Top 10 Electronic Albums, July 2012
Synthesizer fans will doubtless be aware of Spectrum Spools, the boutique experimental-music label run by John Elliott (he of Cleveland's drone voyagers Emeralds) and distributed by Pita's Editions Mego. The label has put out an astonishing 21 albums since it was founded in early 2011, so it seems only fair that Spools would merit two inclusions in this month's Electronic Top 10. One, Outer Space's Akashic Record, is by Elliott himself, and it's a killer distillation of the mercurial abstractions he does so well; the other, from Plvs Vltra, aka St. Vincent keyboardist Toko Yasuda, is on a whole different trip altogether, exploding perky electro-pop in a hail of gumdrop shrapnel.
Something about Plvs Vltra's album reminded me, ever so faintly, of Tujiko Noriko, so it was a welcome surprise to learn that Noriko released a new album last month -- and a collaboration with Nobukazu Takemura, at that. Their styles fuse seamlessly into a hushed, wide-eyed album that preserves not just the innocence but also the strangeness of childhood.
Four albums this month represent parallel strains of club music. Jamie Jones' Tracks From the Crypt offers 12 tracks of sensual, slightly ominous deep house of the sort you'd hear at Ibiza's DC-10, while Hamburg's Smallpeople put their own hazy spin on classic Chicago sounds; the Netherlands' Delta Funtionen holds it down for techno's sentimental Spartans, while the British DJ Paul Woolford takes an extensive tour through left-field house and techno via his double-disc mix album, The Lab.
Finally, records from Gatekeeper, Portable Sunsets and Darling Farah shine a light on the experimental underbelly of American dance music, suggesting that there's far more to the domestic electronic-music boom than just glowsticks and Live Nation buyouts, as long as you know where to look.