One thing I loved about Foxy Digitalis year-in-review articles in the past was that each individual writer did their own piece however they wanted (if they wanted to! It was never required) and while this new iteration of Foxy Digitalis is obviously almost entirely centered around my writing, I missed the breadth of that coverage this year. I am so grateful that Peter Taylor put together his mix and article, but definitely wanted more.
So just when I thought I was done with 2021 recaps and recollections, I innocuously asked on Twitter what favorites people weren’t seeing mentioned anywhere and (predictably, I guess) got a mountain of responses. Since Foxy Digitalis readers typically have excellent taste, there were some absolute gems mentioned that I had forgotten or, more likely, hadn’t even heard. In an effort to continue highlighting the silver linings of a fucked up year, and bring some of that old spirit to the new site, here’s a handful of submissions that I am digging a lot.
(There was simply so much worthwhile music released in 2021 that I could keep making lists for entirety of 2022, but I think this will be it)
Toshimaru Nakamura Culvert – No-Input Mixing Board 10 (Room 40)
Delicate sizzle and hum that seeps in the deepest cracks to wear away any resistance we have left. Utterly mesmerizing.
Damon Holzborn & John O’Brien Exquisite Coast One (Self-Released)
One of the more interesting lockdown concepts and albums I’ve heard that turns the idea of ‘call and response’ on its head before twisting it through a pliable modular synth matrix.
Beth McDonald densing (Self-Released)
There should be more experimental tuba records in the world, but until that’s something more common I am grateful to have this absolute gem of improvisations from Beth McDonald.
Bonga Jean-Baptiste Boula (Buda Musique)
Infectious joy by way of celebratory Haitian Vodou psychedelia built on effervescent rhythms that feel like a living, breathing organism. Incredible.
Clan Caimán Asoma (Rises) (EM Records)
A weightless, whimsical romp from this Argentinian quintet weaving cotton candy melodies and sunkissed rhythms into a beguiling knot.
JJULIUS VOL. 1 (Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox)
Proto weirdness from Sweden that sounds like the folk music of an alien planet. Skeletal beats and skull-grinding basslines swim through cavernous tanks filled with freezing ghosts. Fantastic.
Virginia Astley Maiden Newton Ecliptic (Self-Released)
I’m honestly a bit embarrassed that I managed to miss this new album from English songstress, Virginia Astley, but it’s as fanciful and delightful as ever. Music made by garden fairies.
Sofie Birch & Johan Carøe Repair Techniques (Stroom)
Idiosyncratic submerged pop music stripped down to the barest bones and repurposed with strange, lovely melodies hanging like leaves from a faded neon forest. Each song is its own microscopic world with dancing figures and sweet lullabies.
Maurice Louca Saet El Hazz (The Luck Hour) (Northern Spy)
Louca weaves a sonic set for the gloaming in summer, tinged with dark orange silhouettes and inviting spaces lined with luxurious tapestries. This is old world music saturated with forward-looking prose.
Jennifer Moore Channels of Time (wherethetimegoes)
On the beach, time stands still. Jennifer Moore’s gauzy excursions through cosmic tide pools and starsoaked skies laments the coldest memories of our past with an eye toward the horizon where the sun hopefully rises again. Everything about Channels of Time is intoxicating and simply feels important.
Viejas Raíces De Las Colonias Del Río De La Plata (Altercat)
I’d never even heard of this record let alone knew it’d been reissued this year, but I’ve probably listened to it a dozen times in the past 10 days. A crucial slice of South American jazz from 1976.
Cicada National Park CNP (Zoners Network)
A magical bit of synth and guitar hynpogloss that skirts the line between interstellar drones and ecstatic reverie, all cooled with a hint of organic matter. Extra points for the lovely sax playing on “Cricket.”
Balimaya Project Wolo So (jazz re:freshed)
Intricate compositions built on a seemingly endless number of sonic layers where different instruments seep out of every corner. Bright and relentless, Wolo So never fails to make me smile and want to get up and move. An instant classic.
Alina Kalancea Impedance (Important)
Romanian sound artist (who is currently based in Italy) Alina Kalancea builds an aural maze of futuristic imagery and artificial meditations that plays out like a secret code buried in the drama of a long forgotten diary. Impedance is electronic music for another age.
Michael Ranta Taiwan Years (Metaphon)
I though this came out last year so I didn’t think to include it in the originally round up so I’m glad someone else brought up Ranta to me last week. Released in January 2021, these pieces from throughout the 70s show not just how great Ranta is, but how original his ideas are. Essential.
McKain / Murray / Radichel / Suarez / Weeks The Running of the Bulls (Radical Documents)
Two saxophones (alto, tenor), two drummers, and a bassist come together for a lightning fuel free jazz jamboree and the world is so much better for it. Cathartic howling missiles.
Toshinori Kondo ft. Ruben van Rompaey Ethereal Resonance (Eastern Expressions)
This actually came out last week, after the lists were published and it’s really something special. Engaging longform passages from the late, great Toshinori Kondo that are monumental. If this is the last music we get from Kondo, what a parting gift. Stunning.