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.

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