A few thoughts on The Echoes Polls-BT, William Orbit, Rena Jones

We’ve concluded our Year End polls which are sometimes confusing. We have the 2006 Listener Poll and the 25 Essential Echoes CDs of 2006. The Essential poll is determined by the staff of Echoes, and it’s inevitably different from the listener poll. After all, we hear everything and we hear it often, while listeners might possibly never hear an album, even if they listen to Echoes a lot. So this year was no different from others in that fully half of the Top 25 lists were completely different. I was gratified to see listeners pick BT’s This Binary Universe at number 10.
This Binary Universe
We picked it at #1. We felt that TBU pushed the envelope of ambient and electronic music and it came from an artist who didn’t have to do that. BT has a fine career as a techno and pop artist. But he definitely went to the edge with TBU, merging ambient and glitch, big beats and epic cadences, hurdy-gurdys and bent circuits. It also comes with an incredible 5:1 mix and a DVD full of videos to accompany the music. It’s a concept album of Progressive Rock dimensions and that’s why we picked it as the number one Essential Echoes CD of 2006. By the way, we just recorded a great Living Room Concert with BT. Look for it in January.
The real surprise in the listener poll was the complete absence of William Orbit. His Hello Waveforms was a brilliant excursion into ambience with a distinctive sound design that is uniquely Orbit’s.
Hello Waveforms
Coupled with some gorgeous, melancholy melodies and a touch of humor, this album was a definitive release from an artist who has been on the scene for a couple of decades. We played it to death, but it slipped the minds of listeners, or perhaps it was too far down the alphabetical list in the “W”s. It was a tough choice between that and Bombay Dub Orchestra for the number two slot. Bombay Dub OrchestraI think we went with BDO because it was such a new sound so ambitiously and gracefully executed, but Hello Waveforms was near perfection.
The only other surprise on the listener Poll was the absence of Rena Jones. The cellist/violinist and laptop composer has a couple of albums out but Driftwood is her signpost work, a haunting mix of laptop glitch and groove with gorgeously couched cello and violin melodies.
Driftwood Rena Played a wonderful Living Room Concert for us and she’ll be featured with an interview in January.
Check them and a few other things out you might have missed this year. It was a very good one.
And thanks for voting in record numbers in the Listener Poll.

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