Best Albums of 2019: Moderna Records

Particles (Moderna)
Morning Hour (Moderna)
Ouka e.p. (Moderna)

In terms of quality, Canadian modern classical label Moderna Records is hitting the right notes again and again. It continues to quietly nurture and inspire a small roster of local and international artists and is releasing some astounding work that deserves attention, even if most of the music media and blogosphere remains fixated on the somewhat over-praised genre recordings of a certain German gentleman with the initials NF.

First up is Ouka, a transcendent solo piano release from Japanese composer Daigo Hanada with keyboard progressions that are melodious, sad and profound. The clear tunes with blurry edges give it that foundational Moderna piano ‘sound’ which makes this as good an entry point as any if you are new to the label. Then there is Cambridge-born Tom Adams’ eclectic Particles which deftly blends yearning piano progressions and occasional beats and loops with backdrops of ambient noise and ethereal drones. It’s instrumental, except for the dreamy ambient rock of “Navigators”, and there’s a subtle cosmic quality throughout that keeps hinting at even further layers beneath. Finally, Italian composer Ed Carlsen’s third Moderna release Morning Hour is fabulously dynamic and full of twists and turns. On “Home” a chamber music sequence segues into pulsing electric groves and back again. “Words” and “Whisper” slowly build their arpeggios to big sweeping peaks, with fast piano notes and synthetic bleeps spiralling in unison, up and up. This is a powerful, ambitious exploration of the atmospheric spaces between electronica, classical and post-rock.

Other notable releases from Moderna this year include Constellations by Tambour and Glass Island by Richard Luke.

Best Albums of 2019 Reviews Index

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