Friday, 4 February 2011

My top ten electronic albums

10. Badmarsh and Shri – Signs

Mixing Eastern tones and trip-hop beats, this album blends the sublime with the gritty. The instrumentation is what makes this record really shine, using strings and flutes in great contrast to electronic drum sounds. There are some fantastic vocal performances to be sampled here, especially during the chilled-out 'Sajanna', as well as some hectic beats on tracks like 'Tribal' and 'Bang'.

9. Shy Child – Noise Won't Stop

Get your synthesizers out! Keyboard and drums are all that this pair need to get the party started, and they do a very good job. This album contains some great synthpop tracks like the sunny tune 'Summer', but also some pumping aural assaults, summed up perfectly in the pounding bass of 'Kick Drum'. The rhythmic indie vocals fit well with the duo's bright sound, providing you with a tasty sonic cocktail with a pleasant aftertaste.

8. Mad Capsule Markets – OSC – DIS

Time for some punk-techno-metal. Combining raspy distorted bass, d'n'b drum loops, heavy guitars and confusing English/Japanese vocals, this record is an anime seizure for your ears. Although not purely an electronic album, this had to make the top ten for its original use of programmed instruments and beats, shown particularly well in the anthemic 'Pulse' and the high-speed attack of 'Midi Surf'.

7. Mistabishi – Drop

Since I reviewed this album a while ago, I've heard less than positive things about the artist's lack-lustre live performances. However, I'm rating the recorded album, not the performer; and this album is very good. Moving through different genres, such as dance, d'n'b and dubstep, the record is a great example of serene tones clashing with harsh bass and beats. Check out the unique 'Printer Jam' and brutal dubstep tune 'White Collar Grime'.

6. Propellerheads – Decksandrumsandrockandroll

With tracks from this album featuring in two motion pictures (Tomorrow Never Dies, The Matrix), you're probably more familiar with the record than you might have thought. Utilising some great samples and instruments, and with a variety of fast and laid-back tracks, this album features some fantastic nerdy electronic tunes. Highlights have to be the skateboard-sampling '360 Degrees' and the bullet-time classic 'Spybreak'.

5. Chase & Status – More Than a lot

As dubstep and drum and bass have recently risen in popularity and commercial appeal, this duo have successfully broken through into the mainstream (judge for yourself if this is good or bad). Nevertheless, this album is a fantastic achievement, containing some grinding yet soulful dubstep, shown in the tracks 'Eastern Jam' and 'Running', as well as d'n'b classics like 'Hurt You'.

4. Innerpartysystem – Innerpartysystem

Dark and dystopian, this record will take you to a totalitarian future where the party rules your every move – or maybe we're already there? Pumping out distorted bass and heavy beats, this rock/electro crossover album takes the best aspects of both genres and blends them with skill and originality. 'Don't Stop' attacks our contemporary consumer culture and is definitely worth a listen, as is the painful hypocrisy of 'Heart Of Fire'.

3. The Prodigy – Music For The Jilted Generation

Although almost all of this group's albums are absolute classics, I had to pick this record over the others purely on sentimental reasons. I remember hearing this in the common room during sixth form and thinking, I have to own this. Brilliant beats, uncompromising bass, smooth synths and some tasty guitar riffs make this a timeless record, with tracks like 'Voodoo People' and 'No Good' pouring on a healthy dose of electronic anarchy.

2. Leftfield – Rhythm And Stealth

Another record that brings out the rose-tinted spectacles, invoking memories of my not-so-distant youth. I first encountered the track 'Afrika Shox' from this album when the video was featured on a Playstation Magazine demo disc, and was mesmerised not only by the awesome imagery but also by the superb beats and sounds. Other great tracks are 'Phat Planet', famously featuring in a Guinness advert, and the album-opener 'Dusted'.

1. Pendulum – Hold Your Colour

This, my number one electronic album, gave me my first proper taste of drum and bass. As the cinematic opening track begins to play, you know you're in for an epic ride. And then 'Slam' kicks in, razing the ground with its unforgettable synth hook and superb breakdowns. Although this album does contain some more chilled tracks, such as 'Plastic World' and 'Girl In The Fire', it mostly offers the listener a high-octane d'n'b experience. Highlights include the reggae mash-up of 'Tarantula' and pounding club anthem 'Fasten Your Seatbeat'. If you want some powerful, innovative and emotive drum and bass, look no further.

So there you have it, my top ten electronic albums. Here's a shortlist of those that didn't quite make it into the elite.

The Chemical Brothers - Surrender
Daft Punk – Discovery
Gypsy and the Cat – Gilgamesh
Hurts - Happiness
Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself
Justice – Cross
Leftfield - Leftism
Pendulum – In Silico
The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die

Let me know your own top ten electronic albums by posting in the comments section below.

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