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2010: Cole Goins

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Dusted project manager and delinquent contributor Cole Goins drops his 10 favorite albums of 2010.

2010: Cole Goins

Label: Tectonic | Release Date: April 5

NYC producer Vanese Smith is somewhat of a departure for dubstep heavyweight Pinch’s Tectonic roster. A mix of dubbed-out hip hop and petrifying bass, her next-level beats introduce a fresh vocabulary into the more stark structures presented by labelmates 2562 and Distance, offering a refreshing shift in tone and technique. The effortless disco of "Shabaps" alone is enough to propel Fox Trot Mannerisms to the top of the pile, demonstrating just how advanced Smith’s rhythms are: electric, sexy and something brand new altogether.

• Read the Dusted Review

Label: Black Maps | Release Date: November 17

The latest LP from former Court & Spark frontman MC Taylor was recorded at a house in the woods of Pittsboro, N.C., just outside Chapel Hill. Simple and endearing — just Taylor, his guitar and a tape recorder — Bad Debt is a collection of world-weary hymns that explore themes of work, freedom, death and religion with a delicate edge. The warbled quality of the recording makes the songs sound like they’ve been aging gracefully for years, and Taylor’s lyricism is above and beyond your typical man-with-acoustic-guitar rehash. An additional shout-out is due to fellow Chapel Hill folkster Todd Emmert a.k.a. Inspector 22, who also released a fantastic new full-length this year, Friends in High Places — a blown-out mix of devilish mantras and narcotic twang-pop.

Label: Ramp | Release Date: October 11

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve come to know Andrew Field-Pickering a.k.a. Maxmillion Dunbar through my time in D.C., where he operates the Future Times imprint and often DJs as Beautiful Swimmers, both with cohort Ari Goldman. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing most of the tracks on Cool Water live before I heard them on record, watching bodies shuffle and jaws hit the floor as AFP deftly mixed his timeless boogie with a minimal CDJ/turntable setup. Built from a lysergic pastiche of samples and beats, Cool Water invents a special realm where memories and ambitions melt into a blissful cruise. I’m just happy to be along for the ride.

• Read the Dusted Review

Label: Hotflush | Release Date: July 19

Among the producers and DJs that continue to warp dubstep’s slippery definition, London duo Mount Kimbie have distinguished themselves as a particularly complicating force. Crooks & Lovers expands the unique palette introduced on last year’s Maybes EP, forging a meticulous, vibrant amalgam from their own distinct style.”Before I Move Off” might be my single favorite track of the year, its clipped vocals slotting perfectly between the song’s lazy plod. If nothing else, they were able to successfully weave acoustic guitar into EDM and make it sound good. That’s no small feat.

• Read the Dusted Review

Label: Universal Motown | Release Date: March 30

After completely sleeping on New Amerykah Part 1 (4th World War) in 2008, I was determined not to make the same mistake for the sequel. Expecting (and hoping for) a similar mix of far-out grooves and thorny political overtones, Return of the Ankh instead turned out a deep, silky flow of pristine R&B that Badu has perfected. Her songs present a sly foil to Top 40 hip hop’s chauvinistic bent, and the subtle production lets them glisten with class. This album is proof that Badu will continue to play by her own rules and win.

• Read the Dusted Review

Label: VHF | Release Date: February 2

I’ve been a full-fledged Vibracathedral Orchestra fan for some time now, and count the collective’s sprawling psychedelia among my more important musical influences. Much to my delight, the troupe released THREE new LPs this year, each possessing its own potent mix of clamorous communion and other-worldly improv. Smoke Song became my favorite of the three for its colossal B-side, though they’re all worth pursuing. Also, props to VHF for the Richard Youngs/Simon Wickham-Smith monster compilation they also dropped this year. Holy smokes.

Label: Thrill Jockey | Release Date: May 17

It was quite a year for Baltimore’s Daniel Higgs. Not only did 2010 see the reissue of several Lungfish LPs and a collaboration with Nautical Almanac’s Twig Harper, but Higgs’ boldest solo statement yet. Like most of his musings, Say God is an elliptical meditation on the Divine, stretching spoken verses over a minimal mix of shruti box, harmonium, and banjo arrangements. The album’s title track is a labyrinth of heavenly praise meant for those willing to devote the effort and attention. That can be said for the entire album though, making Say God an exercise more than a casual listen. But that’s what makes Higgs’ music so powerful and rewarding in the first place.

Label: Young God | Release Date: September 21

News of a Swans reunion was a welcome announcement in 2010, especially after a D.C. stop was added to their tour itinerary. Several months of patient waiting paid off: the band’s performance was one of the most intense that I’ve seen all year: The band was heavy, ominous and totally on point with Gira in fine, creepy form. I honestly didn’t listen to the new album before I saw the show, but it’s been a stereo mainstay ever since. Here’s to another chapter in Swans’ brutal legacy.

• Read the Dusted Review

Label: PAN | Release Date: September 14

Somehow, I wound up seeing five different KFW performances this year and they were each captivating in their own way. You wouldn’t think a one-man synthesizer showcase would stand up to multiple, consecutive encounters, but Whitman has crafted an arsenal that yields surprisingly varied environments. Case in point: His exquisitely packaged LP for the untouchable PAN records — the result of five years’ worth of dedicated synth and tape experimentation. Another stellar statement from an individual who has taken his craft to incredible heights and continues to push the boundaries of experimental music.

Label: Fabric | Release Date: December 6

Landing just in time to completely disrupt my original "best of 2010" shortlist, Sam Shackleton’s studio mix for London’s Fabric just might be my favorite release of the year. I’ve been following his output since the massive Soundboy Punishments comp dropped in 2007, listening to his technique sharpen and mutate. The skeletal bass compositions of last year’s Three EPs for Perlon was epic in its own right, but this mix for Fabric puts Shackleton’s catalog in brilliant perspective, weaving ridiculous low-end melodies beneath a disorienting swirl of percussion and vocal dubs. I know it’s not for everyone, but the risks taken on this release are significant and should not be overlooked or underestimated.

• Read the Dusted Review

Other releases I enjoyed this year:

• ActressSplaszh (Post Present Medium)
• Body Cops/t (Fan Death)
• CaboladiesLive Anywhere (Aguirre)
• Floating PointsPeople’s Potential 12" (Eglo)
• Golden Retrievers/t (Root Strata)
• Infinite BodyCarve Out the Face of My God (Honest Jons)
• Instra:mental – "Vicodin" b/w "Let’s Talk" 10" (Naked Lunch)
• Mi AmiSteal Your Face (Thrill Jockey)
• Space Dimension ControllerTemporary Thrillz (R&S)
• Tonetta777 (Black Tent Press)
• Uncle Woody Sullender and Seamus CarterWhen We All Get To Meeting (Dead CEO)
• V/AEcstatic Music of the Jemaa El Fna (Sublime Frequencies)
• V/ALagos Disco Inferno (Academy)
• VelourThe Velvet Collection 12" (Night Slugs)
• The YoungVoyagers of Legend (Mexican Summer)

By Cole Goins

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