Ten Albums for 2023

2023 already seems like a long time ago, but I suppose if the Quietus can publish their list a month before the end of the year, I can publish mine a month after. In any case, I’m so laughably out of touch these days that it would be the height of presumption to call these albums the best of 2023. Rather, these are the ten albums (not necessarily released in 2023) that represent best what I was listening to last year.

Deena Abdelwahed — Jbal Rrsas (Infiné)
Oren Ambarchi — Shebang (Drag City)
Big|Brave — Nature Morte (Thrill Jockey)
The Bonk — Greater Than or Equal to… (thirtythree-45)
Jaimie Branch — Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((World War)) (International Anthem)
Mabe Fratti — Se Ve Desde Aquí (Unheard Of Hope)
Goat (JP) — Joy in Fear (Nakid)
Bill Orcutt — Music for Four Guitars (Palilalia)
Radian — Distorted Rooms (Thrill Jockey)
Vanishing Twin — Afternoon X (Fire)

If I were to single one out, it would be the Mabe Fratti album, which has some truly breathtaking moments that give it the edge over Vidrio, the debut album from her new project, Titanic. But if I hadn’t come late to Se Ve Desde Aquí, Vidrio would be in the list instead.

Likewise, Afternoon X nudges the Holy Tongue album, Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare off the list, both sharing the rhythm section of Valentina Magaletti and Susumu Mukai. Having seen Magaletti drumming with Holy Tongue and Raime last year, I had concluded that she’s more about precision than swing, and it’s interesting to hear her laying down a muscular boom-bap on the title track of the Vanishing Twin album, even if the effect is more vintage DJ Shadow than James Brown.

The Radian album barely made a ripple as it slipped into the world — the only review I saw was on Brainwashed — but it’s a tense, vivid collection of dubbed, glitched post-rock. Maybe there were obvious points of comparison when they started out back in 2000 but at this point they’re in a league of their own.

Thoughts, hopes, exhortations?