It was a staggering year in sounds, far too much to get a handle on — assuming, that is, that you wanted to hear something different. Somewhere just over and a bit under the radar, these discs did or didn’t change your life in 2003.

Active Ingredients (Chad Taylor, Jemeel Moondoc et al.), Titration (Delmark)

A Grape Dope,
Missing Dragons EP (Galaxia)

Tony Allen,
Home Cooking (Narada)

Ammon Contact,
Sounds Like Everything (Plug Research)

The Angels of Light,
Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home (Young God)

Aphex Twin,
26 Mixes for Cash (Warp)

Art Ensemble of Chicago,
Tribute to Lester (ECM)

Richard Ashcroft,
Human Conditions (Virgin)

Federico Aubele,
Gran Hotel Buenos Aires (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music)

Baby Dodds,
Talking and Drum Solos (Atavistic)

Basement Jaxx,
Kish Kash (Astralwerks)

Tywanna Jo Baskette,
Fancy Blue (Sweet Tea)

Benjamin Smoke

DVD (Plexifilm)

Brendan Benson and the Wellfed Boys,
Metarie EP (Startime International)

The Black Keys,
Thickfreakness (Fat Possum)

Carla Bley,
Looking for America (WATT/ECM)

Books on Tape,

Sings the Blues (Diffusion I Media)

Carla Bozulich,
Red Headed Stranger (DiCristina Stair Builders/Revolver)

Haha Sound (Warp)

Busdriver & Radioinactive with Daedelus,
The Weather (Mush)

Uri Caine,
Mahler: Dark Flame (Winter & Winter)

Quicksand/Cradlesnakes (Thrill Jockey)

Can DVD (Spoon/Mute)

Cat Power,
You Are Free (Matador)

Chicago Underground Trio,
Slon (Thrill Jockey)

Cinematic Orchestra,
Man With a Movie Camera (Ninja Tune)

The Clean,
Anthology (Merge)

James Combs,
Extraordinary Sleeper EP (Disingenuous Music)

Carl Craig,
others, The Detroit Experiment (Ropeadope)
Don Cunningham Quartet,
Something for Everyone (Luv N’ Haight/Ubiquity)

Holger Czukay/

The New Millennium (Fünfundvierzig)

Apple O’ (Kill Rock Stars)

Dengue Fever,
Dengue Fever (Mimicry/Revolver)

Dennis Russell Davies/Radio Symphonieorche-ster Wien,

Silvestrov: Metamusic/Postludium (ECM)

DJ Krush,
The Message at the Depth (Red Ink)

DJ Wally,
Nothing Stays the Same (Thirsty Ear)

Don Maximo/
Postmod Premax,
Terminal II (Phthalo)

The 88,
Kind of Light (Mootron/EMK)

Howling Book (www.eleven

Roger Eno & Peter Hammill,

The Anointed Hour (Tone Casualties)
Erase Errata


Eri and Marcus Popp,
So (Thrill Jockey)

Delìrium Còrdia (Ipecac)

400 Blows,
Black Rainbow (Rehash)

Four Tet,
Rounds (Domino)

Burnt Friedman,
Can’t Cool (EFA)

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man,
Out of Season (Sanctuary)

Twist (Mute)

Gorky’s Zygotic Mincy,
Sleep/Holiday (Sanctuary)

Johnny Greenwood,
Bodysong soundtrack (EMI)

Neil Michael Hagerty,
The Howling Hex (Drag City)

Hilary Hahn/Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra,
Bach: Concertos (Deutsche Grammophon)
The High Llamas,

Beet, Maize & Corn (Drag City) and Retrospective, Rarities & Instrumentals

The Hiss,
Clever Kicks EP (

The Hodges Brothers,
Bogue Chitto Flingding (Arhoolie)

William Hooker/
Roger Miller/Lee Ranaldo,
Monsoon (Out Trios Volume One) (Atavistic)

Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel (video), Fred Frith(composer),
Middle of the Moment DVD (Winter & Winter)

Reverend Charlie Jackson,
God’s Got It (AumFidelity/CaseQuarter)

Jan Jelinek avec the Exposures,
La Nouvelle Pauvrete (Scape)

Kayhan Kalhor
/Shujaat Husain Khan,
The Rain (ECM)

Kazufumi Kodama,
Stars (Red Ink)

The Illness (Tigerbeat6)

King Tubby,
The Roots of Dub (EFA)

Thomas Köner,
Zyklop (Mille Plateaux)

Kronos Quartet with David Barron,

Harry Partch: U.S. Highball (Nonesuch)

Wat (Mute)

Mark Lanegan Band,
Here Comes That Weird Chill (Beggars Banquet)

Yusef Lateef, Adam Rudolph, Go: Organic Orchestra,
In the Garden (YAL/Meta)

Jeanne Lee,
Natural Affinities (Sunnyside)

Script (Thrill Jockey)

Transiency (Tigerbeat6)

The Mars Volta,
De-loused in the Comatorium (Strummer/Universal)

Billy Martin/
Grant Calvin Weston/DJ Logic,
For No One in Particular (Amulet)

Flor de Piel (Sunnyside)

The Civil War (Matador)

The Mechanical Forces of Love (Wall of Sound/Astralwerks)

Stephin Merritt,
Pieces of April soundtrack (Nonesuch)

Jackie Mitoo,
Champion in the Arena (Blood and Fire)

Juana Molina,Segundo (Domino)

Thelonious Monk,
Underground (Columbia)

One Step More and You Die (Arena Rock)

Mouse on Mars,
Rost Pocks (Too Pure)

The National,
Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (Brassland)

Sevara Nazarkhan,
Yol Bolsin (RealWorld)

Neurosis & Jarboe (Neurot)

Scout Niblett,
I Am (Secretly Canadian)

Pacific Drift (Ubiquity)

Ken Nordine,
Wink (Asphodel)

Turning It Down Since 2001 (Load)

Astereotypical (Winter & Winter)

Jeff Parker,
Like-Coping (Delmark)

The William Parker Violin Trio,
Scrapbook (Thirsty Ear)

Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham,
L’Avventura (Jetset)

Astor Piazzolla,
Adiós Nonino and Pulsación (Circular Moves)

Offcell (Absolutely Kosher)

Sleeping With Ghosts (Astralwerks)

Spokes (Warp)

Closer (Novamute)

45/45 (Mute)

The Polyphonic Spree,
Light & Day EP (Hollywood)

Iggy Pop,
Skull Ring (Virgin)

Prefuse 73,
One Word Extinguisher (Warp)

Puffy Amiyumi,
Nice (Bar None)

Rabbinical School Dropouts,
Cosmic Tree (Tzadik)

Hail to the Thief (Capitol)

Robert Randolph & the Family Band,
Unclassified (Warner Bros.)

I Am a Foreigner (Soleilmoon)

T. Raumschmiere,
Radio Blackout (Novamute)

Lou Reed,
The Raven (Reprise)

Steve Reich/
Beryl Korot,
Three Tales (Nonesuch)

Terje Rypdal,
Lux Aeterna (ECM)

Schneider TM,
6 Peace EP (Mute)

Seksu Roba,
Pleasure Vibrations (Eenie Meenie)

Matthew Shipp,
Sorcerer Sessions (Thirsty Ear)

Something Deeper Than These Changes (Smile)

Sun Ra,
Space Is the Place DVD (Plexifilm) and Spaceship Lullaby — The Vocal Groups (Atavistic)

Super Furry Animals,
Phantom Power CD/DVD (Beggars Group)

John Surman/Jack DeJohnette,
Free and Equal (ECM)

Lil’ Beethoven (Palm)

Amazing Grace (Sanctuary)

Spring Heel Jack, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, others,
Live (Thirsty Ear)

Kristi Stassinopoulou,
The Secrets of the Rocks (Tinder)

Steely Dan,
Everything Must Go (Reprise)

The Swimming Pool Q’s,

Royal Academy of Reality (Bar None)

David Sylvian,

Blemish (Samadhi Sound)

Nobukazu Takemura,
Assembler 2 (Thrill Jockey)

Moris Tepper,
Head Off (Candlebone)

Terre Thaemlitz,
Lovebomb (Mille Plateaux)

Waiting for the Moon (Beggars Group)

Town and Country,
5 (Thrill Jockey)


Vulnerable (Sanctuary)

Trüby Trio,
Elevator Music (Compost)

Twilight Circus Dub Sound System,
Foundation Rockers (Mrecords)

Answers (Southern)

James Blood Ulmer,
No Escape From the Blues (Hyena)

Bilious Paths (Planet Mu)

Various artists,
Angola Prison Spirituals (Arhoolie)

Various artists,
Havana & Matanzas, Cuba
ca. 1957

Various artists,
Ikebana: Merzbow’s Amlux Rebuilt, Reused and Recycled (Important)

Various artists,
Kentucky Mountain Music box set (Yazoo)

Various artists,

Morvern Callar soundtrack (Warp)

Various artists,
Peace With Every Step (Todosonidos Presenta)

Various artists,
Sigmatropic: 16 Haiku & Other Stories (Thirsty Ear)

Various artists,
Times Ain’t Like They Used To Be: Early American Rural Music vols. 7 & 8 (Yazoo)

Various artists/R. Crumb,
Hot Women: Women Singers From the Torrid Regions of the World (Kein & Aber)

Louie Vega,
Elements of Life (Vega)

Arthur Verocai,
Music Is My Drug! (Luv N’Haight/Ubiquity)

Luke Vibert,
YosepH (Warp)


Finnegans W.A.C.O. (True Classical)

The David S. Ware Quartet,
Freedom Suite (Aum Fidelity)

The White Stripes,
Elephant (V2)

William Winant Percussion Group, others,

Lou Harrison: Drums Along the Pacific (New Albion)

Send (Pink Flag)

Robert Wyatt,
Cuckooland (Hannibal/Ryko) and Solar Flares Burn for You (Cuneiform)

Yasunao Tone

ZZ Top,
Mescalero (RCA) and Chrome, Smoke & BBQ box set (Warner Bros.)

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