From a list of over 150 releases (that's new music every 2.4 days) it feels like it's been a really full on year of listening for me. And while I'm sure to discover a few overlooked gems, here's the music I enjoyed the most in 2017.
In no particular order:
UMFANG - Symbolic Use Of Light
Umfang, the Discwoman co-founder also known as Emma Olson, gave us a surprisingly succinct and effective album of minimal Techno with her debut long player. Lovely art work too. Read my review of Symbolic Use of Light.
Serena Butler - From The Cloud To Our Bodies
Provocative subject matter combined with downright decent music, if the exquisite productions of Serena Butler have somehow passed you by so far, now's the time to make amends. This year we were gifted two EPs from the mysterious producer and both are essential. Deep, dubby Techno with attitude.
Here's my review of From The Cloud To Our Bodies.
Serena Butler - KONSTRUKT 007
The second EP from Ms Butler in 2017 is arguably better than From The Cloud.... Read my review of KONSTRUKT 007
Mike Dehnert - Providing Home
Mike Denhert has been round the block a few times (at least ten albums in ten years) and has put his name to all sorts of Techno (everything from dancefloor to headphones). And with this album he's extended his rich ouevre even further in his collaboration with Albert Vogt, whose tasteful R&B-tinged vocals are a perfect fit for his masterful control of melody and composition. So so good. Read my review of Providing Home.
Earthen Sea – An Act of Love
While A Relentless Gaze, Jacob Long's EP for Silent Season garnered high praise from all the right circles, it was his album An Act of Love, for Kranky, that truly shone through for me. Consummate quality.
Varg - Nordic Flora Series Pt. 3, Gore-Tex City
Under many guises, the workrate of Swedish producer Jonas Rönnberg has been extraordinarily high over the last few years but little falls below par. This album as Varg is probably his best yet (closely followed by Nordic Flora, Pt. 2, en Ros röd som Blod). Read my review.
nthng - It Never Ends
The mournful opening track sets the mood while the big bangers hit the mark in style. It's this fine balance of dancefloor, emotive bubblers and beautiful Ambient moods that make this one of the best albums this year.
Miracle Steps (Music From The Fourth World 1983 - 2017)
Built on John Hassell’s Fourth World theories, JD Twitch and Fergus Clark compiled 14 tracks that weirdly made me feel grown up, like I've only just started to appreciate proper adult music; it makes you smart just by listening to it I reckon. Consider it self-improvement.
Biosphere - The Petrified Forest
I was always aware of the deeply Ambient music of Geir Jenssen, the Norwegian producer behind Biosphere, but it took this mini-album of IDM-leaning, sample-based Electronic music for me to really dig into his back catalogue. And while previous albums like Departed Glories and Substrata are superb chillout affairs, they're nothing like The Petrified Forest in terms of the dark undertones and sweet lightweight melodies. A simple joy.
Steffi - World Of The Waking State
Back on tip-top form after a slight dip with her second album. World of the Waking State from Steffi cements her reputation as a purveyor of the finest Acid Techno and Electro. What she brings, that so many other producers miss, is genuine emotion and feeling. It's ridiculously good.
Selectors 003 - Marcel Dettmann
Sub-titled as a precursor to Techno, Marcel Dettmann shows his age by selecting a bunch of tracks he listened to a teenager. And what a great selection! More than half were new to me (Dettmann has a few years on me) but all of them are the crème de la crème. This has been on heavy rotation and I'm still not sick... must be a classic!
Hanetration - Ancients EP
Surprise! This EP appeared in my inbox one day and it turned out to be pure gold. From my post:
Enjoying anonymity and autonomy, Hanetration is a British producer who makes uplifting electronic music with a dark shadow looming over proceedings. Listening to the five tracks on tenth EP Ancients is like witnessing a powerful spring uncoiling in slow motion, a massive tension release, energy out, before retracting again, replenishing one's store of energy. It's rather beautiful music in the vein of GAS and Leyland Kirby.
Heinali – Anthem
This came out quite early in the year and I kept going back, initially because of the terrific opening track Anthracite and latterly because I'd fallen in love with the whole album. Although it's primarily an electronic album, the inclusion of piano and choral elements give it a Modern Classical edge. Made by self-taught composer and sound-designer Oleg Shpudeiko who described the work as:
a period of recovery from an emotionally dark place...a kind of personal therapy
Blanck Mass - World Eater
Who would have thought that a mash-up of Rock, Pop and Electronic music could be so much fun? This is a rip-roaring excursion through the manic mind of Benjamin John Power (one half of Fuck Buttons) and as I previously described:
it's a heartstopping, breathstealing shock to the system
High Plains – Cinderland
Last year, as Loscil, Scott Morgan delivered a beautiful album in the form of Monument Builders. This year, he's done it again, with the help of Mark Bridges and his cello. From the press blurb:
Cinderland takes cues from classical, electronic and cinematic musical traditions but is mostly a product of the rugged, mythic landscape; vast and sprawling with a wild, uncertain edge.
Rafael Anton Irisarri - The Shameless Years
Theatrical undertones and fake overtones, The Shameless Years is at once a personal statement on the artist's outlook and a comment on today's desperately sad world state of affairs. A rousing call for calm and reason.
Read my overview of 2017 if you haven't yet, there's plenty of tips in there :-)