Electronic music spawned way more amazing releases this year than any newspaper could properly cover. Here be a mere handful of records that fired Data Breaker's imagination. Most of 'em are fookin' dark, reflecting the bleak times in which we're dying.
Airhead, "Pyramid Lake" (R&S). The strangest cut off London producer Airhead's For Years album, "Pyramid Lake" couples James Blake–esque crooning with the stark, cubist funk of Japanese IDM maverick Bisk. Airhead—aka Rob McAndrews, who also plays guitar for Blake—runs his rhythms and textures through sonic fun-house mirrors, making a mockery of any attempts to dance to it... or discern logical sense to it.
The Haxan Cloak, Excavation (Tri Angle). Play this for your hardcore-goth-loving friends and watch the color drain from their faces (oh, wait...). This London-based badass's hauntological dub seethes and writhes with a chthonic beauty. Ain't no smiling faces nowhere.
Huerco S., Colonial Patterns (Software). Huerco S. is one of the few American producers who sound like they could record for the paradigmatic German dub-techno label Chain Reaction. He actually adds new textural wrinkles to the CR template and conjures a harsh, alienating, yet beautiful strain of experimental electronic music that'll repel all the dudebros in earshot.
Jon McMillion, "Painting Computer Pie" (Nuearth Kitchen). This track from Seattle producer McMillion's Neon EP is not your older brother's house music, but rather a paranoia-inducing, hallucinatory journey to the far side of surreality.
Misty Conditions, D'Zzzz (Planet Mu). One of those rare WTF?! albums: This is trap music on the strongest LSD. Here's hoping these dankly beautiful mutations become the future of popular music.
The Stranger, Watching Dead Empires in Decay (Modern Love). James Leyland Kirby leaves behind the ambient doldrums of his Caretaker project for a more techno- oriented effort. But these tracks aren't pump-fisting anthems; rather, they're the kind of anomic, postindustrial music you'd hear on Eraserhead's soundtrack, if it were set in 21st-century clubland.
Voigt & Voigt, Die Zauberhafte Welt Der Anderen (Kompakt). German Brüder Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt join forces to create an instant minimal-techno classic. It's a perfect combo of cerebral and physical, stoic moods swirling amid whimsical and strange textures.
Anton Zap, Water (Apollo). Russian knob-twiddler produces an aquatic techno-dub masterpiece on his debut full-length. Imagine a new age Porter Ricks—or if Laraaji recorded for Chain Reaction—but surprisingly funky in places. Water gives you chills for days.
Also essential: Ron Morelli, Spit (Hospital Productions), NHK'Koyxen, Dance Classics Vol. III (Pan), Panabrite, Xenon District (VCO), Food Pyramid, Ecstasy & Refreshment (Intercoastal Artists), Kiln, meadow:watt (Ghostly International), Holden, The Inheritors (Border Community), all three of Demdike Stare's Testpressing 12-inches (Modern Love).