Over the past 12 months, a lot has happened in the electronic music industry, for better or worse. The ramifications of the pandemic, the drudgery of social media addiction, and algorithm dependency have ripped up musical tastes far and wide, undeniably affecting the quality of releases and questioning the course of electronic music altogether.
However, we are here to highlight the positives. As long-standing experts in underground electronic music, we have indulged in an infinite number of quality releases throughout the year, and we would like to thank every producer, record label and publicist for sharing releases with us.
Alongside the global torment, 2023 has proved to be a milestone year for Inverted Audio, extending our offering as an online music magazine to become a physical record store in London, investing in the artists and labels we love, incubating a community of like-minded folk, hosting in-stores and attending record fairs.
As the annual tradition goes, we’ve shortlisted the albums that have helped influence and soundtrack our year, as well as concluding with a top 20 list of what we perceive to be the Best Albums of 2023.
Looking ahead into the New Year, Inverted Audio Store is hosting a record fair at Brixton Brewery Taproom on 21st January, an effervescent attempt to coerce collectors out of January Blues with stacks of records, cassettes and fine threads.
A Taut Line – Never Any Gain
Actress – LXXXVIII
Aho Ssan – Rhizomes
Aisha Devi – Death Is Home
Akasha System – Phytopia
Ali Sethi & Nicolas Jaar – Intiha
Andrea – Due In Color
Anthony Naples – Orbs
AshTreJinkins – It’s Trash Now
Bas Dobbelaer – Binding Elements
Beta Librae – DAYSTAR
Bridle – Open Stride Technology
c o m t e – Petra’s Stone
Call Super – Eulo Cramps
Celia Hollander – 2nd Draft
Christoph de Babalon – Vale
Cport Cistema – Say It
Cru Servers – EEL
Dario Zenker – Reflection
Deadbeat – Kubler-Ross Soliloquies
Denqq – We Could Be Dead Soon
DJ Panthr – Jade District
DJ Trystero – Castillo
Doc Sleep – Birds (in my mind anyway)
Dorisburg & Sebastian Mullaert – That Who Remembers
E-UNITY – BBB<3
Earth Trax – Closer Now [Lapsus]
Erwan Sene – JUnQ
Even Drones – Ethics
Evian Christ – Revanchist
Ex Wiish – Shards of Axel
exael – Vanishing Act
Flaty – Intuitive Word
Flora Yin-Wong – Cold Reading
Florian T M Zeisig – You Look So Serious (I + II)
FOANS – Selected Classics
Friday Dunard – Rhenus Aeternus
Green-House – A Host for All Kinds of Life
Hiroyuki Onogawa – August in the Water: Music for Film 1995-2005
Honour – Àlàáfía
Hyperdawn – Steady
James Holden – Imagine This Is A High Dimensional Space Of All Possibilities
Javano – Metropolis
Joanne Robertson – Blue Car
Joe Babylon – Solitude
Juergen Vonbank – The Blue Soul
K-LONE – Swells
Kassem Mosse – Workshop 32
Kate Carr – Fever Dreams
Kelela – Raven
Khotin – Release Spirit
KMRU – Stupor
Laurel Halo – Atlas
Lee Gamble – Models
Levon Vincent – Silent Cities II
Lionmilk and Club Diego – In Float
Loraine James – Gentle Confrontation
Lord Of The Isles & Ellen Renton – My Noise is Nothing
Loscil // Lawrence English – Colours Of Air
Lucy Railton – Corner Dancer
Luke Vibert – Machine Funk
Lukid – Tilt
Lusine – Long Light
M. Sage – Paradise Crick
Marina Herlop – Nekkuja
Martinou – Chiral
Memmo Comma – Loverboy
Metro Riders – Lost In Reality
MGUN – From Time To Time
MinaeMinae – Räumlichkeit
Minor Science – Absent Friends Vol. III
Miradasvacas – Of No Fixed Abode
MM/KM – Ich sehe Vasen
Moritz von Oswald – Silencio
MPU101 – MPU103
Nathan Fake – Crystal Vision
Natural Wonder Beauty Concept – Natural Wonder Beauty Concept
Nondi – Flood City Trax
Nurah – CTRL
Oceanic – Choral Feeling
Oneohtrix Point Never – Again
Oscean – Chronium Radiance
Packed Rich – Warp Fields
Panta Rex – V
Pauline Anna Strom – Echoes, Spaces, Lines
Pavel Milyakov – Project Mirrors
Pleasure Model – Multiplicative Gain
Precipitation – Your Future
Pretty Sneaky – Koldd
RAMZi – Feu Follets
Rivet – L+P-2
Rod Modell – Ghost Lights
Rupert Marnie – Evocative Rhythm Experience
Sa Pa – Atmospheric Fragments
Sagat – Silver Lining
Scotch Rolex & Shackleton – Death By Tickling
Serwed – IV
SG – For Lovers Only / Rain Suite
Shapednoise – Absurd Matter
Shine Grooves – Watching The Breeze
Space Afrika & Rainy Miller – A Grisaille Wedding
Strategy – The Wet Room
Surgeon – Crash Recoil
Tim Hecker – No Highs
Toki Fuko – Spirit Medicine
Toumba – Janoob
Transparent Sound – Accidents 1994-2023
Tzusing – Green Hat
upsammy – Germ In A Population Of Buildings
Vril – Animist
Wayne Phoenix – Soaring Wayne Phoenix Story The Earth And Sky
Wrecked Lightship – Oceans and Seas
Yosuke Tokunaga – 8 Quadrants
YS – Brutal Flowers
Yves Tumor – Praise A Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
20. Orchid Dealer
Soft Reactions In The Sun
‘Soft Reactions In The Sun’ is the debut full length from Miami via North Carolina-based visual artist and sound designer Orchid Dealer released via enmossed. Consisting of 7-tracks, this is a humid LP of tape-drenched synth and field recordings, fusing elements of expressionism and the lush vegetation that encircles Orchid Dealer’s home in South Florida, creating fever dream-like zones sprinkled with moments from their everyday life.
19. Freund der Familie
Rising Sun Interpretations
Freund der Familie
Rising Sun marked his return to Berlin-based record label Freund der Familie in February by releasing a double LP packing reinterpretations of tracks originally produced by label co-founders Klaus Rakete and Mirko Hunger. Resulting in a steadfast album of emotive swathes of dub techno, deep house and ambient styled downtempo electronics.
18. Black Light Smoke
Scissor & Thread
12 years after an inaugural release on Scissor & Thread, Black Light Smoke returned to the Brooklyn-based imprint with his second album ‘Ghosts‘. A woozy deep house double LP consisting of chugging grooves, analogue synth melodies and sultry vocals that will appeal to the deepest of house heads.
17. Paul St. Hilaire
In March, Paul St. Hilaire signed to Richard Akingbehin’s on-point Berlin-based Kynant Records to release ‘Tikiman Vol.1‘. Consisting of 9 tracks, this double LP is a smoke-filled downtempo delight of quintessential dub from the famed vocalist behind Rhythm & Sound, Burial Mix and Main Street Records.
Released: 31 March 2023
Record Label: Kynant Records
Best Track: Bedroom In My Bag
Buy Album on Inverted Audio Store
16. Joe Davies
Shields In Full Sunlight
As the name goes, ‘Shields In Full Sunlight’ is the sound of redemption for Winter-struck sore ears. A compilation of soulful, delightfully dainty loops of sloppy summer wrapped on a disc, the Berlin-based artist Joe Davies bubbles to the surface with his deeply sublime debut album on Smallville Records. A lasting adventure of long, tranquil moments, liquid-lush rhythm and kaleidoscopic daydreams of Spring. Simple, soft percussions, flirty tones and timbres front a cosy little immersive experience – totally unmissable.
o.utlier’s output fits neatly within the realm of contemporary techno: trippy, occasionally icy rhythms paired with head nodding beats that expand and contrast over the course of six to ten minutes. On ‘Alaya’ the UK-based producer embraces a diverse sonic arsenal to craft a record that’s expanded and enriched the further you listen, dabbling in dub techno and pursue straight-ahead house on others. A combination of relaxing sounds and uptempo, even club friendly, tones should be inviting to a number of listeners.
14. Glenn Astro
Nothing Is Real
Tartelet Records mainstay Glenn Astro released ‘Nothing Is Real‘ in May, a psychotropic universe riding out listeners for a 13-track long haul of buoyant club jams, spacey, washed-out dub cuts and crisp broken beats. Consider it a time machine made for deep indulgence in versatile settings, provoking sentiments for days gone by, yet, blissfully present and revelling of a future to come.
13. Freak Heat Waves
For over a decade, Freak Heat Waves have been steadily amassing a cult following and earning acclaim from both critics and underground aficionados alike. Their music is a heady cocktail that defies easy categorisation, blending elements of post-punk, psych, dub, ambient, house, and techno. Their latest album ‘Mondo Tempo’ on Mood Hut features midi smoothness, trance mantras, dancehall grooves, ambient textures and vocal samples, creating a world that is both captivating and immersive.
Waves Of Change
In September, Dutch producer Samuel Van Dijk released his fifth studio album as VC-118A on Delsin presenting a 10-track masterclass of glitched out electronics and downtempo experimental dub techno. Mastered by Neel, ‘Waves of Change‘ explores textural abstract electronics, flittering between subdued breaks and hazy atmospheric techno. One for the 4am crew.
11. Magna Pia
In March, Berlin-based producer Hüseyin Evirgen released his second solo album as Magna Pia on Ed Davenport’s record label Counterchange, serving up his most complete and advanced body of music to date. Interweaving a dense narrative of drone, figurative synthesis, bass-heavy electronica and abstract techno, resulting in an album of meticulous dimensions.
Released: 31 March 2023
Record Label: Counterchange
Best Track: Venus M
Chicago-based electronic trio Purelink released their second album ‘Signs‘ in September on Californian imprint Peak Oil. Distilled from extended compositions prepared and performed across 2022 in Chicago, Kansas City, New York, and Los Angeles, ‘Signs‘ captures sedative chemistry at its most liquid and immaterial, mapped in mutating systems of glitch, glass, rhythm and space.
Moons Melt Like Milk
Following two albums on Friends Of Friends, this year Brian Allen Simon aka Anenon delivered his greatest output to date. Veering in a new direction like the tongue twister title, and seeking new courtship, on London via Berlin-based record label Tonal Union. ‘Moons Melt Milk Light‘ is a beautifully submersive and contemporary expression, a perfect harmony of smokey saxophone, clarinet and piano.
Boiling Wells (Demos ’19-’22)
Six of Swords
Thanks to the efforts of Dave Howell and Marcus Thorne through their Six of Swords imprint, Bristol-based production trio Jabu gained a limited edition vinyl pressing of their haunting mixtape ‘Boiling Wells (Demos ‘19-’22)’, a tapestry of raw emotion, effervescent atmospheres, ethereal strings, dreamscape dub and breaks. This album / mixtape simmers with originality, leaving a long-lasting and spellbinding impression.
7. mu tate
they’re with you always
3XL x Utter
Released in September through 3XL and Utter, mu tate’s second album has caused profound waves of emotion in the ambient and experimental domains, indebted to extraneous soundscapes, atmospheres, vocals and deep bass. There’s a lot to love about ‘they’re with you always‘, especially the collaborations with producers and vocalists including Nikolay Kozlov, Space Afrika, Desirée Monique and Igor Dyachenko & Mathilde. The album artwork is reminiscent of a fairy-tale book cover you’d expect from Ladybird, but is much darker, complimenting the psychotropic nature of the music contained within.
6. Fred Mann
In Thy Domain
A goldmine cinematic production, Fred Mann’s ‘In Thy Domain‘ is a concept album on Counterchange that transverses multiple genres – from ambient, broken-beat techno and experimental drone, with stark audible synergy, exposing the tipping points of human civilisation and the defining timelines that have shaped it. A glance through the double-fold album sleeve, accompanied by a single listen, reflects Fred’s in-depth research and elaborate thought processes, inducing a vivid, telepathic voyage along the artist’s vision. The result is a poignant album shimmering with celestial sentiment and underlying melancholia.
Very Dark Past
Released in January, Special Guest DJ and Pontiac Streator teamed up on 3XL for their first collaborative album as Crimeboys – a new production alias from the American producers. Further extending their mutual penchant for post-club sonics, ‘Very Dark Past‘ blends immersive rhythmic manipulations, trip-hop, downtempo and hazy refracted jungle breaks, resulting in 8 tracks of blissful late night mind excursions.
Released: 12 January 2023
Record Label: 3XL
Best Track: Haunted Tattoo
4. Florian Kupfer
Berlin-based producer Florian Kupfer marked his return this year with a limited edition cassette album on Ediciones Capablanca. ‘Lifetrax II’ is an ambitious work of crude, outlying dancefloor exhilaration and resonant, enigmatic experimentation. Low-slung, upfront, relentless distillations of EBM and techno, as well as uniquely rendered incursions of electro and industrial music, sit side by side with delirious vignettes of defective drone and noise.
Meant Like This
The Trilogy Tapes
The Trilogy Tapes marked their 100th release this year with a black and gold-lined double LP titled ‘Meant Like This‘, repping some of the finest extra-terrestrial rave oddities courtesy of the elusive Tapes & Lukid, better known as Rezzett. ‘Meant Like This‘ is a notoriously infectious blend of ruptured breakbeat hardcore and jungle experiments amidst celestially sleuth synths that induces an evocative mind-altering trip.
Released in July, Manchester-based imprint sferic issued ‘Parfum’ by Polish musician Mateusz Olszewski aka Zaumne. Spanning 9 introspective works, ‘Parfum’ is a testament to Zaumne’s musical prowess, transporting listeners into a realm of meditative soundscapes, where dub-delayed ASMR balms, wood-block chimes, and the poetry of Baudelaire intertwine to create a unique and captivating experience. Replete with vaporised dub-pop, dreamlike ambient sounds, and cameos from YL Hooi, Metoronori, plus the muted sax of Patrick Shiroishi, ‘Parfum’ is a remarkable ambient album that will leave a potent impression.
1. Jacob Dwyer & Sam Purcell
Suitcase In The Water
Critically devised, oddball satisfier ‘Suitcase In The Water‘ tickles a strange sense of comfort. Plunge head-first with headphones, and the brain stirs with great detail, a Hitchcock-like murder/ mystery grotesque, core melancholia, terrifying as it goes, a delirious calm waiting at the end like an unexpected aftertaste on the tongue, and rotting, ribbon-tied at the bottom, fragile human fate.
For the peculiarly attractive London-based record label Blank Mind, Jacob Dwyer and Sam Purcell join forces to weave together a long-haul Covid hangover, a densely emotive album featuring epiphanic narratives in spoken word style, a passionate emphasis on greying grief clothed gently with the underscores of UK Rave, making it a delectable work of art.
Pick up the record and a plain white sleeve greets you with stickers placed on it as if without serious intent, one of a murky motorway (The Gravelly Hill Interchange), a Samsonite logo in blue, a human head in orange, and two more. Its rather bleak appearance, the purposeful lack of a dramatic cover, holds intriguing titles ‘Helmet In The Water‘, ‘Stick On Ice‘, ‘Old Guitarist‘, ‘6 AM Sunday 24th January‘, like loose timestamps recorded on a whim. The simplistic detail adds sincere allure to the descriptive text in an ambiguous fashion, suggesting imaginative possibilities.
Unwinding onto its sinister territories, there you have a black-dyed lagoon holding dearly, a helmet with cartoon flames, and an expensive suitcase with puncture holes floating to the surface, a low whimpering of a wounded dog over bird songs at dawn and a mother brings calm to a brain lest-forgotten.
With terror-tinged words that flip the skin, ‘Suitcase In The Water‘ flaunts unusually fragmented anecdotes painted with sensitive synths, dark ambient field recordings, and large rolls of rave-focused drums layered atop provocatively soothing basslines; not one track is a miss. A parting disclaimer for your pleasure: soak it as a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any reality, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Released: 2 October 2023
Record Label: Blank Mind
Best Track: Suitcase In The Water
Buy Album on Inverted Audio Store