Albums of the Year
Sitting quietly in scorching reimagined suburbia
Great new music was so abundant in 2015 that nearly half of the albums listed above were considered the favorite at one time or another. Then, on November 6, Noyaux by Benoit Pioulard was released; one of two new albums released by the Seattle-based musician in 2015 (the other, Sonnet, also made this list).
Noyaux came out of nowhere. Its sudden existence was one of those rare and thrilling surprises that are sadly infrequent in a digital, news-breaking culture that does its best to make surprises obsolete. I had heard no mention of the album before its release. I wasn't expecting it. Nor could I have expected its visceral impact, which, for me, was swift and profound.
Noyaux is a work of ethereal, wordless soundscapes, in a vein similar to Olan Mill or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, but with slightly more space for the listener to dissolve into meditation. I find it unbelievably moving and yet near-impossible to describe. Possibly, it is the sound of the universe expanding. Or the sound of loss. Or perhaps it is the sound of the unconscious slowly, deliberately, unfolding itself.
However one might interpret it, Noyaux is pure sonic, cinematic transport. It's a powerful and hauntingly beautiful experience that elicits emotions that are seldom felt, or that maybe were never before known. That, I feel, is the purpose of all art, and here Pioulard has done it, and with only four tracks and twenty five minutes, and without words.
Other albums I liked:
Barrow — Cemeteries
The Original Faces — Helen
I Could Have Sworn — Hamilton Leithauser and Paul Maroon
The Evil Has Landed Pt. II — Holy Wave
Trading Basics — Palm
A Year With 13 Moons — Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Hypnophobia — Jacco Gardner
Fading Frontier — Deerhunter
W-X — W-X
Lo — Crosss
Empire — Unwound
Spider Tracks — Cave Story
Mutilator Defeated At Last — Thee Oh Sees