READER BEST OF 2011: @dangerdome

by Winston "Stone" Ford

  Name: Selome
Location: Washington, DC
Blog: Dipped In Dollars
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SBTRKT burst onto the scene earlier this year with the release of his self-titled debut LP, and it’s without a doubt the best album I’ve heard all year. Though he released an EP in 2010, it is in his collaborations with Sampha on vocals that he truly shines. In a world where electro and dubstep are infiltrating the pop charts, it’s refreshing to watch a true electronic artist cross over. This is the kid of album you don’t have to be deeply immersed in electronica to appreciate, but if you are, there is only more beauty to be discovered.

Active Child – You Are All I See

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2011 was definitely the year that R&B made a big comeback. Active Child incorporates elements of that into his vocal stylings, throws in a harp and some synthesizers and out comes this gloriously emotional album. The lyrics are delivered in a wailing falsetto that makes every word seem exquisitely mournful. You Are All I See definitely feels like a breakup album, if only all breakups sounded this good.

Recommended track: “Playing House”

Salva – Complex Housing

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Salva has been one of my favorite artists this year, and I don’t think he gets the attention he deserves. The electronic scenes in both San Francisco and Los Angeles are starting to rival my beloved London. Complex Housing takes the overarching concept of “bass music” and perfectly defines it. This is a densely layered album that packs a huge punch while still remaining largely instrumental. He’s incorporating a wide range of influences here, and this should please any eclectic ear. This is definitely not background music, these are huge melodies that deserve to be played out in the club.

Recommended track: “Beached”

Apparat – The Devil’s Walk

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Apparat is the only artist on here I haven’t written about before, and yet he is one of the first names that came to mind when forming this list. His recent release, The Devil’s Walk, has been immensely difficult for me to write about as it is near perfection. Here we find a German artist who found his beginnings in techno, setting up a studio in Mexico to create a deeply personal electronic album that almost doesn’t feel electronic at all. The vocals and instrumentation feel almost hymnal, and the subtle shifts are the moments that hold the most meaning. I think that any Radiohead fans could very easily get into this.

Recommended track: “Ash/Black Veil”

Clive Tanaka y su Orquesta – Jet Set Siempre No. 1

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I know almost next to nothing about Clive Tanaka, but the beauty of this album is undeniable. This is probably the most accessible album of the five. He takes hazy beach-inspired synth pop, and uses it to craft a narrative about a jet-setting lifestyle. The album is split, Side A is for dance and Side B is for romance, seeming to mimic the process of falling in love at a nightclub. You almost can’t take these songs seriously (with titles like “I Want You (So Bad)” it’s pretty tough), but the entire album is such a concise experience that you begin to accept this new reality. From the moment you press play it’s as if you’re transported to some sun-soaked locale without a care in the world.

Recommended track: “Neu Chicago”