1 – Dean Blunt – Black Metal 2, Rought Trade Records
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)
2 – Loraine James – Reflection, Hyperdub
Less than two years after For You and I, Loraine 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)
3 – Dark0 – Eternity, 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 Dak0’s eclectic’s production choices.
4 – Pan Daijing – Jade 玉观音, PAN Records
On her sophomore album for PAN, the China-born, Berlin-based artist sets up a quietly discomforting opera-like work. Unfolding across nine tracks and forty minutes, Jade 玉观音 drags you into the deepest recesses of her mind. It’s a sonic world dominated by drones and ominous ambiances, with Daijinig’s voice gusting through harsh landscapes. Somber and restrained, for those who like it dark.
5 – Ok Plague – Brainsucker, Kitty On Fire Records
One of the craziest and most chaotic releases you’ll hear this year. A smashing mixture of breakcore, gabber and noise lovely crafted and held together by haunted and powerful vocals. The unique choices on the mix make it an incredibly immersive experience. Definitely recommended.
6 – Ripatti – Fun is not a straight line, Planet Mu
You know who are the people we can’t get enough of? People who keep challenging themselves and surprising us. You know who is one of these rare people? Sasu Ripatti aka Vladislav Delay aka Luomo aka Sistol aka something else, probably. As if it wasn’t enough for him to come up with two blasting excursions into harsh electronics with Rakka I & II, and to reissue Multila after 20 years, the Finnish wizard has unleashed yet another shade of his musical personality for Planet Mu: Fun is not a straight line is Ripatti’s great contribution to the juke/footwork continuum. No straight lines to be found here, yet lots of fun.
7 – dj lostboi – UNTITLED, self-released
Our favorite world emo boss has a soft spot in our hearts and with this new UNTITLED EP we’re once again reminded why we love each of their releases so much. All these great ethereal pads, beautiful synths, stunning guitar samples and soft vocals combined with such class make it hard to believe there’s a 14/15 year old lostboi behind this project.
8 – Shushu – Sweet verses dying like roses, Genome 6.66 Mbp
Genome 6.66 Mbp is surely one of the most interesting labels of the post-club scene, notable especially for its hybridization of emo, ambient, avant-garde, trap and club elements. As the epitome of the Genome sound, Shushu‘s latest EP combines all of these influences and draws us inside its beautiful, dream-like world through its delicate and emotional lyrics.
9 – Fausto Mercier / trngs – I’m Too Sentient, Infinite Machine
Sound designers Fausto Mercier and trngs team up in this excellent double EP with three tracks each. Mercier’s dark-shaped IDM compositions are made by extremely defined sound textures: a vortex of broken beats with electronic and organic sounds. Trngs’ music, on the other hand, is more dense, full of noises and glitches, delivering amazingly erratic patterns. The output is a must-listen for all the experimental dance music lovers.
10 – Mabe Fratti – Será que ahora podremos entendernos, Tin Angel Records, Meat Machine, Unheard of Hope
Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti’s second LP is a terrific and immersive journey through visionary soundscapes. Recorded during a period of common living with a bunch of musicians in Mexico, this album delivers moments of chaos and epiphanic etherealism, collecting improvisation sessions with played instruments and external material, from drones to field recordings. Over nine tracks, Fratti explores the theme of communication, where a simplification process made of minimalism and repetitiveness leads to an even more clear and direct message.