Looking back at 2008. Part The First, being recordings released this year


Musically 2008 didn’t feel like one of the best. With so much amazing music from the past to compete with, the present has a lot to do just to keep up.

End of year perspectives seem to popping out of the woodwork, who am I to blow against the wind? Few of them, however, share much in common with my own preferences. Almost no-one seems to have valued Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald’s Recomposed which is strikingly ambitious in scope and impressively realised. Von Oswald’s involvement in Francesco Tristano’s Auricle / Bio /On and his live trio seem to point to fascinating new paths ahead for him (and us). Let’s hope he makes a full recovery from the stroke he suffered a couple of months ago. Likewise, I’ve seen little mention of Arve Henriksen’s Cartography, perhaps because it was released so recently – shame his move to ECM hasn’t resulted in much sign of improved promotion. Portishead’s been written about enough elsewhere.

I’ve departed from the format of the past couple of years by breaking releases up into albums I believe are in some way significant and that I’ll still value in years to come and records I’ve listened to a lot, but either aren’t groundbreaking or that aren’t entirely my taste (valuable). The other categories are surely self-explanatory…

If I’ve missed anything, let me know!



  • Arve Henriksen – Cartography
  • Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald – Recomposed
  • Portishead – Third

Well worth hearing


  • Alva Noto – Unitxt {techno electronica with attitude, clear linkage to Kraftwerk pleasurably discernible)
  • Autechre – Quaristice {less an advance than a fictional retrospective, but enjoyable nonetheless}
  • Benge – 20 Systems {soundtracking machines approaches the sublime}
  • Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago {lots of coverage for this one elsewhere}
  • Box – Studio 1 {Bjorkenheim and co thrash, crash and pulverise}
  • Bruno Pronsato – Why Can’t We Be Like Us {sensuous minimalism awash with sighs and honed beats)
  • Byetone – Death of a Typographer {superior electronica}
  • Fennesz – Black Sea {stormy, beautiful pulchritude}
  • Gas – Nah und Fern {feeling the edges of it, I’m yet to inhabit its centre, joke is of course there isn’t one}
  • Headhunter – Nomad {excellent dubstep/Berlin techno hybrid}
  • Johann Johannsonn – Fordlandia {Icelandic string-drenched loveliness}
  • Morgan Geist – Double Night Time {delightful disco pop}
  • Murcof – The Versailles Sessions {Murcof turns to Last Year In Marienbad}
  • Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising Sand {gorgeous Lanois-esque roots dream bought for Is and enjoyed by me a lot}
  • Scorch Trio – Brolt {scorched earth}
  • Shed – Shedding The Past {brilliant minimal with more than a nod to Chain Reaction heritage}
  • Skyphone – Avellanada {welcome second episode of Danish loveliness, I suspect overlooked by too many people}
  • snd – 4, 5, 6 {snd jettison ukg, retain basslessness}
  • Steinski – What Does It All Mean?
  • Terje Isungset – Ice Concerts {sublime warmth from ice}
  • Thomas Brinkmann – When Horses Die… {fascinating vocal electronica project}


  • Beck – Modern Guilt
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Jazzanova – Of All The Things
  • LindstrØm – Where You Go I Go Too


  • 2562 – Aerial
  • Dusk + Blackdown – Margins Music
  • The Bug – London Zoo
  • Ø – Oleva
  • Ryoji Ikeda – Test Pattern

Nothing new

  • Kraftwerk, David Sylvian, Jon Hassell, not enough from T++ (where’s the Chain Reaction-style aggregate CD?)

Wish I could hear it, but not for £67.99…

  • Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto w/ Ensemble Modern – UTP (apparently they’re getting new distribution so this’ll be available at a more affordable price next year)

Need to hear, but haven’t yet

  • The Caretaker, Philip Jeck/Sand, Soundboy’s Gravestone Gets Desecrated By Vandals, Janek Schaefer/Extended Play, Eivind Opsvik, Dubstep Allstars vol.6

Coming next

Other noteworthy lists

Previous years

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