Sean AKA Nordic Soul is the Decibel Festival Curator and Director, he is my good friend and one of the greatest contributors to Seattle’s thriving underground music community. This is a very insightful summary of electronic music in 2009 with his Top 15 list at the bottom as well:
Every year it’s part of my job at PlayNetwork to come up with a list of top albums and overall assessment of music trends for the year. Below is my brief review of what I felt was a pretty landmark year for electronic music in the US and in general. Barring any incredible releases over the next month, these are my picks for the year. Keep in mind this list is strictly made up of albums; not EPs, 12’s or remixes (i.e 95% of the electronic music I purchased this year).
2009 in Review : Binary Pop, Warp’s Legacy, Dub Mutations and the Return of Sexy Dance Music
2009 has been an incredibly innovative year in relation to music production. Artists like Animal Collective, Fever Ray, Royksopp and Moderat have proven once and for all that digital beats and electronic sound design can appeal to a pop audience that otherwise wouldn’t find themselves listening to “electronic music”.
This year also marks the 20 year anniversary of the greatest electronic music label (arguably greatest label) of all time, Warp Records, which has had an exceptional year across the board with strong indie releases from Grizzly Bear and Maximo Park as well as strong releases from their more obscure electronic artists like Tim Exile and Clark. Warp’s 20th anniversary box set is not only one of the best reviewed collections of they year, it’s also a brilliant testament to the label’s vast catalog of ground breaking artists (i.e. Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Jamie Lidell, Nightmares on Wax, Prefuse 73, Autechre, Broadcast, Plaid, Battles, Squarepusher, etc).
In addition, 2009 witnessed the rise of Dubstep as a respected genre in the US through acclaimed UK labels like Hyperdub (Burial, Kode9, Joker, Zomby, Flying Lotus) and Tectonic (2562, Martyn, DJ Pinch, Benga) both of whom continue to blur the boundaries between Grime, Dub, West Coast Hip Hop and Detroit Techno. With the avid support of tastemakers like BBC Radio 1’s Mary Anne Hobbs and Low End Theory’s Daddy Kev (Alpha Pup Records) UK Dubstep and West Coast Glitch Hop / Hip Hop have both become quintessential styles on the electronic music frontline in the US. From Burning Man to this year’s Movement festival in Detroit, Dubstep and Glitch Hop have fully emerged in 2009 as a staple sound in North America.
Another emerging trend has been the Deep House and Tech House revival, which has been experiencing a resurgence the past few years as club-goers have tired of the heady, sterility of Minimal Techno and the frenetic, over the top sound of Electro House. Artists like Gui Boratto, Voodeux, Pezzner, Milton Jackson, Stimming, Mode D, Catz n Dogz, DJ T and Dixon have all helped in keeping underground dance music both sexy and musical.
Overall 2009 has been a phenomenal year for technologically driven music, proving that creativity is truly catching up with the tools used for musical expression in the digital age.
Here are my Top 15 albums of the year:
1. Animal Collective “Merriweather Post Pavilion” Domino Records
2. Various “Warp 20” (Box Set) Warp Records
3. Moderat (aka Apparat & Modeselektor) “Moderat” Bpitch Control Records
4. Fever Ray “Fever Ray” Rabid Records
5. Phil Kieran “Shh” Cocoon Recordings
6. Nosaj Thing “Drift” Alpha Pup Records
7. Jon Hopkins “Insides” Domino Records
8. Various “5 : Five Years of Hyperdub” Hyperdub Records
9. Lusine “A Certain Distance” Ghostly International
10. Grizzly Bear “Veckatimest” Warp Records
11. Gui Boratto “Take My Breath Away” Kompakt Records
12. 2562 “Unbalance” Tectonic Records
13. Modeselektor “Body Language Vol. 8” Get Physical Music
14. Tim Hecker “An Imaginary Country” Kranky Records
15. Voodeux “The Paranormal” Mothership Records