Jordan Dowling's top albums of 2014
10) Royksopp – The Inevitable End
Royksopp's final full-length is a worthy farewell to the traditional album format for the Norwegian duo. Backed by a range of guest vocalists, most notably The Irrepressibles' Jamie McDermott, it is the kind of perfectly-presented electro-pop you expect from them, with 'Sordid Affair' and 'You Know I Have To Go' standing up with the best of their impressive back-catalogue.
9) Ian William Craig – A Turn Of Breath
Ian William Craig's “A Turn Of Breath” is William Basinksi's ambitious 'Disintegration Loops' project re-imagined for dusty, decaying pubs and desolate bedrooms. A single voice stretches and fragments as it repeats, sometimes accompanied by guitar or some other secondary noise but more often than not entirely alone. Its hard to say exactly what makes it so entrancing and unsettling, but it certainly is.
8) Future Islands – Singles
2014 was a breakout year for Baltimore quartet Future Islands, as vocalist Gerrit Wilmers silly danced his way into the public conscience with the band's performance on The Letterman Show. Behind it, “Singles” is a very strong collection of indie-rock nuggets that is worthy of its moniker.
Continue reading: Jordan Dowling’s Top Albums of 2014
There is, it seems, a compulsion felt by most music scribes when offering criticism of ambient music to meet a scarcity of sound with an over-abundance of adjectives and imagery; to compensate for minimalism by offering maximalism. To waste words. This review is the product of such a compulsion, and no apology is offered.
For A Winged Victory For The Sullen, the pianist/composer duo of Dustin O'Halloran and Adam Wiltzie deserve it. With the release of their 2011 self-titled debút the Berlin-based two-piece set up their stall on the absolute plateau of ambient music, creating an album that not only sat comfortably alongside the work of Adam's main project, the much-lauded Stars Of The Lid, but that came close to over-shadowing it. It was expansive yet restrained, perfectly composed yet gloriously free-flowing and utterly gorgeous from start to finish.
Despite the protestations of the co-conspirators behind the album, who stressed the fact that A Winged Victory For The Sullen was not merely a 'side-project' but an ongoing concern, it did feel like a one-off; the first and final hurrah of an entity that arose from a chance meeting between the two many years prior. This was not only due to the workloads of both artists outside of the 'project' but the fact that it was difficult to see where they could improve on their first release. 'Atomos' is how.
Continue reading: A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos Album Review
With so little room for variation and such an over-saturation in both the field of 'ambient' music and commentary on it any review of an album situated in the genre can seem to be a retread and offer little more than stereotypical adjectives (read: 'heavenly', 'spacy', 'glistening') and entirely obvious comparisons to the scenes' two godfathers of both the past and present; Eno and Stars Of The Lid. That 'A Winged Victory For The Sullen' is the new hub of Stars Of The Lid founding member Adam Wiltzie doesn't offer much promise of something fresh, but this self-titled debut, a collaboration with respected composer Dustin O'Halloran, is a thoroughly wonderful full-length.