Presenting 20 releases that lightened & brightened a year in profound need of both...
To state the obvious: these weren't the year's only great releases. Nor do we suggest they were the 'best'. But they stood out to us as especially meaningful or evocative or thrilling - or some combination of these...
It's notable how many of them capture live performance in a year when this was largely impossible, except through streaming.
Notable too is how many are self-releases. Labels aren't on the way out, to be sure. But Bandcamp has enabled a direct connection with audiences that seems to really work for artists (not least in sharing performance, of course).
As ever, the overall list is a compilation of our two separate lists. Each was limited to one pick per artist/label.
Again as ever, this constraint (to range as widely as possible within our listening) meant having to exclude outstanding releaeses such as Lawrence English's 'deepening' Lassitude (among a raft of brilliance, to the earlier point about labels, in Room40's 20th anniversary year...).
Among other painful losses to the hairshirt were France Jobin's flawless Death is perfection, everything else is relative & the remainder of her Editions Mego labelmate KMRU's outpouring (besides multiple albums, the EPs, mixes & even a piece for The Arsenal are all must-hear)...
Ultimately, this list forms only one part of a broader picture of the year's music. This will soon (no, really...) also include projects that went beyond the bounds of conventional releases, compilations & some alternative picks.
For now, though, LMYE's Festive Twenty for 2020:
William Basinski :: Lamentations (Temporary Residence)
r beny :: Seafoam & Dust (Dauw)
Black Glass Ensemble & Friends :: Be Mine in Patience: an Embrace in B minor (omnempathy)
Sarah Davachi :: Figures In Open Air (Late Music)
drøne :: the stilling (Pomperipossa)
Carlo Giustini :: Gli Spiriti Della Marca (Vaagner)
Chris Herbert :: Kranky NTS Radio (self-release)
Hotel Neon :: Moments (Sound In Silence)
KMRU :: Peel (Editions Mego)
Lamasz :: Nature Morte (Past Inside the Present)
Alva Noto :: Xerrox Vol. 4 (Noton)
øjeRum :: Selected Percussive Works 1998 - 2001 (Opal Tapes)
Jim O'Rourke :: So You Want to Write A Fugue (Steamroom)
Benoît Pioulard :: A Few Moments In (Disques d'Honoré)
Maja S. K. Ratke :: Corona lockdown concert for Tusk Festival 2020 (self-release)
William Selman :: The Life of Lines (Critique of Everyday Life)
Hirotaka Shirotsubaki :: Slowdance, Lowtide (self-release)
thme :: that’s what it will be like (Whitelabrecs)
Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.