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Eleven Excellent Electronic Albums from 2017

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 31, 2017 03:05pm | Post a Comment

By Michael Henning

In 2017, there were a number of excellent releases with electronic beats that captured my attention and kept me moving to their machine rhythms. I find that music like this is great for writing emails, reading, making art, or for doing chores at home. They are also good for when you are on the go... So, whether you are walking, running, cycling, or driving around, let these 11 great rhythmic electronic albums be your soundtrack and enjoy the ride!
 

The Future Sound of London

11.  The Future Sound of London - Archived : Environmental : Views  (fsoldigital.com)

Very nice collection of work from this long-running and highly influential duo. The CD version is a whole new album of previously unreleased material, while the 3-LP set compiles most of the material on the CD with some other work they released digitally over the last several years. That being said, the vinyl is probably only for diehard fans, but the CD is among their best material to date, making it a must for even casual fans, and also a great place to start for the curious minds who want to take a sonic trip with these UK legends.
Taballah II

10. Andy Haas - Taballah II (Resonant)

The second part of a three-part tribute to Muslimgauze, this album is a strange mix of reedy ambience and skittery beats. Not easy to classify but very easy to submerge oneself into, these works will transport you to a faraway world, where mystery and intrigue lurk quietly around every turn in the dusty desert road. Apparently only on CD for now, but Taballah I is LP-only, so if that's your preferred format, you can look for that one instead.
Forrest Swords, Compassion

9.  Forest Swords - Compassion (Ninja Tune)

After a very solid track record throughout most of their 27 years on the scene, I've been a bit disappointed in some of the releases Ninja Tune has put out for the past few years, but this CD/LP is an exception. There is something simultaneously sinister and uplifting about it, and the beats are suitably heavy without feeling leaden or tired. Alternately ominous and joyous, this manages to strike a perfect balance between sounding like a dystopian sci-fi soundtrack and an anthem for the future we all want to believe in.
Brainwaltzera, Poly-ana

8. Brainwaltzera - Poly-Ana (Film Recordings)

A modern recording that already sounds like a classic, with early Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada vibes. Rhythmically exciting, harmonically interesting, texturally pleasing, this is a solid release that deserves to be heard. I think it's getting some hype over in the UK, and some have speculated that this is a more famous artist in anonymous "disguise," but whether that's the case or not, it's a standout record.

 

David Edren

7.  David Edren - Electronic Gamelan Music (Social Harmony)

A quirky little cassette tape that utilizes Gamelan scales and melodies within the context of electronic music. A very cool hybrid, and a super fun listen if you're a fan of either or especially both kinds of music mentioned in the title... my only complaint is that it's just too short!

 

GAS

6. Gas - Narkopop (Kompakt)

Kompakt label head Wolfgang Voight is back with a new album under his Gas alias! If you know and love any of this project's previous releases, you will be happy to discover that this one doesn't deviate much from his usual formula. There are those unmistakable gaseous clouds of ambience, and some simple beats nearly buried under all that haze. Available on both a single CD and as a deluxe 3LP + CD set, this is another standout work from this maestro of minimal ambient dub techno.
Jan Jelinek

5. Jan Jelinek - Loop-Finding Jazz Records (Faitiche)

This long-out-of-print 2001 classic has finally been reissued on vinyl! A truly seminal record that still sounds fresh almost 20 years later, this is one of those albums that defined a particular scene in electronic music for a short time around the turn of the millennium. The title is only somewhat accurate, and not nearly broad enough to suggest the full scope that this record covers. A definitive landmark recording, and one which still rewards repeated listens even now.
Ashan

4. Ashan - Air & Ether (Elestial Sound)

Fantastic new release from this local Oakland musician, featuring some of the best dubby ambient electronic music around. Lush, spacious, organic textures, with some truly groovy pulsating rhythms... this album is so uplifting and just feels really good to hear, especially when played loud. Great for working, driving, or just chilling, it is available via tape and digital download. Well worth seeking out online or at Amoeba Berkeley if we still have copies left by the time you read this.
Four Tet

3. Four Tet - New Energy (Text) 

Fantastic new album from Keiran Hebden's long-running Four Tet project. This one is stacked, with tons of killer tunes which feature a perfect synthesis of organic and electronic sounds and samples. Probably my favorite of all his albums thus far, so if you are on the fence about picking this one up, don't hesitate and just go for it. If you've never heard his work before, there is no better place to start than here, and it's available on CD, LP, and cassette.

 

Phantom Horse

2. Phantom Horse - Als ob (Umor Rex)

This modern German duo bring new life to the motorik machine rhythms for which their country is so well known. They take obvious inspiration from Harmonia's classic debut Musik Von Harmonia. But where that trio nimbly jammed along with their robotic beats, Phantom Horse updates the concept, using modular synths to build cyclical arpeggios and adorn them with serpentine leads, making this a thoroughly modern proposition. There's also a track with some seriously microtonal synth modulations, if that's your thing. If your local Amoeba doesn't already have this LP in stock, we can definitely order it for you, just ask.
Daniel Brandt

1. Daniel Brandt - Eternal Something (Erased Tapes)

This is a smart and fascinating hybrid of 20th century classical minimalism and electronic beats, and it sounds a bit like Steve Reich getting remixed by some hip young Berlin DJ/producer. Cycles of repeating melodic fragments crash into rapid mechanical rhythms, slowly building in dynamics to create some rather majestic crescendos as these pieces burst with kinetic energy. Available on both LP and CD, this album is really innovative, carving out a special niche in the electronic music world that hasn't been done this well until now.

 

 

Relevant Tags

Gas (3), David Erden (1), Brainwaltzera (1), Forest Swords (3), Andy Haas (1), The Future Sound Of London (1), Electronica (45), Electronic Music (61), Best Of 2017 (19), Michael Henning (9), Jan Jelinek (1), Ashan (1), Four Tet (8), Phantom Horse (1), Daniel Brandt (1)