My Top 50 Electronic Music Albums Of The 2000s


30. Jan. 2010, 18:02

Somewhat late comes my list of the best albums of the last decade, but I was occupied alot the last couple of months and was rarely even online, plus I wanted to carefully check out all the albums released in 2009 to determine if something is suitable for the list (haven't unfortunately found anything exceptionally good), so better late than never I guess.

I just want to say that in my opinion this last decade was amazing when it comes to electronic music. Technology really created a space for further experimentation and innovation and a lot of talented producers appeared who had an ability to fill up that space. Some others didn't even had to utilize the new technology to unleash the creativity which expanded and redefined some older styles and created some new ones. So we witnessed the birth of folktronica, nu disco, microhouse, liquid funk, dubstep (and all of its derivatives) etc. together with IDM, minimal techno, deep house and ambient, which all survived a serious face-lift and are now enjoying a new popularity.

As of genres, I hardly decided to include them, but they could cause a confusion so let's clear this right now. For example it will seem that every other album listed is an IDM record, and while that may be true to some degree, it's advisable to mention that IDM is more of an umbrella term which covers most of the music that can't be classified as dance, ambient or some other "conventional" type of music. So Amon Tobin is nowhere near Alva Noto, who couldn't be farer from Plaid, yet all three are put under an IDM tag. So if someone wants to check out something from this list, it's recommendable to ignore the specified genres. Also "minimal" doesn't mean minimal techno, it's a sign that a producer applied the aesthetic of minimalism (which can be applied to any type of music) to his work. Also, "experimental" is used in a simillar manner, to denounce that a producer tried to significantly stretch the boundaries of a genre in question with his work. "Ambient" is sometimes used to stress the ambient qualities of an album, even though the album in question is not a pure ambient album. Usually if "ambient" stands first under the sytles tag, the record is ambient. Hopes that clears some things up.

I won't further edit this list after I'm done with it (just like I don't edit my other year lists), bacause I want it to be authentic and to reflect the state of affairs right after the passed decade. First entire decade which I spent following, listening and buying this kind of music (and compiling the year lists). So I hope that gives it some kind of credibility and differentiates it from the list some kid is going to make in 5, 10 or 15 years about best albums of the 00s.

I had around 200 really good albums for consideration, but I decided to trim it down to 50 to really present crème de la crème of the last decade. I haven't included compilations, remixed albums, dj mixes and albums that span over more than two cds. And here it is:

50. Venetian Snares - Rossz csillag alatt született
Label: Planet Mu, 2005
Style: Breakcore, Modern Classical
Highlights: Hajnal, Szamár Madár, Kétsarkú Mozgalom
Rating: 4/5

49. Telefon Tel Aviv - Fahrenheit Fair Enough
Label: Hefty Records, 2001
Style: IDM, Glitch
Highlights: John Thomas On The Inside Is Nothing But Foam, Your Face Reminds Me Of When I Was Old, What's The Use Of Feet If You Haven't Got Legs?
Rating: 4/5

48. Shed - Shedding the Past
Label: Ostgut Ton, 2008
Style: Techno, Experimental, Dubstep
Highlights: Slow Motion Replay, Another Wedged Chicken, Estrange
Rating: 4/5

47. Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
Label: Kranky, 2006
Style: Ambient, Drone, Noise
Highlights: Whitecaps Of White Noise II, Radio Spiricom, Dungeoneering
Rating: 4/5

46. The Cinematic Orchestra - Every Day
Label: Ninja Tune, 2002
Style: Nu Jazz, Downtempo
Highlights: Man With The Movie Camera, All Things To All Men, Everyday
Rating: 4/5

45. Kattoo - Megrim
Label: Hymen Records, 2005
Style: Ambient, Experimental, Modern Classical, IDM
Highlights: Track 14, Track 20, Track 10
Rating: 4/5

44. Solar Fields - Movements
Label: Ultimae Records, 2009
Style: Ambient, Psybient, Downtempo
Highlights: Discovering, The Road To Nothingness, Feelings (Album Edit)
Rating: 4/5

43. The Black Dog - Silenced
Label: Dust Science Recordings, 2005
Style: Techno, Deep Techno, Ambient
Highlights: The Stele Of Revealing, Alt/Return/Dash/Kill, 4 3s 555 (Part 2)
Rating: 4/5

42. Pan Sonic - Aaltopiiri
Label: Blast First, 2001
Style: Experimental, Minimal, Drone
Highlights: Kierto, Vaihtovirta, Kone
Rating: 4/5

41. Autechre - Draft 7.30
Label: Warp Records, 2003
Style: IDM, Experimental, Glitch
Highlights: Reniform Puls, VL AL 5, V-Proc
Rating: 4/5

40. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
Label: Warp Records, 2008
Style: Abstract Hip Hop, Ambient
Highlights: Melt!, GNG BNG, Parisian Goldfish
Rating: 4/5

39. Villalobos - Alcachofa
Label: Playhouse, 2003
Style: Minimal Techno, Tech House
Highlights: Dexter, Waiworinao, Fools Garden (Black Conga)
Rating: 4/5

38. Aphex Twin - Drukqs
Label: Warp Records, 2001
Style: IDM
Highlights: Vordhosbn, Afx237 V.7, Cock/Ver10
Rating: 4/5

37. Bonobo - Dial 'M' for Monkey
Label: Ninja Tune, 2003
Style: Nu Jazz, Downtempo
Highlights: Pick Up, Wayward Bob, Light Pattern
Rating: 4.5/5

36. Dryft - Cell
Label: Unit, 2000
Style: IDM, Drum & Bass, Industrial
Highlights: Track 7, Slalom, Cell Weight
Rating: 4.5/5

35. Aril Brikha - Deeparture In Time
Label: Transmat, 2000
Style: Detroit Techno, Deep Techno, Tech House
Highlights: Groove La Chord (The Other Mix), Otill, On And On
Rating: 4.5/5

34. Squarepusher - Ultravisitor
Label: Warp Records, 2004
Style: IDM, Drum & Bass, Nu Jazz
Highlights: Iambic 9 Poetry, Steinbolt, Tetra-Sync
Rating: 4.5/5

33. imminent - cask strength
Label: Ant-Zen, 2009
Style: Rhythmic Noise
Highlights: Droak, Rubbs, Ila
Rating: 4.5/5

32. The Timewriter - Diary Of A Lonely Sailor
Label: Plastic City, 2002
Style: Deep House, Tech House
Highlights: Travellers, Power To The People, Space For Lovers
Rating: 4.5/5

31. Plaid - Double Figure
Plaid - Double Figure
Label: Warp Records, 2001
Style: IDM, Techno
Highlights: New Family, Eyen, Porn Coconut Co
Rating: 4.5/5

30. Clark - Body Riddle

Label: Warp Records, 2006
Style: IDM, Experimental, Ambient
Review: Another one of those albums that'll leave you dazed and confused after the first listen. Espacially if you didn't follow the tracklist closely, and you noticed a couple of more tracks than aren't listed on the back cover. No worries, the latter is just another lovely practice of Chris Clark: he likes to add a little encore to almost every one of his tracks after the main part of the track is over. It's usually a minute long ambient outro, and sometimes even some kind of twisted reprise of the main part. But it's enough to really puzzle the listener. About the former claim: like every highly abstract album, Body Riddle sounds weird and messed up at first, but after a couple of listens things start to fall into place. It becomes intriguing, interesting and even enjoyable at the end. This is the first serious Clark album, one where he finally decided to step away from emulating the sound of his label peers, and create something completely unique, something that'll always be remembered as Clark's own music. Music in which growling and agressive beats are interfused with gentle and clever ambience, and everything together is coupled with some amazing synth work. That joy unfortunately spoils Chris' characteristic overuse of sound compressors, so you might have a feeling that every little sound is smashing you in the face and that music becomes a bit tiring to listen to. Plus, your ears will hurt long after the music is gone, but overall it's a small price to pay for this kind of genuine experience.
Highlights: Ted, Vengeance Drools, Night Knuckles
Rating: 4.5/5

29. DeepChord presents Echospace - The Coldest Season

Label: Modern Love, 2007
Style: Dub Techno, Ambient
Review: It's important to clear some things up right at the beginning. Yeah, The Coldest Season sounds alot like Basic Channel's music from 10 years earlier, and yeah, compared to that music it doesn't do anything revolutionary. As a matter of fact, most dub techno still sounds like BC sounded a decade ago, and some significant change can't be seen anytime soon (which only shows how great and innovative were BC). However, that doesn't make The Coldest Season any less worthy. It is beautiful in its own, more modern way. Thereby, TCS is deeper, denser and uses some unique samples, such as electrostatic noise in some tracks which add to the whole "floating through the grey, stormy clouds" atmosphere. It's also important to say that TCS is really an ambient album, since it's mostly oriented on creating the ambience (whether it's "deep down below the sea" or "in the field of thick clouds" kind of ambience) which sets listener in the specific mood.
Highlights: Aequinoxium, Ocean Of Emptiness, Elysian
Rating: 4.5/5

28. Joris Voorn - Future History

Label: Sino, 2004
Style: Detroit Techno, Tech House
Review: Who would have thought that a Dutch guy could make such a soulful Detroit-inspired album such is Future History. By 2004 dance (and non-dance) music influenced by early Detroit techno has been almost beaten to death, but Joris Voorn showed that creativity and novelty could still find the way in to revitalise the style in question. Future History is smooth, slick and polished (maybe even too polished for someone who likes his techno raw). But as much as standard techno is great here, highlight of the album are two intense and chilling electro tracks deliberately placed in the middle of the album. The only weak point are most of the beatless interludes that are not on the same level with the rest of the stuff, however there are not too many of them, so that's only a minor problem. All in all, this is the finest Detroit techno album made by a non-Detroit producer in this decade.
Highlights: Clear, Year Of The Monkey, Rejected
Rating: 4.5/5

27. Beefcake - Drei

Label: Thrill Beat Construction, 2001
Style: IDM, Drum & Bass, Ambient, Glitch
Review: Drei is much improved version of its already great predecessor Coincidentia Oppositorum. This third (Drei means three) album by Beefcake is made up of three minute tracks (notice the excessive symbolism), but in reality this is a continuous piece of exuberant music which jumps from classical arrangements and ambient pieces to rhythmically oriented material of the highest kind. It's almost imposible to unveil who influenced them to make this kind of music, since it's hard to find music of this style even after Drei. Probably the most memorable moment is around half of the album when the guys introduce some teenage vocals that start to sing a pop ballad, and then using their studio trickery fuse austere drum & bass-ey beats with sharp glitches that make a certain effect that sounds like that rhythmic part is shreding the vocals to pieces. It's really impressive effect that I haven't heard anywhere else before of since.
Highlights: Undeterminable
Rating: 4.5/5

26. Yagya - Rhythm of Snow

Label: Force Inc. Music Works, 2002
Style: Dub Techno, Ambient Techno
Review: Dub techno was kinda completed story after Basic Channel released some of their finest work and established their own unique sound in the mid-90s, and especially after the second wave artists from Chain Reaction label offered their own take on that sound in the later part of the decade. However, there was still a room for improvement and minor redefinition of the sound, and Yagya was one of the rare dub techno producers who managed to fill that gap. His debut draws influences from both Basic Channel and Wolfgang Voigt's first Gas album, but with his unmistakably recognizable icy and cold atmosphere. What's most special about this release is its versatility, since every track has its own mood and story, which can't be said for most of the releases of this style.
Highlights: SnowFlake 8, SnowFlake 9, SnowFlake 6
Rating: 4.5/5

25. Jan Jelinek - Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records

Label: ~scape, 2001
Style: Ambient, Experimental, Glitch
Review: Jan Jelinek's first album under his own name (he previously released somewhat classic minimal techno album under the Gramm moniker) is a collection of incredibly deep and warm loop based music that starts rather slow, but picks up after the first couple of tracks. Although the samples are mostly picked up from old jazz records, the end result doesn't sound too jazzy. And while Jan decided to add a beat to a lot of the tracks (which seems quite unnecessary), the main emphasis is put on the crispy texture and blurred ambience.
Highlights: Do Dekor, Moiré (Strings), Them, Their
Rating: 4.5/5

24. Stendeck - Sonnambula

Label: Tympanik Audio, 2009
Style: IDM, Industrial, Ambient
Review: Gridlock's final album Formless had left a deep impact on a high number of producers of darker IDM style, but Stendeck was one of the few who succeded to evolve that sound into something little more than just a uninspired replica. Of course you're getting a trademark noisy rhythms and (sometimes overblown) lush melodies, but Stendeck has a lot more to offer besides that: piano-laden pieces, claustrophobic moments, peaceful and relaxed passages, 80s electro inspired melodies... If it wasn't for the Formless, which will always be referenced when the albums like these appear, Sonnambula would be considered absolute masterpiece and one of the finest electronic albums ever.
Highlights: Broken Hearts Carillion, An Autumnal Afternoon In The Family's House, Lullabies From The Cliff By The Raging Sea
Rating: 4.5/5

23. The Detroit Escalator Co. - Black Buildings

Label: Peacefrog Records, 2001
Style: Detroit Techno, Deep Techno, Ambient
Review: Mid and late 90s gave us some of the finest soulful Detroit techno albums that were almost completely focused on ambience, not so much on the rhythm. Most of those albums were produced by people directly from Detroit, and a small number of British folks. In this decade, a lot of people (mostly from Europe) took a shot at producing an album that will come close to those classics, yet just one man almost perfectly captured the vibe and atmosphere that adorned them. And it's no surprise that he's from Detroit too. It's almost a rule that everyone in the world can attempt to make a Detroit techno album, yet just people from Detroit can create truly deep and soulful one. Black Buildings is basically an ambient album, beats are almost completely pushed in the background, percussion is immanent and done very well to enhance beautiful warm melodies that are in the forefront. Parts that are hypnotic work very well, but more static, traditional ambient ones not so well. Fortunately, the album is filled with former ones, and that is a very good move by Neil Ollivierra.
Highlights: The Inverted Man (Dreaming), Ghana, Mandala/Toronto
Rating: 4.5/5

22. edIT - Crying Over Pros for No Reason

Label: Planet Mu, 2004
Style: Abstract Hip Hop, Glitch
Review: edIT was certainly not the first one to merge hip hop beats and glitch (Prefuse 73 comes to mind), yet Crying Over Pros For No Reason is the prettiest and the most painstakingly assembled collection of tracks of that style. edIT carefully manipulates with the effects and twists the rhythm pretty hard over the course of the track, yet never lets the music falls into the unrecognizability, and short and sweet (mostly guitar-based) melodies in the vein of Squarepusher or The Flashbulb beautifully supplement the rhythmic part. But although the music is very nice, it gets fairly invariable towards the end, so it's a fortune that the album is just over half an hour long.
Highlights: Dex, Ltlp, Ants
Rating: 4.5/5

21. Secede - Tryshasla

Label: Sending Orbs, 2005
Style: Ambient, Downtempo
Review: If you ever played Starcraft you know how Zerg and Protoss sound. Well Tryshasla sounds like someone mixed these two species and recorded their daily activities. Secede adds these effects only in small doses however, which is a good thing, because if whole album sounded like a game or a soundtrack to a science fiction movie, it wouldn't come close to masterpiece such is Tryshasla. Music itself is an otherworldy combination of interesting sounding drones and ethereal soundscapes, sweeping pads, lush synth melodies and occasional rhythms that somewhat strangely disarrange this perfect harmony. And while Secede isn't exclusively an ambient producer, it would certainly be better if he stayed away from showcasing his whole spectrum of producing capabilities on this one.
Highlights: The Realms Of Sanda, Leraine, Shrine
Rating: 4.5/5

20. Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid

Label: Kranky, 2001
Style: Ambient, Drone
Review: I'm all for non-intrusive and subtle music, yet The Tired Sounds can be too much ever for the most patient listener such as myself. 2 discs, little over 2 hours of music and endless drones. No doubt, there is an unique beauty to some of the pieces here and most of the album with its ethereal and breezy sound can put you in places where no other type of music can, however, I found that the easiest way to digest is to play it while you're doing something else. You'd really have to be in a special state of mind (either on drugs, or in some sort of dreamlike state) to listen it on its own.
Highlights: Piano Aquieu, The Lonely People (Are Getting Lonelier), Requiem For Dying Mothers (Part 1)
Rating: 4.5/5

19. Alva Noto - Unitxt

Label: Raster-Noton, 2008
Style: IDM, Experimental, Minimal
Review: This is probably the most artificial album I've ever heard. You won't hear any pad or synth melodies, drums or strings here. Instead Alva Noto offers brilliantly constructed collage of mathematical precise sharp beats, white noise, short bleeps and other high frequency signals. Basically, everything Alva Noto is known for, but in a completely different, more rhythmic arrangement. Quite similar to Automne Fold by Kangding Ray, but even more unnatural.
Highlights: U_09-0, U_07, U_03
Rating: 4.5/5

18. Carbon Based Lifeforms - Hydroponic Garden

Label: Ultimae Records, 2003
Style: Ambient, Psybient, Downtempo
Review: Ambient was a completely different beast in the 90s. Producers were not afraid of their albums sounding too "big" or too "stuffed", so they'd employ more than a few different elements over the course of the track. The result was a music that was full of strong repeated synth melodies, sweeping pads, acid, downtempo beats, vocals etc. that sounded almost like trance minus the beat. 00s brought us almost the complete opposite: minimalistic, almost drone music that was deprived of all (what was thought were) unnecessary elements. With its natural theme and rich, mysterious sound Hydroponic Garden could be either seen as a homage to ambient music of the past or as an attempt to revolutionize the current state of this type of music. For some it could be too much with its hypnotic and rather in your face (at least for ambient) melodies, but others couldn't care less and just enjoy the fantastic music.
Highlights: Comsat, Hydroponic Garden, Refraction 1.33
Rating: 4.5/5

17. Boards of Canada - Geogaddi

Label: Warp Records, 2002
Style: Downtempo, Ambient
Review: Unlike Ulrich Schnauss and other downtempo/ambient artists who usually just create some basic beats and couple them with warm and fuzzy pads and pretty melodies, BoC have a somewhat different strategy. Music Has The Right To Children, their previous effort which is now considered a classic was a lot like this, but Geogaddi pushes the things forward. Listener is not just left to kick back and enjoy, he's forced to engage actively in the listening process. BoC create intriguing psychedelic soundscapes, throw in hidden messages, use unusual and sometimes even bizarre samples, efficiently minimize the sound from time to time... Of course that old analogue synths that bring back warm childhood memories are still here, but they don't predominate, which is a very good thing in this case.
Highlights: 1969, Dawn Chorus, Music Is Math
Rating: 4.5/5

16. Kangding Ray - Automne Fold

Label: Raster-Noton, 2008
Style: IDM, Minimal
Review: If someone before Automne Fold told me that acoustic guitars and vocals could work very well on an IDM record, I'd say they are sick for even thinking about it. Yet, when you listen to this piece of modern IDM art, it all sounds so normal and natural. Vocals, which are found in many different forms, perfectly interconnect with artificial elements and wistful atmosphere, and guitar samples, which are featured ocasionally and in a very clever manner only further supplement the emotional and melancholic entity. In times when IDM feels considerably nonprogressive and dead in many people's eyes, Automne Fold proves that all it takes is just a little creativity and out of the box thinking. Pretty strange release for Raster-Noton who are usually known for their sparse and ultra-artificial sound.
Highlights: Palisades, A Protest Song, Altiz
Rating: 4.5/5

15. Gas - Pop

Label: Mille Plateaux, 2000
Style: Ambient, Minimal, Techno, Modern Classical
Review: Some albums are a little more demanding than the others. Sometimes you have to dig really deep to pick up the subtleties that make a certain piece of music outstanding. Pop, although its misleading title suggests that you might be able to "get it" very quickly, is, together with The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid, the calmest and the most peaceful album on this list, and definitely in top 3 of hardest to get ones, at least for me in the beginning. Yet, everything is so simple about Pop. The album is basically divided into the two similar sounding, yet different ambient parts. First part of the album is brighter, more natural and has a very organic flow to it. It ends after after around half an hour, which is about half the length of the whole album, with the haunting techno track. The sound all of a sudden transforms into darker, almost industrial version of itself from the first half, and amazes the listener for the rest of the album. It too, just like the first one, finishes with the long, entrancing techno track that triumphantly closes the album. Simple, but effective as hell.
Highlights: Track 7, Track 3, Track 4
Rating: 4.5/5

14. Autechre - Untilted

Label: Warp Records, 2005
Style: IDM, Experimental, Glitch
Review: After Draft 7.30, which I considered the weakest Ae album for a long time, but which slowly started to grow on me lately, Autechre haven't released a compulsory EP, which only meant that they focused all their energy and attention on the new album. And Untilted sounds just like that - complete, which can't be said for its predecessor. While the traces of randomly generated beat programming can still be heard, most of the tracks feature natural (yet very complex) beat programing. Inclusion of distinct sinister soundscapes is also a welcomed change, and some parts of the album even feature bright melodies. And what's most important and what Autechre is best known for - their use of unique sounds and highly distinctive way in which they're organized, is what makes this album special and truly outstanding.
Highlights: Sublimit, Fermium, Pro Radii
Rating: 4.5/5

13. Vladislav Delay - Anima

Label: Mille Plateaux, 2001
Style: Ambient, Minimal, Glitch
Review: If there ever was an album that deserved the epithet "true journey", it's Anima by Vladislav Delay. Like his former Chain Reaction peers Monolake, Delay also decided to completely distance himself from dub techno sound that initially propelled him into recognition, but he chose somewhat different way. Anima is a pinnacle of that departure process, album that is so simple, yet so rewarding and enjoyable. The whole piece is built upon a simple looped synth, that changes slightly from time to time, but mostly stays constant. While there's nothing impressive about that, Delay's manipulation of uncountable amounts of clicks, pops, glitches, micro samples of all kinds, tiny chords and even vocals, which all periodically infiltrate that main synth foundation and together create an incredible epic collage, is what really keeps the listener interested and amazed. Delay really learned alot from influential electronic minimalists like his Finnish contemporaries Pan Sonic, whose aim was always to pseudo improvise and let the music go, without editing and interfering too much.
Highlights: Anima
Rating: 4.5/5

12. Monolake - Cinemascope

Label: Monolake / Imbalance Computer Music, 2001
Style: Techno, Experimental, Minimal
Review: When it comes to electronic music in general, Monolake are one of the three true leading innovators and experimentators out there (other two being Pan Sonic and Autechre). Their field of work is techno music, but techno like you haven't heard before. Techno that's crystal clear, complex, incredibly detailed, repetitive (in a good way), minimalistic and highly atmospheric, although the latter is more of a by-product than a direct intention. Leading member of Monolake is also a music engineer and it really shows here, since some of the sounds are quite unique and the whole thing is extraordinary structured. While Monolake originated from Chain Reaction and were one of the finest acts on the label that also released one of the greatest dub techno albums ever Hongkong, there's almost none of the influence of dub techno on the sound of this record, which shows that there are multiple sides to them and that they are equally good at everything they touch.
Highlights: Ping, Cubicle, Indigo
Rating: 4.5/5

11. St Germain - Tourist

Label: Blue Note, 2000
Style: Nu Jazz, Acid Jazz, Deep House
Review: Just one word comes to mind while listening to this masterpiece: sophistication. There are countless deep house artists out there, yet none of them succeeded to sound as sophisticated as Ludovic Navarre on this record. And this isn't even a pure house record. What's so great about this album is the way samples of jazz music, electronic instrumentation and live improvisation is combined. The latter could be the strongest characteristic overall, since every single solo is played with heart, sounds exactly the way it should to complement the rest of the elements, and gives every track a specific charm that make them stand out from the bunch. Even though Tourist doesn't sound commercial, it's probably the most played album from this list on commercial radio.
Highlights: Sure Thing, So Flute, Land Of...
Rating: 5/5

10. Squarepusher - Hello Everything

Label: Warp Records, 2006
Style: IDM, Drum & Bass, Nu Jazz
Review: It's amazing and impressive that after all these years and countless albums and EPs, and especially after ultravisitor, which was at the time of its release considered the pinnacle of his career, Tom Jenkinson can still reach into his bag of creativity and deliver a completely different, but equally astounding album such is Hello Everything. Hello Everything is not a concept album like Ultravisitor, and the bass guitar doesn't play such prominent role on it. Tom rarely even uses it. Instead, the focus is put on futuristic sounding synths and their interaction with masterfully programmed beats. Without a couple of odd and out of the place tracks which traditionally creep in every great Squarepusher album, this one would be even greater and easily contested for a place in top 10.
Highlights: Planetarium, Plotinus, Rotate Electrolyte
Rating: 5/5

09. Burial - Untrue

Label: Hyperdub, 2007
Style: Dubstep, Ambient
Review: Compared to most of today's dubstep and even Burial's recent stuff done with Four Tet, this album sounds incredibly rough and claustrophobic, and sometimes not in a good way. I know that's what most people find really good and charming about it (and I believe Burial said that the whole album was done just in Soundforge), but to me that's definitely a disadvantage. There are lot of weak sides to Untrue: poor production, slightly irritating vocals on pretty much every track (even during the short beatless interludes) and pretty static programming, yet the atmosphere is impeccable and truly one of the kind. I don't think anyone before or after managed to capture the dirty, grimey atmosphere of the urban city at night as well as Burial on Untrue.
Highlights: Raver, Archangel, Untrue
Rating: 5/5

08. Gridlock - Formless

Label: Hymen Records, 2003
Style: IDM, Industrial, Ambient
Review: Gridlock came from the industrial scene, so when they started to flirt with IDM on their previous album Trace, it was expected that they would create their own, unique sound. Formless confirmed that, contrasting the dark and sinister industrial atmosphere intertwined with untypical harsh noises and beautiful, though sometimes samey, powerful melodies. And just these beautiful melodies is Formless' main advantage, and what parts it from both Gridlock's previous work and from other albums of this style. Lately some music appeared (Stendeck's Faces and Sonnambula being the most obvious examples) that resembles Formless, but at the time of its release Formless was truly one of the kind. Formless was also Gridlock's farewell album, and what better way to say goodbye to their fans than to give them an album that seems to be an improvable highlight of their career.
Highlights: Invert, Done Processing, Pallid
Rating: 5/5

07. Fennesz - Venice

Label: Touch, 2004
Style: Ambient, Experimental, Noise, Glitch
Review: While its predcessor Endless Summer, which would many pick out as Fennesz's best effort, relied heavily on acoustic guitar sounds, which were most responsible for record's summery feel, Venice almost completely abandons guitar (which appears just in one completely acoustic track), and relies more on ambience, subtle synth sounds and moderate glitch and noise work. It's amazing how Fennesz's noise sounds refined and unexhausting, unlike majority of records from so-called rhythmic noise camp. Venice is pretty much the closest Fennesz's record that sounds like standard ambient album.
Highlights: Chateau Rouge, The Point Of It All, Rivers Of Sand
Rating: 5/5

06. Amon Tobin - Out From Out Where

Label: Ninja Tune, 2002
Style: IDM, Breakbeat, Experimental
Review: Out From Out Where marked the change in Tobin's sound, and many were left pleasantly surprised that he shifted from the heavily visceral sound filled with jazzy samples of his early classic Bricolage, to more artificial sound that is somewhat similar to Autechre, but also true to its roots to some degree. Out From Out Where is the first Amon Tobin album of that style, and also his finest to date by far. It's incredibly diverse, and pretty much every track has its own unique sound. However, the most amazing thing about this album is large spectrum of sounds, samples and sound snippets used, and the way everything is arranged and composed into the astonishing entity. No one deserves a 'studio magician' title when it comes to electronic music more than Amon Tobin.
Highlights: Mighty Micro People, Triple Science, Cosmo Retro Intro Outro
Rating: 5/5

05. Aglaia - Three Organic Experiences

Label: Hic Sunt Leones, 2003
Style: Ambient
Review: This is the album Biosphere always wanted to make. Light, ethereal and unintrusive, but very soothing. Quite minimal, yet not stripped down. Attractive and full of natural sounds and ancient oriental instruments without being too "in your face" or cheesy. We're presented with the three equally, in their own way, interesting pieces that never get boring, although the changes take place on microscopic level. Shortly, this is the finest ambient album of the decade and one that can proudly stand along Selected Ambient Works II and Substrata as one of the finest ambient albums of all times.
Highlights: Seven Ancient Glaciers, The Tribe Of The Flying Monkeys, The Mysterious Fish Named Kun
Rating: 5/5

04. The Flashbulb - Kirlian Selections

Label: Sublight Records, 2005
Style: Breakcore, Modern Classical
Review: Breakcore never sounded as sophisticated as it does on Kirlian Selections. It was just a matter of time when will Benn Jordan create a classic album since his enormous talent was apparent right from the start (even though his early years went by mostly in imitating Aphex Twin and Squarepusher). On Kirlian Selections, Benn again works with multitude of music instruments (which are mostly played by him) and covers a huge scope of electronic music. And indeed, you can find almost everything here: from full on breakcore to heavy metal/hard rock infused drum & bass to emotional, almost tear-inducing beatless pieces. And every piece of music, no matter how distinct it is from the rest, has that smooth and unique Flashbulb touch. The only potential shortcoming is that some of the tracks are very short and may seem unfinished, but they are also so sweet and charming at the same time that it's not hard to neglect that little fault.
Highlights: Kirlian Isles II, Lawn Wake IX, Autumn Insomnia Session
Rating: 5/5

03. Jazzanova - In Between

Label: Jazzanova Compost Records (JCR), 2002
Style: Nu Jazz, Acid Jazz, Broken Beat, Downtempo
Review: This is, without a doubt and with all due respect to Jaga Jazzist, Squarepusher or Bonobo, the finest fusion of electronic music and jazz ever. Deep as an ocean and warm as a sunny beach in the afternoon, this is the album that could open one's eyes to the whole new world of music. Jazzanova utilizes a large number of live instruments, from standard ones like bass, piano and sax, to more exotic ones like vibraphone and some others I can't even recognize with just one goal - to demonstrate that electronic music can sound just as profound as some more traditional styles of music. Add that deepness to the clever usage of sampling, deliberate dosage of delightful vocals and pretty impressive sound manipulation, and you're getting one of the finest albums of electronic music ever.
Highlights: Hanazono, Another New Day, Mwela, Mwela (Here I Am)
Rating: 5/5

02. Richard Devine - Asect:Dsect

Label: Schematic, 2003
Style: IDM, Experimental, Glitch
Review: All sounds in electronic music, let alone IDM, are pretty much established and well-known. Most of the artists use sounds that are already defined or create their own version of existing sounds that are not too different from originals. On the other side, there are few artists who use sounds you've never heard before, which sometimes leave you wonder how the hell did they managed to create them. One of those artists are Autechre, who are pretty well-known and acclaimed, and the other is Richard Devine, who's not that acknowledged, most probably because his sound, although very unique in its own way, resembles alot to Autechre's, and it's pretty well-known who came first. Other reason is that simply not enough people have heard his material yet. Richard's sound is a sound of some parallel universe in which only giant robots exist. While that may sound indigestible and for some it probably is, the structure of his songs is much more linear and the whole thing sounds more orthodox than Autechre, without too much exploring and bending the limitations. This is how Out From Out Where would sound if Amon Tobin was born somewhere out of Brasil with a integrated circuit instead of his heart.
Highlights: Vo Stream Bas, Floccus, Randale
Rating: 5/5

01. Autechre - Confield

Label: Warp Records, 2001
Style: IDM, Experimental, Glitch
Review: The thing with Confield, and Autechre in general is that although they are respected in music critic community, their albums are rarely going to be featured on any "best of" list. So on their "best of the decade" lists neither Resident Advisor, Pitchfork nor Rolling Stone included any Autechre, which is a pretty strange considering how they always like to point out that one of the most important aspects of music they seek is originality and innovation (that didn't stop them, however, to place Daft Punk's pop rehash of 90s filtered disco house or awful Justice's Cross pretty high on these lists). So it's a little awkward for me to put such an illusively anonymous album at the top of my list. On the other hand, I couldn't care less because Confield is truly impressive masterpiece that intrinsically challenged everyone who think they "knew" electronic music. It still stands todays as a monument to unconventional sound design, clever sound processing, multidimensionality and attention to details. The music itself is hard to describe, and I don't want to even try to do it here (you can see the equally shitty review oriented more towards the sound at my Autechre page), but I'll only say it takes time, patience and the right mood to fully appreciate it. Very few people actually tried to emulate the sound of Confield (only Phoenecia and Richard Devine come to mind), since it's well known that every slightly successful new thing in electronic music gets imitated and beaten to death in no time, but that's only because most of the artists haven't even got the technical ability to do so.
Highlights: Bine, Pen Expers, Eidetic Casein
Rating: 5/5


  • TechForze

    got alot in common, know 90% of it. Will check the remaining %. Thank you for this list!

    8. Feb. 2010, 12:25
  • juviess

    really intresting, thanks

    10. Feb. 2010, 18:55
  • DreadfulYgg

    Nice work. I'm interested in checking out a lot of these just on first glance.

    22. Feb. 2010, 6:12
  • hamatai

    Thanks for your list, I have a lot to check. Funny thing: I'd put venetian snares' hungarian album first not 50th...and autechre 2nd.

    24. Feb. 2010, 20:56
  • Scratlin

    Autehre used no beat generation for Untilted and there are only two tracks on Confeld that use these methods. Fantastic to see The Coldest Season on the list! Travelling at the moment and neglected to add it to my ipod - been really missing it. Would have thought Porter Ricks & Techno Animal's 'Symbiotics' would have made it in there; truly original and atmospheric - more so that Burial and less jarring! Lots to check out though, thanks for putting this together!

    27. Feb. 2010, 9:59
  • koritish

    Thanks. This top list helped me a lot on sorting out the list of albums to listen this year.

    15. Mär. 2010, 0:32
  • Bonelesss

    impressive shit we got here! great list, most of this is new for me...should check out a lot of these records...good work, dude!

    17. Mär. 2010, 15:05
  • Omega_Switch22B

    This list is incredible, thanks for posting! I can't say I'm in full agreement with the placement of Hello Everything or Out From Out Where (both are decent in my view but hardly their best efforts), but overall this is excellent, and there are a few here I've yet to listen to (St Germain, Vladislav Delay).

    11. Apr. 2010, 21:29
  • Rigel_Kent

    This has been very helpful for me rounding out my experience with good electronic music. Thanks!

    27. Jun. 2010, 17:35
  • Watchful_Eye

    great list :-)

    27. Jun. 2010, 22:24
  • morgaen

    Great list though the order is a bit odd to me. As an ae fanboi, I would say Draft > Untilted > Confield. But the fact that that' so subjective is what makes me love them. Nothing like trip-sitting a newb through one of those is there... Also there should be an at least honourable mention for Mr. Oizo, no?! Moustache was the shit! Fantastic to see Jan Jelinek and Secede listed as well. Makes me feel like less of an obtuse weirdo :)

    29. Jun. 2010, 2:47
  • browbrow


    30. Jun. 2010, 11:52
  • squarefrog

    Nice list. As I was reading down I was wondering where Kirlian Sessions was :) Surprised BoC only got one mention though.

    2. Jul. 2010, 13:55
  • Watchful_Eye

    Thank you (again) for this list. I just bought "Tryshasla" and it is awesome :-)

    9. Jul. 2010, 21:50
  • frmtn

    Awesome on ya for making a sweet little list. Hell i dunno if i could compile one just out of sheer indecisiveness. However I'm feling your little pearls of wisdom and I'll now make it my mission to acquaint myself with the albums I'm not familiar with and go back and relook all those other bad boys I havn't listenend to in long time. Shot for the perspective.

    16. Jul. 2010, 17:10
  • ekkkko

    What about SHPONGLE ?!

    4. Aug. 2010, 16:20
  • sljiva

    Gimmicky band that stopped being interesting right after the first album.

    4. Aug. 2010, 20:59
  • lacksesepsotygh

    nice list. i'm gonna work my way through it

    7. Aug. 2010, 13:38
  • ToothpasteBAM

    totally agree with hamatai, and this list is awesome.

    10. Aug. 2010, 19:54
  • snapinho

    Thank you. I love it when lists such as these highly reflect personal taste - especially in this case, since your taste coincides with mine quite a bit. Although, on the other hand, there's a number of yet unexplored must-listens in there that I will get to listening to ASAP! (:

    11. Aug. 2010, 14:15
  • Delyside

    Nice list dude! Discovered some nice artists that I didn't know before. I always used to be a big fan of the formless album by gridlock, so i'm glad to find similar artists in here! thx

    11. Aug. 2010, 22:14
  • rivermyst

    Came here from stumbleupon. Very well written and an excellent selection of albums.

    16. Aug. 2010, 5:35
  • bodhi-tree

    excellent list of artists. you have great taste in music & artists

    22. Aug. 2010, 17:18
  • EcuK8E

    awesome awesome list! thanks!!

    24. Aug. 2010, 23:41
  • drcoffeebean

    Nice list. What do you think of From Here We Go Sublime?

    20. Sep. 2010, 22:17
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