If you knew where to look, 2007 was a very good year for electronic music, whether it was for dancing, listening or a stormy marriage between the two (the latter being my personal favorite).
The year was marked by the continued supremacy of the indie imprint as the primary source of quality tunes. The labels might not be generating piles of money, but they're sure having loads of fun putting out some of the most innovative and stimulating music on the planet. Show support by buying those records, kids. They're worth more than every penny.
So, then, here are 10 gems (er, make that 11) that should keep us glowing in the dark long into the new year. ...
Burial — Hyperdub
A pseudonymous South London bedroom producer, he refuses to be photographed and claims that only five people outside of his family know his real identity. The mysterious one transcends dubstep, UK garage, jungle, ambient and soul to create the deepest, loveliest 50 minutes of the year. Stunning.
2. The Coldest Season
Deepchord Presents: Echospace — Modern Love
Port Huron's Rod Modell and Chicago's Stephen Hitchell rise out of the ether to produce exactly what techno needed — a drifting, grooving, hissing masterwork created by using only vintage analog equipment and paranormal signals captured from the Blue Water Bridge, we think ...
3. Steingarten and Steingarten Remixes
Pole — ~scape
Pole, aka Stefan Betke, is a Berlin-based engineer-producer who juggles dub (and dubstep), hip hop, 3/4 techno and 1970s krautrock with the greatest of ease on these two separate full-length releases. Check the remixes for Detroiter Mike Huckaby's pounding version of "Düsseldorf." Hell, yeah. That's what we're talkin' about.
Klimek — Anticipate
It was a good year for Anticipate, a classy New York City-based label that leaped to the front of the pack with a series of releases, none better than the one containing nine slow-motion soundscapes by this Polish-born, Berlin-dwelling artist who began calling himself the "ambient pimp" (we're loving that!) after he performed at the 2006 Movement Festival.
5. Soundboy Punishments
Various — Skull Disco
This two-disc comp features the super-hot Shackleton, whose "Blood on My Hands" was remixed by Ricardo Villalobos into an 18-minute monster that wedded dubstep and minimal tech-house with a poetic reminiscence of 9/11 (as told from the POV of a suicide bomber). Chilling.
6. Asa Breed
Matthew Dear — Ghostly International
A record that brought dusty Texas chainsaw rock and Detroit techno together. Dear poured out his heart and soul with guitars, vocals and electronics. He then took it out on the road and did it live.
7. Fabric 36
Ricardo Villalobos — Fabric
A mix CD that boldly goes where few others have gone before: All the tracks that Villalobos, the DJ, selects belong to Villalobos, the producer, who just happens to be making the most densely layered and hypnotic tracks in any genre at the moment.
8. Underwater Dancehall
Pinch — Tectonic
Another crew to watch from Bristol, England, which remains a key dubstep outpost where mysterious artists like 2562, DQ1 and Cyrus lurk in the shadows. Label boss Rob Ellis (aka Pinch) trumped them all with this long player that connects the dots between the city's multiracial Wild Bunch-Massive Attack scene of the '80s, '90s and now.
9. This Bliss
Pantha du Prince — Dial
From Hamburg's consistently sweet Dial, a label founded by Carsten Jost and Peter Kersten (aka Lawrence, who dropped the gorgeous "Spark" EP for Ghostly in 2004), this is a record that alternates between long, grooving space jams and wintry ambient interludes.
10. I Put a Record On
Gudrun Gut — Monika Enterprise
She's played with Einstürzende Neubauten, formed the German post-punk band Malaria! in the early 1980s and has made music with partner Thomas Fehlmann (The Orb). Now, it's Gudrun Gut's turn to show off her versatility as a solo artist. And does she ever, dedicating this quirky and elegant audio collage to her beloved Berlin.