30: GANG GANG DANCE
Eye Contact may have been Gang Gang Dance’s biggest album to date, and arguably their most accomplished, with immaculately written songs and hi-res production from Chris Coady, but for us it fell a little short, lacking the idiosyncrasies and unpredictability of their classic Saint Dymphna. Still, there are few bands better at making rushing, percussion-driven tribal pop music, and it’s difficult to argue with the technicolour assault of tracks like ‘Glass Jar’.
(NO PAIN IN POP)
This album by faceless London producer Patten may not have been perfect, but it was one of 2011′s most promising records: an icy slice of cramped, compressed and warped techno-not-techno that recalled the likes of Actress, Clark and Autechre without playing by anyone’s rules but Patten’s own.
28: ANDY STOTT
PASSED ME BY
This album was perhaps the most influential and widely acclaimed electronic release of 2011; surprising really, given how it pales in comparison to Stott’s previous full-length outing, Merciless. Timing, though, is everything, and Passed Me By‘s mournful, claustrophobic “knackered house” (thanks, internet) sound – not to mention its title – chimed perfectly with a general feeling of listlessness among 4/4 fanatics this year.
27: PEAKING LIGHTS
(NOT NOT FUN / WEIRD WORLD)
‘Amazing And Wonderful’
Originally released on vinyl by Not Not Fun and subsequently reissued internationally by Domino sub-label Weird World, Peaking Lights’ 936 was one of the most talked-about underground LPs of 2011, and deservedly so. Hazy and digressive but decidedly hook-heavy with it, it’s the perfect dub-pop odyssey for our hypnagogically attuned times.
A marvellous work of ascetic, experimental techno in classic Byetone style, but with totally fresh and dynamics, thanks largely to its maker’s decision to embrace influences from the margins of motorik punk and gutter-rock. Vigorous, visceral and unpredictable, yes, but above all fun – not something one would could readily say about the last Byetone album.
‘Now U Know Tha Deal’
New York’s Machinedrum has been churning out confrontational, distorted hip-hop and club instrumentals for the best part of a decade, but on Room(s), his first album for Planet Mu, he tried something new: taking the frantic drum patterns of footwork and inverting them into a kind of ambient pop: sometimes soothing, sometimes mournful, and comparable to Burial’s vision of 2step with Untrue.
24: JOHN MAUS
WE MUST BECOME THE PITILESS CENSORS OF OURSELVES
(UPSET THE RHYTHM)
With a title and cover art like that, John Maus’s latest was always going to have a place in our hearts. It helped that its music constituted his most focussed, accessible and exuberant set to date. In a year where 80s synth-pop pastiches were frighteningly numerous and almost uniformly dull, We Must enchanted with its wit and vivacity, and saw Maus assert his role as a romantic hero for our past-pulping, post-everything era.
23: JAMIE XX & GIL SCOTT-HERON
WE’RE NEW HERE
Sure, ‘NY is Killing Me’ became annoyingly inescapable, but it wasn’t even close to the best track on this often sublime remix package of material from Gil Scott-Heron’s downtrodden final album I’m New Here. Not when competing with the shimmering ‘We’re New Here’, the gently rocking ‘My Cloud’ or ‘I’ll Take Care of U’, a piano anthem for another world that Drake and Rihanna saw fit to reinterpret on the former’s Take Care.
22: ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER
Those expecting another album of Juno synth drift from Oneohtrix Point Never were foiled: on Replica, Dan Lopatin proved that despite possessing a reassuringly familiar sound, he’s impossible to pin down, with each track sounding like an individual artifact excavated from wholly distinct times and places.
21: ROLY PORTER
After a prolonged absence, Vex’d co-founder Roly Porter returned to the fray with this exquisitely executed debut solo album. Using strings, vintage over-sized synthesizers, reinforced sub-bass and gargantuan reverbs, Porter created a moving, sometimes disturbing, soundtrack to the end of days, ranging from ‘Tleilax”s jabbing, howling power electronics to the cinematic, Godspeed-esque orchestral grandeur of ‘Hessra’. A stunning achievement.