T-Rex's Top 20 Albums of 2020 // 5-4

Top 5 time!

It's time to begin unveiling our top 5 as we edge closer to our lucrative number 1.

#5 - We Will Always Love You - The Avalanches

Australian plunderphonic collective return with a third project, whose overall sound and production further divide the sense of familiarity with the rest of their impressive catalogue. This particular record follows their sophomore release, Wildflower, which broke their 16-year absence from the scene back in 2016. This behemothic LP sets its sights on nostalgia and golden ambition.

The Avalanches combo are undoubtedly known for mastering their craft, the entirety of their limited discography is acclaimed vastly by various audiences, critics and fans alike. Uniquely, each album has its own individuality, its own flair and its own theme. We Will Always Love You in particular, encapsulates this methodology of originality in full spirit by setting itself aside from past records. The Australian outfit knows how to conjure and pull off projects of pure grandeur. There’s no questioning the duo's success as such coveted treasures in the industry. Spinning hints of disco, dashes of soul and topping it off with experimental deep house, there’s so much to explore with this LP. In terms of nostalgia, the dynamic combo endeavours to throwback to the past while balancing new experimental textures. Further exploration into the record will lead to deeper themes such as loss of life, relationships as well as reminiscence on cosmic ideas. Yeah, it is full-on. With an eerie yet compelling opening voicemail, to opening tracks like 'The Divine Chord' and 'Interstellar Love', the bar is set incredibly high for the rest of the album.

One of the overlooked aspects of this album is the impressive featured artist roster. From MGMT’s Andrew Van Wyngarden and Ben Goldwasser to Jamie xx, the project had an astonishing number of top-shelf features, which complimented the tracklist perfectly.

Narrative and subjective concepts drive the album’s reputation in such a way that it becomes a project that leaves a lot up to the audience’s interpretation. Metaphorically, this LP shares similarities with classic literature, both of which are largely occupied with deep themes, hold a long duration, but ultimately, share a sense of satisfaction and enlightenment upon completion.

Aaron Levey

#4 - What Kinda Music - Tom Misch, Yussef Dayes

At the end of Tom Misch’s debut album, he faced a decision of where to take his music. With Geography proving to be a worldwide hit, Misch could easily have fallen down the commercial path. However, rather than be complacent, Misch shows a willingness to mature as an artist and experiment with his next project, and who better to do that with than Yussef Dayes? After his decade-defining album Black Focus with Henry Wu, Dayes raised himself to be one of the highest profiles in the contemporary jazz scene. Dayes’ innovative drumming and production have blurred the lines between countless genres. With collaborations across the board, teaming up with Misch would appear to be his most challenging projects yet with both coming from vastly different backgrounds, but in What Kinda Music they connect perfectly.

What Kinda Music balances Misch’s melodies and accessibility with Dayes’ deep rhythms. Misch takes a step back from the vocals and allows the instrumentals to communicate with the listener. The record possesses elements of jazz with its improvisation and freedom, but it also crosses over to the worlds of psychedelic funk, hip-hop and R&B, pressing listeners to ask the album’s titular question. The pair are unphased in finding an answer showing greater curiosity in synchronising each other’s grooves. The ease of this connection is complemented by Misch in ‘Nightrider’: “Mr. Dayes with the break of the drums / It’s icy (cold)”.

Sonically, this exploration by the two artists makes the listener feel as though they are sitting in on a jam session. It is spontaneous yet disciplined and refined in its compositions. Towards the end of the album in ‘Kyiv’ and ‘Julie Mangos’, this is more prevalent with instrumentations overwhelming conversations and background noise.

Ending with ‘Storm Before The Calm’ featuring saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi signifies the message that is left from this album – community. The power of collaboration has allowed Misch, Dayes and all other contributing artists to stretch their styles and sounds beyond their previous works. It has delivered a striking collaborative piece from two artists at different corners of the scene.

Max Reilly