At Electronic Beats, we’ve felt ambivalent about claiming authority over the best albums of the year. These lists are often biased and can barely scratch the surface when it comes to highlighting the breadth of incredible music out there. So instead of presenting a list of the biggest releases of the year, or even the ones that garnered the most attention, we’re giving you our personal favourites. These are the records that meant the most to us: some we got to experience live with the return of clubs and festivals this summer, others touched us on a more heady, conceptual level, or gave us a much-needed mental break from the whirlwind of this year. These are the records that gave us goosebumps in 2021.
SEX is many things – an exhibition by day and a series of live works by night exhibited at London’s Tate Modern, The Art Institute of Chicago and Castello di Rivoli in Italy. It was released this year on PAN as an LP – a collection of reworked songs composed during the shows. Carried by Eliza Douglas’ haunting voice, SEX is as far-reaching as production possibly can be, building sonic bridges between industrial, grunge, and classical and baroque music. If she doesn’t like the word Gesamtkunstwerk that’s often associated with her work, there’s certainly an operatic sense of grandeur emerging from the hollow contemporary artist Anne Imhof carves inside us. MD
Arca – Kick II
2021 was the year for Latin American artists. Afro-Caribbean rhythms, like reggaeton and dancehall, were omnipresent in most of the year’s stand-out club mixes. Dominican-American producer Kelman Duran’s DANCEHALL, AUDUBON BALLROOM perfectly encapsulates this fusion. His latest album, Night In Tijuana, the first release on his own label Scorpio Red, is a cinematic mixtape unravelling over 12 tracks. Blending his signature style of diaspora club sounds with free jazz, strings, and field recording fragments, Night in Tijuana offers a stunning commentary on the angst of contemporary life. CW
Few electronic artists make their raw, earnest personality traits into a form as well as Louisahhh. Since the proactive feminist opened her wounds to the world a few years ago about her recovery journey from addiction, the New York-born, Paris-based artist has been on a path of self-discovery that led her from her bold, anti-establishment release to a fully-fledged debut LP. Channelling her DIY, punk aesthetics and forging her struggles into brutally beautiful songs reminiscent of the heydays of US alt-rock, this album couldn’t have found a better home than poly sexual label HE.SHE.THEY as their inaugural album release. MD
Words by the EB editorial team: Marie Dapoigny (Senior Editor), Caroline Whiteley (Editor), Claire Schäfer (Social Media Editor), Ellen King (Social Media Editor), Nicolo Fischer (Social Media Editor), Laurenz Niemeyer (Junior Social Media Editor).
Published December 21, 2021.