Spend seasons with great listening. Photo (CC-BY-SA) hell*yeah.

Given the vastness of music available today online, “best of…” lists, while nice to have, can be disappointingly predictable. Not so with music selected by readers of this site. We asked for your favorite albums of last year, and you responded with extraordinary variety. I’ve selected entries from readers – some must-have inclusions, some that were simply well-described or surprising – for your enjoyment here. In these mid-January doldrums, it’s a perfect time to catch up on musical inspiration, then hole up and create some digital music of your own. I’ve called attention to some specific choices with images and videos and audio embeds, too, as you’ll see.

If you’re like me, creating often must begin with listening. Here’s plenty of listening to get you started.

36, Album (full-length)

Fine musician with an ear for ambient texture and melody. People ought to pay attention!

Suggested by Peter Dines http://modulations.createdigitalmusic.com

$.99 Dreams
Bandcamp/$.99 Dreams, Album (full-length)

2nd album delivers a novel mix of dark jazz, instrumental hip hop, and a raw improvised aesthetic.

Suggested by Mat

Music for motion pictures
Åbäke, Album (full-length)

Cosy and cute. This is a soundtrack that fits all seasons of the year and I always listen to it when I travel by train!

Suggested by Lars Jönsson


Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld
Raster Noton, Album (full-length)

Suggested by strunkdts

Iboga, Album (full-length)

A buddy of mine put this CD in his Oldsmobile in the middle of the Snoqualmie National Forest at about 2am. Pitch back outside. Damp from the moisture of the forest, and smelly from the smoke of the campfire. I was in the back seat and I remember being transported by this album. It really is a trancey record. The bass feels warm, and the percussion is so nicely done and crisp. I love the different noise sweeps and use of side-chain compression. The first disk of the album plays back in the form of a Mixed set, however all of the songs are by Antix. The second disk contains single versions and remixes of the album’s songs. Check out Manta (Beckers Remix) for some good cheese. Mmmm. Cheese. It’s both smooth and crunchy at the same time. I chose this record because I really don’t think it should be missed. It is a great trance record.

Suggested by Adam

In D
Infiné, Album (full-length)

Got impressed by this string-techno-driven-glitch mixture… great album!!!

Suggested by flogistox

Consume, Adapt, Create
Hymen Records, Album (full-length)

A perfect mix of dubtep, ebm, experimental, techno, ambient, cinematic, Daniel Myer is a master sound designer and an expert hook maker

Suggested by cooptrol cooptrol.com

Autechre are back.

Warp, Album (full-length)

Old bastards don’t miss a hit in my opinion… This new full-length is brilliant!

Suggested by Gilieu

Warp, Album (full-length)

It’s ridiculous. It’s probably one of the best albums ever. The sounds, the music, the algorithms (at least it sounds very algorithmic (in a good way), in Treale for example). I don’t know what to say really. But it feels like I’m about to rethink everything I thought I thought was important in music. Again. A good thing, i guess.

Suggested by Max Wainwright soundcloud.com/maxwainwright

  • Wow, this has given me a lot of new, good music to sift through. Thanks!

  • I suppose I only have myself to blame for not nominating it, but I am surprised nobody else thought of Oval: O. After almost a decade from his last record, Markus Popp returns with a fantastic new sound: sharp, crystal clear, the sounds of particles ricocheting off marble surfaces. With some tasty drum breaks too 😉 Think it was produced on his custom Oval software – although I might be wrong about that…

  • Carl Lumma

    What, nobody mentioned knowsur's NANA WODORI?


  • drrn

    As much as I love Burial's "Untrue," it's from 2007 not 2010.

  • james

    Yes! Si, well fucking done.

  • strunkdts

    Sorry, no review for AlvaNoto BlixaBargeld apart from, with a pedigree like that how do you go wrong?. The sonic palette is perfect. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp4lZWZRsvo

    Big props also to Kollektive Turmstrausse (whom i also only just discovered last year) The maighty Demdike Stare who just seem to get better, Caribou and the release from Roj. (Ghost Box is the bomb!)

    Heres looking forward to even better revelations this year.

  • What, no Shobaleader One?

  • FreakWithoutACause

    A Michael Jackson video cover with no crotch-grabbing?!?! Aren't Pomplamoose the couple from that car commercial? Anywhoo, great to see Balam Acab get a nod. Their EP is in steady rotation on my iPod.

  • pomplamoose and pendulum

    thanks for keeping your ears to the streets for me fellas

    (im just fronting though, i really had to dig to find scoffs)

  • wow thnx for demdike stare!

  • Awesome.  Bought Cosmo D and Eskimo Spy, added a few more to my Amazon list.

    I thought "Cosmo D" was a familiar name — I'm pretty sure he released a free cello sample set a couple years ago.

  • Sarah

    the new kyle bobby dunn is the most gorgeous release i've heard in 10+ years. good list. 

  • Where is Shackleton´s Fabric Mix? Forget the fact that its "fabric" or a "mix"; as a whole, its without a doubt the most engaging, organic, seductive piece of music of the last DECADE! haha… thats just my opinion.. but seriously… its futuristic, its atavistic, its structure is at first glance simple but its foundations are incredibly detailed and crafted. He´s one of the few producers in recent memory who´s music managed to become its own archetype…

  • I just want to say thank you to those of you who've taken the time to listen/download/purchase my album. A friend of mine submitted this on my behalf and I'm so pleased he has. Thanks again, Cheers!

  • If I can make this humble suggestion:

    If you fancy some psychedelic space melodies. 🙂

  • Dave Dri

    @Johan – Agreed on the Shackleton mix. I recently had a mammoth roadtrip with my editor, and somewhere between Brisbane and Sydney I was lost in a 2am-on-the-highway daze through that mix. It's pretty dense, and very interesting in the right space. I'd love to see some of the producers of this stuff in the studio. 

    As for me, my picks of 2010 are on Page 34 of 3D World's end of year issue:&nbsp ;http://bit.ly/eDYe3e. Needless to say, I was a big fan of the new Chemical Brothers album (listening to it on high-end cans is a mind-blowing step forward in production values, and erm, invincible EMS Synthi analogue goodness), but the Gold Panda album surprised me. Unsurprisingly…. the new Bonobo album is still on high rotation. Black Sands is so good that I listen to it whole – even the intro track. 

    Final note for the dancefloor inclined? Don't miss out on Technasia's 'Central'. It is an accomplished display of "less is more" production, crafted to fit the album format like Josh Gabriel's incredible 'Eight' only a few years before. Gush, swoon and appreciate : )

  • Thanks for the nomination. Much appreciated.

  • @Crashproof,

    Cosmo D here… I did release a sample library a few years back… the Solo improvisations + Beats album is another skew of my cello explorations.  Thanks Nate C for the mention!

  • Wendell

    Slacker latecomer here, who missed the call for nominations. I'd offer Pale Sketcher's "Pale Sketches Demixed" album. http://ghostly.com/artists/pale-sketcher Self-indulgent and sentimental in all the right ways, IMNSHO. Yet another winning project from Justin Broadrick. (Cool with this post not being approved due to late late late submission.)