2021 marked the first year I didn’t really submit a “Best of 2021” list anywhere. I stopped writing for Pitchfork after 19 years (the past few years, I was relegated to the sidelines in terms of EOY writing anyhow so no great loss). I did a ballot for Jazz Critics Poll and always ignore those Uproxx emails about ballots. Last year, I got to contribute a Boomkat list, but wasn’t asked this year :/ Anyhow, in filing away some records, I posted a batch of them on IG and thought I may as well type them out now:

  1. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra ‎– Promises
    Of all the albums to have be divisive in this year, hard to imagine that it would be this one. For me, it’s a mistake to see it as electronic or jazz or ambient jazz or what have you. A few years prior, Sam and I had enthused over a string of brilliant Italian minimalist works and to my ears, Promises most closely aligns with this axis of sound.
  2. Saint Etienne – I’ve Been Trying to Tell You
    I’ll defer to Hua here: “One of the frustrations of relying on streaming services, and their ostensible infinitude, is how easily they can make entire swaths of the musical past disappear. Pop music is built on the memory of discovery. As our sense of the audible past moves entirely online, and our sense of history grows more reliant on what platforms make available to us, we’re susceptible to forgetting.”
  3. Sam Gendel, Josiah Steinbrick – Mouthfeel / Serene
  4. Aaron Dilloway & Lucrecia Dalt – Lucy & Aaron
  5. Bremer/ McCoy ‎– Natten
  6. Madlib (+ Four Tet) ‎– Sound Ancestors
  7. Natural Information Society with Evan Parker ‎– Descension (Out Of Our Constrictions)
    Found myself drawn to duos and the act of collaboration under straing during the pandemic. In that I was not alone, as Gio wrote of that dynamic of “tunneling toward mutually assured isolation for a long time, embracing a digital existence that has reorganized, among other things, how we talk to each other and how we make music.”
  8. – the rest: XVARR – Transitional Being EP, Topdown Dialectic Vol. 3, Jeff Parker Forfolks, Ben LaMar Gay – Open Arms to Open Us, Helado Negro – Far In, SVN – SVN, CZN – Commutator, 33.10.3402 ‎– Iz Usta EP

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