1996 Readers Poll - The Results

Wednesday, 01 January 1997 00:00 Staff Opinions and Editorials - Annual Readers Polls
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Thanks to everyone who participated in this little experiment. There's actually a handful of surprises on this list as well as some things which were fairly predictable. Perhaps future readers polls of years gone by will be conducted with longer nomination rounds to be sure we're not missing some essential music. Since this was thrown together rather quickly, don't expect any deep discussions about the results, but the staff have offered a few comments here and there.

20 years on, this is what Brainwashed Readers are still enjoying.

 

 

Album of the Year

  1. Swans, "Soundtracks for the Blind" (Young God)Swans - Soundtracks for the Blind

    "Swans were barely on my radar at all in 1996, as I had only heard a few albums from their brief major label era and found them lacking.  Then Soundtracks for Blind came along and basically ripped my head off.  "The Sound," "Minus Something," and "Helpless Child" still rank among my favorite Swans' songs.  Also, I miss Jarboe's unhinged howling." - Anthony D'Amico

    "I got to this one a few years later, and between my first two Swans purchases (Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money and Various Failures) so I was a bit perplexed.  Didn't take too long before I was enjoying it heavily." - Creaig Dunton

    "It's kind of getting predictable now for these readers polls, however this is an epic monster of an album." - Jon Whitney

    "I didn't actually hear Soundtracks until 2000 or 2001, but it's my favorite Swans record (or at least tied for my favorite). Given what else is on this list, I'd like to see other things place higher, but it's hard to complain about one of the strangest things Gira and company ever produced. Although I play the entire thing all the way through when I put it on, "Red Velvet Corridor" through "Helpless Child" and "The Sound" are the zenith of pre-2010 Swans. Absolutely brilliant. Because I'm selfish and would have zero complaints about repetition, I still want a return to this patchwork approach. Give me found sounds, live cuts, studio work, drones, whatever. Just smash it all together and let the cards fall where they may. "Look At Me Go" is as close as they've come since, which isn't as close as I'd like." - Lucas Schleicher

  2. Labradford, "Labradford" (Kranky)

    "I think this was the first Kranky album that I ever bought.  Alternative Press must have given it a helluva a review." - Anthony D'Amico

    "Now we're talking. My first Labradford album, my first Kranky obsession, and a nonstop part of my listening habits year after year after year. I remember trying to describe this to disinterested friends at 15 and being perplexed by what they were doing. Where to begin? There were vocals, sort of, and it was ambient music, sort of, but there were rock instruments in the mix and melodies and basically nobody else I knew was working in such a unique way. I think I turned my friends off from them trying to explain, with little context, what was going on. I should have just played it and kept my mouth shut. Love this album, love the cover, love the loneliness and isolation it makes me feel just thinking about it. The sound of the Midwest spreading out in every direction forever." - Lucas Schleicher

    "Pretty surprised this ranked as high as it did, however I would certainly rank it high, myself. It was exceptionally focused, both by the balance between the fantastic melodies with subtle effects and the balanced roles of the three members. It comes as no surprise it had such an influence on music worldwide, ringing in a new era of ambient music that isn't boring. I can still be sucked in with every listen." - Jon Whitney

  3. Autechre, "Tri Repetae" (Warp)

    "The appeal of Autechre still largely eludes me two decades later.  I like this album a lot better than most of what came after it though." -Anthony D'Amico

    "The US issue of this (with the Garbage/Anvil Vapre EPs) was the first thing I heard from them.  Still love it, though my attention turned to Chiastic Slide when that one appeared the following year." -Creaig Dunton

    "I'm with Creaig on the exposure front. This was my first Autechre, along with the Garbage and Anvil Vapre EPs that Nothing paired with the album. I saw the video for "Second Bad Vilbel" on MTV's Amp and was hooked from the first distorted blast of bass and fuzz. I found a copy of Tri Repetae ++ on the same day a used copy of Love's Secret Domain magically appeared at Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis for $10. I went home the happiest I'd ever been coming home from the record store. Tri Repetae still sounds fantastic too. Unlike the albums before it, I don't think it sounds aged at all. I'm not as convinced as I used to be that it's their best album, but it's the one that kicked around in my head the most for the longest. Phenomenal sounds and melodies and a sense of rhythm that still sends my brain spinning." - Lucas Schleicher

  4. Current 93, "All the Pretty Little Horses" (Durtro)

    "I am sure that I would not be writing for Brainwashed if this album did not exist.  "The Frolic" must have opened my third eye or something, as I was basically ruined for "normal" music after this came out.  This album is a work of genius.  While Black Ships is arguably even better, this is the Current 93 album that hit me the hardest." -Anthony D'Amicoz

    "Such an incredible album, and its impact is magnified with the inclusion of the bookends, Where the Long Shadows Fall and The Starres Are Marching Sadly Home." - Jon Whitney

  5. Coil presents Black Light District, "A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room" (Eskaton)

    "Ghostly, otherworldly, and unclassifiable by any genre, it may lack the context of Balance's words for the most part, but it's certainly an album of exceptionally deep listening. It is that place in time between the unbridled Worship the Glitch and the focused Time Machines when Coil was making it a point to not be Coil at a time when being Coil was very difficult." - Jon Whitney

    "This was definitely not my favorite Coil era back then. That has not changed." -Anthony D'Amico

    "I never knew what to do with A Thousand Lights. It was the first album to come out after I'd started listening to Coil, but I didn't give it a ton of time until a lot later, after I'd listened to the seasonal EPs and gone back to Gold is the Metal and Stolen and Contaminated Songs and dealt with the weirdness there. Was this Coil? Was it a side project? It sounded more like the experiments from their remix albums, but what did I know? I was 14. It was more confusing than it should have been. Listening to it now ("Die Wölfe Kommen Zurück" is on), I have a lot more respect for it. Like Soundtracks for the Blind, I love the patchwork, semi-ambient quality, and the willingness to let a large range of sounds into the music. Who needs songs and lyrics?" - Lucas Schleicher

  6. Stereolab, "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" (Duophonic)

    "For me, this is their masterpiece, with the fluidity that was allowing them the freedom from the accusations they were simply exotica revivalists played through kraut-rock filters. It features infectious grooves, blissful pop melodies, and gutsy rock tunes, all of which are spectacularly produced and exceptionally memorable." - Jon Whitney

    "I am pretty sure that I pretended to like Stereolab much more than I actually did because every cool art girl loved them.  I genuinely appreciate them now, but they were a bit too self-consciously suave for me at that time in my life." -Anthony D'Amico

  7. Nurse With Wound, "Who Can I Turn To Stereo" (United Dairies)

    "Expanding on 'Two Golden Microphones' from 1994's Rock N Roll Station, this became a completely legitimate entity on its own. Possibly the most grounded NWW album in their massive catalogue." - Jon Whitney

  8. Aphex Twin, "Richard D. James Album" (Warp)

    "Arguably the last great Aphex Twin album, though Drukqs has since grown on me quite a bit.  This album now feels weirdly quaint to me though." -Anthony D'Amico

    "Agreed on that last point. I love tracks from this album ("4" and "Cornish Acid" and "To Cure a Weakling Child"). The album itself, on the other hand, feels weirdly disjointed in a way that would normally make me happy, but doesn't. "Milk" just feels flat and silly. "Girl/Boy" still gives me a wistful feeling, but the combination of strings and spastic drums has lost some of its luster. "Beetles" is cute and a tossed-off bit of noodling at the same time. It belongs on the list, but I wouldn't rank it nearly so high, especially considering what Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Gas did the same year." - Lucas Schleicher

  9. Tortoise, "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" (Thrill Jockey)

    "The week this came out, one of the buyers at Tower Records in Cambridge MA handed me this disc and said, 'Jon, this will change music,' and he was right. The effects of this album, arguably the centerpiece of 'post-rock' are still being felt twenty years later. Like many of the releases on this poll from 1996, it flew in the face of an industry that was trying to define sounds into sub-genres of sub-genres. Record stores didn't simply have all-encompassing 'electronic' sections, for example, yet they classified music into further, at times, comical categories. (What the hell is illbient?) Tortoise bucked that trend and pulled influences from so many genres including dub, experimental, rock, and jazz, that in doing so, made a timeless record that remains undisputed to this day." - Jon Whitney

  10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "Murder Ballads" (Mute)

    "This one is almost TOO Nick Cave for his own good, but that obscene rendition of "Stagger Lee" is a long time favorite of mine." -Creaig Dunton

    "I listen to this now and think that it sounds like the same song repeated for some reason." - Jon Whitney

    "I used to love this album for "Stagger Lee" and "The Curse of Millhaven." They're still great. They're over-the-top, comical, brutal, and they manage to sound menacing even when they cross over into farce (thanks to Blixa, if you ask me). Now I love it for "Where the Wild Roses Grow" and "Death Is Not the End." It's almost a parody of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Almost, but not quite, and it's mostly thanks to the ballads for which the album is named." - Lucas Schleicher

  11. Einstürzende Neubauten, "Ende Neu" (Potomak)

    "Another release that refuses to conform to genre rules. It's a stunning album that is concise with absolutely no wasted time or fillers and fits perfectly on two sides of an LP." - Jon Whitney

    "So many good songs on this album. I like Einstürzende Neubauten for making tons of noise and being loud and using construction materials as instruments. I like them even more for "Was Ist Ist," "The Garden," and especially "NNNAAAMMM." In a discography filled with great hooks, the chant from that song (which they carry for 11 minutes without wearing it thin) stands out." - Lucas Schleicher 

  12. Low, "The Curtain Hits the Cast" (Vernon Yard)

    "I can still listen to this start to finish and be completely stunned at how powerful yet simple it all is." - Jon Whitney

  13. Steven Stapleton and David Tibet, "Musical Pumpkin Cottage" / David Tibet and Steven Stapleton, "Musicalische Kürbs Hütte" (United Durtro)

    "Really two sides of the same coin, but somewhere in between NWW and C93 where it is neither, and both. Perhaps this is the universe where the theory of relativity and string theory can exist together. Or not. Both are stellar headphone experiences." - Jon Whitney

  14. Faust, "Rien" (Table of the Elements)
  15. Dr. Octagon, "Dr. Octagon" (Bulk)
  16. Earth, "Pentastar: In The Style Of Demons" (Sub Pop)
  17. Meat Beat Manifesto, "Subliminal Sandwich" (Play it Again Sam)

    "I didn't quite get it at first, but after a few listens I was, and still am, convinced it's pure genius. Such a sidestep from what MBM were known for up until then, the complexity of the whole thing certainly explains the four-year absence." - Jon Whitney

    "This is another first album for me. I wasn't sure what to make of it until "She's Unreal" came on and then the album snapped into place. I always liked the second disc a little better because it felt more stretched out and free roaming, but this is a killer from start to finish. I had nothing to compare it to when it came out, but nothing else compared to it anyway." - Lucas Schleicher

  18. The Tear Garden, "To Be an Angel, Blind, The Crippled Soul Divide" (Nettwerk)

    ""In Search of My Rose" is one of the most perfectly crafted songs of Edward Ka-Spel's career." -Anthony D'Amico

  19. Belle and Sebastian, "If You're Feeling Sinister" (Jeepster)

    "I would have happily taken a bullet for Belle & Sebastian around this period: as a sensitive, literate young man, I predictably hailed Sinister as The Second Coming of The Smiths.  Then most of the band left and I completely lost interest in them." -Anthony D'Amico

  20. Dirty Three, "Horse Stories" (Anchor & Hope)

    "I made my parents listen to this dark and churning album on the way to a restaurant once.  I still cringe whenever I think about that.  I must have been a real drag to be around." -Anthony D'Amico

  21. Gas, "Gas" (Mille Plateaux)
  22. Windy & Carl, "Drawing of Sound" (Icon)

    "I only recently picked this one up and was immediately knocked sideways by the dreamy perfection of "Lighthouse.""  -Anthony D'Amico

    "This deserves to be in the number one spot as much as Soundtracks for the Blind does. A perfect album. "Lighthouse" is one of my favorite songs by any band, period." - Lucas Schleicher

  23. Rachel's, "The Sea and the Bells" (Quarterstick)
  24. Squarepusher, "Feed Me Weird Things" (Rephlex)

    "I guess nobody talks about this album anymore, but I absolutely love it. Squarepusher got way more play than Aphex Twin after I heard this and Big Loada. "Theme from Squarepusher" is such a bizarre mish-mash of styles and " Theme From Ernest Borgnine" pounds just as hard as "Come on My Selector" and "Fat Controller," even if it's not quite as mind-blowing as those tracks. Feed Me sounds a touch dated in places, but I think it holds up just as well as the beloved work of RDJ from the same period." - Lucas Schleicher

  25. Tactile, "Recurrence & Intervention" (Rawkus)
  26. Bowery Electric, "Beat" (Kranky)

    "Really? This is certainly top 10 material, possibly even close to #1." - Jon Whitney

  27. Porter Ricks, "Biokinetics" (Chain Reaction)

    "I dearly wish that I had spent my 20s tracking down Chain Reaction imports rather than obscure anarcho-punk albums.  I didn't hear this until it was reissued."  -Anthony D'Amico

  28. Bedhead, "Beheaded" (Trance Syndicate)
  29. Zoviet France, "In Version" (Charrm)
  30. Final, "2" (Sentrax)

    "At this period in my life I was overindulging in the whole isolationist/dark ambient genre, to the point that I gave it up entirely for a few years.  This one, and the "Flow/Openings" 7", stuck with me though." - Creaig Dunton

  31. Rachel's, "Music for Egon Schiele" (Quarterstick)
  32. Agents with False Memories, "" (Ash International)
  33. Sandoz, "Dark Continent" (Touch)
  34. Scorn, "Logghi Barogghi" (Earache)

    "I think this was the last Scorn album I truly loved.  Beyond that Harris started getting a bit too much into just making his music a vector for obscenely low bass, and it lost the hip-hop head nodding stuff." -Creaig Dunton

  35. Stars of the Lid, "Gravitational Pull Vs. The Desire For An Aquatic Life" (Sedimental)
  36. Tortoise, "Remixed" (Thrill Jockey)
  37. LFO, "Advance" (Warp)
  38. Zoviet France, "Digilogue" (Soleilmoon)

    "I was on a desperate hunt for Zoviet France albums around this time and it drove me absolutely insane that this one was the only one I could ever find anywhere.  I like it, but it definitely lacks the raw experimentation and otherworldliness of prime ZF.  Digilogue sounds like seasoned sound artists with professional equipment who know exactly what they are doing." -Anthony D'Amico

  39. Ø, "Olento" (Sähkö)
  40. Merzbow, "Pulse Demon" (Release)

    "Yet another album that completely obliterated my provincial suburban mind and changed how I thought about music.  I even remember the (now obvious and embarrassing) epiphany that Merzbow actually embodied the subversive and nihilistic punk ethos far better than any of the comparatively safe and predictable Crass clones that I was listening to at the time.  I obsessively snapped up everything that Release put out for like the next two years."  -Anthony D'Amico

    "At the time I was all about this one, even over Venerology, but then I got hands on some Incapacitants and Masonna records and didn't dig the Merz as much.  This one is still a killer though." -Creaig Dunton

    "Another top ten pick for me, way down the list. I had no idea what to do with Merzbow when I first heard him. I didn't think it was music, but I wasn't sure what to call it. Noise came to mind, naturally, but I gave up on trying to make sense of it because it didn't matter. I just wanted to turn it up and let it swallow the room. After some time, my ears adjusted and the chaos became relaxing. I could study to it, write to it, drive to it, whatever. It seemed to fit everywhere. I listened to it closely too, tried to pick it apart and find structure, etc. After I got over the harshness, and after I got used to the idea that you could just make a ton of fucking loud sounds and enjoy them for their own sake, I came to appreciate how hypnotic Pulse Demon was. I wouldn't call it peaceful, but when I put it on, I always manage to find the calm at the center." - Lucas Schleicher

  41. Download, "Charlie's Family (soundtrack)" (Sub-Conscious)

    "I dutifully bought everything Download released for a few years and I remember absolutely none of it." -Anthony D'Amico

  42. Muslimgauze, "Uzbekistani Bizarre and Souk" (Staalplaat)

    "It is impossible to distill Bryn Jones' strange, varied, and sprawling legacy into just a few crucial albums, but this is probably one of them anyway.  This visceral, blown-out, and crunchy chapter of Muslimgauze's career has aged remarkably well." -Anthony D'Amico

  43. Download, "The Eyes of Stanley Pain" (Sub-Conscious)
  44. Tactile, "Inscape" (Sentrax)
  45. Amp, "Sirènes" (Wurlitzer Jukebox)
  46. Bruce Gilbert, "Ab Ovo" (Mute)
  47. Asmus Tietchens, "Promaine" (RRRecords)
  48. Dead Voices On Air, "Shap" (Invisible)
  49. Undark, "3396" (em:t)
  50. Roy Montgomery, "Temple IV" (Kranky)
  51. Einstürzende Neubauten, "Faustmusik" (Mute)
  52. Belle and Sebastian, "Tigermilk" (Electric Honey)

    "This album was and is a bit too lightweight for my liking, though I still think "Electronic Renaissance" is near-perfect synth-pop genius.  Also, I still remember all the words to "We Rule the School," much to my embarrassment.  That is probably my secret fantasy karaoke number to this day."  -Anthony D'Amico

    "I tried listening to Tigermilk again recently and found I could only handle three or four songs at a time. It's cloying stuff. Not bad, just sweeter than I can take all in one go. That said, "Electronic Renaissance" is phenomenal all on its own. Had they stopped there, I might have loved them." - Lucas Schleicher

  53. Hood, "Silent '88" (Slumberland)
  54. Rapoon, "Darker By Light" (Soleilmoon)
  55. Death In June, "Kapo!" (Twilight Command)
  56. The Third Eye Foundation, "Semtex" (Linda's Strange Vacation)
  57. Godflesh, "Songs of Love and Hate" (Earache)

    "I LOVED this album when it first came out, and it still has some great moments, but I feel it has aged the most poorly of their discography.  Perhaps it is their inadvertent influence into creating the whole "nu-metal" debacle that turned me off to it." -Creaig Dunton

  58. Sun City Girls, "330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda" (Abduction)

    "I probably would have LOVED Sun City Girls if I had ever been able to track down any of these albums at the time they were released.  When I finally heard them all, my passion for absurdity had already dissipated far too much for them to make much of a mark on me." -Anthony D'Amico

  59. Mojave 3, "Ask Me Tomorrow" (4AD)

    "Still can't forgive them for abandoning Slowdive. For me, Mojave 3 were always only 'OK' at best until Spoon & Rafter." - Jon Whitney
  60. Twilight Circus Dub Sound System, "Other Worlds of Dub" (M Records)
  61. Burzum, "Filosofem" (Misanthropy Records)
  62. Jessamine, "The Long Arm of Coincidence" (Kranky)
  63. Ryoji Ikeda, "+/-" (Touch)

    "Nobody could make clicks and beeps like Ryoji Ikeda, all the 'glitch' or 'click and cut' people couldn't, and still can't hold a candle to the finesse of Ikeda." - Jon Whitney

  64. Muslimgauze, "Gun Aramaic" (Soleilmoon)

    "I probably would have loved this if I had picked it up when it came out, but Muslimgauze's more abstract and atmospheric side does not feel nearly as focused and vital as Bryn Jones' better beat-driven work these days." -Anthony D'Amico

  65. Rome, "Rome" (Thrill Jockey)
  66. June of '44, "Tropics And Meridians" (Quarterstick)

    "It's not their best and it's not their worst. Still a highlight of '96, though. I randomly picked Tropics and Meridians up at the suggestion of a record clerk who was eager to help a fellow Tortoise fan. Not the same thing, I know, but I've always connected the two (along with Slint). "Anisette" and "Lawn Bowler" are fantastic and heavy and way better than a lot of the math-rock shit that came out later. In my memory, the rest of the album is uneven, but it's been awhile since I put it on. Will have to fix that now." - Lucas Schleicher

  67. Aube, "Metal de Metal" (Manifold)

    "Aube was always entertaining, but this one ended up rather forgettable, beyond the metal sleeve the CD came in."  -Creaig Dunton

  68. Chris & Cosey, "Skimble Skamble" (Conspiracy International)
  69. Alec Empire, "Les Étoiles Des Filles Mortes" (Mille Plateaux)
  70. Harold Budd, "Luxa" (All Saints)
  71. James Plotkin / Mick Harris, "Collapse" (Sombient)
  72. Cylob, "Cylobian Sunset" (Rephlex)
  73. Kriedler, "Weekend" (Kiff SM)
  74. Microstoria, "_snd" (Thrill Jockey)
  75. Maeror Tri, "Meditamentum II" (Manifold)
  76. Smog, "The Doctor Came at Dawn" (Drag City)
  77. Füxa, "Very Well Organized" (i)
  78. Rapoon, "Recurring (Dream Circle)" (Soleilmoon)
  79. Chris Watson, "Stepping Into the Dark" (Touch)
  80. Neurosis, "Through Silver in Blood" (Release)

    "I thought this was an absolute monster of an album when it came out, but then I discovered Tribes of Neurot and liked them even better.  Great metal is totally wasted on me, apparently." -Anthony D'Amico

  81. Muslimgauze, "Azzazin" (Staalplaat)
  82. Lisa Germano, "Excerpts from a Love Circus" (4AD)

    "This was a bizarre misstep sandwiched between Germano's two finest albums." -Anthony D'Amico

  83. Rapoon, "Errant Angels" (Soleilmoon)
  84. Sun City Girls, "Dante's Disneyland Inferno" (Abduction)
  85. Ghost, "Lama Rabi Rabi" (Drag City)
  86. Deathprod, "Imaginary Songs from Tristan de Cunha" (dBUT interambience)
  87. Muslimgauze, "Arab Quarter" (Soleilmoon)
  88. Gastr Del Sol, "Upgrade & Afterlife" (Drag City)

    "How in he fuck did this not end up somewhere in the top three? Just look at the people responsible for this monster: David Grubbs, John McEntire, Jim O'Rourke, Kevin Drumm, Mats Gustafsson, Ralf Wehowsky, Tony fucking Conrad. Nurse with Wound fans should be all over this like Andrew Liles on international Ozzy Osbourne releases. Bizarre musique concrète, solo electric blues and surrealist poetry, an O'Rourke instrumental interlude, moody piano ambient somethings, and a Fahey coda with Conrad on violin. For all the horseshit that gets re-released and updated with anniversary editions, it's a shame that Upgrade & Afterlife hasn't received the red carpet treatment. Then again, you can still buy copies cheap from Drag City, and why fix what isn't broken. Nobody needs another 180 gram double LP reissue for $40. Anyway, it also has the best album cover of 1996. If you didn't vote for this record because you've never heard it, go fix that now. Happy New Year to you." - Lucas Schleicher

  89. Nitrogen, "Intoxica" (Touch)
  90. Alec Empire, "The Destroyer" (Digital Hardcore)

    "I would be amazed if there is anyone still listening to this album.  This might be the single most "1996" release on the entire list." -Anthony D'Amico

    "It may be, Tony, but damn if I didn't love the hell out of it when it came out.  But I was also 17 and immature enough to justify such poor decisions.  But that full version of "When You Reach Your Peak" on the second Macro Dub Infection compilation is still awesome." -Creaig Dunton

  91. Bardo Pond, "Amanita" (Matador)

    "Excellent album.  Bardo Pond are one of the most consistently cool and woefully underappreciated bands in America." -Anthony D'Amico

  92. To Rococo Rot, "LP/CD" (Kitty-Yo)
  93. Dead Can Dance, "Spiritchaser" (4AD)

    "I was obsessively listening to The Serpent's Egg around this time and was very excited that a new Dead Can Dance album was coming out.  Then I heard it: Spiritchaser was like being slapped in the face.  I suppose I hate this album somewhat less now, as I have mellowed with age, but I would still prefer to live in a world where this album never happened.  I think Spiritchaser may have even permanently killed my almost-religious reverence for 4AD." -Anthony D'Amico

  94. Shock Headed Peters, "Tendercide" (Cyclops Prod)
  95. Bill Laswell / Mick Harris / Eraldo Bernocchi, "Equations of Eternity" (WorldSound)
  96. Tarwater, "11:6 12:10" (Kitty-Yo)
  97. Plug, "Drum'N'Bass for Papa" (Blue Angel)

    "Some things don't hold up to the test of time, but I am surprised this scored so low." - Jon Whitney

    "I just realized that the version of this album I like the most (thanks to "A Subtle Blend") was released in 1997, not '96. I guess that's why "Cut" comes as a "('97 Remix)." Still have a lot of love for this, especially "Feelings" and "Me and Mr Jones." I haven't listened to Alec Empire in ages, but I still get the urge to put this on all the time." - Lucas Schleicher

  98. Gate, "The Monolake" (Table of the Elements)
  99. Skullflower, "This is,,," (VHF)
  100. Directions in Music, "Directions in Music" (Thrill Jockey)

Single of the Year

  1. Current 93, "The Starres Are Marching Sadly Home" (Durtro)Current 93 - The Starres Are Marching Sadly Home

    "I love everything that David Tibet was doing around this period.  This gorgeous hallucinatory collage was a perfect companion piece for All The Pretty Horses." -Anthony D'Amico

  2. Swans, "Failure/Animus" (Arts & Commerce)
  3. Seefeel, "Ch-Vox" (Rephlex)
  4. Boards of Canada, "Hi Scores" (Skam)
  5. Broadcast, "The Book Lovers" (Duophonic)

    "Absolute perfection." - Jon Whitney

  6. Meat Beat Manifesto, "Asbestos Lead Asbestos" (Play it Again Sam)
  7. Stereolab, "Cybele's Reverie" (Duophonic)
  8. Labradford, "Scenic Recovery" (Duophonic)
  9. Aphex Twin, "Girl/Boy EP" (Warp)
  10. Panasonic, "Osasto" (Blast First)
  11. Low, "Transmission" (Vernon Yard)
  12. Tortoise, "Djed/Tjed" (Thrill Jockey)
  13. Meat Beat Manifesto, "Transmission" (Play it Again Sam)

    "A completely unexpected single track to reintroduce the fans after a 4-year absence, this felt like a much different MBM than everyone was used to. But it was certainly a grower." - Jon Whitney

  14. Broadcast, "Accidentals" (Wurlitzer Jukebox)
  15. Download, "Sidewinder" (Sub-Conscious)
  16. Edward Ka-Spel, "The Man Who Never Was" (Anomalous)
  17. Einstürzende Neubauten, "Stella Maris" (Our Choice)
  18. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Remember Me This Way" (Soleilmoon)
  19. Psychic Warriors of Gaia, "Kraak Remixes" (Kk)
  20. Low, "Over the Ocean" (Vernon Yard)
  21. Pram, "Music for Your Movies" (Duophonic)
  22. Stereolab, "Flourescences" (Duophonic)
  23. Autechre, "We R Are Why / Are Y Are We?" (Warp)

    "I have this and do enjoy it, but damned if I can ever remember what speed it should be played on." -Creaig Dunton

    "I found MP3s of this awhile back and whoever ripped it decided to provide 33 and 45 versions. Works for me." - Lucas Schleicher

  24. Low, "Finally" (Vernon Yard)

    "Two decades later I'm uncertain if 'Prisoner' belongs on The Curtain Hits the Cast or if all these singles should have been part of the album. "Turning Over" and "Tomorrow One" are both stellar songs, however." - Jon Whitney

  25. Tortoise, "The Taut and Tame" (Thrill Jockey)

 

Vault/Reissue of the Year

  1. Galaxie 500, "Galaxie 500" (Rykodisc)Galaxie 500 box

    "Such an amazing set. It was presented elegantly and sounded beautiful. (It might have even made Galaxie 500 sound better than they actually did!)" - Jon Whitney

  2. Main, "Hz" (Beggars Banquet)

    "This is the zenith of Robert Hampson's work as Main, and is still one I pull out often some two decades later.  Capturing both the more abstract and the more song-oriented side of Main, it was also the last time Hampson and Scott Dawson did one of those dubby bass and spaced out vocal pieces that no one else did as well." -Creaig Dunton

  3. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Lullabies for the New Dark Ages" (Soleilmoon)

    "Great music. Hated the updated artwork for these releases." - Jon Whitney

  4. Laibach, "Occupied Europe NATO Tour 1994-95" (Mute)
  5. Coil, "Gold Is the Metal with the Broadest Shoulders" (Threshold House)

    "Arguably full of both gems and false-starts, Coil was always about giving the fans something to listen to, and to make up their own mind about. The canonical releases were certainly the more important issues in their catalogue but collections like this provided insight into their process." - Jon Whitney

  6. Nurse With Wound / Stereolab, "Crumb Duck" (United Dairies)
  7. This Heat, "Made Available: John Peel Sessions" (These Records)
  8. Swans, "Die Tür Ist Zu" (Young God)
  9. Sand, "Ultrasonic Seraphim" (United Durtro)
  10. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Prayer for Aradia" (Terminal Kaleidescope)
  11. Wire, "Turns and Strokes" (WMO)
  12. Oval, "94diskont." (Thrill Jockey)

    "I always think of this as a '96 release anyway. "Do While" is a classic. "Shop in Store" is an excellent addition to the original, and a great way to get people into Oval who might otherwise ignore him. Thrill Jockey putting this out in the US was a big service to American audiences, especially those of us that couldn't easily find or afford imports." - Lucas Schleicher

  13. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Canta Meintras Puedas" (Soleilmoon)
  14. Boyd Rice & Frank Tovey, "Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing" (Mute)
  15. The Legendary Pink Dots, "It's Raining In Heaven" (Soleilmoon)
  16. Hood, "Structured Disasters" (Happy Go Lucky)
  17. Graham Lewis, "Pre He" (WMO)
  18. Plug, "1 + 2" (Blue Angel)
  19. Current 93 / Death in June / Sol Invictus, "Frankfurt Sound Depot 1991" (World Serpent)
  20. Charlemagne Palestine, "Four Manifestations On Six Elements" (Barooni)
  21. Little Annie, "Jackamo" (Echo Beach)
  22. Tony Conrad, "Four Violins (1964)" (Table of the Elements)
  23. O Yuki Conjugate, "Primitive" (Staalplaat)
  24. Saint Etienne, "Casino Classics" (Heavenly)
  25. John Duncan, "John See Soundtracks" (RRRecords)

Compilation of the Year

  1. "Whore - Various Artists Play Wire" (WMO)Whore - Various Artists Play Wire

    "Always the exception to the 'tribute albums suck' mantra, this one is also special to me since it is what lead me to listen to Wire themselves.  I bought it on the appearances of Main, Godflesh, MBV, and Lush, but the curiosity that brought me to hear the originals (and the kind tape dubbing of my friend Chris Sienko) is the most important part." -Creaig Dunton

  2. "LAFMS: The Lowest Form Of Music" (RRRecords)

    "Possibly one of the greatest boxed sets ever assembled." - Jon Whitney

  3. "Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond The Call Of Duty: The Orb Remix Project" (Deviant)
  4. "On-U Box" (On-U)
  5. "Terra Serpentes" (World Serpent)
  6. "Harmony of the Spheres" (Drunken Fish)
  7. "Succour (The Terrascope Benefit Album)" (Flydaddy)
  8. "Seven Seals" (Durtro)
  9. "Treat the Gods as if They Exist" (Auf Abwegen)
  10. "Headz 2 - Part A" (MoWax)
  11. "Headz 2 - Part B" (MoWax)

    "At the time these collections seem to validate the existence of trip-hop. Twenty years later, listening the entire way through either one becomes laborious. Perhaps these collections, in fact, nailed the coffin in on trip-hop with hours of songs that didn't deviate much further from each other." - Jon Whitney

  12. "Off-Beat: A Red Hot Sound Trip" (WaxTrax!)
  13. "Volume 17 - Fifth Birthday Bumper Bonanza!" (Volume)

    "These Volume compilations were always a treat, providing some excellent alternate versions along with interviews and such with the artists. This way of operating is sorely missed." - Jon Whitney

  14. "Axiom Dub: Mysteries of Creation" (Axiom)
  15. "Mask 100" (Skam)
  16. "Alphaphone vol. 1 - Step Write Run" (Touch)
  17. "Electronic Evocations: A Tribute to Silver Apples" (Enraptured)
  18. "Volume 16 - Copulation Explosion !" (Volume)
  19. "Swim: Water Communication" (Swim)
  20. "Altered Beats: Assassin Knowledges of the Remanipulated" (Axiom)
  21. "Volume 15 - Technology Alert!" (Volume)
  22. "The Resonance Found at the Core of a Bubble" (Bubble Core)
  23. "Deepnet" (Side Effects)
  24. "Avantgardism" (Law & Auder)
  25. "A Fault in the Nothing" (Ash International)

Artist of the Year

Current 93 - 1996

  1. Current 93

    "Absolutely unstoppable in this incarnation. An amazing ensemble for the album and singles and various other songs which emerged in 1996." - Jon Whitney

  2. Tortoise

    "Issuing a genre-defining album, numerous singles, and a remix album on top of extensive touring, Tortoise flooded the market, very nicely too." - Jon Whitney

  3. Swans
  4. Meat Beat Manifesto
  5. Coil
  6. The Legendary Pink Dots
  7. Stereolab
  8. Low
  9. Nurse With Wound
  10. Labradford
  11. Autechre
  12. Muslimgauze
  13. Einstürzende Neubauten
  14. Aphex Twin
  15. Download
  16. Richard H. Kirk
  17. Broadcast
  18. Rachel's
  19. Rapoon
  20. Belle and Sebastian
  21. Zoviet France
  22. Dr. Octagon
  23. Bedhead
  24. This Heat
  25. Hood

Label of the Year

Thrill Jockey

  1. Thrill Jockey

    "In a time when so many labels were focusing on a single sound, Thrill Jockey was, and continues to be impossible to define by a particular sound. - Jon Whitney"

    "See what I said about the American release of Oval's 94 Diskont above. Thrill Jockey has a long and bizarre discography with lots of twists and turns. Their simultaneous support of Oval, Tortoise, Microstoria, Mouse on Mars, Trans Am, and countless other bands was a boon for this Midwesterner in a small town too far from Chicago to benefit from its many record stores and exploding live scene. Thanks, Thrill Jockey." - Lucas Schleicher

  2. United Dairies
  3. Soleilmoon
  4. Duophonic
  5. Warp

    "In 1996 I paid way more attention to bands than to labels. I wanted Current 93 and Coil, Merzbow and Nurse with Wound, etc. I didn't care who released it. Along with Kranky, Warp was the exception to that rule. If their name was on a record, I was going to buy it.  Unlike Kranky, who released a small, but excellent group of records that year, Warp put out a lot of forgettable stuff at the same time. The good stuff looms large in my head 20 years later, so the five spot feels justified, but Jimi Tenor and Red Snapper haven't touched a CD player of mine in 20 years. Nit-picking a couple of spots might seem petty, but as long as we're making lists and ranking shit based on votes, I'd like to argue Kranky belongs up here every bit as much as Warp, if not moreso." - Lucas Schleicher

  6. Mute
  7. Kranky

    "Strange to see Kranky placing this low, however Kranky was never about the quantity of releases per year, they were, and continue to be, about the quality." - Jon Whitney

  8. 4AD
  9. Play it Again Sam
  10. Touch
  11. Durtro
  12. Vernon Yard

    "Vanity labels rarely last long." - Jon Whitney

  13. Young God
  14. Rephlex
  15. Drag City
  16. Mo Wax
  17. Table of the Elements
  18. Quarterstick
  19. Skam
  20. Staalplaat
  21. Wurlitzer Jukebox
  22. Sub-Conscious
  23. Rykodisc
  24. Threshold House
  25. RRRecords
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 January 2017 06:28