remote_ thoughts | contemporary electronic

Remote_ Thoughts 2011 Top Ten

Posted in News by remotethoughts on October 30, 2012

Remote_ Thoughts 2011 Top Ten

These releases are in no particular order, apart from the first one which is undoubtedly my album of the year. The rest are evenly placed and sum up the changing environment I’ve been working in and the broader spread of music I’ve been listening to. Of course, the list could have been a lot longer, but one has to set some restrictions for something like this.

So, without further ado, here goes:

A-Lords – A-Lords – Rif Mountain
This album just did it for me the moment I heard it. A blend of esoteric folk and ambient field recordings, it’s about as charming and lush a release as you could hope for. There are some quirky moments, some deliciously pastoral passages and an overriding thoughtfulness that eases you in and never lets go. Truly a super piece of work. Here’s hoping that Rif Mountain release a CD issue of it at some point as it’s only been released on vinyl thus far.

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 – Kranky
This was a somewhat easy inclusion into this list. Hecker’s work has always amazed me and the focus and fine-tuning of his sound on this album is nothing short of startling. Using pianos as the main sound source, the ebb and flow of this release is incredible. Deep, dense, uplifting, melancholy and moody in equal measure, there’s more than enough drone here to satisfy everyone’s needs. A powerful and magical album.

Cosmin TRG – Simulat – 50Weapons
A brilliant collection of tracks that spans techno, garage, electronic and soundscape with an easy gait. For the most part this is a dance album, for sure, but it’s the simple thoughtfulness with which everything gels that makes it so excellent in my opinion. Clattering percussion, wonderful chords that are clearly inspired by Detroit and Berlin, groovy swing and timing on the rhythms. This pretty much has everything I like about lightly wonky dance music.

Balam Acab – Wander/Wonder – Tri Angle
I was a bit unsure about the whole Witch House thing to begin with. Just the name was enough to put me off in all honesty and the idea of these massively broken down genre types is something that’s always made me a little nervous. And then, boom, along came Balam Acab’s album and I was smitten. At heart this is pretty much an old school electronica album, but with a more contemporary twist. Dark chords, deep beats and a superb use of vocal samples ensure that this has legs. I was worried it would be a one-listen wonder – how wrong I was.

Machinedrum – Room(s) – Planet Mu
Bet you didn’t think there would be a Planet Mu release in my top ten, did you? Well, Machinedrum took a form of music that I don’t care for at all and made it completely accessible to someone who’s clearly not on the cutting edge of modern dance music. Juke and Footwork are pretty much alien to me really. There’s something about the samples that bugs me and the rhythms just never seem to hold it together enough. I know that’s the whole point, but still, it leaves me cold. Machinedrum took that style and added in acres of warmth, melody, his fantastic take on Detroit techno and lots of other tidy ingredients to make an album that is as listenable as it is danceable. A brilliant and surprising piece of work.

Surgeon – Breaking The Frame – Dynamic Tension
Props to Anthony Child. He’s been there doing it for years, never compromising, never watering his sound down, just doing what he does. The fact that his style of offbeat techno is revered by, in particular, the UK bass scene is no real surprise and here he’s put together a consummate album of heavy beats and incredible textures. From straight 4/4s (well, the Surgeon idea of ‘straight’, anyway) to piercing soundscapes via some wonderfully realised two-step rhythms, this really is an all-rounder of the highest calibre. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve listened to it this year.

Stephan Mathieu – A Static Place – 12k
I reviewed this in-depth (in fact you’ll find the link to it right beneath this post) so won’t go on too much. Suffice to say that Mathieu’s arrival on 12k was suitably gorgeous and, although it came out in February, it held my attention for the entire year. Beautiful, thoughtful, lush and expertly paced organic electronic music. Sublime.

Purl – Deep Ground – Silent Season
This could be my favourite release on Silent Season full stop. It’s a superb blend of everything I love about ambient and deep, deep techno. By turns dubby, ethereal, lightly groovy and just plain beautiful, this is a piece of work I keep on coming back to time and time again.

Walls – Coracle – Kompakt
This is a somewhat late addition to my list. I really liked their first self-titled album, but this didn’t quite grab me in the same way. Then I managed to catch them live a few weeks back and they were utterly brilliant. It completely changed my perception of this album and I’ve been avidly listening to it ever since. Washy, but robust, groovy, but somehow restrained, when these tracks kick off they are absolutely wonderful. If you haven’t heard it, it’s definitely something to seek out and enjoy.

Demdike Stare – Triptych – Modern Love
I don’t know whether this one is cheating as the vinyl versions came out before, but this CD is definitely from 2011 so I’m counting it anyway. Besides, it’s got plenty of new bonus material and that makes it new in my opinion. Demdike Stare’s sound is all about atmosphere and unlikely sound sources. I say unlikely, but that’s probably not strictly true, as there’s an incredible palette of obscure field recordings and world music that’s drawn upon to create some mind-bendingly good tracks. Beautiful, dark, incredibly deep and full of attention to detail, this triple CD collection of electronic music is exquisite in every way.

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