My Electronica Music Review of 2009

Category : Digital Media, Electronica, Minimal House

best_electronicaWhat a great year for electronica it’s been. I’m not going to do a list like everyone else seems to do at this time of the year. This presumes that it’s like a chart with one being better than another. No, I just want to present the music I’ve liked this year in no particular order other than as similar styles and trends. I’ve added music samples below each choice. It’s down to you to check out more of the samples and links below and list them as you wish.

Having said that, however, I must first tell you of the album I have enjoyed listening to most this year. This has to be John Hopkins “Insides” which combines the traditional and classical instrumentations of the fiddle, piano and orchestral strings and cleverly interweaves them with distorted buzzes, bass and beats. On paper it shouldn’t work but it actually creates a truly invigorating and refreshing soundscape.

Having said that I must first tell you of the album I have enjoyed listening to most this year. This has to be Jon Hopkins ‘Insides’ which combines the traditional and classical instrumentations of the fiddle, piano and orchestral strings and cleverly interweaves them with distorted buzzes, bass and beats. On paper it shouldn’t work but it actually creates a truly invigorating and refreshing soundscape.

Here’s a clip of the title track ‘Insides’ live at the ICA in London earlier this year

ochreAlong similar lines is Chris Leary’s Ochre album ‘Like Dust of the Balance’ which also mixes classically traditional strings along with acoustic guitars and a harp. Again this sounds odd when it’s written down but musically it works well.

 

 

 

traffic_jamMeanwhile back on the dance floor there’s an artist I’ve been following with enjoyment for a few years now. Mathew Jonson has been producing some of the most lush and enduring minimal house since the early part of the decade. He hails from Canada, not a place commonly known for its electronic music exportation. As well as releasing music under his own name, Jonson uses the pseudonym Cobblestone Jazz as his collaboration project. In 2007 he released an album ’23 Seconds’ which is well worth checking out and this year he has released the rather wonderful Cobblestone Jazz EP: ‘Traffic Jam’

I’ve already mentioned on this site about the delights of Nathan Fake and earlier this year I reviewed his six track ‘Hard Hands’ EP. Read the review here.

But for those who missed it here’s a track from it again.

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2009 seemed to be the year of the six track EP. One of my favourite tunes comes from the incredibly productive and meticulous (Chris) Clark and the track ‘Growls Garden’. This EP came out in March and was later followed by the album, ‘Totems Flare’ in July. Both were released by Warp Records.

 
 

Again a mention must go to the always consistent, Brazilian, Gui Boratto. His album, ‘Take my Breath Away’, I reviewed on this site too earlier this year.

Read the review here.

Here’s the title track.

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On the more quirky front, the Harmonic 313 album ‘When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence’, is the current project of Mark Pritchard, a seasoned producer and Global Underground collaborator. The album is described as “Detroit-Style” hip-hop and has lots of eclectic noises and computer voices to maintain interest throughout. It’s also a lot of fun.

The Harmonic 313 great website employs a retro video style, colour coded, Flash game. You can win an exclusive track by solving a five level word problem.

I like the way that electronica has continued to get a darker sound this year. Two good examples of this are, firstly, 2562’s album Aerial.

 

 

 

 

And secondly the dubby and bleepy Distance album ‘Repercussions’.

 

 

 

 

While I’m on the subject of darker sounds we mustn’t forget our hyper productive friend Shackleton from Skull Disco who took the Big Chill stage by storm. He released his eclectic ‘Three EPs’ LP in October.

Read and hear more on my Big Chill review.

 

 

Of tracks that stood out Fever Ray’s ‘If I Had a Heart’ is a haunting piece of music with a brilliant video to match. But strangely, unlike many people, I was a little nonplussed with the rest of her album. Too much high pitch singing for me.

Here’s the very fine, filmic, trailer like video of the song.

And to end with here are a couple of tracks that caught my ear.

The background chanting on Anton Pieete & Paul Ritch – ‘The Opera’ makes the whole track stand out from the crowd.

 

Finally Hot Natured Edits’ – ‘Electric Jones’ is just fab dance floor orientated funky fun.

 

 

Hope you like my pick of the year and enjoyed the music samples. I also hope that it has whetted your appetite to explore the selections deeper.