Year in Review | Top Five Albums of 2012
Of course we like to pride ourselves in diversity, but faithful followers already know, electronic music is the heartbeat that gives life to Dialogue Incorporated. We have our indie faves, but for every one release on that side of the spectrum there are five things we're choosing from when it comes to house, techno, chill out and bass music. So, that obviously made narrowing down this list incredibly difficult. Before we get into our top picks for 2012, the honorable mentions: Flying Lotus, who we had the great pleasure of interviewing this year, and his record, Until the Quiet Comes, and Four Tet, who released his most dance-floor-oriented LP to date, the stunning Pink. As strong as these releases both were, the final call had to come down to heavy rotation, and in that category, these five LPs won out:
5) Orbital Wonky — ACP Recordings
It's almost as if this record caught us by surprise. Orbital can officially be credited as our entry point into electronic music, way back in 1995, but did we really think that this many years later—and with the album title Wonky no less—that brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll still had it in them? Our Magic 8Ball came up with doubtful at best. And yet, here it is, a fresh update to the Orbital sound, reminiscent of classic cuts like "Halcyon + On + On" and "The Box" with all the lush electronic textures, delightfully slow-building bleeps and blips, breakbeat dance rhythms and acid basslines, and yet updated (slightly) to show they can still hang on the contemporary scene. And they did it all without really having to go all that "wonky."
4) Monokle Saints — Ki Records
"If flashes of light were audible and harnessed as an instrument, Monokle would be an absolute virtuoso, as these bright pings of sound pervade the meditative "Homesick" and frantic disorder of "Arrows." Amid the album's chaotic footwork and leftfield house beats, there's an abundance of clean tones that impart a distinctly science-fiction sort of glow, as though Kudryavtsev is capturing both the noisy, overpopulated bustle and the utopian possibilities of some future metropolis and communicating that in musical form. In the context of that world, Monokle's artistic spirit might be best described as that of a robot dreaming." — From Joshua P. Ferguson's XLR8R review
3) Mala Mala in Cuba — Brownswood
As dubstep came into its own curious, perplexing and overblown own this year, bass music scattered in every direction possible, away from the cookie cutter sounds dominating summer festivals. But no one artist traveled as far as Digital Mystikz originator Mala, who traveled to Cuba at the behest of famed London tastemaker Gilles Peterson to integrate his potent and sparse low-end sound with the indigenous rhythms he found there. This was an LP that turned world music on its head.
"Right now, the bass music scene is in such a state of flux that no one is sure where to file artists, like Scuba, who may have gotten their start dabbling with the sound but have since moved on. Preferring to mine Detroit and Chicago’s roots, the better aspects of chill-out’s musicality and even straight-ahead drum ‘n’ bass to set his productions apart, Rose has certainly moved on... With his latest, Scuba may be looking back, but he’s also moving his sound forward, and the result is as welcomingly familiar as it is unlike anything else out there." — From Joshua P. Ferguson's review
1) John Talabot ƒIN — Permanent Vacation
Even a genre like Balearic, which should be defined more by a place and feeling than any actual sound, has grown to be depressingly "samey" these days. Not in the hands of low-key Spaniard John Talabot, who managed to distill a sentiment as balmy as an ocean breeze into his debut full length, ƒIN, without sticking to any one formula. Rather, he spanned tempos and moods, crafting a record as much for a night on the dance floor as for a leisurely day. This made it one of this year's most listenable, and bestowed upon the world "So Will Be Now," a song that proved very early on during our first listen to be one which we could not live without.