Electronic music doesn’t enjoy a great deal of playtime in audiophile circles. Why? Maybe it’s snobbery? Maybe it’s a lack of exposure. Maybe it’s preconceptions of mindlessness? That so-called mindlessness is a feature, not a bug. Fresh converts might be made if only the properly curious were pointed in the direction of what’s good — examples of IDM/techno/ambient/electronica that are simultaneously intellectual, arty and enjoyable.
I feature large helpings of electronic music in my hardware reviews and I pen the ‘Electronica for Audiophiles’ annual:
Part 7 featured some fairly robust material. Time to take it down a notch or two.
At the end of 2017, I named Desolate’s Lunar Glyphs as audiophile album of the year. Not just because it sounds great or because it rewards repeated listens but because of its non-confrontational nature; Ancient Methods it is not. That we can choose to go deep into Lunar Glyphs dense layering and cut up vocal samples or choose to zone out to its overall gestalt as a warm blanket rendered as music is pivotal to the album’s appeal.
As many readers have asked via email: what’s next?
Rendered in Spotify and Tidal payers below are six electronic albums that shouldn’t see people rushing for the kitchen at your next audiophile meet or the door at your next audio show demo. In other words, these albums are interesting but also inoffensive. As sometime-offensive record store clerk Barry (Jack Black) exclaims in Stephen Frears’ film adaptation of High Fidelity, “I just want something I can ignore!”
The first three albums – The Irresistible Force, Fila Brazillia and Holy Other – mirror Lunar Glyph’s penchant for overlaying hip-hop/broken beats with samples and synths. The second three – Alva Noto, Tale of Us Recondite – dive deep into neo-classical territory and are largely beatless. One was even released on Deutsche Gramophone – take that, music snobs!
The Irresistible Force – Kira Kira (2017)
Fila Brazillia – Maim That Tune (1995)
Holy Other – Held (2012)
Alva Noto – Xerrox Vol. 3 (2015)
Tale of Us – Endless (2017)
Recondite – Daemmerlicht (2018)