Over 100 releases in this article alone! The electronic genre is exploding in the absence of the club scene. Perhaps this may represent our desire to dance, or ~ considering the heartbeat pulse of the music ~ to live. Perhaps it is a statement of faith that in time we will commune again. Whatever the reasons, we are glad to see so much electronic music being produced. The plethora of choices is astonishing. There’s something for everyone here, even if we’re only listening from our coaches, cars and offices while dreaming of glow sticks and florescent drinks.
Rich’s Pick: Don’t Problem, Liminality (October 1)
We first featured Don’t Problem in Ten Tracks That Sound Like Summer with the cut “CD’s Lament.” Now Liminality is set for release, and we couldn’t be more excited. Dance music from an eight-man brass and drums band? We’re already hooked.
Enter the Kettle is the second release on Alex Patterson’s Orbscure label, following The Heavens. Along with Fil Le Gonidec, he forms OSS (formerly known as Orb Sound System) and is set to get the feet moving this fall with steady dub beats and the now-ubiquitous spoken word samples (October 15). Lyra Pramuk‘s Delta; is a fascinating album, technically a remix release but far more than the sum of its parts. Alternating between ambient and electronic, these vast reimaginings of Fountain operate as an entirely new project, thanks to Ben Frost, KMRU, Caterina Barbieri, Kara-Lis Coverdale and more. Even the double versions of tracks sound different (Bedroom Community, September 24). Alto Aria uses vocal fragments, vibrators, metal pipes, birds and bass to create the impression of a dream diary. Shapes is released September 21 on Rhizome.
Ocoeur‘s Connections is calm in tone, even as it ventures into slow IDM. The music produces a warm feeling that honors its title (n5MD, September 10). Soon after, the label offers totems, which sounds ambient until the beats kick in. Offered in smoke vinyl, the look of loess‘ LP is a match for the tone (September 28). On Splinters, Peter Zirbs creates travelogues within tracks, sometimes waiting until the final third before turning to the percussive side. Eventually the tracks show his techno roots (Fabrique, October 1). Gävle-Stockholm Dub (PRO424 and Slim Vic) take listeners on a journey to Ingenmansland, a land of “commuter train scented electronic dub” that appears in word and timbre to reference the end of Risky Business (Lamour, September 3).
Brett Naucke may call Mirror Ensemble his “indie rock record,” but fear not, fans! While indie flavors are embedded in the grooves, synth and strings hold forth, laden with soft, siren-esque vocals (American Dreams, October 1). The Album Leaf revisits 2001’s hit album One Day I’ll Be On Time with entirely new arrangements; a fine way to celebrate an anniversary. One Day XX is out September 17 on Nettwerk. Chloé and Vasselina Serafimova blend their honed skills on Sequenza, an album informed as much by modern composition as by electronics; exquisite mallet work is stretched across the entirety of the set (Lumière Noire, October 29). Motoko & Myers sample cicadas and church bells on Colocate, an outlier from the typically ambient Students of Decay label. We’re enjoying this change of pace (September 3). Kevin Keller blends piano, Moog and Juno-106 to create “ambient chamber music” on Shimmer, which is preceded by the single Orchards and released September 17.
Bureau B is sprinting into action this fall, beginning with Harmonius Thelonious‘ Instrumentals! (A Collection of Outernational Music Studies) on September 3, a ritualistic set that includes African rhythms and chants. After this will come Niklas Wandt‘s Solar Müsli, whose multi-faceted angles might have landed it in our Experimental or Jazz categories (September 17) and Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters‘ Destiny Waving, whose shoegaze timbres almost shifted it to Rock (September 24). But isn’t it nice to have them all in one place?
The cover may look like an ad for a stalker movie, but Shall Remain Nameless travels down a lighter road. Entitled is released on September 16. With “Hippo Dance,” “Gibbon Trance” and “The Immortal Toad,” it’s clear that Joakim is romancing the wild. On Second Nature, animal sounds abound, and in reverse fashion, the album is preceded by an EP of remixes (Tigersushi, September 24). Aboutface presents – °s is “inspired by patterns in human nature;” a bonus to those who look up the coordinates named in the tracks (AD 93, September 3).
Retro Groove and Instrumental Hip-Hop
Glenn Fallows and Mark Treffel offer a cinematic, string-laced journey on The Globeflower Masters Vol. 1. Treffel’s history as part of Blue States shines through, while Morricone guitar lends the album a dramatic flair (Mr. Bongo, September 10). Few artists start as confidently as Brussels’ ECHT!, offering their debut album Inwane in vinyl and CD t-shirt bundles. The organic quartet draws from multiple genres but preserves the groove throughout the set (SdBan Ultra, September 24). Botany returns with an EP that may be the artist’s last work for a while. We hope this is not the case, but in the meantime we’re happy to have Portal Orphanage. The 25-minute set is billed as a postscript to End the Summertime F(or)ever and samples the same 45s as Fourteen 45 Tails, connecting disparate recordings (Western Vinyl, September 3).
Blockhead is back! The groove and sample-happy producer still has tongue firmly in cheek with Space Werewolves Will Be The End Of Us, which sounds so happy it may take the mind off of the problems of the world, except for the werewolves (Future Archive Recordings, September 3). We’re not sure how much of Pepe Deluxé‘s Phantom Cabinet Vol. 1 will turn out instrumental, as we’ve only heard the single Big Fat Woodpecker, but we do know that the album is an excursion into “Golden Age of Records” and includes unique sounds, including “the loudest instrument in the world” (Catskills, October 22). Hip-hop and jazz share an apartment on Knopperz, a new excursion from Dave Okumu of The Invisible. RTN is the first single (Transgressive, September 24). Istanbul’s Grup Ses (please pronounce carefully) collects a career’s worth of beats on the 24-track Beats from the Vaults (2009-2021), adding exclusives and new works for good measure (Discrepant, September 24).
Body and Soul
Kodomo offers “A Meditation on Anxiety” as part of Three Spheres, an album that seeks to carry its listeners through the crisis to the point where they can see “A Brief Light Through the Window.” Guitar, piano, trumpet and clarinet color the windows like stained glass (September 21). Sonae returns with a “room high installation” and the sounds of SUMMER, inspired by that summer (the one we didn’t enjoy). A rare electronic release on laaps, the album looks into the heart of darkness and emerges with gentle hope (October, pictured left).
Anne Bakker contributes violin and viola timbres to Machinefabriek‘s self-explanatory Re:Moving (Music for Choreographies by Yin Yue). All are invited to dance at home, even without knowing the steps (Phantom Limb, September 10). The hand drum is a wonderful addition to Cobalt Desert Oasis, the internationally-inspired album from Marco Shuffle. In this recording, the artist is seeking to soundtrack “a parallel utopian world” (Incienso, October 15).
Prayer, gratitude and celebration feature strongly in the spiritual grooves of Mansur Brown‘s Heiwa, an album teeming with positive vibes (AMAI, September 3). Another positive album comes from Ride’s Andy Bell, now recording as GLOK. Pattern Recognition introduces guest vocalists on half of the tracks, but keeps the mood intact (Bytes, October 15). Proving that spiritual music need not be soft, Galtier presents the pounding Pulchra Es Elementis and proclaims there is “grace in all of life’s aspects.” Our favorite title: “Bruised, But Not Broken” (Infinite Machine, September 24, pictured right).
Here’s a surprise sentence: F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm join forces to create a dub album. Their math might seem a bit off, but 2X1=4 is an engaging journey prefaced by a very unusual video (September 3). Connor Kissel was inspired to make music by SOPHIE, who passed away earlier this year. The Forest of Things Lost and Found is the artist’s heartfelt tribute (Somewherecold, September 3).
Playful, Happy, Upbeat
Wood Organization is both experimental and fun. Double bass and drums rest at the heart of Drimpo, but synthesizer and plastic duck find their places as well (Gotta Let It Out, September 1, art pictured right). Caribbean-Belgian artist Nala Sinephro possesses a unique blend of space age flavors and jazz improv. She makes her full-length debut with the intricate eight-track suite Space (Warp, September 3).
Mimsy is as whimsical as his Lewis Carroll moniker suggests, a familiar veteran artist returning under a new name. On Onmeology, loops and lyric fragments dance around the room like siblings in a just-stocked playroom (Karaoke Kalk, September 17). Please Keep Shimmering, Tom VR asks his listeners, and from the sound of lead single Partner, he’s already doing the same (Studio de Meyer, September 15). The optimistic Feeling So Fun Reality pivots from the darker tone of Inwards‘ Feelings of Unreality. Together the two form an emotional diptych (Small Pond, October 7). Obviously we were going to like a track titled Pancakes, the first serving from B.Visible‘s outgoing In Between Places (Data Snacks, October 29). Lyckle de Jong offers a playful study of oscillations on the succinctly-title Os; field recordings provide added warmth (South of North, September 20).
Moebius Strips is an ambitious project: a tribute to Moebius that exists as both audio installation and release. To honor his friend, Tim Story collected thousands of sound samples and reconfigured them to reflect light from new angles. Sarah Davachi, Geoff Barrow and many more contribute their own distinct flavors (Curious Music, October 1). Samples of Gaelic, Irish and English folk songs form the basis of Proc Fiskal‘s Siren Spine Sysex, a bright album decorated with beats like curtains on already-lovely windows (Hyperdub, September 24). Everyday sounds find uncommon arrangements on Kaspar‘s MFD, bubbling and bouncing all over the turntable ~ a temptation for the cat on the cover. One track is named “Sofa,” a possible nod to the way we listen to music during a pandemic (Lab’ut Labut, September 4).
Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan continues his journey into history with People & Industry, which remains in the era of Interim Report, March 1979 to celebrate the working class and their hopes and dreams (Castles in Space, September 3). Headboggle highlights sci-fi synth on Digital Digital Analog by referencing old film scores. “Hoedown,” “Breakdance Music” and “Spy Show” offer a clear indication of the breadth (Ratskin, September 25). Tomat defies 7K genre expectations with Distemi, which represents a further expansion of his sound (October 1). Defset has already released a trio of singles from Proximity, whetting the appetite for the full release on October 29. We’re giving the edge to Shira2 due to the cool chalk video (EMK).
Field recording meets synth on Just Passengers, a textured excursion in which the background is just as important as the foreground. Strangebird~Sounds seems just as comfortable with texture as he is with melody (TruthTable, September 8). Veteran artist Jan Jelenik returns with The Raw and the Cooked, first presented as part of a German radio broadcast. One can hear the transistors humming inside (Fatische, September 17). Prolaps returns as astronomical autumn begins with the perfectly timed Ultra Cycle Pt. 3: Autumnal Age. The duo offers two hours of music split between vocal and instrumental, uptempo and downbeat, to help listeners celebrate the solstice however they would like (Hausu Mountain, September 22).
Tresor 30 is one of those extravagant releases that makes me sorry I don’t live in Berlin ~ because the international shipping cost for a boxed set of 52 tracks on 12 12″s is going to be crazy. But what a great project, an excellent way to celebrate the label’s 30th anniversary, by housing tracks classic and new under one roof. The booklet is both history and victory lap; we’re wishing Tresor a happy anniversary, and many more (October 1)! And while it’s “only” ten years, Livity Sound deserves its own congratulations as well, and marks the occasion with the box set Molten Mirrors – A Decade of Livity Sound (September 24, cover art also pictured at top of article).
A big, big congratulations to STAUB, who figured out how to do a festival (proof of vaccination + a negative test or recovery) and met last week in an enchanted forest outside Berlin to test out their dance music with real, live people. STAUB 06 follows, continuing the template of releasing techno tracks by a variety of anonymous artists (Intergalactic Research Institute for Sound, September 18). 80s drum machines are a big part of the appeal on Kit Grill‘s Fragile, whose bass and beats may remind some of New Order. Fragile appears October 1 on Primary Colours, and a limited edition (20 copies!) cassette is available for those who act quickly. When God Ton‘s Ettor.Nollar starts so gently, one would never guess it would turn into a techno-electro excursion, yet soon it does, with hints of melodic industrialism (September 1).
Porter Ricks‘ album may be called Same, but it’s not entirely the same; the music possesses new flavors of disco and funk (Mille Plateaux, September 24). STL‘s Lost in Musik is promoted with a 98-minute video mix that may end up being better than the double album, as this eliminates the need to get up three times to flip it (Something, October 15)! All the latest hits can be found on K-Tel, sorry, Kompakt‘s Total 21, the latest in an ongoing series of club compilations, featuring John Tejada and more (September 24). Ross from Friends introduces his latest album Tread with a surprisingly bittersweet video about speed cubing; watch it below (Brainfeeder, October 22).
On A Million Pieces of You, Lee Gamble completes an album cycle that started just before COVID and stretched through the crisis. The collection hints at emergence, pointing the way to a happier future that sadly has not yet arrived (Hyperdub, September 10). Footwork artist RP Boo takes listeners back in time to the origins of the style, with tracks that may remind some of seminal house figures from the fabled 80s. Established! starts jacking floors on September 17 (Planet Mu). Also on Planet Mu, Ital is set to return as Relaxer on the decidedly not-relaxing Concealer. The album delves into many textures and materials, folding in samples from a bygone era (October 15). Is it footwork? Reggae? The answers depend on the track, as Mas Aya plays genre tag on MÁSCARAS (Telephone Explosion, September 24). Also influenced by footwork is Sputnik One‘s Love From Above EP, which contains a track titled “Michael Cera” (Wisdom Teeth, September 3, pictured above).
Colloboh debuts with the Entity Relation EP, a happy offering on which even the cover figures are dancing (Leaving Records, September 3). In her life, Hannah Holland has been a DJ, label head and soundtrack composer, but she’s never released an album ~ until now. Tectonic is aimed squarely at dance floors, and from the sound of the first two singles, we suspect it will be a success (PRAH, September 17). Shalabi Effect returns with Friends of the Prophet 6, drawn from the same sessions as the Floating Garden EP (Unrock, September 3). Video game music influences the Molecular Level Solutions EP, a techno-electro excursion from DJ Stingray 313 (Micron Audio, September 1). CYRK‘s Escaping Earth is a sci-fi adventure in eight parts, referencing classic synth, acid and electro (Childhood, September 24). While the first single from Pilgrim Raid‘s Anna Agenda concentrates on happy synth, the sample-heavy set traverses many moods, portraying a childhood in suburban Vietnam (Chinabot, October 1).
Melody is the key to Escapism, the new club/pop set from David Douglas. Guest vocalists share space with instrumental pieces, a more common blend these days that gives everyone a little something to enjoy while raising the chances of crossover success (Atomnation, September 10). Classic house flavors abound on DJ Seinfeld‘s Mirrors, which includes a guest vocalist who may land the producer on the pop charts. It’s been a hard couple years, but his optimism remains intact. The Pantone vinyl color bundle is especially appealing (September 3, pictured right).
Using an old satellite dish as a percussion instrument, Istanbul’s Houschyar had fun during the pandemic! Mavi is a warm journey, traveling from ambient to dub to club (Macadam Mambo, September 28). Jazz, house and dub all make their homes on Words and Endings, a daring and hypnotic new album from Uffe (On the Corner, October 1). The ITNA collective presents a collection of varied tracks, vocal and instrumental, on Supercinema 04, which bounces from ambience to techno-industrial (September 3). In the same vein, Scratcha DVA will unveil the Afrotek EP, which includes South African rhythms and guest MCs (Hyperdub, September 3).
Dark and Mysterious
Föllakzoid founder Domingæ steps out on her own with Æ, an album whose composition began on one continent and ended on another. The tone borders on industrial, with fragments of drone and dark ambient: a reflection of the changing moods of the past year (Sacred Bones, September 10). Simone Faraci presents Echo Ex Machina, a series of experiments with artificial voice that may have some thinking of Alicia Vikander. Each track takes a different approach, beginning with the singing machine of Apparatus; together they form a portrait of a society on the edge of collapse (Slowth, October 1). BArTc‘s Insubstantial As Ghosts samples from dark ambience, drone and industrial music, as heard in the chemical-minded visual mix (ICR, September 3). Sometimes a label’s name matches a release. This is the case with the self-titled album from Starlings, as the music ~ far from birdsong ~ seems to emanate from a machine shop at full shift. Hear an early taste on 1 (Machine Records, October 11).
Amon Tobin never slows down ~ but his tempos do. Expect a moodier than usual set on How Do You Live, which continues the artist’s expansion into new realms (Nomark, September 24). We hope you hadn’t forgotten about Black Dice, who return after nine years with Mod Prog Sic. Adventurous fans can order a t-shirt and burger poster with the LP (FourFour, October 1).
Splitting the difference equally between house and techno, NTO offers the aqueous Apnea, preceded by the head-nodding first single Petit Matin (Chapeau, October 8). Shackleton‘s Departing Like Rivers is a decidedly psychedelic affair, with heavy tribal drums, vocal samples and a sense of disturbance. The album is released on the artist’s own Woe to the Septic Heart! label (September 9). Drums – tribal and military – are the draw on Nigh/T\Mare‘s Katharsis, which inhabits a techno-industrial world that hints at an impending dystopia (Thrènes, September 10).
NYC Beat Boxx a beat box album, but it does reference the era during which the style was made popular. A tribute to the undercurrent of New York club life, the album is Black Meteoric Star‘s attempt to deal with a year of living in the city that never sleeps as the clubs were shut down (Voluminous Arts, September 8). Dogs Versus Shadows – who will win? On the four-part Volte Face, it seems the shadows have the advantage. The suite would work well as a film score, occasionally breaking into beats (Subexotic, September 10). Holly Childs & Gediminas Žygus‘ Gnarled Roots is a dark suite of spoken word and harsh electronics, covering everything from 9/11 to interstellar disaster; we can already picture the IMAX movie (Subtext, September 17).
Breakbeat and IDM
On Black Smoke Curls, Anatomist offers timbres that stretch from ambient to breakbeat. Come Closer is the first single from the project, set for release on September 27. Don’t be fooled by the name, as Pie Eye Collective is a solo project. Salvation is a blend of broken beats and spliced grooves, out September 17 on Albert’s Favourites. Clicks, cuts and scissored sounds decorate Criuk, the long-awaited album from Insecto, with mastering from Pole (Nocuedo Editions, September 16, pictured right). Teetering on the edge of abstract, we find MrUnderwood with the percussive Ams, a hypnotic set on state51 Conspiracy (October 15). A little sampling, a little singing, a little spoken word, a little vocoder and a whole lot of bells and beats populate Ozone Parade from Parnell March (Uncle Herb Recordings, September 7). Light IDM meets trip-hop at 4T Thieves‘ Raven’s Cottage; they’ve visited the cottage before via a remix, but it’s worth a return trip (Rednetic, September 27). Glitch and plunderphonics make an unusual pair on Grossed, an abstract work from Francesco Sistro (September 28).
This is not Aria Rostami‘s section – how did he get here? The artist shifts gears on Maramar, venturing outside his comfort zone to produce an IDM set only marginally informed by his experience in the ambient realm (Intimate Inanimate, September 10, pictured left). We enjoyed Galya Bisengalieva‘s Aralkum last year, and now the artist has turned her work over to a diverse series of remixers, including Jlin, Nazira and CHAINES. Aralbum Aralas deepens our appreciation of the original project, and is out October 15 on One Little Independent. On Survivalism, Sepehr revives the classic jungle sound of the 90s, sending it to battle against swarms of techno beats (Shaytoon, October 7). sweetface claims Autechre and Playstation 1 menu music as influences, and each come to fore on speech therapy, a retro-minded IDM set on Theoretical World (September 3). “Are We There Yet?” asks Delay Grounds on one of the singles from the Genus EP. No, we’re not, but the rapid IDM sounds here give us hope that we’ll arrive soon (Lapsus, September 17).
“Danger! Danger!” warns the narrator of Vitalic‘s Carbonize, the first single from a two-part release. Dissidænce is the opening salvo, due October 15 on Clivage Music. We also enjoy the title “14 AM,” as it implies a longer morning. Lone returns to the fray with Always Inside Your Head, adding a vocalist on a couple tracks and wandering from ambient to acid to jungle over the course of the LP. A Bandcamp exclusive offers a bonus 2-track 7″ (Greco-Roman, October 22).
The techno-rave-punk apocalypse of Big Lad is a great place to let out some steam; on the well-titled Power Tools, drums and drum machines go to war (Hominid Sounds, September 10). Letherique‘s techno-minded release Dawn of the Machines may prompt bouts of synchronized dancing; the only question is whether those machines will dance alone (Tripalium, September 17). The black and white dance video for P.G. Warren‘s Untruth Amplifiers provides a taste of what to expect from the industrial-inflected How We Lived (Castles in Space, September 17). Synalegg‘s Computer Series is harsh and distorted, as if the circuitry can’t handle the heat (OOH-Sounds, September 10). Silkback & Van Boom‘s Skin Tight is one massive track, pushing all the levels to the red. It’s the first taste of an October album.