The 50 best Albums of the year 2023

01.12.2023
The longlist for the best albums of the year was long this year. Long! There was so much good, new music, we could hardly keep up with it in places. But if you go through these 50 records here once, you’ll definitely have enough material to regain your faith.

Nothing is getting better, but at least it’s getting more expensive and anyone who has held on to the calendar saying »it can’t get any worse« up to this point should start trying to read the room for once. But let’s ignore that for a moment and shine the spotlight on the only good thing in the world this year: music. Yes, also that is becoming more expensive, even though people are earning less from it, but it is also more valuable than ever before. The following 50 records come from people who refuse to give up, and that is frankly worth a whole fucking lot.

Whether they call themselves Armand Hammer or collaborate as billy woods & Kenny Segal, are called Little Simz, MC Yallah or Yungwebster: while this year the trade publications sent hip-hop into retirement (something something 50 years, bla bla), elsewhere things are moving on—and moving forward. In the club, it’s pretty the same in different ways. Instead of banging out hard trance edits or hard groove nostalgia, DJ Balduin, DJ Danifox, Irakli, Overmono, Tzusing and upsammy, among others, provided genuinely innovative ideas (‘member those?). And when Isolée returns and simply sounds like Isolée, that’s a win, too.

And this diffuse thing called pop music? Anohni is so back, folks, and the Johnsons are back in town with her. Daniel Blumberg destroyed the song, Güner Künier and Pose Dia gave wave music an overhaul and Loraine James made music that somehow felt like pop, even though it was informed by completely different traditions. The same is true for jazz or whatever that even means in 2023: These days, Impulse! hopefuls are called Brandee Younger and dream of a »Brand New Life,« while a singer like Enji starts a new one in »Ulaan.« And there’s Irreversible Entanglements, of course!

Breathing new life into old traditions was also on the agenda of Matana Roberts and Niecy Blues, for example, while Ellen Arkbro, Kali Malone and Mary Jane Leach, among others, dragged out the present with different but essentially similar means. And there were even more who were able to respond to these strange times with appropriately strange music and translate them perfectly into album format. Thanks for that, we really needed it. Kristoffer Cornils


Anohni & The Johnsons
My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross
Rough Trade • 2023 • from 34.99€

I only listen to »Another World« once every three years, but when I do, I listen to it 30 times over, misty-eyed and full of existentialist zeal. The fact that Anohni has recorded a new album with the Johnsons after 13 years initially triggered another »Another World« week before I could really devote myself to »My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross«. The much-vaunted blue-eyed soul tropes are more elegant and rocking here than on comparable throwback albums, despite the relevant credits from producer Jimmy Hogarth, and give Anohni's organ enough room for precisely the kind of pathos that has always set her apart, even in more avant-garde contexts. It's devastating even in the supposedly more relaxed moments, but then again, there's simply no one who's written as many potential funeral songs this millennium as Anohni. 

Florian Aigner
Armand Hammer
We Buy Diabetic Test Strips
Fat Possum • 2023 • from 71.99€

Hypnotic, weightless, intimate and brutal: on »We Buy Diabetic Test Strips«, Armand Hammer tears the world apart and puts it back together again. The duo weave together a dozen producers, musicians and features into a package that stands out from their catalogue. Wood's lyrics are razor-sharp analyses of historical, systemic and metaphysical abysses into which ELUCID weave individual destinies and existential introspection. »WBDTS« has become a sprawling and tightly woven tapestry, frayed at all ends.

Pasqual Solaß
Asher Gamedze
Turbulence & Pulse
International Anthem • 2023 • from 26.99€

No best of list without International Anthem; the Chicago label remains the go-to place for the best that jazz has to offer today. Asher Gamedze's second album »Turbulence And Pulse« undoubtedly fits that description. This spiritual jazz noticeably derives from South Africa; it's just that the earth has a different colour here. Not only is Gamedze's work on the drums outstanding, but the other musicians on the album are in the same league as the greats; Buddy Wells on saxophone, for example, is simply magnificent. 

Pippo Kuhzart
Better Corners
Continuous Miracles Volume 2
The state51 Conspiracy • 2023 • from 28.79€

Alles von Valentina Magaletti ist erstmal toll, weshalb jedes Jahr mit Valentina Magaletti toll ist und in 2023 gab es sehr viel Valentina Magaletti. Neben vielen tollen Solo-Alben und Releases von CZN, Holy Tongue, V/Z und Vanishing Twin war ihr zweites Album mit Matthew Simms und Sarah Register als Better Corners das tollste. Die Taj-Mahal-Travellers-Variante von Horror-Ambient mit Basinski-Vibes und Freak-Out-Industrial, ein psychonautischer Trip durch den Raum: Besser ging es eigentlich kaum, besser wird es bestimmt aber noch werden. Solange bleibt »Continuous Miracles Vol. 2« ein Karriere-Highlight.

Kristoffer Cornils
Bex Burch
There Is Only Love And Fear
International Anthem • 2023 • from 27.99€

Was 2023 the best year for international anthems? Asher Gamedze, Carlos Niño, Jamie Branch, Angel Bat Dawid: if anyone has the task of presenting the current state of jazz, look no further. Bex Burch's »There Is Only Love and Fear« is the release in the series that is the most difficult to summarise in two sentences. It contains all the emotions and all the instruments, great tenderness can be followed by great excitement in the next song. Ambient tinkering works just as well as simple bounce. This release has internalised the Chicago jazz doctrine and exudes it with every single beat. A celebration.

Pippo Kuhzart
billy woods & Kenny Segal
Maps
Backwoodz Studioz • 2023 • from 43.99€

The world has finally got it. Billy Woods is the best MC the US underground has to offer at the moment. It's amazing, considering the complexity of his lyrics. And it certainly took a long time. On »Aethiopes« he took us to the Zimbabwe of his childhood, on »Church« to the time of his youth, just before he became a rapper, and now on »Maps« he has arrived in the present - or not, because he is here on tour, spending time in airports or overpriced Ubers. In the droning fog of Kenny Segal's beats, however, huge lights shine down on him: »Poisoned everything we touched, withered and died // Burn it down with us inside.« 

Pasqual Solaß
Brandee Younger
Brand New Life
Impulse • 2023 • from 28.99€

Dorothy Ashby? Never heard of her? Doesn't matter. The modern jazz harpist's compositions make up a good half of the programme compiled by fellow artist Brandee Younger on her second album for Impulse! Which piques your curiosity about Younger's inspiration. But before you go hunting for old records, you might want to check out the R&B and hip-hop-inspired jazz harp renditions on »Brand New Life« first. Above all, Younger can be wonderfully impressionistic without flaunting her virtuoso skills in your face. 

Tim Caspar Boehme
Daniel Blumberg
Gut
Mute • 2023 • from 28.99€

Over three solo albums, Daniel Blumberg has written many broken songs, but with his fourth he has destroyed his songwriting itself. »GUT« is a literally visceral album on which the music itself becomes a foreign body. Blumberg still sings his choruses while it drones and rattles in the background. But he does so almost dutifully, especially when he reminds himself of his actual job near the end of the record: »Daniel, keep on singing!«. Whether he will do that or not, we’ll figure out on the next record. Until then, »GUT« remains his most radical album.

Kristoffer Cornils
DJ Balduin
Concrete Mimosa
Kann • 2023 • from 28.99€

Wer DJ Balduin verstehen möchte, muss im Katalog seines Labels GLYK diggen. La-Monte-Young-Adaptionen für den Dancefloor, kosmischer Lo-Fi-Wave, Electro: Die Zusammenhänge sind nicht offensichtlich und doch nachvollziehbar. So auch auf »Concrete Mimosa«. Luftige Breakbeats mit Scratching und Pop-Vocal-Schnipseln, slicker IDM-Techno mit bratzigen Bässen, Balearic-Abstraktionen mit Sprachkurs-Samples, Traumprinz-Momente mit Omar-S-Bässen, Gniedel-Synths auf satten Pads und Ambient-Drone – in diesem Album scheint alles drin zu stecken, deswegen klingt es wie nichts zuvor.

Kristoffer Cornils
DJ Danifox 
Ansiedade 
Príncipe • 2023 •

New material from Tia Maria Produções is always guaranteed to drive my pulse into three digit range without even being heard. As always on Príncipe, »Ansiedade« is another of those albums that makes my heart pump like crazy with its incomparable drum programming and melancholic synths. Despite all its nervous energy, the album chooses an almost jazzy emotionality as its leitmotif. 

Florian Aigner
Elephantine
Moonshine
Sub Rosa • 2023 • from 23.99€

A friendly beast. Egyptian keyboardist Maurice Louca has created such a creature with his band Elephantine. »Moonshine« was created collectively, and with his colleagues on this album he is following a path that is sure to bring him fame and honour. North African traditions, minimalism and musical momentum create a loose, groovy trance whose power seems to be directed like a vector, drawing you in without violence. Body and mind like that.

Tim Caspar Boehme
Ellen Arkbro
Sounds While Waiting
W.25th • 2023 • from 22.99€

The organ drones of La Monte Young student Ellen Arkbro rush through the ether like a never-ending river, her chord waves tearing at the ears and, swaying back and forth, soon melting into the mighty current. Kali Malone and Arkbro, who have both composed for the Swedish label »XKatedral« (with Caterina Barbieri among others), are the organists of the moment, transforming the old mainstay of church music into an instrument of super-sacred meditation.

Pasqual Solaß
Enji
Ulaan
Squama • 2023 • from 24.99€

Is it folk, is it jazz, is it simply the most intimate jazz album of 2023? For »Ulaan«, Mongolian singer Enji has expanded her trio with guitarist Paul Brändle and bassist Munguntovch Tsolmonbayar to include Brazilians Joana Queiroz (clarinet) and Mariá Portugal (drums). Enji can do anything with her voice, she can be a magical incantation, the flapping of a dragonfly's wings, the mist that drifts away in the corners of the Altai Mountains. This ensemble helps her and takes us to completely unknown places.

Sebastian Hinz
Fabio Monesi
Piano Vandals
L.I.E.S. • 2023 • from 30.99€

With the album-opening track »The Piano Vandals«, Fabio Monesi creates a unique soundscape in which powerful piano tones blend seamlessly with electronic beats. »Harmony« is at times groovy and housy, at times spaced out and dark. Ladies and gentlemen, yes they're here, the dream team is here—with »Moonriver (vocal mix)« the artist presents poppy vocals, a driving beat and plenty of catchy tunes on a silver platter.

Franziska Nistler
Fiesta En El Vacío
Rosal
Teenage Menopause • 2023 •

Fiesta En El Vacío have released two albums this year that have attracted attention. »ROSAL« is one of the most exciting new discoveries of the year. The musician throws Latin folk, French arthouse talk, minimalist modern electronics with reggaeton influences into her bubbling cauldron, and it's easy to see how she tied her hair back. »ROSAL« is the potion. You take it in and in the end you join the resistance as a love-drunk frog, throwing lustful glances at each other over the bayonets.

Pippo Kuhzart
Güner Künier
A​ş​k
2023 • from 16.99€

Post-punk releases are as common in Berlin as sand on the beach, so what makes Güner Künier's début album »Aşk« (Turkish for »love«) so special? The answer lies in its simple diversity. Each song is unique and much more than just post-punk; it encompasses dark psych-pop in »Seasons Of Dreams« as well as German-Turkish krautrock in »Gel Gör« or synth-punk in »Excellent Choices«. A tribute to the love of music that is especially evident in Güner's one-woman live shows. For me, one of the best albums AND one of the best concerts of the year.

Celeste Dittberner
Headache
The Head hurts but the Heart knows the Truth
PLZ Make It Ruins • 2023 •

The needle placed haphazardly on the record: »There is so much shit in the world, is good, bad, mad, sad, ugly, happy, but I just love beauty«. At this point, I briefly consider pronouncing the review finished. In reality, everything has already been said. Not only about the music, but also about the present, and also about myself, somehow. It gives me the creeps, in a good way. The person behind »The Head Hurts but the Heart Knows the Truth« is also someone who goes by the name of Headache. Origin, age, ethnicity, appearance, beliefs: unknown. Vegyn from PLZ Make It Ruins is also involved. Or so it is said. The music is straight out of 1999, Mo' Wax, Boards Of Canada, Air. In the background, a stream of consciousness, wrapped up in catchy slogans that you want to graffiti on walls, tattoo on your skin or write in your yearbook. I'm pretty sure at any moment some guy is going to tell me to put some sunscreen on. But that moment doesn't come. Instead: »Make some noise right now for the voices in your head«. 

Sebastian Hinz
Hilary Woods
Acts Of Light
Sacred Bones • 2023 • from 26.99€

It took two albums of ambient post-rock for Irish musician and visual artist Hilary Woods to completely abandon the song format. Her third, »Acts Of Light«, is a minimalist drone composition in nine parts. Woods deconstructs string samples, field recordings, cello, viola, electronic manipulations and the voices of two choirs to the point of unrecognisability. From this she synthesises a powerful, rumbling stream of sound that makes your blood run cold.

Albert Koch
Irakli
Mechanical Moon
Live At Robert Johnson • 2023 • from 28.99€

The eight-part work begins with powerful natural effects and culminates in an android frenzy of ecstasy. In between it floats through reduced chord repetitions, swelling strings, clattering breakdown drums and futuristic electric guitars and synths in a weightless space. »Mechanical Moon« is a dreamy voyage of discovery into the cosmos of techno minimalism and a moonlit journey into the spherical realms of timeless ambient art.

Celeste Dittberner
Irreversible Entanglements
Protect Your Light
Impulse! • 2023 • from 28.99€

Moor Mother reimagines jazz in a unique way, as the frontwoman of Irreversible Entanglements with a focus on classical politics, using it as a means of emancipation from systemic racism and following in the footsteps of Civil Rights icons. However, it also has a punk edge that reflects the subsequent generation. »Protect Your Light« is therefore a blend of retro and futuristic styles that is always unconventional.  

Florian Aigner
Isolée
Resort Island
Resort Island • 2023 • from 24.99€

Isolée is the opposite of nagging market hawkers. He is a whisperer, a man who would rather say too little than too much. To paraphrase Rupert Murdoch, something always sticks. You just have to hang in there. Isolée has been at it for what feels like a 1000 years. You can't even fit all his records on Playhouse, Mule, Pampa, etc. on a shelf any more. His albums do fit though. »Resort Island« is his fourth. It anticipates the next trend after the last, meaning: everything is simply great. And you have to get to that point first of all. 

Christoph Benkeser
Japan Blues
Japan Blues Meets The Dengie Hundred
DDS • 2023 • from 31.99€

The first Japan Blues album still holds me spellbound; every time I listen to it, it's different. After listening to »Meets The Dengie Hundred« eight times, it's clear that album number two will also remain incredible, literally. In particular the 20-minute B-side sounds like nothing I've ever heard before, even though the individual elements can be clearly named. Hit of the decade, probably.   

Florian Aigner
Josephine Foster
Domestic Sphere
Fire • 2023 • from 22.99€

No falsetto has touched the hearts more of music editors in 2023 than that of Josephine Foster. Her deeply painful folk doesn't need many means to remove the listener's armour: vocals, electric guitar, sounds of nature. »Domestic Sphere« makes you feel naked and like you have a big, beating heart.

Pippo Kuhzart
Kadef
Kadef
Rrgems • 2023 • from 31.99€

With his »KADEF« project, New Yorker Devin Brahja Waldman continues to refine the formula that made his »BRAHJA« album so outstanding: repetitive, groove-laden and deeply rooted spiritual jazz. Ziad Qoulaii sings from high up in a desert tower. At certain points, Sam Shalabi brings out his unmistakable, tremulous guitar playing. This is how you might imagine a fearful prophet who sees mirages instead of the Holy Land.

Pippo Kuhzart
Kali Malone with Stephen O'Malley & Lucy Railton
Does Spring Hide Its Joy
Ideologic Organ • 2023 • from 47.99€

You don't have the time for new records? Kali Malone, Stephen O'Malley and Lucy Railton make no concessions to the listening habits of a busy society. The textures of »Does Spring Hide Its Joy?« change as slowly as the light of the sun. It took me months to settle into the meteorological movements of this three-hour drone-monolith. Its open secret: joy means forgetting time. Your boss will hate this album!

Michael Zangerl
Laurel Halo
Atlas
Awe • 2023 • from 27.99€

The subconscious is a more exciting place than the writings of Sigmund Freud or psychedelic albums would suggest. US artist Laurel Halo proves this with her new album »Atlas«, which combines ambient and jazz. The perfect record to put you in a state between waking and sleeping at 2am. With her sound, Laurel Halo opens up an endless world on »Atlas«. Fascinating and beautiful at every moment.

Björn Bischoff
Läuten Der Seele
Läuten Der Seele
from 21.99€

Unter der Hand bin ich bisher gar kein allzu großer Fan diese barocken Märchenkitschs von Brannten Schnüre gewesen, aber das Soloprojekt Läuten der Seele klammert die lyrische Ebene der Band clever aus, bedient sich als Samplequelle in der Hölle deutscher Heimatfilme und filtert einen sehr caretaker'ischen hypnotischen Vibe aus diesen eigentlich so seelenlosen Platten. Wie immer bei Brannten Schnüre sofort ausverkauft gewesen, aber wohl mit Repress-Termin im Juni.

Florian Aigner
Little Simz
NO THANK YOU
Forever Living Originals • 2023 • from 32.99€

No thank you, Little Simz says and the crowd cheers. There are two things that the just twenty-eight-year-old Brit is particularly good at: rapping and settling scores. But unlike what often happens in rap, the musician doesn't dis without good reason. While Simz is still jetting around Europe on tour for her last album. »I Might Be Introvert«, she's already followed it up with a new album. »No Thank You« is a farewell, a confrontation and a reset. No one has ever set more beautiful boundaries. 

Ania Gleich
Loraine James
Gentle Confrontation
Hyperdub • 2023 • from 33.99€

Prog soul? Avant R&B? With Loraine James' new album, you could probably start a competition for the most absurd categorisation of what the London producer is actually doing. But the music doesn't sound as exhausting as the description might suggest. It has a pixelated warmth, loves the adventure of beats and can even be funny. The story will have to sort that out, but so far »Gentle Confrontation« is her strongest record.

Tim Caspar Boehme
Martina Bertoni
Hypnagogia
Karl • 2023 • from 19.94€

When I first heard Martina Bertoni’s »Hypnagogia«, I was scooching in a crowded low-budget carrier. Fatigued, I was hoping for some somnific background music. Yet, I was completely captivated from the first tone onwards. The cellist places every note, every modulation, every static as if she was caressing a newborn. »Hypnagogia« is my most listened to album of 2023. Near-perfect pacing makes it one of the best Ambient compositions this decade had to offer so far.

Michael Zangerl
Mary Jane Leach
Woodwind Multiples
Modern Love • 2023 • from 28.99€

Mary Jane Leach durchlebt ein sonderbares Comeback. Vor allem im Kontext von Reissues der Werke Julias Eastmans taucht ihr Name derzeit auf, tatsächlich hat sich der posthume Hype um ihn auch ein wenig auf sie ausgewirkt. »Woodwind« ist erst ihr sechstes Album innerhalb von 36 Jahren, jedoch das dritte in den letzten sechs und ihr zweites für Modern Love. Es ist sehr, sehr gut: Völlig unprätentiöser, zeitgenössischer Minimalismus für Bläser beziehungsweise Tape – deutlich in alter New-York-Avantgarde-Tradition stehend und sich doch nicht darum scherend, ob es dafür Bonuspunkte gibt.

Kristoffer Cornils
Matana Roberts
Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden
Constellation • 2023 • from 33.99€

No one has done more to repoliticise jazz in the 21st century than Matana Roberts. In her album series »Coin Coin«, the saxophonist from Chicago tells the story of the emancipation of African-Americans based on her own family history. In the fifth part, Roberts explores the story of a relative who died 100 years ago as a result of an illegal abortion. A musical patchwork in which the boundaries between free jazz, post-rock, folk, noise and improvisation disappear.

Albert Koch
Maxime Denuc
Nachthorn
Vlek • 2022 • from 20.99€

Meanwhile, Maxime Denuc's formula for »Night Horn« is gimmicky but undeniable. Trance and rave melodies via pipe organ, Barker via Kali Malone, an idea as simple as it is dangerous. Denuc almost consistently manages to capture the cheesy Ibiza harmonies with a statesmanlike gravitas in such a way that »Nachthorn« doesn't feel like a calculated TikTok stunt, even though conceptually, there's so much meta rubbish lying around here that it should all fail as crashingly in reality as »Everything Everywhere All At Once«.

Florian Aigner
Mc Yallah
Yallah Beibe
Hakuna Kulala • 2023 • from 26.99€

When it comes to rap, there's not much happening on the physical recordings that would have caught my attention, but not only does the manic production work by Debmaster, Scotch Rolex and ChrisMan make »Yallah Beibe« a real banger, it also lives from the breathlessly executed flow conjugation of MC Yallah himself. As if »Boy In Da Corner« and »Fantastic Damage« had taken a hotel room back in the day. 

Florian Aigner
Mike Reed
The Separatist Party
We Jazz • 2023 • from 28.99€

Imagine virtuoso jazz drummer Mike Reed recording an album with Ben LaMar Gay (probably the most sought-after horn player in contemporary jazz at the moment) and the guys from Bitchin Bajas (Cooper Crain, Dan Quinlivan, Rob Frye) and asking poet Marvin Tate to read some of his poems over the music as a bonus. Well, it sounds like the dream of those who have used Chicago as a synonym for jazz beyond all borders since the mid-1990s. They can feel vindicated once again in 2023. Their dream has come true. The album is called »The Separatist Party«. Reality exceeds their expectations.

Sebastian Hinz
Niecy Blues
Exit Simulation
Kranky • 2023 • from 29.99€

Es fällt schwer, beim ersten Durchlauf von »Exit Simulation« nicht an Grouper zu denken. Wo Liz Harris aber Folk-Pop unter Reverb und Rauschen versenkt, stellt Filmkomponistin und Sängerin Niecy Blues ihr Ausgangsmaterial deutlicher heraus und lässt das Sounddesign ihre Songs umspielen statt dominieren. Verschwommene Erinnerungen an Gospel, Jazz, Soul, Downbeat, R’n’B – es geht sprunghaft durch die Gernes. Deren Formeln verwendet Niecy Blues als Blaupausen, erweitert sie durch sehnsüchtig-sphärische Gesangsharmonien und lässt sie diffundieren. Das beste Debüt des Jahres.

Kristoffer Cornils
Overmono
Good Lies
XL Recordings • 2023 • from 28.99€

This is the first contender for the consensus club record of the year so far. Anthemic, sometimes ambivalently emotional and ready for the big room without being silly - the brothers Tom and Ed Russell of Overmono get so many things right in their own specific way on their début album »Good Lies« that there's little to complain about. The fact that they keep the pitch of their nervously bouncing bass groove more or less constant throughout is perhaps open to criticism. But you can also say, because they love that sound so much, you can live with it for just under 50 minutes. 

Tim Caspar Boehme
Philipp Otterbach
Correct Me If I Am Incorrectly You
Offen Music • 2023 • from 24.69€

It was foreshadowed on his previous albums, but now we have the final form: with »Correct Me If I Am Incorrectly You«, Philipp Otterbach fully arrives at the sound that would have been used to describe him before the album even existed. Something with art and industrial. Something with existentialism and the texture of the universe. Something with minimalism and how the great drama can still unfold in it nevertheless. A, no, THE real Otterbach.

Pippo Kuhzart
Pose Dia
Simulate Yourself
R.i.O. • 2023 • from 20.39€

Albums like Pose Dia's almost make me wish the old Spex were still around. The title alone, »Simulate Yourself«, would have provoked the know-it-all gang to produce multi-page collages of shredded Merve fanzines that no one, not even themselves, would have understood. Well, it would be a crime to simply write that this is good pop without overlaying 32 semesters of cognitive confusion, wouldn't it? Well, yeah! So let's do it.

Christoph Benkeser
Roxane Métayer
Perlée De Sève
Marionette • 2023 • from 20.99€

Roxane Métayer works with many small things to create integrated wholes. Violin, woodwinds, effects and her voice are used in pieces in which sounds seem to float freely in space. What draws them together and makes them vibrate with each other are the guiding ideas of the French composer-performer, who alternately takes folk, minimal music, Fourth World borrowings or electro-acoustic music as her compositional starting point. Her journeys seem predetermined, but only Métayer knows in which direction she is taking the music. Those who follow her are in for a plethora of surprises.

Kristoffer Cornils
Salamanda
In Parallel
Wisdom Teeth • 2023 • from 21.99€

There's a lot going on in South Korea. The K-Pop campaign has probably contributed to the fact that people outside the country are getting curious about what is going on there beside the mainstream. Take the duo Salamanda, who combine excitingly peaceful sounds on »In Parallel«. These are neither too familiar nor do they follow each other in a particularly predictable way. Well, they use repetition and groove, but everything is very gentle. A kind of extremely minimalist pop that sounds discreetly Asian.

Tim Caspar Boehme
Salenta + Topu
Moon Set, Moon Rise
Futura Resistenza • 2023 • from 24.99€

»Moon Set, Moon Rise« feels like a Meitei record without the beats or a The Caretaker album at the wrong (or right) speed respectively—like a faded memory of a desperate night with Alice Coltrane's music. It offers everything both neo-classical and jazz have always promised you but, for various reasons, never could deliver. A piano, a cello, two »old souls«, as Salenta Baisden and Topu Lyo call themselves: This simple equation results in music that has become pure atmosphere. A vibe. A feeling that was born out of itself. »Moon Set, Moon Rise« is an album for eternity, ephemeral as cigarette smoke at an open window.

Kristoffer Cornils
The Necks
Travel
Northern Spy • 2023 • from 39.99€

In a way, it's incredibly brazen of The Necks to press a few warm-up exercises onto record and then »Travel« is simply ends up being one of the best albums of the year. Jazz? Post-rock? Minimal music transposed to a band line-up? All of that, somehow, but unlike any of those things. These are just three guys who have been able to make music out of nothing for three decades; music that makes time stand still. This is especially true in these comparatively short improvisations, presented here in a somewhat polished form. They modestly eclipse everyone who has ever attempted anything comparable.

Kristoffer Cornils
Tirzah
Trip9love…???
Domino • 2023 • from 29.99€

For me, Tirzah's »Colourgrade« is perhaps the defining pop album of this young decade so far. »Trip9love...???« represents a surprising encore on which Tirzah and Mica Levi intentionally come up with themes and beats on a micro level, creating a repetitive effect that – by other means – is reminiscent in places on DJ Python's »Mas Amables«, which is steadily maturing into an enduring masterpiece.  

Florian Aigner
Travis Scott
UTOPIA
Sony • 2023 • from 35.99€

With »UTOPIA«, Travis Scott has tried very hard to present his great novel, his ornamental tale of greatness, in a single, sweeping gesture. He's slowly perfected all of Kanye's phases, so hopefully he'll skip the next ones. All cynicism aside, »UTOPIA« is actually a great album because the beats are banging and Scott's sense of atmosphere is unrivalled in rap right now — turn up for the chained man in the cave, race to destruction in a black Lambo. Extra points for the creepy use of the Amanaz sample on »Sirens« and of course for »I Know«, one of the rap hits of the year.

Pippo Kuhzart
Tzusing
Green Hat
Pan • 2023 • from 26.99€

The name of the game is to be alert. Violence, rebellion, fear, adrenaline. Six years on from his superb début »Invincible East«, Tzusing continues to tear up the streets with »Green Hat«. Hardgroove techno with a dystopian vibe forms the core around which Tzusing builds a framework of industrial and EBM that will raise your pulse and freeze your blood at the same time. Something wants to take over here and it is definitely not good. 

Pippo Kuhzart
upsammy
Germ in a Population of Buildings
PAN • 2023 •

For years, upsammy's work has been concerned with the fertile contrast between the artificial and the organic, the man-made and the natural, the gurgling and the rustling. This practice works best on »Germ In A Population Of Buildings«. On this occasion Thorsing allows her tracks, which oscillate between bass music, techno and ambient, to speak not only metaphorically, but quite truthfully, thus immeasurably increasing the alienation effect inherent in her music. 

Maximilian Fritz
Vanishing Twin
Afternoon X
Fire • 2023 • from 22.99€

Vanishing Twin are like the Bauhaus of the 21st century — the now three-piece collective mixes all styles and genres in such an experimental and playful way that everything about them screams avant-garde. On »Afternoon X«, the multi-instrumentalists take you on a wild ride through trippy soundscapes and Dadaist collages, always with a sense of unease. Before the half-hour hypnosis can unfold its full power, album closer »Subito« gently brings you back to reality.

Laura Kunkel
Yungwebster
Yungwebster
Sferic • 2023 • from 27.99€

Sferic has gone even further out on a limb with Yungwebster, but the slowed-down Syruprap is exactly what was needed following the last Space Afrika album to maintain the Manchester label's unbeatable position that it has secured for itself over the last few years for at least another five years. The most tired record of the year, it is essential for that reason alone.  

Florian Aigner
Zack Zack Zack
Album 2
Trost • 2023 • from 28.99€

Zack Zack Zack from Vienna turn midnight into a danceable Walpurgis Night with dark synths and trilingual lyrics! After the success of their »Album 1«, the Viennese duo from Izmir impresses with their dark industrial vibe, which sets the room in a dark and melancholic mood. Yigit Bakkalbasi and Cemgil Demirtas also like to ride the German train, and they turn their passion into a propulsive dark wave hit. Definitely a fine addition to the black club night!

Ania Gleich