10 fine albums on eMusic in techno and house EDM
To accompany the label list and elevate music I often malign, here’s ten I find individually satisfying (not least for often being full-length albums for 99 cents). Fair warning, I’m not a fan of the driving oonce:
1. “Welcome to Entropy” - 444 (2017). This is my absolute favorite straight-up techno album from the last few months, with nothing much in the way of “instruments” so many people like to use to make “songs.” Might well be Russian. Definitely jarring and noisy, but darn if it doesn’t make me want to dance again. Maybe if Einsturzende Neubauten lost its vocals and went fully EDM, it’d sound like this? Bummer of a closing track, though I agree with its three-word message and probably sound like it to others in this forum.
2. “Arecibo” - Trippin Jaguar (2017). As notable for the label’s album art in general as the music itself, this is the slower-tempo pick I made from Amselcom. What’s yours? 99-er.
3. “Rexer Flash” - Psychotic Beats (2012). On the oddly named Log Lady label out of SF, these put more emphasis on the melodies and brief vocals than the beat, which is how I like it. 99-er.
4. “Bifid Cipher EP” - Rolf Ono (2018). Quiet techno on four long tracks skirts being just downtempo. Better for reading than for driving at night. Not without hints of melody or distinctive sounds. 99-er.
5. “Vorab and Tesoro” - Flash Flood Darlings (2016). They’re from Korea and a different style but aren’t far behind #1. The heavily treated vocals, mostly romantic and in English, are about the right balance with the music, IMO, which is hard to do in EDM. Song structures can lean closer to synth-pop at times, which is fine by me.
6. “The Snake” - Brogan Bentley (2014). Dark yet danceable house music with haunting vocals. I’d compare it to what’d it’d be like to extend Polygon Window’s (Aphex Twin) classic 1992 track “If It Really Is Me” to a darker, more orchestral and danceable full-length album. I’ve listened to this more than almost anything on eMusic. Passionate and highly recommended. Avoid his EP, despite the price.
7. “Unieqav” - Alva Noto (2018). Another one for purists who don’t want anything organic like vocals or recognizable instruments intruding. Alva Noto may be a poor man’s Byetone (I understand they’re related), but his label NOTON seems to be sticking around. Three 5-star reviews of this one swayed me, but I’m not sure I agree or if it’s the best of what’s still a fairly large selection. I did have higher hopes for the pairing with Ryuichi Sakamoto.
8. “Strikeout” - Hardfloor (1995). If you’re a techno fan, it’s still possible to round out your collection of robotic Germans from the era when this music actually felt futuristic. Harthouse, which along with Eye Q, Planet Earth, and other variations led by Sven Väth went out of business long ago, apparently withheld the excellent full-length “Home Run” but maintains a large selection old-school techno classics from the likes of Hardfloor that ruled the dancefloors of the 1990s, at least in my imagination. One full-length by Bondzio & Zenker also remains under their alias Dadamnphreaknoizephunk, 2009’s “The Cheerleaders Are Smilin' at You,” but I think it’s their weakest album.
9. “Heart Failure” - Mydwem (2015) barely fits, preferring to slice up and play with house music cliches rather than playing into them, but I really like it. I’m surprised nobody has commented on this one. This and #6 are my favorites on this list, and their similarities are readily apparent.
10. “Best of” - Phonique (2014). Why not end with a big name that also emphasizes the main draw of tech house on eMusic: an album that’s two hours and fifteen minutes long.
I would not stake whatever reputation I have on these making believers out of people who don’t like this kind of music. The rock list previously was better and more interesting overall, I think.
There should be no general electronica, downtempo, IDM, drum & bass/jungle, dub, dubstep, trance, and definitely ambient on this list.