Friday, June 11, 2021

faves of the 2010s - tracks

These were my votes for best tracks of the second decade of the 21st Century in the Pitchfork poll of critics

Placement wise, there was some strategic voting going on here - and at the bottom I've added rather a lot of things I thought of later that I either should have included but forgot, things that rose in my estimation in the last year or so, and some that I didn't actually hear until after the decade ended.   

Unlike with albums, there's vastly less of the "critic head" here - tracks are about a pure hit of pleasure, rather than metrics like artistic ambition or approving of what the group is aiming for or other non-hedonic criteria. This is the stuff where I turn up the volume when it comes on the radio.

1 Future: Fuck Up Some Commas  

2 Ke$ha: We R Who We R  

3 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: "Round and Round" 

4 Migos: T-Shirt  

5 Sage the Gemini: Gas Pedal  

6 Travis Scott: Goosebumps  

7 Migos: Slippery  

8 Haim: Honey and I  

9 Young Thug: "Constantly Hating" [ft. Birdman]  

10 Rae Sremmurd: Black Beatles  

11 Gotye: Somebody That I Used to Know [feat Kimbra]  

12 Tinashe: "2 On" [ft. Schoolboy Q]  

13 eMMplekz: Gloomy Leper Techno  

14 Migos: Top Down on Da NAWF  

15 Vampire Weekend: Diplomat's Son  

16 Future: All Right  

17 The Weeknd : Low Life [ft. Future]  

18 Migos: MotorSport  

19 Metronomy: The Look  

20 Maria Minerva: A Little Lonely  

21 Rae Sremmurd feat. Nicki Minaj: Throw Sum Mo  

22 Kanye West: Black Skinhead  

23 Schoolboy Q: Studio  

24 Jeremih: "Oui"  

25 Lorde: "Royals"  

26 Kendrick Lamar: "Swimming Pools (Drank)" 

27 Loski x Russ x Taze : Olympic Chinging  

28 Migos: Bosses Don't Speak  

29 Dev: In the Dark  

30 Chief Keef: On the Corner  

31 Bruno Mars: Locked Out of Heaven  

32 Tyga: Rack City  

33 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: White Freckles  

34 Migos: "Bad and Boujee"  

35 Travis Scott: Antidote  

36 One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful  

37 21 Pilots: Stressed Out  

38 Future: I'm So Groovy  

39 Schoolboy Q: Collard Greens  

40 Carns Hill: Waps (Remix) (feat. Monkey, Dimzy, R6 & Youngs Teflon)  

41 Drake: One Dance (feat. Wizkid and Kyla)  

42 Rae Sremmurd: No Type  

43 Lil Wayne: Knockout (feat. Nicki Minaj)  

44 Desiigner: Panda  

45 Ty Dolla $ign: Paranoid [ft. Joe Moses] 

46 Zomby: Mercury's Rainbow  

47 Tame Impala: Elephant  

48 Eartheater: Inclined  

49 J Hus: "Did You See"  

50 Die Antwoord: Jou Ma Se Poes In 'n Fishpaste Jar  

What's missing: 

Sophie - "Faceshopping"

Billie Eilish - "Bad Guy"

Geneva Jacuzzi - Love Caboose

Mark Van Hoen - "Holy Me"

Big Sean - "Dance (A$$)"

Big Sean - Beware

Big Sean - Bounce Back

A dozen more Migos tunes frankly 

Icona Pop  "I Love It"

Kendrick Lamar - ‘bitch don’t kill my vibe’

Lorde - Teams

Post Malone, "Rockstar"

Lil Wayne - How to Love

regrettably some Chris Brown tunes ('Loyal' etc)

Ty Dolla Sign - "Paranoid" 

Daft Punk - Fragments of Time, Contact, the one with Panda Bear on

more Ariel Pink - Menopause Man, "Stevepink Javascript feat. R. Stevie Moore", the Ethiopian tune he done ripped off on Before Today,  etc

Pharrell - Happy

Several more Travis Scott tunes

Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

Actress, 'Supreme cunnilingus'

Giggs - Lock Doh feat. Donae'o

Giggs and Mr Eazi – London Town

Giggs and Donaeo – Linguo 

Giggs - Monsta Man

La Roux - In for the Kill

La Roux - Bullet Proof 

Etta James featuring Flo Rida, “Good Feeling”

Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass”, "Beez in the Trap"

Maria Minerva, “Hagasuxzzavol” 

D'Angelo - Prayer

lots more DJ Mustard bits

Kesha - Blow, 

Kesh - Backstabbers (technically 2009 I think, fuck it)

Rihanna - Cheers

Aphex Twin - Original Chaos Riff (technically a reissue or archival first-issue, fuck it)

Bon Iver and James Blake - Creek Fall Boys Choir

More Young Thug

More Chief Keef

More UK drill

Far East Family, "Like A G6

Oneohtrix Point Never - Preyouandi

Lana Del Ray, "Video Games"

YG – Big Bank

YG - Why ya always hatin'

MGMT - several, obvious things, but particularly "When You Die"

James Blake - If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead 

Daphne & Celeste - You and I Alone

The Inhuman League - You Were Working as a Waitress in A Cocktail Bar

Naomi Elizabeth - the Topic is Ass

Holly Herndon  - Fear, Uncertainty Doubt 

Ariel Pink - Another Weekend  

Jeremih - Royalty

Y.G., "Toot It and Boot It"

Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kids"

Gesaffelstein, "Piece of Future"

John Foxx & the Belbury Circle, "Almost There"

Nightshift, “Made You Look (Hugo Massien Remix)”

Ariel Pink, “Put Your Number In My Phone”

Theo Nasa, “Area 51”

Area 8, “On My Level” 

The Weeknd, "The Hills" 

Let’s Eat Grandma, “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms”

David Bowie, "Blackstar"

---- "Where Are We Now"

Mike Posner, “Pill in Ibiza”

Fat Joe/Remy Ma/French Montana / Infrared, "All the Way Up"

Yo Gotti, “Down in the DM”

Lil Uzi Vert, "XO Tour Llif3"

Rich the Kid, "Plug Walk"

Gucci Mane featuring Migos, "I Get the Bag"

 Miguel featuring Travis Scott, "Sky Walker"

Laibach, "The Lonely Goatherd"

Sunday, June 6, 2021

faves of the 2010s - albums

These were my votes for best albums of the second decade of the 21st Century in the Pitchfork poll of critics

Placement-wise, there was some strategic voting going on here - and at the bottom I've added some things I thought of later that I either should have included but forgot, or got into after the decade ended.   

A lot of these albums, when I look them, especially as we get further down beyond the Top 30 - they're really there for one, or maybe two, tracks that are so immense in my mind that they bring the rest of the record along with them. And although I do my best to fight against it (occupational hazard of the professional critic this), a few have managed to creep in there that are admirations, rather than things  that induce voluptuous delight and are actively listened to repeatedly. 

1 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Before Today

2 Migos: Culture

3 Haim: Days Are Gone 

4 Future: Dirty Sprite 2 

5 Metronomy : The English Riviera

6 eMMplekz: Rook To TN34

7 Various: Bangs and Works Vol 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation

8 Travis Scott: Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight

9 Rangers: Suburban Tours

10 Migos : Culture II

11 Vampire Weekend: Contra 

12 Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal 

13 Maria Minerva: Tallinn At Dawn

14 Gonjasufi: A Sufi and a Killer

15 Ariel Pink: Pom Pom 

16 Moon Wiring Club: When A New Trick Comes Out, I Do An Old One

17 Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife 

18 Rustie: Glass Swords 

19 Kanye West: Yeezus 

20 Let's Eat Grandma: I, Gemini

21 Assembled Minds: Creaking Haze and Other Rave Ghosts

22 Moon Wiring Club: A Fondness For Fancy Hats ~ Soft Confusion

23 Hybrid Palms: Pacific Image

24 D.D. Denham: Electronic Music in the Classroom

25 Traxman: Da Mind of Traxman

26 Young Thug: Barter 6 

27 Future: Purple Reign

28 eMMplekz Your Crate Has Changed: Your Crate Has Changed

29 Future: Future

30 Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d city

31 Ekoplekz: Four Track Mind

32 Moon Wiring Club: Cateared Chocalatiers

33 Amnesia Scanner: Another Life

34 eMMplekz: You Might Also Like

35 Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid

36 D'Angelo / The Vanguard: Black Messiah

37 Proc Fiskal: Insula

38 Mica Levi: Under the Skin OST

39 Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica 

40 David Bowie: Blackstar

41 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes

42 Moon Wiring Club: Today Bread, Tomorrow Secrets

43 Actress: Splazsh

44 The Knife: Shaking the Habitual

45 Moon Wiring Club: Playclothes from Faraway Places

46 Future: Evol

47 Baron Mordant: Mark of the Mould

48 Young Echo: Nexus

49 Jlin: Black Origami

50 Die Antwoord: $O$

Should have added; 

Eartheater – Isiris 

Lo Five - Geography of the Abyss 

The Caretaker end of time epic

Ekoplekz, Intrusive Incidentalz Vol 1

KWJAZ, s/t

Kang Ding Ray, Or

Jon Brooks, Music for Thomas Carnacki

More Moon Wiring Club!

More Ekoplekz!

Any eMMplekz records I didn't include above!

Oneohtrix Point Never -   R Plus 7

Arca - Xen (impressively mutated and unpleasant!)

some Lee Gamble - the jungle-revenant one certainly

Chino Amobi - Paradiso

David Bowie, The Next Day (mostly for the first single off it really)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Pitchfork album of year and track of year / album of decade and track of decade (i.e. 2010s) blurbs (director's cut versions)


Future, DS2  (2015)

Future’s consistency works to his disadvantage – the decade’s relentless stream of albums and mixtapes can feel like a level plane. DS2 is manifestly some kind of peak, though, in quality and mainstream impact.  The album works as a microcosm of Future’s career: fixated in themes and mood, a steady accumulation of dirge upon dirge sustaining his bleak vision of joyless hedonism. Ambient music, almost, if the beats – mostly Metro Boomin here – didn’t hit with such pummeling physicality. Memorable images flash up now and then: the codeine urine of  “Thought It Was A Drought”, the literal money-laundering of “Blood On the Money.” But Future is not a lyrical MC in the tradition upheld today by Kendrick Lamar. He’s a voice more than a writer, shines as texture rather than text – and his most crucial accomplice was engineer Seth Firkins (RIP), the Auto-Tune wizard who coated Future’s bleary croon in a hundred subtle shades of digital grit.  A plateau of pleasure-pain, DS2 finally breaks loose with the closer “F*ck Up Some Commas”: an anthem of ecstatic indifference, Future squandering money and life-force over Southside & DJ Spinz’s slow-mo stampede. The third verse, where Future chops his vocal against the beat like a deejay slashing the cross-fader, is one of the decade’s most thrilling and purely musical moments.

Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles” (2016)

Calling yourself a rock star became a rap meme this decade – it simultaneously affirmed hip hop’s centrality in the culture, laid claim to an inheritance of artistic grandiosity, and turned decadence into an aspirational ideal. Despite strong bids from Kanye and “Future Hendrix”, despite Post Malone literalizing it into numbing cliché, Rae Sremmurd own the idea for all time thanks to “Black Beatles”. Propelled to #1 off the back of the Mannequin Challenge YouTube craze,  it truly deserved the top spot for its unusual sound and magical mystical mood.  Mike WiLL Made-It’s loping beat and haunting synth conjure a feeling of floaty suspension, which probably then triggered the lyric-concept and its sense of having stepped through the looking glass into a dreamworld of super-fame.  There’s something strangely pure-hearted about the fey sighing way Swae Lee murmurs lines like “quick release the cash watch it fall slowly” – as though Sremmurd have somehow gone through the excess of lust and ego and now levitate serenely, above it all,  “nothing to explain”.  In a song crammed with great lines, Slim Jxmmi sees off Lee and guest Gucci Mane with his kicker “me and Paul McCartney related.” The impudence is adorable, the hubris hilarious…. and yet “Black Beatles” really is a psychedelic pearl as radiant as “Rain.”

Tinashe feat. ScHoolboy Q,  “2 On” (2014)

DJ Mustard dominated rap radio in the first half of this decade with hits for the likes of YG and Tyga. But the LA producer’s finest moment was this ratchet & B  beauty, which streamed out of car speakers like shimmering strands of honey all through 2014. Kicking off with the famous “Mustard on the beat, hoe”  tag and deftly weaving in his other audio-logo (marching marines chanting “hey”),  the beat is widescreen and intricately sculpted. Its rhythmic components – a curling high-toned bassline that seems to whir and chime, a descending roll of pizzicato syn-drums – are so ear-catching they compete with the gorgeous vocal melody. “2 On” is Tinashe’s term for too high, intoxication chased to the edge of oblivion. The lyric ripples with references to liquor and smoke, and the song’s forthright celebration of “getting faded till we trip” may well have contributed to it only reaching #24 on Billboard. (That and a  salacious feature from ScHoolboy Q, adding sex to the drugs-drink combo). “Live fast die young that’s my choice”  does sound nihilistic, admittedly. But the sensual slur to the way Tinashe lingers over the chorus “I luuuuu to get 2 on” is joyous and life-affirming, a million miles from the deadened hedonism of so much trap. Dissolution has never sounded so delicious.

David Bowie, Blackstar (2016)

Bowie was sometimes accused of being calculating.  He even made that criticism of himself -  remember “never did anything out of the blue” on “Ashes to Ashes”?  But the personality trait served Bowie triumphantly when it came to stage-managing his exit as an artist: a public adieu that comprised not just Blackstar, with its bold music, perfect title, stunning artwork, and startling videos, but the play Lazarus and the box set Nothing Has Changed. Even the timing was immaculate, Blackstar coming out two days before his death. As pop’s greatest self-dramatist, he doubtless felt he owed his audience a consummate denouement. But you also get the sense from Blackstar that Bowie felt free of  obligations,  able to explore and experiment to his art’s content. Unlike the preceding album The Next DayBlackstar betrays zero concern for radio play or other worldly metrics of success. The cutting edges dominate, with a sound-palette steeped in lifelong loves like jazz and brief passions like drum and bass. An early hero, who himself ventured far from chart pop, also looms large: Scott Walker.  But although the urgent desire to break new ground rather than revisit familiar pathways is palpable, almost inevitably flickers from across Bowie’s vast past appear here and there.  The harmonica texture from Low’s “A New Career In A New Town” , for instance, rematerializes on the closing “I Can’t Give Everything Away”. That title could be read as  Bowie affirming the value of mystique. It’s notable that he never wrote a memoir -  a rare act of superstar tact.  Yet while Blackstar’s words are oblique, vocally and emotionally Bowie has rarely seemed more achingly exposed. Time will tell if this final statement ranks with the several peaks of the 1970s. But the opening title track is certainly one of the strangest and strongest things Bowie ever made.  The glassy-grey waver of his voice sounds like he’s already a ghost. The  refrain “I’m a blackstar” serves as a chilling image for the extinction of personality, but also hints at the way  icons fascinate long after they’ve expired, just like black holes emit radiation.  “Something happened on the day he died” goes another line in the song – again, Bowie seems to look ahead to the sheer Event that was January 10th 2016 and, like the careful planner that he was, prepares us for the feeling that part of the sky’s gone out.

Vampire Weekend, Contra  (2010)

Vampire Weekend’s 2008 debut offended the punk-minded with its Wes Anderson-like vignettes of upper class life. Upping the ante, Contra took its title from Nicaragua’s CIA-backed right-wing paramilitaries - a witty inversion of The Clash’s Sandinista, named in tribute that country’s socialist government.  Contra amplifies and exacerbates all the aspects of Vampire Weekend that trad indie rock fans associated with la contrarrevolución –the dainty details, the blithe bounciness, the preppy smartness, the clever-clever references. Polishing the debut’s demo-like sound, Contra set its sights on the charts. Drum machines merge with hand-played rhythm, digital reverb lends a slightly canned quality to proceedings, and, on the mad sprint of “California English,” Ezra Koenig’s already buttery voice is buffed to a slick Auto-Tune sheen.   What Contra does share with Sandinista is the later Clash’s outward-facing perspective and yen for border-crossing hybridity. The instrumental palette includes rebolo, zabumba, and shereke,  and no, I don’t know what those are either. But these exotic borrowings read less like rhythms-of-resistance solidarity and more like liberal-elite tourism. The album’s supreme fusion-cuisine triumph is “Diplomat’s Son”, a seamless melange of Caribbean rhythm, Morrissey, Michael Nyman-style minimalism, and 1940s vocal harmonies. While it’s tempting to read the title as yet another Clash reference (Strummer sang like a gutternsipe but his dad worked for the British Foreign Service), it comes from a Koenig short story about boarding school and has nothing to do with Rostam Batmanglij’s lyric about gay sexual initiation. What does it all add up to? Whose side are Vampire Weekend on anyway? It’s hard to care when the sound is this captivating and the words dance with the melodies so attractively.

2018 albums + tracks of the year

 Travis Scott, Astroworld

Young people have loved Travis Scott for years now. So have radio programmers. 2018 was when Informed Opinion woke up to his sound-design skills. The standard accusation previously directed at Scott – more convenor of other talents than talent in his own right – was abruptly retired. That curatorial networking flair is actually still in evidence on Astroworld, which recruits everyone from Stevie Wonder to the ghost of Notorious B.I.G. But what’s striking about the album is how it all sounds like Travis Scott: the host rarely gets over-shadowed by the guests, the broth is not spoiled by the ridiculous number of cooks. “Sicko Mode” splits its song publishing between 30 names and involves six producers, but still triumphs as the album’s banger (albeit one that comes in three parts). Stereo-panning growls and vocals like anesthetic gas seeping under the door in a Sixties spy movie make “5 % Tint” another killer. Doubts persist about Travis ever becoming the Kanye-level major artist he craves to be. Rarely memorable, the lyrics mostly traffic in hollow-inside hedonism only a notch above Post Malone’s shtick. But you don’t turn to Scott for insights into our contemporary decadence, you come for the exquisitely intricate ear-candy: queasy stereo-sculpted effects, dilated smears of texture, startling vocal treatments.  More about mood than meaning, Scott’s music is a glistening vapor that fills your headphones or car interior with cocooning unreality.  File under ‘ambient’.

-        Migos, “Stir Fry” 

Compared with the preceding Culture II single “MotorSport”, whose wafting ethereality pointed to a new post-trap direction for their sound, “Stir Fry” is Migos playing by old skool rules - and winning. Originally made for T.I. but never used, Pharrell’s beat dates to 2008; its feel harks back further still, recalling the raw funk of Neptunes productions like Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass”. Running through the whole of “Stir Fry” is a nagging ear-worm that’s positively primordial: a whistling motif based on an organ lick from Mohawks’s 1968 R&B tune “The Champ,” already sampled hundreds of times in hip hop. Riding the loping, breakbeat-like groove, Takeoff, Offset and Quavo reel off references to fast-food chains whose downhome cheapness contrasts with the more typical litany of namechecks for expensive foreign watches and cars. But that just fits the contradictory aspiration expressed in Quavo’s Auto-crooned hook: the wish and the vow to “still be real and famous.” 2018 was the year Migos became a meme: parodied in a SNL sketch, celebrity guests on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. They exist now somewhere between Street and Simulacrum, turning snapshots of vice and viciousness into blithe and buoyant entertainment. The tongue-twisting, lip-smacking assonance of this irresistible single’s chorus -  “in the kitchen wrist-twistin’ like it’s stir fry” - makes crack preparation seem as harmless and wholesome as a cooking show.  

(NB "Stir Fry" is my 19th favorite track on Culture II)

Aphex Twin, “T69 Collapse”

It’s hard to think of another electronic artist who’s enjoyed a late-career rejuvenation like Richard D. James’s. Instead of glum self-plagiarizing stagnation, his artistic middle age has been a sustained eruption of  surprise and delight. Continuing the recent run that includes Syro and Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments, the Collapse EP bursts its skin with ripening creativity: a feeling of panoply and plenitude caught in the vocal snippet that promises to lead the listener to “the land of abundance”. Opener “T69 Collapse” is a fitting herald of the richness within. It starts with the whispery crispness of intricately edited beats, skidding and slipping like a tap-dancer on an oily floor: a flashback to the serene frenzy of late-Nineties drill and bass, when James and his IDM comrades strove to beat jungle at its own breakbeat game. But things get really interesting mid-song, when the collapse referenced in the title occurs: a juddering tumble of drums that feels like an astrophysical rupture, Time itself swirling down the cosmic plughole. The tune then pulls itself together like reverse-film of an explosion, gliding out with feverishly dainty beat-work offset by an archetypally Aphex pensive melody, daubed in milky synth so tonally smeared it feels like your ears are being pulled out of focus. 27 years into a recording career and approaching his life’s half-century mark, James exhibits a limber vitality and an evergreen joy in creation that’s as remarkable as it is enviable.


2019 albums + tracks of the year


Nothing Great About Britain

Brexit broke Britain, fast-rewinding the country to the ‘70s, when it first joined Europe and last seemed this close to collapse. Perhaps that’s why slowthai, a grime MC from the nowheresville dead-center of England, often feels so punk. Publicity stunts like brandishing Boris Johnson’s decapitated head at a music-biz awards ceremony can’t help but recall the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious gets an explicit namecheck on one song, and there’s even a sample from an ancient doc about glue-sniffing. Elsewhere the evocations are early millennial:  the loping strings-propelled beat on “Drug Dealer” could be The Streets, there’s a reference to Dizzee Rascal. These echoes might add up to deja vu if it weren’t for slowthai’s outsize personality and razor eye. From the touching Tupac-like tribute to his single mom on “Northampton’s Child” to the teen miscreant memoir “North Nights”, he’s got a way with words. But it’s the waywardness of his delivery that really grabs. Sounding (and looking) like a cross between a grimacing gargoyle and an impish  urchin, he lurches from side to side of the groove, like a very drunk man approaching on a sidewalk – you flinch but you also lean in to hear what’s got him so agitated. Even more than calling Her Majesty the C-word, slowthai’s mangling of the Queen’s English is his true feat of treason. 

Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”

On the radio, “Bad Guy” jumps out by not jumping out the speakers. The volume seems to drop and the song pulls the listener in close, making you strain to catch the breath braided so exquisitely by Billie and co-producing brother Finneas. A pop miniaturist who shuns large canvas displays of vocal acrobatics, Eilish skirts the edge of inaudible to invent a new kind of subdued sass. Her virtuosity resides in tone and texture – the delicious derision of “duh”, the way she smudges consonants and crumbles vowels in her mouth like flaky pastry. Apart from the occasional deliberately unsubtle effect, like the juddering digital croak on the chorus, it’s an artfully crafted illusion of intimacy. “Bad Guy” is a crawlspace of a track that feels like it’s made of the same whispery fabric as Billie’s voice:  clicks, whirrs, fingersnap flurries and ear-tickling sounds purpose-built for ASMR tingles. Furtive and nimble, the beat moves just like the lines about “creeping around like no one knows” on “tippy toes”. The intricate weave of mids make for earbud intimacy, but the bass, when it hits, has the dancefloor heft of trap. As for Eilish’s jaded Goth-pop shtick, those who can only remember being teenage might smile at lines like “my soul? So cynical.” But for the actual teens who’ve followed her rise from TikTok to chart top (she’s the first person born in the 21st Century to reach #1), Eilish captures the tender mess of being young and alive.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

top electronic 2000 (Sonicnet)

my picks for top electronic music albums of 2000, for Sonicnet webzine
1. Isolee, Rest (Playhouse). Multi-tiered rhythms, snaking pulse-riffs and headphone-friendly production riddled with wormhole-y details made for this year's most eminently listenable house album.

2. Ananda Project, Release (Nitegroove). Wamdue's Chris Brann returns with spacious deep house shimmerscapes fueled by bittersweet epiphanies (especially "Cascades of Colour") and spiritual yearning.

3. Herbert, Let's All Make Mistakes (Tresor). The English doyen of quirky-but-gorgeous house, Matthew Herbert drops his first mix-CD, a flawless mosaic of abrasive minimalism and succulent sensuality.

4. Pole, 3 (Matador). Stefan Betke's most rootsical and skankadelic avant-dub foray thus far sounds as warped and fuzzy as a lost King Tubby master tape dropped in a puddle, left to dry in the sun, then forgotten for 24 years.

5. Various Artists, Clicks+Cuts (Mille Plateaux). A showcase for "glitch," the new skool of electronica made from digital distortion and the snap-crackle-pops of molested machinery, this double-disc comp is always stimulating and often surprisingly "musical."

6. Green Velvet, Green Velvet (F-111/Warner Bros.). Curtis Jones' genius is his knack for writing and singing story-ditties that not only don't detract from the harsh, pounding, mechanistic house he purveys in his "tracky" Green Velvet persona, but actually make the experience even more alien and tripped-out.

7. Kid 606, Down With the Scene (Ipecac). Mashing up DSP-addled breakbeats, gabba noise, glitchy electronix, emo-core passion and Riot Boy petulance, Michael Depredo brings mischief, humor and sheer character to the overly scientific IDM world.

8. Various Artists, Lily of the Valley (Schematic). The missing link between 2 Live Crew and Autechre, booty and brain, the Miami-bassed Schematic crew showcases its roster's flair for rhythmic convolution, texturological research and low-end boom.

9. Various Artists, Pure Garage: Mixed Live by E-Z (Warner ESP). This series, now up to its third volume, offers the best introduction to two-step garage, the UK's freshest sound since jungle emerged back in '94.

10. Hellfish & Producer, Constant Mutation (Planet Mu). Industrial-strength hardcore enlivened with mad breakbeats and turntablist mayhem, this mix-CD — assembled entirely out of the duo's own oeuvre — suggests that gabba's distorted kick-drum aesthetic may be the next frontier for IDM.