Continuing with the tradition I started last year, I've presented here reviews of my top 10 albums of 2007. There were really so many excellent releases last year, covering all the different styles of music that I enjoy. But I finally managed to narrow it down to my top 10. Per tradition (and so I don't seem too biased), I've excluded the releases on my own label, despite the fact that I feel that they are all excellent recordings and deserve a place on this list. Thanks to all the artists and labels I have worked with this year: it's been such a pleasure! (As before, artists and labels, feel free to reprint these with impunity if you so desire, while referencing the source.) Happy New Year!
  -- Kyle Wright // Diophantine Discs // 31 Dec. 2007.

ATOMINE ELEKTRINE - Nebulous // CD // Essence Music
Though many of Peter Andersson's side-projects have recently been converging into a sound very much reminiscent of his raison d'être work, "Nebulous" still retains a great portion of what has made Atomine Elektrine so distinct. The music is a beautiful, complex, and flowing ambience. Sometimes it is combined with various beats and rhythms (some structured, others more free-form), but by no means is this "danceable music" -- if anything, it feels very meticulous and just adds to the complexity. The processing applied to the synths and guitars(?) is very unique and changes throughout; the mix is wonderful too. There is a very warm, glowing, and electronic feel to the many of the sounds, making it a rather calm and relaxing listen. Yet the music still has some cooler and slightly somber undercurrents, helping it maintain a mysterious air throughout. The special edition comes with a bonus CD-R with more similarly enjoyable material. Lovely packaging from Essence again: gatefold sleeve with vellum cover.

ALISTAIR CROSBIE & BRIAN LAVELLE - Disused // CD-R // Lefthand Pressings
Having started their collaborations over a decade ago as Inversion, Scottish experimental musicians Alistair Crosbie and Brian Lavelle team up once again (under their own names). Originally recorded in 2005 and re-worked this past year, "Disused" consists of two dense half-hour long tracks. The music consists of many layered drones which slowly pulse and mutate throughout the work. In the second track in particular, some of these drones become more noisy, adding to the tension of the work. Other indistinct sounds come in from time to time: one sounds like it could be rain falling on a metal roof, others possibly wind-chimes. It's a very lonely work... not sad or really dark -- just lonely, like one might imagine it would be in the abandoned building depicted in the photograph on the cover. It doesn't necessarily require intense listening (though it is certainly suitable for it); I find that my mind tends to wander into some blissful void during some listens. A very beautiful, engaging, and relaxing release. Nicely packaged with one of 27(?) different photographs on the cover.

EX.ORDER - Corporate Control // LP // Power & Steel
Ex.Order's new album is a welcome arrival (it's been 4 years since their last work, the live "Broadcast 23" LP) and surely their most mature to date. As has been the case in recent years, the music is sometimes just as industrial and dark ambient as it is power electronics. Fantastic analogue-sounding pulses, drones, loops, and slow rhythms guide the listener through most of the work. The sound can get quite loud and noisy at places, but it's all fully under control and focused. The tracks generally seem to alternate between having vocals (heavily processed and stoicly delivered) or distorted spoken word or movie samples (probably the best selection of these yet on an Ex.Order release). All the sounds and processing here give the recordings a very ominous and hypnotic feel; indeed, there is something to the work that I would almost describe as post-apocalyptic. The sequence of the ten tracks works really well and it flows nicely for the 45 minutes. Available on both LP and CD.

'KIRCHENKAMPF' - Island Of The Dead // CD-R // Cohort Records
"Island Of The Dead" consists of a solitary and quite lengthy (40+ minutes) experimental ambient piece. It is a generally slow-moving piece with a wonderful flow to it. At any moment there are lots of things going on: individual tones shuddering, shimmering, and reflecting off each other. Many of the sounds are synthetic, while others seem to be object recordings (bells, scraped metal, horns, etc.) which have all been processed into glowing, mysterious, and otherworldly noises. Occasionally a haunting voice is heard out of the ether. The music is very contemplative, lonely, and sometimes slightly somber (especially towards the closing). Despite it's length, "Island Of The Dead" does not get tiring at all. The piece wanders in a thoroughly enjoyable way, never lingering too long at any one place or repeating itself. A beautiful and intriguing recording that certainly ranks amongst John Gore's best pieces. Housed in a special sleeve.

MOTH ELECTRET - LiL // CD-R // Mystery Sea
From the mind behind R|A|A|N we get a new project, Moth Electret, which is a more experimental effort utilizing lots of processed location recordings and guitar. The music generally falls somewhere between the realms of drones and field recordings, but that's being too simplistic. Some elements of the pieces will follow a calm and flowing path, while others are more noisy or loud and uneasy -- it creates a wonderful contrast. The processing of the field recordings is some of the best and most interesting I've heard: plenty of the original recordings remain to tease the imagination (think of rigging clanking in a calm wind on a ship at night, or waves in a harbour), but they've also been processed into very interesting and evolving sounds. The music is quite dreamy and beautiful, but at the same time it's extremely mysterious. Eight distinct, yet unified, tracks lasting for over fifty minutes. A very enjoyable, engaging, and sometimes intense release. Lovely packaging (as usual) by Mystery Sea.

SIGILLUM S - 23/20 // 2xLP // Verba Corrige
Finally, the new Sigillum S album! This was going to be on my top-10 list for 2006 (as I'd heard it already), but the release got delayed. Their first release since 1999, "23/20" continues in their tradition of experimental and unusual post-industrial music, but with some new twists. There is a more "digital" feel present here than on previous recordings, likely a result of a more modern production and some new instrumentation. In many ways it picks up where Sigillum S left off, but with the addition of the experience both Paolo and Eraldo have had in their various side and solo projects. Those familiar with older Sigillum S (especially from the mid-90s) will notice some changes, the most noticeable being the less frequent (and now different) vocals. However, what Sigillum S release didn't have a few surprises in store? Available both on CD and double-LP, each having a number of exclusive tracks. I seem to have a slight preference for some tracks on the vinyl one, but they're both "required listening." An amazing release and the packaging and artwork is beautiful too. For a more detailed write-up, see my review in the Sigillum S blog.

SUNN O))) - Oracle // LP // Southern Lord
"Oracle" is probably the most experimental Sunn O))) record, with "White2" following not too far behind. It's far from the doom metal they're so often described as performing; this particular release is very much an experimental drone record with bizarre vocals and other unusual sounds that very much fit in. This is especially apparent in the first track. Imagine some of the most oppressive and slow guitar drone music, heavy on the bass, with drawn-out and somewhat processed vocals by Attila Csihar (always totally insane, usually chanting or screaming), occasional and varied percussion (from drums to scraped chimes), and other messed up sounds (like a jackhammer, even!). The second track has a more obvious and defined guitar sound (and okay, it's a bit doomy in it's atmosphere), but it too wanders through quite similar realms as the first track. This is, without a doubt, some very ominous, yet still very experimental, music. Packaged in a lovely gatefold sleeve.

SUTCLIFFE JÜGEND - Transgression // LP // Dogma Chase
2007 finally brought some new studio recordings from Sutcliffe Jügend, and it was well worth the wait. The twenty-minute title-track on side A is an absolute gem: power electronics at one of it's finest moments. Intensely aggressive, noisy, and pulsing music with guitars, electronics, feedback loops, and screamed vocals. It is absolutely psychotic and shifts around in an improvisational (yet not unfocused) way that gives it an extremely experimental feel too. The B-side has two lengthy tracks, the first of which is very much like "Transgression", but certainly it's own thing. The final track is a bit less psychotic, but still intense, and works as great closer to this album. Excellent production and sound quality too. None of your by-the-book power electronics here -- this has a very fresh and innovative feel to it. Somehow, listening to this record brings out the same intensity and excitement I felt last month when I saw SJ live. Pressed on white vinyl and housed in a gorgeous sleeve.

TELEPHERIQUE - Slowmotion // CD // Force Of Nature
Telepherique's latest work, as the title may indicate, is a slow moving affair, but it's hardly tiring or tedious. Lots of slow-moving beats and percussion amidst lava-like ambience, field recordings, noisy rhythmic feedback, and soothing chimes. As is typical with Telepherique, it really defies categorization. Despite the beats, it's a far cry from most rhythmic noise or IDM. Some of the beats and rhythms have a distinctly tribal feel to them, almost primitive in nature, while other have a very structured mathematical feel. Overall, "Slowmotion" has a very organic spirit to it, but it is (like many Telepherique albums) still very technical, structured, and electronic in it's feel. I could almost imagine my computer listening to this for relaxation; I wouldn't blame it, I've done the same thing often enough, and the release is in fact dedicated to those who try to simply their lives in today's busy times. A very engaging, active, and captivating album.

VOICE OF EYE - Immersion // CD-R // Conundrum Unlimited
After a dozen years of inactivity, Voice Of Eye resurfaced to release some new material and play some amazing concerts. This (together with "Emergence", which is also excellent, but not quite as focused) is the first of their new material and it is entirely improvised and recorded live without overdubs. There's really a dizzying amount of different instruments used, many run through reverb and delays, formed into loops, drones, etc. The individual tracks on this release range from more tribal ambient pieces with drums, gongs, and bells, to more gentle and flowing ambience with flutes and voices, to more forceful segments with bass guitar and noisier loops. Often these different elements are combined, forming some incredibly beautiful and dreamy, yet often ominous and mysterious, passages. An incredibly large number of different things are going on at any one moment, but it's never overwhelming. Wonderful, mesmerizing, and mysterious music that takes the listener on a fantastic and unforgettable seventy minute voyage through some fantastic and subterranean otherworldly domain.