2016 Readers Poll - The Results

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll.

and now, the results:


Swans: The Glowing Man

Album of the Year

  1. Swans, "The Glowing Man" (Young God)

    "The final album from this configuration of Swans saw them re-tread a lot of ground covered by the other reunion albums. Sure it rocked but I agree with Gira and company that this line-up has run its course. Swans have always been about breaking things down and starting again, The Glowing Man is a decent full stop to this period but for me it was swamped by a year of incredible career-capping albums where frontiers were pushed and explored (I don't need to name names here). The Glowing Man instead felt like more of the same by an artist known for avoiding familiar territory." - John Kealy

    "Can Swans do no wrong? I don't expect any band to be perfect, especially one that's been going this long, but I'm surprised that one of their middling albums would earn the top spot. There are other tried and true Brainwashed-esque bands on this list that did adventurous things in 2016 (Xiu Xiu's take on Twin Peaks seems like an obvious choice) and others that managed to pull out one of their best albums after 30 years (see the next entry). So what is it about Swans that keeps them at the top of the heap? They're a fantastic unit, but at this point they're not nearly so surprising as, for instance, Valerio Tricoli, Radian, or Jenny Hval. Maybe we should exempt them from the next poll, if only to give more space to the bands who can't count Thor as one of their members." - Lucas Schleicher

    "I suppose this line-up may have creatively run its course, but Swans still have a genius for making even their weaker songs feel convincingly epic.  More importantly, why aren't any of the Norman Westberg solo albums on this list?  Go sit in the corner and think about what you've done, readers." - Anthony D'Amico

    "I have to agree with John.  This was unquestionably a good album, but with the trilogy of this, The Seer, and To Be Kind, I think Gira and company have worked as much as they could with this approach.  The title song is definitely one of my favorites of this era, however." - Creaig Dunton

    "For an act that has announced that this is the 'end' of a phase, The Glowing Man certainly has an incredible amount of momentum. For 10 songs that stretch two hours, it moves along without dragging. Gira has changed his mind before and this certainly does not sound like the end of anything." - Jon Whitney

  2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "Skeleton Tree" (Bad Seed Ltd)

    "In a year of heavy albums, Skeleton Tree might be the heaviest. Often sounding uneven and unfinished, there is a bare bones quality to these songs that make them relentlessly crushing. Paired with Andrew Dominik's documentary film, One More Time With Feeling, this album entirely breaks the mold for what to expect from Nick Cave or the Bad Seeds. His work has always incorporated the brutal and the beautiful with a wry and dramatic flair but Skeleton Tree comes from the heart, capturing grief in a way that is rare in music." - John Kealy

    "I haven't enjoyed a Nick Cave/Bad Seeds record so much since Blixa left. Push the Sky Away was very strong. Skeleton Tree, uneven as it may be, is outstanding. I like to complain and moan a lot in these year-end lists, but this is a pick that absolutely deserves to be in the top five spot. Name another band or a songwriter who has gone for 30-plus years and still has the imagination and work ethic necessary to release one of their strongest albums ever. The list is short, but I suppose that's to be expected. What's surprising is that Skeleton Tree feels like a natural continuation of what Cave has been doing the last decade. It's not a surprise return to form or an out-of-the-blue gem, it's just a product of what Nick Cave has always worked at. The man is a rock." - Lucas Schleicher

  3. Lustmord, "Dark Matter" (Touch)

    "Man, you people sure liked this album a lot more than I did." - Anthony D'Amico

  4. Loscil, "Monument Builders" (Kranky)

    "I have mixed feelings about this one, as I could have definitely done without the Philip Glass influence.  I like "Weeds" a lot though and I certainly appreciate the attempt to try something new.  And I probably would not have read John Gray's brilliant Straw Dogs if it had not been mentioned as one of the Scott Morgan's primary inspirations." - Anthony D'Amico

    "Dark but dense this album certainly isn't one of Morgan's happiest records. Brainwashed readers certainly like the dark stuff." - Jon Whitney

  5. Tim Hecker, "Love Streams" (4AD)

    "For a long time, Tim Hecker could do no wrong for me. However, Love Streams was a chore to get through. Gone was the warmth and the human touch to his wonderful music and instead this felt like a commodification of what was once a good thing." - John Kealy

    "I was somewhat underwhelmed by Love Streams initially, as I could not help but compare it to the considerably more audacious and singular Virgins.  It has definitely grown on me a lot since then though, as "Music of the Air" and "Violet Monumental I" are easily two of the most beautiful pieces Hecker has ever recorded." - Anthony D'Amico 

  6. Matmos, "Ultimate Care II" (Thrill Jockey)

    "In our house, I am the king of the washing machine. I have a system that I like to work with and there is an efficient and steady flow of dirty laundry rejuvenated into clean, fresh clothes for the week ahead. The only thing lacking from the process, is a suitable soundtrack and luckily Matmos have delivered. This is a terrific album that merges the best ideas of musique concrète and experimentation with a great idea and a genuine sense of adventure. It's good, clean fun!" - John Kealy

    "The only downside is that the parts aren't indexed. It kinda bothers me, but it's a great listen still." - Jon Whitney

  7. Biosphere, "Departed Glories" (Smalltown Supersound)

    "I definitely did not expect such a gorgeous and revelatory reinvention of the Biosphere aesthetic this deep in Geir Jenssen's career.  While it is not quite a perfect album, the high points were beautiful and mysterious enough to decisively make this one of my favorite albums of the year." - Anthony D'Amico

  8. Nurse With Wound, "Dark Fat" (United Jnana/United Dirtier)

    "Compiled from various concert recordings, this NWW could have been a redundant release given the numerous live albums that Steve Stapleton has already released. Instead, this feels like an entirely new entity that fits perfectly with some of NWW's murkier and sinister works. Matt Waldron's sculpting of the NWW live sound is impeccable, truly one of the best NWW in years (I seem to be always saying this, every year is always a good year to be a NWW fan)." - John Kealy

    "If you are going to release nothing but vault scrapings, this is definitely the most ingenious and satisfying way to do it." - Anthony D'Amico

  9. The Body, "No One Deserves Happiness" (Thrill Jockey)
  10. Puce Mary, "The Spiral" (Posh Isolation)

    "It is nice to see something hostile and ugly place so high up on the list.  You folks have warmed my black heart." - Anthony D'Amico

  11. Benoît Pioulard, "The Benoît Pioulard Listening Matter" (Kranky)
  12. Roy Montgomery, "R M H Q: Headquarters" (Grapefruit)

    "I am still trying to process this insanely ambitious mountain of new material.  There are certainly a lot of cool songs, but not four albums worth.  Maybe the next release could be winnowed down to just a double- or triple-album?" - Anthony D'Amico

    "Stunning. Each new listen reveals how brilliant some of these songs are. It's a warm, welcome return for Montgomery for me." - Jon Whitney 

  13. Hypnopazūzu, "Create Christ, Sailor Boy" (House of Mythology)

    "This uneven collaboration with Youth seems to have creatively reinvigorated David Tibet, as it features some of his strongest performances in recent memory." - Anthony D'Amico

  14. Blixa Bargeld & Teho Teardo, "Nerissimo" (Specula)

    "While I enjoyed this duo's first album, Still Smiling, this one feels like a step up. Poetic, delicate and full of beauty, Nerissimo proves that Teardo and Bargeld make for an intriguing duo. They make no attempts to be experimental for the sake of being experimental (neither artist needs to prove any such credentials at this point) but instead focus on the kind of songwriting that I feared would be lost along with Leonard Cohen." - John Kealy

  15. Ian William Craig, "Centres" (FatCat)

    "All of Craig's many facets came together in perfect harmony for this lushly beautiful and woozily warped dream-pop masterpiece.  This is probably my personal favorite album of the year." - Anthony D'Amico

  16. Demdike Stare, "Wonderland" (Modern Love)
  17. Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke, "It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry" (Editions Mego)
  18. Marissa Nadler, "Strangers" (Sacred Bones)

    "It felt like Nadler has been on a rocket for her career with each successive album reaching new heights, new regions of musical space. However, Strangers felt to me like she had eased off the accelerator pedal (do rockets have accelerator pedals?) after the sensational July. It's by no means a mis-step or a bad album but comes across a little like treading water after trailblazing for so many years." - John Kealy

  19. Ulver, "Atgclvlsscap" (House Of Mythology)
  20. Paul Jebanasam, "Continuum" (Subtext)

    "Easily one of the most impressively visceral and wildly ambitious albums of the year. This sounds like space exploding.  Or at least a black hole ripping apart an excellent drone album." - Anthony D'Amico

  21. B/B/S/, "Palace" (Miasmah)

    "A perfect exercise in simmering tension and slow-burning intensity." - Anthony D'Amico

  22. Oren Ambarchi, "Hubris" (Editions Mego)

    "I truly do not understand the appeal of Oren Ambarchi's rhythm-centric recent work at all.  The last few albums have just felt like a bunch of friends jamming on krautrock vamps to me." - Anthony D'Amico

  23. Roly Porter, "Third Law" (Tri Angle)

    "Third Law feels like the Paul Jebanasam album re-envisioned as a complex and prog-damaged space opera during a coke binge.  That is mostly a compliment.  Both are quite stunning production achievements."  - Anthony D'Amico

  24. Aethenor, "Hazel" (VHF)

    "I have listened to Hazel so many times and still cannot formulate a clear opinion on it at all.  Sometimes it seems plodding, indulgent, and meandering and other times it seems like Stephen O'Malley and company are successfully channeling Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis." - Anthony D'Amico

  25. Scott Walker, "The Childhood of a Leader OST" (4AD)

    "This more than makes up for the lukewarm Soused. This is an absolute beast of an album." - John Kealy

  26. Cindytalk, "The Labyrinth of the Straight Line" (Editions Mego)

    "I have admittedly not had a chance to delve too deeply into this one yet (it is currently in my review pile), but so far it is an impressive modern take on some of the earliest 1980s industrial sensibilities." - Creaig Dunton

  27. Mamiffer, "The World Unseen" (Sige)
  28. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Pages of Aquarius" (Metropolis)

    "One of the catchiest Dots full-length LP in years, it's full of some fantastic tunes and is an instant hook." - Jon Whitney

  29. Aluk Todolo, "Voix" (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
  30. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, "Ears" (Western Vinyl)
  31. Brian Eno, "The Ship" (Warp)
  32. Cavern Of Anti-Matter, "Void Beats/Invocation Trex" (Duophonic)
  33. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani, "FRKWYS Vol. 13 Sunergy" (Frkwys)
  34. Ulaan Passerine, "The Great Unwinding" (Worstward)

    "Steven R. Smith is an inspiration. The man constantly puts out interesting music, switches styles with ease, and has a knack for interpretation to which anyone planning on covering a song should pay attention. If these year-end lists do any good for anyone, it will be because they urge people to go out and buy Smith's music, in whatever form. Both this and Moss Cathedral were highlights of 2016. If you're smart, you'll pay attention to Worstward and grab the physical editions released there while they're available. Smith often gives as much attention to the packaging as he does to the music, whether they're wrapped in cardstock or cloth. Only digital copies of The Great Unwinding remain, but there's sure to be lots more in 2017." - Lucas Schleicher 

  35. Peder Mannerfelt, "Controlling Body" (Peder Mannerfelt Produktion)
  36. Mika Vainio, "Mannerlaatta" (Ideal)
  37. Oranssi Pazuzu, "Värähtelijä" (20 Buck Spin)
  38. Surgeon, "From Farthest Known Objects" (Dynamic Tension)
  39. Rashad Becker, "Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. II" (PAN)

    "I've only listened to this a few times, but it seems every bit as deliciously unhinged as the first volume.  Rashad Becker is a goddamn visionary." - Anthony D'Amico

  40. Silver Apples, "Clinging To A Dream" (Chicken Coop)
  41. The Stargazer's Assistant, "Remoteness of Light" (House of Mythology)

    "I'm currently frowning at my mailbox waiting for this to arrive.  My annual obsessive plunge into end-of-the-year lists did not yield nearly as many surprises as usual, but I am delighted that my efforts at least turned me onto this." - Anthony D'Amico   

  42. The Caretaker, "Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 1" (History Always Favours the Winners)
  43. Controlled Bleeding, "Larva Lumps And Baby Bumps" (Artoffact)

    "A lengthy set, but one that does an admirable job of capturing the many (sometimes conflicting) facets of Paul Lemos' long standing project.  It is an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to music, but it manages to actually work." - Creaig Dunton

  44. Shackleton, "Devotional Songs" (Honest Jon's)
  45. MJ Guider, "Precious Systems" (Kranky)

    "It's a fantastic introduction to MJ Guider, however I imagine future recordings may be more focused." - Jon Whitney

  46. Natural Snow Buildings, "Aldebaran" (Vulpiano)

    "There are unquestionably some great songs strewn throughout this overwhelming tour de force, but it is going to take me months to absorb it all." - Anthony D'Amico

  47. JK Flesh, "Rise Above" (Electric Deluxe)
  48. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Chemical Playschool 19 & 20" (Beta-Lactam Ring)
  49. The Body & Full Of Hell ‎, "One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache" (Neurot)
  50. Pinkcourtesyphone, "Taking into Account Only a Portion of Your Emotions" (Editions Mego)

    "Richard Chartier may not have reinvented himself on this album, but it stands strong as a further refinement of this guise, and includes some of his best material to date." - Creaig Dunton

  51. Shirley Collins, "Lodestar" (Domino)

    "I am probably a fraud and a cretin for not picking this up yet.  A new Shirley Collins album co-produced by Cyclobe sounds like something that could only exist in my dreams." - Anthony D'Amico

  52. G.H., "Housebound Demigod" (Modern Love)
  53. Rangda, "The Heretic's Bargain" (Drag City)
  54. D.A.R.F.D.H.S., "Forensligandet" (Northern Electronics)
  55. Steve Hauschildt, "Strands" (Kranky)
  56. Hexa, "Factory Photographys" (Room40)
  57. Vatican Shadow, "Media in the Service of Terror" (Hospital)

    "It's another Vatican Shadow tape.  It isn't different than the last ones." - Creaig Dunton

    "This project feels like it is on autopilot at this point." - Anthony D'Amico

  58. Klara Lewis, "Too" (Editions Mego)

    "This understated and dreamlike album took a while to fully seep in, but its high points are among some of the most strange and beautiful music that I heard all year." - Anthony D'Amico

  59. Pye Corner Audio, "Stasis" (Ghost Box)
  60. Emma Ruth Rundle, "Marked For Death" (Sargent House)
  61. Xiu Xiu, "Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks" (Polyvinyl)

    "I honestly don't know how much I like this, but give Xiu Xiu credit for tackling one of the most beloved soundtracks ever. It takes a little more than confidence to tackle Angelo Badalamenti, Julee Cruise, and David Lynch. Plus "Into the Night" sounded great, whatever you think of their treatment of Laura's theme, "Falling," and the rest of it." - Lucas Schleicher

  62. The Dead C, "Trouble" (Ba Da Bing!)

    "A double album of gloriously messy, noise-guitar sprawl and absolutely no attempt to write anything resembling an actual song at all.  No one understands the pleasures of simmering entropy better than The Dead C." - Anthony D'Amico

  63. Landing, "Third Sight" (El Paraiso)
  64. And Also The Trees, "Born Into The Waves" (And Also The Trees)
  65. Current 93, "The Moons at Your Door" (Current 93)

    "I've been struggling with the last few Current 93 albums but this pseudo-soundtrack to David Tibet's ghost story anthology of the same name was very nice. Recalling earlier "literary" works like Faust, I Have a Special Plan for this World and In a Foreign Town, In a Foreign Land, this is a strange and eerie soundscape that Tibet (and in this case Andrew Liles) does well. I would like more of this and another volume of ghost stories please!" - John Kealy

    "The book was wonderful.  I don't think it needed a soundtrack though." - Anthony D'Amico  

  66. Landing, "Complekt" (These Are Not Records)
  67. Plaid, "The Digging Remedy" (Warp)
  68. Ulaan Passerine, "Moss Cathedral" (Worstward)

    "Have I mentioned that I love Steven R. Smith? This is one of two excellent albums he released as Ulaan Passerine in 2016. And if you weren't paying attention, you might have missed Salt at the end of 2015. There's no excuse for missing out now that so much of his work is available on Bandcamp. Get with it." - Lucas Schleicher

  69. Croatian Amor, "Love Means Taking Action" (Posh Isolation/Alter)

    "This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, as Loke Rahbek's weirdly shifting and pornography-themed conceptual art project unexpectedly blossomed into a warm, sensuous, and oft-gorgeous suite of songs that lie somewhere between sexy dance music and This Mortal Coil.  I love this album." - Anthony D'Amico

  70. Andy Stott, "Too Many Voices" (Modern Love)

    "This was quite an interesting detour, as Stott seemingly took everything wonderful about Luxury Problems and reprised it in considerably more drugged, ghostly, and fractured form.  I still like it, but Stott's aesthetic is a lot less immediately gratifying with all of his pop instincts drained away." - Anthony D'Amico

  71. Sumac, "What One Becomes" (Thrill Jockey)
  72. Gnod, "Mirror" (Rocket)
  73. Valerio Tricoli, "Clonic Earth" (PAN)
  74. CoH, "Music Vol." (Editions Mego)
  75. Orphx, "Pitch Black Mirror" (Sonic Groove)
  76. Yves De Mey, "Drawn With Shadow Pens" (Spectrum Spools)
  77. John Carpenter, "Lost Themes II" (Sacred Bones)
  78. Supersilent, "13" (Smalltown Supersound)
  79. Kerridge, "Fatal Light Attraction" (Downwards)
  80. Monolake, "VLSI" (Imbalance Computer Music)
  81. Yves Tumor, "Serpent Music" (PAN)
  82. Heron Oblivion, "Heron Oblivion" (Sub Pop)
  83. Kemper Norton, "Toll" (Front & Follow)
  84. Boris with Merzbow, "Gensho" (Relapse)
  85. Claire M. Singer, "Solas" (Touch)
  86. Glenn Jones, "Fleeting" (Thrill Jockey)

    "Barbecue Bob in Fishtown was my pick for album of the year in 2009 and Fleeting is very near my favorite album of 2016. I guess I have to get used to the fact that Brainwashed readers and I have parted ways somewhat in the last 10 years because there's no way this isn't a top ten album. Glenn's guitar playing keeps getting better, his songwriting continues to bend and flex in surprising ways, and his ability to work miracles with seemingly basic ingredients singles him out as a master of the instrument. I'll never not be excited about what he's doing next." - Lucas Schleicher

  87. Radian, "On Dark Silent Off" (Thrill Jockey)

    "This was such a cool and inventive album.  It should not be this low on the list.  You people are making a mockery of democracy." - Anthony D'Amico

  88. Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O., "Wake To A New Dawn Of Another Astro Era" (Important)
  89. JG Thirlwell, "Music of the Venture Bros, Vol. 2" (Ectopic Ents)
  90. Forma, "Physicalist" (Kranky)
  91. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, "Pond Scum" (Domino)

    "This collection of BBC sessions is unfortunately woefully incomplete with one song from one of the sessions left off and with several other sessions left on the shelf that could have made for an immersive 2-3 LP set. Yet, the songs that did make it to press are a wonderful treat for Will Oldham fans, including a cover of "The Cross" by Prince to make you extra sad when listening to it now." - John Kealy

    "The best thing Will Oldham has released since The Letting Go. Everyone should hear what Will and Dave Heumann did with "Death to Everyone." The Prince cover is a nice surprise, but the rest of the album is superb and surprisingly coherent, especially considering the span it covers." - Lucas Schleicher

  92. Horse Lords, "Interventions" (Northern Spy)

    "Rock band I most want to see live. Turn "Truthers" way up and get completely fucked up on their rhythmic trickery. This Heat fans will get a tingly feeling deep down inside." - Lucas Schleicher

  93. 75 Dollars, "Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock" (Thin Wrist)
  94. Alcest, "Kodama" (Prophecy)
  95. Thalia Zedek Band, "Eve" (Thrill Jockey)
  96. Not Waving, "Animals" (Diagonal)
  97. Pita, "Get In" (Editions Mego)
  98. Jenny Hval, "Blood Bitch" (Sacred Bones)
  99. Ashtray Navigations, "To Make A Fool Ask & You Are The First" (Blackest Ever Black)
  100. Dalek, "Asphalt For Eden" (Profound Lore)

Single of the Year

  1. Fovea Hex: The Salt GardenFovea Hex, "The Salt Garden 1" (Headphone Dust/Die Stadt)

    "The first installment of a new series of Fovea Hex EPs is reason enough for 2016 to exist, given its awful reputation (the year, not the EP!). This is another startlingly beautiful gem from Clodagh Simonds, I look forward to hearing what 2017 brings." - John Kealy

    "I kind of feel like John said everything I was going to, because it is an amazing (if all too brief) collection of songs that has me eagerly awaiting the next release in this series." - Creaig Dunton

    "Both surprised and pleased to see this score so high. It's another beautiful piece in a flawless catalog and once again very promising for the following pieces of the series." - Jon Whitney

  2. Wire, "Nocturnal Koreans" (Pink Flag)
  3. Aphex Twin, "Cheetah EP" (Warp)
  4. Lush, "Blind Spot" (Edamame)

    "I actually find this one somewhat depressing now, because it seemed like such an optimistic introduction for new Lush material, and then the band imploded again.  Especially because it was very good, with a sound more akin to the Split era rather than the Britpop catch up Lovelife stuff." - Creaig Dunton

  5. Porter Ricks, "Shadow Boat" (Tresor)

    "I am thrilled that Porter Ricks has returned, but these three songs are not quite on the same level as Biokinetics." - Anthony D'Amico

  6. The Legendary Pink Dots, "A Scented Candle" (Noise Noise Noise)
  7. Loscil, "Suns" (self-released)
  8. JK Flesh, "Nothing Is Free" (Downwards)
  9. Container, "Vegetation" (Diagonal)

    "Pummeling, strange, and relentlessly kinetic.  Possibly the best Container release yet." - Anthony D'Amico

  10. Carla dal Forno, "Fast Moving Cars" (Blackest Ever Black)
  11. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, "Let Me Get There" (Tendril Tales)
  12. Meat Beat Manifesto, "Tour EP 2016" (Flexidisc)
  13. Marissa Nadler, "Bury Your Name" (Sacred Bones)
  14. Giacinto Scelsi, Chris Watson, and Joe Browning, "Scelsi" (SN Variations)
  15. Braids, "Companion" (Arbutus)
  16. Ramleh, "Conquest Play/Clockwork" (Entropy)

    "Half electronic noise, half negative noise rock.  Essentially the full Ramleh experience in 15 minutes, and that's a great thing." - Creaig Dunton

  17. Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, "Walo Walo" (Ndagga)

    "I didn't listen to this single much, but I played Yermande to death.  This improbable project (German techno producer teams up with drummers from Dakar) has been consistently wonderful." - Anthony D'Amico

  18. Sleaford Mods, "T.C.R." (Rough Trade)

    "More of the same?  Yeah, pretty much.  But not necessarily a bad thing in my eyes, and the title track is one of the most catchy songs they've done to date." - Creaig Dunton

  19. Essaie Pas, "Demain Est Une Autre Nuit" (DFA)
  20. The Orb, "Alpine" (Kompakt)
  21. Factory Floor, "Dial Me In" (DFA)
  22. Surgeon, "Bland Ambition" (Bland Ambition)
  23. Pinkcourtesyphone & Gwyneth Wentlink, "Elision" (Richard Chartier)
  24. Luciernaga, "Sleeping/Wandering" (Fabrica)

    "I may be a bit biased since he's a friend of mine, but Joao Da Silva's ambient project Luciernaga does not get the attention it deserved.  This was a great introduction to his work, with two of his richest compositions to date." - Creaig Dunton

  25. Peder Mannerfelt, "Transmissions from a Drainpipe" (Peder Mannerfelt Produktion)
  26. Surgeon, "Search Deep Inside Yourself" (Blueprint)
  27. Death In Vegas, "Consequences Of Love" (Drone)
  28. Ultimate Painting / Woods, "Into The Darkness / Know Your Minute" (Woodsist)
  29. Immersion, "Analogue Creatures" (Swim)
  30. Immersion, "Living On Land" (Swim)
  31. Cold Cave, "The Idea of Love/Rue the Day" (Heartworm)

    "This seemed like more of a throwback to the Cremation days of Cold Cave.  Which means while I enjoyed it, it was not overly memorable either." - Creaig Dunton

  32. Simon Shreeve, "Healing Bowl" (Downwards)
  33. Autumns, "A Product of 30 Years of Violence" (Clan Destine)
  34. SΛRIN, "Current Conflict" (Aufnahme + Wiedergabe)
  35. Simon Shreeve, "Lust Product" (Downwards)
  36. Norin, "Reflektarar" (Posh Isolation)
  37. Theologian / Ancient Methods, "La Saignée" (Metaphysik)
  38. Iggy Pop / Tarwater / Alva Noto, "Leaves Of Grass" (Morr Music)
  39. Grebenstein, "Strong, Proud, Stupid and Superior" (Downwards)
  40. Shit Robot, "OB-8" (DFA)
  41. Yally (Raime), "Burnt/Sudo" (Boomkat Editions)

    "Ok, let me get this straight: if I want to hear an album that sounds like Moin, I want Raime?  And if I want an album that sounds like Raime, I want Yally?  Do I have that right?  Sheesh.  You guys are killing me." - Anthony D'Amico

  42. High Functioning Flesh, "Human Remains" (Dais)

    "The boys were a bit more dour and restrained on this single.  Less stompy and more moody, it still made for a great between-album teaser." - Creaig Dunton

  43. Chrysta Bell and David Lynch, "Somewhere in the Nowhere" (Meta Hari)
  44. Scheich in China, "Scheich in China" (V.I.S)
  45. John Tejada, "Lakewood Drive" (Kompakt)
  46. Minor Victories, "A Hundred Ropes/Scattered Ashes" (Fat Possum)

    "Scattered Ashes is easily one of my favorite songs of 2016. Too bad the album was nearly ruined by the appearance of Mark Kozelek." - Jon Whitney

  47. Micachu, "Taz and May Vids" (DDS)
  48. Alex Under, "Olas De Quila Quina" (Kompakt)
  49. Better Person, "It's Only You" (Mansions and Millions)
  50. Dave DK, "Val Maira Remixe" (Kompakt)

Vault/Reissue of the Year

  1. Coil - The Ape of NaplesCoil, "The Ape Of Naples" (Important)
  2. Coil, "The New Backwards" (Important)
  3. Coil, "Astral Disaster" (Prescription)

    "It goes without saying that having Coil back in print, especially on vinyl, warms my heart. The Ape of Naples and The New Backwards are, in retrospect, a muddled but moving effort at closing the door on Coil by Peter Christopherson but Astral Disaster reminds us of how potent Coil were at their (many) peak(s). Explorative, uncanny and utterly engaging, Astral Disaster is easily one of their finest works. This reissue of the original Prescription edition of the album is most welcome, seeing Coil recording with Gary Ramon in an old, sub-basement prison in London (formerly the studio of Iron Maiden). Bringing to mind their own work in the Moon's Milk seasonal EPs along with heavy Krautrock and Minimalist tendencies, this album still sounds like nothing else on earth." - John Kealy

    "I've come back to this a lot in the last few months for reasons I can't explain. I enjoyed the Threshold House version released on CD a lot, but I never got to hear the Prescription mix until a couple of years back. Why it didn't strike me the first time is a mystery. This combined with the CD version make for some of the best late-era Coil listening you can ask for. While I think The Ape of Naples is beautiful and moving, Astral Disaster is a masterpiece that ranks among their best work." - Lucas Schleicher

  4. Suicide, "Suicide" (Superior Viaduct)
  5. Dead Can Dance, "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun" (4AD)
  6. Dead Can Dance, "Dead Can Dance" (4AD)
  7. Dead Can Dance, "Spleen and Ideal" (4AD)
  8. Bowery Electric, "Beat" (Kranky)
  9. Dead Can Dance, "Toward the Within" (4AD)

    "There had better be more DCD reissues coming, as I cannot help but note the glaring lack of The Serpent's Egg.  Reissuing a live album before that feels like a hilarious prank aimed solely at me." - Anthony D'Amico

  10. Suicide, "Suicide: Alan Vega · Martin Rev" (Superior Viaduct)
  11. Dead Can Dance, "Into the Labyrinth" (4AD)
  12. Nurse With Wound, "Spiral Insana/A Missing Sense" (Rotorelief)
  13. Dead Can Dance, "Garden of Arcane Delights/Radio Sessions" (4AD)
  14. Colin Newman, "A-Z" (Sentient Sonics)
  15. Einsturzende Neubauten, "Greatest Hits" (Potomak)

    "Focusing on the latter half of their career, this "greatest hits" seems a bit lopsided in terms of telling the Neubauten story. Yet, it is this later period that seems to dismissed by the old guard despite it containing some of the group's most interesting and experimental work." - John Kealy

  16. Pan Sonic, "Atomin Paluu" (Blast First Petite)
  17. Bohren & Der Club of Gore, "Sunset Mission" (Wonder)
  18. The Fall, "Hex Enduction Hour" (Superior Viaduct)

    "I imagine this is good.  I mean, it's the best Fall album in my opinion.  I just already own at least two copies of it." - Creaig Dunton

  19. Manuel Göttsching, "E2-E4" (MG.ART)

    "This should be mandatory listening for anyone about to sit down to work with a synthesiser or a sequencer. Masterclass!" - John Kealy

  20. The Fall, "Grotesque (After The Gramme)" (Superior Viaduct)
  21. Abul Mogard, "Works" (Ecstatic)
  22. Biosphere, "Cirque" (Biophon)
  23. Colin Newman, "Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish" (Sentient Sonics)
  24. Colin Newman, "Not To" (Sentient Sonics)
  25. Tony Conrad with Faust, "Outside the Dream Syndicate" (Superior Viaduct)

    "While the 1990s live recording between Conrad and Faust usurps this as the ultimate Minimalist recording, it is impossible not to understand the historic and musical Big Bang that happened with this album. The world is a far better place for this being recorded and again for it getting a lovely reissue. I hope Tony is up there playing in tune with the stars now." - John Kealy

  26. The Fall, "Dragnet" (Superior Viaduct)
  27. AMM, "AMMusic" (Black Truffle)
  28. Whitehouse, "The Sound Of Being Alive" (Susan Lawly)

    "At first I thought this was totally unnecessary, but given that most of the material is out of print (it is essentially a greatest hits collection from 1998 to 2007), it is justified.  It also does capture some of their best moments from that era." - Creaig Dunton

  29. Jack Rose, "I Do Play Rock and Roll" (Three-Lobed)

    "All of Jack Rose's albums should always be in print forever. I'm lucky enough to have an original, but big thanks to Three-Lobed for making this strange and engaging record available to anyone who didn't know about Jack when it came out. His mix of Hindustani or Indian classical music with Takoma-style playing, experimental sounds, and that distinct Rose style is unique in the world of the solo guitar record. If you like weird sounds and want a place to start with Jack, this is that place. Put "Sundogs" on first and breathe it in." - Lucas Schleicher

  30. Biosphere, "Patashnik" (Biophon)
  31. Camberwell Now, "The Ghost Trade" (Modern Classics)
  32. The Fall, "Room To Live" (Superior Viaduct)
  33. Pram, "The Stars Are So Big the Earth Is So Small... Stay As You Are" (Medical)
  34. Loscil, "Plume" (Kranky)
  35. La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela, "The Dream House" (Aguirre)

    "This had a very official looking release on a respectable label as part of a series of Shandar reissues. However, I wonder what is going on behind the scenes as further reissues are yet to materialise (aside from the Steve Reich album that came out at the same time). This is a fantastic (and affordable) reproduction of the Shandar original but knowing La Monte Young's reputation, I'm surprised this has seen the light of day. Hopefully, it is the sign that his archives will finally make it out into the world. At the very least, seeing the already released albums in print again should be a minimum." - John Kealy

  36. Eleh, "Radiant Intervals" (Important)
  37. Charlemagne Palestine, "Cathédrale De Strasbourg" (Erratum)
  38. Pram, "Helium" (Medical)
  39. Muslimgauze, "Jerusalaam" (Staalplaat)

    "If this was not an import that only came out a few weeks ago, I bet it would have placed much higher.  Definitely one of the better finds from the archive, despite a general unevenness.  One of the two "Black September" remixes is an absolute monster." - Anthony D'Amico

  40. Yoshi Wada, "Off the Wall" (Saltern)

    "Unbelievable album. Why is this only number 40?" - John Kealy

  41. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Festive" (The Legendary Pink Dots)
  42. Bert Jansch, "Bert Jansch" (Superior Viaduct)
  43. Bert Jansch, "It Don't Bother Me" (Superior Viaduct)
  44. Arthur Russell, "Tower of Meaning" (Audika)
  45. Mars, "Mars Archives Volume Two: 11000 Volts To Tunnel" (Feeding Tube)
  46. Charlemagne Palestine, "Godbear" (Black Truffle)
  47. Severed Heads, "Stretcher" (Medical)

    "This was so much better than I expected it to be.  "Blast Platter" instantly catapulted to the top of my favorite Severed Heads songs."  - Anthony D'Amico

  48. The Fall, "Live At The Witch Trials" (Superior Viaduct)
  49. William Burroughs, "Call Me Burroughs" (Superior Viaduct)
  50. Muslimgauze, "Mohammad Ali Jinnah" (Staalplaat)

Various Artist Compilation of the Year

  1. Music of Morocco from the Library of Congress"Music Of Morocco, From The Library Of Congress" (Dust-to-digital)
  2. "Space Echo: The Mystery Behind The Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde" (Analog Africa)
  3. "Sacred Flute Music From New Guinea: Madang / Windim Mabu" (Ideologic Organ)
  4. "Punk 45 Chaos In The City Of Angels And Devils (Hollywood From X To Zero & Hardcore On The Beaches: Punk In Los Angeles 1977-81)" (Soul Jazz)
  5. "ICR Thirty Five - We Still Couldn't Agree On A Title" (ICR)

    "While I was unable to make the event, the ICR 35th anniversary compilation at least serves as a decent stand-in. ICR remains a stallwart in electronic music, releasing things that reflect an open and exciting approach to music - even when it sounds like not much is happening. ICR reminds you to listen closer and hear the detail." - John Kealy

  6. "Devon Folklore Tapes Volume V: Ornithology" (Folklore Tapes)
  7. "LAFMS Box Box" (Box Editions)
  8. "Andrei Tarkowsky: Another Kind of Language" (and/OAR)
  9. "Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music" (Numero Group)
  10. "Nigeria Soul Fever (Afro Funk, Disco And Boogie: West African Disco Mayhem!)" (Soul Jazz)
  11. "Nothing Is Enough" (Full Of Nothing)
  12. "Total 16" (Kompakt)
  13. "Boogie Breakdown (South African Synth-Disco 1980-1984)" (Cultures of Soul)
  14. "Dope-Guns-'N-Fucking In The Streets (Volume 1-11 • 1988-1998)" (Amphetamine Reptile)
  15. "Kenya Special: Volume Two (Selected East African Recordings From The 1970s & '80s)" (Soundway)
  16. "Killed By Deathrock Vol. 2" (Sacred Bones)
  17. "Cold Waves of Color: Volume 3" (Color Disc)
  18. "An Anthology of Turkish Experimental Music 1961-2014" (Sub Rosa)
  19. "Radio Caliban: Blackest Ever Black "Singles" 2015" (Blackest Ever Black)
  20. "Fractures" (A Year in the Country)


Boxed Set of the Year

  1. Autechre - Elseq 1-5Autechre, "Elseq 1-5" (Warp)

    "I still haven't had the chance to take it all in at once, but I love Autechre for making this happen. The way they approach their music now, putting out four-plus hours at a time makes perfect sense. Far from being disposable, their first all-digital release is one of their more exciting ideas. I'm not afraid of a 10-hour record, guys, just in case you're reading." - Lucas Schleicher

  2. Gas, "Box" (Kompakt)
  3. Cluster, "1971 - 1981" (Bureau B)
  4. Harry Bertoia, "Sonambient" (Sonambient)
  5. Front 242, "Geography" (Alfa Matrix)

    "Probably the least essential of this not-essential reissue campaign (considering the other two had unreleased CDs of live material included." - Creaig Dunton

  6. Richard H. Kirk, "#7489" (Mute)

    "I'm very familiar with the Cabaret Voltaire discography, but for some reason I never delved too deeply into Kirk's solo work.  Good remastering job, good unreleased material, and also a great companion piece to the 80s CV sound." - Creaig Dunton

  7. Tor Lundvall, "Nature Laughs as Time Slips By" (Dais)

    "Tor Lundvall has quietly and sneakily become one of my favorite artists over the last few years.  This set is perfect for binge-listening." - Anthony D'Amico

  8. Front 242, "No Comment/Politics of Pressure" (Alfa Matrix)

    "Did I need to buy this?  Probably not.  But I have to concede that "Funkadafi" and "Commando Remix" sound extremely nice remastered here." - Creaig Dunton

  9. Sandoz, "#9294" (Mute)
  10. Lush, "Origami" (4AD)
  11. Blonde Redhead, "Masculin Feminin" (Numero Group)
  12. King Crimson, "On (and Off) the Road" (DGM)

    "King Crimson broke up in 1974 and never recorded another note after Red." - John Kealy

    "Well this band who stole the name did a pretty good job at making quirky prog tinged new wave.  It may not be "Starless", but it is still pretty good." - Creaig Dunton

  13. The Scientists, "A Place Called Bad" (Numero Group)
  14. Howard Stelzer, "Normal Bias" (Ballast)

    "Ok, this is an amazing set and Howie is one of the greatest, underappreciated noise artists working today.  But considering this was limited to like 50, and I have not even finished my review of it yet, I question the honesty of your votes, reader. :)" - Creaig Dunton

  15. Alessandro Bosetti, "Stille Post. Radio Works: 2003 - 2011" (Monotype)

Artist of the Year

The Body

  1. The Body

    "Not a big surprise given the amount of music both alone and in collaborations The Body have unearthed in 2016." - Jon Whitney

  2. The Legendary Pink Dots
  3. Swans
  4. Loscil
  5. Ian William Craig
  6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  7. Autechre
  8. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
  9. Lustmord
  10. Nurse With Wound
  11. Ulaan Passerine
  12. Matmos
  13. Biosphere
  14. Puce Mary
  15. Sarah Davachi

Label of the Year

  1. Superior Viaduct

    "I did not see this victory coming, but Viaduct certainly seems to have unerring taste in what they choose to reissue." - Anthony D'Amico

  2. 4AD
  3. Important
  4. Thrill Jockey

    "The strength of the top 3 is clearly in the popularity of their reissues, however Thrill Jockey impressively remains high with primarily all new releases well into their third decade." - Jon Whitney

  5. Kranky
  6. Editions Mego
  7. Warp
  8. Blackest Ever Black
  9. House of Mythology
  10. Medical
  11. Kompakt
  12. Sacred Bones
  13. Touch
  14. Drag City
  15. Posh Isolation

New Artist of the Year

Carla Dal Forno

Carla dal Forno

"This category is almost always an interesting curveball and Carla dal Forno is a fine addition to that tradition: an Australian dream-pop chanteuse on a label best known for the bleak, heavy, and misanthropic sounds of Raime and Cut Hands.  With Tarcar and F Ingers, Carla has certainly dipped her toes into such fare herself, but her solo career is refreshingly different, hooky, and darkly sensuous, albeit in a rather stark and willfully bloodless way.  While her understated aesthetic makes some of her songs blur together a bit for me, an awful lot of people played the hell out of "What You Gonna Do Now?" this year (and for good reason)." - Anthony D'Amico

Lifetime Achievement Recognition

Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros

"Through her music, Pauline Oliveros not only challenged her audience with new sounds to listen to but also with new approaches to listening. Her music veered between the intense, visceral immersion of her early tape works, stark and complex scores for ensembles of various sizes and her truly transformative solo and group performances on accordion. Through her Deep Listening philosophy, she took the seeds sown by John Cage with 4'33" and let them bloom into fantastic, previously unknown blossoms. Through the Deep Listening Band, she took these concepts on the road and created some of the most beautiful music committed to the air. Her music was a deep intertwining of meditation and performance; where most artists use climax and crescendo as a mode of catharsis, Oliveros instead used a gentle and disarming wave of love. Deep Listening by implication lends itself to a more empathetic approach to sound and to interactions with others, it is sad to know she is gone but her legacy is a powerful one. Teach yourself to fly." - John Kealy

"One of the few few truly wonderful things about living in upstate NY was being around for EMPAC's prime and getting to have a beloved,accordion-wielding, and legitimately iconoclastic octogenarian as a hometown hero.  In fact, Oliveros's 80th birthday concert stands as one of the single most impressive events that I have attended (I believe there were like 20 drummers and the venue recreated the acoustics of the cistern where her 1989 masterpiece Deep Listening was recorded).  Significantly, that event highlighted something rather bizarre about Oliveros's career: everyone can agree that she is hugely influential, but I don't think most people are fully aware of the true depth and breadth of her vision, as no one has yet distilled her scattered recordings into anything resembling a comprehensive retrospective.   As much as I enjoyed Important's 12-CD Reverberations box, it stopped at 1970 and Oliveros was just getting started at that point, as far as I am concerned: much of her finest, most listenable, and most distinctive work was recorded decades later with the Deep Listening Band.  That period remains far too underheard for my liking.

While her passing leaves a large hole in the international experimental music community, her legacy is a hugely inspirational one.  Plenty of artists record one or two great albums, but very few manage to remain constantly evolving and relevant for their entire lives.  Also, by all accounts, she was quite a wonderful person.  I did not know her personally, but I did get a chance to see her attempt to save a Laurie Anderson concert that was plagued with technical difficulties and I know that she played at least one DIY show at Albany's small artspace with a handful of her students. I bet Luc Ferrari was not doing stuff like that in his 70s." - Anthony D'Amico

"On top of her lasting legacy as an electronic pioneer, she was an amazing person. I only met her a few times but she always came off as a friend. You could always feel like you belonged in her presence. So many losses in the music world of 2016 and Oliveros was another one who was still active until the moment her heart stopped beating, which is far more sad, to me, than an artist who hasn't created in years. She left behind a wealth of material to explore and I remain hopeful we will still be able to hear plenty of music yet to emerge." - Jon Whitney


Worst Album of the Year

  1. Bon Iver, "22 A Million" (Jagjaguwar)

    "It can't be _that_ bad,... Oh, sorry, maybe it actually is." - Jon Whitney

  2. Weyes Blood, "Front Row Seat To Earth" (Kemado)

    "What the fucking fuck? Weyes Blood is great and this album is strong, even if I prefer her first. Go see them live in 2017 and have your mind changed. "Do You Need My Love" bowled me over when I saw them in Los Angeles at the Echo. Seriously, what the fuck? Turn off your Swans records and get out of the house." - Lucas Schleicher

  3. Wilco, "Schmilco" (dBpm)
  4. Digitalism, "Mirage" (Magnetism)
  5. Kate Jackson, "British Road Movies" (Hoo Ha)
  6. Matthew Herbert, "A Nude (The Perfect Body)" (Accidental)
  7. The Lemon Twigs, "Do Hollywood" (4AD)
  8. MX-80 Sound, "So Funny" (Feeding Tube)
  9. The Hotelier, "Goodness" (Tiny Engines)
  10. Jute Gyte, "Perdurance" (Jeshimoth)