YABOL (Part 1)

Yet Another ‘Best Of’ List, I’m afraid.

I can almost hear that sigh, almost sense you thinking ‘not another one’ – but this has been a painful process, and a minute or two of your attention would be much appreciated.

I really struggle with these, you see. I must do, given that it seems to have been four years since I last posted one here!

It’s not that I haven’t tried since then. I really have. But I just keep… running out of steam. There are too many tough questions to answer. How many releases do I list? 5? 10? 20? Then there’s the tricky business of deciding who’s in and who’s out, complicated by that quaintly British thing (or maybe it’s just me?) of feeling like I’d offend someone by omitting them. Not to mention the sheer agony of indecision when trying to rank my selection…

Deep breaths, Nick. Deep breaths…

And baby steps. Maybe that’s the best way to get this done.

Let’s start with some ground rules: First, no EPs, only full albums. That gets rid of Thumpermonkey’s hugely impressive Electricity. Second, no live albums – which neatly avoids any decision-making regarding The Fierce & The Dead’s Field Recordings, for example. Third, no reissues – which eliminates Songs From The Wood, Misplaced Childhood & OK Computer from further consideration (just three of a host of classics that reappeared this year).

Well that’s helped, but not enough.

It’s time to get ruthless, through the application of what shall henceforth be known in these hallowed halls as The Birzer Principle: namely, the examination of music player stats.

With hard data to guide me, I am finally getting somewhere. Though only by discarding some excellent releases: Malina by Leprous;  Fate Outsmarts Desire from Kaprekar’s Constant; Tilt’s Hinterland; Magnified by Beatrix Players; and Koyo’s eponymous debut. All wonderful in their own ways, and all gone, with only an ‘honourable mention’ to show for it.

At least that leaves me with something manageable. So here they all are, in no particular order. Sixteen of the best from 2017:


Just looking at this montage, I’m already struck by the relative lack of ‘straight prog’ and harder, heavier stuff. Interesting…

As for the rankings: you’ll have to wait for Part 2 for those!

3 thoughts on “YABOL (Part 1)

  1. The Ulver release (one of my hard choices to leave it off my own “honorable mention” list is a fascinating album nonetheless, so, I’m glad to see it on your list Nick! Also delighted to see another fan of Discipline!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michał

      I totally agree. Both the album and the EP released by Ulver n 2017 are stunning pieces of work. After I saw them live last week, my estimation of this music grew even higher. Absolutelu brilliant conceptually, performance- and arrangement-wise.

      Together with Steven Wilson, Ulver showed this year that you can make POP music and still stay as progressive as ever, in fact maybe even more so, as there is a certain aspect of new ground being covered, some new vistas opening (althugh I don’t know what they are… yet) in what these aritsts did.

      Throughout the Ulver concert I had the strange feeling of witnessing something truly unusual happening, but I still cannot put my hand on what exactly this was.

      Liked by 2 people


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