November 16, 2010
This year has seen the standard of contemporary British electronic music rise even further with a string of fascinating and challenging releases from bedrooms and DIY studios up and down the country. With so many influences to draw from now (post-Burial ambient dubstep apparently being the favourite), the synthesists of modern music are constantly raising the bar, bleeping their blips and wobbling their wobulators (a term that was coined by, and died with, the great Delia Derbyshire, pictured above) to form new and exciting music. Here’s some i particularly like…
Perhaps the most considered production in this list, Klavierwerke appears on an EP of the same name, one of three released (so far) this year by classically trained producer James Blake. Blake’s skill lies in his ability to conjure atmospheric space into electronic music, demonstrated across his deeply Burial-influenced EPs. But it’s his versatility as a performer/producer that’s catching the ear of the critics. Soon-to-be-released single Limit To Your Love, a Feist cover, sees Blake introducing his not unpleasant vocal over more stripped-down production. An interesting listen (see the video HERE), but it’s the eerie minimalism of Klavierwerke that makes the Essentially Eclectic list.
IDM, atmospheric dubtronica, downbeat post-burial, neo-shoe-crocodile-anti-wave. Whatever you want to call it, that’s Bristolian Phaeleh’s sound. Any electronica artist from that particular part of the West Country existing after the mid ’90s is going to be given the Massive Attack comparison badge, but Phaeleh’s brand of post-rave, early hours downtemporia serves much the same purpose as Blue Lines and Mezzanine did. This slice from the 12″ of the same name features a nice turn from vocalist Soundmouse. I urge you to investigate further.
Keen observers of this blog might recall I designated a whole post to Mount Kimbie a few months ago (see HERE) so I won’t bore you with anymore gushing praise. Just get hold of the album (Crooks and Lovers), if you haven’t already.
After a releasing a string of EPs and racking up a number of fairly high-profile production credits over the last few years, Peckham’s Gold Panda finally delivered his debut full length this month. Same Dream China has hints of early Four Tet in its use of Gamelan instrumentation, before breaking out into an off-kilter electro-beat du jour. For more Gold Panda, check out Back Home from a recent Essentially Eclectic Mixup HERE.
Regular Essentially Eclectic sounding board RM once told me of his misfortune when falling asleep to John Frusciante’s beautifully twisted Niandra Ladies And Usually Just A T-Shirt, only to wake up disoriented and terrified during the heroin-addled 8 minute horror show Untitled #8. I had a similar experience recently after falling asleep to some ISAN. While the soft pad synth work and gently scuttling beats initially seemed ideal for drifting off to, I ended up waking up with Device. A gloriously spooky cut from this year’s Glow In The Dark Safari Set, the track is yet another reminder of the mastery of Robin Saville and Antony Ryan, as if it was needed.
Brighton’s Simon Green released 4th LP Black Sands earlier this year. Building on the work of its predecessor Days To Come, the album refines the already well-refined Bonobo sound further still; a mature work of an artist with plenty of experience under his belt. We Could Forever makes this list, but it’s unfair to cherry pick single tracks out of that now rarest of items – an album that plays as an album.
Not to be outdone, another (relative) veteran of British electronica released his 5th album in January, just making it eligible for this list. Continuing his forays into the four-to-the-floor rhythms of the dance floor (allegedly inspired by a residency at east London’s Plastic People), There Is Love In You shows Kieran Hebden’s willingness to experiment and instigate is still very much alive, without straying too far from the Four Tet magic.
Many more could have made this list, just as many non-British electronica artists have been lodged in my ears over the last twelve months (special mentions go to Caribou, Pantha Du Prince, Memory Tapes, Washed Out, Arovane, Matthew Dear, Fever Ray, Flying Lotus and Darkstar, who are British, but who’s debut North disappointed too much outside of a couple of tracks to make the list.)
Here’s some Delia Derbyshire to leave you with…