January 10, 2017
A fresh start.
With the needle lifted from 2016, the sound of Solange, A Tribe Called Quest and Nick Cave still wringing in our ears, we’re looking forward to what’s in store in the coming months.
Focussing on records that are either already available for pre-order or heavily mooted, we’ve picked out seventeen new releases for early 2017 that are worth tightening your belts for over the coming weeks.
As ever, ours is a broad church, and we’re as excited about oddball synth experiments and modal jazz as the possibility of getting a new Gorillaz record some day soon.
Scroll down for our picks and let us now in the comments what you’re looking forward to. And if you’re feeling nostalgic for 2016 (yeah, right), why not test yourself against our top 50 albums of the year list here?
(Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Due: 20th January
Having notched up 10 years in 2016, Awesome Tapes From Africa kicks off its second decade with a reel of enchanting songs from the Mali-Mauritania border. Unlike many of the label’s projects, this release showcases Peulh singer Awa Poulo’s newest work, a dexterous pop-folk collection that weaves her incantatory vocals with acoustic flute riffs, shuffling percussion and the odd moment raking guitar distortion.
Due: 27th January
Mica Levi’s Bafta-nominated Under The Skin OST was a sensation for horror, a genre rediscovering its creative vim amid a flood of reverential reissues. For her second major soundtrack gig, the polymath has scored the forthcoming Jackie Kennedy biopic (starring Natalie Portman) and we can’t wait to own it on vinyl.
Live in Paris
Due: 27th January
Riot Grrrls Sleater-Kinney finally commit their pulse-pounding live show to record, in what is, somewhat unbelievably the trio’s first ever (official) live record. Captured in Paris in 2015, it’s Carrie and Corin’s vocals that burst into life here, a firebrand tour de force no less dimmed twenty years on.
Due: 3rd February
The UK vocalist has come a long way from voicing SBTRKT 12”s and distributing CDr-only EPs. Guesting on Frank Ocean’s Endless and Solange’s A Seat At The Table in 2016 gave Sampha a piece of our favourite release of the year, and stoked the fire for his debut album, which has already been trailed by singles ‘Timmy’s Prayer’ and ‘Blood on Me’. A unique, vulnerable voice ready to take it to the next level.
Graeme Miller & Steve Shill
Due: 3rd February
Comet in Moominland! The felt-clad teases at Finders Keepers have been turning the Moomin-based hysteria up notch by notch over the last few years, piquing the interests people (ourselves included) who fall into that most unique of venn diagram overlaps between experimental electronic enthusiasts and suckers for a bit of vicarious Finnish nostalgia. If you didn’t grow up with the Moomins you can look away now, but if you did (and more power to you) you don’t need us to tell you why this is the most exciting thing to happen all year. Hattifatteners assemble!
The Other People Place
Lifestyles of the Laptop Café
Due: 10th February
Those in the know have been clamouring after Warp records to give this classic 2001 techno record a repress for quite some time now. With second-hand copies fetching hundreds, and an online petition topping one thousands signatories, the label has relented, rebooting James Stinson’s (of Drexciya fame) old MacBook for a new generation of flat white-nursing digital nomads.
Outro Tempo: Electronic & Contemporary Music from Brazil 1978-1992
(Music From Memory)
Due: 15th February
Brazil may be all jazz and samba (and latterly boogie) in the minds of record collectors, but not anymore. John Gomez spearheads this utterly unique collection of new wave influenced, art and synth pop on Music From Memory, lifting the lid on a neglected era in the country’s rich musical canon. Emboldened by loosening censorship laws and the dissolution of the military dictatorship, the music here embraces Brazil’s rhythms and places them in an experimental, electronic context.
Bing & Ruth
No Home of the Mind
Due: 17th February
The New York-based minimalist collective whose 2014 album on RVNG Intl. Tomorrow Was The Golden Age caught a new wave of spacious, rejuvenated ambient music, David Moore returns with an 5-piece ensemble for a first outing on UK indie institution 4AD. Expect lots of percussive piano movements, earthy woodwind and quivering tape delay for a record that aims transcend “so-called ‘classical’ music.”
A Thousand Skies
Due: 17th February
Following his conceptual debut album which took a tour of imagined island Tayi Bebba, Cristiano Crisci aka Clap! Clap! will release A Thousand Skies next month. The record features collaborations with Cape Town band and Planet Mu signees John Wizards, fellow Italian producer HDADD, Berlin-based duo OY and a guest sop for South African folk singer Bongeziwe Mabandla.
(On The Corner)
Due: 27th February
It’s hard to remember a time when London’s jazz scene has had it this good, or, quite frankly, has felt this prescient. Collocutor and On the Corner have been at the vanguard for a few years now, but it took 2016 for both to step out of the shadows. Now the seven-piece led by Tamar Osborn is readying the deeply personal The Search, a record that converses fluently between modal jazz, spiritual and afro-futurist dialogues. The test pressing may sound superb, but no On the Corner release is complete without getting your hands on the artwork too.
Charles Hayward & Gigi Masin
Les Nouvelles Musiques De Chambre Volume 2
(Modern Classics Recordings)
Due: 17th March
Originally released in ’89, this unique split album, between drummer Charles Hayward of This Heat (who Modern Classics Recordings reissued last year) and Italian ambient adventurer Gigi Masin, explores waterways in the musicians’ respective cities: London and Venice. Masin inhabits side A with eight tracks whilst Charles Hayward’s 21-minute piece ‘Thames Water Authority’ occupies B. “Water was being privatized at the time, the profit margin had been factored in, cost-cutting was implicit, people were being poisoned,” says Hayward. “Water was a political thing; it still is.”
A life’s work condensed into dark matter, Dark Energy, the debut from Indiana producer Jlin, took a trp from footwork to the outer reachers with cinematic intensity. Her follow-up, Black Origami, promises to veer “very far left of footwork.” You can have a sampler of whats to come via new 12″ Dark Lotus, whose second track the label describes as racing “headlong into uncharted territory, with a fierce barrage of djembe drums over pounding bass, punchy war cries and jubilant uluations.”
Blade Runner 2049
Vangelis, move over. Jóhann Jóhannsson has been tasked with scoring the Blade Runner sequel and as he put it, it’s “an enormous challenge of mythical proportions” because the original is one of the most iconic in sci-fi history. Jóhannsson, though, gave us the amazingly extraterrestrial Arrival score last year, so we have confidence in the Icelandic composer who has a talent for combining classical and electronic. We’re less hopeful for Ryan Gosling’s performance though…
(Italians Do It Better)
Since Night Drive and 2012’s stunning Kill For Love album, Johnny Jewel and co. have given us gorgeous synth-pop, practically made for cinematic car rides and nocturnal adventures à la Drive. We’ve been waiting for Dear Tommy since 2014 but after some teasing last year, it looks like it’s finally incoming.
Since Damon Albarn said he “wouldn’t mind having another stab at a Gorillaz record” back in 2014, there’s been a steady flow of teasers. Via a series of interactive multimedia stories, each of the characters have kept us updated on their lives; Noodles even has her own Instagram page and most recently dropped a mix celebrating “kiss-ass women”. As for the album itself, which will be the virtual band’s fifth, we can expect upbeat material (nothing under 125bpm) and collaborators including Massive Attack, Jean Michelle Jarre and Vic Mensa.
(One Little Indian)
Arca played a strong hand in Björk’s devastatingly confessional 2015 album Vulnicura, a release that was openly about her breakup with American artist Matthew Barney, and is working with Björk on her follow-up. “The last album, we sort of call it “hell” – it was like divorce!” said Björk. “So we are doing paradise now. Utopia.” Expect pure dizzying emotion, incredible packaging and more virtual reality experiences from the always forward-thinking Icelandic artist.
Following the release of A Tribe Called Quest’s final album – one of our top ten albums of 2016 – a posthumous solo album by member Phife Dawg is coming. “He completed his entire solo album before he transitioned, so we’re excited about releasing that,” said his widow Desha Head Taylor at a November press event during the ceremony to rename the intersection of Linden Boulevard and 192th Street (in Queens, NYC) in honour of the late MC. If We Got It From Here is anything to go by, this will be on heavy rotation.
Ed. note: This article was originally called The 17 best new vinyl releases to look out for in early 2017