My Top 5 Albums of 2015 in reverse order……. by Tim Darbyshire
5. Riverside – Love, Fear And The Time Machine
Poland’s Riverside returned in 2015 with their 6th album – ‘Love Fear And The Time Machine’. Less heavy than previous offerings, it is arguably the band’s most mature work, with the album seeing the band revisit their melodic and atmospheric progressive rock leanings. Nice and laid back in places, this album was a very pleasant surprise for me in 2015.
4. Max Richter – Sleep
German-born Max Richter’s 8-hour long ‘Sleep’ is designed as suggested by the title, as music you can sleep to.
I’m a big fan of Robert Rich’s 7 hour ‘Somnium’ sleep-inducing music and this is just as good but completely different in style. Richter mixes minimalist composition and contemporary classical to create a calming, soporific experience. The music is equally effective whether you choose it as your daytime soundtrack or you sleep with it. Hauntingly beautiful in parts, almost perfectly silent in others, this is a true masterpiece.
3. Mew +-
+ – (pronounced Plus Minus) is the sixth studio album by Danish band Mew. Difficult to classify, Mew have been variously described as indie, dream-pop and progressive.
2015’s +- is a well crafted collection of songs, if maybe not as immediate as its 2009 predecessor ‘No More Stories Are Told Today…..’. After a couple of listens, stand out tracks are ‘Satellites’, ‘Making Friends’ ‘Water Slides’ and ‘My Complications’.
Huge sounding in places, dreamy in others – typical, magical Mew. I just hope we don’t have to wait another 6 years for the next album.
2. Big Big Train – Wassail
Big Big Train’s ‘Wassail’ EP contains 4 tracks, including 3 new studio offerings – ‘Wassail’, ‘Lost Rivers Of London’ and ‘Mudlarks’. These 3 tracks certainly whet the appetite for 2016’s proposed new album ‘Folklore’.
Quintessentially English as ever, Big Big Train’s arrival in Prog’s top division has been a long journey since their formation in 1990. They are now an 8-piece band with the original two members (Greg Spawton and Andy Poole) being augmented by vocalist David Longdon, drummer Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), guitarist Dave Gregory (XTC, Tin Spirits), keyboardist Danny Manners, violinist Rachel Hall (Stackridge) and guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom (Beardfish). A 5-piece brass ensemble adds to the diversity on this EP.
The sound is warm pastoral progressive rock with strong melodies…if you’re not familiar with Big Big Train, check them out!
1. Steven Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase.
No surprises here – ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase.’ Steven Wilson’s 4th solo album consolidates his position in the current Progressive music scene. I wasn’t sure he could improve on 2013’s excellent ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ – but I think he has.
No weak tracks on the album, it’s an album of highlights (‘Three Years Older’, ‘Perfect Life’, ‘Routine’, ‘Ancestral’ et al) coupled with a beautiful deluxe packaged version of the CD/Blu-Ray and a stunning tour, 2015 belonged to Steven Wilson.
Steven and band will be on tour for the first half of 2016 (including a return to Canada in March) when they will be performing the entire album – make sure you don’t miss them.