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