Dec 31, 2017

Best electronic albums of 2017: joint number one

1 – Clark – Death Peak (Warp Records)
1 – Jlin – Jlin – Black Origami (Planet Mu)

Two things to say right off the bat. Firstly, I missed out doing a number two because that's what you're meant to do when you have two big number ones. Secondly, it's such a cop-out to have two joint winners of album of the year.

Let me explain. It's a head / heart thing, and no two albums summed up that tension more than the two I'm presenting here.

Jlin's Black Origami is a perfect expression of percussion, where all the fury and fire of 2017 has been propelled into a clinically devastating work. You know you're in a different world altogether when you have a child saying into your headphones, "you’re all going to die down here" and for a moment, you believe it.

This album may be abrasive on first listen, but let the beats become the music: let the spikes of sound become waves. That said, this is not an album you feel. It seems to plug itself into you physically - body music full of sub-bass and minimalism. An album for the head that just happens to have rewritten the footwork genre.

Meanwhile, Clark's Death Peak twanged my heart trumpet like no other. I've shown plenty of love for Clark before, whether I'm digging up facts about him, awarding him the second best album of 2014, or the best album of 2009. So it's no great surprise to see him here again.

The reason is simple: Death Peak was the one album throughout 2017 I returned to again and again. I played it to pieces. I couldn't escape the "buzzing arpeggios, ambient fogs, analogue snarls", as I said in my review for Electronic Sound. And, like Jlin, more terrifying children, this time in the form of a choir singing "we are your ancestors". I'm beginning to think that this Clark album, in equal parts baleful and hopeful, is his most complete yet: an emotive journey from start to finish.

Jlin for the head. Clark for the heart.

It's much better having two at the top. Yin and yang. Sweet and sour. Shock and awe. Ant and Dec. Little and Large. Mitchell and Webb. Morecambe and-- wait, hold on, I'm just naming comedy duos now.

Thanks for reading my blog in 2017. With the help of today, this year I've totalled 165 blog posts, which means it's my most blogged year ever. Views range from a couple of hillbillies and their can of beans to hundreds of salivating music addicts, and just this week I've had over a thousand clicks for an old blog post about Autechre. Probably a bot. Every reader is huuugely appreciated, so thank you.

Hur hur. Bot. Sounds like bottom.

Sigh. See you in 2018.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: the final also-rans

You have been so patient waiting for me to parp out this long list. We're nearly there. In fact, I can reveal that this year's NUMBER ONE BESTEST ALBUM is a joint number one. It'll be the first time the top spot has been shared since Andy Stott and Lone split the accolade in 2012.

Before we get there, here are some big and big-ish names that didn't make my list.

Perhaps Sampha's soul is too straight-up to be considered for inclusion here, but the instrumentation on the Mercury-winning Process (Young Turks) was top notch. I also fell for the alluring ethereal pop on Colleen's A Flame My Love, A Frequency (Thrill Jockey). I was perhaps less personally taken with the prog tendencies of James Holden & The Animal Spirits' The Animal Spirits although it's clearly a very good album indeed.

Mount Kimbie surprised me (pleasantly) with the post-punk vibes of Love What Survives (Warp Records). Vintage synth fans take note. I found Clap! Clap!'s A Thousand Skies (Black Acre) in some ways exhausting, but then again that album is a spaceship ride, not a Sunday drive. And I doff my hat to Fever Ray's Plunge (Rabid Records), a trip for fans of quirky pop and big fat keyboards.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith got plenty of accolades this year for her new-agey The Kid (Western Vinyl) vocal-led, as did Kelela on the astonishing debut album Take Me Apart (Warp Records). Both albums are worth your time, particularly if vocal-led albums tickle your tassels. And finally for this section, maybe start your 2018 resting in the hot dappled glow of lackadaisical sounds on Laurel Halo's Dust (Hyperdub).

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: three

3 – Errorsmith – Superlative Fatigue (PAN)

Remember the dirty filters Daft Punk used on their debut album Homework? They went biddidy-dow biddidy-dwow baddidy-pyow boddidy-pyooo, and so on.

Superlative Fatigue is full of those kind of filters. They are the best filters ever. There's something so fat and dirty about Errorsmith's first album in 13 years - everything is banged up to the most bangiest bang ever. If I was dancing to this, it would be the best dancefloor ever. There's acid and trap and techno and house and the BEST MUSIC EVER.

Those superlatives getting on your nerves, yeah? Funny, that.

Every fart and every pow is a treat on this album. The filtered gasping vocal on My Party is all kinds of stupid, title track Superlative Fatigue is an absolute tune piped through a tonne of scaffolding, and Retired Low-level Internal Server sounds like, well, an old bit of computer kit on its way out... but with more heart.

An album which came late in the year, but thank goodness it did.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: four

4 – Shinichi Atobe – From The Heart, It's A Start, A Work Of Art (DDS)

Give me eggs, flower and fairy dust, and I'll bake you a cake. You may want to spit it into the bin, but it will contain all the right ingredients. Even if the end result was lacking, it is a cake.

Cakes contain fairy dust, right?

Give me the ingredients to produce house music, and I might produce something okay given the right YouTube instructional videos and Ableton training sessions. Those that have heard my 2012 recorded output may argue that....

However, some people can take basic ingredients and make something amazing.

I present to you the simple dubby house rhythms of From The Heart, It's A Start, A Work Of Art. Atobe is a Japanese producer clouded in mystery, but I would love to know why he, say, plonked the snarling air-gun percussion over the terribly sad Republic - it's a stroke of genius.

From the glimmering work-out of Regret to the echoing shimmy of closer First Plate 3, this collection of rediscovered old tracks is full of sparkling, driving techno in the vein of Jon Hopkins and Four Tet. It works more slowly - no builds or swoops here - but the result is no less rewarding.

I bet Shinichi Atobe uses fairy dust in his cakes. No easy streams to embed, so here's a YouTube rip of Republic. Give it time...

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: sorry about the fake news joke

Let's pause the countdown once more. Here are some tasty techno tidbits which, although worthy of your attention, just didn't make the grade for the final top 20. Consider them as pathetic rejects, but also really brilliant albums wot you should listen to.

Here's some Fake news (ha ha): Nathan Fake nearly made it into my final 20 with Providence (Ninja Tune). He seems to have beaten down his writer's block with some impressively chunky synth work. Peverelist's Tessellations (Livity Sound Recordings) matched beefy bass with airy ambience. I definitely detected some Stranger analogue Things in Pye Corner Audio's superb The Spiral (Death Waltz Recording Company) Stranger analogue things

Just finished thowing shapes and/or having it large? Enjoy some amazing post-club non-bangers in Teengirl Fantasy's 8AM (Planet Mu). Two decades of German techno were represented on Thomas Brinkmann's Retrospektiv (Third Ear Recordings), with it all feeling like an odd basement party with
Kraftwerk. And Manchester's Modern love label pumped out some staggering, paranoid techno on Turinn's 18 1/2 Minute Gaps (Modern Love).

Not enough? Then try some moody pounders on 400PPM's Fit for Purpose (Avian), shiny electronic funk on Sinjin Hawke's debut First Opus (Fractal Fantasy). beguiling afro-euro dancehall techno on STILL's ungoogleable I (PAN) or Andrew Weatherall's positively polite Qualia (Hoga Nord).

Phew. We're nearly there.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: five

5 – Bicep – Bicep (Ninja Tune)

Here it is. The top five best albums of 2017. What shall we start the top five with? Nose-flute ballads from Peru? A compilation of Asda in-store radio jingles? The sound of the universe dying?

No, let's have some irresistible prog house in the form of Bicep. Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson have produce a stormer here. Although covered in a coffee-table sheen, every beat feels urgent, every skipping snare a call to action.

Glue should have every Moderat fan mopping their broken heart off the floor. And the filtered ravey chirrups in Rain will have Chicane devotees salivating.

Let's not forget where Bicep came from. Producers, yes, DJs, yes. They were music bloggers, which is very much the greatest form of art. In a million years, when the columns of empire have crumbled and humanity is a mere sliver of carbon amid the layers of the earth, they will talk of music bloggers. "Do you remember Bicep's blog," whisper the future aliens. "Yes, and we remember Fat Roland too."

THANKS, future beings, thanks.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: six

6 – Rhys Celeste– Microlith (Fundamental Records)

When I am dead and gone, and my ashes have been loaded into a Casio keyboard and cannoned into the heart of the sun, I'd like to think there'd be a lasting tribute to me. A statue, a bench, a catch of the day at my local fishmongers, anything really.

After we lost Rhys Celeste earlier this year, Fundamental Records took his final recording sessions and produced Microlith, named after the Maltese knob-twiddler's pseudonym. That's way better than a statue or a blue plaque or having a piece of Ikea furniture named after you. (*adds that one to the list*)

This album is really nicely done. Chattering Roland drum machines splash rhythmic colour throughout, and you're never far away from a puddle of squelchy acid. No frills here - just lashings of lo-fi and buckets of reverb. It has a similar vibe to Aphex Twin's comeback material, but warmer.

There is a down side. It looks like this is a vinyl-only release. Actually, this is good news - what a lovely tribute to the music. But it does mean not much digital traction here. Do track it down if you can.

Totem pole. I've decided. I want a totem pole. Inside a Tesco Metro.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: Color, noise and more

The top 20 best electronic albums are progressing nicely, but let's take a break to stuff some more also-rans down your music pipe so you can smoke every last one of them. Here's a hotch-potch of various genres that didn't quite make the cut.

I enjoyed getting greased up on the oily, dirty electro on Patricia's Several Shades Of The Same Color (Spectral Sound), while it's worth checking in on Le Car's Auto-Reverse (Clone Classic Cuts) and its old-school claps, blaps and bleeps. Oh and let's not forget Floating Points' sandswept but somewhat noodly Reflections - Mojave Desert (Pluto).

Here are some noisy ones for you. Tzusing's 東方不敗 (L.I.E.S.) put the "angst" into "bangers" if you ignore some of the letters. Emptyset made a load of instruments for Borders (Thrill Jockey) to produce some nicely rasping sound design. And Pharmakon's Contact (Sacred Bones Records) prompted me to open my Electronic Sound review with: "The hairy wet artwork of Contact will grab your attention way before the screaming begins."

Definitely make some mp3 space for Biogen's posthumous retrospective Halogen Continues (Trip) and its lovely Icelandic IDM that spins from zaniness to glistening ambience. And James 'Drexciya' Stinson's back catalogue popped out some unreleased work in the form of Jack Peoples' Laptop Cafe (Clone Aqualung Series) - just imagine if IDM-heads took over Radio 2. Also worth a nosey is his classic work as The Other People Place: the reissued Lifestyles Of The Laptop Café (Warp Records) has some great Drexiyan IDM, overlooked first time round.

One thing I should mention before I forget: Stinson aside, I've tried to steer clear of reissues, soundtracks and compilations in this end-of-year round-up. I have too much on my list as it is. So apologies to Leftism 22 and Kraftwerk, and to Oneohtrix Point Never, Winged Victory For The Sullen, and the various people who did Fabric and DJ Kicks compilations. SORRY, EVERYONE.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: seven

7 – Brainwaltzera – Poly-ana (Film)

Here are some happy memories:

> The stop-motion objects moving around the beach in Aphex Twin's On.
> The blue lasers during Halcyon at a 1995 Orbital gig.
> Walking out of Cruz 101 and finding pilled-up clubbers wowing at the sky.
> Playing Autechre's Amber album in a church.
> Bossing the levels on Wipeout 2097 to the sound of We Have Explosive.

Strange how such small good memories stay with you. Poly-ana appears to be named after the Pollyanna principle, which is our brain's tendency to more accurately recall pleasurable memories rather than unpleasant ones.

This debut album from an anonymous producer plays on those memories, for this is a collection of unashamedly nostalgic IDM, albeit on a lower gas mark than usual. You'll hear echoes of Aphex's The Tuss alias, Boards of Canada and, of course, Aphex Twin himself.

Actually, to heck with the comparisons. This has been one of the biggest growers of 2017, and works equally well at snoozing-off level as it does blasted to the max. It's stirring memories, sure, but it's also got me proper excited about new music in 2017.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: eight

8 – Talaboman – The Night Land (R&S Records)

Axel Boman and John Talabot come together as Talaboman for this absolute treat on R&S Records.

The Night Land could be dismissed as yet another house album on first listen, but listen out for the drones that infect the album throughout, or the occasional electronic stabs that remind you the machines are in charge.

Loser's Hymn is one of the best tunes of the year too.

In my mind, the people that are enjoying this are ageing ravers forever trapped in a 4/4 beat against an imaginary Ibizan sunset. The builds and break-downs are long gone: all that is left is the pulsating rhythm itself.

Or, in another possible universe, this album is proof that Luke Abbott has always been a member of Kraftwerk.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: heaps of house music

As Steve 'Silk' Hurley once said, "Jack, jack, ja jack jack your body Jack ya, jack, jack ya, jack your body Jack, jack, ja jack jack your body Jack ya, jack, jack ya, jack your body Jack, jack, ja jack jack your body Jack ya, jack, jack ya, jack your body Jack, jack, ja ja jack your body Jack, jack, ja ja jack your body Jack, jack, ja ja jack your body."

Here are some house music albums that didn't quite reach this year's top 20.

Nick Höppner's second album Work (Ostgut Ton) very nearly made my final 20 because it liberally sprinkles its house aesthetic with lashings of intelligent techno. Also worth a nod are the rich armchair instrumentals of Bonobo's Migration (Ninja Tune) and a nicely-chilled debut in the form of adopted Welshman Dauwd's Theory of Colours (Technicolour).

Four Tet took a meditative turn on New Energy (Text Records): only he can create fluffy chill-out with such heft. DJ Octo Octa explored the process of transitioning to a new gender with some superior house music on Where Are We Going? (Honey Soundsystem Records). And Fred P gave us some smooth club cuts on FP-Oner's 7 (Mule Musiq).

If you're in the mood for some Nordic dub disco, then opt for Bjørn Torske and Prins Thomas's Square One (Smalltown Supersound). DJ Python's debut Dulce Compañia (Incienso) impressed with some almost military reggaeton. And the absolute legend Robert Hood kept things predictably - and pleasingly - minimal on Paradygm Shift (Dekmantel).

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: nine

9 – Arca – Arca (XL)

Somewhere on the internet, there is a rough video of pop sensation Justin Bieber hanging out with friends. In the video, he tries - and fails - to sing his international smash hit single Despacito, the biggest Spanish number one single since 'Macarena' (no, really).

The problem is, Justin doesn't know any of the Spanish words. This is partly because his hit single is merely a remix, but also because - I suspect - young Mr Biebpipe doesn't think too deeply about the music.

Arca is the polar opposite to Justin Bieber. His self-titled album Arca is a Spanish-language antidote to all that is terrible about Despacito. It finds depths the wordless Justin may never know, and spins us from mournful vocals to breakneck drama in a matter of seconds.

For those put off by Arca's experimentalism, there's good news. Thanks to the vocals being upfront in his work like never before, this is easily his most accessible album yet. Want to get into Arca? Start here.

Let's finish this with some photographs of the guy, followed by a video which contains the following content warnings: strobes and partial ass.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: ten

10 – Blanck Mass – World Eater (Sacred Bones Records)

Woah! It's top ten time! And because I'm about to write about Blanck Mass, an act with a stupendously large sound, I am going to write the rest of this bit in capital letters.




Tell you something: it's exhausting pressing shift before every letter.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: tonnes more techno

There are zillions of techno albums that didn't make my final top 20 list. Here are some also-rans that are well worth your time tracking down.

Moiré's No Future (Ghostly International) mixed some heavy bass with some deliciously scratchy sounds - this very nearly made the final 20. I like what I heard in the broken electronics of Herva's Hyper Flux (Planet Mu). Ikonika's third album Distractions (Hyperdub) impressed with her sheer invention melody, while the techno-clad earworms of Legowelt's Legendary Freaks In The Trash Of Time (Clone West Coast Series) brightened up my 2017.

A couple of DJ debuts impressed, namely DJ Lycox's first album Sonhos & Pesadelos (Príncipe), which was packed with compelling, rhythmic energy, and DJ Sports' dance genre-spanning pick-and-mix Modern Species (Firecracker). Also worth a mention is the vital machine music of Richard H Kirk's first solo long-player for a while, Dasein (Intone).

Is there more? Of course there's more! I liked Dabrye's take on industrial wonkiness as Charles Manier for his album Luxus Steroid Abamita (Bopside Records), and I also liked the humming analogue bleeps from modular composer Caterina Barbieri on Patterns Of Consciousness (Important
Records). Finally, for this little section, if you want some EBM for a Detroit generation, look in on Broken English Club's The English Beach (L.I.E.S.).

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: eleven

11 – Forest Swords – Compassion (Ninja Tune)

Here is a list of weapons I would use while outdoors:

> Tree gun
> Cloud knife
> Beach tazer
> Toadstool nunchucks
> Squirrel bazooka
> Forest sword

See what I did there? Forest Swords' Compassion ought to be rated up there with the likes of Mark Pritchard for an ability to create something utterly widescreen yet organic and heart-breakingly melancholic.

Widescreen because of the doom-laden drum on Arms Out, organic because of the way the snare punches through the chopped voices on Exalter, melancholic because of THOSE bass notes on The Highest Flood.

Remarkable. If this is only number 11 in my list of best electronic albums of 2017, you'd better stay tuned for the top ten... otherwise I'll shoot you with my babbling brook grenade.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: twelve

12 – LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (DFA Records)

“Does it make you uncomfortable?” says David Bowie to James Murphy when the latter talks of reforming one of the noughties’ most influential dance outfits; a band that has scored a generation’s first gigs, first drugs, first snogs. “Yeah,” replies Murphy, looking into the eyes of the scrawny duke. “Good – it should,” says Bowie: a blessing to chill the disco shoes of the most seasoned producer.

So starts my Electronic Sound review of LCD Soundsystem's latest album American Dream. Want to read the rest of it? Track down issue 33 of the magazine.

That's it for this review. No more words. Just a teaser. And you already know whether you like this album or not anyway because, hey, it's LCD flipping Soundsystem.

In fact, it's really great. Why is this not in my top ten? I am an idiot.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: another avalanche of ambience

Pull up a beanie chair, roll up fat one and let's float off with some ambient albums that didn't make my final top 20.

Ryuichi Sakamoto's wonderful async (Milan) simply layered gorgeousness upon gorgeousness, best summed up in the delicate and funereal andata. The vocals also shone on Reassemblage (Rvng Intl.) by Visible Cloaks, an immersive and creative trip inspired by a Vietnamese movie. Visible Cloaks had a couple of great label mates this year: Pauline Anna Strom showed off some wibbly woozy synths on Trans-Millenia Music (Rvng Intl) while I liked the twitters and tinks and tonks and gronks of Sugai Ken's UkabazUmorezU (Rvng Intl.).

I warmed to the field recordings of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement's Ambient Black Magic (Hospital Productions), which is probably more techno than ambient, but whatevz. For the L.I.E.S. label's 100th release, we got some pleasant chill-out on Terekke's debut long-player Plant Age (L.I.E.S.).

M.E.S.H.'s second album Hesaitix (PAN) oozed with spatial strangeness, Midori Takada's Through The Looking Glass (Palto Flats) wowed us with Marimba-driven natural rhythms, Nadia Struiwigh's techno-focussed Lenticular (Central Processing Unit) felt like riding a flotilla through feather-clad clouds, and if I didn't describe Laraaji's Bring On The Sun (All Saints Records) as "a folk band in the reception room of heaven" I wouldn't be doing my job.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: thirteen

13 – Björk – Utopia (One Little Indian)

I did a press thing with Björk back in the 1990s. I asked her if she ever got lonely. Her reply was something along the lines of having to break herself down at the end of every day so she could start the following day rebuilding herself afresh.

The reply impressed me, but the one thing that stayed with me about my encounter with Björk was the smell of the room. It was a normal room with a normal smell... but I remember the smell. Musty carpet, perhaps, mixed with the plastic of my press pass.

Utopia (One Little Indian) is filled with woodwind instruments and forest feels, a frenzy of flutes and fauna. There are no big hits, no great moments of enlightenment. But with Arca on production duties, the strength of Utopia is the sensory side-effects that stay with you longer: the shimmering echoes, the humanity of the instruments, the aroma of the woodlands the album evokes.

Basically, it's well top and good.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: fourteen

14 – Bola – D.E.G. (Skam Records)

Bola is back, and with his most tenuous album title yet.

Like Actress, Darrell Fitton was supposed to be in retirement, He began his career helping out with Autechre's debut album Incunabula and supposedly finished his career with 2007's Kroungrine, Ten years ago, I denounced that album as, er, boring, Oops.

I was wrong (sorry), and he's back with D.E.G. to remind us all how much we've missed Bola. Think Boards of Canada, Biosphere, The Black Dog. Pretty much any artist beginning with B.

Avantual allows so much space around the beats, you're likely to contract agoraphobia. The Pelomen trilogy will nestle under your skin. And the biting Landor 50X2 as good as anything he's done before. It's a tasty album, and a welcome return.

Wait. Not Bay City Rollers. It sounds nothing like Bay City Rollers. Pretty much any artist beginning with B apart from them.

I can't find easily embeddable streaming from an official source, so this YouTube rip will have to do.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: a jumble of jungle

I know, I know, you just want me to crack on with the top 20. However, I have loads of other albums to tell you about. Here are some albums that didn't make the list, and on each one, the jungle is still massive.

Special Request has torn up dancefloors before now, but for Belief System (Houndstooth) he mended the dancefloor and turned the club into a Burial-inspired chill-out room. Goldie dropped The Journey Man (Metalheadz), a double-album which may have been better as a single blistering ten-track album. And while we're on a junglist tip, I liked the stampeding sonics of Ninos Du Brasil's Vida Eterna (Hospital Productions).

More jungle. If you get the chance, track down the clinical minimalism of Overlook's Smoke Signals (UVB-76 Music), the austere moviedome breaks of Pessimist's Pessimist (Blackest Ever Black) or the delightful collaboration of Jamaica's Gavin Blair and Jordan Chung for Equiknoxx's Colón Man (DDS), an album which takes a true delight in dancehall sounds.

The jungle on DJ Manny's Greenlight (Teklife) meets footwork head-on, letting out some lazy g-funk vocals on the way. There's some similar bass-ass jungle and footwork beatery on Jana Rush's first full album Pariah (Objects Limited).

And finally, on a more grime tip, and only included here because I couldn't find anywhere else to put it, Lunice finally released his debut album. CCCLX (LuckyMe) had hip hop bangers and bass music aplenty.

Side note: binary fans might be pleased to know that this is my 1111st blog post. By that, I don't mean this is my 15th blog post. I mean, it is my 1,111st blog post. Or, as you would call it, my 10001010111th blog post. By that, I don't mean this is my 10,001,010,111st... oh crikes, I've opened a can of number worms.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: fifteen

15 – Lindstrøm – It’s Alright Between Us As It Is (Smalltown Supersound)

In last year's list, I confessed to being a sucker for Ulrich Schnauss's sugar-sweet sounds. It's the kind of cheesiness I would have baulked at when I was younger. Maybe I have changed - or maybe the world is so bleak, we need albums like that.

Lindstrøm's It’s Alright Between Us As It Is is this year's cheery inclusion, with its day-bright melodies and chirpy tunes. In some ways it's the audio equivalent of those clean-cut motivational people you get in Wix adverts. QUICK SOMEONE, PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE. In other ways, it's a perfect sound sorbet to counteract all the gloom elsewhere on this list. A Röyksopp to everyone else's Venetian Snares.

Also, at one point on the album, Jenny Hval talks about ‘bulging black matter’ in a sultry voice. So, y'know, there's that too.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: sixteen

16 – Ziúr – U Feel Anything? (Planet Mu)

I like the cold. When I’m blue-skinned and goose-bumped, I think “I’m feeling something: I must be alive”.

That's an admission I made in Electronic Sound when reviewing this album, and it's true. I'm the kind of idiot who will stand out in the rain because the freezing sogginess of my clothes sticking to my skin reminds me that I am human and I can feel things.

It comes as no surprise, then, that I connected with the collage of noises on U Feel Anything? Broken voices and snagged mechanics pepper electronic interludes that spin from ambience to pop to footwork to, simply, noise.

There are hooks aplenty, but the cut-and-paste structure means one moment you feel enveloped, the next moment you feel abandoned. Part of the fun here is the thrill of the chase.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: a tankful of techno

Not everything can make the top twenty. Here are some techno treats that, although not in the final list of best 2017 albums, are still well worth wiggling your ears at.

Call Super's Arpo (Houndstooth) was great. As I said in my review for Electronic Sound: "Imagine 808 State staggering out of a club at four in the morning, crusted eyes straining at the streetlights. In a rainforest."

Manchester's Claro Intelecto ‎offered up some interesting work on Exhilarator (Delsin) - check the steely bounce of Guardian Angel - while the beatless trance music of Claude Speeed's Infinity Ultra (Planet Mu) was unlike anything else I heard this year. And Com Truise's Iteration (Ghostly International) gave us synth jams for some far-off sunny boulevard.

DB1's junglist Zwischenwelt (Hidden Hawaii) can be best described as "Euclidean meditations", while JASSS's dubby Weightless (iDEAL Recordings) brought plenty of colour to an industrial sound. And this might make it sound terrible, but it really is worth making time for the improvised Rhodes jams on Juju & Jordash's Sis-boom-bah! (Dekmantel).

The rolling techno of Karen Gwyer's Rembo (Don't Be Afraid) comes with a bonus delight: the track titles consecutively question and answer each other. Track 3 is Why Don't You Make Your Bed? Track 4 is It's Not Worth The Bother. Love it. And finally for this section, listen out for the bobbling party techno of Photay's Onism (Astro Nautico) and the dripping, snarling dub techno of Porter Ricks' Anguilla Electrica (Tresor Records).

Plenty more techno to come.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: seventeen

17 – Actress – AZD (Ninja Tune)

A zippy delight. Always zooming deliciously. Artful zigzagged downbeat. Um... arpeggiated zesty dancefloors? Actress named AZD after his home recording studio. Frankly, he could have chosen easier initials.

Darren Cunningham's work can be difficult to hook into, but there are some pumping nuts-and-bolts house moments here, and, on Fantasynth. a truly AFXian vibe. The more you listen, the more it works.

It's nice to have him back - he pretty much had everyone thinking he had retired. For this surprise comeback album, he says he was inspired by Blade Runner, Rammellzee, and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. I'm pretty one of those makes shaving products.

Oh and it's pronounced 'Azid'.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: eighteen

18 – Steffi – World Of The Waking State (Ostgut Ton)

Last year, I rated Steffi's Doms & Deykers work as, and I quote, a "total banger". I even illustrated the comment with Obelisk the Gaul, as you can see here.

I wouldn't call her third solo album World Of The Waking State a "banger". Banging isn't the right noise. I'd perhaps choose "squelchy".

In fact, she's dialled it down across the board, and what we've ended up is not so much a warehouse rave as a collection of immersive introspective techno worthy of the likes of Higher Intelligence Agency or Warp's Artificial Intelligence albums.

Fewer bangs, more feels.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: assorted strangeness

We're off! This year's top 20 is well underway. Let's divert for a moment into an assorted selection of oddballs that didn't quite make the final list.

I enjoyed the nervy ambience and reverberating rhythms of Stargate (Rinse) by Rinse FM's new kid on the block Celestial Trax. The third album from Perc called Bitter Music (Perc Trax) was wonderfully miserable, despite the hilarious "why don’t you just stick them on" sample on I Just Can't Win (available on the CD version). And warm the cockles of your wotsits with Hannah Peel's amazing electro-brass adventure Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia (My Own Pleasure).

Want something dark and strange? Listen to the shuddering drones of Ben Frost's The Centre Cannot Hold (Mute Records), or the techno lost in dark fog on F Ingers's Awkwardly Blissing Out (Blackest Ever Black), or the Maori instruments getting reduced to shards in Fis and Rob Thorne's Clear Stones (Subtext).

And finally for this tiny section of also-rans, Duran Duran Duran's Duran (Power Vacuum) gave us an endless rave, Bambooman's Whispers (Accidental Jnr) mixed hip hop, house and lounge but in a good way, I liked the vocal-smothered chaos of Chino Amobi's PARADISO (NON) and although I try not to include reissues in this round-up, if you plump for Randomize's ¿Como Se Divertirán Los Insectos? (A Harmless Deed) then you'll end up with Eno-esque experimentalism from 1980s Spain. How can you refuse?

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: nineteen

19 – Antwood – Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

"I'm loving it!" says the scary voice.

Imagine me crawling out of your device's screen and climbing up onto your face. Imagine me licking your eyeballs and nuzzling your tonsils. Imagine what that feels and sounds like. The slobbering, the slurping, the farting. This is called ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response), an experience that inspired Antwood's latest album.

In fact, the album's second track The New Industry contains the kind of weeping that the above situation may induce in you.

Sponsored Content feels like we're caught in the modern Blade Runner universe, with all the sounds and feels chopped up by Holly Herndon. Data noises come and go, the voices are surveilling every part of us... and it feels good.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: twenty

20 – Lee Gamble – Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub)

The bass drum comes creeping through the pipes on Lee Gamble's new album on Hyperdub. The broken beat on Istian seems uniquely Gamble, following its own rhythmic logic, while tracks like UE8 feel like a horrendous club flashback. And yes, that's a cowbell amid the hallucinatory Quadripoints.

With its wonky rhythms, Mnestic Pressure will please junglists looking for something more ambient. For a more colourful description of Gamble's work, let's turn to a comment on Discogs:

"If a red 1994 Honda Accord blaring jungle smashed into a gallery showcasing 19th Century pastoral paintings, and somewhere in there a computer existed, then you might get a glimpse to Lee Gamble's music."


Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: ambient endeavours

Before we get stuck into the top 20, here are some ambient albums that didn't quite make the final list.

Norway's Biosphere offered a stirring dreamscape of Archie Mayo’s 1936 crime drama The Petrified Forest in, you guessed it, The Petrified Forest (Biophon Records). Brian Eno seemed utterly suspended in animation as he dropped his nautical noodlings his latest Warp album, the excellent Reflection (Warp Records). And Dopplereffekt returned to great effect with the interplanetary electro ambience of Cellular Automata (Leisure System).

What else? Check out the magical bleeps of Alessandro Cortini's AVANTI (Point Of Departure), the leisurely and classical No Home Of The Mind (4AD) from Bing & Ruth, and the wild, almost geometric rhythms of Burnt Friedman's The Pestle (Latency).

After two decades, Wolfgang Voigt turned back on the GAS supply for Narkpop (Kompakt). For extra sleepiness, listen to Hiroshi Yoshimura's Music For Nine Post Cards (Empire Of Signs), an old album available outside Japan for the first time, and lose yourself in the fuzzy ether of Jacaszek's KWIATY (Ghostly International).

More ambient also-rans later on. Meanwhile, if all this ethereal goodness has warmed your heart, dive into A Strangely Isolated Place.

Scroll all of the best 2017 electronic albums by clicking here.

Best electronic albums of 2017: an introduction

Welcome to the best electronic music albums of 2017.

That's right. The best. This is not an opinion. This is not fake news. This is cold hard fact. The BEST techno and IDM and ambient and house and experimental albums of the year.

Okay, I'll come clean. It's all opinion. Even as I type this, the list is in flux. Although I have ploughed through dozens of albums, I've tried not to think too hard about my choices, and if I were to publish this on another day, you'd get a different list.

HOWEVER. I live, breathe and fart electronic music, sometimes in the form of reviews for Electronic Sound magazine, so I hope this list counts for something. If you want to see choices for previous years - this is now the ninth year I've done this - then click here.

This is what's going to happen. Every quarter of an hour today, I shall publish a blog post. Each blog post will be something from my top 20 albums of 2017, or a bunch of also-rans that didn't quite make the final list.

Throughout the day, we'll build up over 100 recommendations of excellent electronic music, climaxing with a grand announcement at teatime: THE best electronic music album of 2017.

Although I have cross-referenced against key album lists on other websites, I have not been guided by them. Last year, an anime remix album won. This year's top album may also come as a surprise - or perhaps it will be an old favourite.

Let's find out. Click here to follow my electronic albums of the year list - keep refreshing that tab, and follow the links to some sweeeeet tunes.

Dec 30, 2017

The only new year list that counts

The other day, the Queen stopped me in the street. "How do," I said.

Her Highness replied by asking me if I was doing my albums of the year list like wot I done in previous years.

"Why yes, your Madge," I replied. "It'll probably be a bit briefer than in previous years, but it will still be packed full of juicy choons and block-rocking beats."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," replied the Queen. And just before she scooted off on her skateboard, she awarded me five MBEs, two knighthoods, a damehood, a cycling proficiency certificate, seven magic beans, and a conker.

"Is that conker a 100er?" I asked.

"Totes," said the Queen as she grinded the railings outside Asda followed by a mad 780 flip. "It's, like, totally a 100er, honestly I didn't even put it in the oven or nuffink."

My 2017 albums of the year will appear on my blog throughout new year's eve. Stay tuned.

Dec 7, 2017

Hot competition: Vladimir Cauchemar versus Laidback Luke

It's already been Annie Mac's 'Hottest Record' on the electronic wireless, and here it is on my blog. Vladimir Cauchemar's eccentric folkie banger Aulos.

But wait. There's dissent in the Twitter ranks. A chap called Paul says this is rubbish, and he rates Laidback Luke's new single instead.

So here's two musics for the price of one - here's Laidback Luke on my blog too. I think Cauchemar edges it for me on extreme recorder usage and cutting-edge fashion jumpers.