An introduction to five artists we feel have crafted the best electronic releases of the year so far
Lottie Brazier
15:14 24th September 2018

Electronic music is a pretty broad church these days. What is deconstructed club music, you might be asking? Who knows for sure, but word is it’s dance music for people who have had enough of straightforward house and techno. There’s so much more to the genre as well than EDM or house, which often get the spotlight when perhaps there’s more deserved artists out there which should. For example Low, who just released their excellent Double Negative album last week, marking a dramatic break from their old lo-fi guitar sound and adopt a far more intense, introverted-sounding experimental electronics palette as accompaniment to the ever-increasing destruction of the planet’s ecosystem. We loved it. So if you don’t know where to start with this year’s batch of electronic music releases, how could anyone possibly blame you? Whatever your favourite niche is in this ever expansive area of music (I mean, what does electronic music really mean anymore?) have a look below and see if any of these artists have slipped under your radar.

Kate NV - для FOR

We caught Kate Shilonosova at Moscow Music Week earlier this month, in her post-punk influenced band Glintshake. And in May we interviwed Shilonosova about her own perhaps better known solo project Kate NV. The musician uses inspiration from the environments of her Moscow home and other cities around the world including New York. She’s also an amazingly talented illustrator, turning her musical scores into cartoons. She creates expressive collages of sound out of MIDI instruments, but it’s got a similar friendliness and playfulness to it as Brian Eno’s ambient music, making you think perhaps of the original Windows home screen with those rolling fields. It’s perfect Sunday listening: it’s not really background music, being both cosy and food for thought at the same time. It’s amazingly well executed stuff, have a listen.

Gabe Gurnsey - Physical

Factory Floor drummer Gabe Gurnsey makes industrial techno sound hook-y as hell on his debut solo album Physical. It’s also all about acid bass-lines and Cabaret Voltaire stomping; he’s also given up the electric drum-kit for a real one this time as well. This album comes into its own live: I saw the album launch for this album at Electrowerkz in London last month, and it was one of the most amicable electronic gigs I’ve been to in quite some time. It took a while for the crowd to get used to each others’ company, but a couple of songs in and at least four rows of us were furiously bopping away, which is ultimately what this stuff is designed for. This gig had a slightly lighter, more uplifting atmosphere compared to the time I saw Factory Floor back in 2014, when they had Dominic Butler on board. The chemistry between them all was fucking mind-blowing mind you, but you got the sense already that trio were too intense to last (but isn’t that always your favourite time in a band’s lifespan?).

Oliver Coates - Shelley’s On Zenn-La

The London-based Oliver Coates might not be a household name, but he helped out on Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool and worked back and forth with their guitarist Jonny Greenwood over several projects. Now, fans of Aphex Twin and old-school IDM should take note of the cellist’s new album Shelley’s On Zenn-La. Even though Coates is a talented cellist with a classical background, he’s made a strong, hooky album which could perhaps mark him as a modern day Arthur Russell (who combined his classical background with disco back in the 70s and 80s). In the meantime, Coates has also collaborated with some other massive names including Massive Attack. This new album was released on RVNG. Intl., who also has Julia Holter and Visible Cloaks on board with them. Give it a listen.

Hen Ogledd - Problem Child

It was this single’s snappy name that originally drew me in to press play, as I had no idea that this was a Richard Dawson project. When I heard it, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Newcastle folk musician’s distinctive, warbling falsetto over chugging lo-fi synths. You might know Richard Dawson for his 2017 album Peasant, a gloriously weird folk album based around characters from ancient British history. Technically, Hen Ogledd has existed as a project long before we first heard Peasant; back at the Tusk Festival in 2016, we saw Dawson ditch the guitar for an iPad and other similar devices alongside Rhodri Davies, the two releasing their debut together on alt.vinyl back in 2013. Though at this stage, it was all fairly embryonic. Hen Ogledd are more synth-pop influenced than anything else, with Dawson’s off-kilter songwriting still being the centre focus here. It’s much faster, angrier and a touch more political in its lyrics than Peasant. Hopefully there’s an album on the way. FFO: the new new new new wave.

Laurel Halo - Raw Silk Uncut Wood

Raw Silk Uncut Wood’s probably Laurel Halo’s most accessible album to date. Her previous albums like Quarantine were queasy, confrontational and perhaps not everyday listening. But this new one is very much an album to stick on post-club. It’s influenced by a quote from the Chinese Tao religion, Ursula Le Guin's translation of the 'Tao Te Ching’: "What works reliably is to know the raw silk, hold the uncut wood. Need little. Want less. Forget the rules. Be untroubled." It’s difficult to feel troubled listening to this highly atmospheric album, with its bird chirps and electro-acoustic textures.

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Photo: Press