TRAKSE.NET


BEST OF 2020

Welcome to my humble and oh so subjective best of the year of 2020. The most bizarre and worrying in recent history.

Yet a huge contrast emerges from this year: while the music culture struggles more than anybody else, I have never been so enthusiast about almost every album I listened in 2020.

In fact, I loved them so much that my traditional 'top 50' has been transformed into a 'top 100'. It was impossible to bench every single reference you'll see on this website.

Soon, the Spotify playlist will land here. In the meantime, enjoy the read (most of the texts come from the label's press releases) and have fun listening to the music I selected.

Trakse

100

EVER-ROVING EYE

JAMES ELKINGTON
Chicago songwriter and guitarist James Elkington—who has collaborated with everyone from Richard Thompson to Jeff Tweedy to Tortoise—recorded his sophomore album at Wilco’s Loft, expanding upon his celebrated 2017 debut Wintres Woma (PoB-034) as well as his recent production and arrangement work for the likes of Steve Gunn, Nap Eyes, and Joan Shelley. Casting glances back to British folk traditions as well as toward avant-garde horizons, these brilliant new songs, as accessible as they are arcane, buttress Elkington’s brisk guitar figures and baritone poesy with strings, woodwinds, and backing vocals by Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station.

99

CANTUS, DESCANT

SARAH DAVACHI
The new Sarah Davachi record is an 80 minute, 17 track double album meditation on impermanence and endings, framed by minimalistic organ études and careful harmonic layering. On two tracks the artist’s own vocals are also heard for the first time. This is the first release on the artist’s own label, Late Music.

98

FAREWELL TO ALL WE KNOW

MATT ELLIOTT
Farewell To All We Know is an instant classic based on the sensitive piano and superb arrangements of David Chalmin, the sensitive cello of Gaspar Claus, the subtle bass of Jeff Hallam (who has also played with Dominique A and John Parish). There is a clear form of alchemy in all of this and still we find Matt Elliott’s usual atmospheres and scenery, the same Eastern European folk music, long songs that take time to settle over time.

97

THUMB WORLD

PICTISH TRAIL
Bold, weird, wild, wired, sonically luxurious yet never losing touch with its DIY-‘til-I-die roots, Thumb World is a voyage to the outer rings of Pictish Trail’s mind at its darkest, funniest and most inventive – a plugged-in, fuzzed-out, fucked-up contemplation on, as he puts it, “life repeating and gradually degrading, the inevitable cyclical nature of things, and the sense of their ultimately being no escape.”

96

ETERNITY BAY

THE SAXOPHONES
‘It's so easy to stay where we are; it's a miracle anything ever changes.’ Words you might not expect from somebody who has recently welcomed not just a second album but a second child into their world. Then again, change and movement come quite naturally to The Saxophones: this is a band who wrote their first album on board a boat, and who have called their second album Eternity Bay, fusing physical place with a spiritual sense of time.

95

MYSTIC FAMILIAR

DAN DEACON
Dan Deacon’s most emotionally open record and his most transcendent, Mystic Familiar is the result of obsessive work, play, and self-discovery. The album’s 11 kaleidoscopic tracks of majestic synth-pop expand his sound with unfettered imagination and newfound vulnerability.

94

BEGINNERS

CHRISTIAN LEE HUDSON
Fused with country warmth, classical arrangements and heartland songwriting, it is a record full of character. Produced and featuring Phoebe Bridgers, the storytelling is vivid – and blending rational thought with exaggerated emotion, Hutson documents a path of progression into adulthood that will resonate with many. Mirrored through the development of timbre, when coupled with Hutson’s lyrical candour, a bond of friendship blossoms.

93

HEALING IS A MIRACLE

JULIANNA BARWICK
A distinctive meditation on sound, reverb and the voice, “Healing Is A Miracle” is a record built on improvisation and a close affinity to a couple of trusted items of gear, from which she spins engrossing, expansive universes. Additionally, Barwick draws on the input of three collaborators with whom she has nurtured deep friendships with over the years: Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore; who each gently nudge out at the edges of her organically-evolved sound.

92

DISCO VOLADOR

THE ORIELLES
'Disco Volador' sees the 4-piece push their sonic horizon to its outer limits as astral travellers, hitching a ride on the melodic skyway to evade the space-time continuum through a sharp collection of progressive strato-pop symphonies.

91

ROOM WITH A VIEW

RONE
Room With A View sees Rone returning to his musical roots and the set-up of his early albums: purely electronic, solitarily conceived without any musical collaborators. At the same time he was able to leave his comfort zone through a new kind of artistic liaison. The album was produced alongside a live show commissioned by the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and developed together with choreography collective (LA) HORDE and 20 dancers of the Ballet National de Marseille. This new kind of collaborative approach allowed Rone to produce his most sincere and far-reaching music in some time. Inspired by discussions of collapsologie and climate change, "Room With A View" offers food for thought on how to deal with one of the most pressing issues of humanity.