I like music. In particular, I like listening to music, but perhaps unusually, I consider multi-tracked releases — those of EPs, LPs, albums — as a unit of artistic work, and therefore tend to listen album-at-a-time (or to an entire artist’s discography at a time).

To that end: here’s a queue of albums I want to listen to. Some of it comes from lists from the likes of Pitchfork; others are discovered via YouTube Music (née Google Play Music), or from musicians or labels on Twitter. (I’m looking at you, Ghostly.)

This should pretty closely match my listen-queue playlist on Google Play Music.

Once I’ve listened to an album at least once, I try to think about what I’ve listened to, and then try to write some words describing the album to myself, but that may interest others — and that’s the dequeued list.

(This project was paused in mid-2019 due to other things eating my time; and hasn’t properly resumed yet. I’d like to get back to this.)

the queue


What did I think of these albums?

Esperanza Spalding: 12 Little Spells (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-01-25)

from Chris Jones’ “10 Underrated Albums from 2018”

Startlingly good modern jazz. I really, really enjoyed this album, purely for its subversion and almost novelty. I’ve not heard the genre rendered like this: intricately woven, thickly layered. I wasn’t a huge fan of ‘The Longing Deep Down’, but the rest of the album offsets it in musical artistry and technical finesse. I’d love to hear more from Esperanza Spalding, if it’s like this!

Bruce Brubaker: Codex (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-01-25)

from Chris Jones’ “10 Underrated Albums from 2018”

Powerful, beautifully-executed piano. The minimalism is almost jarring, given the layers and layers of sound so common in modern music. A graceful, almost haunting exploration.

Laurel Halo: Raw Silk Uncut Wood (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-01-25)

from Chris Jones’ “10 Underrated Albums from 2018”

An incredibly intense ambient album, filled with songs that give the sense they’re about to burst out of their seams and thunder forth into the night. But instead, you’re left with the chirrups and whistles of synthesisers, and a feeling of music rising into the infinite. ‘Supine’ feels so unnerving on the album, and yet fits in so perfectly: a delicately-executed counterpoint, all harsh, pointy synth against the width and breadth of the rest of the album. Reminds me of Wolfgang Voight’s ‘GAS’ project, if he forgot to turn the synthesisers down and booted out the kickdrum line.

Zoë Keating: Snowmelt (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-03-20)

from Chris Jones’ “10 Underrated Albums from 2018”

Heart-shatteringly beautiful music. It’s impossible to describe this album or the wider body of music of Zoë Keating: there simply aren’t enough words.

Vessel: Queen of Golden Dogs (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-03-20)

from Chris Jones’ “10 Underrated Albums from 2018”

Harsh, fast, loud; lots of disjointed tracks of varying sounds and genres. The album opens with tracks that, were they not compressed so hard, might sound bearable, and somehow progresses through the space of listenable semi-IDM and the delightfully amorphous ‘world music’.

Kamasi Washington: The Epic (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-03-21)

Listening to it again, alongside lots of other Kamasi Washington.

This album is exactly what it says on the tin. Just shy of three thundering hours romping through the current state of jazz – but all oh so delightfully listenable. I remember loving this album when it first hit in 2015, and it’s still a wonderfully vibrant album. No clichéd jazz standards – the closest it gets is a delightful cover of Clair de Lune – just new, rich music. Reminds me of early Cinematic Orchestra (the ‘Motion’ and ‘Everyday’ era).

Kamasi Washington: Harmony of Difference (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-05-04)

missed its release!

Epic jazz from a leader of the field. A wonderful taste of the field, but oh so short and wanting so much more.

Kamasi Washington: Heaven and Earth (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-05-04)

from Pitchfork’s “50 Best Albums of 2018”

Much like ‘The Epic’, this album takes another huge step forward for this fusion of wonderful jazz.

Kamasi Washington: The Choice (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-05-04)

Follows up from ‘Heaven and Earth’, and much like ‘Harmony of Difference’ before it, this album chalks up another thundering win for the genre and the musicians.

Skee Mask: Compro (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-05-04)

from Pitchfork’s “50 Best Albums of 2018”

Feels like playing hopscotch in a blizzard. Wild and untamed meets restrained and contained.

Jon Hopkins: Singularity (added 2019-01-05, reviewed 2019-05-04)

from Pitchfork’s “50 Best Albums of 2018”

This album bounces between glorious, atmospheric soundscapes and filthy, grimy synthesizers howling at the moon. As I noted on Twitter at the time, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard head-bangingly good music. I’ve listened to this album end-to-end several times since my first scribblings about it, and it’s still every bit as fresh and explosive. Absolutely, thunderingly wonderful, and so, so highly recommended; I’ll be exploring the rest of Jon Hopkins’ music soon.

Lancirama: Lancirama (added 2019-01-10, reviewed 2019-05-04)

trying to find the music of Juno Morse, stumbled across this interesting-looking album.

And what an excellent discovery it was. It’s a superb, lounge-jazzy counterpoint to the intense, dense, and spiritual jazz of Kamasi Washington. Drawing prominently from Latin and Indian sounds gives this album a wonderful world-music feel, with catchy earworms and grooving swinging rhythms. From Diaspar to Lys, the track from which I discovered this album, is every bit the ethereal elevator music one could imagine for Arthur C. Clarke’s “The City and the Stars”.

Home: Before the Night (added 2019-01-14, reviewed 2019-05-04)

a track features on this beatiful piece of art: youtu.be/e9DfSCk-6Ko

A super chill, super sweet vibe. Very down-tempo, with thick fuzzy synths singing only instrumental lines. This genre is apparently called ‘synthwave’, and on the basis of this album I’m apparently a fan, but other albums, like ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Falling Into Place’ seem to contradict this: a little too much much-of-a-muchness, and not enough variation to keep me entranced.

Home: Odyssey (added 2019-01-14, reviewed 2019-05-04)

As for ‘Before The Night’.

Home: Falling Into Place (added 2019-01-14, reviewed 2019-05-04)

As for ‘Before The Night’.

Boards of Canada: Music Has The Right To Children (added 2019-01-24, reviewed 2019-05-04)

a BoC song showed up somewhere, so I decided to listen to their discography.

MHTRTC is structured intriguingly: in its first part, it pairs up explorations of depth and complexity like Telephasic Workshop with shorter sketches like Triangles and Rhombuses or The Color of the Fire, almost giving the idea of some strange, malevolent radio, wobbling between haunting stations.

But Roygbiv marks a turning point, bursting out as totally out of place, blowing away the menacing air from the first chunk of the album, setting a new tone of delicious, thick synthesisers, twanging basslines and chirruping drum machines. And, yes, the same freaky overtones, strange mutterings and mangled voices abound, but they’re almost more controlled.

Then the mood shifts, as Open The Light starts slowing the sound again, but now as of a sunset, a long, quiet fade out.

All up: unnerving, if not downright freaky. All precision edges, and complicated rhythm, melodies playing on the mind. The nearest comparisons I have are with Aphex Twin, but angrier, more haunted, more grotesquely playing with the ‘Come To Daddy’-era sound, or, oddly, with Vangelis, taking the sound of the ‘Blade Runner’ to the extremes of that metropolis. A very strange album.

Boards of Canada: Geogaddi (added 2019-01-24, reviewed 2019-05-04)

Enqueued discography.

Boards of Canada: The Campfire Headphase (added 2019-01-24, reviewed 2019-05-04)

Enqueued discography.

Boards of Canada: Tomorrow's Harvest (added 2019-01-24, reviewed 2019-05-04)

Enqueued discography.