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The Top Albums of 2014

  • Syro
    Artist
    Aphex Twin
    ReleaseProduct
    Syro
    Label
    Warp
    Catalogue Number
    WARPCDD247
    Release Date
    September 2014
    12 Tracks VL CD DL DL DL

    Aphex Twin – Syro

    Aphex Twin made his 2014 return to Warp with the album Syro. Richard D. James has been releasing music since the beginning of the ‘90s. His first full-length album, Selected Ambient Works 85-92, came out in 1992 through R&S Records. The first Aphex Twin release on Warp would be 1993’s On EP, which was followed by four studio albums for the label, as well as numerous other EPs. Syro will be the first new Aphex Twin album since 2001’s Drukqs.

    Easily the most highly anticipated LP of 2014, the announcement of Aphex Twin’s latest LP Syro since the seminal Drukqs LP in 2001 promoted mass hysteria and excitement in equal measure. What followed was 12 pieces of lush, detailed electronic music that could only be attributed to Richard D. James; for instance the pensive melodic interplay on ‘XMAS_EVET10 (thanaton3 mix)’ or the brittle micro detailing on ‘CIRCLONT14 (shrymoming mix)’. Whilst some may argue Syro doesn’t advance the Aphex Twin sound in any particular direction, when one has already revolutionized electronic music the way Richard D. James has, did it really have to? It’s still an astounding collection of beautiful, intricate material that’ll live on long after the dust settles and a poignant reminder of the relevance of one of the most important artists of our time.

  • Our Love
    Artist
    Caribou
    ReleaseProduct
    Our Love
    Label
    City Slang
    Catalogue Number
    SLANG50070D
    Release Date
    October 2014
    10 Tracks VL CD DL DL DL

    Caribou – Our Love

    Dan Snaith returned with his fourth album under the Caribou name. More soulful than any of his previous releases and incorporating a wide range of influences from garage and hip hop to pop music and dubstep, this is something very special. First track to emerge 'Can't Do Without You' - also the album's opening track - is a promising taster: a dazzling electronic exultation that might surpass anything he's done before, endless ecstasy rippling through its swelling layers of dreamy noise. Title track "Our Love" starts with a classic Caribou sound and evolves into an old-school rave-anthem touching on his previous Daphni project.

    The year of 2014 saw Canadian artist Dan Snaith follow up his incredible 2010 Caribou LP Swim with Our Love, bridging a four year gap with another spellbinding collection of richly texturised electronic music. Such gap however was far from a period of inactivity, with the producer spending increased time operating under his more dance-orientated alias Daphni, an influence that permeates through Our Love, most evidently on the flute-rich, polyrhythmic ‘Mars’, the euphoric title cut or dramatic closer ‘Your Love Can Set You Free’. Away from the dance floor, the album bears its soul with more feeling-rich cuts such as the Jessy Lanza featuring ‘Second Chance’ or the dewy-eyed, melancholic piece ‘Dive’, where soaring synth lines grow to a tender emotional release.

  • Tayi Bebba
    Artist
    Clap! Clap!
    ReleaseProduct
    Tayi Bebba
    Label
    Black Acre
    Catalogue Number
    ACRELP006
    Release Date
    September 2014
    17 Tracks DL DL

    Clap! Clap! – Tayi Bebba

    A real gem of an album in 2014: Cristiano Crisci aka Digi G’Alessio delivered his debut album for Black Acre 'Tayi Bebba'. A conceptual album that takes a tour of an imagined island, it references the unique soundscapes of house, footwork and hip hop, weaving it all in to a cohesive whole. To supplement this journey, the album comes with a full island map and in-depth story behind each track. Opening with a succession of waves announcing your arrival before fading into the early morning ambient shimmer of 'The Holy Cave' (coming across like Neu! 75 but recorded on a tropical summer day) before a bass heavy beat drops in half way through. The album then takes in a collage of styles from the proto disco of 'Ashiko' through to the round the world Randomer-indebted percussive workout of 'The Rainstick Fable'. Things take a slightly darker turn on 'Black Smokes, Bad Signs' where a dub echo swallows the half heard vocals and a tough techno beat shuffles into view in the distance, before things come back to the light with the 92' hardcore stylings of 'Conqueror (Remorse / Withdrawn)'. "Tayi Bebba" is a searching full length that across its journey showcases a unique approach to the styles and sounds from mutated jazz and off kilter jungle house to digidub and wooden footwork riddims all pieced together expertly, its a world that we will be returning to time and time again.

  • Flatland
    Artist
    Objekt
    ReleaseProduct
    Flatland
    Label
    PAN
    Catalogue Number
    PAN60
    Release Date
    October 2014
    11 Tracks DL DL

    Objekt – Flatland

    After a string of self-released 12-inches and contributions to the catalogues of Hessle Audio and Leisure System and on Bleep's own Green Series, Objekt’s Berlin-bred techno tropes have now been crafted in to a full-length for left field powerhouse PAN. Having worked as an instrument programmer, the meticulous minimalism of tracks like First Witness and One Fell Swoop are the sound of a producer who painstakingly arranges every single detail into a cohesive body of work. Angular but refreshingly accessible, Flatland is testament to a producer who has made a case for only releasing material when it is - in every sense - complete.

    Whether through the impeccable constructions on his own self-titled while label series or the influential Hessle Audio (not to mention our own Bleep imprint), Objekt’s material always manages to find the right balance between rigorous sound design and hulking dance floor appeal. With this in mind, its clear the extended LP format is the perfect stage for Objekt to fully exercise his technical talents and with the backing of Bill Kouligas’ PAN records, Flatland is an incredibly well accomplished debut LP that is a aesthetically experimental yet never sounds overdone. The opening cosmic abyss of ‘Agnes Revenge’ could easily work as a film score, setting us up perfectly for the automated electro scurry of ‘One Fell Swoop’ and ‘Ratchet’. ‘Agnes Apparatus’ is the perfect ambient cleanser, with its huge sweeping synth motifs blowing between sparse bass pulses and clinical details whereas ‘Interlude (Whodunnit?)’ is a surgically engineered slice of computer funk. In all, Flatland is a testament to TJ Hertz’s technical ability yet it's a release that despite all its production wizardry remains grounded for all fans of electronic music.

  • Reality Testing
    Artist
    Lone
    ReleaseProduct
    Reality Testing
    Label
    R&S Records
    Catalogue Number
    RS1405D
    Release Date
    June 2014
    12 Tracks VL DL DL

    Lone – Reality Testing

    It’s hard to believe that Reality Testing is the sixth album from Manchester-based producer Lone, but his has been a quiet and steady ascent. Following on from the continued success of his relationship with R&S Records, this year he dropped Reality Testing - its title referring to the process of distinguishing the internal world of emotions and thoughts from the world outside.

    Appropriately, it’s a hazy, languid affair, one in which Lone moves between the US house of Detroit and Chicago and the dusty grooves of west-coast hip-hop and beat music. Nestled in the middle of this new material are the two sides of last year’s marvellous Airglow Fires release, both the frantically upbeat title track and the jazzier swing of ‘Begin To Begin’. Similar in approach, 'Restless City' is a gorgeous take on buzzing house music, keys and percussion meeting spoken word samples that speak of what's really real. 'Meeker Warmer Energy' is a shimmering hip-hop jam, one that calls to mind hazy sunshine resting on still waters, while 'Aurora Northern Quarter' is that track's late-night equivalent, all balmy darkness and lusty dances in its retro piano stabs. 'Coincidences' shuffles along like a meeting between the lush organ sounds of Floating Points and the percussive expression of Four Tet, and the weariness of 'Jaded' is a down-tempo antidote to any rave-induced injuries. It's very easy to shoot and miss when it comes to sonic variety, but Reality Testing is a slam-dunk of both style and substance for Lone.

  • Palm Tree Fire
    Artist
    Slackk
    ReleaseProduct
    Palm Tree Fire
    Label
    Local Action
    Catalogue Number
    64289
    Release Date
    September 2014
    16 Tracks DL DL

    Slackk – Palm Tree Fire

    Slackk has become something of a figurehead for a new wave of instrumental grime producers, largely operating out of London and centring on the capital's Boxed club night, which Slackk runs alongside Mr. Mitch, Logos and the Oil Gang label. Him and others who share a similar aesthetic delight in twisting instrumental grime into far-out and visionary shapes - among them Rabit, Visionist, Novelist, Moleskin - are arguably making some of the most thrilling club music around right now. If you haven't already, now is the time to take notice. This context makes Slackk's album all the more exciting. He has released a slew of mixtapes over the years, as well as some killer EPs, and his radio shows are always essential listening. The brilliantly titled Palm Tree Fire sees him expanding his atmospheric take on grime beyond the confines of the club, weaving sparse magic on tracks like 'Burnt Ends', elastic melancholy on 'Crafty Tiger', dreamy mysticism on 'Three Kingdoms', building scorched landscapes on 'Hope You Got A', and taking things into more energised territory on the springy 'Ancient Dolphin'. It's a great album, and one of the strongest statements so far from this fertile scene.

  • The Seer Of Cosmic Visions
    Artist
    Hieroglyphic Being And The Configurative Or Modular Me Trio
    ReleaseProduct
    The Seer Of Cosmic Visions
    Label
    Planet Mu
    Catalogue Number
    5055300382788
    Release Date
    October 2014
    9 Tracks CD DL DL

    Hieroglyphic Being And The Configurative Or Modular Me Trio – The Seer Of Cosmic Visions

    After a collaboration with Ital, Chicago’s Jamal Moss returns to Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu under an extended alias – with his first solo full-length for the prolific label. Expanding the Hieroglyphic Being moniker to And The Configurative Or Modular Me Trio hints at the concept the Mathematics Records founder developed for the album: selected from the house producer’s comprehensive back catalogue, The Seer Of Cosmic Visions plays with synths templates and distorted beats. The rough surfaces of Moss’s explorations are the thread of the album. His fragmented, dissonant and wildly structured soundscapes seem like warped and condensed versions of classic house and techno songwriting approaches: these alienations make his consistent cosmos references all the more tangible.

    Jamal Moss’ tireless output showed no sign of stopping in 2014, with the debut I.B.M LP Eat My Fuck and a scattering of releases away from his own Mathematics Records base under his more known alias Hieroglyphic Being. The Chicago artist’s back catalogue is a seemingly endless, perplexing labyrinth of alternate aliases and sub labels that draw you into his world, so the arrival of the Seer Of Cosmic Visions compilation on Planet Mu is a welcome access portal to some of the previously vinyl only cuts on the artist’s +++ sub imprint. Acting under the extended alias Hieroglyphic Being And The Configurative Or Modular Me, Jamal Moss wears his Sun Ra influences on his sleeve and his singular approach to music is similar to that of the mythical Saturnite’s; always challenging, unique, with no comprise. Despite Moss’ courting of labels outside the security of his Mathematics home, his material is still as confrontational as ever, securing him the position of electronic music’s enfant terrible.

  • Black Metal
    Artist
    Dean Blunt
    ReleaseProduct
    Black Metal
    Label
    Rough Trade
    Catalogue Number
    RTRADDA725
    Release Date
    October 2014
    13 Tracks VL CD DL DL

    Dean Blunt – Black Metal

    As one of contemporary alternative music’s most elusive figures, Dean Blunt returns on Black Metal and delivers his most assured and ambitious record to date for Rough Trade. An album of two halves; the crestfallen baritone on Blow is juxtaposed by the inner-city sermonising of Grade, just as the melancholic strumming of 50 Cent gets rattled by the unrelenting stagger of Mersh. With ominous narratives of hunger and loneliness rumbling underneath the gloomy surface, Black Metal is a moonlit cruise through Blunt’s cloudy metropolis. There’s no telling where he’ll go next, but this is one of his finest trips to date.

    Dean Blunt’s follow up to The Redeemer (2013) leaves us none the wiser as to the specifics surrounding this ever-intriguing artist. Black Metal offers a wider emotional spectrum than its predecessor, such as the soft contemplative touches on ‘MOLLY & AQUAFINA’ or similarly pensive tones on the extended centerpiece ‘FOREVER’. However, the wild abrasive sonic blast of ‘Country’ or stark, searing post punk undertones of closing piece ‘GRACE’ confirm the fact that it’ll take a little more time to understand this artist but one thing is for sure, it’ll be worth the effort.

  • Asiatisch
    Artist
    Fatima Al Qadiri
    ReleaseProduct
    Asiatisch
    Label
    Hyperdub
    Catalogue Number
    HDBLP024
    Release Date
    May 2014
    10 Tracks VL CD DL DL

    Fatima Al Qadiri – Asiatisch

    As the ever-impressive Hyperdub label celebrates its 10th anniversary, it shows no sign of slack or complacency. Asiatisch, the debut album from globally inspired Fatima Al Qadiri, shows the label’s continuing insistence on depth and quality. After a series of stellar EPs for UNO and Fade To Mind, Al Qadiri set her sights on the album format. Opting to explore an imagined China, Al Qadiri crafted Asiatisch (from the German word for Asian), building on her ghostly palette of sounds and adding in a series of synthetic eastern arrangements and tropes.

    It's an album that confounds the listener right from the word go. ‘Shanzhai (For Shanzhai Biennial)’ opens the release, an unsettlingly cover of Sinead O'Connor's 'Nothing Compares 2 U' sung in an imaginary version of Mandarin that features the vocals of Hong Kong rock star Helen Feng. MIDI vocals and tubular synth patches abound, as do robotic voices that speak in corrupted tongue (‘Wudang’, ‘Loading Beijing’) and remind listeners of Disney’s questionable racial inclusions (‘Dragon Tattoo’). ‘Szechuan’ and 'Shanghai Freeway' see Al Qadiri at her most familiar, those shimmering xylophone-esque arpeggios and bombastic horn-like basslines reminiscent of tracks like ‘Oil Well’ and ‘Hip-Hop Spa’. Each track falls down a rabbit hole of reverb and eastern promise, as crashing gongs lend portent and excitement. Concept albums can often lack energy and excitement, but with Asiatisch Fatima Al Qadiri has managed to provide listeners with a fascinating journey into an imagined reality while providing irresistible grooves and thrilling electronic pulses.

  • Xen
    Artist
    Arca
    ReleaseProduct
    Xen
    Label
    Mute
    Catalogue Number
    ISTUMM374
    Release Date
    October 2014
    15 Tracks VL CD DL DL DL

    Arca – Xen

    Arca lands on Mute with the mesmerizing 'Xen' having produced the stand out tracks on Kanye's Yeezus and FKA Twigs 'LP1' Arca delivers a full throttle LP for Mute, from the psychedelic slide n shuffle beats and half heard vox of 'Slit Thru' to the bass heavy 'Thievery' which could almost be a hip-hop answer to some of the more beat-focused side roads of 'Untrue'. This album is jam packed with future-facing electronic trax aplenty, from introspective moments like the piano led 'Held Apart' to the zig-zag synth flex of 'Bullet Chained' there is a wealth of production here that feels like it could have been made by someone with many years of experience. Arca has created a stunning debut with one eye firmly focused on the clubs but with an experimental pop sensibility that shines throughout, come hear why 'Arca' is such an in-demand producer and a name on everybody's lips.

    Venezuelan-born producer Alejandro Ghersi AKA Arca’s dazzling ascent which saw him earn production credits with FKA Twigs and on Kanye West’s Yeezus culminates to a debut solo LP on the legendary Mute Records. Now rubbing shoulders with some of the most influential electronic musicians of our time, Arca’s unflustered, assured experimental pop sound draws its inspiration from the past but releases it as a blueprint for the future. Despite Ghersi’s young 24 years of age, Xen carries the confidence of an artist who understands his sound and looks set to be a pivotal moment not only in his own career but in digital music as a whole. Expect big things in 2015.

Discounts on Our 'Top Albums of 2014' When You Buy 3 or More

Enter the code:
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Offer lasts until 1 January 2015.
Purchases must be in same format and be from our 'The Top Albums of 2014' list.

The Top EPs of 2014

  • Kuang EP
    Artist
    Lee Gamble
    ReleaseProduct
    Kuang EP
    Label
    PAN
    Catalogue Number
    PAN56
    Release Date
    August 2014
    3 Tracks DL DL

    Lee Gamble – Kuang EP

    One of Bleep's favourites Lee Gamble, finally chases his two ridiculously good 2012 full-lengths for PAN with an EP of left-field grooves. Opener Kali Wave, built from ambient samples, old-school stabs and dusty drum breaks, showcases Gamble’s affinity for seamlessly blending retro and experimental sensibilities. He employs snaking rhythms and squelching synths on the slightly Eastern-flavoured Mimas Skank. Finally, on the extended Girl Drop, he crafts a hazy late-night soundscape that vividly encapsulates the euphoria of the dance floor with not a drumbeat or drop. The EP has managed to stand out in what has been a truly stellar year on account of its unique perspective. Gamble takes the prototypes of ambient techno and remoulds them in to cerebral listening experiences which embed the dimensions of UK club music into spacious, shapeshifting episodes. The transient production on Girl Drop is the best example of this knack- a zonal fuzz murmurs and drifts in and out of Gamble’s shapeless composition. Similarly, the wormy riff of Mimas Skank seems to levitate just above the surface of a sharp infectious club beat. Kuang is one of the year’s finest EPs thanks to the curious, all-encompassing ethos of its creator.

  • Music for the Uninvited
    Artist
    Leon Vynehall
    ReleaseProduct
    Music for the Uninvited
    Label
    3024
    Catalogue Number
    3024024D
    Release Date
    March 2014
    7 Tracks DL DL

    Leon Vynehall – Music for the Uninvited

    Leon Vynehall returns to Martyn's 3024 label with a mini-album of the mutant house music which has made him so in-demand in recent years. ‘Inside the Deku Tree’ opens up proceedings with gorgeous string lines which lend a real warmth to the production, while cuts like ‘Pier Children’ see Vynehall settle into a shuffling jack, with throbbing twangs giving a necessary edge. While these dance floor cuts are expertly handled, it is the broken melancholy of tracks like ‘Christ Air’, where house music’s core elements seem fractured and distant, that show the producer has a degree of subtlety rare for artists who can also fulfil the requirements of a dance floor.

  • Club Music
    Artist
    Powell
    ReleaseProduct
    Club Music
    Label
    Diagonal
    Catalogue Number
    DIAG009
    Release Date
    May 2014
    3 Tracks DL DL

    Powell – Club Music

    Powell returns with another choice EP, his first on his own Diagonal Records imprint since 2012. The slyly titled Club Music showcases the London producer at his most obtuse, crafting dense, dark bass hybrids that don’t so much swing as convulse on the dance floor. Opener ‘So We Went Electric’ seethes and sputters like overheating machinery, but still bangs thanks to the relentlessly pounding drum work. On ‘No U-Turn’, a soundtrack-worthy synth arpeggio is looped up and worked on, with everything from wobbly sub-bass to analogue noise slopped on top. Frequent collaborator Russell Haswell pops up on closer ‘Maniac’, a malformed monster of a cut where disparate samples and left-field instrumentation rain down over the muffled bass line like fuselage.

  • Phantom Vibrate EP
    Artist
    Jacques Greene
    ReleaseProduct
    Phantom Vibrate EP
    Label
    LuckyMe
    Catalogue Number
    LM021
    Release Date
    April 2014
    3 Tracks VL DL DL

    Jacques Greene – Phantom Vibrate EP

    Jacques Greene returns to LuckyMe with the Phantom Vibrate EP, featuring his signature style of R&B infected house music, 'No Excuse' opens the release with a phantom vocal spread over a melancholy deep house groove, a hugely promising start for what looks to be one of the biggest 12"s this summer.

  • Double Dragon EP
    Artist
    Rabit
    ReleaseProduct
    Double Dragon EP
    Label
    Glacial Industries
    Catalogue Number
    GLACIAL001
    Release Date
    June 2014
    5 Tracks DL DL

    Rabit – Double Dragon EP

    Visionary instrumental grime from promising new label Glacial Sound. Rabit's Double Dragon EP remakes grime in some of the most exciting ways we have heard for a while. The title track sees him fracturing a tight, Eski sound into a maze of stark synth shards. 'Black Dragons' strikes all the harder for the poise that gunshot bass is deployed with, while 'Wolf Spider' writhes in unpredictably thrilling ways, a visceral synth-line tearing through the industrial-grade sub-shakes. It's incredible stuff. Soundboy Demolition and Logos round off the EP with a pair of remixes, which brilliantly menacing as well. Recently slated to release a project on Tri Angle Records, this is an artist and a label to look out for.

  • Exit
    Artist
    The Bug
    ReleaseProduct
    Exit
    Label
    Ninja Tune
    Catalogue Number
    ZENDNLS388
    Release Date
    October 2014
    6 Tracks VL DL DL

    The Bug – Exit

    Following hot on the heels of the rather excellent Angels & Devils LP, comes "Exit". Housed inside another incredible gate-fold packaging, these two slabs of dynamite show a slightly more refined selection from the apparent wealth of material that made up the 'Angels' project. Featuring two more collaborations with Liz Harris, whose vocals have almost been dissolved into the ether, and an epic slow-steppa anthem in "Black Version", you could be fooled into thinking this was a more relaxed affair. Up step "Function" and "Blaow" to ride out the EP with Kevin Martin's unique grimey-dub signature sound and quash any such suggestions.

  • Solid
    Artist
    Claude
    ReleaseProduct
    Solid
    Label
    Musique Large
    Catalogue Number
    3610158027063
    Release Date
    October 2014
    7 Tracks DL DL

    Claude – Solid

    Claude is a collaboration between French producer Fulgeance and Darius Broobecker. The two have previously worked on remixes for fellow Frenchman and house pioneer Laurent Garnier as well as Manchester’s Neko Neko. This latest project is inspired by the pair’s love of Chicago house and disco while also drawing on UK bass and Fulgeance’s native house scene. Highlights include the dancefloor primed bomb that is ‘Shake Your Head & Go!’ and the pair’s homage to UK funky, ‘In Love’.

  • One
    Artist
    Spaces
    ReleaseProduct
    One
    Label
    Bleep
    Catalogue Number
    BLP003
    Release Date
    September 2014
    4 Tracks VL DL DL DL

    Spaces – One

    Our first record since the Bleep:10 compilation and the first EP released by Bleep. 'One' is the debut EP from the hugely talented new-comer Spaces.

    Showcasing a wide range of styles and production talent, the EP opens with the frantic rush of beats and hushed voices of 'Apologies' before a reese-like bassline slices through the mix, coming across like a darkside SND remix. Next up is 'Outside In' bridging the gap between EDMX style electro-funk & Gescom-style glitch. On the flip we are presented with 'Lever', a broken techno track of the highest calibre, chopped snares and a off-kilter acid line whipped together to devastating effect while the EP's coda, 'In Wait' combines a kaleidoscope of beats transported through an ambient techno mainframe before fading into oblivion.

  • Sonne
    Artist
    Rival Consoles
    ReleaseProduct
    Sonne
    Label
    Erased Tapes
    Catalogue Number
    ERATP059DL
    Release Date
    September 2014
    6 Tracks DL DL DL

    Rival Consoles – Sonne

    London producer Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles returns to Erased Tapes with an EP composed of colourful ambient sounds: on Sonne, German for sun, he experimented with multiple production methods such as running synth sounds through various effects and creating collages from cutting up and reassembling recordings, including playing live drums and acoustic guitar himself on the majority of the tracks. The outcome is staggeringly diverse, yet fully coherent. On 'Helios', he builds up a drony wall of polyharmonic synths, working towards the drop of the beat with overwhelming density. Using tape delay as heard in '3 Chords' and 'Recovery', Rival Consoles creates dynamic waves of speed and timbre, thereby captivating tension throughout the EP.

  • Clockwork Atom
    Artist
    Rob Clouth
    ReleaseProduct
    Clockwork Atom
    Label
    Leisure System
    Catalogue Number
    LSR011
    Release Date
    April 2014
    3 Tracks DL DL

    Rob Clouth – Clockwork Atom

    Berghain promoters and record label Leisure System hand a debut release to Rob Clouth who turns in the Clockwork Atom EP – a dense collection of contorted beats and warm melodies. First off is the lush, melodic ‘Clockwork Atom’, working warm tones and clever rhythmic shifts for a blissed-out, Mount Kimbie-esque affair. Next, and in stark contrast is the cold, mechanic glare of ‘Island Of Glass’ with its sizzling electrical charge and hammer-blow beats and finally ‘The Decent’ – a delicate concoction of soft piano keys and twisted drums.

The Top Reissues of 2014

  • Hi Scores
    Artist
    Boards of Canada
    ReleaseProduct
    Hi Scores
    Label
    Skam Records
    Catalogue Number
    SKA008.2014
    Release Date
    October 2014
    6 Tracks VL CD DL DL

    Boards of Canada – Hi Scores

    The second EP from everyone’s favourite bunker-dwelling brothers was - unbelievably - an even tighter mix than their first, with the title track adding a sizzling digital beat to eerie pads; Turquoise Hexagon Sun plucking at wobbling keyboards and shuffling drum programs, and June 9th foretelling the date of their 2013 comeback - some 17 years before it happened. Culminating in the Porcelain-like cuteness of Everything You Do Is A Balloon, this record is a must-own. This year, Skam took the audio materials from the original and gave them the full remastering treatment. The EP’s fusion of gargantuan beats and hauntingly mantra-like melodies still sounds just as fresh and remarkable today as it did back in 1996. Hi Scores stands tall as one of the duo’s finest chapters. The idiosyncrasies that make Boards of Canada so important to so many fans are purified on this EP and the bumper reissue is the perfect reintroduction to their ominous universe. The remastering brings the subtleties of their guttering sound to the fore. From the call-to-arms beat of June 9th to the multi-layered brilliance of the titular track, this reissue came out on top in 2014 for successfully cementing the viewpoint that Boards of Canada are on of contemporary electronic music’s most beguiling and enduring forces.

    This is the remastered 2014 edition.

  • K
    Artist
    Donato Dozzy
    ReleaseProduct
    K
    Label
    Further Records
    Catalogue Number
    FUR018
    Release Date
    July 2014
    Sale 7 Tracks CD DL DL

    Donato Dozzy – K

    In 2010 Donato Dozzy released his beautifully dense and atmospheric album K on Further Records. It's a set of luxuriating tracks built with a deep, avant-garde sensibility. Dreaming drones and fogs of analogue haze elegantly unfurl over a foundation of smoothly popping beats, creating a smudged and tripped out take on techno that is undeniably hypnotising. It sounded stunning upon it's initial release - but listening back to it now it's clear just how much of an influence it has been on electronic music.

    The opening track alone is captivating enough to make this a stand out release: an infinite maze of densely layered noise that sounds like it could keep on gently palpitating forever. Elsewhere, the tougher kicks of the third track hold a more sensual, earthy sway while the following fourth track is a hallucinatory world of glistening, smoky electronics that sound like they've been turned inside out. Even the more straight-forward moments are spectacular, such as the ghostly whirr and dubbed out grind of track 6 and the groaning acid of the album's final moments. An immersive release from the Italian producer that remains unmatched in the otherworldly techno stakes.

  • The Opening of the Cerebral Gate
    Artist
    Transllusion (Drexciya)
    ReleaseProduct
    The Opening of the Cerebral Gate
    Label
    Tresor Records
    Catalogue Number
    TRESOR270
    Release Date
    October 2014
    12 Tracks DL DL

    Transllusion (Drexciya) – The Opening of the Cerebral Gate

    A true classic, this first album from Transllusion has been given a welcome reissue by Tresor. A pseudonym for the late James Stinson, the only definitively identified member of Drexciya, The Opening of the Cerebral Gate is a heady, snarling collection of irrepressible electro cuts. Built on a blueprint of space-age futuristic funk, these tracks really do look towards the cerebral gate of the album's title. Detroit techno might have reached its pinnacle with this one, and we'll sadly never know what else Stinson could have achieved. All we can do is bask in the glory of this sublime release.

  • Venice (10th Anniversary Edition)
    Artist
    Fennesz
    ReleaseProduct
    Venice (10th Anniversary Edition)
    Label
    Touch
    Catalogue Number
    TO53V
    Release Date
    October 2014
    14 Tracks VL DL DL

    Fennesz – Venice (10th Anniversary Edition)

    To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 release of Christian Fennesz's album Venice, Touch finally gave it the vinyl pressing that it has long deserved, with the photography and artwork by Jon Wozencroft presented on a gatefold sleeve, along with two extra tracks that bookend the release. Venice was the fourth studio album by the guitarist, and it was seen to be the heir to the genre-defining and ground-breaking Endless Summer that was released in 2001. Endless Summer challenged and altered the perception of experimental electronic music, and murmured the discussion of how it could reflect and reference the language of pop. These concerns in Venice were still evident, but they evolved more into a whisper, with the artist's compositions and processes coming more to the fore, creating an album that is as distinct as it is accessible. With the anniversary edition beginning with 'The Future Will Be Different', a short and simple track of guitar chords, it abruptly gives way to the original opening track 'Rivers Of Sand', which quivers beautifully into focus, a languid low-end and fine-spun feedback that submerges the listener into the Austrian musician's unique and beautiful sound world. 'Circassian' - written in collaboration with guitarist Burkhard Stangl - is filled with cascading power chords, a hallucinatory, My Bloody Valentine-esque, swirling jam. 'The Point Of It All' is, in contrast, darker in tone, filled with fizzing, isolated noise, while 'Laguna' is a lulling and delicate piece of sprawling guitar work. Ending with 'Tree', the other extra track for this occasion, a simple meandering guitar wanders around alone, with hissing and harmonics hovering in the background dissolving the album in to the ether. "Transit" featuring David Sylvian, may be what people most remember of this album, but it is the moments in between, the distortion and degradation, the nostalgic memories of distant melodies, that haunt this album, and why ten years on it still resonates loudly in its own quiet way.

  • The Stargate Tapes
    Artist
    Emerald Web
    ReleaseProduct
    The Stargate Tapes
    Label
    Finders Keepers Records
    Catalogue Number
    FKR068DL
    Release Date
    November 2013
    14 Tracks DL DL

    Emerald Web – The Stargate Tapes

    Named after a reaction to their impressive green laser shows this Miami raised husband and wife duo moved to California to create music for planetariums and astronomy films on the cusp of the New Age explosion that quickly buried the sunshine state in candle wax and crystals. As trained flautists the duo were early champions of the Lyricon wind-synths alongside a wide range of prototype modular synth and keyboards which were showcased on a regular basis via their self pressed cassette-only releases on the Stargate label which were distributed at health food stores, book shops, gigs and garden centres... in fact anywhere apart from record shops.

  • Z (aka Bernard Szajner) presents Visions of Dune
    Artist
    Bernard Szajner
    ReleaseProduct
    Z (aka Bernard Szajner) presents Visions of Dune
    Label
    InFiné
    Catalogue Number
    63686
    Release Date
    August 2014
    14 Tracks VL CD DL DL DL

    Bernard Szajner – Z (aka Bernard Szajner) presents Visions of Dune

    Originally recorded in 1979, Bernard Szajner’s concept album Visions of Dune is based around Frank Herbert’s cult Dune Trilogy. A journey in the best sense of the word, this album builds stunning worlds out of grand artistic strokes, with imposing drones and cacophonous percussion colliding to evoke interstellar travel and mysterious life forms. From the prog rock pomp of the introductory 'Dune' to the modular masterpiece that is 'Shai-Hulud', through to the spine-tingling shill of the previously unreleased 'Duke', it's a bold and immersive listen that's well deserving of this sumptuous rerelease.

  • Flashlight Seasons
    Artist
    Gravenhurst
    ReleaseProduct
    Flashlight Seasons
    Label
    Warp
    Catalogue Number
    WARPCDD120
    Release Date
    June 2004
    10 Tracks VL DL DL

    Gravenhurst – Flashlight Seasons

    The second album from Bristolian singer songwriter Nick Talbot was further evidence of Warp branching out and diversifying its catalogue with this collection of bedroom-recorded acoustic folk songs. Flashlight Seasons is saturated with melancholia and darkness – foremost on the chilling chorus of ‘I Turn My Face to the Forest Floor’ – but it remains, nevertheless, a pop album that also invites comparisons to shoegaze and post-rock with Talbot’s inventive use of reverb and atmospheric instrumentation.

  • Neroli (Thinking Music Part IV) (Expanded Edition)
    Artist
    Brian Eno
    ReleaseProduct
    Neroli (Thinking Music Part IV) (Expanded Edition)
    Label
    All Saints Records
    Catalogue Number
    WASTDL051
    Release Date
    November 2014
    2 Tracks CD DL DL

    Brian Eno – Neroli (Thinking Music Part IV) (Expanded Edition)

    Reissue of Brian Eno’s critically acclaimed 1993 single-track album. Named after the precious sensual oil derived from the flowers of the Seville orange, Neroli is more than any other Eno work intrinsically linked with the idea of perfume and fragrance. Like its title suggests, Neroli (Thinking Music Part IV) is a perfect piece for pondering, whether at home or on the move. Originally just shy of one hour in length, one can get a whole lot of thinking done when assuaged by Eno’s calming synth tones. Neroli fits in very nicely in his canon of work, somewhere between the dark, atmospheric Ambient 4: On Land, algorithmic experiments like Discreet Music, and outright pretty works like Ambient 2 and The Pearl. New Space Music is a fine example of Eno’s inimitable long-form drone music and a satisfying companion piece to Neroli.

  • Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy
    Artist
    Sun Ra
    ReleaseProduct
    Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy
    Label
    Poppydisc
    Catalogue Number
    POPPYLP025
    Price
    $36.99
    Release Date
    August 2014
    2 Clips VL

    Sun Ra – Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy

    The mighty Sun Ra gets the reissue treatment from Glasgow’s Poppydisc. Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy was originally recorded in 1963 but only saw the light of day four years later. Predating both the psychedelia trend and the funk of George Clinton, this album saw Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra traverse universes in search of melodic perfection. Ra himself played a swirling astro space organ around traditional worldly instruments rent with intergalactic virtuoso power. Too complex just to call jazz, it’s a heady listen that crosses boundaries and galaxies in equal measure.

The Top Artists of 2014

Powell Artist of the Year: Powell (Photo by Damon Way)

Artist of the Year: Powell

2014 was the year that Powell's star went interstellar in its ascendance. His label, Diagonal put out some serious records in the shape of Shit and Shine's 'Powder Horn', Skull Defekt's 'Street Metal' and Russell Haswell's superb 'Double A'. Uncompromising doesn't really do these records justice. His pummeling singles have now been collated in to a double disc collection'11-14', with 18 original tracks taken from five EPs for three different labels, released now on Diagonal. The premiere of his live show at Poland's Unsound Festival, brought the audience on to their knees; while monthly show on NTS Radio, Melon Magic, showcases and collides the musical world he explores. It's been an incredible year for Powell and we wait with baited breath what next year will bring for him.

Artists of the Year

The Top Labels of 2014

Hyperdub Label of the Year: Hyperdub

Label of the Year: Hyperdub

2014, despite being their 10th anniversary was no joyous party for Hyperdub with 2 label stalwarts passing away withing months of each other. Nevertheless, their output reigned supreme with strong albums from Fatima Al-Qadiri, Fhloston Paradigm and Cooly G, not to mention EPs from Kyle Hall, Flowdan, Ikonika and Commander-in-Chief Kode9. These artist releases coupled with the anniversary compilations, featuring never-before-released Burial, also thrust Teklife into the fore after years of bubbling under the surface.

Labels of the Year

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