Remarkable Electronic 2021
From the modular manipulators to the breakbeat scientists, these are the artists who truly pushed the sound of music forward this year.
James Blake (Photo: Friends That Break Your Heart artwork)
Electronic music can be relied on for its relentless innovation, reliably attracting producers outside the status quo. There are as many opinions on what "electronic" is as there are sub-genres, making unquestionably interesting musical conversation. So just what is electronic music in 2021?
This year Irish duo BICEP dropped a stunner LP 'Isles', harking back to the halcyon days of early UK rave. It will likely end up the biggest electronic release of the year and reflects a broader nostalgia happening around sounds of the early 90s at the moment. UK producer Ross From Friends also subtly referenced the era on his brilliant 'Tread' release.
James Blake, who's emboldened a new wave of electronic artists as both producer and vocalist, released 'Friends Who Break Your Heart'. Others like Tirzah, Arca, Chet Faker and EDM poster boys Porter Robinson and San Holo also dropped cutting edge records based on a more traditional pop structure.
Fred Again, Logic1000, Joy Orbison and Maya Jane Coles all found unique pockets to work within a house music framework resulting in some of the most popular underground club tracks this year. At the same time, others like Machinedrum, Skee Mask and Paeleh unleashed breakbeat driven long players, pushing their junglistic influences in new directions.
Kevin Martin's first album as The Bug in 7 years, 'Fire', was a sound system crushing, post-apocalyptic dancehall assault not for the faint of heart. One final mention has to be Jimmy Edgar's 'Cheetah Bend', an underrated hyper-pop excursion toward hip-hop and R&B complete with guest vocals from Danny Brown, SOPHIE, Matt Ox and others.
Words by Jeff Black
Check out our playlist of remarkable electronic tracks from 2021 in Moodagent.
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