I found it hard to keep up with the music in 2014. It was a busy year, to say the least. I defended my dissertation in January, signed four book contracts, had three journal articles and three book chapters published, submitted three other articles to journals, submitted a 900-page manuscript for publication, gave a conference paper, finally saw published the book I coedited with Travis McMaken on Karl Barth, and made serious headway in writing two more book manuscripts. And that is all on top of the dozens of books I edited for publication with IVP Academic. So I’ve had a lot on my mind in 2014. Unfortunately, my music listening suffered.
That being said, I still listened to many albums this year—many very good albums. A number of these albums are by artists who are known for a particular instrument: Arve Henriksen on trumpet, Owen Pallett on violin, Ernst Reijseger on cello, Hauschka on piano, and James Blackshaw on guitar. 2014 was the year I discovered both Henriksen and Reijseger, and I suspect they will feature on future lists. Many of my favorite albums—Henriksen, Richard Reed Parry, David Lang, Reijseger, Hauschka, Blackshaw, Glenn Kotche, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Barnett + Coloccia, and Golden Retriever—could be classified as experimental or contemporary classical, which is a growing area of interest.
With that said, here is my list of the best albums of 2014.
1. Arve Henriksen, Chron + Cosmic Creation, The Nature of Connections, World of Glass (with Terje Isungset)
Picking Henriksen for #1 is not merely penance for overlooking his Places of Worship on last year's list. Any of his 2014 albums would be worthy of this spot – and all of them together make for a stunning output in a single year – but the release of Chron and Cosmic Creation is the clear highlight. This is daring, eye-opening experimental music. But do not miss World of Glass, where all of the music is played on instruments made out of glass.