We’re joining in the list fever this year - though not before the year is more or less through - with the favourite 2011 records from Evening of Light HQ. Of course we missed tons of good releases out there, but these at least are things we particularly enjoyed. Thanks to all the artists and labels for sharing their music with us.
First the top 10, in alphabetical order.
The A. Lords - The A. Lords (Rif Mountain) [Our Review]
The LP followup to 2006’s self-titled 3″ is a masterpiece of pastoral, almost ambient, folk. Nicholas Palmer and Michael Tanner’s blend of many acoustic instruments with field recordings, and quite a few fortuitous guest appearances, makes for a wonderful album that started out as a relaxed summer favourite and turned into a classic for all seasons.
Steven Wilson’s drone project hits bullseye with this CD/LP release on tonefloat. The four massive tracks on this album combine ultra-deep drones with pulsating beats in a flawless production. One of the most hypnotic releases of the year!
Burial Hex - Book of Delusions (Brave Mysteries) [Our Review]
Aural insanity is one way to describe the utterly original and uncompromising output of Burial Hex the past few years. It appears the project is ending after this year, but Book of Delusions is one of the testaments to its genius, combining drones, samples, organ, piano, demented screams, and hypnotic beats into an unholy musical mixture.
Momick - Momick (Bladud Flies!) [Our Review]
Richard Moult and Michael Lawrence bring their lysergic piano morphing to a debut full length filled with melancholic melodies and soundscapes, including beautiful guest performances by David Tibet on vocals and Mark Baigent on oboe.
Obsequiae - Suspended in the Brume of Eos (Bindrune) [Our Review]
This duo’s excellent blend of death/black metal and mediaeval musical inspiration makes for an album steeped in energy, solid riffs, and awesome melodies. Our metal tip of the year!
Premonition Factory - The Sense of Time (Longstreet) [Our Review]
A flawless ambient album, and a crown on a long tradition. Sjaak Overgaauw’s live looping technique is marvellous and the mixture of light and dark, soft and harsh on this album marks the coming of age of a most excellent project. This one just keeps on growing and is not only one of our favourite albums of this year, but one of our favourite albums, period.
This project is one of our favourite discoveries of the year, and their blend of organic ambient and cinematic music (for lack of a better description) is consistently excellent. Springtide is their finest work, though, featuring marvellous violin and string work, heavy drones, organ, and tons of atmosphere.
Sand Snowman - The World’s Not Worth It (Tonefloat) [Our Review]
Sand Snowman’s most recent album is another winner, with a particularly excellent mix of progressive folk and rock songs, as well as soundscape-like episodes. Great use of piano, flutes, clarinet, and a guest appearance by Steven Wilson make this an excellent new full-length.
Tenhi - Saivo (Prophecy) [Our Review]
Refined as ever, Tenhi’s latest is easily one of the best albums of the year in the neofolk area. Despite staying true to their own style, they’re still quite a distance ahead of most others in this area and Saivo is as much a pleasure to listen as its predecessor from five years ago.
Of course we’re quite partial to the Van der Vleuten album we released ourselves in 2010, but this year’s return to vinyl (and to tonefloat) is simply a masterpiece. His original electronic compositions are masterfully fused with influences and themes from martial industrial, but with Maarten’s own critical view on the subject matter.
The following albums, too, are all particularly recommended in their own right as quality releases from 2011:
- Alcest - Le Secret (Prophecy) [Our Review]:
Rerecording of Alcest’s excellent shoegaze/black metal debut EP.
- Peter Bjärgö - The Architecture of Melancholy (Cyclic Law):
The Arcana frontman presents seven nice darkwave/gothic tracks.
- Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow (Fish People):
Surprising and very fulfilling, Bush’s minimal jazzy piano landscapes delight.
- Circulation of Light - LEDNAH : Seven Meditations On G.F. Handel’s Organ Concertos Op. 4 (Brave Mysteries):
Acoustic/ambient reinterpretations of a classical piece.
- The Cloisters - Little Winter [Our Review]:
Yule album combining harp and ambient by Michael Tanner and Aine O’Dwyer.
- Jon DeRosa - Anchored EP (Silber) [Our Review]:
Four pure and lovely indie pop songs from the man behind Aarktica.
- The Doomed Bird of Providence - Will Ever Pray (Front and Follow) [Our Review]:
Original and intense nautical neofolk.
- The Driftwood Manor - Shelter EP (Rusted Rail):
Five lovely Irish folk tracks on this bonus EP to The Same Figure, Leaving.
- Joonatan Elokuu - Earth, Sky, Moon and Sun EP (Utupuu):
Recorded in Holland, Elokuu presents a wonderful blend of neofolk, ambient, and field recordings.
- Higuma - Pacific Fog Dreams (Root Strata) [Our Review]:
Gorgeous guitar and vocal drones.
- Andrew King - Deus Ignotus (Epiphany) [Our Review]:
Powerful traditional balladry, with a touch of industrial aesthetics.
- Machinist - Of What Once Was (Moving Furniture):
Sophisticated drones from the Netherlands.
- Richard Moult - Celestial King for a Year (Second Language) [Our Review]:
Experimental compositions for strings and voice.
- Raising Holy Sparks - Beyond the Unnamed Bay (Fort Evil Fruit):
Agitated Radio Pilot’s David Colohan returns with his new project, blending lovely folk tunes and experimental electronics.
- Rose Croix - Rose Croix (Brave Mysteries) [Our Review]:
Ethereal and martial industrial meet on this nostalgic cassette mini-album.
- Ulver - Wars of the Roses (K-Scope) [Our Review]:
Slightly underwhelming, the Norwegians’ latest is still a quality album, particularly the massive spoken word ending.
- Vidna Obmana - 1987-2007 - Chasing the Odyssey (Tonefloat) [Our Review]:
Mostly older material, but this 8LP box of ambient glory is too beautiful not to remind you of.
- Vortex - Rockdrill (Cyclic Law):
Ritual and rhythmic ambient goodness from this Golgatha side project.