Austra “Feel It Break”

Icy synths coupled with vocal histronics over pulsing dark electronics. It’s all good, or rather it’s quite brilliant. And has aged rather beautifully. A classic debut. 10/10

Download: all of it

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Ben Lukas Boysen “Spells”

Stunning album from the Berlin-based Ben Lukas Boysen. Mixing classical (piano & strings), haunting melodies and modern soundscapes to deeply stunning effect. Hand on heart, this is a modern classic. Eight tracks of sublime music. Absolutely essential. 10/10

David Bowie “Blackstar”

Post Bowie’s death, “Blackstar” has clearly taken on a very different meaning. And a life of its own (now viewed through the prism of impending death and ones own mortality). However, it is an amazing body of work. Dense, loosely jazzy and relentlessly dark. It is an amazing addition to the Bowie cannon, and as others have said, not comparable to anything he’s released before. Spellbinding and an intoxicating way to sign-off. 10/10

Marc Romboy & Stephan Bodzin “6 Monde”

Possibly the most essential (minimal) techno album ever released. Each of the six tracks is killer with both Romboy and Bodzin on top form. Endless beautiful chords and technically faultless throughout. Fucking amazing (steady on! -Ed). Nothing else to say. 10/10

Orbital “In-Sides”

“In-Sides” is eight tracks of consistent wonder. A masterpiece capturing the Hartnoll bothers at their nineties peak. Inventive, catchy, expansive, melodic, filmic etc. etc. 10/10

Paul Hartnoll “The Ideal Condition”

Paul Hartnoll’s debut album from 2007 (one half of electronic legends Orbital) is a sublime mix of the synthetic and the organic. A strong classical sound (strings, choirs) imbues much of the album to stunning effect. It marries the electronics beautifully – Hartnoll pulls this off effortlessly (we even get low-fi with the almost nose-bleed pop-punk of “Aggro”). It all feels like a natural progression from the Orbital sound. More please. 9/10

Brigitte “À bouche que veux-tu”

Just when we thought we had our end of year best-of’s compiled, along comes a late release from French female duo Brigitte (Sylvie Hoarau and Aurélie Saada). We were quite partial to their folkey debut “Et vous, tu m’aimes?” from a few years ago. Seemingly since then, they’ve discovered disco and pop – with a distinct 70’s vibe. The sound is much bigger and fuller (almost soft rock in places) with more complex song-writing abounding. The end result is a blinder. This sassy pair have significantly upped their game.  À bouche que veux-tu transcends language and is an absolute pleasure. Essential. 10/10

Kiasmos “Kiasmos”

Techno meets classical collaboration between Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen which pans out as a slightly less-wonky take on what Jon Hopkins has been up to lately. The standard is high throughout the eight tracks – it’s difficult not to adore this and sounds like an future classic. We haven’t been able to stop listening to this. Essential. 10/10

Holly Johnson “Europa”

Although it’s been fifteen years since his last opus, the uneven “Soulstream”, not much has changed in Holly Johnson’s songwriting universe. The sonic mandate is still lovelorn pop – a more out-of-fashion sound you will struggle to find. But, embrace the heart-on-sleeve delivery and occasionally predictable lyrics and you will find that “Europa” is a rather beautiful piece of work. His singing has never sounded finer and special mention must surely go to co-producer Mark Ralph for such a wonderfully robust electronic sounding album. Eleven tracks – and pretty much devoid of filler – this is a joy from the start to finish and actually eclipses “Blast” as Holly’s finest solo hour. Essential. 10/10

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