Posted by: Dominic Umile | 12/10/2009

Memorable Electronic Music 2009: Part IV

Best Electronic Music 2009Instrumental hip hop — the really affecting kind — isn’t as common as I’d like it to be. An early ’09 debut from a Texas-based cratedigging producer/overall deep appreciator of diverse sounds really got me this year. I was also pretty confident that a couple of under-the-radar techno records, issued toward the start of this year, were going to be shoe-ins for my “2009 Best” roundup.  Have a look at the final segment of my favorite electronic, etc. records for this year.

5. Gui Boratto, Take My Breath Away (Kompakt)
4. Diego Bernal, For Corners (Exponential)
3. Yagya, Rigning (Sending Orbs)
2. Somfay, A Catch In the Voice (Archipel)
1. Falty DL, Love is a Liability (Planet Mu)

At the moment, I’ve got the newest servings from Paul White and Oh No on pretty regular rotation (just rec’d the latter, hope to have more to say in the coming week) over here. Sewn-together beat music, born from a string of samples and hours of careful tweaks, is always somewhat of a head-scratcher — I’m captivated, both by the mechanics involved and all of the loops; I usually find myself pining to know what the source material for the beats is. There’s something mystifying about a record-hoarding obsessive poring over a set of decks, an MPC, and whatever else, and building an entirely new composition out of a cherished classic or a dusty obscurity.

For Corners, an exemplary debut beat record from Texas-based Diego Bernal, is still getting a lot of attention on subway rides and at home. I had a fair amount to say about it here when Exponential first made it available at their web site in February. It’s well-crafted and compelling in every way for those interested in instrumental, soul-driven hip hop/sample-heavy albums. Get the WHOLE ALBUM FOR FREE here.

Take My Breath AwayI opted to write a feature-length review of this year’s Gui Boratto record over at PopMatters as soon as I got word of its release. It’s totally beautiful — techno that’s polished and excessively melodic. The Brazilian producer, admittedly not a DJ, as he’s specifically pointed out (“Spice It Up,” May 2007, Remix Magazine), followed 2007’s Chromophobia with both big-room-styled compositions and stylish midtempo stuff on Take My Breath Away, and I totally recommend it. Get the title track at XLR8R.

Jesse Somfay also seems preoccupied with layering his deep, fraying productions with colorful melodies, but his work on A Catch In the Voice is more varied than Boratto’s. For the first half of his second full-length’s ample running time, Somfay‘s outings are less straight techno than they are washed-out ambient, with sometimes blunt, bubbling beats and elongated chords. More danceable endeavors materialize later, in stunning and hazy rushes and hard kicks, but A Catch is best enjoyed in its lush whole form.

RigningA far more subtle and serene techno endeavor was born in Yagya‘s Icelandic corner of the world toward the end of January in 2009 — his Rigning, a perpetually hypnotic dub and ambient collection, is tied to a central “rain” theme, and is even bound aesthetically by recordings of rain and thunder dampening nearby trees or a windowpane. I stumbled the album somewhat late in the year, and I posted it about it here back in August. Check Rigning out here.

If you read my piece in the issue of the Brooklyn Rail last month (“I Dub New York,” November 2009), you’re pretty familiar with how I feel about Falty DL‘s recent slew of work. His Bravery is a stunner, but I found that I like Love Is a Liability more — it’s an absolute mind-blower that gathers UK garage, New York hip hop, stylish bits of dubstep influences, house, and techno into one place. Don’t miss this record — I know that it’s agonizing to navigate all the hype that people pile onto music every year. I was frightened that something might happen to me if I hadn’t heard that last Feist album, honestly. But if you have any kind of interest in experimental dance music that just torpedoes into different directions at will, Love Is A Liability will not disappoint you.

Thanks to all my regular readers in 2009 and to the new crew that picked up on this series. I’ve got more stuff to throw at you in the coming weeks, and you might see an overall “Best Music” list from me in a few days. For now, keep checking in at PopMatters and at Blurt for end-year roundups. Both Textura and Resident Advisor are also running their typically well-crafted “Best Ofs” at the moment as well — check them out.

Read Part One of this series here.
Read Part Two of this series here.
Read Part Three of this series here.

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