TWO LONE SWORDSMEN, From the Double Gone Chapel (Warp; warprecords.com). Four years after the excellent Tiny Reminders, Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood return with an electro-rock shockah. Weatherall sings! Tenniswood plays guitar and bass! Human drummers drum! They raucously cover Gun Club's "Sex Beat"! WTF?! This album sounds more like the Fall's ragged garage-rockabilly than TLS's angular, warped IDM symphonies. But rather than mercenary trend-hopping, Chapel comes off as a skilled detour from veteran musicians who can adapt to many styles without losing their edge--to paraphrase LCD Soundsystem, who'd probably dig this album.
SIXTOO, Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures (Ninja Tune; ninjatune.net). Canadian producer Sixtoo built his rep making beats for underground-hiphop dynamos Sebutones, Buck 65, and sundry anticon artists. After issuing Antagonist Survival Kit last year for IDM label Vertical Form, Sixtoo shelved his wax and enlisted live musicians (see a pattern?), whose performances he then tweaked digitally. The result is a stunning, post-rock/cinematic-funk opus that overshadows, uh, Shadow's recent efforts. Can vocalist Damo Suzuki and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's cameos seal the deal.
o9, Church of the Ghetto P.C. /DIN-ST, Yamu D'din (Asphodel/Schematic; asphodel.com). With this double jujitsu punch, Miami's Schematic label continues to find fresh ways to unravel electro's DNA. o9 (Jesse Legg) extrapolates on Autechre's oblique rhythmic strategies and Bola's vibrantly bleak atmospheres to startling effect on Ghetto P.C. DIN-ST slingshots George Clinton/Mantronix-style funk into the scary future, abusing speakers with Abu Ghraib-like cruelty.
THEO PARRISH, Parallel Dimensions (Ubiquity; ubiquityrecords.com). How did I live so long without hearing Theo Parrish? Thankfully, Ubiquity Records has reissued this ltd.-ed. 2000 album for fools like me. Parallel Dimensions reveals the Detroit producer's awesome musical chops and utterly hypnotic layering of synths, vocals, brass, hand percussion, strings, and piano within elastic tech-house parameters. Parrish's advanced music could appeal to minimalist-composition fans as well as brainier clubbers.
ROBAG WRUHME, Wuzzelbud "KK" (Musik Krause). Robag Wruhme (Gabor Schablitzki) creates music that's as strange as his name and recording alias. His debut album infuses a loopy mischievousness into au courant strains of techno like glitch and schaffel. It's austere and at times rigid, but it never fails to rouse those dancing/smiling muscles.
AROVANE, Lilies (City Centre Offices; city-centre-offices.de). On his third album, Arovane (Uwe Zahn) continues to forge what I consider the classic '90s IDM sound: that twinkly/crunchy combo of gorgeously wafting synths with quasi-funky, tumbling beats. Autechre's Amber and Boards of Canada's Hi Scores set the template; Arovane puts his own pensively majestic, desolately beautiful spin on it.
OUTPUTMESSAGE, Oneiros (Echelon; echelonproductions.com). Bernard Farley's lushly melodic, complex techno earned him a spot on Ghostly's lauded Idol Tryouts comp and remixing duties for Dabrye's "Payback." Farley's debut EP, Oneiros, oozes dreamy melodies and engineers leg-baffling rhythms with surprising depth for a 21-year-old.