~An article by The Silent Ballet Staff

30) Maps and Diagrams | Smeg

Cactus Island

Tim Martin, a.k.a. Maps and Diagrams, has been quietly releasing music over the past half decade, but Smeg, his sixth album, is certain to garner him some attention. Smeg combines the best of Martin's talents, focusing on glitch, ambient, and down tempo electronica, and resulting in a blissful mix of sounds that is just about as cohesive as it gets. Many glitch artists are content to relentlessly scramble the listener's brain until it starts oozing out as green goo, but Martin's approach yields a gentler, more purposeful sound. Ultimately, Smeg pulls together a lot of disparate techniques into something that is much larger than the sum of its parts, and Martin has rightfully earned our admiration with this project. (Lee Whitefield)

29) Vibert/Simmonds | Rodulate


Rodulate is the first collaboration between Jeremy Simmonds and Luke Vibert since 1993's Weirs. Fifteen years is a long time between projects, but Simmonds hasn't been the most active musician during this time, and Vibert hasn't had any trouble keeping himself busy with other friends. The catch is that most of this material is old, and we're talking 10-15 years old here, which in the electronic world might as well be cave man music. Surprisingly, this works out in the duo's favor, who have an authentically nostalgic peep into the past and time warp back with some knock out tracks. The album itself might not make the most sense, but the sci-fi/acid leanings make for some remarkably addicting music. (Lee Whitefield)

28) Hol Baumann | Human



Generally, I don't spend a lot of time listening to "chill out" music, as it might be one of the genres that was rightfully declared dead long ago. Ah, but Hol Baumann shatters all my preconceptions and has produced a chill out album that even the 'super elite' can agree is pretty nice. The album is won on the opening and closing tracks, which contain some great moments and highlight Baumann's delightful elixir of sounds. The remaining pieces see him dipping into ethnic and industrial roots, bringing in some surprising additions and varying the general formulas enough to keep stagnation at bay. Miraculously, all the pitfalls of the typical chill out release are sidestepped and we may just be witnessing a renaissance of sorts. (Jordan Volz)

27) Luomo | Convivial



As it is tradition for the mighty Sasu Ripatti to appear on The Silent Ballet end of the year list in at least one of his guises, 2008 saves a place for Luomo, his electro-house project of high repute. While vastly different from his more experimental and minimal projects, everything that epitomizes Ripatti’s work is still on show, especially the craft of melody and near perfect production. For those who like their beats hypnotic, vocals deep, production crisp, and melodies infectious, Convival is definitely the right choice. (James Ould)

26) Four Tet | Ringer



Kieran Hebden drops Ringer after a couple of years hanging out with Steve Reid, and he is now expanding his rhythms and melody further into a space-jazz galaxy. Hebden returns as Four Tet with a concise, direct rhythm approach. But re-entry always comes with change, as Four Tet now can be associated with a reverberating, shaman-worthy psychedelia; just check the hypnotic, wave-like synth drones and 4/4 kick on “Swimmer,” an introspective, yet instinctive mantra of rhythmic meditations that could wake Jim Morrison from the dead. Sometimes musicians really can do more with less; Hebden seems to have graduated to that next level he was searching for, because this is exponentially more listenable than Everything's Ecstatic.(Gabriel Bogart)

25) Errors | It's Not Something But it is Like Whatever

Rock Action

Post-rock and electronica hybrids have been around since Labradford’s experimentation on Mi Media Naranja, but it's never sounded like this before. Rather than focusing on experimental textures and glitch or ambient oriented soundscaping, Errors focuses on the uniqueness and surprise of beat oriented electro in a guitar based post-rock context. It may sound like a gimmick, but It’s Not Something, But it is Like Whatever may be the most interesting electronica/post-rock hybrid released since The Fall of Math. Watch these kids turn the instrumental world upside down, with a healthy dose of nerdy electronic simplicity. Beauty. (Jack Britton)

24) Geskia | Silent77


When first listening to Geskia’s Silent 77, the listener may feel a sense of schizophrenia and confusion, or perhaps a regression to childlike states that would frighten Boards of Canada’s youth. However, as the album is gradually accepted as a companion, we begin to witness rhythmic and melodic patterns underlining that initial ball of yarn. Silent 77 pulses with a love for Hip Hop akin to DJ Krush, but moves past it into a much more pastoral place. What might be most attractive about this release it how blatantly it flies in the face of genre conformity norms. (Gabriel Bogart)

23) He Can Jog | Middlemarch

United States


Just when the electronic scene was becoming a bit stagnant, overrun with minimal copyist or electro fodder, out of nowhere comes He Can Jog with his delightful Middlemarch. The ambient hum of “Agnes (After Woodland Pattern)” sits next to the Postal Service-esque pop of “Contractors and Architects” while everything in between, from IDM to minimal, is executed with great aplomb. While still rooted in IDM nostalgia, there is an organic quality lying deep within Middlemarch that makes it inherently accessible, real and, ultimately, enjoyable. (James Ould)

22) Fjordne | The Last Three Days of Time


This album demands serious emotional attachment to listening. It’s as if a nature film about the constants of birth and death were to be soundtracked without a narrator and Fjordne stepped in to deliver a perfect soundscape. At times slowing to a near comatose droning ambience, The Last Three Days of Time sooths the tumultuous and the turbulent. Yet there is a tension underneath the calm, the tension of expectancy and hope for variation in the inevitable cycles. Shunichiro Fujimoto’s latest is so simple and yet so versatile, letting the music express a multiplicity of feelings dependent upon the condition of the listener. (Gabriel Bogart)

21) no.9 | Usual Revolution and Nine

Liquid Note

Forget what you think you know about the Japanese electronic/post-rock hybrid scene. Everything World’s End Girlfriend, Motoro Faam, and Kashiwa Daisuke did last year was merely a warm up. In 2008, No. 9 has delivered what may be the definitive album for this trend. Usual Revolution and Nine differs from the aforementioned artists in that the random element those artists rely so heavily on is taken completely out of the picture, and, instead, this album is composed with a melodic skeleton that radiates No. 9’s brilliant sense of structure (as well as his insane compositional skills). This album is a joy to listen to, and as of now I consider it the pinnacle of its style. No. 9’s peers have a lot of catching up to do. (Jack Britton)

20) I Am Robot and Proud | Uphill City
United States


There’s been a severe lack of kitschy, happy, pop-obsessed electronica in the past few years. Well thanks to everyone’s favorite IDM synth-smith, Shaw-Han Liem is bringing back the friendly clicks and pops of yesteryear, and Uphill City shows his indie-influenced and melodic style in full force for one of the most aurally impressive albums of the year. None of modern electronica’s minimalist pretense or lofty, overbearing experimentation is present here. Just ten simple, catchy, and damn interesting cuts from one IDM’s brightest stars. (Jack Britton)

19) Philip Jeck | Sand


In the wake of coordinating an outstanding rendition of Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of The Titanic, experimental turntablist Philip Jeck offers up Sand, his fifth solo full length on Touch. Recorded live in 2006/7 and later edited, this latest offering covers, as usual, the many hidden corners of Jeck’s vinyl inventory and also manages to transform depreciated record players into very human instruments. Jeck breathes life into historical sound here, managing to encompass both the intrinsically industrial, mechanical sound of his materials, as well as achieving a very personal musical relationship with them. (Marcus Whale)

18) d_rradio | d_rradio


Death Row Radio’s latest effort is an album full of sunshine. Somewhere between IDM and dizzy listening, d_rradio has as much experimentation as wonderful melodic textures. The evolution of music, especially electronic music, never ceases to amaze me, and artists such as d_rradio often make me wonder if this is the pop of the future. The dreamy optimism of songs such as “Wish for More Wishes” and “Long way Home” promise a future of robotic naivety, which doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. (John Kontos)

17) Totakeke | ELekatota: The Other Side of the Tracks
United States


Organized noise: more than a hip-hop production collective, it's an idea that experimental musicians have been playing with since the coinage of the term “glitch.” Totakeke maybe the most refreshing act around that still toys with notions of rhythmic noise. Totakeke takes IDM structure and infuses it with ideas and sounds that recall Ryoji Ikeda, Fennesz, and Alva Noto, achieving, to great affect, a sense of rhythmic structure that screams of complete horror, and shows that he cannot belie the industrial aesthetic underneath his work. (Jack Britton)

16) Juxta Phona + Offthesky | !Escape Kit!
United States


As a rule, people who can’t stand electronic music tend to write it off as nothing more than a series of beeps and boops. And, at times, it is true that !escape kit! will give the impression that they might actually be right. But who’s to say that there’s a problem with that? It might just be beeps, but these beeps are fantastic. Electronica stalwarts certainly won’t be surprised, but for everyone else, this just might be the perfect album to show that beeps can have incredible depth, or even be – dare I say it? – jazzy! It’s probably fair to say that the album is, well, a bit abstract, but when abstraction is this delicious, it’s hard not to want to take a bite. (Tom Butcher)