~An article by The Silent Ballet Staff


15) Rumpistol | Dynamo
Denmark

Rump

Dynamo is the sound of a living, breathing electronic metropolis. Minimal in tone, but with enough interesting sounds to merit continual listens, the album breaks the mold for minimal techno by burning through creeping, distant synths and burying them with round, filtered beats. Rumpistol concocts a dizzying mix of melody and experimentation, seemingly merging the different European schools of thought -- only fitting for a Danish musician. Once this one enters rotation, it's difficult to find time for anything else. (Jack Britton)

14) Fuck Buttons | Street Horrrsing
England

ATP

What do we even call this? Too busy to be ambient, yet too downtempo to be anything else, Fuck Buttons' dark mix of samples and repeating parts creates a sonic landscape that I can only call disharmonic. Neither harsh nor immediately accessible in its melodies, Street Horrrsing is a staticky, screamy, fuzzy, pulsing thing. The flow from one track into the next is seamless, like the flow of one river into another, or city streets into highways, and the record is like a late-night drive on barren roads, encouraging reflection, even as it urges us forward while our surroundings fly by. (Lee Stablein)

13) Fennesz | Black Sea
Austria

Touch

He waited until the end of the year, but at long last Christian Fennesz returned to whip the asses of virtually every MacBook-wielding musician with his long awaited fourth solo album. Fennesz didn't exactly drop off the radar in the interim with collaborations and one-off singles, all of which seem to inform Black Sea. From industrial churning drone to achingly pure guitar notes, this was a tour de force of emotive and shimmering sounds, of delicate beauty amidst dark and complex ambience. Creating an album this good can’t be easy, but Fennesz makes it sound effortless. (Jeremy Bye)

12) Clark | Turning Dragon
England

Warp

With every album he has made, Chris Clark has progressed, building on the foundations of each release to create something even better than before. With 2006’s Body Riddle widely regarded as his best album to date, Turning Dragon needed to find some way to surpass it, but with Clark’s usual production flair mixed with vast electronic experimentation, progress was never in doubt. From the glitching electronica of “Volcan Veins” and “Truncation Horn” to the final arpeggiated stabs of “Penultimate Persian,” it is Clark’s ability to marry a plethora of sounds and rhythms that should leave any musical enthusiast in awe. (James Ould)

11) The Black Dog | Radio Scarecrow
England

Soma

The Black Dog have never been less than interesting, but it is clear that Ken Downie works best with a couple of talented collaborators. The second album from this revitalized line-up, Radio Scarecrow takes the old signature sounds of TBD and adds the edginess of 90's Detroit techno. It’s a bold, muscular work that moves seamlessly from taut beats and bass lines through characteristically mysterious samples to Satie-esque piano. In other hands this might be a bog-standard electronica album, but the trio are clearly inspired and on top of their game here, with the best Black Dog album since Spanners. (Jeremy Bye)

10 ) Mountains in the Sky | Electron Suite

Australia

Trifekta

Mountains In The Sky’s Electron Suite, the follow up to groove-ridden mini-album Celestial Son and the beautifully whacked out 5-part single Accipio, brings a whole new world of sounds to the already well populated range of tools at the disposal of musician John Lee. The huge archive of sampled and instrumental sources used on the album create a grand, vast, almost dauntingly heavy texture, yet a potent sense of melody and a keen ear for contrast and shade in his song constructions sees Lee produce a work that is arguably his warmest and most accomplished. (Marcus Whale)

9 ) Max Tundra | Parallax Error Beheads You

England

Domino

Ben Jacobs can be called a lot of things, but boring and predictable are probably not going to be two of them. He's had a successful career as Max Tundra, and his latest effort, Parallax Error Beheads You, is another shining star. Part bubble gum pop and part spastic electronica, Parallax Error is quite unlike anything else this year and quickly polarizes listeners. Not everyone will be enthralled by the chaotic quality of the album, but those who do will undoubtedly agree this is one of the year's top albums. Changing the face of a genre is never an easy task, but Jacobs looks up for the job. (Jordan Volz)

8) Autistici | Volume Objects
England

12k

Autistici has crafted an exceptional work of abstract expressionism on his full-length debut, combining a variety of organic sources electronically to create a powerful work in an unassuming package. Autistici manipulates all of the space at his disposal, leaving most of it empty while bringing in elements from every available direction; seemingly all experimental releases are “headphone albums,” but listening to Autistici’s work without such an enhancement should be a crime. Not a release for the faint of heart (or the easily distracted), Volume Objects is a record that demands multiple close listens, but always rewards such diligence. (Zach Mills)

7 ) Booka Shade | The Sun and the Neon Light

Germany

Get Physical

While following up 2006’s stunning Movements may have been an extremely difficult task, there is no doubting that The Sun and the Neon Light was one of the top electro records of year. The quality lies within the variation that takes place across the fourteen tracks; from the banjos on “Dusty Boots,” the ambient drone of “You Don't Know What You Mean To Me,” the vocal electro of “Control,” to the more familiar minimal sound of “Karma Car,” The Sun and the Neon Light highlights an expansion of sound that simply reaffirms this Berlin duo’s illustrious reputation. (James Ould)

6) Anders Ilar | Sworn
Sweden

Level

At a time when music, like everything else, is getting increasingly louder, one has to wonder what inspires a guy like Anders Ilar to make a minimal techno album so full of intelligence and stripped of anything redundant. At times reminiscent of Plastikman’s early work and Pantha du Prince’s excellent This Bliss, Sworn appeals to both hemispheres of the brain. It's easy to admire the artistic perfection of every piece and permanently lose oneself in the album’s hypnotic rhythms, so powerful is its force of persuasion. (John Kontos)

5) Evan Marc + Steve Hillage | Dreamtime Submersible
United States

Somnia

Evan Marc and Steve Hillage combine forces to bring us the year's best electronic offerings, one which could be labeled 'cinematic techno'. Dreamtime Submersible literally drums the world of anxiety and worry right out of one's head, leaving a shell completely at the mercy of rhythm. This is an album dedicated to movement – on the micro level it is dance music, and on the macro level it takes a much more laid-back, ambient approach. Highly recommended to get the blood moving swiftly while soothing the ear, Marc + Hillage prove to be in a league of their own. (Gabriel Bogart)

4) Kira Kira | Our Map to the Monster Olympics
Iceland

Smekkleysa

They share similar vocal intonations, heritage, and a love of experimentation, but Kira Kira is no Björk. While Björk is an obvious extrovert, unafraid of Olympic crowds and press confrontations, Kira Kira (whose real name, ironically, is Kristín Björk Krisjánsdóttir) prefers the introversion of laptops, sampling, and home studios. Patient and exacting, she combines tiny flutters and clacks of sound with horns and strings on this, her second album. “Crispy and wispy” is how she describes her music, but don’t be fooled; underneath the tender tones lies some powerful programming. (Richard Allen)

3) Bersarin Quartett | Bersarin Quartett
Germany

Lidar

This self-titled debut from the enigmatic Bersarin Quartett is one of such intricacy that it seems almost unfair to attempt to sum it up in words. Every single instrument, sample, and texture acts in perfectly calculated counterpoint to another, to the extent that the richest moments of the album are almost overwhelming in their understated grandeur. Seemingly arrhythmic figures mesh seamlessly with both percussive and non-percussive beats without once becoming too complex or jarring as to detract from the listening experience. This truly is an exceptional record. (Fred Bevan)

2) Beneva Vs. Clark Nova | Sombunall

Norway

Fenetre

After the ambient minimalism of Flotsam/Jetsam, did anyone expect Beneva Vs. Clark Nova to produce an electronica album of such variation and depth? Sombunall is one of those albums that leaves a lasting impression on the listener; it bores deep within the emotional core and doesn’t let go, so deep are the melodies that exude from each track. From the first second to last, there is a unique sound around every corner, but also a cohesion to Sombunall that ties everything together perfectly. (James Ould)

1) Lindstrøm | Where You Go, I Go Too
Norway

Feedelity

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm’s debut album saw him progress from making really long tracks to making really, really long tracks, but he manages to avoid the pitfall of the music becoming bloated and sluggish by allowing it to constantly evolve. Where You Go, I Go Too carries a sizable debt to the disco pioneers of the 70s, but the influences don’t overwhelm the scope of the music. Instead, Lindstrøm has picked up the baton laid down by Cerrone, Moroder, and the like to make an album of dizzying ambition wherein there is something for the heart, the soul, and feet. (Jeremy Bye)