Musical Starstreams : Top 20 Albums of 1998

Top 20 Albums of 1998

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Caveat: The nature of radio airplay is to concentrate on one or two important focus tracks.
Therefore, not all these albums are necessarily "good" throughout, though most are. As always, buyer beware!

      artist ALBUM TITLE label / cat.no.
1. Various Artists EARTHJUICE Waveform 88103

Freshly squeezed electromagnetic dub. Drink deeply. Crucial tracks from the UK's and Germany's most noteworthy dubmasters. An AFIM Electronic/Ambient Album of the year nominee and named a Top Ten Album of 1998 at Amazon.com.

2. Chris Zippel GENUINE NU AMBIENT GROOVES 2 NinetySix Sounds 1CZ110*
Germany's Chris Zippel gets funky again with phatasmagoric sounds designed to get your body moving. Mission accomplished. Great production and depth of sound.
3. Open Canvas NOMADIC IMPRESSIONS Waveform 88101
Ancient cross-cultural journeys from Greg Kyryluk who also records under the name Alpha Wave Movement. A soothing yet invigorating helping of middle eastern spices and flavors. You can almost smell the patchouli.
4. Richard Bone THE SPECTRAL SHIPS Hypnos 1808
New England's Richard Bone probes the deep vastness of electronic minimalism. You'll find yourself floating along, cloud-like, on a consistent mix of soothing, cascading synth washes. Spacious sounds that rival the best of early Eno or Budd.
5. ZerO One ZERO ONE Waveform 88104
Music as intellectual stimulation from Northern California synthmaster Kevin Dooley. Calculated adventures in electronica. Mesmerizing, logical panoramas that will have you thinking again. Great for the car -- cerebral driving music. Don't miss your exit! As Lloyd at Backroads Music says, "ZerO in on this One!"
6. Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke DUALITY 4AD 9-46851
Australia's Dead Can Dance vocalist teams again with keyboardist and percussionist Bourke. Sensual, exotic, worldly rhythms. Think belly dancing but kewler.
7. Sing Kaur & Gary Stadler FAIRY NIGHTSONGS Sequoia X103
Late vocalist Singh Kaur's voice is clear and pure. Gary Stadler adds the right mix of soothing electronics. A magical journey of Gaelic/English vocals in the spirit of Loreena McKennitt and Enya. Takes you deep into the mystical world of the fairy night.
8. Soulfood BREATHE Rykodisc 10394
A double disc project from DJ Free -- Minneapolis music master Gordy Schaeffer. Combines indigenous vocal chants and western musical elements. Harmonious rhythms for celebration, dance and ceremony. A breath of fresh air.
9. Pacini & Pacini MEMORY Nueve de Copas 21
Brazilian father and son team offer romantic persuasions and idyllic mood music. Intriguing piano, electronics and guitar with just a taste of sax. Is there a musical past which continues to be present in all of us? Hauntingly familiar and richly rewarding.
10. Waterbone TIBET World Disc 2283
Ancient, organic voicings from the shadows of the Himalayas, mixed and blended with contemporary electronic grooves. Crystal Monk chants and jubilant Nepali and Tibetan choruses take us there. A first rate production from Jimmy Waldo and D. Kendall Jones.
11. Enchanted Forest ENCHANTED FOREST World Disc M58D
Similar in vein to the Tibet album above, except this time the voicings are more ethereal and laid back. Musical influences from the Pacific Rim, Europe, Africa, India and Native America, richly flavored with the exotic sounds of nature and contemporary instrumentation.
12. Bang on a Can MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS Point Music 314536847
The Eno minimal masterpiece redone song for song, and except for classical releases, how often is that ever done? Could this be the first ever contemporary "cover" album? It may be a "re-do" but it's a great one.
13. Various Artists THE THIRD BARRAMUNDI SAMPLER Logic 79591-59507
Finally found its way into our library in 1998 and was worth the wait. A double CD containing some noteworthy modern day electronica. Not everything clicks here, but when it does, it's generously rewarding. Check out the twenty-two minute "Galactic Rebirth" from Australia's Cydonia.
14. Dogon THE SIRIUS EXPEDITIONS New Dog 32058
San Francisco's Paul Godwin and Miguel Noya once again test and stretch the boundaries of the Musical Starstreams repertoire. A plentiful mix of samples and electronics that are sometimes decidedly "out there." Fortunately, there's also plenty of times they reenter the atmosphere.
15. Frank Van Bogaert COLOURS Ace 98.001*
Belgium's Van Bogaert names each track after a hue of color, from the opening "Amber" to the closing "Black." More sampled indigenous tribal voicings coupled with synth soundtracks. Sometimes dancey, sometimes more introspective, with the vocal bits added as spice elements rather than as the main focus. Something for everyone's taste and color of choice.
16. Various Artists ASANA Douglas Music ADC7
There's something about Makyo's opening eastern Indian flavored yet dancey fifteen and a half minute epic "Devabandha" that helps pull this Bill Laswell production together. Over and over, like a mantra, it draws you in.
17. Windwalker VOICES Windwalker 01072
Native American flute music with just enough added elements to keep it interesting. Alaska's Tim "Windwalker" Crawford who has studied with masters like R. Carlos Nakai, offers intriguing soundtracks that accompany the familiar but distinctive sound of the Native American flute.
18. Wai Lana & Siddha YOGA SOUND Gold Moon Productions GMP111
An epic production from world renowned yoga teacher Wai Lana. A massively produced soundtrack album that can be both intense as well as pleasant. Mesmerizing vocalized chants and instrumentation that create a full bodied, multi-layered sound that rivals epic rock soundtracks -- yet, somehow remains Yoga Sound.
19. Prefade Listening WAY BACK HOME Different Drummer DDCD5*
Germany's Prefade Listening cover a decidedly mellow side of contemporary dub. Cool and inviting. A strong candidate for sleeper album of the year. Find it!
20. Jon Jenkins FLOW Spotted Peccary D0402
Ancient, tribal spacemusic in the flavor of work from Steve Roach, Robert Rich and Vidna Obmana, but at times conveys more energy. Meanders down the path of spacey synthesizers and minimal but deep percussion elements. An impressive and hypnotic debut release.
*denotes import
Sources: Waveform: www.waveformhq.com, NinetySix Sounds: www.farout-berlin.de/ninetysix, Hypnos: www.hypnos.com, 4AD c/o: www.lisa-gerrard.com, Sequoia: 800-524-5513, Rykodisc: www.rykodisc.com, Nueve de Copas: www.pacini.org, World Disc: PO Box 1360 Minocqua, WI 54548, Point Music: www.pointmusic.com, Logic: (212) 219-2040, New Dog: www.newdog.com, Ace: acestudio@glo.be, Douglas Music c/o: Backroads Music 800 767-4748, Windwalker: PO Box 91492, Anchorage, AK 99509, Gold Moon Recordings: www.wailana.com, Different Drummer: diffdrum@dircon.co.uk, Spotted Peccary: www.spottedpeccary.com