Electronic-Dance

The Road Part I (CD)

On their first album in seven years, UNKLE pick up a very talented cast of collaborators who give The Road Part 1 an eclectic, au courant feel. James Lavelle brings on board members of Primal Scream, The Duke Spirit, and Queens of the Stone Age, plus Mark Lanegan and a whole host of up-and-comers. Sometimes beautifully melancholic, occasionally jarring, and always intriguing, the songs here are a good reminder of what UNKLE can do at their best. If you didn’t know you’d been missing Lavelle & co. these past several years, The Road Part 1 will make it perfectly clear.

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Silver Eye (LP)

Goldfrapp’s Silver Eye is a refreshing return to the icy cool, ‘80s inspired synth pop sound the duo perfected on Supernature and Black Cherry. The record is cinematic, glamorous, and darkly romantic — in short, it’s everything you want a Goldfrapp record to be. “Anymore” is a propulsive paean to love and lust, “Systemagic” fits right into the currently ultra cool industrial scene, and “Ocean” is a sweeping, introspective, and haunting closer. Listeners will want to get lost in this moody disco dream.

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The Temple Of I & I (CD)

The long-reigning kings of globally-influenced downtempo electronica are back with The Temple of I & I, another clear step forward in their evolution. This time around, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton found inspiration in Jamaican rhythms and settings. (The album was recorded at the island’s famed Geejam Studios.) Standout tracks include the Mr. Lif-starrer “Ghetto Matrix” and “Letter to the Editor,” which features ultra fresh Kingston MC and singer Racquel Jones. Fans of intelligent, jet setting trip-hop vibes won’t want to sleep on this one.

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The Mountain Will Fall (CD)

On The Mountain Will Fall, DJ Shadow’s first album in five years, the groundbreaking hip-hop/electronica producer proves he’s still one of the most forward-thinking artists in the game. The atmospheric, instrumental title track opens the album with dreamy, futuristic vibes before launching into the funk-inflected “Nobody Speak,” which features Run the Jewels. German ambient/modern classical composer and producer Nils Frahm makes an appearance on “Bergschrund,” where spaced out washes of sound meet hyperactive textures and beats. The LP finds Shadow pushing the limits even further on his own original compositions, but of course half the fun is guest appearances from the previously mentioned artists, as well as avant grade electro dude Bleep Bloop, bass-heavy experimentalist G. Jones, and bright young UK jazz trumpeter Matthew Halsall.

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Love What Survives (CD)

Mount Kimble’s Love What Survives represents a significant evolution in sound for the London electronic duo. Collaborators James Blake, Micachu, and King Krule play starring roles on a handful of tracks, Mount Kimble’s production allowing them to take the reins for the majority of the time before peeking through in playful glimpses that add a whole new emotional dimension to the songs. These contributions give the album its broad sonic palette, with snarling punk riffs here, dreamy, romantic numbers there, and funky, danceable jags in the middle of it all. An interesting experiment that also packs an emotional wallop.

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Season High (CD)

On Season High, Little Dragon have crafted a perfect forward-thinking piece of pop bliss. The album gives shout outs to the band’s influences — you get a little bit of Prince, a whisper of Sade in here — melding them all together to create experimental indie electro that contains moments of familiarity but that sounds distinctively like Little Dragon (and like Little Dragon growing as a band and taking risks with their songwriting). If you needed a vibrant soundtrack to the summer, look no further. Season High is bright, vivid, and alive.

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American Dream (CD)

After calling it quits in 2011, it’s good to have LCD Soundsystem back — especially with such a welcome reintroduction via American Dream. Despite its title, this isn’t a political album, but there’s a certain creeping darkness beneath the band’s blend of indie rock and electronic music that gives the work a bit of an au courant edge. No party songs here, no hands-in-the-air dance floor fillers like “Drunk Girls” or “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House.” Which isn’t to say you can’t put American Dream on and have a good time; it’s a cohesive, smart, rhythm-driven album that ranks among James Murphy and co’s best.

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Process (CD)

South London producer/performer Sampha Sisay has one of those voices that speaks volumes. (You’ve probably heard his work on tracks by Katy B, Kanye, Solange, FKA twigs, Drake, Frank Ocean, and Jessie Ware.) On Process, his velvet tones convey a depth of feeling; one minute the listener is drowning in Sampha’s own longing, the next minute buoyed by a radical hope. The melodies are equally strong, with raw, powerful piano and barebones soul structure. This smart, heartfelt album checks all the boxes for a future classic.

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IV (CD)

BADBADNOTGOOD is a power quartet that keeps funky rhythms and fusion antics alive. Hailing from Toronto, their tracks pick up cues and styles straight from the breakbeat world of Herbie Hancock, Bennie Maupin, Weather Report, Return to Forever, and the freestyle energy of Miles Davis' electric period. After landing an atomic blast with their third album, appropriately titled III, and their Ghostface Killah collaboration, Sour Soul, IV finds the band at their most sophisticated and smooth, sounding like a lost link between antique soul jazz and the nostalgic beats of Madlib and MF Doom. Their playing is so tight and precise with drums so sharp you'd almost think it's a drum machine, and keyboards that feel as cosmic and spacey as The Headhunter's classic tracks like "Chameleon." "Speaking Gently" sounds right out of a J Dilla track with an obtuse key line by Matthew Tavares that is both archaic and strangely contemporary with an almost atonal quality. Suddenly, Alex Sowinsky plows through the track with polythmic drums that you almost have to catch up to. Then you're floored by a blast of John Coltrane trance-like energy as Leland Whitty's sax solo comes in like a loose spirit. "Lavender" featuring Kaytranada has the minimal groove that feels like it was pulled straight from a lost 45. Atmospheric electronic haze clouds around Chester Hansen's bass line, swaying along with a fierce intensity right out of a '60s Motown production. When soul and funk musicians today go for more electronic driven jams and beats, BADBADNOTGOOD's tracks sound so old fashioned that they stand out as new and fresh. Perfect funk for the after midnight crowd.

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Iteration (CD)

After a six year wait, Com Truise is back with Iteration, a lush, funk-inflected odyssey into electro. Cinematic in scope, the album draws inspiration from the synth-filled soundtracks of the 1980s; listening is a transportive experience to a world of city nights, black leather, and neon lights. Make no mistake — Iteration is a toe-tapper, a definite dancefloor-filler, but this smart, emotive album is also pretty moving. Atmosphere is all here, and there’s a real sense of feeling beneath the hypnotic rhythms, technicolor melodies, and pulsating synths. If you dig evocative, dark dance music, this moody LP sets the scene.

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