It’s the holidays, so I’m going to slack off, geek out and do a top ten music for 2003. This is pretty arbitrary given how much stuff I didn’t hear, so look at it as inclusive, not exclusive. This is stuff that struck me.

List is in rough, rough order of preference. Impressions have been boiled down to two words.

Werner Dafeldecker / John Tilbury / Franz Hautzinger / Sachiko M – Absinth (Grob)
Integrated, stretched.

Manon-Liu Winter / Franz Hautzinger – Brospa (Grob)
Figure-ground reversals.

Keith Rowe/John Tilbury – Duos for Doris (Erstwhile)
Cathartic, eventually.

Guenter Mueller – 8 Landscapes (For 4 Ears)
Dense, coherent.

Keith Rowe/ Thomas Lehn / Marcus Schmickler – Rabbit Run (Erstwhile)
Violent, worldly.

Werner Dafeldecker & Klaus Lang – Lichtgeschwindigkeit (Grob)
Singular, myopic.

Nmperign & Guenter Mueller – More Gloom, More Light (Rossbin)
Liquid, smoothed.

Hubbub – Hoop Whoop (Matchless)
Non-dogmatic, open.

Otomo Yoshihide / Martin Tétreault – Studio, Analogique, Numérique (Amb. Mag.)
Classical, noisy.

Andy Moor / Thomas Lehn / John Butcher – Thermal (Unsounds)
Punk fun.

Repeat – Pool (Cut)
Fixed, intimate.

Well, top 11…the Repeat record is one of the best of its kind. I guess this list is pretty narrow, but most of the non-improv stuff I liked this year was old (Prisoners and Essential Logic reissues) or ancient (Grigory Sokolov plays “Art of the Fugue”). A few of my favorite pop stars released mediocre records, though Melt-Banana’s new one and Sightings’ “Absolutes” nearly made the list, as did several Fred Frith cds. This must be what they call growing old.