Top 50 Albums of 2016

1.             Cate Le Bon: Crab Day (Drag City)

2.             Shy Layers: Shy Layers (Growing Bin) – review / interview

3.             Elza Soares: A Mulher do Fim do Mundo (The Woman at the End of the World) (Mais Um Disco)  review

4.             Angel Olsen: My Woman (Jagjaguwar)

5.             Suzanne Kraft: What You Get for Being Young (Melody As Truth) – review

6.             Jeff Parker: Slight Freedom (Eremite)

7.             David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia)

8.             Masayoshi Fujita + Jan Jelinek: Schaum (Faitiche)

9.             Andrew Pekler: Tristes Tropiques (Faitiche)

10.         Daniel Lanois: Goodbye to Language (Anti-)  review

11.         Huerco S.: For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) (Proibito) –  review

12.         Sarah Davachi: Vergers (Important)  review

13.         Studio OST: Scenes 2012-2015 (Lustwerk Music)  review

14.         Bon Iver: 22, A Million (Jagjaguwar)

15.         Georgia: All Kind Music (Palto Flats)

16.         Demdike Stare: Wonderland (Modern Love)  review

17.         ANOHNI: HOPELESSNESS (Rough Trade / Secretly Canadian)

18.         Anna Homler / Steve Moshier: Breadwoman & Other Tales (RVNG)  review

19.         Beatrice Dillon & Rupert Clerveaux: Two Changes (Paralaxe Editions)

20.         Horse Lords: Interventions (Northern Spy)  review

21.         Fatou Seidi Ghali & Alamnou Akrouni: Les Filles de Illighadad (Sahel Sounds)

22.         Roman Flügel: All the Right Noises (Dial)  review

23.         Steve Hauschildt: Strands (Kranky)  review

24.         Prince of Denmark: 8 (Giegling)

25.         Julianna Barwick: Will (Dead Oceans)  review

26.         Helado Negro: Private Energy (Asthmatic Kitty)

27.         Powell: Sport (XL)  review

28.         The Key: Holding Space (Calm Tapes / Boomarm Nation)

29.         Young Male: How to Disappear in America (Lustwerk Music)  review

30.         Motion Graphics  Motion Graphics (Domino)  review

31.         Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: EARS (Western Vinyl)

32.         Tangents: Stateless (Temporary Residence)  review

33.         Olga Bell: Tempo (One Little Indian)  review

34.         Beatrice Dillon / Ben UFO: 43:44 / 44:32 (Wichelroede)

35.         Kassem Mosse: Disclosure (Honest Jon's)  review

36.         Norberto Lobo: Muxama (Three:Four Records)

37.         Slow Attack Ensemble: Soundscapes for the Emotional-Type Listener (Mystic Roses)  review

38.         Tim Hecker: Love Streams (4AD)  review

39.         Mood Hut: Disco Mantras (Mood Hut)

40.         Arca: Entrañas (self-released)  review

41.         Peder Mannerfelt: Controlling Body (Peder Mannerfelt Produktion)  review

42.         His Name Is Alive: Patterns of Light (Light in the Attic)

43.         CFCF: On Vacation (International Feel)  review

44.         Christian Naujoks: Wave (Dial)  review

45.         Matmos: Ultimate Care II (Thrill Jockey)  interview

46.         Anenon: Petrol (Friends of Friends) – review

47.         Wilson Tanner: 69 (Growing Bin)

48.         Oren Ambarchi: Hubris (Editions Mego)

49.         Marielle V. Jakobsons: Star Core (Thrill Jockey) – review

50.         Elysia Crampton: Elysia Crampton Presents Demon City (Break World)

Remembering a Brush With David Bowie

This is not a story about music, but about presence.

One evening in the mid '90s I found myself at a SOHO gallery for the opening of an exhibition by the portrait photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Lou Reed had posed for at least one of the images in the show—I can't remember now if he was actually the focus of the exhibition—so he and Laurie Anderson were both in attendance, which lent a fun air of celebrity to the proceedings. I'd never been in proximity with someone so famous or iconic before. At the same time, Reed and Anderson being New Yorkers, and presumably being in their own milieu, it didn't feel like a big deal. Certainly, nobody was making a big deal of it.

My friend and I had been there for 30 minutes or an hour, drinking wine, looking at photos, and people-watching as the gallery filled up, when a hush fell over the room. It wasn't an actual silence, but that's the only way I know how to describe it; you could feel the energy in the room change, as though the air had become charged with electricity. I turned to look at the front door, and there were David Bowie and Iman, making their way through the crowd. I don't remember what they were wearing, or how they looked, and I don't even remember exactly how the crowd reacted. I don't think that anyone turned to gawk, and in fact, I'm pretty sure that exactly the opposite happened, that people did their very best to remain cool while clutching their wine glasses—a very quiet riot of sotto voce freakout. This was a roomful of clued-up and cultured New Yorkers; no one would be so gauche as to break their cool and turn and stare, much less ask for an autograph. But you could feel it; every single person in the room was acutely aware of the arrival of this pair. Figuratively (and literally, in Iman's case), they towered over us. Not haughtily, though—with total grace. It was thrilling and humbling. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson suddenly seemed like small potatoes (no offense, Lou and Laurie). They were mere mortals, but suddenly we were in the presence of gods.

(And yet these were gods who did not hesitate to walk among us, on our level. They had no security detail, no handlers, and there was grace in that too; I suspect that very openness is what kept the crowd on its best behavior. They had extended their trust, and we responded in kind. I suspect that today, in the smartphone era, every phone in the room would have been held aloft, snapping pictures; it would have been a very different scenario.)

I don't remember much more about that evening. I do remember that my friend, who was an enormous Bowie fan, went off to get a glass of wine, and contrived to pass him on her way back to my corner, brushing against his arm as she did. "I touched him!" she exclaimed to me, her eyes sparkling. I had to respect her pluck.

Fame in itself doesn't mean much. It can be bought; it can be accidental; it can fade. But this was different. What mattered wasn't Bowie's celebrity; it was the very fact of his presence and his being, his aura. He changed the temperature of the air around him. That encounter helped me understand something about the charisma of religious figures. Some people simply radiate energy on a different wavelength. It was a privilege to be so close to that, even fleetingly.

Top 50 Albums of 2015

1. Oneohtrix Point Never: Garden of Delete (review)

2. Raphael Roginski: Plays John Coltrane And Langston Hughes African Mystic Music (listen)

3. Elysia Crampton: American Drift (review)

4. Zs: Xe (review / listen)

5. Kurt Vile: b’lieve i’m goin down

6. Deradoorian: The Expanding Flower Planet (review)

7. Filipe Felizardo: The Invading Past and Other Dissolutions (listen)

8. Arca: Mutant (interview)

9. Julia Holter: Have You In My Wilderness

10. Jim O’Rourke: Simple Songs

11. Levon Vincent, Levon Vincent (review)

12. DJ Richard: Grind (review)

13. GABI: Sympathy (review)

14. Lotic, Agitations (interview)

15. Jlin: Dark Energy

16. The Necks: Vertigo

17. Prins Thomas: Paradise Goulash (review)

18. Stephan Mathieu, Before Nostromo (review / listen)

19. Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke: Behold (review)

20. Alessandro Cortini: Risveglio

21. Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (feature)

22. Steve Hauschildt: Where All Is Fled (review)

23. Holly Herndon: Platform (interview)

24. Rabit: Communion (review)

25. CFCF: Radiance and Submission (review)

26. Lifted: 1

27. Strategy: Noise Tape Self (review)

28. M. Dwinell: Golden Ratio (review)

29. Helm: Olympic Mess (review)

30. Thomas Brinkmann: What You Hear (Is What You Hear)

31. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: A Year With 13 Moons (review)

32. Jan St. Werner: Miscontinuum Album (review)

33. Vijay Iyer Trio: Break Stuff

34. Hunee: Hunch Music (review)

35. Zora Jones, 100 Ladies (review / listen)

36. Charles Cohen: Brother I Prove You Wrong (review)

37. Idjut Boys: Versions (review)

38. Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl: We Are Not The First (review)

39. Floating Points: Elaeina (review)

40. Savant: Artificial Dance (review)

41. Domenique Dumont: Comme Ça (review)

42. Pole: Wald (review)

43. Donnacha Costello, Love From Dust (review)

44. Lotic: Heterocetera EP

45. CFCF: The Colours of Life

46. Voices from the Lake: Live at MAXXI

47. Time Wharp: Time Wharp (review)

48. Joey Anderson, Invisible Switch (review)

49. Gonno: Remember the Life Is Beautiful (review)

50. Jeff Bridges: Sleeping Tapes (review / interview)