Favourite Records of 2022


Our label owner Harry Towell has finalised his top 20 list of favourite albums of 2022, complete with a mix. See below a few words from Harry on his year in music, followed by the top 20, each with a link, a brief commentary and the artwork. You can check out the mix Harry created by clicking the picture above, which counts down with a track from each of his favourite albums. Alternatively, there’s a player below and you can click play whilst you read on…

“I feel like I’ve spent most of 2022 getting ready to move house, with our family having moved into our new home at last on the 9th of December. All year I had in mind that I wanted the cover image for this year’s end of year show to be a photo of somewhere in the new house and it was starting to seem like it might not happen, as we moved into December. Thankfully, the weekend after we’d moved I managed to take a moment to shoot a bird sat on top of our garage, on an icy -4 degree morning.

I changed jobs earlier this year and have spent much more time working from home, and therefore my appetite for music and of varying genres, has been in overdrive. I’ve felt like I’ve really pushed the boat out in listening through lots of genres this year, but when I look at my top 20 records whittled down from a list of 80, it’s mostly ambient, electro acoustic and modern classical music – which will no doubt please Whitelabrecs fans! There has been some jazz and more adventurous styles that have made the list though…

In terms of formats, I’ve mostly been scouring music on Spotify and Bandcamp, streaming over and over in the days whilst making a running list of my favourites. I use an app called ‘Paperless lists’ which allows me to adjust the albums that make the list into a running chart, which I was adjusting constantly. With the move, I’ll be able to play vinyl again on my Technics 1210s, but I also bought a cheap ‘run around’ in the form of a Crosley Voyager. So I’ve made it my mission to own as many of my top 20 albums on vinyl as possible; to date, I’m pretty much there with just a couple left to track down.

For my best-of list for 2022 then, I’ve followed the exact same format as last year, with a mix show counting down my top 20, which you can check out on my Spheruleus Mixcloud page. Last year I took the time to upload end of year mixes since 2010 and so I’ve kept the cover image format so that it matches these. We now have 13 years of mixes to listen back through; something very personal for me whenever I want to jump down a rabbit hole of nostalgia. But hopefully people who tune in will enjoy!

Then with this post, you can see my final list below; again, for simplicity I’ve kept last year’s format the same. I hope you enjoy the selections and as always, the links will transport you to a release page where you can explore more. If this list connects one person with an album they didn’t know about, and they decide to support the respective artist and label by purchasing, then it’s all been worth it!

Michael Scott Dawson
Music For Listening
We Are Busy Bodies

This year there’s been a clear winner for my album of the year ‘award’. I feel like I’ve played this one by Michael Scott Dawson pretty much every week, whether it be to help me drift off to sleep, to help my daughter to drift off to sleep, or to work to during the day. Not to mention my listens to the 12″ vinyl version on the turntable in the office. ‘Music For Listening’ came out in March this year on We Are Busy Bodies and initially I was struck by the design, with a thought provoking angled view through the window of a boat, or train on a bridge. Then the vinyl and its white disc grabbed my attention further and whilst a subtle listen to begin with, this record is one I’ve soaked myself into time and time again in 2022. It’s definitely going to be a record that instantly, when I hear it or see the sleeve, I’ll think back to this year. There’s so much detail in the field recordings and arrangement but also, it’s so simple and minimal at the same time.


Wax Machine
Hermit’s Grove
Batov Records

I love retro-inspired, dusty funk records and was drawn to this one by its cover image, and the Brazilian influences referenced in the release notes. Hitting the play button, I was instantly sucked into the melting pot of cultures and styles across this record. It’s filled with sun-bleached tropical sounds, hints of bossa rhythymns, hazy electro-acoustic atmospherics, licks of funk, moments of folk song and the slightest hint of post rock. In the summer, this was my go-to album in daylight and I’ve fond memories sat in 25+ degree heat, absorbing the sunshine vibes of Hermit’s Grove.


Pan American
The Patience Fader

Kranky output is always top quality and it’s a must-stop-by destination for any fan of ambient music. Certainly a regular haunt for me over the years and this year, I was really taken by ‘The Patience Fader’ by Pan American, which came out earlier in the year. I’ve had the vinyl copy on rotation in the office and these softly melancholy ambient guitar songs take me back to some of the early ambient guitar stuff I’d listen to when I first got into this scene.


Time, Space, and Thought
Inner Islands

Plenty of warmth in this one by Channelers and a generous body of work too, clocking in at around an hour. Sadly I’ve not got a cassette player that works properly, so I’ve had to settle for download / streaming this year but nevertheless, this record has lived up to its title, being played regularly throughout 2022. The album has a folk and americana feel but with some ambient and electro acoustic composition thrown in. It sounded particularly impressive in the warmer months and the record definitely soundtracked my summer.


Gung Ho
Calico Discos

I’ve always been into dusty lo-fi Hip-Hop and turntablism, and records with crafty sampling techniques. This one by Kolumbo was quite a discovery – initially I thought it would be a lo-fi or chillhop record, but I realise I was pretty wrong after a listen, as the madness unfolded. This one has strings, piano and beautiful arrangements, but also has a really imaginative aesthetic too, with dreamlike, retro-film composition. Very hard to explain, so instead, I recommend you take a listen for yourself!


Gianni Brezzo
Tutto Passa

I’ve been to Italy a few times and so the title and cover artwork drew me in to giving this one a spin. On inspection of the liner notes, I learned that Gianni Brezzo is in fact a Cologne, Germany based musician called Marvin Horsch. His work is inspired by 60s and 70s Italian composers, as well as annual visits to see his Grandmother in Sicily. The record is a low-slung form of Jazz, with swathes of strings, licks of sax and trumpet underpinned by double bass and slow grooves. The vinyl has an insert of images that really bring the concept to life.


Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer
Recordings from the Åland Islands
International Anthem

I was really intrigued by this album, with its concept being a location-based visit to the Åland islands. When I read up on the islands, I was amazed that there are so many! Some 6500 in fact. Composers Jeremiah Chiu and Marta Sofia Honer visited the islands and captured field recordings and musical performances, in an aural study of the region and with the vinyl package, their booklet of liner notes really bring the trip to life. Musically, violin, piano and synth take center stage, alongside the field recordings and other incidental inclusions.”


Gerald Clayton
Bells On Sand
Blue Note

Again, as a theme this year, I was drawn in by the album cover of this album from Gerald Clayton and immediately, on listening, I was met with a feeling that this album would find its way into my end of year list. It’s got variety first and foremost, which always seems to help elevate an album for me and this is in part down to the two vocal tracks, sung by MARO and also, tracks with sax from Charles Lloyd. I’ve been a fan of jazz from a young age and there are many albums from the jazz greats. For me, this record will sit right up there, among the best of them – quite a statement, but it really is that good. Fittingly, it’s out on legendary jazz label Blue Note.


Misha Panfilov
2 Headed Deer

I discovered the Misha Panfilov Sound Combo a couple of years back and loved his Days As Echoes album. I was intrigued by this new one on 2 Headed Deer and it didn’t disappoint. Instantly I ordered the vinyl – this one’s a jazzy number with percussive rhythms, brass, piano, organ, synth and mellotron. It has a retro feel to it, with what is presumed to be tape effects, not to mention some field recordings along the way to give some further texture.


Malcolm Parson
Letters From Home

I check out a lot of Moderna releases, with their output always being of a high quality. The label offers modern classical music and I’ve often discovered new artists in their catalog. One such is Malcolm Parson, whose short album ‘Letters From Home’ came out in April this year. Piano and strings take center stage, in these nostalgic and melancholy arrangements. There is no clear concept to it, but with the old family photo and through a bit of reading, it’s apparent that Malcolm was looking to reconnect with his childhood in making this record.


Andrew Wasylyk
Hearing The Water Before Seeing The Falls
Clay Pipe

“In 2020 I loved Andrew Wasylyk’s ‘Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation’ and have followed his work ever since. I was excited to see him dropping singles for his new album and instantly ordered the vinyl direct from Clay Pipe, as soon as it came out. It was only released in late November, so I’ve had very little time to listen to it – particularly the vinyl version. But by the time the record arrived, I’d already streamed the album over and over again several times, making my mind up that this one’s to be placed pretty high in my end of year list. Lots of deeply nostalgic, retro-infused instrumentals here – highly recommended.


Melchior Sultana
Self Reflections

This year I went mad again for House music, reigniting my dormant blog Wallofhouse, scouring the scene and making mixes and playlists. As the winter drew near, I soon began neglecting the blog again, focusing again on Ambient music. But throughout the year, whenever there is work to be done around the house, I’ll reach for – house. What I tend to find is that quality, conceptually-leaning albums in the house scene are lacking. So when a record like this one by Melchior Sultana arrives, lavishly packaged in a beautiful gatefold vinyl sleeve, I tend to get pretty excited. Due to vinyl pressing delays, I waited months for this to arrive but it was worth it. Lovely Deep House music here.


William Basinski & Janek Schaefer
…On Reflection
Temporary Residence

Ambient legend William Basinski’s releases always tend to get gobbled up by fans and pretty much everything he does is a must have. I’ve always enjoyed the work of another legend, Janek Schaefer too and to see that these two collaborated in an album raised the intrigue. Sleepy piano loops play through over these reflective movements, full of field recordings and everyday happenstance. You guessed it – sounds amazing on vinyl too!


As The Night Comes Softly Down
Polar Seas

I was fortunate this year to call Brad Deschamps’ Polar Seas label a home this year, for my deeply personal collaborative album with Guy Gelem. When I got my copies, Brad had included a copy of the other release which came out at the same time – a record by Landtitles. I don’t own a CD player in the house, so this kind gift hung around unplayed in the office for a while – until one day I took it into my car, and it’s not left the player since. Pretty much everywhere I drove, this was my soundtrack – a beautiful collection of warm, electro-acoustic pieces, with light and slightly glitchy electronics.


Julia Gjertsen

Here’s another fine example of Moderna quality, with ‘Formations’ by Julia Gjertsen coming out at the beginning of this year. Gjertsen is a pianist and composer, based in Oslo, Norway and this record is full to the brim of high fidelity modern classical orchestration, with piano and strings combining into a beautiful Ambient-leaning soundtrack. The record is a little light on a concept, at least based on what’s available to read on the Moderna release page. But the album name, artwork, track titles and compositions themselves do a good job of pulling you into an immersive world.


Erland Cooper
Music For Growing Flowers
Mercury KX

I was getting regular notifications of new singles from Erland Cooper throughout the year, which culminated in this album, Music For Growing Flowers. This record compiles the tracks which soundtrack the Superbloom installation, in the moats of the Tower of London – where wild flowers were planted for a dramatic, and picturesque view, to celebrate the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The quality of the music, the concept and as a tribute to the Queen, made this into a much-cherished album in my collection. Not to mention the packet of accompanying seeds which I had to buy, so that this story can live on in the garden at my new home.


Sweatson Klank
Friends Of Friends

Through my relentless search for various styles of music, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Sweatson Klank’s stuff over the last couple of years. Typically his work tends to end up on my soul, jazz, funk, deep house or chill playlists and the odd DJ mix. But in this album, not only was I surprised to see a chicken on the front cover, I was surprised at how ‘ambient’ this one is, with exotic far-flung sounds serving as a travelogue from the artist, presented in a series of deep, droning moods. Unfortunately, this is one of the few albums from this year which I’ve been unable to hunt down on vinyl. Hopefully I can track down a copy sometime.


Flore Laurentienne
Volume II
Rvng Int’l

Sneaking into the list is this one by Flore Laurentienne, which came out in November on Rvng Int’l. Flore Laurentienne is a project helmed by Canadian composer Mathieu David Gagnon and this second volume follows the critically acclaimed first, which was released in 2019. I’m new to both, and the album artwork and white vinyl alone was enough to get pretty excited about. The retro approach to production, combining orchestral strings and synth textures cemented my need to own this one on vinyl and I’ve been enjoying this one on heavy rotation.


Missing Islands

Another late, last minute entry to this list is from Snowdrops, with their album ‘Missing Islands’ having only just dropped in November. It is a luxurious arrangement of modern compositions, combining the talents of Christine Ott with Mathieu Gabry. After hearing the singles prior to release, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this album and currently, have had to settle for a digital version for the time being after being unsure of which address I’ll be at. But I’ll be sure to put the order in soon, as this is a must have for the collection.


Andrew Tasselmyer

“I’ve followed Andrew Tasselmyer’s music, ever since I discovered his work as Gray Acres, in which he records alongside his brother, in an album released here on Whitelabrecs a few years back. I also keep a close eye on the always-high-quality output on Laaps Recordings. Limits is a beautifully minimal album, both in artwork and sound, with the snowy cover matching well with the scratchy, blurred edges of ambient drones.”


Favourite Records of 2021

Our label owner Harry Towell has finalised his top 20 list of favourite albums of 2021, complete with a mix. See below a few words from Harry on his year in music, followed by the top 20, each with a link, a brief commentary and artwork. You can check out the mix Harry created by clicking the picture above, which counts down with a track from each of his favourite albums. Alternatively, there’s a player below and you can click play whilst you read on…

“2021 has been a year of forging onwards, back ‘to normal’ after the pandemic, returns to work, business as usual etc. However, it doesn’t feel completely the same, with climate change, destruction, scandal, social and political unrest all around us and the constant shadow of a pandemic that’s still very much here to stay. That’s before we even talk about Brexit, in particular the challenges it has brought to running the label. All that sounds pretty negative, but the year for me has been positive on so many fronts and all the while, the year has been soundtracked by some fantastic music the whole year through.

I think this year, I may well have explored more music than ever before, with a mixture of homeworking, commuting and leisure-time listening which covered a wide range of genres. I focused on a few scenes in particular; in the summer I went mad on Deep House music again, as I launched my Wallofhouse blog. Then I’ve been fascinated by Modern Classical music and the volume of sheer quality that is emerging from this scene. And Ambient, drone, electro acoustic styles, being the focus of Whitelabrecs, also dominated my listening.

This year my wife and I welcomed our second daughter Emily, into the family and so we’ve turned the music studio into a little bedroom for her. My physical music collection is in storage for now and so my listening has been much more digital than ever before. I know there’s a lack of a fair deal for musicians with Spotify in particular, but it has enabled me to cast the net much wider as I search for albums to indulge in. I still can’t help but feel that ‘liking’ an album on Spotify so I can scroll through some menus and stream it again on demand, is more than a little soul-less. But for the time being, it has suited our circumstances and I have committed to buying physical versions of the music I feel will stay with me forever. I.e, albums that make my best of list!

Onto my best of lists, and Bandcamp followers or my Spheruleus Mixcloud followers will have seen my historic best-of list mix shows being uploaded. This summer I added an iPod playlist of all the mixes I’ve made each year and I was bowled over by the nostalgia each one brought to me. Listening to the music literally transported me back in time, so I decided to get them all uploaded to Mixcloud, add them to a playlist and I’ll maintain this going forward. As of today, we have 12 years of listening to tons of records, whittling them down to a list, and recording a show to listen back to.

Below is my final list then – my favourite 20 albums of the year each with a few thoughts and a link where you can find out more about an album for yourself. Then there’s mix show featuring a track from each album, which I’ve made as a countdown with the help of my wife Beth who recorded the numbers a few years back. The cover artwork this year was taken on our holiday in Tenby, Wales, our first as a family of four.  We love Tenby, a family-favourite holiday destination and it was particularly beautiful on the morning I took the photo. I woke up to the sound of the sea, which was less than 100 meters away from our apartment. I looked out of the window and saw the sun rising impressively over the sea and had to take a walk along the promenade to take photos. Of course, with the sepia polaroid effect I’ve added, you can’t see the sun…


Towards the second half of a year it’s not unusual for me to put out a social media message, asking people to recommend albums for me to check out, as I begin to refine my end of year list. I did so this year and Brian from Stationary Travels recommended Miscellany, by Origamibiro. I’m familiar with the artist’s work from several years ago and within very little time, this moved its way to the very top of my list. And stayed there. It’s experimental, playful, good fun and full of ideas, moments of satisfying calm, moments of decaying, clanking rhythms.


Eydís Evensen
XXIM Records

Over the last ten years, there’s been a real wealth of quality modern classical music and talented composers are springing up each year. Some countries have a knack for producing a greater percentage of these and Iceland is at the top of the list. The latest name to appear is Eydís Evensen and it’s been on heavy rotation this year, and a record that I can easily listen through from start to finish. The thing I’m finding with modern classical these days, is that there’s so much of it, that the works managing to really stand out need that added magic. Bylur is one such example; there are rich strings against which the piano is more sparse, and then more piano-led pieces. Overall, the mood really is magical and this is at its peak in the vocal track ‘Midnight Moon’.


Sebastian Plano
Save Me Not
Mercury KX

Argentinian cellist Sebastian Plano is an artist I’ve been following since enjoying his album Impetus as well as his collaboration with Ben Lukas Boysen, both of which I own on vinyl. I jumped on this record as soon as I became aware that it was out and it’s right up there with the best, this year. I can’t really call it between the top three of this chart, and this could/should be higher given that it soundtracked some dramatic walks along the high promenade of the Tenby cost, as I walked to fetch breakfast on our holiday in September. Plano may be a cellist, but I have always seen him as an all-round composer; this one’s beautiful, rich, melancholy and imaginative.

Limitation Music

In the warm summer of 2020 I made a dub techno mix and discovered how beautiful this genre of music sounded in the sun. This year I set up a blog called Wallofhouse and spent a few months scouring for House music in all its guises. Yet my best (very loosely linked) ‘House’ discovery of the year is this dub techno/ambient record by Addex. ‘Eko’ is a spacious hour and a half of blissed-out, poolside chill and I found myself reaching for this record over and over this summer. The album also sounds great when the sun is well and truly down, late at night, with its minimal techno micro beats and lush, infinitely cascading pads.


Mikael Lind

In 2019 i became aware of Mikael Lind’s work through his album for Archives and I’ve since been lucky to welcome him to Whitelabrecs with his album Give Shape To Space, followed by an EP with S.hel. His album this year for Dronarivm hasn’t left my car CD player and the packaging from this top label makes Geographies an all round spectacle I’m only to glad to appreciate time and time again, on my long commutes.


Andrew Tuttle and Padang Food Tigers
A Cassowary Apart
Bedroom Suck

I’ve followed Padang Food Tigers for many years now, since their EP ‘Born Music’ on Under The Spire. I am less familiar of Andrew Tuttle’s work, although I was aware of him as an artist – I’d just not explored his work before now. In this record, Padang Food Tigers’ signature folk sound combines into beautifully warm electro-acoustic drones; a record that I’ve had towards the top of my list all year.


Gaspar Claus

A record I returned to throughout autumn this year is Parisian cellist Gaspar Claus’ debut album Tancade. When you think of grand, stirring modern classical music, you think of the cello. Its deep, rich texture and bass tones are so satisfying and powerful. But it can also sound excellent when the limits of conventional playing are stretched. Here, Claus uses bowed strings alongside plucked and rhythmic patterns and I’m led to believe the entire compositions are made purely from the cello. This is quite incredible given the detail and fully orchestrated pieces of music on offer.


Fabiano do Nascimento

LA based Brazilian Fabiano do Nascimento was a discovery I made last year and his last album Preludio made my chart, after sound-tracking walks in a sunny pandemic-stricken UK. I was eager to check out his new album ‘Ykytu’ and this one is somehow even better than last year.


Valgeir Sigurðsson
Bedroom Community

I’ve been following Valgeir Sigurðsson’s music and Bedroom Community label for many years now and was excited to learn of his film score release KVIKA, used in the film MALÁ RÍŠA which features various musicians including violinist Daniel Pioro. The album’s title is the Icelandic word for magma, which is fitting given the eruption at Fagradalsfjall which began in March, when this record was released. This record is sprawling with a wealth of orchestral timbres, through the multiple musicians that performed in the score but there are also plenty of electronics and effects that underly the mix, which help make this a fascinating listen all the way through its 21 tracks.


The Lifted Index

Seil Records have been storming it this year and I could have had a few inclusions from their catalog this year, that didn’t quite make the list in the end, notably albums by Jogging House and Thme. But the stand-out for me and my favourite electronic ambient album is Sanctuary by The Lifted Index. I’ve been working with artist Tom Tebby this year and he recommend I check out The Lifted Index, and this one really stood out. There’s no clear concept, it’s just seriously good ambient/post rock, created with synths, guitars and pedals.


The Wind
Deutsche Grammophon

“I’ve enjoyed Balmorhea’s work for many years and ‘The Wind’ was eagerly anticipated, and did not disappoint. Contemporary classical music befitting of Deutsche Grammophon but some folk moments and guest musicians, including Clarice Jensen, give this record a variation that makes it easy for me to enjoy in one sitting. The artwork is minimal, classic and striking and a loose theme around the natural world provides food for thought as you listen.


Olivia Belli
Sol Novo

The high bar that is classical music is something I’ve already touched on and this is another example, of yet another talented composer, Mantova, Italy’s Olivia Belli. She says that dawn is her favourite time to compose and intended for this album ‘Sol Novo’ meaning new sun, to be filled with light. A further example of an artist inspired by the world around them and the result, is some exquisite modern classical music, centered around the piano, joined with gently stirring strings.


Schreel Van De Velde

There were some excellent guitar-driven records this year, that nodded back to post-rock from the early to mid 2000s in particular. I discovered this one by Schreel Van De Velde in the summer and whilst in reminded me of Tape with its use of guitar instrumentals, it has a sound of its own. Schreel Van De Velde is a Belgian duo combining the surnames of Lucas Schreel, who creates the melody in this project and Casper Van De Velde, who provides percussion.


Andrew Heath
New Eden
Disco Gecko

I’ve been in touch with Andrew now for over a year, working with him for his release for Whitelabrecs, a collaboration with Anne Chris Bakker as well as having him help with our label’s design work. We have more planned from Andrew in 2022 but also this year, he had been sending me his other releases. All are unmistakably excellent but New Eden stands out as the big one for me. I’ve listened to this over and over towards the end of 2021, a truly complete listen, urging the listener to search for a purer, more natural world; a better place. It works well as a sleep album but also, there is so much detail in the drones, electric piano and superb field recordings, that you can turn this up to a reasonable volume and allow your ears to explore.


Teis Ortved
Parks At Night

Last year I listened to a lot of Jazz music and this year, less so. I think it may be due to listening to Jazz FM less and also, I didn’t go out searching for as much in the genre. However, I did stumble across this debut album by 17 year old Danish musician and composer, Teis Ortved. He comes from a musical family so you can expect a degree of competency in his approach to his first album. But listening to this album, I have been repeatedly bowled over at the talent oozing from the production of every beat, every synth and every sound. It’s such an accomplished first step into releasing an album that I’m excited to track Teis’ future career.


Philip G Anderson
Self Released

I have been following American composer Philip G Anderson’s career for a couple of years now and instantly jumped on his self-released album Figment, when it came out in June. His album ‘Wilderness’ was a firm favourite Modern Classical discovery last year and I’m sure it would have made my 2019 chart had I discovered it at the time. Figment does not have a clearly stated concept other than a single line talking about it being a personal reflection of struggle, growth and evolution. The album artwork shows the composer casting a downward glance, but these grand, technically brilliant, sonically fascinating compositions show that any struggle is paying off, if it relates to his musical career. His work is exceptional and I’m sure he’ll go far.


Seaworthy and Matt Rösner

“Many years back during my early ‘ambient years’, when I’d first got into 12k, Seaworthy was one artist in particular that really got into a more acoustic version of ambient music. 1897 was out of this world for me back then and shortly after, Cameron Webb did a collab with Matt Rösner called ‘Two Lakes’, another exceptional piece of music on 12k. Several years on, the duo made a follow-up which I instantly took to exploring. Exotic field recordings, plaintive guitar and acoustic drones make for a truly compelling listen. And as always, beautiful artwork too from 12k.”


Oliver Patrice Weder
The Pool Project
SA Recordings

I’m a follower of Spitfire Audio, a quality company offering sample libraries for musicians and composers. I watch a lot of their videos and one of the video presenters is Oliver Patrice Weder, who unveiled the immersive Pool Project, in which an album was recorded inside an indoor swimming pool, at a beautiful location. Guests were involved in the process and Weder pulled everything together into this fantastic ambient/cinematic album, full of warmth and an airiness. Not to mention an accompanying and affordable sample pack available through Spitfire.


Miguel Angel Tolosa
Nostalgia (Circa 1987)

Another discovery on the advice of a friend; James Armstrong dropped me a note to let me know I might want to check out this record. He knows I’m a fan of vinyl-crackle and ‘vintaged’ sound aesthetics and he was right on the money. I’ve had these snoozy, antiquated piano and orchestral loops on a lot this year – an exquisite record on Richard Chartier’s LINE imprint.


Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)
Rhythm Section

“I went mad on House music again this year after setting up a new blog, Wallofhouse. Posts have been sparse in the last 6 months but during the summer, I was scouring new releases daily. What I’ve found over the years is that in the House music genre, albums are often geared towards retrospectives, or a collection of dancefloor tracks. The best albums contain a concept and here with this one by Prequel, it joins an impressive Rhythm Section catalog and already stands out. It’s a record I can listen to from start to finish; lots of deep loops, dusty samples and percussive breaks.”


Whitelabrecs Best of 2020 List

It’s been a strange old year, as pretty much anyone reflecting on 2020 is likely to conclude. I’ll see if I can write this without mentioning Covid-19. Failed already.

As many of our followers will know, our schedule of physical releases hit an unplanned break in April, due to the closure of our local post office. We also felt that even if it were to be open, it wouldn’t be right to stand in a queue of people to ship packages a few times a week. So we decided to stop all of our plans completely. Before long, we launched into another project: Home Diaries. 30 albums from 30 artists later, we were into the warmth of July and were delighted to release our CDs again! We summarised Whitelabrecs related things in our last post, so I think the Whitelabrecs story ends here for now as far as this post is concerned.

Aside from a seriously busy year of running Whitelabrecs and even making some of my own music, I also feel that in 2020 I was able to listen to more music than I ever manage in an average year. I’ve been working from home as well as having time away from work altogether, which resulted in lots of DIY. Any household chore or job for me will always involve music. The washing needs to go on the line – it takes 5 minutes – that’s a track that can be played. Glossing every radiator in the house for example, gives time to take in a few albums! The shortlist really swelled this year and as always, my list is not about the best executed record or the perfect sound. It’s about the feeling it created for me, and how well I connected with it. I want to listen back to the records in this list in a decade or so and be taken back to this year, as strange as it was.

I stopped writing on the Irregular Crates blog a while back and this is where I’d normally announce a ‘best of’ list. But we set up Wallofambient this year alongside some other ambient labels and it’s been a bit of a consideration on whether I would post my list there. As I finalised it though, I realised several albums I’ve chosen are not ambient… so I didn’t want to annoy the ambient purists too much.

So I’ve decided to share it on the Whitelabrecs page this year and I’m sure there will be a few Ambient purists that are disappointed in my selections! Hopefully you’ll find some gems here though still. I’ve made no secret of my wide open taste in music, probably influenced by my microscopically successful DJ career, which I still look back on nostalgically. This influences my curation of Whitelabrecs and the sound we put out. Sure, the label sound is ambient overall, but you’ll see that generally I favour a melodic, melancholic or textured sound. I’m sure this is linked to a taste that dabbles in Dub Techno, Drone, Jazz, Liquid Funk, African Music, Chillhop, Deep House, Modern Classical, Funk, Folk, Field Recordings, Bossa Nova and many other styles.

So if you click the big yellow image of Port Isaac in Cornwall (from our holiday in September), you’ll be able to listen to a mix which is a countdown show of a track from each album in my top 25. My wife Beth has kindly leant her voice to provide the countdown and I added some delay and reverb effects just for fun. Below you can see a gallery of the cover art for the list of 25, as well as my thoughts on each album:

Sleep On The Wing

At the top of my list ever since the night I noticed this new Bibio record emerged on Warp. Definitely the soundtrack to late summer for me, and I played it in the car on our family holiday to Cornwall a lot this year. So this will be a very nostalgic record for me in years to come. The use of instrument, particularly strings is a perfect blend and it’s one of those albums you can easily listen through in full. It retains your interest too with its variety of moods.


Melody Gardot
Sunset In The Blue

I was sat listening to jazz fm in the car when an advert for Melody Gardot’s album came on. It was starting to get pretty wintry and thoughts turned to Christmas – the lush string arrangements in the snippet of audio I heard urged me to listen to the album on Spotify. I literally listened to the album over and over that whole weekend; I decided I couldn’t live without the double LP too. This isn’t necessarily my usual taste as it’s singer-songwriter stuff. But it really is just so so good all the way through. The Philharmonic orchestra certainly help, as the whole arrangement in every single track is perfect. Nearly my album of the year, this…


Offthesky & The Humble Bee
We Were The Hum Of Dreams

This record for me was the clear winner for 2020 right up until I discovered the top two in my list. It came out at around the time the lockdown kicked in here in the UK. I was doing lots of DIY jobs around the house and the expert sound design from these two masters was just the perfect tonic to long, slightly strange days stuck indoors. There’s so much detail to get lost in, yet it still sits in the ambient genre which allows you to drift as you listen.”


If I Am Only My Thoughts
Last Gang

Out in January, this one escaped me to the point when the vinyl versions had long since gone. This is a small band creating hushed ‘indie’ music, dare I say. The tones of the guitar, keys and vocals are warm and enveloping. Every single track in the album is excellent and again, the sign of a top album is one you can listen to in one sitting, without feeling the need to hit ‘skip’.


Continuous Portrait
Temporary Residence

This album was always set to be good with the combination of talented artists Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting however, as this set of fun folk ambient tracks are full of twists and turns. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and some of the samples or recordings will make you smile, whereas there are also plenty of moments that are truly beautiful.


Mute Forest
Lost Tribe Sound

It was another solid year for Lost Tribe Sound with another excellent series of releases. My favourite was Mute Forest’s Riderstorm, a blend of soft rock, folk, Americana and the lightest touches of electronica. Some of the pieces are instrumental whereas others make use of Kael Smith’s song-writing and vocals. There is a generous palette of instruments used throughout but a sparse, intimate feel to it too.


Mathieu Karsenti

Over the years, Modern Classical ambient music has featured heavily in my favourite records of the year. Generally, I’ve relied on household names such as Arnalds, Frahm or Jóhannsson but this year, I discovered Bygones by Mathieu Karsenti as my favourite classically influenced record. The strings and arrangement of the instrument tones are as rich and lavish as you’d find in music by these household names and that’s likely due to the fact that Karsenti is a film score composer. Only gripe is that this one’s digital only… would love to own it on vinyl!


Matthew Halsall
Salute To The Sun

I’ve been following the work of trumpeter, jazz artist and Gondwana label owner Matthew Halsall since his album Colour Yes and pretty much own all of his albums. There’s a rich and vibrant feel to all of his work but this latest album, ‘Salute To The Sun’ there’s a slightly more exotic, ‘world’ feel to it in places with more than a nod to Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. I’ve listened to this a lot since the beautifully designed CD arrived and wonder whether this might be higher up the list if I’d have been listening back in the summer.


Less Bells
Mourning Jewelry

Kranky have a knack for releasing some real acoustic ambient classics and some of the finest albums blending acoustic instruments into melancholy drones. Stars of the Lid are the obvious stand out. This one by Less Bells was subject to a lengthy pre-order with a sample track available to whet my appetite. I knew this would be right up there from that very first listen and this one’s been a regular in my playlist this year. It has everything – variety, strings, texture, tasteful choral vocals, echoes of other stringed instruments and swells of cathedral drone.


Roméo Poirier
Hotel Nota

There was a repress this year of Romeo Poirier’s excellent Plage Arriere but before this, the jazz flecked electronic sound art of Hotel Nota really impressed. An inevitable comparison to Jan Jelinek or Jon Hassell can be drawn but you’ll get past that to enjoy Poirier’s approach to composition and enjoy the enveloping detail of these works. I own it on vinyl and that really adds an extra layer of dust that gives another dimension.


Alabaster DePlume
To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1
International Anthem

“I listened to a fair bit of jazz this summer, particularly the more experimental or hushed works or slower, spiritual jazz. Discovering this album by Alabaster DePlume was quite something and from the opening moments of Visit Croatia, these restful woodwind, strings and guitar compositions were a welcome sonic backdrop for warm summer days indoors.


Banoffee Pies

I’ve followed the work of Tom Ellis for years, since my DJing days. He originally produced a deep, minimal micro House style and it was interesting to see him branch into a live approach, focusing on jazz and soul. This year I’ve spent a lot of time listening (and mixing) house music and it’s disappointing to me that I don’t represent this in my end of year list. However, this record bridged my attempts to make DJ mixes again with my taste for jazz music too. It starts with a beautifully deep sax and Rhodes reprise and there are some slow, leisurely House jams intersecting this beautifully deep record.


Tomotsugu Nakamura

Laaps has quickly established itself as one of the finest ‘ambient’ labels around, following on from the success of the Eilean imprint. This one from Japanese artist Tomotsugu Nakamura has been in my car CD player for most of the year and has been a calming ‘return to the office’ record, sounding particularly nice in the sun. Acoustic sound sources, reversed notes and clicks and cuts nod nostalgically back to the mid-2000s.


Okkyung Lee
Shelter Press

This record by Okkyung Lee has caused quite a stir this year and I’ve seen plenty of positive reviews and comments in the press. Lee is a South Korean cellist and her album goes far beyond the cello, as piano, low slung bass and harp amongst other creaks and clangs which makes for a playful but at times, spooky record.



Dronarivm is a label that you tend to expect to provide high quality year-end list esque material every year. In 2020, pick of the bunch for me is this beautiful ambient album by Sinerider, a range of woozy, hazy sun-speckled guitar drones. Some of the tracks are blurry, some are more open loops but this for me has to be one of the finest ambient-leaning albums of the year, something you can easily sink into at any time, and drift away.


Gastón Arévalo
A Strangely Isolated Place

When I first discovered ambient music, through netlabels, I also fell across the work of Gaston Arevalo whose sound was often a mixture of field recordings and experimental, electronica influenced ambient. I must admin, I have not followed his discography for a good number of years but this mammoth collection of deep listening-drones on A Strangely Isolated Space was a big hit for me this year, particularly late at night. At an hour long, it needs plenty of time to give it your attention and is best enjoyed as a whole.


Morimoto Naoki
Dusk To Dawn
Lontano Series

“Lontano Series have emerged as a strong label in the ambient scene and this album by Morimoto Naoki is really quite something. It’s a collection of static-riddled electro-acoustic moods, full of warmth and light melancholy. It’s difficult not to think of the 12k label when listening to this and for me, it’s easily one of the finest ambient records of the year.”


Andrew Wasylyk
Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation
Athens Of The North



Mell-ø + Ambulo
Afloat Again

I’ve been a fan of chillhop for a few years now and several of these short, chilled instrumental hip-hop eps and mini albums are in my headphones over the course of any given year. I was really impressed with this one by Mell-ø & Ambulo, with beautiful licks of smooth guitar taking centre stage.


Libations & Movement
Dance Regular

“I discovered this one early this year and it sort of started my interest in beat driven music as I looked for some styles to help keep a level of positivity throughout the pandemic and its lockdowns. This one’s billed as an EP but the length is more like an album. The tracks use a street-wise London approach in the beats and vocals, but there’s a nu-jazz, broken beat and house influence running through too with some really clever production. There’s even a short ambient piece in amongst these tracks!”


Session Victim
Night Time Stories

I’ve got all of the Session Victim albums and have long since been a fan but Needledrop is easily a favourite, and an early contender for album of the year. This artist is often filed under house but in this record, there’s a beautifully adept ability to create downtempo, soulful tracks too. Waller and Pierce for me is the stand-out track with smooth and deep soulful vocals.


Misha Panfilov Sound Combo
Days As Echoes
Funk Night Records



Leon Revol
Enter A Zircon

I’ve been enjoying Ryan Bissett’s work as Halftribe for quite some time now and a jaw dropping moment occurred not long after I hit play on ‘Backwater Revisited’ from the trusty Dronarivm label. The record features synth and electro acoustic tones, drenched in reverb and a tasteful hint of chorus. Plenty of crackle and space between the lines to allow for a glistening, wintry backdrop. The artwork features an adaptation of open source imagery by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis from back in 1908 and this rustic, vintage cover fits in perfectly with the blanket-like folds of Ambience Ryan created here.


Fabiano do Nascimento

“I’ve always been into bossa and Latin music since my late teens, so occasionally I’ll discover something within these categories that I end up playing a lot, particularly in the summer. This one by guitarist Fabiano do Nascimento got some serious hammer and I found I played it a lot at around breakfast time. It’s got great variety and depth and has been pretty uplifting for a heavy old year.”


Domenique Dumont
People On Sunday
The Leaf Label

“It happens every year; I finish agonising over my end of year list after months of shuffling my ‘chart’, casting an eye over everything I left out… then I happen to discover something wonderful in December. I’d already made my end of year mix and just had to swap in this album by Latvian artist Domenique Dumont, which had been on repeat all day. There’s a child like sense of wonder about all of these playful synth melodies and rhythms that I just can’t escape. I’ll state the obvious: a few more weeks of owning this, how high up this list might it have been?”


Favourite Records of 2019

Our label owner Harry Towell has put together a post for the Irregular Crates blog of his favourite albums of the year, complete with a mix. Read below for Harry’s summary of the year followed by the top 20, with links and a brief commentary for each record. Click the image above to listen to the mix Harry has created, which counts down with a track from each of his favourite albums. Alternatively, there’s a player below and you can click play whilst you read…

“2019 has been very much the year of Ambient and Modern Classical for me in terms of my listening habits. I didn’t have as much time to devote to scouring weird and wonderful music across all genres as I usually do and tended to stick to ‘my scene’. I’ve been very busy running Whitelabrecs and so much of my spare time from work and family life has been set aside for working on the 18 album releases we managed this year and I tended to listen to upcoming label releases over and over as I prepared to release them. So my year has very much been soundtracked by my own label but I can hardly announce a best of list of work I’ve been directly involved with!

That’s not to say however, that I didn’t discover some truly breathtaking works from other labels and artists that I admire. I was sent quite a lot of the albums I have charted for a potential review on Irregular Crates and I regret not having the time to put pen to paper and support these albums. I always knew that whatever time constraints I was under, I wanted to give something back and keep these end of lists going, as a recommendation to others to hopefully introduce some wonderful music. I’ve always done it expressly to support labels and artists at the end of the year and I know how special it makes an artist feel, when a music-loving person enjoys their work enough to listen over and over again to the point of labelling it their favourite.

It’s now been 10 years since I got into the modern ambient/home listening scene and throughout the years on my old Audio Gourmet blog and Irregular Crates, I’ve done a ‘Best of’ list every time. After I wrote this article and before I made this year’s mix, I decided to glance back at these lists and skim through some mixes… The nostalgia it brought me is indescribable to the point where I realised that as well as giving something back to music by sharing my thoughts with friends and potential listeners, I am also documenting my life in music. The thought struck me to create a best of decade post or mix, but then I wondered if that might just be too big a task! Perhaps I’ll write a post and link to each of the charts and mixes, where applicable sometime before the year’s out?

Aside from my work on the label and my own production work, I’ve of course got a daughter who is almost 15 months old but also, I started a new job recently and gave up my other two. This has given a work/life balance that I can scarcely remember ever having and it’s given more time and space for music, where I’m now feeling less pressed for time. My work is an hour long commute each way, so five days a week, two hours a day I have a chance to listen to music and I’ve found that Spotify has become a more common platform for me since and I’ve created a few playlists across various genres which I’ve been adding to. I like many musicians never planned to use the service but it struck me that I actually own nearly all of what I listen to physically or at the very least as an mp3. The way I see it, there is actually a place for streaming as a tool of convenience when on the move and it gives artists and labels a chance to effectively keep on earning for every play even after a listener has purchased something. I know not everyone listens in this way, but it’s certainly the case for me. I did a survey of Ambient music listeners earlier this year and now have over 1000 people fill it in, so I look forward to sharing the results early next year!

This year I’ve followed a very similar format to last year’s post – my top 20 albums of the year are listed below along with a few words and the relevant links to check the album out for yourself. Then there”s a one and a half hour mix show too in which I’ve used some countdown vox pops that my wife Beth recorded for me a few years back. The cover artwork this year was taken on our first family holiday in Tenby, Wales as we looked out to St. Catherine’s Island one chilly September evening with the moon sat in the distance just above the sea. The holiday also formed a relaxing bridge between two jobs as I left my previous role of five years for pastures new. A wonderful week of reflection, looking forward to the future and making family memories.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen
The Undivided Five
Ninja Tunes

This album took me by surprise a little, not that it emerged suddenly as I’d been following the social media developments of the production for this record. But instead, it was the label which surprised me – it’s fascinating to see how Ninja Tunes has evolved; a label I’d explored in my teens for Trip Hop music is still around and still relevant, now working with powerhouses of Modern Classical music. It received considerable hype and I have to say deservedly so. I’ve known people who tend to swerve hyped records doubt it…and then listen and immediately get drawn in. It’s interesting for the Spotify or digital age, who build playlists – tell me how you can listen to a single track on this album? For me, it plays as a whole unit and I’ve simply not been able to put it down once a few notes from ‘Our Lord Debussy’ start. It commands a full listen, to be heard in all its glory. I loved O’Halloran and Wiltzie’s debut but this is their masterpiece and something that’s up there with some of the best music I’ve ever heard.


M. Grig
Mount Carmel

I’ve been in touch with Mike (M. Grig) for a while after he’d contributed a track to the sleeplaboratory1.0 compilation on my label, Whitelabrecs. He announced that he’d be releasing an album with 12k, one of my favourite labels. I was so excited to hear it and when the album came out in May, it truly set me up for the summer. The warm guitars shine in the sun on an album steeped in nostalgia. The liner notes on the release page give further insight into the childhood memories which are woven into this beautiful record which is rounded off perfectly with the evocative painted cover art.


Mikael Lind

Archives, as they do so regularly, were responsible this year for introducing me to another artist. This time, enter Mikael Lind, whose album is set to a backdrop of the deepest, darkest forest. The artwork grabbed me first and I ordered the CD which has become the most played album in my car this year. There isn’t much written in regards to a concept but the artwork and sound are striking enough for this to still feel complete. Different pianos are played, with careful detail and minutiae embedded into the composition. Every track is a winner but Ideas Fade Away blows my mind.


Hoshiko Yamane and Mikael Lind
Spaces In Between
Time Released Sound

This one’s only recently dropped so I’ve not had long to listen to it. But then, I didn’t need long. It’s not difficult to be bowled over by an album when it’s of this quality. This album navigates the distance between Berlin and Reykjavik, the places in which these two respective artists live. Yamane was a violinist as part of Tangerine Dream and Mikael Lind has been forging his career as a modern composer to great effect. This record is utterly incredible and I wonder whether with a bit of time and space, it might have given A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s record a run for its money in first place….


Penguin Cafe
Handfuls of Night
Erased Tapes

Quality output on Erased Tapes is expected and there was no disappointment in their release of the Penguin Cafe’s ‘Handfuls of Night’. It’s a record in which Arthur Jeffes attempted translate his experiences travelling to Antarctica, a land which of course is inhabited by the penguin, and not much else! The album uses modern classical composition inclusive of piano, viola, double bass, violin, cello and percussion to name but a few ingredients, to tell the story of endless space. There is not just the vast open white blank canvas that one might imagine, cold and stark nothingness. Instead, this record is brimming with life and wonderment somehow and, it sounds particularly magnificent on vinyl, through a decent sound system and a bit of volume!


The Humble Bee and Offthesky
All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains

How do two such revered artists from the same scene combine? Craig Tattersall’s defined a generation through his work as The Boats, his label Moteer and of course, The Humble Bee whilst Jason Corder has been refining his work as Offthesky for the same duration. In a word, the combination blends together effortlessly. Whether that was the case in the studio/in production we may never know but this album is a work of art in every sense of the word. You’re left with half a photograph, evocative track titles and a careful unfurling of fuzzy, warm ambience and electro acoustics. Not to mention, a truly special physical edition by the fine art label IIKKI.


Justin Wright
Music For Staying Warm
First Terrace

This record was clearly instantly impressive but I found it move further and further up my ‘chart’ as the year went on. I wonder if it could be the weather? We’ve had quite a bit of wind and rain here in the UK so the title of this one helps it feel like a comfort blanket. Justin Wright has composed a suite of modern classical music, with cello at the centre of the production given that this is his chosen instrument. It is not deep, dark cello – rather, it is warm and uplifting in a strange, melancholy way.


Vieo Abiungo
The Dregs
Lost Tribe Sound

William Ryan Fritch has very much become the signature artist for Lost Tribe Sound but his other moniker Vieo Abiungo deserves every attention too. This year LTS put out an album with a title which doesn’t exactly have positive connotations. However, this record is everything but – there’s far too much detail and careful attention paid to the production of this percussion and instrument laden album. Across 14 short tracks, Fritch builds an exotic tale of a far away land, perhaps one that doesn’t even exist. It will literally suck you in with tribal tunes and its subtle moments of suspense. I’ve had this one playing in my headphones everywhere from the car to the supermarket. A must listen.



With Eilean Recs set to bow out this year, it was exciting to see what records they’d put out to conclude this wonderful series. I was delighted to see the return of Offthesky! Anyone who has read pretty much any of my end of year lists, will have seen this artist’s name crop up time and time again. Indeed, Jason Corder’s work is something I’ve tracked ever since I got into the Ambient side of my musical taste a decade ago. This one’s a beautiful electro-acoustic album, which leans more on the Ambient side, also featuring guest vocals, viola, violin, cello, oboe and sax. Corder manages to concoct this into a liquid mix which flows effortlessly.


Marsh Drones
Lost Tribe Sound

Lost Tribe Sound have had a phenomenal year and an artist they provided two superb vinyl editions for was Danish duo Skyphone. I must admit, I hadn’t heard of them but as soon as I caught a glimpse of the artwork, which for me would have to be the cover artwork of the year, I was always going to listen. Then the press videos of a room full of instruments was enough to get me excited enough to want to like their work… then the vinyl arrived! A superb selection of tracks, which traverse synth, guitar, vocal lines in a post rock meets ambient style. This one isn’t bogged down dreary drone, maudlin classical or grizzly grunge – it’s actually really uplifting and one I reach for time and time again.


Marek Kamiński
Not Here
Self Released

“Marek Kamiński sent me his self-released album early on in 2019 and I subsequently ordered it on vinyl. I was drawn to the cover artwork to begin with in that it is a good reference point to consider when listening: the tree is clearly no longer there, but there is plenty of evidence that it existed and something so colossal has left its mark. The music in Not Here is a selection of modern classical piano-led melodies, riddled in static and field recordings, reminiscent perhaps of Library Tapes which is no bad thing!



I reviewed Silmus’ ‘Shelter’ back in 2014 and it was to become one of my favourite albums for that year and beyond. So I was thrilled when Gert sent me ‘Laaksum’ at the beginning of the year. I regret not being able to review this one, especially given how impressive this album is, which features the cello talent of Guy Gelem. However, it’s a record that again features in my ‘best of’ list and something I’ve listened to over and over this year. If Shelter was one for indoors, Laaksum is an album for cold, wide-open spaces. The title ‘Dancing on the Pier, Discovering the Sea’ is a wonderfully evocative title for a track which fittingly, begins from hushed, slow tones before evolving into something more alive and vibrant against the backdrop of a darkened sky.


Kira Kira and Hermigervill
Time Released Sound

Fine art imprint Time Released Sound continues to share superb material with the world, combining lavish packaging ideas with high quality modern composition, ambient and electronic music. I was taken aback by Sumarbörn by Kira Kira and Hermigervill, which combines glacial ambient and classical music with choral vocals. Doesn’t sound much on paper but it’s difficult to describe, so I strongly recommend you click on the link and sink into this one:


Lost Channel

I was lucky this year to work with Brad Deschamps who records as anthéne, as part of a pretty special year for him: three album releases! My pick of the bunch would be ‘Lost Channel’ on Archives, with its warm drones which swell and soar, with the saturated sounds of tired tapes. The whole thing feels like a time lapse low drone-helicopter flight across the globe, with stormy choppy shores giving way to the gaping wide ocean.


Sven Laux and Daniela Orvin
The Writings

Another entry for Dronarivm and a record collaboration between my good friend and collaborator Sven Laux alongside Daniela Orvin. The duo met over several studio sessions and this is their output, a cinematic epic that includes icy cold dramatics, slow and brooding soundscapes, warm and charming ambience and fuzzy orchestration. Check out ‘A Moment Of Silence’ in particular and be prepared to be amazed. What’s particularly impressive here, is just how effortlessly the two styles of these artists combine.


Into The Light

I discovered this one when prowling the feed of new releases on Boomkat and was drawn to the immediacy of this melancholy sound. It was hard to believe that this one’s a debut as it feels like years of honing a craft although, perhaps it is of sorts, since multi-instrumentalist Max Santilli has worked with many acts and artists over the years. I ordered this one on vinyl and have enjoyed the spacey chords, guitar and exotic percussive sounds ever since.


Aries Mond
Cut Off

“I get sent most IIKKI albums for Irregular Crates and it pains me that I can’t find the time to write more about these works on the blog, as absolutely everything is pristine quality in terms of artwork and curation. This one by Aries Mond floored me the first time I heard it and has the same effect every time – it begins with rustling, prepared-piano style sounds – gentle and unfolding. The live sounding notes blur through reversing and subtle electronic looping and sampling, a truly clever record that never fails to immerse and pull you in, so long as you give it your time.”


Backwater Revisited

I’ve been enjoying Ryan Bissett’s work as Halftribe for quite some time now and a jaw dropping moment occurred not long after I hit play on ‘Backwater Revisited’ from the trusty Dronarivm label. The record features synth and electro acoustic tones, drenched in reverb and a tasteful hint of chorus. Plenty of crackle and space between the lines to allow for a glistening, wintry backdrop. The artwork features an adaptation of open source imagery by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis from back in 1908 and this rustic, vintage cover fits in perfectly with the blanket-like folds of Ambience Ryan created here.


Hampshire and Foat
Saint Lawrence
Athens of the North

I discovered Hampshire and Foat for the first time when I stumbled across their album ‘Saint Lawrence’ which came out on Edinburgh’s Athens of the North label. It was released in March and I grabbed it in the summer, in time to enjoy it in the sun which feels the best setting, particularly whilst driving or walking through the British countryside. The album itself was recorded live during a couple of sunny afternoons spent in churches on the Isle of Wight and whilst this album is truly masterful in its presentation, its recurring themes and acoustic presentation give it a beautifully intimate feel.


Leo Svirsky
River Without Banks
Unseen Worlds

“US based Russian pianist and composer Leo Svirsky first grabbed my attention via the cover artwork to his album ‘River Without Banks’ which appeared on the Unseen World label. It retains an organic feel to it despite the fact that it’ll probably be filed under Modern Classical; yes the piano pans across the stereo field from time to time, accent notes feel extended into drones and crystalline piano notes hover over one another. But, the piano is undoubtedly the focus throughout, making this one have that live feel. The sound is just magical and I recall many mornings sipping espresso in a coffee shop before work.”


Old Amica – Sävast (Music Video)

Recently we revealed short teaser videos for our next release, which will be by Swedish duo
Old Amica and we also shared the Soundcloud preview and press release last week.

Next, we have the music video for Sävast, the second track on this beautiful album which blends influences of Post Rock, Modern Classical and Ambient music. The video combines a snow scattered scandinavian landscape with flickering childhood memories in a short film which reflects the themes of this album.

Taigawill be out on or around the 29th of June and we already have the packaging which we’re really excited about! 

To avoid missing out, you can join the mailing list here:
We won’t spam you it’s a promise (we don’t even have the time to create oodles of spam!). You’ll just get an email a week before an album is announced to the big wide world.

Introducing: Old Amica – Taiga

Soon we’ll welcome a new artist to Whitelabrecs, in the form of Old Amica.

This duo from Sweden have created a short trailer video which features an excerpt of a track from their album ‘Taiga‘ which will be out on or around the 29th of June. The music is a mix of dusty Modern Classical music, a healthy helping of Post Rock and plenty of blurry, nostalgic Ambient tones.

This clip is a section of the short film ‘Plats. Poesi. Periferi.‘ made by Jonas Börjesson and produced by Art Inside Out for Region Halland.

The packaging is on order and set to drop next week and the artists have promised more videos, including a complete music video to one of the tracks. We’ve never been so organised ahead of a Whitelabrecs release!

To avoid missing out, you can join the mailing list here:
We won’t spam you it’s a promise (we don’t even have the time to create oodles of spam!). You’ll just get an email a week before an album is announced to the big wide world.

Introducing: Paper Relics

We tend to keep news of emerging releases on Whitelabrecs a secret until 1-2 weeks before it goes live. However, we’ve got some news that’s burning a hole in our pocket… the return of Paper Relics, a project featuring brothers Harry and Stuart Towell. They released their debut album ‘Over Exposure‘ on American label Time Released Sound some 7 years ago and it’s apt that they return to their homeland in their follow-up, on Harry’s own Whitelabrecs.

If you’re unfamiliar with Paper Relics, then here’s a track from Over Exposure:

Although it must be said, their new work has evolved somewhat as their recording methods and techniques have developed over the years. There are many exciting details, including two versions, a special guest and an increased run of copies but for now, we just wanted to get the announcement out there! And what better time to do so than on Stuart’s birthday?

For now, if you’ve a spare moment you can check out Over Exposure at the following link which includes remixes from Pleq, Listening Mirror and Byron Felthttps://audiogourmet.bandcamp.com/album/over-exposure

Artist profile image by Ruth Towell: www.ruthtowell.co.uk

Best of 2017: José Soberanes

We’ve another ‘best of 2017’ feature as we reflect over last year via the musical recommendations of our artists. We welcome back José Soberanes, who produced our fourth record ‘The Rising Tide’. Here is José’s top five

[Lost Tribe Sound]

“This album, with each one of these poised ambient settings reflects an assured creative sensibility, comfortably working within the conventions of the genre while confidently imprinting a personal stamp upon it, taking you to an unpredictable state of consciousness.”

sacred horror in design
[Opal Tapes]

“This album is a idealized fusion of the musical heritage and tradition of Iran with the forward-thinking vision which has propelled his storied career producing techno, hardcore and computer music. A powerfully album indeed.”

shuta yasukochi

short stories

“Definitely one of my favorites of this year, full of nice shimmering tales and outstanding simplicity, calm, carefully blending of swelling guitars, spreading a sense of chill but warmth at the same time.”

9T Antiope

“This album, although it’s not an album for everyone, 9T Antiope creates a listening experience that is sombre and evocative, full of brilliantly laid off soundscapes.”


rafael anton irisarri
the shameless years
[Umor Rex]

“Ambient music falls under a distinct spectrum of effect. Some artists evoke alternate mental spaces, others provide a space for listeners to reconcile themselves to the present world, and many accomplish a bit of both. But, this album to me works as a powerful taste, strong, melancholic and a top notch ambient work indeed.”

What have you been up to José?
“In 2017 I released an album with ACR, a London based label called: “Our Gravity Ends” and it’s now sold out. I also made a collaborative album with Darren McClure at the lovely Shimmering Moods label, not available yet. I’m currently working on my next solo album for 2018 and reaching for a new home label to release it, so wish me luck!

You can find out more/buy José music here:

Best of 2017: Nicola Fornasari

Our ‘best of 2017’ feature returns after a short festive break, as we draw breath ahead of what will likely be another busy year for Whitelabrecs. This time we caught up with Nicola Fornasari, one half of La Petite Vague and also of Xu, who contributes some excellent Modern Ambient selections:

bill seaman
[Fluid Audio]

“A dark and deep, emotionally intense album.
I really love the style of Bill Seaman and in particular it seems to me that in this record he has surpassed himself, thanks also to the help of his collaborators.
The perfect sound accompaniment for uncomfortable black and white movie scenes where people move slowly and interact with each other in a mysterious and unfathomable way.”

monolyth & cobalt
the dunen diaries

“Bright as the sunlight refracted on the snow, I liked a lot this album (especially the CD with solo tracks).
How can you not be sad knowing that this will be the last record under this moniker?”

james murray

killing ghosts
[Home Normal]

“Abstract soundscapes at its best… a door between visible and invisible world.
Great sound design for a record that suggest and not trivially describe; just hit play and dive into your inner world, accept your feelings and feel better.”

[Lost Tribe Sound]

“Mesmerising collection of rich and resonant tracks. A very personal work, with a unique guitar style (at least to my ears).
Stunning cover artwork by Gregory Euclide.”


Isnaj Dui
[Rural Colours]

“Anxious and tense, “Poiesis” is like a shamanic rite that allows to free yourself from mental obstacles and constructions. Nothing is taken for granted on this record!”


What have you been up to Nicola?
“I recently completed my new solo album, which will be released in spring 2018 (it will be my second release on Eilean!).
Also… I have many other projects for 2018 but for the moment I do not want to reveal too much!

You can find out more/buy Nicola’s music here:

Best of 2017: Covarino

Our ‘best of 2017’ feature continues as we chat to Francesco Covarino, one half of Covarino/Incorvaia who released ‘Granada’ with us in the summer. There are still a few copies of this album so scroll to the bottom to find a link. Before you do, take a look over his favourite records from 2017 – there are some belters!

[Lily Tapes and Discs]

“My favourite album of the year, it is soothing, warm and very delicate. Listening to it makes me feel like I’m floating on the sea, being lulled by the waves with the sun on my face.”

ot to, not to
These Movements I & II

“This album was a big surprise, I listened to it the first time without too many expectations (I had read there was a guy singing and this somehow put me off), and then I just couldn’t stop listening to it again and again. “

M. Sage

Jupiter Primative (Fragments from 2016)
[Self Released]

Every album of M. Sage is unpredictable, you press play and don’t know what’s coming: an album of acoustic guitars? Field recordings? Electronica? I like the feeling of everything this guy makes, especially his electronica albums. I am not a fan of electronic music at all, but M. Sage plays a different kind of electronic music. When I listen to his music I don’t picture a guy in front of a computer, instead I perceive a lot of physicality, a sort of handmade, physical touch and then I love his weird, unpredictable touch. This album is a recollection of various tracks recorded throughout 2016 and it features all the sounds of M. Sage’s palette.

Dane Rousay
[Rat Tail Tapes]

“A guy alone with his drumkit, no electronic devices, no overdubs, just his hands, his sticks and his drumkit. What you see if what you get, no tricks. He is very creative and colourful in his playing and playful and melodic, too. I found out about this album after I recorded my own solo drums album, and listening to it made me feel less lonely: somewhere in the world there was another guy recording weird drums-solo improvisations, someone else going alone with his drumkit against the world.”

Josh Mason
Barque Of Phosphor
[Self Released]

“I like everything Josh Mason releases, the reel to reel feeling of his music. This is a short album, a 4-track summer tour tape, with modular synth, guitar, tape. It is Josh Mason, so it goes on my list. Also, by following Josh on bandcamp I found out about Naps for the first time, so I’m grateful to him twice.”

What have you been up to Francesco?
“A few weeks ago Thirsty Leaves Music released my first solo album, “Olive”. It contains short improvisations on drums and percussion, and it was released on CD with beautiful packaging. I recorded those improvs on a single day when my wife was pregnant with our first daughter, so it is a very special album to me and I’m very proud of how it came out. In January, we’re recording some new music with my duo Covarino/Incorvaia, we will record some drums/guitar improvs for a couple of days here in Granada. I would also like to do some sort of long-distance collaboration with musicians I admire and with whom I’ve been in contact in the last few months, we’ll see how all that works out”

You can find out more/buy Francesco’s music here: