2021 is coming to an end, so now is the time for us to pay tribute to some of the records that soundtracked the year. Best described as a bit of a rollercoaster, 2021 was certainly an improvement on the previous year, yet it brought its own set of challenges for music lovers. Live and communal music experiences were back (sort of). A deluge of 'lock-down' albums came out all at once making competition for attention fierce. The process of manufacturing records became fraught to say the least. But despite these challenges, the quality and breadth of releases in 2021 was staggering. It's been a vintage year that has produced a wealth of future classics. The team at Mr Bongo have selected some of our favourites from 2021 - we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Forever Living Originals
Cleo Sol's 'Mother' has to be the most universally loved album amongst the Bongo staff, regardless of individual tastes, it resonated with all. The second album from the Sault vocalist sees Cleo mature into parenthood through twelve intimate and beautiful soul, RnB, gospel, folk-soul inspired songs. Produced by the in-demand producer Inflo. Spacious and calming, 'Mother' is a real treat.
At number 2 we have another second album by another big favourite of ours, Kit Sebastian. Not to be content replicating the same album as their debut 'Mantra Moderne',‘Melodi’ is more diverse and provides glimpses into many different worlds from the Italian Riviera to the mountains of the Caucasus, the beaches of Bahia to the city streets of Istanbul and Paris. This joyous merging of soundscapes evokes a borderless planet with music as an international language, belonging everywhere and nowhere.
A BADBADNOTGOOD album is always a cause for a celebration, and 'Talk Memory' is a future classic. Featuring collaborations with the legendary Arthur Verocai, Brandee Younger, Laraaji, as well as notable others; the record takes you on a psychedelic, genre-fluid journey.
The third obscenely fantastic album on Piano Piano Records by the crazy talented Swedish musician Sven Wunder. 'Natura Morta' finds Sven exploring art as a bridge between nature and the human ability to judge and observe in eleven musical compositions with brightly coloured textures and an emphasis on vibrant melodies. An amazing album.
5) Madlib - Sound Ancestors (Arranged By Kieran Hebden) - Vinyl LP
The hotly anticipated Madlib and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) collaboration 'Sound Ancestors' certainly started the year off with a bang. A result of years worth of work from the two acclaimed musicians experimenting with tracks, loops, and ideas from Madlib's beats and studio sessions. Kieran Hebden took it upon himself to edit, manipulate and combine these pieces of music into tracks that could be listened to from start to finish.
6) Nu Genea & Célia Kameni - Marechià - Vinyl 7"
We love these guys and its so great to have them back and delivering a beauty like this. 'Marechià' has to be the fastest record to sell out on the website this year. Hopefully, their next album will soon be around the corner.
One of our favourite contemporary artists is the amazing Lynda Dawn. Released on the excellent Extra Soul Perception label and produced by Bes Kept; 'Roses' is a stellar street soul gem and comes backed with an equally great XL Middleton re-interpretation on the flip. Essential stuff.
We are so proud of Joel and his team for producing this formidable debut album, a true labour of love. 'Sgt Culpepper’, is an incredible modern soul album and the product of a two-year undertaking that saw him attract an array of respected producers and musicians from the UK and beyond, a testament to the reputation he had already built as a dynamic songwriter and performer among his contemporaries.
9) Emma Jean Thackray - Yellow - Vinyl 2LP
As massive fans of Emma-Jean Thackray we have been looking forward to the debut album for some time. Emma dropped a vintage that is both a nod to the past, but also contemporary and timeless. An essential record!
10) Amanda Whiting - After Dark - Vinyl LP
Everyone needed some moments of calm and healing in 2021 and harpist Amanda Whiting's 'After Dark' was just the tonic.
11) Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 With The BBC National Orchestra Of Wales - Yn Rio – Vinyl LP
12) BunnDebrettQuintet - BunnDebrettQuintet – Vinyl 2LP
13) Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert – Vinyl 2LP
14) Admin - Step Into Light / Reflect + Heal – Vinyl 7"
15) Gabriels - Love and Hate in a Different Time – Vinyl EP
16) The Brkn Record The Architecture Of Oppression Part 1 – Vinyl LP
17) Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises – Vinyl LP
18) Space Afrika - Honest Labour (Grey & Black Smash vinyl) – Vinyl LP
19) Glenn Fallows & Mark Treffel - The Globeflower Masters Vol.1 - Vinyl LP
20) mndsgn - Rare Pleasure (Yellow vinyl) – Vinyl LP
21) Jimmy Mack - Pop Goes The Weasel – Vinyl 7"
22) Bubbha Thomas and The Lightmen - Boogie Down – Vinyl 7"
23) Duval Timothy - Help – Vinyl 2LP
24) Matty & Mandaworld - Warm You / Spoonfeed – Vinyl 7"
25) Mankunku Quartet - Yakhal’ Inkomo – Vinyl LP/CD
26) Lucky Mereki - You Got Me Dancing – Vinyl LP
27) El Michels Affair - Yeti Season – Vinyl LP
28) CKtrl - Robyn (Clear Vinyl) – Vinyl EP
29) Snooch Dodd and The Pro-Teens - I Flip My Life Every Time I Fly - Vinyl LP/CD
30) SAULT - Nine - Vinyl LP/CD
31) Surprise Chef - Masters At Work & Harvey Sutherland Remixes – Vinyl 12"
32) José Mauro - A Viagem Das Horas – Vinyl LP
33) Delta Nine - Raise The Balance / Raise The Dub – Vinyl 7"
34) GALXTC - Life Is A Mirror – Vinyl 12"
35) Mark Fry - Dreaming With Alice – Vinyl LP
36) Okyerema Asante - Drum Message – Vinyl 2LP
37) Hozan Yamamoto & Yu Imai - Akuma Ga Kitarite Fue Wo Fuku – Vinyl LP
38) João Donato, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad - Jazz Is Dead 7 (Green Vinyl) – Vinyl LP
39) Jaubi - Nafs At Peace – Vinyl LP
40) Dougie Stu - Familiar Future – Vinyl LP
41) Various Artist - For The Love Of You, Vol. 2 – Vinyl 2LP
42) Hiroshi Suzuki Cat - Limited Edition Crystal Clear Vinyl LP
43) Greymatter / Black Fan - Tesla / Cuttlefish 7" – Vinyl 7"
44) Erika de Casier - Sensational – Vinyl LP
45) Various Artists - The Key To Our Love Vol 2 – Vinyl LP
46) Vels Trio - Celestial Greens – Vinyl LP
47) Betty Lou Landreth - I Can't Stop – Vinyl 7"
48) Theatre West - Bow To The People – Vinyl 2LP
49) Rebecca Vasmant - With Love, from Glasgow – Vinyl LP
50) Andres y Xavi - Sounds From The Secret Bar – Vinyl LP
51) Foshe & Bentley - Parlour Cucina - Vinyl LP
52) Alice Coltrane - Kirtan: Turiya Sings – Vinyl 2LP
53) Sandra Sá - Vale Tudo – Vinyl LP
54) COS - COSMIX – Vinyl LP
55) The Far - East I'm In Love – Vinyl 7"
56) Ziad Rahbani / Joseph Sacre - Bennesbeh Labokra... Chou? – Vinyl LP
57) Delores Fuller - One More Chance Lord / My Greatest Desire – Vinyl 7"
59) Webster Lewis Quintet - Live At Kongsberg Jazz 1971 – Vinyl LP
60) The Sweet And Innocent - Express Your Love / Cry Love – Vinyl 7"
61) Bless The Mad - Bless The Mad – Vinyl LP
62) Various Artists - Club Coco – Vinyl 2LP
63) Hiatus Kaiyote - Mood Valiant – Vinyl LP
64) Sandro Brugnolini - Utopia – Vinyl LP
65) Other Mirror - Other Mirror – Vinyl LP
66) High Pulp - Mutual Attraction Vol.2 (Green Vinyl RSD 2021) – Vinyl LP
67) Ricardo Bomba - Eu Sei / Flutuando – Vinyl 7"
68) The Ultimates - You're My Lady – Vinyl LP
69) Lewis Taylor - Lewis Taylor – Vinyl 2LP
70) Various Artists - Modern Love – Vinyl 2LP
71) Brian Jackson / Adrian Younge / Ali Shaheed Muhammad - Jazz Is Dead 008 (Blue Vinyl) – Vinyl LP
72) Muriel Grossmann - Natural Time – Vinyl 2LP
73) Hassan Wargui - Tiddukla – Vinyl LP
74) Awkward Corners - Amateur Dramatics – Vinyl LP
75) Richie Phoe Featuring Leroy Horns & Kassia Zermon - Baby I Love You So – Vinyl 7"
76) Josi Dias & The Kevin Fingier Collective - Um Brilho Novo – Vinyl 7"
77) Kiefer - When There's Love Around (blue/yellow vinyl) – Vinyl LP
78) Estela Magnone & Jaime Roos - Mujer De Sal Junto A Un Hombre Vuelto Carbón – Vinyl LP
79) Viejas Raices - De Las Colonias Del Río De La Plata – Vinyl LP
80) Jorge López Ruiz - El Grito (Suite Para Orquesta De Jazz) - Limited Edition Sunset Vinyl LP
81) Dean Blunt - Black Metal 2 – Vinyl LP
82) Piry Reis - Piry Reis – Vinyl 2 x 7"
83) Let Your Hair Down - Waiting Room – Vinyl LP
84) Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek - Dost 1 – Vinyl LP
85) Manduka - Manduka – Vinyl LP
86) Gail Lou - I Still Love You – Vinyl 7"
87) Jan Tober & Ron Satterfield - What Game Shall We Play Today / We Are Love / Focus / With The One You Love – Vinyl 7"
88) Lady Wray - Through It All / Under The Sun – Vinyl 7"
90) Sávila - Mayahuel – Vinyl LP
91) Spirits Rejoice - African Spaces – Vinyl LP
92) Trees Speak - PostHuman – Vinyl LP + 7"
93) Various Artists – Swave Villi Us - Independent Soul 1971-84 – Vinyl 2LP
94) Aver & Move 78 - The Algorithm Smiles Upon You (black vinyl) – Vinyl LP
95) Zopelar - Mensagem – Vinyl LP
96) Caixa Cubo - Angela – Vinyl LP
97) Curtis Harding - If Words Were Flowers (coloured vinyl) – Vinyl LP
98) Khruangbin - Mordechai Remixes – Vinyl 2LP
99) Cláudio Bocca - Morada Poesia – Vinyl 7"