Best Albums of 2017
selected by Sandro Tskitishvili

Kid Jesus <BR> “White Rat”

Kid Jesus
“White Rat”

Starting out and performing at Tbilisi Open Air as a full band in 2013, Kid Jesus gradually became the solo project of Levan Shanshiashvili. Although he’s a conservatory graduate specializing in guitar, his debut album presents synthesizer-heavy indie rock, with songwriting that at moments recalls the radio-friendly moments of Radiohead.

♪♫ Listen: “Memory Loss” + album stream

Kid Jesus on Soundcloud, YouTube.

Fiery Dawn <BR> “Into The Deep” EP

Fiery Dawn
“Into The Deep” EP

For a decade, Fiery Dawn, project lead by Giorgi Shavgulidze, has been one of Georgia’s most interesting proponents of trance music, with a great feel of dynamics and exquisite sense of melody. Yet in this EP, the project explores its calmer, psychill side that results in gentle, submerging music where, at moments, subtle neo-Goa touches emerge from the hypnotic atmosphere.

♪♫ Listen: “Solar Eclipse” + album stream

Fiery Dawn on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Orion <BR> “Lunatic Asylum”

“Lunatic Asylum”

Orion is a progressive rock band formed in 2015. Their debut album presents the atmospheric side of the style with elements of electronic music and alternative rock. Apparently influenced by Porcupine Tree and Radiohead, the music stays close to radio format, with eleven melancholic songs mostly based on beautiful piano / synth background augmented with guitar riffs and in some instances drums playing alongside electronic percussions.

♪♫ Listen: “Shades Of Night” + album stream

Orion on Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, Twitter.

Infest <BR> “Induced Reflection”

“Induced Reflection”

An album by Nick Turashvili that possesses a very interesting sound: trance music with mostly minimal, kick-only beat and un-melodic, reverb-drenched, spatial synthesizers mostly leaving a pyrotechnic effect. It all leaves an ultrapsychedelic impression and renders the music quite unpredictable, thereby avoiding one of the major pitfalls of this genre. Recommended for people who enjoy the darker side of psychedelic trance.

♪♫ Listen: “Wind Substance” + album stream

Infest on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube.

Gacha Bakradze <BR> “We Must Be Woods” EP

Gacha Bakradze
“We Must Be Woods” EP

Gacha Bakradze’s most recent release for Apollo imprint mostly consists of of warm, padded out, house-influenced electronic music that could serve as a very comfortable rainy-day listen. Five pieces featuring beautiful, Balearic-type loops and grooves with a notable Latin reference are imbued with breeze and serenity.

♪♫ Listen: “Gather” + EP sampler

Gacha Bakradze on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook.

Tete Noise <BR> “Erase Me Form The Clusters”

Tete Noise
“Erase Me Form The Clusters”

Space ambient from Sandro Chinchaladze, a seasoned musician who, throughout his career has dabbled into variety of genres, from folk-rock to EDM to experimental electronic music. His approach to this album varies between pure sound sculpture to atmospheric build-up by repetitive, highly reverbed loops. All in all, a nice cosmic excursion with contrasting field recordings.

♪♫ Listen: “Erase Me Form The Clusters” + album stream

Tete Noise on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Mother On Mondays <BR> “Dreams”

Mother On Mondays

A new album from the seasoned veterans of Georgian scene. Mother On Monday’s have been one of the foremost bands on country’s alternative scene in early 90s, releasing two albums but they soon split in the middle of the decade. After dormancy of 20 years they have reconvened and “Dreams” is the second album after their reactivation. Calm singing manner of Gogi Dzodzuashvili (helped out on a couple of tracks by Kote Kalandadze, another musician with wide alternative legacy) is the main determinant of album sound that flows gently and softly – though not trying anything groundbreaking, there’s a trance-inducing charm to this gentleness that this recording explores in full. A kind of music one can put to induce a pleasant sleep and probably that’s what the title of the album alludes to.

♪♫ Listen: “Give” + album steam

Mother On Mondays on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Hamatsuki <BR> “Uncertain Loops”

“Uncertain Loops”

This Georgian electronic project presents a cassette release of house music that is based on warm analog synthesizer sound.

Compositions sound reserved but the scarce hooks they have are memorable. So here we have a detached, hypnotic electronic happening that can both work in the clubs and for a sleepy time.

♪♫ Listen: “Moog And Entre” + album stream

Hamatsuki on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Project Omega “Mors Introivit In Orbem Terrarum” EP

Project Omega “Mors Introivit In Orbem Terrarum” EP

This is actually a one-man band featuring Omega, a musician who was responsible, among other things, for dark ambient of Adramalech. Here he explores unrelenting black metal in the vein of almost-namesakes Deathspell Omega. Power is here, but the rawness is supported by no-nonsense technical skills and clever arrangements that result in sound that is impressively integral given this is a lone-wolf work. This 4-song recording is the projects second EP and the way the things are going, expectations for its debut full-length are definitely high.

♪♫ Listen: “The King Of Dead” + album stream

Project Omega on Soundcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp.

George Lugatt <BR> “Stringstales” EP

George Lugatt
“Stringstales” EP

George Lugatt is an alias of Guga Chaidze, who previously has recorded a great hard rock album under the name of Belizer.

Many years later, this EP finds him in the same mode, with mid-paced bluesy music supporting his voice that reminds of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson on quite a few occasions.

Five well-performed good songs with clever lyrics from a man we don’t hear too often from. “Sleeping Knight” is especially a treat.

♪♫ Listen: “Sleeping Night” + EP sampler

George Lugatt on YouTube, Bandcamp.

V.C.V.S “Sections From The Imaginary Future”

V.C.V.S “Sections From The Imaginary Future”

This is Sandro Kozmanishvili (who releases most of his music as Hanker) presenting ambient / progressive electronic music that conveys low-key, unexciting feeling of urbanism. Sometimes chaotic, sometimes calm, sometimes even monotonous – but it all stays chilly, sunless, unwelcome. A much worthy musical depiction of a massive post-Soviet settlement with gentrification going wrong. This album has been released in limited edition of 50 copies.

♪♫ Listen: “Particular Citizen Blues” + album stream

V.C.V.S on Facebook, Bandcamp.

Phonothek <BR> “Red Moon”

“Red Moon”

“Red Moon” sees this husband / wife duo continue with their dystopic dark jazz / dark ambient music based on the topic of the death of our planet.

Scarce and haunting trumpets, chilly synthesizers, minor mood, at the moments featuring the dissonant passages from other instruments (notably violin) – so there’s everything to contemplate what have we done.

As an interesting trivia, George Shamanauri is a classically trained musician but at the turn of the century was a member of Excess, one of the most cult Georgian hip-hop projects (influenced by Cypress Hill), and Nina Sublatti, in 2015, has appeared at Eurovision representing Georgia.

♪♫ Listen: “Come In The Whisper” + album stream

Phonothek on Bandcamp, Facebook.

George Ergemlidze <BR> “Violet Star” EP

George Ergemlidze
“Violet Star” EP

On this EP, George Ergemlidze, who has dabbled in diverse genres, goes full, unapologetic synthpop / synthwave and this, perhaps, has done his melodic talent justice. Even if a bit old-fashioned, the songs are catchy, production is perfect and atmosphere is bright. The title track is excellent and wouldn’t be out of place in, say, Duran Duran’s or Spandau Ballet’s best records. Synthpop has been undergoing a low-key revival and a full album with songs like this could strike a chord or two in quite a few people. So, let’s wait what’s next.

♪♫ Listen: “Violet Star” + EP sampler

George Ergemlidze on Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud.

Masterknot <BR> “9-15”


This album featuring Davit Datunashvili and Irakli Abramishvili (who created wonderful “Archevani / Aradani” last year) collaborating with Gigi Jikia (a.k.a HVL) contains experimental, mostly ambient electronic music recorded live at Georgian countryside.

All album being improvised, it contains much diversity but it’s a laidback listen overall, although with attentive listening many interesting ideas can be discovered.

Cassette-only release, recommended for people with an ear for adventurous yet undisturbing.

♪♫ Listen: “Liaison” + album stream

Masterknot on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Sophie Villy <BR>“Planet A”

Sophie Villy
“Planet A”

Progress that Sophie Villy has displayed so far in her discography merits deep appraisal. Her first work couldn’t avoid pitfalls of most debuts, with doubtful song-format experiments and overall lack of direction. “Dress”, on the other hand, was very solid, with quite a few gems scattered around.

But it is this new album that sees her spread her wings to develop fully fledged, very personal signature – that of hypnotic, expansive-sounding trip-hop that despite being instrumentally on scarcer side is full of interesting arrangement ideas. And what is perhaps the most important in this kind of music – great, catchy melodies.

The whole album builds upon these foundations, and as if it were fully conscious of its worth, radiates much confidence. Just observe boldness of drums arrangement in the opening and title tracks, for example. Or just look how vocals never have to go overboard because she’s sure where it should exactly stand in this record.

So, to put it short, this is uniformly strong and could prove as a very important artistic statement from this young but clearly talented Georgian singer.

♪♫ Listen: “Reveal” + album stream

Sophie Villy on Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube.

mess_montage <BR> “The Death Of Optimus Prime”

“The Death Of Optimus Prime”

“The Death Of Optimus Prime” is a very well-executed, meditative piece of work by Tornike Margvelashvili that nevertheless has a huge reserve for expansion.

If one oversimplifies, it can be described as a collection of beautiful, dynamic drones, but on closer inspection it is music that nods its head to diverse compositional origins: while some pieces are loyal to modern Room40-type (that means, Ben Frost, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Tim Hecker etc.) tradition, some moments, especially the overwhelming Mechanical Gardens, recalls the dissonant, abrasive modern classical approach.

A great album to listen to, with a definite replay value.

♪♫ Listen: “Mechanical Gardens” + album stream

mess_montage on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Backwarmer <BR> “Seven”


Backwarmer returns with “Seven”, an album that is driving, heavy and sonically overwhelming.

If on their debut work they tried to shuffle their approach between garage rock, grunge and shoegaze, here they manage to present it all at once, with shoegaze bombast amplifying the nastiness of grungy riffs.

A well-composed album with the energy that can take your breath. The tongue-in-cheek flamenco reference in one of the songs is a welcome bonus. Recommended for people who like their music heavy.

♪♫ Listen: “Punch Drunk Love” + album stream

Backwarmer on Facebook, Youtube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud.

Fogtengjeren <BR> “Time Moves Unceasingly On”

“Time Moves Unceasingly On”

Fogtengjeren (Norwegian for “pedestrian”) is a brainchild of Christopher Manning, a US-born musician now based in Tbilisi, Georgia. This is his third release that sees him play multiple instruments, helped out by Tim Byrnes of Kayo Dot, Dimitri Oganesian – a much-experienced Georgian drummer and J.E.L.L.i. Although the project’s first two releases contained challenging, sophisticated, multi-language music, composition here gets even more unusual, almost completely ditching well-recognizable chord progressions and retaining only a faint trace of tonality.

If the previous work, “Distained and Untwined” was often abrasive, here even the dissonances are smooth on year; record grooves on, yet time signatures are almost impossible to count. So the impression one can get is of a disturbing uncertainty that is perhaps the main sentiment of this album. If you’re into avant-garde and all kinds of woodwinds this is a treat – a wonderfully original and thought-through music that doesn’t hide and fall back safe onto just being experimental.

♪♫ Listen: “Distorted Metropolis” + album stream

Fogtengjeren on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Of Noah <BR> “Where Sounds Never Exploded”

Of Noah
“Where Sounds Never Exploded”

In their native country, Of Noah have already cultivated some quite loyal following with their two albums (and one EP) that while definitely not for short-tempered, provided heavy, monumental and ultimately very rewarding kind of post-metal. This new work is the final installment of the trilogy of releases.

Here, the band’s music has undergone a slight stylistic refining that should prove very welcome: the music has become a bit less impenetrable but just as great, and although it all is still based on droning dissonant riffs, the duo has worked out how to build very effective melodic themes around those and provide the recording with just enough variation to keep it constantly surprising. Also, the album is actually song-oriented and none of them feels as filler.

As much I like the first two Of Noah records, if I were to pick a release from this trilogy, it would definitely be this. Too bad it is the digital-only release – we can only hope it gets released in a physical format too. Not to miss for any lover of post/sludge metal.

♪♫ Listen: “Mindless” + album stream

Of Noah on Facebook, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, YouTube.

33ა <BR> “ქართული” (Georgien)

“ქართული” (Georgien)

Although Georgia is renowned for its time-honoured folk music, there has been a definite scarcity of modern folk-based popular adaptations. It is commonly either all-too-traditional though very competent and dear-to-the-heart folklore around, or ephemeral pseudo-folk vulgarizations that perhaps have once flooded every country on earth at certain times. The instances Georgian folk music has come into close contact with modern popular trends were mainly accomplished through ethno-jazz, that occasionally inadvertently veered into the progressive folk territories.

Therefore it’s quite interesting to hear a Georgian album that fully belongs to worldbeat genre. As is known, this is a musical approach that lets you integrate all the multiculturalism that surrounds you, yet stay true to your musical roots. The fact that it was done by a seasoned band that started out as reggae-influenced pop/rock formation in not very surprising following them through their wide discography, from humble lo-fi radio-friendly beginnings to the very comfortable sound of recent times that has been becoming more and more introvert with each new release.

So here, a band mostly loved for their decade-old hits, barely sings. All is engulfed in soporific mist, and every piece seems to serve this impression. Even the bits that are verbally meaningful (like a sample of Merab Kostava contemplating about the vices and virtues of his nation), are still meant to make listener reflect rather than respond. On close inspection there is still quite a variation in song format, but all this analysis is lost to the incantation of bowed strings, synthesized drones and gentle vocals. So, overall, it is the album that instills such a silence that it can probably trigger your alpha-waves. Considering this album to be the best in the band’s discography that gets better with every new record, its possible landmark role of pushing Georgian folk music into more integrative directions, plus its sound-wise uniqueness and beauty, this would be my pick as the best Georgian album of 2017 among certain very strong contenders.

♪♫ Listen: “Mujuretuli” + album stream

33ა on Facebook.