An article by The Silent Ballet Staff

90) Hauschka | Foreign Landscapes


Aided with compelling compositional skills and a plethora of moods and emotions, Volker Bertelmann delivers one of the best albums of the year, contemporary classical or otherwise. Foreign Landscapes is an album that conjures all kinds of emotional reactions from its audience. Examples such the playful “Children”, the anxiety ridden “Iron Shoes”, and the nostalgic “Snow” all demonstrate the man’s prolific songwriting abilities, as well as a willingness to experiment with various instruments and tempos, with almost all attempts yielding great results. It is a meticulously detailed album where every note, pause, and instrument is fully accounted for, and each role contributes to make this a great album. (Mohammed Ashraf)

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89) Arc of Doves | The Lights


With The Lights, Arc Of Doves has created an album based around the juxtaposition of processed beats with acoustic ambience. The duo has also added huge depth to each piece by playing the elements off one another without either being overbearing, enabling the listener to feel every element within the album independently. From the crackling melancholy of "Venus In Pieces" to the almost disco-influenced "Mars Jazz", every part of this fine release holds a place of its own within the album as a whole. By mixing so many elements together, Arc Of Doves has put out a confident, stunning album, one far superior to its predecessor. If Arc Of Doves continues to confound expectations and impress like this, it could have a special place in the history of acoustic/electronic music; The Lights is only the beginning. (Barry Smethurst)

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88) Erik K. Skodvin | Flare

Sonic Pieces

When an artist who has been releasing consistently good records under a moniker finally releases one under his own name, heads are bound to turn. And turn they did. Erik K Skodvin’s debut under his given name was instantly hailed by many as album of the year. That was no overstatement. In this album Skodvin extends his musical palette and takes a more acoustic or classical approach than his work as Svarte Greiner. It evolves beautifully and serves as an introspective look into Skodvin’s stream of thought, with opposing emotions and a sense of nonchalance regarding the world around him. This makes Flare seem more natural in its inception, and yet it is also extremely well thought out. Flare is an album for changing seasons and meditative contemplation, and one of the few that has totally deserved the hype that surround its release. (Mohammed Ashraf)

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87) Rhys Chatham | The Bern Project
United States


Those who are familiar with Rhys Chatham’s more recent work—like A Crimson Grail (For 400 guitars)—might think that he is primarily a devote of the electric six-string. But Chatham also has a great love for the trumpet, and his newest project places that love in center stage. Chatham’s music is a bit hard to describe—it is classical in nature, of an avant-garde minimalist style, but it features rock instrumentation and is often structured around a big crescendo, when it is not content simply to make wonderful drones. The Bern Project came out in the very first days of year; from that moment forward it was obvious—the bar for 2010 had just been set very, very high indeed. (Tom Butcher)

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86) Mains de Givre | Esther Marie


Mains de Givre, a collaboration between violinist Émilie Livernois-Desroches and guitarist Eric Quach, resembles Quach’s main project thisquietarmy in quite a few ways. But where thisquietarmy paints a harsh portrait of a bleak landscape, Mains de Givre composes an impressionistic dreamscape. These notes drift across time and space like hazy, half-remembered thoughts, providing a soundtrack to the world of the imaginable. Esther Marie is Main de Givre’s debut album, but the sound on display here speaks to thousands of nights’ worth of experience. (Tom Butcher)

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85) me:mo | Peking Scene


Forward-thinking mü-nest has been delivering some of Asia's best and brightest new acts in recent years. me:mo, the recording project of Zhai Ruixin, is the label's latest venture. Ruixin's album is an homage to the lost city of Peking (now replaced by the monstrous Beijing), and it is clear from the music that this artist longs for the simpler days before hectic traffic, penetrating lights, and the unending orchestra of cell phones. Peking Scene discovers the underlying gentleness of the city via cutesy folktronica, but Ruixin's repertoire is much more robust than the single genre would indicate. me:mo succeeds in gifting the audience with a relaxing three-quarters of an hour's worth of music, but it may forever be remembered as China's first great modern album. (Jordan Volz)

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84) J.G. Thirlwell | Manorexia: The Mesopelagic Waters


Artists expanding their existing works to fit new mediums is something rarer than one would believe, at least in a form that goes beyond simple covers and additions of orchestras; a reinterpretation of past Manorexia works, mostly electronic and characterized by a sort of post-punk approach to experimentalism, as chamber music gives the pieces a dark tinge of the surreal. It is a not-so-deep water exploration of the unseen and the unknown, of that which is almost at the surface but is even then eerily uncanny. It is not far from the familiar, and yet it can be deeply disturbing and enchanting. The transition to strings and traditional classical instrumentation serves exactly this purpose, and it brings out both the most modern parts of the originals as much as it highlights its most melodious. In the end, this is a worthy entry in the list because of its transformation and its display of an endless array of possibilities for an artist’s work. (David Murrieta)

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83) U.S. Christmas | Run Thick in the Night
United States

Neurot Recordings

U.S. Christmas is a difficult band to classify. Swirling somewhere between the swampish Neuros’n’roll of the Georgia stoner metal bands and the cinematic epics of post-metal, with heavy layers of psychedelic fuzz and classic rock for accents, the North-Carolina ensemble continues to value atmosphere and feeling over obligatory genre signposts, achieving a unique sound that is simply better and more interesting than anything created by its nearest reference points. Run Thick in the Night incorporates a full-time violinist, Hawkwind and Crazy Horse riffs, strained and waistoid Appalachian folk, and menacing post-metal builds, further broadening the band’s palette and shouldering past genre confinements and into a more important category—essential rock and roll. (Lucas Kane)

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82) Pausal | Lapses


UK drone duo Pausal recorded twelve very accessible ambient tracks for Lapses. The sounds produced from the Hampshire-based artists are similar to Stars of the Lid and Stray Ghost. However, the warm textures and dreamy environments found within represent a more balanced and blissful take on an often misunderstood style of music. A satisfying sense of palpability exists that leaves the record’s experimental nature rather transitory, indicating that music fans who generally find the genre obfuscating can still enjoy Pausal’s offerings. Each song glacially swells to blissful refuge but maintains unique characteristics that collectively reflect a more serene and elated drone release. (Brent Dare)

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81) Enrico Coniglio | Salicornie: Topofonie Vol. 2


Salicornie is a love letter to Venice, as delicately hued as a romantic proposal on a moonlit cobblestone path. Arve Henrickson's trumpet establishes the mood, but Coniglio provides the direction. A series of site-specific field recordings anchors the collection in time and place. The bells of Saint Marco prove especially poignant. In the service of a fuller tapestry, Coniglio samples not only Bolero but his own prior work. The result: a timeless document of the idealized Venice, the one that exists forever in the hearts of artists and expatriates. (Richard Allen)

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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