With deserving albums that miss coverage passing through my inbox every week, it's unfortunately no surprise that as the year wears on, I discover fantastic music that somehow completely passed me by. That, alongside records I've enjoyed all year long which had meant to be covered, and for whatever reason, simply weren't, leaves a fair amount of music just as worth your time as anything we covered at The 405 in 2017.

These are just a few of the very best.

***

Nadah el Shazly – Ahwar

It's rare that an album leaves me truly, completely at a loss for words. Especially when I love it. Yet, I challenge you, upon listening to Ahwar, to succinctly explain to a friend exactly what it sounds like, how it makes you feel. Hailing from Cairo, it's not entirely off base to think of this as a bit of an Arabic Björk-esque exploration, but it's a vast reduction. Nothing else has sounded like Ahwar this year, including Utopia. There's that loss for words again. Just listen to this shit.

Gothic Tropic – Fast or Feast

Cecilia Della Peruti isn't necessarily doing anything new as Gothic Tropic, but she doesn't have to. The immediacy of the songs speak for themselves. Not every single track here is a winner, but with serious highlights including 'How Life Works', 'Don't Give Me Up' and 'Teenage Behavior', not to mention the slow burn groove of 'Chemical Trail', that will keep you coming back for more, Fast or Feast seems a strong song of good things to come. Besides, name a single better title for an album closer than 'Feed You to the Sharks'.

Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement – Ambient Black Magic

In truth, ambient fiends can be a picky bunch. Matching (forget about topping) early high watermarks from the likes of Brian Eno and Harold Budd is just plain old hard. In the years since, luminaries such as The KLF, Gas, Biosphere, and unsung champion SleepResearch_Facility have made their marks, but true masters – that can bring something that feels new to the arena – are far and few between. Dominick Fernow doubtlessly receives more far attention as Prurient (and Vatican Shadow), but to my mind, he's never sounded better than as Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement. He brings his inherent gloom to a brand of dark ambient influenced by the dark mystical mysteries of an old world clashing with the new that be brings brilliantly to life in his recordings.

Here Lies Man – Here Lies Man

On paper, Here Lies Man just shouldn't work. Even in the press release, the band's benefactors struggled to describe them, electing to go with, 'Imagine if Black Sabbath made Afrobeat.” In fairness to their PR, it was this amusing claim that led to me to listen at all, and somehow, both that description ends up making a bit of sense and the music is highly enjoyable. An unexpected delight.

Vtgnike – Collection

You needn't be versed in footwork to enjoy this one. The Russian producer known as Vtgnike makes it easy, perfectly capturing the empty urban life captured in the background of the album art. I repeatedly see this described as experimental. While I don't necessarily disagree in principle, it perhaps does the instant appeal of the music to be found here a disservice. Regardless of how deep you've delved into electronic grooves, kick back, put this on in the wee hours of the night, and enjoy the journey.

Vera Blue – Perennial

In truth, it wasn't until some time after getting into Perennial that I learned Celia Pavey gained her start on the Australian version of The Voice. Thankfully, I missed out on whatever kneejerk reaction that might be giving you at the moment, and you'd do best to ignore it. She's crafted a strong pop debut as Vera Blue, mining love lost to great effect. If you don't feel “Mended” in your bones, see a doctor.

Honorable Mention:

MC Eiht – Which Way iz West

Perhaps the most “obvious” inclusion here, but I've never quite forgiven myself for failing to write this up, so here we are. MC Eiht is a local legend, but somewhat unsung on a national level. You may know him as a member of Compton's Most Wanted, or perhaps as the voice of Ryder in GTA: San Andreas (“I'm a motha fuckin' genius!”), the man has been everywhere. Admirably, during the O.G. Phase of his career, he hasn't forced out records just to do them, taking nearly 10 years between his last LP and Which Way iz West. He made sure it was a minor event, snatching up DJ Premier himself as executive producer, who offers and informs a unique brand of G-bap, perfectly mixing his New York sound into something distinctly West Coast. An underrated rap treasure.