of ‘Experience Machines’; the dream-like evocation of a club heard from the other end of a rain-soaked street at midnight that is ‘Gradients of Bliss’; the tentative groove of the title track and the nine-minute machine epic ‘Die-Hards Of The Darwinian Order’. Across nine songs made of what has been described as a fusion of “experimentation and dancefloor pragmatism”, and partly composed on instruments built by Barker himself, this is techno which subtly dispenses with the genre’s standard elements to create a new evolution in the style; music made for the club but repurposed as an exercise in ambient self-care. It’s a beautiful algorithmic head trip, and the electronic sound of 2019.