Don't need to go into why 2016 was the shittiest year in living memory for the planet and its people. Here's my best of 2016 i.e the music that helped me through it, with my thoughts at the time of release. If you have anything you think I need to know about before we call it a day on this year, please let me know in the comments. Doubtless there'll be part 2 along soon when I remember everything I've forgotten here.
50FT WAVE BATH WHITE (StrangeAngels)
"The heat remains, the thump, the fuzz, the noise, the sharpness, the blast. What Bath White also gives is space, dazzle, a little more psyche, a little more shape, a little more glimmer. It's a total delight from front to back."
BELFRY MESSA (Aural)
"I'm an old man, if guitar solos and dead-obvious riffs can be done with the kind of full-tilt gusto displayed on 'Belfry' give me more give me more."
BISK RAW SHIT EP (Blah!)
"stoner-estate doom and despair, fractured fucked up sounds that mirror the slow unpeeling of one's own eyeballs, loops and beats that sit in this strange queasy place dead-centre between old-skool grit and nu-skool electronics."
BLACK JOSH APE TAPE (Blah!)
"Loving Black Josh's 'Ape Tape' — just one in a welter of ace releases from Blah of late. Beats and loops that make Danny Brown sound like Drake and rhymes that cut like a scalpel to your skull. Don't leave 2016 behind without it."
CATS OF TRANSNISTRIA DIVINE (Soliti)
". . . them and you perhaps truly over on the other side of life, perhaps finally rewound/fast-forwarded into the freedom of total disappearance. Beautiful music for the doomed. That means all of you. Seek and get lost."
COMMODO HOW WHAT TIME (Deep Medi)
"'How What Time' is so good your kids will tell you to turn that racket down and neighbours three-doors-down will be feeling strange ructions in their innards and in your car your rear-view mirror will judder like a motherfucker. Like I say, Commodo makes incredibly USEFUL music. Get all you can."
CULT MOUNTAIN II (Bandcamp)
"busy smoking that Mambo and toying with charcoal-suicides by the sounds of the sequel, 'Cult Mountain II'. Utterly twisted, utterly perverse, utterly compelling music from the edge of everyday UK life. Absolutely essential."
CURREN$Y & ALCHEMIST THE CARROLTON HEIST (NA)
'An incredibly busy year for Curren$y and one of the best in his career - a new mixtape nearly every other month, all of them of a superb standard, this being the highlight"
GEORGE FIELDS BEYOND REALM (Bandcamp)
"does nothing you've not heard before but does it wonderfully, recalling Lapalux, Underdog, DJ Krush, Boards Of Canada, the harder end of Ninja Tune, '90s illbient and '00s hauntology, but always with bone-crushing beats and a real sense of creepy wonder suffused through every second. Superb, and a name to check out as 2016 unfolds."
GAIKA SECURITY (MIXPAK)
"Less a bolt from the blue than a refraction of his sources in through Gaika’s retina and out through his imagination, not a ‘spin’ on dancehall, grime, hip hop, rather all the above swallowed and spat out in a beautiful bolus of wonder. ‘Security’ should be on Datpiff and HotNewHipHop and in your home now, not just passed amidst hipsters like a secret. ‘Security’ should be MASSIVE."
HAVOC x ALCHEMIST THE SILENT PARTNER (Babygrande)
"37 of the most irresistable minutes hip hop will give you in 2016. Don't let the hip hop media's meh-ness about this album blind you to it. On the quiet, a stone-cold ice-hot masterpiece."
THE HELIOCENTRICS QUATERMASS SESSIONS: FROM THE DEEP (Now Again)
"You seriously didn’t think people could MAKE music like this anymore, suspected it could only be created through collage and reappropriation. Heliocentrics prove that the only thing stopping this kindof wonder being made and played is a lack of imagination. One of the UK albums of the yearalready."
KRISTIN HERSH WYATT AT THE COYOTE PALACE (Omnibus Press)
"A difficult record but one you’ll be exploring for some time yet. From Kristin you should expect nothing less. Where she goes from here is unimaginable."
HOREHOUND S/T (Bandcamp)
"So refreshing to hear doom where the lyrics MATTER. I want Horehound to create something full-length that picks up where this debut leaves off, I want to hear an album-length transmission that refines their songwriting while retaining their rawness because fuck me they're onto something special here."
JPEG MAFIA X FREAKY SECOND AMENDMENT (Jpeg Mafia)
"Where so much hip hop seems to want to abscond from reality into a world where internecine incestuous beef can be the only focus, JPEG Mafia has wide red eyes to the outside world. A record exactly as terrifying as the future it sounds like. Essential."
KHOST X GODFLESH NEEDLES INTO THE GROUND EP (Cold Spring) "HOLY JESUS BASTARD SHIT ON A FUCKING MOPED WHAT A FUCKING RACKET . . . This is music that screams of loss, loathing, division and fear. Why isn't more music doing this in 2016? Essential."
"Diamond-tight electro-funk and punchy lo-end-heavy beats accompany Keith’s usual syntactic digressions and shocking depravity to brilliant effect throughout. A KK album you don’t need to take in twenty-minute doses. Lap it up."
LEVELZ LV11 (Bandcamp)
"With an industry fixated on solo artists (easier to market/manipulate) we should all be cocking an ear towards the ill-mannered, devestatingly controlled, fantastically freewheeling music Levelz are shooting out there right now. For the kiddies, the old folks and all us inbetween, 'LV11 should already be an early contender for UK album of the year.
MEYHEM LAUREN PIATTO D'ORO (NA)
"with Alchemist, Harry Fraud, Large Pro and DJ Muggs on desk-duties you know this is going to be dated yet essential.
MUGUN WAGWARN (SOUNDCLOUD)
"In the month in which broke the devastating news that The Enemy are calling it a day, Coventry music fans can console themselves that a young MC from round our ends, Mugun is making some darkly engrossing, tough yet ferociously insular grime right now. Wipe away that tear mishkin. Maybe one day, we can pick up the pieces and carry on with our lives."
NEDLOG ERA SGLP (Stone Mountain)
"Strange strange abrasive wonderful shit from Atlanta. In a year's time you'll be saying you were in from the off. Make that lie the truth immediately."
OCEAN WISDOM CHAOS 93 (High Focus)
"On the quiet I reckon Ocean Wisdom's 'Chaos 93' might just be the most lyrically-engaging and dazzling album that the High Focus stable have given us yet."
ODDISSEE ALWASTA (Mello Music Group)
"ODDISEE has made great albums for the indefatigably ace Mello Music Group but I really do think this free mixtape is the best thing he's ever done. Won't get love on Datpiff or HotNewHipHop and that should be all you need to know. This is sublime, lyrical, lush, smooth, gritty, hip hop for those who know."
ONOE CAPONOE SPELLS FROM THE CYCLOPS (High Focus)
"consider this an essential transmission from Britain's alternate reality"
ORANSSI PAZUZU VARAHTELIJA (Svart Records)
" OP are capable of an awful lot as a band - squalid 70s-Miles-style funk, mind-melting motorik psyche, brutal metal, crucially their stylistic freedom never comes across as showboating, always seems a totally natural emanation from the previous moment, creating songs of monumental length that don't waste a second and that remain absorbingly odd and lysergic throughout. For me, best metal of the year thus far and I can't see it being surpassed. E-fkn-ssential."
""When I listen to the deacon say it I'm pullin' over/I've been prayin' with the reefer head, yeah/in the valley, meditatin'..." Nice booming jazz sound, heavy-hitting upright bass, a lick of Curtis, a non-stop mind and mouth in motion, a chorus that then brilliantly absconds into a near dream-state of fucked-upness, eyes heavy-lidded looking out of a car window at the rain and neon"
RITON FT KAH-LO RINSE & REPEAT (Ritontime)
"Exquisitely dead-eyed bass music, blank, robotic, Grace Jones/B-more-crunk clearly heavy influences. What the track postulates is that impossible party life where you simply keep going, pharma-fuelled from round about Friday afternoon through until Sunday night, only stopping now and then to smear more make-up on, give yourself those kick-ups and comedowns you need to stop yourself shaking."
ROYCE DA 5'9" TRUST THE SHOOTER MIXTAPE/LAYERS LP (NA/UNIVERSAL)
"absolutely clamps onto you; walks you down its streets, pouring scorn on pretty much everyone; skewering ego and arrogance and other targets currently narrowing hip-hop down to nothing. . . ."
SCHOOLBOY Q BLANK FACE (TDE)
"Can't get enough of the Q - with this and Rashad another great year for TDE"
SONANCE/TORPOR SPLIT 12" (Bandcamp)
"a simply stunning split single with Torpor that sees the Bristolian genii hit new depths of molten heaviosity and stellar reach"
SPARK MASTER TAPE SILHOUETTE OF A SUNKEN CITY (Soundcloud)
"Still an inexplicably strange almost-ambient delight, strangely redolent of Butthole Surfers and Outkast in equal measure"
"Damn, when he’s finished grabbing his balls/He sat with half a gram and some British amateur porn/He should really stand up, be a man and spark a nation/But his dick was titanium alloy with armor plating." They're baaack..."
SULLY -VAMP (Soundcloud)
"Fucking love the icey darkness of this one from SULLY. Chilling like your first childhood glimpse of the Cybermen/Cylons (depending on your vintage). And when, a minute in these robots start grinding against each other well garsh, you don't know where to look but you can't take your appalled gaze away. Unsettling."
THALIA ZEDEK BAND EVE (Thrill Jockey)
"for this fan I think it's the best thing she's made since those Come days. An almost unbearably poignant, diamond-hard bolt of blue beauty, red-white pupils, brown-black irises."
THE UNDERACHIEVERS IT HAPPENED IN FLATBUSH (Soundcloud)
"Someone with skinny jeans will be along in a minute to tell you to ignore old fuckers like me and keep listening to fucking Young Thug as if 'Slime Season 3' is some kind of fucking masterpiece instead of the crock it clearly is. These people are cunts for not telling you to listen to The Underachievers 'It Happened In Flatbush' which is INFINITELY BETTER if you want some lo-slung jeep music for your hot-hatch."
UNFATHOMABLE RUINATION FINITUDE (Sevared Records)
" Can't see a more brutal, perfect death-metal release coming out in 2016. Submit."
VAINAJA VERENVALAJA (Svart Records)
"I'm reminded throughout of Celtic Frost, Type O Negative, Amorphis' still-untouchable 'Karelian Isthmus'. The synths, occassional blasts of orchestral arrangements & spoken word moments only amplify the sense that these sick twists had to eject this bolus of aggravation before it bloated them like a floating corpse. Superb."
WESTSIDE GUNN x CONWAY x BIG GHOST LTD GRISELDA'S GHOST (Soundcloud)
"two blood-related MCs trade blows in the best way you've heard since Smoothe Da Hustler & Trigga The Gambla were last rolling out. Namechecking Warhol, Basquiat and as dazzling and tough-minded as both. Superb."