An article by The Silent Ballet Staff

100) Cicada | Over the Sea/Under the Water

White Wabbit

Cicada is a bright new star on Taiwan's musical map. The quartet rose out of nowhere in 2010 and took the staff by complete surprise with Over the Sea/Under the Water. Utilizing a style similar to Japan's Anoice minus the post-rock inclinations, Cicada offers a sonic feast on its debut that will tickle those enamored by contemporary classical music. Violin, cello, and piano carve out some dazzling tracks, and the presence of a guitar adds a rustic layer that creates a compelling air of intrigue to an otherwise prim and proper set. A few tracks hint that more experimental works may be in store for the future, but this album leaves no doubt about the group's ability to create some masterful pieces without pushing around boundaries. (Jordan Volz)

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99) Troum | Mare Idiophonika


Martin Gitschel and Stefan Knappe have been tearing up the drone and dark ambient worlds for years as Troum, but their work of late has been especially potent. The duo avoids computers, releases its work in limited supply, and functions better live than recorded – all of which may be why Troum has remained in the underground for over a decade, despite having a strong back catalogue. Mare Idiophonika contains just one track, a sixty minute studio version of "The Self-Playing Ocean," which Gitschel and Knappe played during their 2007 European tour, but it is a ferocious beast when experienced at high volumes. This album shows that the duo has no plans to slow down anytime soon, and hopefully listeners will begin to take notice. (Jordan Volz)

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98) Sistol | On the Bright Side


Sasu Ripatti can apparently do no wrong. With On the Bright Side, Ripatti revives his long dormant Sistol moniker, yet the result bears little resemblance to his previous self-titled release as Sistol a decade ago. Instead, it is almost an inversion of the vibe found on that debut; it is closer to his Uusitalo persona yet with none of the warmth. That release showed a master in his infancy, tentatively exploring his influences at the time with a sort of playful, idiosyncratic take on the UK-rave scene. On the Bright Side puts the beats and bass front and center, eschewing the house-grooves of Luomo for a very different side of Ripatti. Despite the floor-ready rhythms and cautious melody, Ripatti presents a record that feels mostly cold and industrial. The abstract and attentive sound design of Vladislav Delay peers through at moments, but mostly we have a record that looks forward by looking back. (Joe Sannicandro)

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97) Kristin Rule | The Knife that Cuts a Tear


This is probably an area for Dr. Freud to examine, but the majority of the (predominantly male) staff at The Silent Ballet go a little bit weak at the knees for a female cello player. But before anyone accuses us of glazing over in admiration for all the wrong reasons - it is all about the music. The classically trained Kristin Rule has defied the stereotypes of most cellists and, rather than be part of a large orchestra, has struck out on her own – literally, in the case of her bike project. She is a one-woman ensemble, building her compositions through layer upon layer of loops, with the cello providing the bass notes, rhythm, and even the percussion. The results are unfailingly beautiful - whether the lustrous sweeps of "Impermanence" or the Satie-esque heartbeats of "Insight", it is impossible not to be swept away by the images they conjure. (Jeremy Bye)

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96) iTAL tEK | Midnight Colour

Planet Mu

As unlikely as it sounds, at the end of 2009 certain members of The Silent Ballet were predicting the imminent demise of dubstep. It seems unnecessarily cruel to point out the array of quality releases this year from this and associated genres, some of which pushed the sound forward in new directions, while other producers chose consistency of sound over experimentation. iTAL tEK's Midnight Colour was one of the latter, a record for the home rather than the club. There's nothing essentially new here - nothing to make the jaw drop with a pioneering take on a constantly evolving sound - but it is a proper album rather than a bunch of tracks stuck together, which these days still counts for something. iTAL tEK's ambition was to make a dubstep equivalent of the IDM albums of the early '90s (check out the Plaid-y sounds of "Moment In Blue"), and with his masterful use of rolling, woozy bass lines, busy percussion, vocal samples, and nocturnal atmosphere, he has certainly succeeded. (Jeremy Bye)

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95) Glittering Blackness, Fall | Untitled
South Korea


The development of post-rock has seen repetition as a key ingredient for a lot of bands. South Korea's Glittering Blackness, Fall produces post-rock that is crafted around the steadily developing formulas of post-metal. The band does not rely on heavy repetition or rising and falling crescendos. Instead, it builds up from a well constructed bass and never comes down after taking off. That is not to say that every track ends in blistering white noise; not only is every track varied, but each ends in a different form of controlled outburst. This skilful musicianship gives the release a permanence that lesser releases do not establish. (Gary Davidson)

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94) Daft Punk | Tron Legacy

Walt Disney

As confused fans continue to wallow in pseudo-disappointment at the thought of Daft Punk attaching its name to a record not entirely constructed out of 4/4 beats, it might be time to re-evaluate the perspective that this really is not a Daft Punk record. It is a film score. And, as a film score, it does its job, and a mighty fine one at that. Composing the original score for the much anticipated sequel to a prophetic sci-fi cult classic, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo take over the role originally helmed by Wendy Carlos on the first Tron film, and they do well to honor her pioneering marriage of synth-based electronic and traditional orchestral music. The duo alternate between the Hans Zimmer school of deep string arpeggio catharsis and tech-themed synthesized homages to the earlier cinematic anthems of cyberpunk. Now deep in their twilight years, Bangalter and De Homem-Christo needed a project to vindicate themselves as musicians – reassurance that their legacy was not a fluke. On Tron: Legacy, they may have found it. (Mac Nguyen)

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93) Altar of Plagues | Tides

Burning World

The title implies a record of gentle ebb-and-flow, of washed out dynamics and gentle waves. Instead, Altar of Plagues leaves us buried neck-deep: it is that kind of tide. It is rising action that gets worse and more terrifying as it escalates, and Altar of Plagues piles on the violence in two fifteen-minute cuts. Tides is full of dark production, dark songwriting, and dark everything, as black metal should be. It is rarely a full-tilt blast beating bludgeoning, but rather it derives its viciousness from its marathon assaults. This album may be slapped with the “atmospheric” tag, but instead of the usual keyboard flourishes that modifier suggests, it is atmosphere of pure horror – highly recommended horror, naturally. (Calvin Young)

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92) Gultskra Artikler | Galaktika

Other Electricities

Alexey Devyanin has been creating some of the most cutting edge music in the industry as Gultskra Artikler for nearly a decade now. Although his output has been consistent and of high quality, Devyanin has escaped the traditional praise that artists of his influence normally receive. There are many plausible reasons to explain this shortcoming on the part of the critical community, but one that seems to carry more weight than the others is that his recordings have skipped across a variety of genres and it has been difficult to tie his body of work together under a common theme. Galaktika is a bold statement that solidifies many of Devyanin's career-long interests and progresses the idea of a "space-horror" genre that he has been tinkering with in recent years. Even though space is a medium where sound cannot exist, Galaktika would make an excellent soundtrack for a space mission gone awry, were it to adopt one. (Jordan Volz)

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91) Polar Bear | Peepers


Scottish percussionist and composer Sebastian Rochford leads this forward-thinking jazz ensemble, consisting of two tenor saxophones, a double bass, a drummer, and the inimitable Leafcutter John, who is perhaps best known for his field recordings and found-sound work. Later in the year Peepers would be used as source material, though almost indistinguishably so, cut up to make hip-hop ready beats for Portuguese rapper/vocalist Jyager. Though that record is further proof of Rochford’s innovative musical output, Peepers more than holds its own, proving that there is still much life in the jazz idiom, as Peepers readily demonstrates. (Joseph Sannicandro)

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Top Albums: 100-91| 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Top Tracks: 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-01