The Music Factory’s favourite albums of 2019

Piers Barber runs down the Music Factory’s favourite albums from the final year of the 2010s. Full lists from previous years can be found here, herehereherehereherehere, here and here

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Honourable mentions

0017221230_10AJ Tracey – AJ Tracey; Shanti Celeste Tangerine; Ride – This Is Not A Safe Place; Ondo FuddEyes Glide Through The Oxide; The National I Am Easy To Find; Floating PointsCrush; Thom YorkeANIMA; SpiritualizedAnd Nothing Hurt; KindnessSomething Like A War; Hot ChipA Bath Full of Ecstasy; Hayden ThorpeDiviner; Chastity Belt – Chastity BeltThe Chemical BrothersNo Geography; SkeptaIgnorance Is Bliss; Karenn – Grapefruit Regret; John Beltran – Hallo Androiden; BurialTunes 2011-2019; Octo Octa – Resonant Body; Khruangbin – Hasta El Cielo; Nathan Micay – Blue Spring

10 to 6

10. Chromatics – Closer to Grey. More of the same from Johnny Jewel’s dream pop greats – thankfully, their dreamy-dark synth-pop formula remains a wonderfully compelling one.

9. New OrderΣ(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) New Order & Liam Gillick: So it goes.. New Order deliver some of their finest ever live recordings in this special set recorded at the 2018 Manchester International Festival, including some lesser-spotted gems and rarities.

8. Barker – Utility. Awesome kick drum-less rhythms and soundscapes make up an always-fascinating record widely acclaimed by critics and contemporaries alike. 

7. Skinny Pelembe – Dreaming Is Dead Now. Politicised, smart indie-bass-rap-funk-ska from this Brownswood protege. His live sets are great, and the potency of tracks like ‘No Blacks No Darks No Irish’ offer hints of some real state of the nation moments to come.

6.DJ PythonDerrtirse. Brian Piñeyro’s six track EP of recontectualised reggateon follows hot on the heels of 2018’s Dulce Comañia, which charted at six in last year’s run down. It’s all highly addictive, interesting and listenable stuff – and would be higher if it was a full length. 

5. PrinceOriginals

220px-Prince_-_OriginalsThe heaving Paisley Park vault continued to bear fruit this year, most notably in the shape of Originals, a joyous collection of all the songs Prince wrote for other artists, here recorded by the man himself. And – surprise surprise – it turns out that the Purple One’s versions are almost entirely better than those ultimately committed to tape by the artists he wrote them for, ranging from touching ballads (‘Gigolos Get Lonely Too’), techno prototypes (‘Make Up’) to classic rock and roll (‘Holly Rock’). Some – ‘Baby, You’re A Trip’; ‘Sex Shooter’ – are probably contenders for his best ever. The best posthumous Prince release yet.

4. StennyUpsurge

0017790625_10Upsurge is the exhilarating first LP from Stenny, one of the leading lights of the ever-excellent Ilian Tape label. Satisfyingly for an artist who has so far made his name through consistent, targeted EPs, this album works brilliantly as a longer piece, meandering seamlessly through twisted late night rollers (‘Swordfish’) via lush ambient (‘Water Maze’; ‘Dew’) and genuinely stunning breakbeat riots (‘Psygraph’; ‘Fast Fade’), drawing heavily on UK dubstep, garage and hardcore traditions throughout. It’s excellent, forward thinking dance music which hints at intriguing possibilities for this artist, label and genre in the 2020s.

3. Andy StottIt Should Be Us

CoverAndy Stott’s latest fascinating collection of slowed down, tactile club music finds the Manchester producer’s sound at its most desolate and apocalyptic. Gone are the female vocals which punctuated previous releases – instead Stott’s shuffling, clanking beats are brought to the fore, carefully constructed to feel disorientatingly disparate but which all somehow ultimately manage to satisfyingly lock into compelling grooves. The grubby haze and fuzz make it all the more special when pretty, light-filled melodies occasionally escape the rubble, most notably on the hopeful closing track ‘Versi’. Great zebra cover image, too!

2. ShedOderbruch

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2019 was another typically prolific year for the great René Pawlowitz, with the Berliner releasing dubby rollers via his Wax moniker, another excellent Head High EP and the wonderfully named No Repress But Warehouse Find EP as Shed. But it’s on Oderbruch, the fifth Shed full-length named after and apparently inspired by the German-Polish borderland where he grew up, where Pawlowitz demonstrates the full extent of his powers. There are outstanding moments of beauty (‘Nacht, Fluss, Grille, Auto, Frosch, Eule, Mücke’), bruising Berlin techno (‘Seelower Hohen’) and, in the likes of ‘Menschen und Mauern’, quintissential Shed tracks that contain all the tasteful nostalgia, intriguing melody and classic muscle with which he’s made his name. What a guy. 

1. Anthony Naples – FOG FM

a3977864628_10After an intriguing career of largely fantastic releases – starting way back in 2012 with quirky club hit ‘Mad Disrespect’ – New York producer Naples reached a new peak this year with FOG FM, over an hour of tough, fuzzy and robustly built club beats in which the New York producer wisely indulges himself – giving his grooves space to breathe and develop to their full potential. It’s epitomised by the title track, over seven minutes of ondulating, skipping shimmer and bounce. His remix of Working Men’s Club’s ‘Teeth’ is also one of my favourite tracks of the year, a disco-flavoured rework delivered in a totally different vein to FOG FM’s tougher, introspective rhythms. A highly modern and memorable release.

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