Best of 2018 Words by Rocco Tyndale with contributions by Michael Red, Matsya and Behnibubu. Feature / Blog

The Best Music Of 2018

To digest this amazing year in music we've invited some of our most trusted musical tastemakers to give their 2 cents on their favorite releases of the year.

So much has happened in 2018, wouldn't you say? Politically, internally, globally, geographically, it's been quite a year, affecting everyone differently. A year of upheaval, change, unrest and unraveling of a story that is probably too personal to tell, each one of us having our own experience of it. This has left many seeking refuge in art, in movies and specially in music. Listeners have an ample abundance of new music to choose from, with over 20,000 hours of music released every day to Spotify, countless playlists, years worth of DJ mixes and a number of important reissues of back catalog, music fans can feel equally satisfied and overwhelmed.

Here at Subtempo we've decided to put together a distilled version of the best music that came out in 2018. To do that, what better way than to reach out to our most trusted djs and producers to get their take on the matter?

We've invited Michael Red, Vancouver powerhouse DJ, producer and curator who has released some of his ambient material as Souns here on Subtempo and has a myriad of other projects, including his unforgettable dancefloor sets and productions under his own name. Also sharing his expertise and sensibility is Matsya, a DJ, producer and dancer based in Salt Spring island in Canada, who's dj sets are always incredibly genre fluid journeying from ambient to jazz, to jungle in one take. Also giving his 2c is Behnibubu, another creative ally here at Subtempo, who's well known for his unique soulful taste, back in the day filling dancefloors in the pacific northwest on the bass and dubstep scenes and lately focusing more on instrumental music and moving away from constrictions of genre. To give the final top up is yours trully, Rocco Tyndale aka rocshabda, Subtempo founder.

The criteria for this has been true to the heart. These are 4 unique lists that represent what each of us has listened to the most during this year, things that have grabbed our attention, that have been on repeat and have surprised us. There is no restriction of genre, it's just all about the music we love. Take a deep dive and hope you like what you hear. We have put together an easy to find playlist on Avalon Emerson's new Buy Music Club website for each of the contributors with whatever we could find on Bandcamp, so you can easily listen, discover and maybe buy it if you feel it, on Bandcamp.

Michael Red

From Michael Red: Hey Hey. I generally consume and consider music a lot slower these days. 2018 had me finally getting around to a lot of music from 2017 and even further back for the first time. 2018 also had me making an effort to give more time to all the music i’ve already acquired, instead of forging ahead and amassing music without giving it proper attention to explore it’s depth and simply to enjoy it (without assessing it). “My” 2018 had me finally hearing Björk, dvsn and Kelela’s lastest albums, discover Berhana and El Buho, amongst other things. So naturally, I haven’t got around to what i’m sure is piles of amazing work from this year ... but I do look forward to it when the time comes around! (p.s. this year i’ve been spending loads of time in the studio, working and listening to my own work, so...) without inflating the list, and without trying to angle towards any particular genre, here is music I’ve loved and listened to many many times over that was released this year:


  1. WSTRN - Dou3ble 3ak (selections from)
  2. Tierra Whack - Whack World
  3. 6Lack - East Atlanta Love Letter
  4. ANDERSON.PAAK - Oxnard
  5. Nils Frahm - All Melody
  6. Haloed - Off-World
  7. TSVI - Inner Worlds
  8. Djrum - Portrait With Firewood (selections from)
  9. Ólafur Arnalds - Re:member (selections from)


  1. Tory Lanez - Leaning feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
  2. Valee - Miami feat. Pusha T.
  3. A$AP ROCKY - Fuck Sleep feat. FKA Twigs
  4. YCEE - Say Bye Bye feat. Eugy
  5. Kingdom - Mila Brackins
  6. B.o.B. - Cuello
  7. Sango - Chemistry feat. JMSN
  8. Lurka - Heat Mover
  9. Anything by Seekers International


From Matsya: 2018; another year of excellence in music. From bass music, ambient esoterics, sound design, obscured melodies or simply chill. Some new discoveries & some well expected gems. Some purely for the solitary auditory, some for the vast spaces, crowds and festival sound systems. Extensive list in all styles, moods and flavours. In no particular order. Enjoy~


  2. Objekt - Cocoon Crush
  3. Memotone - The Rounded Room
  4. Djrum - Portrait with Firewood
  5. Aisha Devi - DNA Feelings
  6. Skee Mask - Compro
  7. Christina Vantzou - No. 4
  8. Space Afrika - Somewhere Decent To Live
  9. Jake Muir - Lady’s Mantle
  10. WEN - Ephem-Era
  11. Nils Frahm - All Melody
  12. Leon Vynehall - Nothing Is Still
  13. Abul Mogard - Above All Dreams
  14. Ancestral Voices - Mycelia
  15. V.A. by Timedance - Patina Echoes
  16. V.A. by ŦĦ€ ǤΔΜ€Ş Ŵ€ ƤŁΔ¥ - Ghosts
  17. Pendant - Make Me Know You Sweet
  18. Krakaur - Anthology (end of 2017)


  1. Amduscias - 7th Floor
  2. Synkro - Luminous
  3. Sleeper - Smoke and Mirrors
  4. Dengue Dengue Dengue - Semilerro
  5. Sieren - Fading Memory EP
  6. Argo - Daredevil EP
  7. Commodo - Dyrge
  8. Acid Lab - Evora Ep
  9. Facta - Dumb Hummer/All The Time
  10. Toma Kami - Sharp Tool In The Shed - Land Of The Insane
  11. Hysee– Solstice Boundaries EP (end of 2017)
  12. Gantz - Acid (End of 2017)


  1. Epoch - V1
  2. Sweatson Klank - Intertwined feat. Sarah Saldivia
  3. Orlando - Friends or Lovers? feat. Buscabulla
  4. Scratcha DVA - DRMTRK 3 feat. Jesse Lanza
  5. Kromestar - Righteous
  6. O$VMV$M - Shook
  7. Skeptical - Enjoy This Trip
  8. Raime - Some Things Can Happen, Just Like This
  9. Clap! Clap! - Ode To The Pleiades (Photay Remix)
  10. Ben Frost - Ionia (Alva Noto Remodel)
  11. Havelock - Fiction
  12. Lewis James - All In feat. Alis
  13. P. ADRIX - Sonhos
  14. Varg - 5 Stars & Vanity Lights feat. Ecco2k


  1. Timedance
  2. White Peach
  3. Livity Sound
  4. UVB-76
  5. P.A.N.
  6. Innamind Records
  7. Hyperboloid Records
  8. Ilian Tape
  9. Kaizen
  10. Exit Records
  11. Houndstooth
  12. R&S Records


Forest Drive West, Lanark Artefax, The Caretaker, Calmpound, Dj Python, Overlook, Actress, Ikonika, ASC, Batu, Deft, Jlin.


From Behnibubu: This year brought a ton of amazing new music throughout all genres for everyone to savor on, but for me these selections represent some of my favorite producers, composers, musicians, pianists, and off the cuff experimentalists that gave us something extra special in 2018. Artists like Daniel Brandt created some mind bending atmospheres and raw rhythmic melodies in his October release - Channels, while long time composer and formidable pianist, Nils Frahm, offered up yet another beautifully melancholic and contemplative composition with All Melody.
Watching the Oklahoma based, BRONCHO, evolve throughout their career, this years release - Bad Behavior, is rejoice-fully packed with starstruck jams like Sandman and Get In My Car that I had on repeat for days and days. Catchy, sexy, and 80s driven tunes that I gladly let get stuck in my head time and again.
While 2018 gave all kinds of goodies, the one I think surprised me the most was David August's - D'ANGELO. Soothing, sometimes sombre, compositions that blend noir-ish soundscapes, gothic rock, early electronic music and Ibiza style chillout sounds, ultimately result in a fresh, deeply engaging sound. August is at the top of my list for best release of the year.
Take a peek at all of my other top 10 releases of 2018 and don't forget to check out other artists top 2018 lists on Hopefully you'll find something that sparks inspiration just like it did for me. Cheers!


  1. Nils Frahm - All Melody
  2. Lambert, Dekker - We Share Phenomena (Instrumental Verion)
  3. BRONCHO - Bad Behavior
  4. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
  5. Skin Shape - Filoxiny
  6. Niklas Paschburg - Oceanic
  7. David August - D'ANGELO
  8. Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo
  9. Ian Ewing - Overnight


  1. Lambert - Grauer Beton (Lambert Rework)
  2. Daniel Brandt - Flamingo
  3. Drowning by Numbers - The Ground Before Him
  4. Fabricio Paterlini - All My Joy, All My Pain
  5. Bobby Oroza - This Love Pt.1
  6. Kelly Finnigan - Catch Me I'm Falling
  7. BICEP - Opal (Four Tet Remix)
  8. Throwing Snow - Vulpine


From rocshabda: 2018 has been an amazing year for cross-pollination, artists pushing the boundaries of what fans are expecting from them, evolving their own sound and thus, culture. Below you'll find a list of music I've come back to again and again during this year, albums that require many spins to even grasp the subtlety and depth of the statement they are attempting to make. If you get a chance, dig in, as lots of these albums, besides the music being stellar, have a whole package that comes with them, such as Robot Koch's Sphere premiering a planetarium visual show, or Ólafur Arnalds cover art made with generative music that triggered generative art, Flako's album that had a whole experiential website to go with it or Deru's series of mindblowing videos for his new album. Here's my selection:


  1. Skee Mask - Compro
  2. Nils Frahm - All Melody
  3. Ólafur Arnalds - Re:Member
  4. Dj Koze - Knock Knock
  5. Djrum - Portrait With Firewood
  6. DBridge - A Love I Can't Explain
  7. Leon Vynehall - Nothing Is Still
  8. Robot Koch - Sphere
  9. Rival Consoles - Persona
  10. V/A - Hector Plimmer - Sunshine Remixed
  11. Ross From Friends - Family Portrait
  12. Natureboy Flako - Theme For A Dream
  13. Paul White - Rejuvenate
  14. Alva Noto - Unieqav
  15. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
  16. Daniel Avery - Song For Alpha
  17. Objekt - Cocoon Rush
  18. Gacha Bakradze - Word Color
  19. Deru - Torn In Two
  20. Rosalia - El Mal Querer


These Labels and blogs have been pushing the envelope, and they have served as massive inspiration for me this year. Labels: Houndstooth, Erased Tapes, Ninja Tune, Ghostly International, A Strangely Isolated Place, Soulection, Whities, Lapsus, Young Bloods, Hush Hush, Project Mooncircle, Moderna Records, Ilian Tape. Blogs: Resident Advisor, Pitchfork, FACT. They do it well, every single time and it takes A LOT to do it well, so kudos to all of you.

Thank you to all the artists and labels that have taken the risk of putting their work out into the world. Thank you to all the listeners and fans that have supported and engaged with the art forms. It's been a great year for music and art. We hope that you can use these lists as pointers to dig in and discover new music and new artists further into 2019 and onwards!