Electronic-Dance

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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Epoch (CD)

Is Tycho's Epoch the ambient feel-good album of the year? Are those words mutually exclusive? After giving Epoch a spin, it's clear that Tycho main dude Scott Hansen has created a vibrant, evocative work that's simultaneously vivid and alive and very, very chill. The San Francisco producer's beats and smooth production style are epic, conjuring whole worlds before effortlessly segueing into the next step of the journey. A very relaxed toe-tapper of a record.

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Reflection (CD)

At 68, Brian Eno constantly takes incredible leaps and new experimental risks with every album. It only makes sense that one of the godfathers of electronic music has been making some of his most forward-looking music since signing to the similarly forward-looking Warp Records. The Ship's structure was somewhere between dream pop and ambient poem and his collaborations with Underworld's Karl Hyde recalled the Afro-future sound of his experiments with David Byrne. Reflection continues his fascination with sculpting ambient music in surprising ways that feel like a completely different experience with each album. His previous ambient albums were created through various methods including tape loops, manipulation, and computers or through his famous "Oblique Strategies" cards. Reflection is the recorded version of his new ambient music and visual app for iOS and AppleTV that creates a constant stream of sound and sonic serenity. This version made for CD and vinyl represents one of the possibilities the app can create through various algorithms. This is all very heady and out-there stuff for one of the most peaceful and meditative albums in recent years. Unlike some of his prior ambient works that required you to almost not listen and to let it create an acoustic soundscape for you to inhabit, Reflection has a thicker, heavier sound that is like a thunderous wall of organ ambiance. It shifts somewhere between computerized drone and church organ as the heavy bass creates a zone of clear thoughts and angelic sound. It's anti-chaos that can make you stop and really calm down in our increasingly insane world. After the dire nightmare that was 2016, it's wonderful to have the first major album of the year be as contemplative and relaxing a listen as this.

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The Colour In Anything (CD)

English songwriter/producer James Blake’s latest LP is contemplative, lush, and lovely. His melancholic, velvety voice rises and falls over textured, rich soundscapes inspired by gospel, R&B, garage, and Burial-style dubstep. Blake has always been the master of his own unique brand of intelligent, emotional electronica, but this time he’s brought a few interesting collaborators into the mix, namely Frank Ocean, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), Connan Mockasin, and Rick Rubin, who co-produced seven of the tracks. The overall effect is vivid, but it’s not necessarily easy listening; The Colour in Anything is a cathartic, sometimes achingly vulnerable statement on lost love, healing, and self-discovery.

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Woman (CD)

French electronic duo Justice are back with another ‘80s funk, house, and disco-inspired album guaranteed to put a smile on your face and your feet on the dance floor. Woman is vibrant, alive, and glittering; it’s a tribute to the power of dance music to improve our lives. “Safe and Sound” is shimmering with an uplifting disco diva chorus. “Alakazam!” is propulsive and hypnotic, and “Randy” is a throwback to the French Touch scene of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. This is life-affirming, hands-in-the-air electronic music. Do something good for yourself and turn it up loud.

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99.9% (CD)

Kaytranada's long anticipated debut release, 99.9%, is a perfect blend of soul, funk, and electronic jams. He is well known for his reworks of R&B joints like Janet Jackson's "If" and Teedra Moses' "Be Your Girl," but his original creations on this effort will get him in well with the people who weren't aware of his eclectic sound, and it gives those who already know his vibe more of what they've been loving. The album features vocals and appearances from some of the urban alternative scene's brightest stars, including Anderson Paak, Alunageorge, Badbadnotgood, Karriem Riggins, Syd Bennett, Little Dragon, Phonte and more.

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