Judging from the mainstream coverage that electronic dance music has received in the past year, you could be forgiven for thinking that there's nothing more to the genre than watered-down Daft Punk riffs, Nth-generation trance bombast and the 'roid-raging robot anthems of dubstep at its most Neanderthal. Fortunately, dear reader, you know better. Or at least, you will once you've listened to our roundup of the month's notable electronic long-players.
As always, our definition of "electronic music" is nothing if not flexible. The xx are an indie band, by many measures -- something we make clear in our Source Material post on their debut album, which pinpoints Sade, Mazzy Star and even Yo La Tengo as key antecedents of the band's winsome brand of downcast twee -- but their music wouldn't sound the same without the influence of contemporary club music of the sort that moonlighting member Jamie xx makes and spins on the side. Likewise, Ultraísta make pop music, broadly speaking, that's deeply informed by electronic music's methods and aesthetics. Featuring the drummer Joey Waronker, the talented new singer Laura Bettinson and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, the group's self-titled debut is one of the autumn's most pleasant surprises.
We don't give short shrift to "proper" dance music, though: Silent Servant's Negative Fascination smuggles post-punk ideas into otherwise purist techno, and Daniel Stefanik's Confidence, released on Sven Väth's Cocoon label, offers proof that workmanlike house music, done right, can offer its own kind of transcendence. Further off the genre map, dubstep pioneer Mala takes a trip to Cuba; Portland's Strategy refines his idiosyncratic, dub- and Afrobeat-inflected electronica; and Hauschka's prepared-piano pieces get reworked by Ricardo Villalobos, Matthew Herbert and others. And if it's no-strings-attached pleasures you're after, MNDR's Feed Me Diamonds cleverly updates '80s electro pop, while the ambient stalwart Loscil returns with another album of eminently listenable, autumnal mood music. Enjoy.