I don’t generally like these end of year top ten’s since they omit so much great music and it seems unfair on those who put so much effort into their artistic creations and didn’t make the list.

If I’d known that I was going to be invited to contribute to this thing, I’d’ve kept a note of everything I’ve listened to in 2020. But I didn’t, so I’ll only be able to mention a few of the musicians who’ve enriched my life over the last year. Apologies to everyone I’ve left out. Sorry. 

Feel free to complain, look where it got me.

I’ll have to start with Sandy Ewen, who’s made me reevaluate what’s possible with just a guitar and no fancy effects pedals:

Some more guitarists to grab my attention this year:

Li Jianhong:

Michael Renkel with Burkhard Beins:

Martin Siewert with Katharina Ernst:

Martin Escalante and Otomo Yoshihide’s sax and guitar album may be the wildest thing I’ve heard this year:

Although Ryoko Ono’s sax/electronics duo with Toshiji Mikawa is equally unnerving:

…and that leads us on to more saxophonic wonderment from these artists:

Erin Rogers:

Makoto Kawashima:

Don Dietrich:

Homei Yanagawa, playing a heartstopping version of Summertime with pianist Kiyofumi Ootani:

Trumpet & electronics improviser Tom Djll has been involved in a bunch of interesting releases this year, here’s  my favourite:

It’s taken me a couple of days to find out who the amazing viola player was who I saw on YouTube months ago and I’m glad to see that Joanna Mattrey has an album out:

…in the process I also found violinist gabby fluke-mogul who’s also amazing:

Rafael Toral’s work with circuit bent and homemade electronics continues to amaze. His latest disc ‘Jupiter and Beyond’ with percussionist João Pais Filipe is quite beautiful:

While we’re on the subject of electronic music, here’s a few more: 

Polish synth builder Maciej Jaciuk aka Sqrtsigil:

Victoria Shen aka Evicshen with Bryan Day:

Hans Tammen’s duo with Dafna Naphtali is intriguing:

…as is this voice and electronics duo from Audrey Chen and id m theftable:

Other great duos:

Charmaine Lee and Zach Rowden:

Samara Lubelski and Marcia Bassett:

Naturally, I have to mention Sippy Cup, the duo of Kate Armitage and THF Drenching who continue to bewitch and bewilder with their homemade intuitive music. Here’s their latest guitar and drums workout on a split release with Odie ji Ghast and Thomas Tyler’s duo Labas Krabas:

The UK’s DIY improv scene has a wide variety of interesting artists lurking in its murky corners and it’d take me far too long to even scratch the surface of what’s going on, but I’d just like to mention Giblet Gusset…

…who I think organises the Isolated Mass online streaming events that have contributions from other equally experimental artists. So check out the Stream It Yourself YouTube channel to get a taste of what’s happening.

Or have a look through the Chocolate Monk website and become even more perplexed by the abundance of strangeness you could spend your pennies on.

Finally (phew!) I’d like to thank Nick Roseblade for his ever-intriguing Signal To Noise radio show that fills my ears with stuff I’ve not heard before.

Dave Jackson has reviewed artists such as Dead Neanderthals and Sly & the Family Drone, and Dans les Arbres for aJazzNoise… though, it’s entirely possible he dedicates more of his time to other activities, including unrestrained (and delightful) abuse of the alto saxophone. (Check out Dave’s Bandcamp page.)

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