We’re only halfway through the year and it was already painful to choose only ten LPs out of the bunch. Fresh albums from Omar S, Floorplan, Bookworms, Matt Karmil and Moomin almost made the cut, but these are the absolute best we’ve heard so far.
Click the album title to read our full review.
Detroit’s crown prince of house breathed a joyous musicality into his second album, a collection of tracks recorded before 2010 at his dad’s house on Joy Road. The tracks here form a soundtrack of liberation, both psychological and spiritual, where synths reach out towards the sky and rhythms shuffle assuredly off into new territory.
- Gqom Oh! The Sound of Durban
There’s been increased interest in local dance scenes across the globe and this introduction to Durban’s gqom scene was especially seductive. Slinky percussive jams full of flair and fury, there’s an energy and a clarity of vision to these tracks that present a sound clearly deserving of a larger stage.
- Ibrahim Alfa – Hidden By The Leaves
The serpentine story that led 90s UK techno don back to the fold is a thrilling yarn, but even that’s not as compelling as his debut LP, which finally found release on Workshop. There’s nothing dated about these techno experiments – their energetic invention and beautiful craft speaks for itself.
- Dorisburg – Irrbloss
Dorisburg explored the border between the beautiful and the unknown on his impeccably-crafted debut LP. Split between organic explorations and synthetic textures, it uses house and techno to lure the listener into alien landscapes, a true club siren call.
Lanza’s sophomore album for Hyperdub couldn’t quite pack the surprise factor of her debut but it’s still a sterling record. Her spare modern hybrids of RnB and dance are still sleek and addictive, while the highlights show her gunning for the club (It Means I Love You, VV Violence) and the heart (I Talk BB).
The seven songs here rarely last longer than four minutes, but each is an exquisite snow globe of glistening melodies and tropical bliss. While there’s certainly a retro yen across Island Of Dreams, there’s a sincerity to the songs that stand apart from most throwback material. A balm for the modern ache.
- Not Waving – Animals
This EBM-infused horror show from one half of Walls was violent, colourful and tremendous fun. Between bluesy murder ballads and throbbing basslines, the tension and range of the LP mark it out as Diagonal’s best album to date.
- Skee Mask – Shred
Shred is an album that manages to have it all – superlative sound design and brute force, moments of dreamy elation next to stark rhythmic explorations. And yet despite the contrasts it contains, the album always sounds the work of one mind, of one vision.
Huerco S’ album does not offer itself up easily. Its track titles are loaded and intriguing, its emotions bared yet elusive. The tracks often start and end abruptly, as if we’re privy to only part of a greater whole. And yet it’s hard not to be seduced by these songs’ mesmeric qualities, how they gesture at half-remembered feelings and truths. They sketch the intangible contours of the psyche.
- Psychic Mirrors – The Nature of Evil
It’s not unusual for artists to conceptualise their albums as soundtracks to imaginary films or landscapes. But few go as far as directing a gloriously schlocky four-minute trailer for this fictitious film. That’s just the kind of band Psychic Mirrors are – an expansively creative group whose sense of fun is matched only by their musical prowess.
Across The Nature of Evil, the omnivorous funk band let loose tough 80s synth workouts and bouncing reggae beats, noir soundtracks and starry-eyed boogie without missing a beat. In a music scene dominated by quick fixes and straight-faced ‘deep’ albums, it’s a painful rarity to find something that’s lovable on first listen and still brimming with details to admire after a month of heavy rotation.
2016 Halftime Roundups: