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Electronic avantgardeposting™’s favorite releases of 2021

It’s hard to say if 2021 has been less challenging than 2020.  We have seen a brief return to life, yes, but we have also experienced incredible losses, and the recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that the road back to normality is still long. However, one thing is certain: this year has blessed us with as many incredible releases as its predecessor, if not more. So for whoever is interested in exploring some of them again, here is the Top 30 albums as voted by the members of Electronic Avantgardeposting™ ,which we all hope we’ll be able to experience live soon. Enjoy!

Check out our favorite tracks of 2021 Spotify playlist for more: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0KDVhYFNH7H29NPAKqCeIk?si=a1ca68fa4876404c

 

 

30 –  bladee – the fool, Year0001

Bladee: The Fool Album Review | Pitchfork

Maybe it’s just a suggestion given by the recent remix of “Drama” by Bladee & Mechatok with the voice of Charli XCX, but it seems like the usual formula of trance ecstatic melodies and trap beat that made the Swedish artist so popular is necessarily tending to pure pop conception.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

 

29 – DAISY MORTEM – Fausse nouvelle, self-released

DAISY MORTEMDAISY MORTEM‘s Fausse nouvelle is a shapeshifting work, where the digital synths of witch house come back to life once again, possessing new rhythms and casting over each track their unmistakable gloom.

(Michele Sinatti)

28 –  oxhy – woodland dance, xquisite releases

It is safe to say is that oxhy has crafted a serious gem, with a visceral sound design and a mesmerising flow, enriched by the featuring of top-notch artists such as Dæmon and Thoom

(Michele Sinatti)

27 – ZULI – All Caps, UIQ

All Caps (UIQ0012) | ZULI

Egyptian producer ZULI lands on Lee Gamble’s UIQ following his acclaimed Terminal album from 2018, and he hits all the right spots once again. All Caps is a no-frills six-tracker in which ZULI unleashes his rawest and toughest side.

(Lorenzo Montefinese)

26 – Aestum – Aestum, KOMPAKT

Album artwork for AestumAestum‘s slow-mo trance soundscapes evoke the fading memories of the late 90’s rave euphoria without ever falling for any retromaniac cliché. While never forgetting where their sound is rooted, they always explore new possibilities with it, shaping their personal sonic world.

(Michele Sinatti)

 

25 – SKY H1 – Azure, AD 93

The long-awaited debut album by Brussel-based artists SKY H1 is a genre-defying work, that re-imagines the sounds of techno, UK Bass, ambient and post-club in an emotional, hazy, pop fashion.

(Michele Sinatti)

 

24 – JPEGMAFIA – LP!, self-released

If every new release from JPEGMAFIA brings everyone on their toes is because he’s always able to convey a sense of fun in the making of his music, and this album proves it.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

 

23 – TALPAH  – HOW DID I SURVIVE?, CLAM

The new guest of the Italian mind-blowing Clam Pressure melted the psychedelic harsh bouncy which is a trademark of the label with trap rhythms, bearing mega-hits like “Hole”, featuring the MCs Deepho and Deriansky, or the hardcore “Not Funny”.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

22 – SOPHIE – UNSIL, Numbers

SOPHIE – “UNISIL”

“I cant believe they made their own model of the bouncy castle” says a comment under Sophie Xeon‘ last single UNISIL, released as a bonus track of a limited singles compilation in 2015 then published as a b-side of a not so brilliant, old school remix of BIPP signed by Autechre. Of course, even as a b-side, this tune slaps as an absolute banger, the last example of the technical abilities of SOPHIE.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

21 – t0ni – EXIT LIFE, Soul Feeder 

The new album by t0ni is an extremely emotional and obsessing work of abstraction, where the floating melodies and sophisticated sound design of tracks like “keepsake” seem like the concentrated souls of ravey tracks from a party you dreamed of.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

20 – Loraine James – Reflection, Hyperdub

Loraine James: Reflection Album Review | PitchforkLess than two years after For You and ILoraine James is back with a record deeply rooted in present times. From the experience of releasing a successful album that didn’t fully reap the benefits due to the pandemic, the consequent lockdown and isolation and the Black Lives Matter movement: all these themes come together in a lucid, glitchy, R&B, techno and, of course, UK garage record which shines in the Hyperdub Olympus.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

19 – S280F – 28, i8i

Mysterious producer S280F delivers a fragile, touching work of fleeting beauty. Although divided into nine tracks, 28 feels like an organic whole best experienced fully abandoning oneself to its moving stream of sounds. At times comforting, at times disquieting, always spellbinding, it’s a dense and complex album that masterfully combines modern classical/ambient introspection with sudden bursts of noise and bouncing rhythms. 

(Lorenzo Montefinese)

18 – Iglooghost – Lei Line Eon, Gloo

If “world-building music” is maybe the most inflated expression in the reviews or in the press releases of electronic music during the last 10 years, the FlyLo goblin Iglooghost is definitely the real one to deserve this definition. Four years after the game-changing Neo Wax Bloom, he’s back with ten pieces of Lei Music . Ten hieratic and evocative folk songs from the future for an album that is hugely representative of these digital Middle Ages.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

17 – Lingua Ignota – SINNER GET READY, Sargent House

Kristin Hayter’s new album brings her dramatis persona to new heights. On SINNER GET READY, Lingua Ignota gets closer than ever to the form of sacred music. Beware, though; no saints nor angels are to be found here. Instead, Lingua Ignota takes us on a lucid dream – ehm, nightmare – through the deepest and darkest recesses of the human psyche. Less noisy than its predecessors, SINNER GET READY is perhaps Hayter’s most effective album precisely because of its baroque-and-coral yet terrifying beauty.

(Lorenzo Montefinese)

16 –  ABADIR – Pause/Stutter/Uh/Repeat, Genot Center

Cairo-based producer ABADIR is back with an intense and dramatic, gravity-defying record. An elegant and minimalist succession of light-weight ambient sound design and heavy grimy textures, build-ups and releases give life to a constantly tense piece of music upon which distorted, alienating human voices emerge. All this is enriched by the stunning remixes by Genot Centre all-stars Ice Eyes and Fausto Mercier and Egyptian producers Zuli and FRKTL.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

15 – Yves Tumor – The Asymptotical World EP, Warp Records

Yves Tumor: The Asymptotical World EP Album Review | Pitchfork

Yves Tumor is back with an EP that follows the explicitly glam/shoegaze/goth/whatever rock paths taken with the 2020 LP Heaven To A Tortured Mind. But despite these apparently outdated musical references, Tumor’s songs once again delivers more than that, as continuous changes, raw disturbances and a terrific and unconventional production make them sound like an aware reminiscence of something for the future to come rather than a nostalgic attachment to the past.

(Francesco Cellino)

14 – 7777 の天使 – Seven AngelsSoul Feeder

Swan Palace and DRVGジラ team-up again under the 7777 の天使 moniker for their debut album after the acclaimed Bruised Grills Eternal Tears EP. Seven Angels perfectly translates intense and painful feelings into amazingly bittersweet sounds, a mixture of struggling melodies with exacerbated auto-tune surrounded by the most violent and disruptive electric or electronic noises you can imagine, a real gunshot for the soul.

(Francesco Cellino)

13 –  Glass – Anxiety Prime, Comic Sans Records

After excellent releases on labels such as OOH-sounds and  Santé RecordsGlass land on Comic Sans Records with an exploration of the fragmentation our personalities and identities go through in modern society and in virtual hubs. Anxiety Prime is in fact a deconstructed work in itself, where bits of original sounds, processed samples, composition and production techniques come together as shards of a broken mirror, united, yes, but still showing the cracks.

(Michele Sinatti)

12 – Smerz – Believer, XL Recordings

In their debut LP on XL Recordings the Norwegian duo push forward their trademark synth pop extravaganza into more sophisticated and unexpected paths. In an immersive crescendo they touch avant-garde electronica, art-pop, experimental hip-hop and classical eleganza, melting a surprising palette of acoustic instruments and harsh electronics.

(Francesco Cellino)

11 – The Bug – Fire, Ninja Tune

After so many digressions as Kevin Richard Martin that surprised us even with lightweight music, the king of pressure sound, The Bug, is back to his weapons after seven years, with a title that leaves no room for doubt. Fire is one of the best albums of the year so far, a pure, incendiary concentration of bass, of course, but also another proof of Kevin’s abilities in making some of the deepest physical yet cerebral music ever.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

10 – Giant Claw – Mirror Guide, Orange Milk Records

Founder, alongside Seth Graham, of the fundamental label Orange Milk, which greatly contributed to change the sound of Electronic Avantgarde during the last decade, Keith Rankin AKA Giant Claw is back with another incredible record. Able to both remain in the wake of the digital medieval prog dear to Daniel Lopatin and to define his own aesthetic, as he always did, with Mirror Guide Rankin plays with the minimal acoustic arrangements made of strings and horns by completely derailing them with chaotic and unpredictable explosions,

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

09 – Skee Mask – Pool, ILIAN TAPE

In case you still had doubts, now there’s no arguing: Skee Mask is a top-tier contemporary electronic musician. Pool, his third album, confirms his status and unfolds showing his broad sound palette at maximum power. Across eighteen tracks, Ilian Tape’s wonder man navigates effortlessly through genres, styles and tempos, crafting a monumental work that is a must-listen for any fan of IDM, breakbeat and ambient-tinged junglism.

(Lorenzo Montefinese)

08 – Danny L Harle – Harlecore, Mad Decent

Danny L Harle: Harlecore Album Review | PitchforkTo some extent Harlecore may sound like a pure manneristic work that translates to present day the glittery euphoria of early Y2K’s rave music adding some modern quirks and, considering the high quality of the production, that would suffice to make a good and fun record. However if one follows the flow of the record with just a spark of attention, it’s pretty easy to realise that HUGE DANNY is inviting the listener to join him at his virtual party, featuring some very exclusive guests,  such as MC Boing (alias Lil Data), DJ Mayhem (alias Hudson Mohawke)  and DJ Ocean (alias Caroline Polachek).

(Michele Sinatti)

07 – Arca – KICK iiKicK iiikick iiii, kiCK iiiii, XL Recordings

Pivotal Arca‘s works such as Xen and Mutant have established clearly that one of the central themes of her music is mutation, change, becoming something other than yourself or rather your true, inner self, both in mind and body. Being a shapeshifter is also a characteristic of Doña’s artistic evolution: from talented underground producer, to dec0-club and avant-garde queen, to art-reggaeton icon, Arca’s artistry has been as varied as daring throughout the years and the KICK i series is the ultimate monument to her talent, where one can seemingly discover, engraved, her path to musical goddess-ship and the prophecy of what lies beyond.

(Michele Sinatti)

06 – Dark0Eternity, Year0001

With Eternity Dark0‘s signature sound reaches its full potential, transcending the status of ” excellent collection of trance emo beats”.   The nine tracks of the album, in fact, outline a JRPG- style narrative that evokes Square Enix‘s early 00’s masterpieces (FF X and Kingdom Hearts I am looking at you), binding the listener emotionally for the whole run and giving an unprecedented coherency to Dark0’s eclectic’s production choices.

(Michele Sinatti)

05 – Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – PromisesLuaka Bop

Throughout its nine movements, this sophisticated experiment  constantly mesmerise the listener with its successions of slow-tempo sax phrases, psychedelic textures and dramatic crescendos. All of the instruments and sounds involved in the making of the tracks connects so well with each other, that listening to Promises could be compared to witnessing a natural phenomenon developing in front of your eyes.

(Michele Sinatti)

04 – aya – im hole, Hyperdub Records

aya: im hole Album Review | Pitchfork

One of the most interesting release of the year, able to give life to an extremely disturbing and claustrophobic sonic world, where obsessive noises and basses blend perfectly with the voice and the lyrics of aya to bear the sickest union. Derailed drill tracks like “what if i should fall asleep and slipp under” are followed by rants and inhuman voices talking endlessly with a desiring attitude on deconstructed beats that take their shapes from reggaeton to ambient as much us absolute absence of form.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

03 – Space Afrika – Honest Labour, Dais

The high expectations set by last year’s hybtwibt? have now been more than satisfied: Space Afrika’s latest effort, Honest Labour, sees them refining their instant-trademark sound. Built upon field recordings, speeches, ambient, slo-mo rhythm, and voices provided by various guests, Honest Labour is sheer psychogeographic bliss, audio cards straight outta Manchester. Heading somewhere between contemplative and elegiac, it’s that British greyscale mood at its most romantic(ized). If ‘urban ambient’ will ever be a thing, this album could be recognized as its most accomplished example. 

(Lorenzo Montefinese)

02 – Koreless – Agor, Young

Agor – meaning “open” in welsh – is Koreless’ debut album, coming a decade after his first single. Over ten short tracks, many without drums, the British producer creates hypnotic loops, combining synthetic elements amid infinite possibilities. Using an opener sounds palette that includes many vocal samples and rich-in-pathos melodies, he reaches a pointillistic precision that reminds of OPN or Lorenzo Senni, even though there are some dancefloor-oriented tracks too, including the lead single “Joy Squad”. With Agor Koreless extends his production far beyond the post-dubstep experimentalism of his early career and the more recent pop collaborations, delivering one of the most interesting experimental albums of the year.

(Francesco Cellino)

01 – Dean Blunt – Black Metal 2, Rough Trade Records

Dean Blunt - Black Metal 2 · Album Review ⟋ RA

Few things in avant-garde during the last decade were able to reach the same level of transgenerational iconicity as Dean Blunt. From lo-fi Hype Williams with Inga Copeland to Babyfather, his music has always been cult: somehow too easy to result uneasy, thought-provoking, charismatic, deeply mysterious, dark and sexual,  it became a great influence for younger UK artists such as Blackhaine. 2014’s Black Metal was undoubtedly one of the peaks of his output, a masterpiece of minimal atmosphere and the final step in his poetic. Black Metal 2 is not lesser, also achieving a perfect balance between the usual formula and smoothed roughness that make the record one of his more accessible pieces of music.

(Giovanni De Scisciolo)

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Last modified: January 4, 2022

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