[sic] Magazine

My 2009 – Michael Henaghan

It’s that time of year again, which I cannot quite believe. Sites such as Textura already have their records of 2009 up and now here comes mine. By no means is this comprehensive, even if I didn’t have a job I’d be unable to listen to everything I wanted to over the year. This was a fraught experience and I spent several weeks thinking over this list. It was whittled down from over 100 albums, to 64 and then to the final 50. I seem to say this on each occasion, but it has been a great year for music.

1. ‘The Weirding’ | Astra ( Rise Above Records)
Prog is well and truly back and Astra are arguably the ‘proggest’ of them all, most tracks last much longer than 10 minutes, the instrumentation is impeccable too. Imagine early King Crimson fronted by Ozzy. A fantastic record that gets better with each spin.

2. The Safety of The North | Last Days (n5MD)
Seems this was released a long-time ago, but it was actually issued at the start of 2009. ambitious, adventurous, expansive and emotionally wrought, this is Graham Richardson’s finest work to date.

3. Hymn To The Immortal Wind | Mono (Temporary Residence)
Where this Japanese collective take instrumental music to extremes. Crescendo’s after crescedno’s, crashing symphonic peaks ‘Hymn…’ is ridiculously over-blown and epic, but all the better for it.

4. Cradlesongs | Sleeping Me (Hidden Shoal Recordings)
The big brother to ‘Lamenter’ (released through my own label Phantom Channel), Sleeping Me marries the grandeur of post-rock with the slow-motion stasis of Stars of the Lid. Chock full of gorgeous melodies, Clayton McEvoy might be a new name in the field but proves himself as one of the top guitar experimentalists.

5. Kappe | Svarte Greiner (Type)
Utterly terrifying drone/horrorscapes created entirely by acoustic instrumentation — enough said. Erik Skovdin is the master of the macabre, someone please commission this guy for a movie soundtrack.

6. Collected Recordings | Gareth Dickson (Drifting Falling)
An over-looked gem of a record where Labradford meets Nick Drake in one of the most dream-like of recordings in 2009. Glasgow-based Dickson is a master craftsman and his songs are simply sublime.

7. Some Ambulance | Talvihorros (Benbecula)
More gorgeous sounds, this time invoking the spirit of composer Steve Reich. This record is a highly accomplished piece of work that found its way to me rather unexpectedly and proceeded to knock me sideways.

8. Choral | Mountains (Thrill Jockey)
You can’t really have a best of 2009 without ‘Choral’. The hype surrounding this record was horribly off-putting, but the seductive shimmering acoustics and invigorating, glacial droning ambience was anything but.

9. Performing Parades | Efterklang (Leaf Label)
Efterklang’s grandiose swan song with Leaf and what a way to sign off. Hire the biggest orchestra imaginable and the proceed to recreate your most famous record in pure theatrical style. Efterklang are possibly the best live band I’ve ever witnessed and this is a fitting document to their joyous, exuberant sound. Watch them explode in 2010, with their forthcoming 4AD-backed new album.

10. Soundcheck to a Hidden Movie | HC-B (Hidden Shoal Recordings)
Hugely impressive and a shot in the arm to a stagnant Post-Rock scene. This Italian troupe are vastly under-rated. ‘Soundcheck..’ engages in brass, string and rock instrumentation to devastating effect. Shades of King Crimson, Krautrock and GYBE! too, but this is definitely HC-B’s own work.

The Best of the Rest

11. Sleeping Pills | Pillowdiver (12k)
12. The Heritage | Her Name Is Calla (Denovali)
13. The Bending Of Light | Anduin & Jasper TX (SMTG Limited)
14. The Fourth Level Of Comprehension | Porzellan (Hibernate)
15. Give It Up | Zelienople (Type)
16. Cheat The Gallows | Bigelf (Powerage)
17. Grammatics | Grammatics (Dance To The Radio)
18. A Theme For The Moon | Lugi Rubino (Prikosnovénie)
19. When We Parted My Heart Wanted to Die | Leyland Kirby (History Always Favours The Winners)
20. Looming Ep | Gargle (Clincal Archives)
21. Hypersona | 36 (3six Recordings)
22. Navigare | Simon Scott (Miasmah)
23. Degrees & Integers | Konntinent (Symbolic Interaction)
24. I Could Not Love You More | Rameses III (Type)
25. Mystery Ep | BLK JKS (Secretly Canadian)
26. Solo Andata | Solo Andata (12K)
27. Remember | Yair Yona (Self-Released)
28. An Avalanche of Swollen Tongues | Stray Ghost (Dead Pilot Records)
29. Riceboy Sleeps | Jónsi & Alex (Parlophone)
30. Daydreaming | Rafael Anton Irisarri (Miasmah)
31. White Bird Release | Pan•American (Kranky)
32. L’Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu | Kreng (Miasmah)
33. By The Throat | Ben Frost (Bedroom Community)
34. The Glass Bead Game | James Blackshaw (Young God Records)
35. Drones Between Homes | Ekca Liena (Under The Spire)
36. I Think We’ve Lost | Zerova (Herb Recordings)
37. Fires | Le Lendemain (Home Normal)
38. Grass Wounds | Aaron Martin (Under The Spire)
39. Eras | Apse (Equation Records)
40. Beak> | Beak> (Invada)
41. Blank Grey Canvas Sky | Peter Broderick & Machinefabriek (Fang Bomb)
42. Nemcatacoa | Elm (Digitalis)
43. Suite(s) | Ex-Libras (Wirebird Recordings)
44. Descending | Gargamel (Transubstans Records)
45. Sen Zimnej Noci | Strom Noir (Hibernate)
46. Dual Box | Slow (Resting Bell)
47. Aurora | Litmus (Rise Above Records]
48. Northerner | Simon James French (Hibernate)
49. Each Paradise Is A Lost Paradise | Stray Ghost (Hidden Shoal Recordings
50. Child of the Future | Motorpsycho (Rune Grammofon)