Unless you live a monastic life and don't sleep and you listen to new music 24/7, you've merely heard a minuscule fraction of any given year's output. It's just physics—too much music, too many other obligations, too little time. You and I definitely have missed so much— and we will never catch up. Anyway, so much of what you do hear comes down to random encounters in the world and online, which publicists flood your inbox (if you happen to be in the wretched business of music), and which friends' recommendations you decide to investigate. With that caveat, here are my picks for the music that had the greatest impact on me over the last 12 months. If you want hive-mind, critical-consensus selections, look elsewhere. 

01 MV & EE, Green Ark (Child of Microtones). The East Coast's most laid-back and psychedelic married couple, Matt Valentine & Erika Elder have maintained ridiculously high quality/quantity standards over the last 22 years. Green Ark stands as one of their deepest and dankest outings in a catalog that numbers in the hundreds. Using guitars, bass, "space drums," "electric firebird mandolin," a grip of Indian instruments, and enough effects pedals to constellate the universe, MV & EE weave golden tapestries of blisstones, until all of your chakras are humming Pharoah Sanders's "The Creator Has a Master Plan." On Green Ark, MV & EE sanctify psychedelia and funk, dilate time, alter mind, and execute the most opiated Motown cover of the century. That they're super-nice folks who'd probably facilitate your greatest magic-mushroom trip is just a bonus. 

02 Holy Tongue, Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare (Amidah). The multinational project of Vanishing Twin members Valentina Magaletti and Susumu Mukai, plus producer/musician Al Wootton (aka Deadboy), Holy Tongue traffic in radical dub excursions that should appeal to fans of Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound label, post-punk-funk mavericks 23 Skidoo, and the late beat-sorcerer Muslimgauze. Holy Tongue's second album, Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare, abounds with militant rhythmic attacks by master percussionist Magaletti, deeply probing bass sorties by Mukai, and bombed-out atmospheres by Wootton. If stealth is health, Holy Tongue are in Olympian shape.

03 JJ Whitefield, Ethio Meditations / Drama Al Dente (Madlib Invazion). Madlib is not only one of this century's most creative hip-hop producers; he's also a savvy label boss. And one of his more brilliant A&R decisions was to sign JJ Whitefield, guitarist/composer for the Whitefield Brothers, Rodinia, Karl Hector & the Malcouns, and Zamrock legends W.I.T.C.H. JJ's German, but he is one funky müzzerfücker—otherwise, Madlib wouldn't mess with him. On Ethio Meditations / Drama Al Dente, Whitefield puts his devout spins on the intriguing melodic splendors of Ethiopian jazz and the funkiest branches of library music—with string arrangements from violinist Thomas Lea. Regarding the former, some may scream "cultural appropriation," but calmer heads will recognize half of this LP as a reverent tribute that should prompt exploration into its inspirations. Plus, Ethiopian vibraphonist Getachew Atya plays on it, so sit down, shut up, and revel in these luxurious homages to a special genre that deserves all the exposure it can get. 

04 Kevin Richard Martin, Above the Clouds (Intercranial). You may remember Kevin Richard Martin from his foundation-shaking collabs with Seattle drone-metal giants Earth. Or maybe you're a fan of his sound-system-shattering electronic mayhem under the Bug alias. Or perhaps you dig his avant-hip-hop subversions under the Ice moniker or the post-dubstep magic of King Midas Sound. Damn, we haven't even talked about Techno Animal, Zonal, God, Curse of the Golden Vampire, etc. etc. The point is, in various guises, Martin's been responsible for some of the deepest electronic-music mutations over the last 30-plus years. And he's yet to fall off. Recent releases under his own name have delved magnificently into minimalist drone and ambient jazz. Above the Clouds focuses on the latter style, and its coal-black atmospheres and ponderous tempos provoke fond memories of Bohren & der Club of Gore. Martin vividly evokes feelings of desperation and hopelessness in these trudging, hollowed-out musings, and few things can console lost souls more satisfyingly than Above the Clouds. The title track is a masterpiece of eerie desolation that makes Burial sound like Muzak™. 

05 Posh Swat, Posh Swat (Rock Is Hell). It's not enough for John Dwyer to release about four Osees records a year; he also must unleash side projects that allow him even more latitude to fly his tattered freak flag. On Posh Swat, the guitarist teams up with drummers Ryan Sawyer and Andres Renteria to conduct a bizarre krautrock/electronic experiment that takes the weirdest stretches of Can's Tago Mago and Unlimited Edition and runs riot with them, engaging in many zonked percussion orgies. If Osees' scorched-earth psychedelia seems too basic for you, you may find enjoyment in Posh Swat's form-busting gamesmanship. 

06 Lagoss, Imaginary Island Music Vol. 2 (Discrepant). The term "exotica" has become problematic in recent years, due to its implied othering of foreign people's music by Westerners. Whatever the case, the music of Canary Islands-based sound sorcerers Lagoss could be considered a radical extrapolation of the works of exotica pioneers such as Martin Denny and Les Baxter. Imaginary Island Music Vol. 2 is truth in titling. Go to any of its 15 tracks and find yourself instantly submerged in unusual textures, odd rhythms, and alien atmospheres that have no basis in consensus reality. Some of these songs are even danceable, provided you have five limbs and exceptional equilibrium. In a previous Slog post, I wrote, "I could posit some glib comparisons like 'the Residents remixing Jon Hassell's Fourth World Music' or 'Haruomi Hosono's Cochin Moon transported to Saturn,' but even those don't come close to capturing the sheer amplitude of oddity Lagoss create." That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

07 Arnold Dreyblatt, Resolve (Drag City). Dreyblatt's pretty much been in his own lane for more than 40 years, creating super-charged, maximalist-minimalist compositions that begin in hypnotic mode and then keep intensifying that initial sensation, until you forget about time and your very identity. If you like to overdose on overwhelming overtones and deliriously twanging vibrations that keep your chakras thrumming, Dreyblatt and his Orchestra of Excited Strings have you covered. Resolve might be the 70-year-old standup bassist/composer's most satisfying interpretations of sonic satori. If only all academic music were this ecstatic...

08 43ODES, HWN UN AMN (Eiderdown). With cryptic song and album titles and no explanatory text on their Bandcamp page, 43ODES don't make it easy to decipher intentions on HWN UN AMN. Best just to let Steven R. Smith, Glenn Donaldson, and Brian Lucas's ritualistic, radiant psych-rock wash over you and transport your mind to proverbial Elysian fields. Smith and Donaldson wield about 20 instruments between them, including non-rock tools such as spike fiddle, baritone psaltery, bouzouki, harmonium, space harp, and spike cello. These unconventional instruments, combined with the musicians' deft skills, lend the album an otherness that repeatedly draws you in to its mysteries. "HVO OV HVO" kicks off the album in a majestic, mesmerizing manner, like Popol Vuh's "Letzte Tage - Letzte Nächte" set to a funky drum-machine beat. It may be the LP's peak, but the remaining tracks sprawl beatifically in pastoral splendor. As a bonus, the music's oddly relaxing, in a totally non-obvious way. HWN UN AMN stands as one of the greatest releases in Seattle label Eiderdown's loaded discography.  

09 Various Artists, The NID Tapes: Electronic Music From India 1969-1972 (The state51 Conspiracy). Hands up, who knew that India had a thriving electronic-music scene 50-plus years ago? Not I. But Paul Purgas of the brutish technoise duo Emptyset has done the world a solid by curating a killer collection of experimental works by composers such as S.C. Sharma, I.S. Mathur, Gita Sarabhai, Atul Desai, and other geniuses. (A track by American composer David Tudor is included, as well. Tudor founded the studio at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and set up the Moog modular system in it that enlivens many of these pieces.) Though I've been following this sort of academic electronic music for decades, I'd never seen these names before (save for Tudor's)—a sad commentary about the dearth of media exposure for non-Western music. The NID Tapes allows neophytes to efficiently get up to speed with some of the most inventive and disorienting synthesizer excursions ever to sizzle, ripple, chatter, and oscillate through your headphones. Many of these 19 tracks—especially those by Sharma—sound way ahead of their time, anticipating some of the more cerebral, abstract electronica of the '90s by more than two decades. It's no exaggeration to call The NID Tapes one of the century's most revelatory archival discoveries.

10 Louise Campbell, Sources (Redshift Music). Inspired by the Saint Lawrence Seaway and climate change's effects on it, Montréal clarinetist/composer Louise Campbell has created a four-track, 64-minute suite of eerie, electronically treated drones that ebb and flow with enigmatic sinuousness. The vibe is akin to a severely stripped-down Eric Dolphy solo transposed to the 21st-century Canadian experimental scene. A real sleeper of an album that I've only seen on one other critic's list. 

Honorable mention: BCMC, Foreign Smokes (Drag City); Jake Meginsky, Trinities (Poole Music); Elkhorn, On the Whole Universe in All Directions (Centripetal Force); The Bug, Machine III (Pressure); The Necks, Travel (Northern Spy); Cruel Diagonals, Fractured Whole (Beacon Sound); Valentina Magaletti, La Tempesta Colorata (A Colourful Storm); Ellen Arkbro, Sounds While Waiting (Superior Viaduct); Rrose, Please Touch (Eaux); Laurel Halo, Atlas (Awe); Techno Animal, Re-Entry (Relapse reissue); Pauline Anna Strom, Echoes, Spaces, Lines (RVNG Intl.); Earth, Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version (Sub Pop reissue); Hiroshi Yoshimura, Surround (Light in the Attic reissue)