Here at Journeyscapes, 2016 proved to be a wonderful year with a plethora of amazing new music coming from both emerging as well as long-established artists. I had vacillated for some time as to whether I should create a year-end list or not, ultimately deciding it would be a great way to reflect upon some of the most defining and representative music of the program over the past year. 

I also chose to go with the word “top” verses “best”, perhaps in an attempt to feel less like I was comparing apples to oranges, or automatically relegating albums that didn’t make the (extremely painstaking and incredibly hard to narrow down) final list as being “less good” than those that did. Initially, I had planned a top 20 list but quickly discovered I had no choice but to expand it to accommodate a few more titles. In fact, it was highly tempting to extend the list to 30 entries, but alas, 25 seemed like the perfect number to round things out. Ultimately, all efforts to rank the albums proved futile, which is why I’ve named them in alphabetical order.

Nevertheless, in my desire to highlight many other prestigious recordings that have graced my senses – not just over the past year, but over a lifetime of listening to the kinds of music featured on Journeyscapes – I’ll be putting together more specialized and genre-specific lists in the near future. Also, albums that were released after October 31st, 2016 (or earlier in the year but which I acquired after that date) will roll over into 2017's eligibility.

While the top 25 mostly includes albums from independent artists and labels, two “new age” music giants who made recent stellar comebacks easily found their place among the final pool. First up was world-renowned Irish sensation Enya (best known for international hits like “Orinoco Flow” and “Only Time”) who returned to the music scene after a seven year hiatus to release her enchanting Dark Sky Island album on November 20th, 2015. The album is also currently nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best New Age Album.

Then there was Greek composer Vangelis, who perhaps is most famous for his epic film scores to movies such as Chariots of Fire and Bladerunner. He’d last put forth a “proper” album in 2001 called Mythodea, which was later followed-up with a few soundtrack albums including 2004’s Alexander. Finally, on September 23rd of this year, we heralded the much anticipated release of his brilliantly cosmic-themed Rosetta album, which is dedicated to the Rosetta space probe mission that was launched in 2004 and subsequently crash-landed into a comet just a week after the album’s release! It too, is nominated for a Grammy award, not only alongside Enya’s, but with another album in the top 25 by sacred vocal/world fusion band White Sun.

Another musical pioneer who made the list is versatile multi-instrumentalist David Arkenstone. With a recording catalog that extends back to the mid-1980’s and includes albums released on both Narada and Windham Hill Records, he continues to show no signs of slowing down in the creativity department!

One label that continues to churn out some of the most impressive ambient/electronic music around is Spotted Peccary Music, which landed three albums among the 25 chosen with releases by Chronotope Project, Csillagköd and Sverre Knut Johansen.

Longtime ambient/electronic music veterans Jeff Pearce, Mark Dwane and Erik Wøllo (in collaboration with renowned world percussionist Byron Metcalf) have also continued to produce some of my favorite albums throughout the years. Having all released outstanding works earlier this year, they are joined on here by some lesser-known electronic music protégés, including Forrest Smithson, Jim OttawayJos d’Almeida and Keith Richie.

Additionally, a handful of chilltrance/downtempo/electronica albums are represented among the 25 picks, including supremely captivating releases by All India Radio, Dreaming Cooper, Jean Mare and Tigerforest.

Although a significant portion of the music featured on Journeyscapes encompasses ambient and electronica styles of music, acoustic and solo instrumental works are certainly shown some love here as well. Lena Natalia’s Rendezvous in Paris is one such example that joins the ranks – a rather modest yet mesmerizing solo piano album.

Also included is the latest release by ethereal vocalist/theremist Amethyste, along with one of my favorite Celtic albums of recent years on the Real Music label by an artist named Eamonn Karran. Flutist Sherry Finzer appears on two recordings that made the final cut, including one with synthesist Tom Moore and another with guitarist/synthesist Cass Anawaty under the project name Majestica.

Another artist landing two entries is multi-instrumentalist Tom Eaton, who released a pair of gorgeous albums this year as part of a trilogy, with the third installment due out sometime in 2017. Tom is perhaps best known as co-producer and engineer for Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, which is owned by Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman.

And so here I present to you the Top 25 albums of 2016 with a very special 2 ½ hour program (click here for the playlist) and accompanying alphabetized list to wrap up the year’s end... I hope you enjoy and thank you for tuning in! ~Candice Michelle

  Artist Name Album Title


All India Radio


The Slow Light


Amethyste


Alien Moon


Chronotope Project


Passages


Csillagköd


All The Time


David Arkenstone


Beneath A Darkening Sky


Dreaming Cooper


Mysterious Places


Eamonn Karran


Celtic Skies


Enya


Dark Sky Island


Erik Wøllo & Byron Metcalf


Earth Luminous


Forrest Smithson


Reversal of Thought


Jean Mare


Seven Dreams


Jeff Pearce


Follow the River Home


Jim Ottaway


Southern Cross


Jos d'Almeida


Aether


Keith Richie


Skylines


Lena Natalia


Rendezvous In Paris


Majestica


In The Midst of Stars


Mark Dwane


Ufology


Sverre Knut Johansen 


Earth From Above


Tigerforest


Songs of Reverence


Tom Eaton


Abendromen


Tom Eaton


Indesterren


Tom Moore & Sherry Finzer


Whispers From Silence


Vangelis


Rosetta


White Sun


White Sun II



Comments

December 28, 2016 @04:40 am
Nice list :-)
Glenn
December 26, 2016 @11:48 pm
What a wonderful list of great artists and they're music. Especially seeing my brother Forrest Smithson with Reversal of Thought. Love listening to his amazing music.
Alvin Smithson
December 26, 2016 @09:08 pm
Hi Candice. That's a pretty cool list. Thank you so much for including SOUTHERN CROSS as part of the list. Also many thanks for including my music on Journeyscapes Radio and podcasts throughout 2016. Best wishes... Jim (www.jimottaway.com)
Jim Ottaway

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