I utterly failed at making a “best of 2021” list this year, as is often the case. I just don’t make lists like I used to, and I was never much of a list maker to begin with. I really did try, but the list never came together. Instead, today, here are three strong favorites I kept going back to, all from before 2021:
▰ Ben Monder uploaded, early during the pandemic, on May 15, 2020, this video of his elegant dissection of the classic song “Never Let Me Go”:
▰ The Michele Rabbia (drums, electronics), Gianluca Petrella (trombone, sounds), and Eivind Aarset (guitar, electronics) 2019 trio album, Lost River (ECM). Beautiful, hyperminimal ambient jazz. I love when music sounds like less than the sum of its parts: ecmrecords.com.
▰ I started listening to this instrumental version of the classic Grace Jones track “Slave to the Rhythm,” produced by Trevor Horn, when Robbie Shakespeare, the great bass player, died. There is no official instrumental version, but this one, uploaded in October 2018, was constructed by a YouTuber who goes by Pacalo, and who appears to construct instrumentals for tracks that don’t have them (also check out INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart” and Pet Shop Boys’ “Suburbia”).