An article by The Silent Ballet Staff

10) Takahiro Kido | Fleursy Music


When not plying his trade in post-rock merchants Anoice, Takahiro Kido creates mesmeric ambient with a dash of modern classical under his own moniker. Fleursy Music is his most recent solo venture, a thrilling combination of melancholic strings and beautiful instrumentation. It is a subtle but insidious creation, a work of invention and originality that sidesteps easy comparison. The gentle undertones pulling the strings behind the scenes provide a comforting and humble approach to Kido's art that never sacrifices the composer's instincts. For the icing on the cake, “Smile Spotter Chronicle” is one of the most emotionally stirring tracks of the year aught eight. (Peter Brennan)

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9) Earth | The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
United States

Southern Lord

With this, their latest offering, Dylan Carlson’s Earth have easily achieved their most structured effort yet, without once losing the wonderfully loose and barely-reined-in feel that so clearly defines their sound. Cymbals steadily crash as individual instruments work their way to the forefront of the mix, only to unexpectedly meet an oncoming line to harmonize with and fall back down. As irritating a word as it so often is, never has the “organic” nature of the band’s name been so obviously reflected in their music as it is on this record, particularly in the tracks that legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell guests on. Everything is at once spontaneous and deliberate, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the constricted freedom of the harmonized guitar lines in “Engine Of Ruin.” I don’t envy Carlson and company the mammoth task of trying to better such an album! (Fred Bevan)

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8) Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start | Embers


Tap 'n' Tin

It was never going to be an easy job to top And The Battle Is Won, but few would deny that Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start have exceeded all expectations with their devastating follow-up, Embers. It may have been three years in the making, but Upcdownc have clearly spent that time very wisely indeed, creating an album with an altogether more mature sound that adeptly flits between the mellow and heavy ends of the spectrum. Laden with sublimely understated crescendos and with ethereal string and guitar arrangements erupting into ferocious walls of sound, Embers is a work of contrasts – and one which you would be well advised to pay heed to. (Richard White)

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7) Jóhann Jóhannsson | Fordlandia



In many people’s minds, Iceland is synonymous with bears, ice cold never-ending landscapes, and heartfelt tunes. While this is not far from the truth, with Fordlandia Jóhann Jóhansson manages to take the whole concept and gracefully distort it, creating his own subtle reality. Incredibly cinematic, the album presents a wide palette of fragile melodies that unravel right before our eyes, and it is not long before we become familiar with the album’s ingenuity. Its homely feel prevails, and once this sinks into the listener's consciousness, it is sure to rest there forever. (Diana Sitaru)

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6) The Samuel Jackson Five | Goodbye Melody Mountain

Honest Abe

The Samuel Jackson 5 roars back into the spotlight with Goodbye Melody Mountain, as well as a major shift in style from the year-topping Easily Misunderstood. While they keep the same progressive style of song development we all know and love, the sound of the release is more full and proggy than Misunderstood’s more jazzy effort. Make no mistakes, however – the energy level is set to “high” and there’s no stopping these guys. Track after toe-tapping track blaze by, bringing with them exotic new arrangements and relentless force. Tracks like “How to Evade Your Obsessive Shadow” show that The Samuel Jackson 5 will be on the very top of the post-rock scene for a long time, and if their output is as good as Goodbye Melody Mountain, I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Zach Mills)

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5) This is Your Captain Speaking | Eternal Return


This is Your Captain Speaking's gig is simple and clean guitar, which they do better than just about anybody. The five tracks on their sophomore release are constructed of wandering arpeggios, constantly evolving guitar repetitions, and melodies which are stacked and compiled until reaching epic and unforeseen climaxes. Many instrumental groups strive to reach the perfect center of balance between engaging melodies and calming soundscapes. Eternal Return’s blend of post-rock instrumentation and ambient structuring reaches this pinnacle and will easily bring pleasure to fans of either genre. This album gets better with age, and it is difficult to find something worthier of guiding us through these cold winter months. (Brenton Dwyer)

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4) Bersarin Quartett | Bersarin Quartett


Lidar Productions

There are some albums that set themselves apart just by the way they carry themselves. This is an odd metaphor, but work with me: you can learn a lot about a person, just by how they walk, their posture, certain unmistakable mannerisms that define the person without even speaking to them. Albums have these little identifying traits, too, and the self-titled debut from Germany’s Bersarin Quartett walks with class, with a calm charm that most established bands would find difficult to match. The distinctive synth tones. The ease with which he manipulates song structures, tearing them down, inverting them, or building them back up at precisely the right moment. The calm, measured way in which space is allowed to thrive within the work, rather than being filled to capacity. The way in which ambient tracks are made to filter into melody-based songs, both of which are executed to near-perfection. All of these little traits work to set Bersarin Quartett apart from the rest of the pack from the first listen, and only become more apparent as time goes on. The album is truly the work of a master. (Zach Mills)

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3) Neil on Impression | L'oceano Delle onde che Restano onde per Sempre


Denovali/Holiday/Sons of Vesta

Sometimes albums that aren’t completely innovative seem to strike with an astounding force; Neil on Impression may not bring anything brand new to the music table, but their complex melange of genres and expert blend of string instruments takes them one step closer to compositional perfection. Throughout the album, the listener gets the feeling the band has a strict agenda they stick to, as they flawlessly deliver each note and integrate delicate and sophisticated touches of classical into crisp, utterly powerful, and epic post-rock pieces. For those looking for a sound stripped of all artificiality, be sure not to miss this gem. (Diana Sitaru)

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2) The Drift | Memory Drawings
United States

Temporary Residence

Memory Drawings is The Drift’s masterful exploration of the sensations that memory evokes on us; it’s an ever-expanding sea of trumpet melodies and jazzy drumbeats of a powerful simplicity that match (or even out-match) Do Make Say Think’s folk intuition for music that sounds vibrant, alive, and profound. The conceptual and physical elements of the album mesh flawlessly, resembling a living work of art that transforms and evolves with every additional listen. Drawings, sketches, brushstrokes upon the air – this is music that forces us to look up into the sky and wonder if there’s really an end, a meaning to it all. (David Murrieta)

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1) Bohren & der Club of Gore | Dolores


Something about Bohren & Der Club of Gore’s music makes me feel like I’m going quietly mad. Yet on Dolores, faint glimmers of light begin to pierce the isolating haze. Not that the boys from Berlin have gotten all chipper on us, but from the medieval organs on "Staub," to the introspective sax solos on "Still Am Tresin," to the almost triumphant ending of "Welten," barely-there hints of positivity cause one to wonder if all that gloom is really so bad. If Bohren’s previous output evoked hitting bottom on skid row, Dolores suggests that the hung-over bum wakes up and realizes he can still salvage his life—or at least that even a wrecked life has moments of stunning beauty. (Lucas Kane)

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