The Best Albums of 2015, #20

band0120. John Lemke, Nomad Frequencies (Denovali)

A man named Lime once said, “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” From great strife comes great art, whether it’s societal, or in this wonderful album’s case, personal. Suddenly finding himself evacuated from his Glasgow home after it was found to have structural damage, composer John Lemke embarked on a couch-surfing journey for the next six months with his piano and a bag of clothes. The creative result of that upheaval is the fittingly titled album Nomad Frequencies. Featuring his trademark minimalist piano adorned with such accoutrements as analog synths, tape echoes, and meditative tuning forks he’s created something that sounds both meditative and restless, which to me reminds me of the minimalist score for Mike Leigh’s classic film Naked. It’s music without a sense of grounding, of stability, of home. It’s a rather obscure record that came my way in September, and it resonated so well with me I still can’t believe nobody has picked up on it. It’s a beautiful blend of neoclassical, experimental, ambient, and jazz, a 47-minute meditation that sounds utterly glorious on double vinyl. It’s one of the year’s great buried treasures. (Spotify) (YouTube)