Music is arguably the greatest human achievement. Even animals can appreciate our music, unlike most other things we make. Every day I listen to music from my ever-growing collection, and sample new stuff via streaming services and the radio. Vocals can be distracting when I'm working on something tricky, learning new stuff or reading, so in recent years I've been getting more into instrumental music: classical, post-rock, soundtrack, contemporary and light jazz. My selections reflect this trend. 1. New Releases in 2015 Here are my favourite new releases from last year, roughly ranked starting with what I've enjoyed the most. * "Elements" by Ludovico Einaudi <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/elements/id1027176835> Another masterpiece of contemporary classical music. Still too early to say where it fits into his canon, but an instant buy. * "The Chopin Project" by Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/chopin-project/id962009544> Some of Chopin's best known pieces rearranged by this contemporary Icelandic composer, and performed along with a renowned German-Japanese classical pianist. * "Currents" by Tame Impala <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/currents/id988638228> Latest album of psych grooves by this West Australian band. One of the rare cases where my current tastes intersect with Triple J listeners. * "Taranta Project" by Ludovico Einaudi <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/taranta-project/id978310441> This folk/classical crossover collaboration grew out of Einaudi's recent curation of the annual Italian folk music festival called "La Notte della Taranta". World music with a Southern Italian accent. Einaudi has had a busy year. * "Courting the Squall" by Guy Garvey <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/courting-the-squall/id1038861936> Debut solo album from the frontman on UK alternative rock stalwarts, Elbow. A bit more intimate than his main band's usual work. * "The 12th Room" by Ezio Bosso <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/the-12th-room/id1054461669> Reworkings and new pieces from this minimalist classical and soundtrack composer. * "Risveglio" by Alessandro Cortini <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/risveglio/id1021738695> Pleasing industrial/electronic sounds from this Nine Inch Nails collaborator. * "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World" by The Decemberists <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/what-terrible-world-what-beautiful/id939658531> Another collection of folky pop songs from this seasoned US band. * "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" by Florence + the Machine <https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful/id964546448> Third album from Florence Welch and band. I really liked their debut, "Lung" from 2009, so subsequent releases have come with high expectations to meet. May need a few more listens. 2. Back Cataloguing (Pre-2015 Releases) Here's a selection of other artists whose back catalogue I've listened to and enjoyed in 2015. * Ólafur Arnalds <https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/olafur-arnalds/id265425550> * Max Richter <https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/max-richter/id54782697> * Nils Frahm <https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/nils-frahm/id86250605> * Brian Eno <https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/brian-eno/id38124> * Harold Budd <https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/harold-budd/id165411> I'm always keen to listen to new sounds, so let me know if there's anything else I should check out.