Another year of fantastic music comes to a close, leaving us in a scramble to revisit all of the albums that made an impression on us from early on and all the way until the very last weeks of 2012. What follows is a list that as usual shouldn’t be taken as an ultimate best of, but rather as a collection of favorites amongst the colectivo futuro family. The list contains a wide range of genres and styles, which is a true reflection of the varied tastes within our collective. While there were many other standout efforts throughout the year, the music found across this selection of albums was certainly the one that resonated the most in our daily lives. Whether it was at one of our various events in London or during our daily commute, these are the records that we constantly came back to and enjoyed time and again. You can listen to each record by clicking on the link below each artwork or by subscribing to this spotify playlist.
Sounds Like: If ghosts made beautiful techno and ambient music.
Why We Like It: A sprawling, yet sonically cohesive body of work that takes the listener into another world, much like Drexciya and their aquatic universe, but instead R.I.P. seems beyond the grave, stuck in some kind of techno limbo of decaying layered loops of synths, pads, high hats, piano bars and vocal snippets. This 3rd full length serves to further cement Darren Cunningham at the top of the electronic music vanguard.
Sounds Like: Where UK house SHOULD go in 2013.
Why We Like It: It’s dance music that doesn’t conform to trends or expectations yet neither reverts to clichés. Instead, on his third and final Tenement Yard album, Danny Native again takes house to a rougher, darker, sexier, funnier and more personal territory. On Tenement Yard Vol. 3, the music swings and rolls, basslines are deployed effectively, the drums are addictive, the vocal samples are spot on, and the emotion is clear. Whilst much of the recent house and techno seemed to get blander this year, Danny continued to produce dancefloor music with a sting, which worked as well on headphones as it did in the club.
Sounds Like: An engaging journey into Brian Allen Simon’s sublime textures and frequencies.
Why We Like It: It’s not everyday an album that could be catalogued as “ambient” captivates us in such a powerful way, but Inner Hue, Anenon’s debut effort has done just that. Armed with a Rhodes piano, a tenor saxophone, and a background in composition; Anenon has crafted a record that sounds rather personal and manages to transcend any current trends in sound. In doing so, Anenon has cemented his place and that of his label’s artists (Non Projects) on every serious music lover’s radar.
Sounds like: Meticulous, seductive, and cerebral electronic music in all its shapes and forms.
Why we like it: The widely acclaimed album by Bonobo, Black Sands, was quite an organic affair with tons of textures and details. For the remix album, Simon Green went to his black book of music peeps to compliment and reinterpret an already stellar blueprint. The result is standout interpretations of the source material from a few young heads (Lapalux, ARP 101, or Blue Daisy) and a few stalwarts from the electronic music panorama (Floating Points, Mark Pritchard, or Machinedrum). Even when there’s various renditions of the same tracks, the range and quality of remixes is so good that you won’t notice they are coming from the same source. That’s how brilliant this record is.
Sounds like: Funky & bluesy in a classic New Orleans melting pot style.
Why we like it: What else can be said about Dr. John and his music. When an artist reaches a certain level of success it seems natural for him to come up with a hit record. Not to mention that this album was produced by none other than Mr. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys fame. Locked Down is a great record from top to bottom with tons of stand out cuts, showcasing the various strands of proper american funk and rhythm & blues.
Sounds Like: UK electronic soul in 2012
Why We Like It: Ever explorative, DVA outlived the UK Funky explosion to deliver a full length album that gave us a handful of brilliant electronic soul jams, a couple of DVA branded club bangers and an out-there surprise or two. With a mutant brew of grime, house, funky, broken beat, R&B, techno; it all made sense to us, and more than lived up to expectations. Pretty Ugly is right up there with any other electronic music album released in recent years.
Sounds like: A cosmic trip characterized by some boom-bap and sci-fi futurism.
Why we like it: In Until the Quite Comes, 21st century beatsmith Steven Ellison takes on new flight with a keen exploratory sense by synchronizing his sight forward and backward. After a few listens one can point out such explorations in the form of ease, space, and mood. In most instances tracks are stripped down to a textured and rhythmic beat that’s all boom-bap, which in conjunction with the breathing room provided by the intelligent use of space aids in capturing a particular mood or feel. Throughout the entire ride, FlyLo revisits the familiar spaced-out jazz touch he’s shown us before, but perhaps in a more personal or introspective manner. While this record might not pull you in as easily as his previous efforts, give it a few listens and you’ll soon be praising Mr. Ellison for another job well done.
Sounds Like: Odd Future made the best R&B album of the year.
Why We Like It: There’s just something about Ocean’s ability to write excellent pop and R&B melodies; the captivating way he delivers any melody; the subject material, brutally honest and yet refreshingly satirical, on sex, relationships, money and drugs; his ability to juggle classic soul and modern electronic production techniques; and lastly, how he collaborates here with talents such as Pharrell, Andre 3000 and Earl Sweatshirt, yet the music never changes channel, it’s all Frank. As a result, channel ORANGE is a sure instant classic.
Sounds Like: Yet another masterpiece from a band that has more than mastered their craft.
Why We Like It: Following up 2009′s brilliant Veckatimest was no easy task, but Grizzly Bear have once again managed to further intensify their sound while crafting a more, dare we say, accesible album which feels less abstract than its predecessor. There’s many reasons why we love this record, but ultimately it’s the band’s attention to detail and layers upon layers of sound that keep us hooked to each of their productions. Shields is another gem in the outstanding catalogue of one of our favorite bands.
Sounds like: Prince and Zapp jamming out on drum machines.
Why we like it: Classical Curves can be summarized as a collection of polished sounds and samples, perfect use of space, and beautiful sound conceptualization. This album takes us on a well-executed concept through the use of synths, basic dance rhythms & structures, and an unhinged sense of energy and rawness. The way space and silence are used throughout the album creates a compelling effect usually evoking sudden surges of energy. If UK bass is your type of thing or if you simply want to explore the sounds people are dancing to on the most forward thinking dance floors, then this is sure to make an instant impact.
Sounds Like: Chicago and Detroit grooves meeting Spanish sentimentalism.
Why We Like It: This is definitely one of the best electronic albums released this year. Most certainly it’s the best “house” related album we heard all year. The reason is simple, John Talabot’s take on the different strains of house music is quite unique. Borrowing bits and pieces from several styles, ƒIN manages to coerce the listener with its polyrhythmic beats and haunting melodies. But this isn’t simply a collection of catchy, club-ready tracks as each listen will reveal different layers and intricacies hidden throughout the entire record. All in all this is a very engaging affair.
Sounds Like: Conscious rap, ‘straight outta Compton’.
Why We Like It: Good kid, m.A.A.d city is a carefully constructed and very consistent ‘concept album’ that manages to work superbly as a whole piece of music, not only because the beats, coming from an array of producers, are well chosen and placed, but the themes and stories intertwine and create a strong picture of an artist and individual growing up and overcoming rough surroundings and distractions to gain perspective and achieve success. This is without a doubt one of the best if not THE best hip-hop album from the past few years and one that provides hope for an overly saturated scene.
Sounds Like: the perfect combination of the lowest low lows with sublime cuban rhythms and textures.
Why We Like It: A project masterminded by Gilles Peterson can never be a bad thing. Mala In Cuba is the result of taking one of the most important figures in UK sound system culture and embedding him deep into the traditions of Cuban music. Mala’s forward thinking production approach allowed him to craft an album that looks back at the classic dubstep sound, but also brings fresh air to a scene that has been stale in recent times.
Sounds like: A 24 year old newcomer who’s channeling the voice of an old soul.
Why we like it: What is it about this 24-year-old winner of the BBC Sound of 2012 poll? One can say that it’s the unmistakable likenesses to Otis Redding or Marvin Gaye. We contend that on Home Again you will feel every soulful, jazzy, and folk-like lyric as intended by Kiwanuka’s rich and weathered voice. Standout cuts such as “I’m Getting Ready” and “Home Again” are immediately enchanting and tender. This mostly acoustic affair comprises of traditional folk and soul musical deliveries that make for a perfect Sunday afternoon listen.
Sounds like: A rhythmic ride with alternating ebb and flow.
Why we like it: The debut effort by Minneapolis based Poliça gives us a collection of songs characterized by polyrhythmic beats complemented by melancholic soundscapes created in part by vocalist Channy Leaneagh’s auto-tuned voice. On Give You The Ghost the overall production is excellent; each instrument and layer of sound stands out, giving the band a highly distinct aesthetic. The album is cohesive and consistent making for a seamless listen from start to finish.
Sounds like: A fresh take on african-american musical traditions rooted in jazz and incorporating hip-hop & neo-soul influences.
Why we like it: Pianist extraordinaire Robert Glasper keeps pushing the boundaries of contemporary jazz with his Robert Glasper Experiment project alongside drummer Chris Dave and a host of class collaborators by integrating diverse influences to reshape more common arrangements and alter people’s perception of what jazz should sound like. Another reason why we love this is the wide range of collaborations that only a lead man like Robert Glasper can manage to pull off on the same record. Notable collaborators on Black Radio include Lupe Fiasco, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lalah Hathaway, and Erykah Badu, just to name a few.
Sounds Like: Personal and sentimental electronic pop of the highest standards.
Why We Like It: This was probably the album that surprised us the most this year. The UK-bred duo of Luca Santucci & Ben Fitzgerald have crafted a poignant record that’s abound with heartbreak and pulsating electronic rhythms not uncommon in the local underground scene. The duo is certainly a welcome addition to the
Sounds like: Just the perfect soundtrack for a horror or apocalypse film.
Why we like it: This is a brutal, dark, yet beautiful album that is full of long and repetitive passages that lead to a trance where everything feels like a distorted version of reality. Under the right circumstances, the album could serve as background music for a twisted ritual. Loyal to his vision, Michael Gira has been secretly working on this opus for 30 years. According to him, The Seer is the conclusion of any previous album or composition he ever made. This record is a masterpiece of its own unique breed.
Sounds like: The band you would have loved to catch live at Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love.
Why we like it: This record brings out all the elements of the Psychedelic Rock that was once famous in the past, which we still love to delve into today. Just like the album’s artwork, the music feels full of complex, vibrant colors. A careful listen to Lonerism will uncover that the whole magic of this album is present in each instrument rather than the usual guitar-vocal arrangement. Like their previous release, the production and recording was under the command of the band’s founder, Kevin Parker, solidifying their trademark sound while taking it a step further.
Sounds Like: A melancholic trip perfectly reflecting the landscape of the band’s home city of London.
Why We Like It: This one is a grower indeed. At first listen, Rispah might not reveal The Invisible’s brilliance, but after immersing yourself in the record through repeat listens you’ll get a sense for the intimate and intricate layers embedded throughout the album. Here’s a band that for many years has been operating in the periphery of the London underground scene, we think that’s soon to change.
2012 = colectivo favorites!