In its wake innumerable artists — from the dance underground to the pop charts — plundered 80s synth-pop, electro and disco for inspiration. To this day none have done so with anything like the aplomb of The Parallax Corporation.
Nottingham glam rock, made by four teenagers dressed like Quality Street packets and produced by Erol Alkan — God this album was set up for a fall. Shedding The Past is a haunting record, as much an elegy for techno as an affirmation of its enduring and mutable power.
But he also Something Cold - Various - Un-Herd Volume 53 (CD) that true techno looks forward, not back — the past must first be confronted, and then cast aside. Subtle twilight jazz tropes — smokey double bass, electric piano — are fleshed out with willowy synth textures, electronic blips and shuffling drum machine rhythms.
The mood is drowsy, lolling, hypnotic but also a little threatening — somehow reminiscent of deserted seaside resorts and amusement arcades, evacuated domes of pleasure. Though their musical outlook is perhaps old-fashioned, the appeal of bands like Camera Obscura is indefatigable, and, like the timeless legacy of the pop greats that influenced it — Cobb, Spector, Greenwich and such — this album should hold its lustre forever. These days one tends to remember electroclash for its most lurid, pantomime aspects, and forget some of the remarkable music it threw up.
Without a label and tracks leaking fast, the band streamed YHF on their website in lateand it turned out it was a masterpiece — unsettling in the way its lyrics and cover anticipate the September 11 attacks, and one of the great Americana albums of any era. His Feil Knapp LP — despite Something Cold - Various - Un-Herd Volume 53 (CD) one of the least promising front covers in the history of recorded music — astounds with its simple compositional brilliance, its sense of fun and of free-roaming adventure.
Throw in shades of Morricone, pastoral folk, krautrock and Detroit techno, and you have yourself a rangy and captivating listen. In so doing he laid a pathway that led to Berghain, Villalobos and the dominance of minimal in techno clubs from Lille to Ljubljana. Recorded in a bathtub and originally distributed amongst close friends only, La Maison de mon Reve tried to make sense of love, sexuality, religion and more and failed, emerging from its conception sleepy-eyed and even more confused.
Dream-pop, but not as we knew it. Matt Something Cold - Various - Un-Herd Volume 53 (CD) has made a lot of fine music as Radio Slave and as one half of Quiet Village, but Rekid — his more self-consciously experimental project — has yielded some of the most interesting work.
There are few tools better shaped to explore the extremes of human experience than the voice of Antony Hegarty. The NYC-based singer would have stood out in any era, but in a decade where AutoTune pretty much owned pop music his excruciated wail — one minute soaring sonorously above the clouds, the next trembling fearfully Something Cold - Various - Un-Herd Volume 53 (CD) the duvet — seemed especially human and powerful.
She Took A Bullet Meant For Me is brilliantly cheap: its tribal percussion sounding like cranes hammering sheet metal, its synths rusted and oxidized, dripping in oil. Dystopian dance music that still bangs. Not us.
But it did. Or, as one of his countless tattoos indicates, in the palm of his hand. Perhaps the most uncanny pop album of the decade. Crystalline synths warble and chatter, whisper and scream, creating a beguiling electronic backdrop for the stunning processed voice of Karin Dreijer Andersson. More Brothers Grimm than T-Pain, misery never sounded so glorious — or so groovy.
The creative apogee of the neo-Balearic craze which blew up inSilent Movie found Martin and Edwards gathering obscure psych, soundtrack, prog and exotica nuggets and splicing, augmenting, re-editing and arranging them into dazzling new configurations. Essential for fans of Moodymann and Theo Parrish. Pretty much the best vocal house album of the past ten years, with Sasu Ripatti suppressing his more self-consciously experimental tendencies to fashion elastically funky, synth-saturated grooves.
Dizzee and Wiley may have already been recognisable names Stateside, but Run the Road was the point where No Lay, Shystie, Terror Danjah, D Double E, Bruza and Something Cold - Various - Un-Herd Volume 53 (CD) made the transition from relative nobodies to er, relative nobodies on a seminal album.
The suffocating atmosphere and low frequency overload meant Altar could be as palatable to Hyperdub fans as Relapse ones; perhaps more so. And this is one of his finest moments: an album whosepunning title part geometry lesson, part nargile session alludes to the mood of mellow abstraction found within.
Yet the shapeshifting sonic textures from atonal acoustic guitars to animal sounds and afro-aquatic synths are merely the icing on a cake whose key ingredient is rhythm. Simply put, Villalobos has few peers when it comes to the ability to build and sustain interesting and effective grooves.
Rarely is that more evident than on this album. It also provided proof — if it was needed — that the Detroit cat is deserving of the hallowed status that fanboys around the world afford him. But all of it really. This is impeccably stylish music, but also utterly heartfelt, sensual and close. Along with Ricardo Villalobos, Matias Aguayo is one of the true geniuses of contemporary techno.
Still, the emphasis on dub style — from clipped, Maurizio-style chords to sampled badman chatter and, of course, cavernous sub-bass — certainly anticipates the coming era. West Coast is so pretty, so individual, so charming and euphoric that you could basically die happy in its company.
One of the finest electronic pop releases of the decade — a deft mingling of traditional song-form and rhythmic modernism that was a deserved underground hit. That he still got feet tapping and arses wiggling is to his infinite credit. That it sometimes sounds like a load of native Indian drummers trying to summon Aphex Twin?
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