Virginal Co-Ordinates (Ipecac, 2004), by violinist Eyvind Kang, offers a delightful musical excursion, traversing far-flung musical territory. Best known for his work alongside such avant-gardists as Laurie Anderson, John Zorn and Arto Lindsay, Kang composed Virginal Co-ordinates as a large ensemble piece for Bologna’s Angelica festival, where it was performed by the Playground Ensemble augmented by electric guitar, the violins of Kang and the former Sun Ra side-man Michael White, and the Faith No More front man Mike Patton’s electronics and vocals – more than 20 musicians in total, whose performances were skilfully processed and mixed live by Tucker Martine and Evan Schiller.

It’s an extraordinary pan-cultural piece, vast and meditative, encompassing various movements, from the Indo-European slow waltz “Go in a Good Way to a Better Place”, through passages of Spanish guitar (“Taksim”), sombre clusters of strings and horns (“Occultum Lapidem”) to the woodwind arabesques of “Sidi Bou Said”, before drifting away in the heat-haze of sitar, flute and vocal whoops that is “Marriage of Days”. There are beautifully finessed transitions between moods – such as when jet-plane whines of violin lead into the pizzicato, bamboo percussion and marimba of “Doorway to the Sun”. Taken as a whole, the album is immensely soothing, a restorative immersion in the harmonious oneness of music. One of the albums of the year, impossible to recommend too highly.