1 – Danny L Harle – Harlecore, Mad Decent
To 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 (Harlecore was in fact the name of a series of club-nights started by Danny in London in 2017). And like a proper rave Harlecore features different guests such as MC Boing (alias Lil Data), whose spitting can set even the hottest hard trance beats on fire, DJ Mayhem (alias Hudson Mohawke), hammering the virtual dance-floor with his bashing gabba kicks, and DJ Ocean (alias Caroline Polachek), who melts the floor with her otherworldly vocal performances. Each of these artists brings their personal taste and flavour to the decks, making the pace of the record/party varied and keeping the experience constantly interesting as a good DJ is supposed to do. And yes, while Harlecore remains derivative (in all the best ways), it also comes to ravers worldwide as a gift in the particularly challenging times we are all going through, it’s a window to a happier reality were the party “Never, never, never, never, never, never ends”.
2 – 7777 の天使 – Seven Angels, Soul Feeder
Swan Palace and DRVGジラ team up for this collective album that 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.
3 – 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.
4 – Lokey – Isolation Works Vol.01, YEAR0001
With his combination of ethereal club music and rhythmic-driven ambient textures, Lokey delivers an intense collection of trance-fueled, break-y tracks. Each piece of music seems built around the intersection of rave and chill out, leaving it to the emotional sensibility of the listener and the DJ to decide whether to drop one of the Isolation Works on the dance-floor or on their bedroom, as they would fit perfectly in both spaces.
5 – Frederik Valentin – 0011001, Posh Isolation
Posh Isolation keeps exploring electronic music and its its liminal territories. On 0011001, Copenhagen’s Frederik Valentin merges instrumental introspection and pop catchiness, across four tracks that are as meditative as much as uplifting.
6 – Blanck Mass – In Ferneaux, Sacred Bones Records
After scoring Nick Rowland‘s “Calm With Horses”, Blanck Mass deepens his taste for immersive and cinematic music with two long tracks built up around elaborated field recordings taken all around the world in the past decade, as a way to cope with isolation during the pandemic.
(Giovanni De Scisciolo)
7 – Giant Swan – Do Not Be Afraid Of Tenderness, KECK
This three-tracks EP comes as a catharsis after months of global restrictions. The disruptive energy of the first track “Silkworm”, a high-speed IDM piece with Aphex Twin’s reminiscences, is a perfect gate into this short tasting of the Bristol’s duo talent in building astonishing and powerful industrial soundscapes.
8 – JIMMY EDGAR – CHEETAH BEND, Innovative Leisure
JIMMY EDGAR is at his best in the stunning collaborative effort that is CHEETAH BEND. Almost every track of the LP, in fact, has the Detroit-born producer working alongside other artists, rapping, singing or producing themselves, but always adding their personal touch to that alien mixture of rubbery and metallic sounds that are EDGAR’s hyperpop beats. Among the featured artists also figures the recently passed away SOPHIE (R.I.P.), who’s influence resonates far beyond the tracks they’ve worked on, making CHEETAH BEND sound almost as an heartbreaking tribute album.
9 – toiret status – liquid house, Gin&Platonic
Magmatic and playful as always, the latest installment of the Japanese producer toilet status, sees him collaborating with various artists from all around the world, such as the South Korean Cat Psalm and the Polish ehh hahah, bringing his collage-y, soundscape evoking, beat game to unprecedented heights.
10 – Eartheater – Phoenix: La Petite Mort Édition, PAN
Releasing one of the best album of 2020 – and eaposting community’s #1 choice – wasn’t enough for Eartheater: the poliedric and zero-f*cks artist graces her fan with a revised edition of Phoenix. Imagine playing the original album into an abandoned house at the bottom of the ocean, and you’re halfway there. Ghostly kru, this one’s for you.