Best Electronic Music of 2011, in Six Tiny Slices
This week looks barren for recommendable outings, so instead I'll survey what I think are some of the most essential electronic-music recordings of 2011. You're welcome.
BRUNO PRONSATO, Lovers Do (thesongsays; www.thesongsays.com): Ex-Seattle producer Pronsato (Steven Ford) offers one of the sexiest techno albums of the last decade. Sheer sonic tumescence and lubricity in luxuriant, romantically lit 4/4 time.
PLANETARY ASSAULT SYSTEMS, The Messenger (Ostgut Ton; www.berghain.de): Luke Slater has been making high-quality, high-impact techno under the Planetary Assault Systems name since 1993. He should be fading by now, but instead the 12 tracks on The Messenger hurtle into some deep interstellar excitement and intrigue. The album is a bleepy, pulse-pounding head rush, its wonky array of textures and whooshing, metronomic rhythms triggering feelings of indestructibility. Who doesn't like those?
RUSTIE, Glass Swords (Warp; www.warp.net): If nothing succeeds like excess, then Glass Swords is the most successful electronic full-length of the year—maybe of the millennium. As richly layered and lavishly textured as the most indulgent '70s prog rock, Rustie's music takes post-dubstep into realms of unparalleled dynamic complexity and melodic sweetness. Glass Swords' blindingly shiny and absurdly garish production and arrangements are all too much. You're going to love to hate it, or hate to love it.
ANDY STOTT, Passed Me By/We Stay Together (Modern Love; www.modern-love.co.uk): These LPs (now collected on two CDs) coalesce into some of the most tar-black, paranoiac, dub techno of the last decade. Club DJs who play anything from this deserve medals for bravery; most folks would surely scatter when Stott's godforsaken anti-anthems drop. But I can't get enough of this dark-side masterpiece.
THUNDERCAT, The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder; www.brainfeedersite.com): This is what happens when a virtuoso session bassist (Steve Bruner) gets inspired by Flying Lotus's cosmic-jazztronica convolutions. Issued by FlyLo's Brainfeeder label, The Golden Age of Apocalypse is a fantasia of soaring, complex melodies, soulful falsettos, sinuous, Jaco Pastorius–like bass lines, and frilly arrangements that would impress Return to Forever.
TOMMY FOUR SEVEN, Primate (CLR; www.clr.net): Primate sounds like nothing else in techno. Berlin-based British producer Tommy Four Seven created this album entirely from field recordings, an anomaly in electronic music's computer-dependent milieu. The resultant tracks evoke infernal atmospheres striated with raw textures of mysterious origin. Tommy's beats brutalize pitilessly, and, as I mentioned in an earlier column, "this handmade hunter-and-gatherer-style record should be scoring Gaspar Noé's next film, if he knows what's good for him."