Before I move on to the inevitable albums of the year list, it's worth briefly drawing attention to the year's best short form releases.
James Blake - The Bells Sketch/CMYK/Klawierwerke
So significant were these three EPs from James Blake that many online publications appear to be treating them together as an album. If I had adopted the same approach, they would have comfortably slotted in to my top ten of the year. Klawierwerke was probably the most coherent and consistent overall - Blake had submitted it as coursework for his Goldmsiths music degree. The single highlight of the three EPs had to be the Kelis-sampling CMYK, an absolutely massive tune. I fear that Blake's vocal-dominated album due early next year (heralded by his recent cover of Feist's Limit To Your Love) may be a slightly worthy, sub-Massive Attack affair. Let's hope not, but if so, these three EPs together represent a major body of work.
Bjork and Dirty Projectors - Mount Wittenberg Orca
Perhaps the only disappointing thing about this EP-cum-mini album was that it sounded exactly as one might expect a collaboration between Bjork and Dirty Projectors to sound. It's meticulously arranged and brilliantly executed, and all have clearly worked hard to ensure that Bjork's presence is well integrated and not overpowering. As for Dirty Projectors, it's hard to see how they can get any better.
Animal Collective - Fall Be Kind
This formed an intriguing bridging point between the exuberance of Merriweather Post Pavillion and the weirder, more introspective nature of their earlier material. What Do I Want? Sky and I Think I Can were sublime.
Flying Lotus - Pattern + Grid World
As if the colossal, extraordinary Cosmogramma wasn't enough!
Robyn - Body Talk
Robyn's brand of commercial pop may be little different from that of the world dominating Lady GaGa, yet her strong collection of wonderfully melancholy somehow seems more honest. The Body Talk project was optimisitically billed as three albums from Robyn in a year - really, it was two mini-albums and a complilation, with some infuriating duplication of material.
Ikonika - Edits
I suspect Ikonika's debut album for Hyperdub suffered only from being a little overlong. On an EP format though, her music works supremely well - this is a sonically inventive and energising set of cut-downs from the album.