Electronic music seems to be having a bit of a mid-life crisis. You know, that age when you’re not really sure who you are, what you’re meant to be? Ministry of Sound brings out a deep house compilation and you cry inside for a few days. No one really seems to know where electronic’s borders lie, and whether we want 7”s and EPs or long releases. Does anyone really care? Maybe not. But it’s poignant to note that many of the best releases this year are records less belonging to electronic music than merely passing through it.
Darkstar, Darkside, Daughn Gibson, Daft Punk all fit into this group of ‘non-categoricals’—electronic-ish to varying degrees. Something tells me the term won’t catch on, but they’re all good records. The middle two are fascinating listens, blending some rock (and in Gibson’s case, country) influences with an electronic crust, creating something bizarrely wonderful.
On the other side of the coin are some good LPs that are absolutely electronic. Gold Panda’s second full length sees his residency in Berlin leading him down a more club-orientated path, with only a couple of ambient exceptions. Gold Panda Vapor City follows on from what Room(s) started, with ‘Gunshotta’ bringing some jungle into the mix.
For those of the non-dancing disposition, Oneohtrix Point Never has a new record out. R Plus 7 is reminiscent of old computer sounds, with their eerie clean sheen and inhuman timbre. Bits of the album are haunting and others plain tricky, but it’s an interesting release for those who want something specifically detached from the current edm trends.
In between this club divide are LPs by Jon Hopkins and . The latter is an impressive if somewhat flabby listen—tracks like ‘Renata’ and ‘The Caterpillar’s Burial’ are fantastic, raucous fun. But others drag the album on, making a chore of the 15 tracks. Hopkins’ mercury-nominated Immunity, on the other hand, is an 8 track masterpiece—perfectly paced and without a dull moment.
That’s not to say an album’s for everyone. EPs from Koreless, Lil Silva and Sampha are great examples of knowing when to stop, and not pinning on a couple of extra tracks just to justify the ‘LP’ tag. Sampha’s EP, bleeding together the best parts of his production with vocal abilities, stands out as a fantastic release. Is it actually an electronic release though? Who knows. Who cares.By Rory Foster