This blog has been relatively silent for a few weeks, let’s now come back to a more regular production of charts, reviews, playlists and mixtapes!
The first quarter of the year has now passed and we can start having some solid charts with the best releases for each genre. Today I’m going to present you the best Electronic albums that were released in the first three months of the year. And it’s quite interesting to realize that one third of the selected LPs are debut works from two relatively young artists. The list is then completed by a the new work by a veteran of Electronic music, a remix album, an experimental duo of art pop musicians and, last bat not least, the first electronic album produced with the contribution of artificial intelligence. Not bad, you just have to read and listen!
For everyone who arrived here through a search engine, please consider that this list was published on April 2018 and there may be newer charts available in the Electronic section of the blog. Enjoy!
#1) Hello World by SKYGGE
Introduced as the first mainstream music album composed with artificial intelligence, Hello World tells the story of a group of electronic music artists guided by French pop artist Benoit Carré (also know as SKYGGE) who joined a research project in which scientists were looking for algorithms to capture and reproduce the concept of musical “style”. The result of this effort is a collection of 15 electronic songs which, well beyond the experimental concept that lies behind, are absolutely interesting and pleasing to listen to.
From a musical point of view, the album is strongly influenced by European electronic music and it is easy to recognize in many songs the contributio from well known artists such as Stromae, the Belgian DJ and producer who’s got public attention in the last ten years ago with a number of catchy electronic songs. Thanks to the contributions of so many artists and thanks to this innovation given by artificial intelligence, the LP is gifted by an impressive variety and freshness of the songs and, in the end, it’s definitely a solid and intriguing collection of modern, catchy but also forward thinking electronic tracks.
Here in this blog, Hello World was also included in the higly regarded category of the Best New Music.
#2) Leather Teeth by CARPENTER BRUT
The world of music is plenty of cases of metalheads that at some point diverted their attention to electronic music. As a matter of fact, metal and electronic share many elements in common and although it is not just as easy as to replace guitars with synthesizers, the transition from one genre to the other has been experience many times, typically from metal to electronic and in a few cases in the opposite direction. Last year, just to give an example, we celebrated the beautiful last album by Ulver: they started as a black metal band and arrived to produce one of the best synth-pop albums ever released.
Franck Hueso, better known by his stage name Carpenter Brut, is another artist that at some point in time left his passion for heavy metal and started producing an intriguing and old-fashioned version of synthwave. After a number of EPs and one live record he eventually released his debut full-lenght album, Leather Teeth.
The LP is very particular, initially it may leave you bewildered by the use – so blatant and pervasive to be almost anachronistic – of the typical sounds and instruments from the 80s. After this initial impact, however, we’re captured by the melodies and the nice rhythms of the songs, sometimes frenetic and other times more relaxed. The fastest songs are the ones I liked the most, but in general the whole album is definitely interesting and enjoyable, as well as curious and fun.
#3) Anywhere But Here by POLA RISE
Anywhere But Here is the debut album from a new electro pop artist from Poland, Paulina Miłosz, who operates under the stage name of Pola Rise. Since 2015 she started releasing a number of singles and eventually got a record deal with Warner Music Poland, which supported the publication of her full lenght work.
Pola Rise’s style of electronic music oscillates between pieces of clear experimental, nature with notes of avant-garde and improvisation, and more delicate and catchy songs, which in my opnion are also the ones that better highlight the qualities of this young artist. This album is particularly interesting because of the way in which it is able to give that “indie” feeling to songs that, in their essence, result quite linear and without any particular dynamic development. These are musical sketches, interesting and somehowe engaging, and composed with a light touch that manage to make them very easy to enjoy but, at the same time, destined to leave impercettible traces after the listening.
#4) Async-Remodels by RYUICHI SAKAMOTO
My relationship with remix albums is generally positive, especially when there is a collection of pieces that manages to be appreciated even without the prior knowledge of the original material. Async Remodels belongs for sure to this category of albums and in fact the LP presents the work of a group of very good artists who took the challenge to confront themselves with the complex and profound songs of Ryuchi Sakamoto‘s latest solo LP, Async, released in 2017.
The idea to manipulate and alter the music of a legend of music like Sakamoto offers many possibilities, but it also exposes to big risks. To make this even more complicated, it’s important to remember that most of the tracks of Sakamoto’s last work were the result of a profound analysis that the Japanese artist made about the meaning of music: these songs were in fact the product of a conceptual exercise aimed at measuring the boundaries between the organic and the synthetic elements of music.
Listening to the remixes included Async Remodels we must recognize that many of the artists who were called to contribute not only accepted the challenge but they managed, in most of the cases, to give their personal contribution to Sakamoto’s analysis and, sometimes, the enriched the songs with new and original elements. Some tracks, such as those by Alva Noto, Electric Youth and Jóhann Jóhannsson (R.I.P.), seem to be a step higher than others, but in the end it is the average level of the record that’s very positive, making the LP one of the most interesting things happened this year in electronic music.
#5) Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt by MOBY
In more than 25 years of career, American musician and producer Moby has explored different regions of the electronic world, from ambient to dance, with also a few episodes where he engaged with punk and rock (and his most recent rock releases may be also downloaded for free). But beyond the willingness to face different musical challenges, in all of these explorations Moby has always tried to give his own special contribution to the different genres he was playing with. Moby’s latest album, Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt, is clearly inspired by the sounds and dynamics of trip-hop, and the result is definitely good.
As a matter of fact, Moby has enriched the relative ease of listening of trip-hop with a special dedication to songwriting and a great attention to the details. The album in its entirety results in equal parts enjoyable and interesting to listen to, there are no evident missteps and the music, in the end, is both familiar and original. On the negative side the LP missing a really memorable song, one of those tracks with an unforgettable line and chorus. It is no coincidence, thus, that the most catchy refrain is that of the song Like A Motherless Child, which is based on a popular tunes from the past.
#6) I can feel you creep into my private life by tUnE-YaRdS
(Experimental, Electro Pop)
Merrill Garbus, the US singer and songwriter who operates under the moniker of tUnE-YaRdS, never showed so far any lack of creativity and inventiveness. Indeed, from the beginning of her career she has maintained a minimalist approach to the choice of instruments and music styles almost as if she had the fear of covering, with an excess of effects and instruments, the essence of the motives and the ideas she was transforming into music. And even if this approach maybe precluded the largest audiences, i.e. those that are typically less corageous and less prepared to go beyond those well-established and conventional musical styles, she has still managed however to leave her mark within the indie scene of the last decade.
tUnE-YaRdS’ last album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, sees longtime collaborator Nate Brenner become an official member of the project, with the duo confirming more or less the same approach of Garbus’ previous releases. Electronic hypnotic beats remain in fact the baseline over which we enjoy Garbus’ eclectic and thrilling vocal lines. The musical performance is not always up to the experimental ambitions of the duo, but where the desire to explore manages to find an adequate sonic vehicle, their songs can offer a very pleasant escape from the monotony of our routines.