Introducing dBs Recommends – our new series leading you to new discoveries in the world of sound and music. From albums, podcasts and plugins to live streams, innovation and tech, we bring you new things to check out that come recommended by our community.
The world of electronic music is vast, spanning many styles over many years but some pieces of music are so important they either become responsible for the genres we love or they transcend fitting into a single category, affecting the sound of many. In both cases their influence spreads far and wide.
Then there are the albums that are ahead of their time. They are modern trailblazing masterpieces. These records can remain unknown to the masses or become discovered in years to come, long after their initial release. Although their influence can often go unnoticed in the mainstream, their prescience can still be felt. They permeate musical genres, quietly steering things in a different direction driven by those in the know.
In this edition of dBs Recommends we bring you examples that fall into each category. Each album is important, influential or will likely be remembered in years to come. If you love electronic music, like we do, you should check them out. So, without further ado here are the records that our community feel you need to hear.
Burial - Untrue
The followup to debut album 'Burial', 'Untrue' was the critically acclaimed second album from the often mysterious UK artist. Drawing influences dub, early dubstep, ambient and UK garage 'Untrue' was nominated for both the Mercury Music Prize and the Shortlist Music Prize. Untrue takes you to places that can feel dark, funky, atmospheric and beautifully uplifting all at once and has a distinctively underground, urban, UK sound.
Amon Tobin - ISAM
'ISAM' by Amon Tobin is an electronic music masterpiece that is better off being heard rather than described. The sonic landscape created by Tobin is dark, heavy, futuristic, industrial and otherworldly. Isam's influence can be found lurking in many bass music genres especially neurofunk, dubstep and drum and bass. This one will blow your mind.
Space - Magic Fly
Released way back in 1977, 'Magic Fly' is the first studio album by French band Space. Although written in the previous decade, Space has a distinctively 80s sound. If you listen to Space and then listen to Daft Punk you'll have one of those 'ah ha' moments where you realise who everyone's favourite dance act was influenced by.
Jon Hopkins - Immunity
Immunity is one of the most musically, sonically and emotionally satisfying albums from the past decade. Blending piano, strings and electronica while sitting somewhere between chill out and full on club techno it pathed the way for many mainstream music fans to explore a more thought out approach to organic techno, atmospheric spaces and symphony like arrangements.
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
With this record we are going to break the rules a little because although this album isn't strictly electronic it sounds electronic. Its influence alongside Steve Reich's influence in general can be felt far and wide in the electronic and wider music world.
Music for 18 Musicians was groundbreaking in so many ways but some of the following musical feats are particularly noteworthy: manipulating polyrhythms long before it became cool in the techno scene, applying short melodic cells the pre-echo how EDM synth riffs by decades, creating synthesised styled enveloping filter effects using acoustic instruments and the list goes on. Listen to it in concentration, not meditation: it's in the changes and the detail. Listen to it in the dark. Listen to it on headphones. But listen to it. This changed everything.
Villalobos - Alcachofa
Alcachofa was the first studio album by Chilean-German techno producer Ricardo Villalobos. Named after the the Spanish word for artichoke, Alcachofa is one of the reasons he is held in such high regard in the minimal techno and microhouse world.
Each track spans 7 minutes or more and is well suited for the dance floor but also adept for every day listening too. Release in 2003 when trance was king, Villalobos manages to evoke a hypnotic trance-like state using robotic techno styled production techniques while shunning the use of big harmony, and melodic lines that were commonplace at the time.
Daft Punk - Homework
When people talk about Daft Punk their 2001 album 'Discovery' is often mentioned but rewind to 1997 and you'll find Homework. Homework is packed full of club orientated dance floor bangers with a sound that's instantly recognisable. It's funky, uplifting, jacking and even quite hard hitting in places. You can still hear its influence in a lot of contemporary house music. Although they didn't invent the vocoder, whenever you hear that robotic sounding vocoder voice in a dance track you instantly think 'Daft Punk'.