12. Grant – The Acrobat [The Lauren Bacall]
The Awful Truth
An unknown artist on an unknown label was responsible for one of the year’s most mesmerising deep house LPs. Grant’s sound is decidedly subdued yet his production talents should not be underestimated. Grainy rhythms and swooning pads are everywhere yet this is no standard house-by-numbers – flashes of warehouse techno, sublime ambience and snarling acid are teased into a single slinky package. Like the striking photo on its cover, these tracks are rich moments of suspended animation: joy, movement, and grace.
11. Sven Atterton – The Cove [Omega Supreme]
Omega Supreme and People’s Potential Unlimited have spent the last few years issuing the very best of modern funk, and nothing came better than Sven Atterton’s early 2015 debut The Cove. An outstanding musicality stalks through these sun-drenched jams, played out through sinuous keyboard solos, hazy pads and languid basswork. Absolute killer for the summer chill.
10. Palmbomen II – Palmbomen II [Beats In Space]
Mary Louise Lefante
“As a Dutch transplant to LA, Hugo is clearly a sun-worshipper, a fact abundantly clear in his colourful, saturated take on club music. The sun blazes through a thick haze over these tracks, which corral burbling house, dew-eyed new age melodies and the occasional foray into gurgling acid into a memorable, mesmeric package… It’s a winner, an album that invites you to wander through an alien landscape guided by a warm, comforting hand. It’s a walk you’ll want to take time and again.”
9. Linkwood – Expressions [Firecracker]
Off Kilter (No Midi Mix)
“It’s been four years since the last Linkwood emission, and six since his debut LP, and you can hear how slowly these tracks have matured, offering a richness and attention to detail uncommon in the fast-paced dance scene, particularly when it comes to albums. Whether you come for the gorgeous ambient meditations, the compelling club cuts or the whole opulent package, Expressions is an album you’re not going to want to leave anytime soon.”
8. Lifted – 1 [PAN]
“Lifted’s debut is the rare album which feels purely next-level, like music beamed from an idealised future. The sound that the group have created is like an unstable chemical: constantly mutating, joyously effervescent. So few artists who chart fresh electronic terrain manage to do so with such lightness and joy in their sound. Because Lifted do, you won’t just follow them willingly – you’ll do it with a broad smile on your face.”
7. Domenique Dumont – Comme Ca [Antinote]
L’esprit de l’Escalier
“These aren’t really tracks or cuts, they’re songs, addictive and hummable, but with a fine producer at the helm, who has a light touch but never lets things get too sugary… a curious and winning package from yet another great Antinote discovery, as if they needed another feather in their cap.”
6. DJ Sotofett – Drippin’ For A Tripp [Honest Jon’s]
Drippin For 97 Mix
Honest Jon’s struck gold this year, offering us the broadest exploration of DJ Sotofett’s demented musical world yet. Here the inimitable producer teams up with an array of collaborators but takes his own tools along for the ride – birdsong, reggae rhythms and acres of post-euphoric ambience. It was a tripp that took us from future-afrobeat to humid house via beatless excursions poised impossibly between prog and Balearic. Absolutely essential for fans of the Sex Tags crew.
5. Project Pablo – I Want To Believe [1080p]
“The beats crunch and shuffle, lush pads drift like smoke, and the basslines are summoned straight from a 70s funk record. Then there’s the rising melody, hitting the perfect balance between hope and introspection. With this first track, Project Pablo hits a wondrous note which he sustains across the album without a single misstep… Listening to I Want To Believe, faces seem happier, objects prettier, and all those pesky problems seem like they might just work out okay, after all.”
4. Dwig – From Here To There [Dwig]
“It’s immediately accessible yet generous to the attentive listener, excelling in the mesmeric capabilities of the genre while pushing a varied, refreshing palette. If there’s any upside to the fact that this graceful album is unlikely to sell out or chart on critics’ lists at the end of the year, it’s that those few listeners who caught it and engaged will forge a more intimate relationship with this music, unhindered by hype or popularity. For theirs is an album of rare substance and beauty, something to treasure for them and them alone.”
3. J Albert – Dance Slow [Exotic Dance]
It’s a shame that J Albert’s stunning debut came out on such a limited cassette run, because this is music that demands to be heard. Deftly weaving between starry-eyed house and ruff analog exploits, Dance Slow is a twilit masterclass in 4/4 dance.
2. Floating Points – Elenaia [Pluto]
Silhouettes (I, II & III)
After six years of stunning singles, we were expected big things from Floating Points’ debut. Yet Sam Shepherd’s long-awaited debut album, the fruit of five years’ work, wasn’t what anyone expected. Slow, slight, strangely ineffable, Elaenia makes you come to it. But when you do, and give this music time and attention, a world of sumptuous detail reveals itself, with a lifetime of emotions and influences ever-shifting across its dappled surface. This is a record of a subtlety and mastery that only Floating Points could achieve. We’ve rarely been so happy to be wrong.
1. DJ Richard – Grind [Dial]
“DJs will find some great club tracks if they choose to skim it for parts, but that would be to miss the holistic effect of the album. This is narrative techno, and in typical artistic form, the narrative of conflict draws us inexorably towards reconciliation. This is heard on Vampire Dub, a confection of twinkling synth work, gauzy keys that leave behind calming jet-trails, and bubbling mechanical accents. Here the feelings of displacement are left behind, resolution can be found in a composition which is nakedly beautiful. This is the deserved conclusion to a great artistic accomplishment; a dance album with no fat, no misfires, every tune essential, surprising and rewarding. We hear darkness and conflict resolved through artistic expression, and we find peace.”
What we listened to when we couldn’t bear to hear another synth:
You can’t always listen to electronic music. Well, we can’t. Every so often you need some nice acoustic earthiness to soothe those throbbing ears. 2015 was a rich year outside of electronic music, with Kendrick Lamar pulling an astonishingly ambitious jazzfunkhiphopsoul album off to perfection that’s still got us reeling. Young Thug picked up a lot of the excess hip hop weight with an endless slew of tunes baring his half-crazed flow and stark trap production.
Meanwhile Beach House kept doing exactly what we want them to with two new albums of dreamy, nostalgic pop, D’Angelo returned after 14 years with an RnB masterclass and Sufjan Stevens bared everything on the supremely affecting Carrie & Lowell. Finally, White Noise patron saint Joanna Newsom made a welcome return after five years with the satisfyingly dense and complex Divers, packed with allusions, esoteric instrumentation and heart-rending melodies.
That’s all for the best albums of 2015. Come back next week for a roundup of the best tracks of the year.