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10 Years of the Qobuzissime: The Later Years (2017 - 2021)

By Jessica Porter-Langson |

Sadly (or gladly), the year 2021 is almost over... and whilst we wait patiently for the slew of exciting new releases to come in 2022 let’s revisit some of our editors’ favourites as we celebrate the 10th birthday of our Qobuzissime Award!

What is a Qobuzissime?

For those new to Qobuz, a Qobuzissime is a distinction awarded by our team of music experts at Qobuz for an artist's first or second album. Pop or reggae, metal or classical, jazz or blues, no genre is excluded. A Qobuzissime is usually awarded to an up-and-coming artist, or sometimes to a particularly unique record, a crossover project or an offbeat release. Beyond just a review or an article, a Qobuzissime is the highest compliment our team can give an artist for their release, for we truly believe that the album we promote is something the world needs to hear.

It seems that our experts have quite the ear for excellent music as many of our past Qobuzissime winners have gone on to be the next big thing. Take, for example, our January 2021 Qobuzissime winner Arlo Parks and her album Collapsed in Sunbeams, which went on to win the 2021 Mercury Prize, or our pick of Coming Home (2015) by Leon Bridges which received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. With our taste-making in mind, let us take you on a trip down memory lane as we revisit the later years of the Qobuzissime: from 2017 - 2021

2017: Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway

Freedom Highway: the title of this album is taken from a hymn of the civil rights movement composed by the Staple Singers for the famous Selma marches in Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965. With her truly stunning voice, Rhiannon Giddens stirs up the ghosts of slavery and the civil rights struggle and makes them more modern and relevant than ever. Rhiannon Giddens' strength is that she never does taxidermy. Superbly produced and interpreted, this album is not merely a sepia coloured memory to decorate the conscience and the mind. No, this is a strong and magnificent record that perpetuates a musical, spiritual and ideological tradition that can never die, especially when it is interpreted in this way.

2018: Ross from Friends – Family Portrait

It would be difficult to define a rotary axis for Ross from Friends, as his songs seem to emanate from an idea, from a concept. "Every time I started working on a song, I was immediately caught up in the most emotional aspect of things," he explains. It's certainly one of the most important parts of the work around the album, trying to tap into those emotions, that emotional instability." Ross from Friends’ music is somehow addictive, as confirmed by tracks like Thank God I’m A Lizard, a shamanic house with Pink Floyd-like guitars, and Wear Me Down. In addition to the hypnotic aspect of his minimal techno, the rest of the album is just as bewitching, and we let ourselves be carried from one end of the twelve tracks to the other in this cotton blanket that Ross from Friends has wrapped us in.

2019: Alfa Mist – Structuralism

“I have been affected by my environment. My upbringing has shaped me in a way where I do not know how to communicate. Structuralism is about, “I am who I am” because of the structure of society I grew up into. Now I need to learn how to communicate.” What Alfa Mist communicates very well with his second album is an innate sense of soft groove and a vital need for exchange. Yet more proof of the strength of today's British jazz scene, which flourishes in soul, funk and hip hop, the latter being the first chapter of the young musician's saga. On this album, Alfa Mist draws, with the help of a Fender Rhodes and a classical piano, the contours of melancholic and voluptuous soul jazz. All in all, this pastel-tinted score (no slapped bass or double drums here!) confirms the talents of a musician that’s certainly one to watch.

2020: HJELVIK – Welcome to Hel

Highly inspired by Viking folklore, this first solo adventure is epic, grandiloquent and above all excellently composed. We find heavy metal mixed with doom and black influences bringing us straight back to Kvelertak's third album, but with a much more assertive intention. The intention of the album is clear: to blend the aforementioned influences of thrash and rock'n'roll. Erlend Hjelvik offers us a masterfully crafted manifesto, full of generous moments both in technique and quivering detail. Behind this range of technical skills lies a real sense of lyricism: catchy choruses that one will be delighted to shout once in the pit. Inspired, accessible and a true manifesto of war, Welcome To Hel is an incredible ride from start to finish.

2021: Tash Sultana – Terra Firma

“Terra firma is the ground and the earth, you put your feet on it to remember where you are, where you come from." Make no mistake about it, behind its mystical cover worthy of a progressive rock band from the 70s, Terra Firma hides the unclassifiable second album from Tash Sultana. In 2018, the young Australian released Flow State, a pop-soul patchwork from their youth on which Sultana plays all of the instruments (Tash has mastered about twenty of them) using loops and effect pedals, which has now become their trademark. Further raising the bar on Terra Firma, Tash Sultana takes care of all the musical arrangement and entrusts production of the record in part to fellow Aussie, Matt Corby. This can be heard from the get-go with the instrumental track Musk, whose lustrous guitars, groovy sax, and catchy bass pave the way for the following 14 tracks that oscillate between soul, R'n'B, funk, folk and suave pop. A masterstroke, at only 25 years old.

Look back through our magazine if you missed '10 Years of the Qobuzissime: The Early Years.' In the meantime, discover the taste of Qobuz with our Qobuzissime playlists:
- Qobuzissimes of 2021
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Pop, Rock and Indie
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Classical
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Jazz
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Electronic
- 10 Years of Qobuzissime: Soul, Funk and RnB