End-of-Year review 2021 – Top 50 Albums

Much like every cloud has its silver lining, this year had some fantastic music to offer – something to hold on to in difficult times. These were the 50 best albums released on vinyl in 2021.
Ad 93 • 2021 • from 19.99€
Abdellah M Hassak released his »Vexillology« under the name Guedra Guedra through On The Corner Records from London this year. On it, the Moroccan lets the sounds and styles of the ancient past clash with an afrofuturistic understanding rhythm that catapults all of us into a better future. Christoph Benkeser

Das Schwarze Album White & Black Marbled Vinyl Edition
Urban • 2021 • from 23.99€
»Das Schwarze Album« by Haftbefehl is not the kind of album that you would call a piece of art, at not least not in the capital A sense oft hat word. But it must be considered the best German-language rap record in a long time. There’s everything you never knew you needed on this, and the best thing is that Haftbefehl did not need to change at all to make it happen. Björn Bischoff

Jac Berrocal, David Fenech, Vincent Epplay
Exterior Lux
Akuphone • 2021 • from 20.99€
The sound Berrocal’s horn is one of the three most beautiful ones you can hear in this world. »Exterior Lux« is a very, very Lynchian album, and I very much welcome its appearance in my living room in times when life seemed stranger than fiction. Pippo Kuhzart

Japanese Breakfast
Jubilee Black Vinyl Edition
Dead Oceans • 2021 • from 24.99€
Michael Zauner’s opus magnum is a very ordinary album. »Jubilee« by her band Japanese Breakfast offers some standard indie rock tunes with touches of synth and funk that only subtly deviate from tried and tested formulas. But there’s all these lyrics you can live in; there’s those songs that after a while feel like a warm comforter after a cold day outdoors. This is an album, flawed like someone who becomes a good friend over time. Kristoffer Cornils

Nafs At Peace
Astigmatic • 2021 • from 9.99€
»Nafs At Peace« by Pakistani four-piece outfit Jaubi is a late contender for the album of the year award, a sprawling mix of hip-hop, northern Indian classical music and much, much more. Christoph Benkeser

The Bug
Fire HHV Exclusive Transparent Red & Yellow Vinyl Edition
Ninja Tune • 2021 • from 32.99€
Joy Orbison still seems to distrust the album format, which is why he called his de facto debut album a mixtape. »Still Slipping Vol.1« is marked by stylistic diversity, sometimes even throwing poppy housy, various recordings of his family and even rap and vocal features into the mix. Florian Aigner

Al Azraqayn
Karl • 2021 • from 26.99€
»Al Azraqayn«, the new album by Karkhana, released via Karlrecords, features musicians from The Dwarfs Of East Agouza, Land Of Kush, Praed! Orchestra, Konstrukt, and … well, that’s all you need to know really, don’t you? _Sebastian Hinz

Gate Of Kluna
Glitterbeat • 2021 • from 24.99€
Kuunatic enrich their take on psych rock with no wave, folk, dub, and other ingredients from all over the world in order to give their music the alien dimension they are sprechgesanging about on this concept album. The result is one of this year’s strongest rock albums. Tim Caspar Boehme

Laila Sakini
Into The Traffic, Under The Moonlight Clear Vinyl Edition
Laila Sakini • 2021 • from 23.99€
Laila Sakini learned some Ableton tricks, called up some horn players, and made a record that sounded like Sakamoto spilled liquid Ecstasy into his porridge. »Into The Traffic, Under The Moonlight« is a literally stunning album through and through. Christoph Benkeser

Lana Del Rey
Chemtrails Over The Country Club Transparent Cobalt Blue Black Friday Record Store Day 2021 Edition
Universal • 2021 • from 36.99€
Lana del Rey‘s seventh album, »Chemtrails Over The Country Club«, saw the U.S. artist doing everything as before, only more consistently. A late career highlight for sure, though certainly not the last. Björn Bischoff

Lea Bertucci
A Visible Length Of Light
Cibachrome Editions • 2021 • from 27.99€
Lea Bertucci took us on a journey through the Americas with »A Visible Length of Light«, creating a sort of travelogue out of field recordings intervowen with shimmering drones and a lot of flute sounds. When each day felt like the one before it, this album never stayed the same. Thanks for that. Kristoffer Cornils

Little Simz
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert Transculent Red & Yellow Vinyl Edition
Age 101 • 2021 • from 29.99€
What is the difference between the real person and the fictional character they represent? Simbiatu Ajikawo and her alter ego Little Simz try to answer this question on »Sometimes I Might Be Introvert«: »Can’t believe it’s Simbi here that’s had you listening/Well, fuck that bitch for now, you didn’t know she had a twin.« These are painfully honest stories about fear, joy and anger presented with a broad range of musical means. Stefan Mertlik

Loraine James
Hyperdub • 2021 • from 27.99€
London producer Loraine James new album »Reflection« draws on genres like grime, but she shapes this material according to her own ideas. Deep bass sounds, high pitched vocals, hypernervous breaks – everything sounds familiar and yet very different on this record. Tim Caspar Boehme

Lucy Railton
5 S-Bahn Blue Vinyl Edition
Boomkat Editions • 2021 • from 24.99€
April 2020, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg: Lucy Railton only leaves her apartment when absolutely necessary, but is sitting on her balcony a lot. **»5 S-Bahn« combines field recordings of the trains passing by her house, her cello playing and the strange sensation that could be felt throughout the world during that time. It’s nice that this comforting release, previously only available on tape, is now also available on vinyl. Kristoffer Cornils

Marta Forsberg
Thanatosis Produktion • 2021 • from 25.99€
Marta Forsberg released her opus magnum (so far) last year, but »TKAĆ« picks up where »New Love Music« left off: both pieces were originally written for light installations and are imbued with a similar, strange feeling of weightlessness. Kristoffer Cornils

Maxine Funke
A Colourful Storm • 2021 • from 19.99€
A Colourful Storm offers some of the best guitar music for people who can hardly stand guitar music. One of this year’s highlights was »Séance« by Maxine Funke. It’s a classic folk album and ansolutely indispensable. Pippo Kuhzart

Mdou Moctar
Afrique Victime Black Vinyl Edition
Matador • 2021 • from 28.99€
With their album »Afrique Victime«, Mdou Moctar from Niger accomplished something astonishing: Tuareg-Folk and other west african musical traditions merge with almost rock music in an organic fashion. We’ve found ourselves a new guitar god: Hendrix – Van Halen – Moctar! Martin Silbermann

Stroom • 2021 • from 23.99€
Dressing up folk songs of yesteryear in a new way is a popular, but also dicey task. For their fourth album »Salos«, Merope dug deep into the Lithuanian songbook and came out on the other end with ideas that were less New Age than New World. A modest, yet overwhelming effort, a thing of true beauty. Kristoffer Cornils

Motoko & Myers
Soda Gong • 2021 • from 19.99€
»Colocate« by Motoko & Myers sounds Donky Kong island music for people who can’t afford to book an ayahuasca retreat – tropical, lysergic, out of this world. Christoph Benkeser

Nala Sinephro
Space 1.8
Warp • 2021 • from 25.99€
With her debut album, Nala Sinephro has earned the title »jazz album of the year« thanks to her undogmatic way of letting jazz tradition, electronics and drone coexist while merging. It’s a courageous record through and through. Tim Caspar Boehme

Natural Information Society with Evan Parker
Descension (Out of Our Constrictions)
Aguirre • 2021 • from 30.99€
Evan Parker teamed up with Joshua Abrams’s Natural Information Society for an album of minimalist ethnic jazz that has transformational powers. Tim Caspar Boehme

Pauline Anna Strom
Angel Tears In Sunlight Black Vinyl Edition
Rvng Intl. • 2021 • from 26.99€
Pauline Anna Strom passed away in December last year at the age of 74 and unfortunately did not live long enough to celebrate the release of her first album in 30 years. »Angel Tears In Sunlight« is a great ambient album even if you do not take this account, simply because it is thrilling all the way through. Pippo Kuhzart

Richard Youngs
Black Truffle • 2021 • from 21.99€
For his 121st album »CXXI«, Richard Youngs sang a wordless blues over 121 minor chords. On paper, this may read like an unbearable record, and in reality it is –just in a literally awesome way. This is how bar jazz must sound in hell. Kristoffer Cornils

Pudel Produkte • 2021 • from 17.99€
On »DNA«, Rosaceae fuses political content with sometimes experimental, sometimes astonishingly straightforward music. Between banging tracks like »They Are So Afraid They Begin To Shake« and the captivating ambient sounds of »I’ll Be Back Soon«, a whole lot happens, and it leaves you wanting for more.Maximilian Fritz

Sarah Davachi
Antiphonals Black Vinyl Edition
Late Music • 2021 • from 25.99€
Sarah Davachi’s album »Antiphonals« feels stripped back, minimalist and yet like a sacred rush of pure sound. This is not chamber music, but rather an all encompassing, impressive experience. This may well be the most enjoyable and listenable album in the realm of experimental music that has been released this year. Björn BIschoff

Scotch Rolex
Nyege Nyege Tapes • 2021 • from 26.99€
It’s been a long time since we’ve been hit in the face this hard. With »Tewari«, Scotch Rolex lets gqom meet dubstep, grindcore, industrial, trap and some illustrious soulmates from the Nyege Nyege posse, providing them with a chance to let out all their rage and justified frustration. Jens Pacholsky

Space Afrika
Honest Labour Black Vinyl Edition
Dais • 2021 • from 27.99€
»Honest Labour« offers sample collages on canvas size, impressionistic ambient and spoken word passages that prove that Space Afrika can write entire movies with just a few selected sounds. Nils Schlechtriemen

Teresa Winter
Motto Of The Wheel Blue Vinyl Edition
The Death Of Rave • 2021 • from 29.99€
Teresa Winter‘s »Motto Of The Wheel« combines brazen drum’n’bass, pummeling techno, music for shut down airports, android and human voices, rave music without release, hyperintelligent dance music. It’s a record like a kaleidoscope, constantly in motion and forming new patterns. Sebastian Hinz

Delusive Tongue Shifts - Situation Based Compositions
Sferic • 2021 • from 26.99€
With Tibslc’s »Delusive Tongue Shifts – Situation Based Compositions«, the Sferic label followed up sensational records by Space Afrika, Jake Muir and Romeo Poirier with their most gripping record to date. Florian Aigner

Colourgrade Black Vinyl Edition
Domino • 2021 • from 24.99€
After her highly acclaimed debut »Devotion«, Tirzah became a mother of two and made an album informed by that experience. The rough-edged R’n’B of »Colourgrade« feels both mischievous anddaringly tender, like motherly love. Jana-Maria Mayer

Intimate Immensity Black Vinyl Edition
Hands In The Dark • 2021 • from 21.99€
»Intimate Immensity« will likely be the last Tomaga album, completed and released after death of founding member Tom Relleen. A more beautiful farewell as never written. Throughout ten steps, Relleen and Valentina Magaletti once again and one final time explore all the possibilities of repetition and difference until the record ends in deafening silence. RIP, Relleen. Kristoffer Cornils

Wiki of Ratking
Half God
Wikset • 2021 • from 25.99€
Wiki’s »Half God« leans towards the minimalist loop infatuation of the Earl Sweatshirt generation, but also provides its audience with disarming psychoanalysis of the New York state of mind like we’ve last heard it someone put down on tape during the Golden Era. This is a special record even for boom-bap fans who think they’ve heard it all. Florian Aigner