We’re back for a new year with a last look back at the best of 2016. White Noise may have been on hiatus but we were still listening, and have trimmed down an exceptional year of electronic music to the very best. This list veers from club monsters to meditative bedroom listens, passing by raw experimentalism and the rise of a new global electronic sound.
So here are our favourite records of 2016, listed in alphabetical order.
Convextion – 2845
The follow up to Gerard Hanson’s classic 2006 debut LP was everything you could hope for from a Convextion record – impeccably detailed techno born of a deep knowledge of the genre that never imitates it. This is music that will continue to reward patient listeners into the distant future.
Demdike Stare – Wonderland
Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker followed up their Testpressing series by edging ever closer to the dancefloor on their latest LP, offering some of their most engaging rhythms and poignant melodies on this memorable trip beyond the veil.
Dengue Dengue Dengue – Siete Raices
A true product of our connected world, the sophomore album from this Peruvian duo combined electro cumbia, dancehall and modern bass music to lethal effect. For evidence of a new sound for our interconnected world, look no further.
D.K. – Island of Dreams
The most blissful balearic effort we heard all year came on Paris’ white-hot Antinote label. This selection of postcards sees D.K. evoking faded memories of endless summers.
Don’t DJ – Musique Acephale
Florian Meyer’s music as Don’t DJ hit a new peak this year, culminating in these 80 minutes of trance-inducing, de-centred rhythms and pan-global melodies. There’s a rich tapestry of discourse and ideas behind both his concepts and his production method, but the music is dazzling no matter how you choose to engage.
Dorisburg – Irrbloss
Dorisburg’s stunning debut album fused the mechanical and natural worlds with effortless elegance, each slowly-evolving club miniature a marvel of detail and otherworldly beauty.
Equiknoxx – Bird Sound Power
Demdike Stare backed a winner signing this Jamaican outfit to their DDS label. One of the year’s most brilliant surprises, a thoroughly modern take on dancehall and future dread.
Grant – Cranks
One of the defining lofi releases of the year came from mysterious US producer Grant, whose soft-focus melodies and rough-hewn drumwork nail it every time.
Huerco S – For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
Huerco stepped away from the club this year for his superb second album, offering nine delicate ambient works exploring a complex emotional landscape, illuminated by gauzy melodies like light through water.
Jessy Lanza – Oh No
Canada’s premier electronic songstress came back with a vengeance on Oh No, bringing a broader set of influences to her stark signature style and packing it all with a sugar rush of vocal hooks.
Kornél Kovács – The Bells
Swedish Studio Barnhus associate Kovács effortlessly takes the prize for funnest album of the year with his glorious love letter to dance music, a debut overflowing with ideas, colour and groove.
Kyle Hall – From Joy
This archival release from the face of Detroit’s new generation packaged the optimism and experimentation of youth into a seductive package, colouring well outside the lines across eight jazz-house trips.
Lord of the Isles – In Waves
Perhaps it could have used a trim, but few albums this year matched Scottish producer Neil McDonald’s debut for opulent detail and misty emotional impact. We could drift for years on those pads.
Marie Davidson – Adieux Au Dancefloor
Montreal artist Marie Davidson’s first attack on the dancefloor was a remarkably assured effort, blending pulverising rhythms and raw EBM synth riffs with her own sultry, enigmatic spoken word.
Omar S – The Best
The king of Detroit house takes no prisoners with his album titles, but that’s because he knows no one’s going to argue – he is the best. His latest LP combined raw house jams in a classic mould with a set of gorgeous, unexpectedly diverse collaborations.
Nicolas Jaar – Sirens
After a long wait, electronic wonderboy Nico Jaar returned for a second album, a cryptic but satisfying journey through politics, cultures and genres blended into seductive new hybrids.
Not Waving – Animals
The meanest album we fell in love with this year came on punk-techno stable Diagonal, where Walls’ Alessio Natalizia let loose an onslaught of searing basslines and crashing drums, all bound together with a healthy dose of fuzz and horror movie sound effects.
Psychic Mirrors – The Nature of Evil
Miami’s omnivorous funk band graduated from People’s Potential Unlimited to the main stage with this masterclass in sleazy retro groove, stuffed with more catchy hooks than most musicians manage in a lifetime.
Skee Mask – Shred
We’ve come to expect great things from Ilian Tape, but the detail, quality and emotional complexity of Skee Mask’s debut album still came as a surprise – techno albums as good as this don’t come along very often.
Steve Hauschildt – Strands
In a world that seems like it’s forever speeding up, it’s vital to have music that can help us slow down. Few do it better than ex-Emeralds man Steve Hauschildt, whose latest album of ambient and electronica could conjure years of introspection and deep feeling in a single melody.
SW. – Untitled
One of the SUED camp’s best producers ramped up the fun with this gorgeous untitled long-player flooded with rainforest ambience, loose breaks and heady 90s techno vibes.
Youandewan – There Is No Right Time
We lost track of Youandewan for a minute there, but he returned in 2016 to give AUS its most essential release in ages – a diverse, ruminative journey that proved surprisingly rich on repeat listens.
Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus
Jazz is not one of the music genres that Britain is best known for these days, but luckily Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams (who some will know as Rhythm Section regular Henry Wu) didn’t get the message. Their debut for Brownswood is syrup-smooth, folding all manner of influences into an expansive trip you’ll want to take time and again.
Those are our top picks, feel free to add your own (though to be honest we didn’t really feel that Prince of Denmark LP…) and check back soon for our favourite tracks of the year.