four tet

The Obligatory Best of 2010 List - Part One

Another year has past and so bloggers and the music press the world over feel the need to try and convince you of the best albums of the past twelve months. And so as much in an attempt to fill our pages in a quite spell as convince you of anything here are not so much the best, but our most enjoyed albums of 2010.

Not a top ten, or a top 50 even, but a good old honest top 18. Because that's how many albums we really liked this year.  Part one will cover the bottom nine - come back for the rest soon.


18. There Is Love In You - Four Tet

On which Keiran Hebden stopped trying to revolutionise with every record and instead brought everything together to create something which feels a bit like a best-of approach to Four Tet. It lacked the standout moments of the classic Rounds but besides that it is his most focused work.


17. Wave and Cloud - The Whiskey Priest

Unnoticed by the press but don't let that put you off, Wave and Cloud's obscurity only serves to make it even more deserving of your time. A frail and honest record that relies on songs and little more. The coupling of the weatherworn 'A Seafarer's Lament' and the heartfelt and beautiful 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' remains on of this year's best album openings.


16. Latin - Holy Fuck

Another album that appears to have been forgotten... Latin may not have garnered the praise heaped on previous album LP, but it demonstrates Holy Fuck's ability to continue to innovate. 'P.I.G.S.' remains one of the ill-est sounding joints we heard all year.


15. Swim - Caribou

The first Caribou release to really capture BlackPlastic's attention, Swim, along with Matthew Dear's Black City, was 2010's most danceable record for people that like to think. Simultaneously organic sounding and strangely electronic this is an album that felt more like a collaboration than an album by one artist ever normally could - one moment subtle and understated and the next needy and epic.

14. Real Life Is No Cool - Lindstrøm & Christabelle

Almost not on the list because we heard it in 2009 it makes it here on a technicality - it wasn't officially released until 2010. It's sun-drenched cosmic disco sound is also staggering - this is the sound of taking a dip in the 40 degree heat. By adding in Christabelle, Lindstrøm went and made his best album.


13. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens

Prolific and at times frankly unfocused, Stevens only seems to release two types of record - challenging and flawed or challenging and fantastic. The Age of Adz is undoubtedly the latter, from the delicate opening of 'Futile Devices' through to the 25-minute-plus 'Impossible Soul' this is the sound of Stevens tearing up the few rules he had previously adhered to. At its best, on the furious and rapid 'I Want To Be Well', complete with it's repeated "I'm not fucking around" chorus, Sufjan sounds more vital than ever.


12. Contra - Vampire Weekend

It seems that everyone but BlackPlastic loved Vampire Weekend's debut. By rights, this - the follow up to a smash record we passed up on - should have been of little interest. And yet something in Contra really captures the listener. Whether on the tight upbeat pop of 'Run' or 'Giving Up The Gun' or the slow and considered numbers that just sparkle as on 'I Think Ur A Contra' this was pretty much the perfect pop record.


11. Subiza - Delorean

In a year when BlackPlastic returned to the White Isle nothing encapsulated the feeling of basking in the Balearic sunshine quite like Delorean's debut... If one band lead the Chill Wave movement for us then it's Delorean. A bit like Animal Collective mixed with a beach, some house vibes and quite a lot of ecstasy Subiza is just too hot and sunny to resist, particularly with songs as beautiful as 'Real Love'.


10. Causers of This - Toro y Moi

Causers of This is one of 2010's sleepers for BlackPlastic - so much so that we haven't mentioned it before now. The problem is that it is flawed, if only mildly so, in that a number of it's charms are hidden away in the latter half. 'Blessa' starts things off in a pleasant but slightly uninspiring manner but there are some of 2010's best moments here - just check the snappy, funky closing couplet in the form of 'Low Shoulders' and the title track. One of this year's most promising debuts, Causers of This is the heart broken record you can dance to.

BP x

Album Review: DJ-Kicks - Various mixed by Apparat

The DJ-Kicks series appears to be hitting something of a stride... With several notable releases this year already in the bag, The Juan Maclean's being a particular highlight, here comes one more from IDM innovator Apparat.

And Apparat's entry certainly doesn't drop the ball. To a certain extent it does what you would expect... It's intelligent, electronic music that is built more for home listening than the dance floor, but the quality of the music and timing is good enough to make listening (repeatedly) a pleasure.

Things start off fairly heavily with Apparat's own 'Circles' - what feels almost like a trance track with a cinematic world-music guitar motif - before getting dubby on fellow IDM-ers Telefon Tel Aviv's 'Lengthening Shadows'. From there things spin out in multiple directions. This is a mix that is one moment cold, hard and clinical and the next warm and embracing.

The latter is best demonstrated by Four Tet's stunning remix of 'I Need A Life' by Born Ruffians... A track that manages to simultaneously feel like the heat of summer and joy of Christmas. It creates a neat centre for the album before things turn darker on Vincent Markowski's classic 'The Madness Of Moths' and Four Tet and Burial's 'Moth'. As Thom Yorke's haunting 'Harrowdown Hill' emerges from Ramadanman's 'Tempest' there is a stark urban feel to this album that shows the influence of Apparat's recent collaborations with Modeselektor.

The album closes on Tim Hecker's ambient melancholy drenched 'Borderlands'. Apparat's DJ-Kicks album is a serious business and that may alienate some, but it is a testament to how a good mix album can be much more than the reconstruction of a live DJ set. This is a mix album with more emotional punch and ambition than most electronic artists manage on their own studio albums, and for that BlackPlastic salutes it.

BP x

DJ-Kicks by Apparat is out now, available from on CD, LP and MP3.

Album Revew: There Is Love In You - Four Tet

Four Tet has long been one of electronic music's true pioneers. Not satisfied with the status quo each release from Kieran Hebden seems determined to push the envelope in a slightly different fashion.

It is an approach which has won him many fans. Especially when the experimental approach has come together with the right aesthetic and, importantly, tunes, as on the legendary 'folktronica' Rounds.

And to cut a long story short There Is Love In You doesn't disappoint. Finding a happy middle ground somewhere between the slow emotive tunes of Rounds and the more 'out there' sound of Everyhing Ecstatic, Four Tet's new album sounds like someone who has finally found their natural sound. Which means the focus can truly be on the detail.

As on the slowly evolving 'Love Cry'. With its casual but tight live rhythm section and bouncing bass it is a song that wraps itself around your cranium like melting ice around a cold drink.

There Is Love In You pushes Hebden's sound simultaneously towards the organic and the electronic. With the low-slung vibes of Flying Lotus, complete with twisted vocal samples, combined with meticulously detailed, tight rhythms this album sounds like a J Dilla experiment that fell from the heavens only to be reconstructed by someone with no idea which bit goes where. And that is a glorious thing.

So this is an album that evolves things, sure... But it hasn't lost sight of what made its predecessors great.  With melodies that carry emotion and production that makes you want to move this is electronic music for all. 

Last year we benefited from a number of bands who finally sounded like they were at the top of their game - comfortable in their own sound. This is another one of those albums. There Is A Love In You doesn't change the game in the same way Rounds did. Instead it just proves Four Tet is better at the bloody game.

BP x

You can currently stream There Is Love In You in its entirety at Four Tet's SoundCloud page.

There Is Love In You is out on Domino on Monday, available for pre-order from on CD now [affiliate link].