Ultimately words fail the great music we featured throughout 2014: dark, excessive, fun, bold, touching, innovative, game-changing… When forced to pick favourite albums, there are too many facets to judge, albums being more of a long-distance affair than a sprint. Therefore our picks are informed by longevity and cohesiveness as much as anything else, the LPs that never run out of breath.
10. Max Graef ‘Rivers Of The Red Planet’ [Tartelet Records]
Max Graef’s debut long player ‘Rivers of the Red Planet’ on Tartelet is a compelling odyssey of dusty lounge delights taking in hip-hop, soul, jazz, funk, psychedelia, a touch of good old fashioned 4/4 and lashings of tongue in cheek sample-delic humour. The album is delivered with such an assured confidence you’d forget Graef is barely in his twenties. Play this out on a sunny day for a guaranteed good time and a surefire smile.
9. Kangding Ray ‘Solens Arc’ [Raster-Noton]
Setting out his most effective bass lines and militaristic percussion, Kangding Ray strikes hard with his fourth LP on Raster Noton. ‘Solens Arc’ destroys everything in its wake, unleashing a mind-bending set of gritty techno. The relentless fathoms-deep ambience will not grant you any respite. Hold your breath.
8. Kassem Mosse ‘Workshop 19’ [Workshop]
Kassem Mosse’s cerebral and vibrant double plate of pure Workshop’esque material goes the distance. It pleases instantly while offering a more profound listen with each spin. The layers are malleable, flexing dimensions and shifting the sonic field with each turn. The echoes and trails left in this album’s wake are unlikely to fade.
7. Vril ‘Torus’ [Forum]
Vril’s album ‘Torus’ was a great surprise. Not because of its quality: we expected something intense from the Giegling-affiliated producer – but mostly because it’s always a difficult venture to switch from the 12″ format to the full-length, especially for such overtly club-bound soudns. The result is simply astounding: Giegling’s offshoot Forum got it right, their follow-up to Prince of Denmark’s LP ‘The Body’ is just as good, if not better.
6. Theo Parrish ‘American Intelligence’ [Sound Signature]
With his new album ‘American Intelligence’, Theo Parrish multiplies tracks and superimposes sonic layers with the very mastery that made him the legend he is today. Still, the man impresses here with an extra dose of experimental boldness in pure Detroit style, welding elements with pure groove science, sculpting his cuts from Motor City’s musical history yet looking the future dead in the eye. Pure class.
5. Answer Code Request ‘Code’ [Ostgut Ton]
Answer Code Request’s debut long player ‘Code’ is most certainly one of the strongest debuts to have merged on Ostgut Ton in the past few years. The pressurized atmospheres alternate between Drexciyan electro and ACR’s sound design, building to a dense climax. A brilliant example of danceable yet thought-provoking techno.
4. HTRK ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’ [Ghostly International]
There’s something about HTRK’s tracks’ narratives and languid riffs that make it stand starkly apart from the electro-rock crowd. A subtle sound-signature led by Jonnine Standish’s incomparable voice takes you on a grim journey with a whisper. Psychic 9-5 Club is rugged and smooth, delicately unveiling its timeless architecture. The kind of album we’ll still be listening to in 20 years.
3. Andy Stott ‘Faith In Strangers’ [Modern Love]
As steely grey as its monochrome cover yet complimented with a lighter touch from Skidmore – “Faith in Strangers” is a bold and hugely satisfying move from one of the UK’s producers who never stops pushing boundariers. ‘Faith in Strangers’ is also our best track of the year.
2. Lee Gamble ‘Koch’ [PAN]
Messing with techno and musique concrète’s DNA, Gamble built a superb collection of left-field and forward-thinking tunes amongst which the astonishing ‘Motor System’ reigns supreme. Perhaps Gamble’s most accessible album to date and one of 2014’s absolute essentials.
1. Efdemin ‘Decay’ [Dial]
Efdemin’s ‘Decay’ makes it to first place in our top albums of 2014. Not only has it been one of the most consistent bodies of work released this year, but also played the role of inspirational source for one of the strongest remix 12″s put out this year, featuring star turns from both Asusu and Traumprinz.
Andy StottAnswer Code RequestEfdeminHTRKKangding RayKassem MosseLee GambleMax GraefTheo ParrishVrilDialForumGhostly InternationalModern LoveOstgut TonPANraster-notonSound SignatureTartelet RecordsWorkshopDowntempoElectronicExperimentalHouseTechno