Labels' role as visible exercisers of taste, as rallying points, as cultural lenses, was at least as crucial this year as last. Following our label of the year (Low Point), LMYE highlights five other curatorial efforts that helped define 2010.
Besides our picks - below, alphabetically - you could also make credible cases for Raster-Noton, Root Strata, samadhisound & Under The Spire, which all had notably strong years. So too did the fine alternative choices (just one overlap with our lot) over at The Liminal.
Broken20 - LMYE's new label of the year: making the alluring promise of "releases concerned with decay, erosion, entropy, mistakes and errors, line noise and tape hiss, hum and buzz" - & delivering. Even if only a couple of official releases emerged (though you could treat the excellent Rose & Sandy Play Cat's Cradle on Moving Furniture & Erstlaub's typically huge Sleepwalking Into The Underworld for the soon-gone-&-already-much-lamented Highpoint Lowlife as honorary B20 works), not only were they outstanding but their supporting cast of precursors & 'casts was spectacular - particularly the genius down-pitching of Erik XVI's The Fading Splendour of a Technological Future & label chief ruaridhTVO's 4-hour, cast of thousands Broken Roots epic...
hellosQuare - LMYE's neglected label of the year: distance may play a part in it, but hellosQuare's low profile was never more baffling than this year when the great Australian label was dishing up must-hear releases from Scissor Lock, Spartak & label head/Spartak member Shoeb Ahmad (plus a part-exclusive release for Mapstation) - deep & often deeply different sounds from down under...
Raven > In Marrickville, In The Dirt / Adrian Lim-Klumpes > Hillside (both from Bown.Hollo.Lim-Klumpes.Ahmad.Dorrian, hellosQuare; NB: lo-res - higher-res versions on free download)
Thrill Jockey/kranky - LMYE's larger labels of the year: while kranky had the edge on its fellow leviathan last year, there was little to separate them in 2010 as each underscored improbable vigour this far into their craggy careers with a raft of valuable releases (to both rack up an improbably gorgeous bee-related album. Yes, really...) Thrill Jockey had the somewhat bigger names - Oval/Fennesz Daniell Buck/Koen Holtkamp - but kranky's sponsorship of Brian McBride, Jonas Reinhardt & Loscil, plus its re-release of the Pan.American classic For Waiting, For Chasing, demands equal acknowledgement.
Touch - LMYE's pioneering label of the year: shepherding magnificent new releases by Philip Jeck & BJ Nilsen that were among the year's best anywhere is qualification enough for recognition. But Touch went further, bringing Sohrab's unmissable A Hidden Place, Daniel Menche's extraordinary Hover, early Hildur Gudnadottir goodness in the form of the Mount A re-release & further enhancing its Touch Radio series with 12 new instalments - including this Phill Niblock.
Philip Jeck & BJ Nilsen > Suffolk Symphony Rehearsal [Radio 4 edit] (from Suffolk Symphony Rehearsal)
Touch 2010 playlist (Spotify).
Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.