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The Best Electronic Albums of 2018

2018-Best-of-Electronic2018 has been a year of extraordinary flux in electronic club music. While the upper reaches of the DJ heirarchies continued to be dominated by maxed-out EDM and trance, with techno and tech-house jostling just beneath them, in the real world, genres and ideas seemed to be intermingling, exploring new evolutionary niches. Faithful old musical styles—jungle, disco, acid, electro—continued to prove themselves viable, but all around them, hybridity was the name of the game. Perhaps it has something to do with the rapid social and political shifts; perhaps musical and social homogeneity are being washed away and replaced by something more interesting; perhaps it’s just a patch of turbulence. Whatever the case, these certainly are “interesting times.” And while that can be seen as a curse in political and social terms, in music and culture, sometimes “interesting” is genuinely interesting. These are the Best Electronic Albums of 2018.

View the Best Electronic Music on Bandcamp archives.

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Best New Electronic: July 2018

Best Electronic

Higher dimensions and fantastical vileness; New York techno swagger and French-Japanese-Hungarian bohemianism; Welsh dub and Detroit fizz. There’s a healthy crop of sounds from the outer reaches of the global dancefloor this month, and if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s how the more creative corners of dance culture respect experience. The roster of Honey Dijon’s remix album has collectively logged a century in the underground; elsewhere, the likes of Rod Modell and Richard Norris prove that you can spend decades honing a very particular personal vision and not run short of inspiration. And Guido, Stagga, and Alis—artists of the dubstep generation—show that they, too, are learning and growing as the years of raving tick by. Of course there’s young talent snapping at their heels too: dance music constantly proving that it is, as John Peel used to say of The Fall, always different, always the same.

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The Ten Best House Records of 2017 So Far

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Illustration by Braulio Amado.

House music in 2017 feels like it is, once again, open to all influences. It is soulful and vocal or fucked-up and dark. It’s reduced to perfectly infectious loops, or supersized to abrasive effect. Reissues and classic sounds are still as popular as ever, sure, but new music feels refreshingly free from a single overarching narrative. That’s a welcome change from recent years in which, after the rise of dubstep, new producers took that sound’s low-end heft to make bass-driven house, then garage house, then pseudo-deep house.

After that, house music crossed over into the mainstream once more, and enjoyed a period of chart success akin to the early ‘90s heyday of second-wave pioneers like Masters at Work and Armand Van Helden. Nowadays, mainstream artists like Duke Dumont, Gorgon City, and Bondax might not fit into the underground scene, but they were the big names who—for better or worse—took house out of sweaty basements and into supersize Ibiza clubs via the top of the U.K. charts.

But now, it feels like house music’s moment in the sun has passed: the big, catchy vocals, organ stabs, and polished kicks are gone, and it is back to being the soundtrack to smaller back rooms—raw, and driven by real emotion, rather than simple hooks and obvious basslines. As such, grime has seemingly taken up the mantel as the genre du jour: not only did the hashtag #grime4Corbyn get young voters involved in the 2017 U.K. election—such is the influence of the genre—but artists like Skepta and Giggs have started to make waves Stateside thanks in part to the fact that Drake invited them to collaborate on his latest album.

A look at the names on major festival lineups (from Richie Hawtin and The Belleville Three at Coachella to Seth Troxler at Glastonbury via the continued dominance of Marco Carola’s Music On party in Ibiza) confirms that big room techno, too, has become more popular than ever. Last year, in fact, it overtook tech house as the highest selling genre on Beatport. All this means that house music, if not under siege, is certainly in the back seat.

But 2017 has already served up many highlights from a wide range of producers located all over the world, from lo-fi and fuzzy to jazzed-up and deep, to majestically instrumental. Importantly, nothing really ties them together but for an impossible-to-articulate mix of soul and rhythm that always feels a bit more organic and human than the machine-made, future-facing styles of techno.

With that in mind, and in no particular order, here are the ten best house releases that made it onto Bandcamp in the first half of this year.

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