WORDS Igor Lukacevic
With the album format becoming an increasingly obsolete way to release music, finding a great album, one that isn’t just a collection of tracks thrown together, are few and far between. Below is a list of 10 albums in no particular order that are not only top notch in my expert opinion, but actually make sense as albums.
From Here We Go Sublime was met with high acclaim when it was released in 2007 on the influential German label Kompakt, and has since become an undoubtedly seminal album. There’s something Swedish producer Axel Willner knows that very few others do: the ability to master the refrain. The Field turns repetitive 4/4 loops with some effects and samples, into a ridiculously amazing, otherworldly sound. It’s hard to articulate his sound into words, because it’s like experiencing music through a whole different prism. Trying to assign a genre to it is a waste of time, because it won’t be an accurate reflection of it. Plus, genres are generally pretty tedious, and someone with a Master’s Degree in Electronic Musicology will probably pull me up on it and say that it’s actually *insert redundant genre definition*. Anyway, you’ll just have to suss it out for yourself. For what it’s worth, it’s my all time favourite record.
Highlights: Over The Ice, The Deal, Mobilia.
What else? He has since released two full length albums on Kompakt. He also did a pretty tight remix of a Tame Impala song just recently. Check it.
Trentemøller – The Last Resort
2006 saw Danish musician Anders Trentemøller release his first album, The Last Resort. Evocative and melancholic in sound, it’s certainly more of a ‘listening’ record than anything else, which doesn’t discredit it in anyway. Things are kept quite eclectic on The Last Resort, from dark, minimal techno to more chilled-out and emotive downtempo music. Fortunately, it all comes together to form a coherent, authentic album. Save this one for a rainy day. Or one where you’re feeling dem feels.
Highlights: Take Me Into Your Skin, While The Cold Winter Waiting.
What else? Check out The Trentemøller Chronicles compilation. CD1 is great. His follow-up record ‘Into The Great Wide Yonder’ is pretty excellent too.
Secede – Tryshasla
I don’t know much about Secede, but I do know that this mixed album is nothing short of incredible. It’s like a massive ethereal trip, filled with ambience and atmospheric sounds. If there is any music you can see, like some sort of synesthetic experience, then this is as close as I think you can get. Beautiful melodies and synths absorb you in from the get-go.
Highlights: The first 16 or so minutes.
What else? Shameless self-promotion >>> http://soundcloud.com/iggz/iggz-kontramind It’s honestly relevant! Some similar music within, including two tracks from Tryshasla.
Nina Kraviz – Nina Kraviz
Russian-born Nina Kraviz has caused quite a stir in the last couple of years. She almost came out of nowhere and is now comfortably up there with the heavyweights of house and techno music. While detractors might complain about her looks and image taking precedence over her music – which I categorically disagree with – Nina has shown both through her productions and her DJ sets that whatever popularity she has is definitely justified. There is substance behind her, not superficiality. Her debut, self-titled album was released on Rekids, and showcases her depth and versatility as a great producer. Quality assured.
Highlights: Walking In The Night, Taxi Talk, Ghetto Kraviz.
What else? Check out her tracks ‘I’m Week’ and ‘You’re Gonna Be Mine’ from her previous EP’s, and her remixes of Anthony Collins and Okain. Her Boiler Room sets are pretty fun too.
Shed – The Killer
Shed is well known for his raw and intense Berlin techno sound. The Killer is relentless in strength, but also has more subtle and melodic parts to it. It’s pretty sub-heavy business, so a decent set of headphones or monitors are recommended. The tracks are stellar throughout the whole record. Don’t sleep on this one.
P.S. You might want to google more than just his name, you know, unless you’re keen to get stuck into some DIY garden/workshop shed. Tough choice.
Highlights: I Come By Night, Day After, The Praetorian.
What else? His first two albums released on the brilliant Berlin-based Ostgut Ton imprint are very solid listens.
As far as abstract minimal techno music goes, it’s hard to look past Richie Hawtin under his Plastikman guise. A key figure in Detroit techno’s second wave, Richie has established himself as a prominent and influential producer and DJ over the last 20 odd years. Closer is dark, introspective, and quite thematic with its philosophical ideas of the mind. It’s almost therapeutic in that sense. Really interesting stuff.
Highlights: I Don’t Know, Ping Pong, Ask Yourself.
What else? He has an extensive catalogue of music under Plastikman. ‘Consumed’ is a pretty tight album. There’s also plenty of good releases on his Minus imprint.
There Is Love In You is Four Tet’s fifth studio album, released on Domino Records. My favourite part about this album is that it’s adaptable mood music. It has deep nostalgic undertones for the sombre moods, and light, angelic textures for sanguine moods. Luscious synths and premium vocal cuts make for a fulfilling aural experience.
Highlights: Angel Echoes, Sing, Plastic People
What else? If you fancy his sound, check out Caribou and his alter-ego Daphni, Gold Panda, Nathan Fake, and James Holden.
This one’s special. Calling this lazy house music sounds like an insult, but it isn’t in this case. The talented German has a penchant for delicate and hypnotic grooves, and Asper Clouds shows these qualities at their finest. The whole album has lovely song structures and instrumentations. It’s cruisy and laidback, enjoyable house music. A relaxing day on the beach (cliché, I know) seems like a fitting setting. There’s just an effortless cool about the way Rau approaches his music. It’s easy to listen to, and even easier to enjoy.
Highlights: Ne Travaillez Jamais, Ping To You, The Cool Word.
What else? Rau has kept himself busy with several releases and a full-length released in 2012 on Smallville Records. My favourite work of his outside of Asper Clouds is a jam he uploaded on his SoundCloud called ‘Lat Jamoz 8 1 2 4’. Give it a rinse.
Terrence Dixon, as Peter Van Hoesen put it, is “totally his own man”. Pre-conceived notions and ideals of techno go out the window when Dixon makes music. No market or dancefloor is taken into account and this DIY sort of aesthetic shines through on From The Far Future Pt. 2. It’s easy to write the album off as random and disjointed at first listen, and admittedly the tracks have a relatively precarious sequence, but after giving it a thorough listen, it makes complete sense. Detroit make the world go round. Preach.
Highlights: Dark City of Hope (Main Mix), The Switch, Horizon.
What else? Anything on Tresor Records is amazing. Some similar artists include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Robert Hood, Carl Craig, and Tobias.
Gorgeous vocals, harmonious instruments, and deep house grooves fill Francis Harris’ debut album Leland with superb efficiency. It’s a well-organized and sentimental piece of work dedicated to his late father. The poignancy translates wonderfully through the tracks. Definitely give this one the time of day.
Highlights: Lostfound, Plays I Play, Pharaoh In The Morning.
What else? Harris releases much of his music under his pseudonym Adultnapper. Bonobo’s album ‘Black Sands’ springs to mind as well as they both have similarities in sound.
There you have it. Hopefully you’ll find something in there that you enjoy. What are your thoughts? What are your favourites? Get interactive you busters. Don’t be shy to say hi.
Oh, I almost forgot…
The third release on the esteemed Dvopek label, Moskosel-based Adieus has created an album worthy of a Nobel Prize. If you’re feeling YOLO, and have at least 41 swagz, this is an album you can’t afford NOT to buy. The method to his madness is unknown, though some say he just hits the dank, and out comes a glorious work of art. 100% unadulterated Colombian green that is.
Highlights: The whole album.
What else? His rap collective ‘Cod Future’ which include Mad Banes, Young French, Fresh, and Big Baby are releasing a mixtape sometime this year. Also check out Viper and Mahmoud Awad for similar thrills.