It's that time of the year again. As the days become shorter and we start seeing 2017 in the midst, we at Magnetic start reflecting on the events of the year. While there was a lot to dislike about 2016, one thing that was great was the creative output provided to us by new artists and old. In times like these, music has infinitely helped us get past our problems, even if it was only for an hour at most.
It's difficult to condense this artistically fruitful year into 25 stunning records, but we've finally managed to come up with a list of our favorites. From James Blake's elegant and emotive third album to Kaytranda's funk-influenced record, this year brought forth much needed creative energy to the world. 2016 will be remembered for a whole host of other reasons, but it will be highlighted for music as much as it is for anything else.
25. Eric Prydz - Opus - Virgin Records
Eric Prydz is no stranger to the Magnetic Mag posting boards, and his album Opus has landed in our top 25 for the year for obvious reasons. With complicated synth work and an addicting beat, Prydz proves yet again that he's got creativity spilling over for days.
24. Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald Present Borderland - Transport - Tresor Records
For dance music fans like us, Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald are veterans that need no introduction, and the two of them working on a record together is pure electronic music heaven. Is there really any surprise this would make this list?
23. Delta Heavy - Paradise Lost - RAM Records
We interviewed Delta Heavy recently, and if there is one thing we learned, their fans are truly some of the most hard core out there. Delta Heavy's album exhibits the same hard-fighting, hard-partying style they display live which make their shows a must-see. Hard hitting Drum and Bass is alive and well and these guys are helping to keep the fires burning.
22. deadmau5 - W:/2016ALBUM/ - Ultra
deadmau5 has always been a controversial figure in dance music and has even distanced himself from his latest work with tweets like "I don't even like it." With statements like that it was hard to approach W:/2016ALBUM/ without some kind of bias, but maybe that was the mau5's intent all along. He may feel that his work has not quite hit his creative apex but we have taken that sentiment with a very large grain of salt. The album is complex and subtle in what one might argue is a return to his signature sound that made so many people gravitate to him in the first place. Experimental in spots and beautifully simple in others, deadmau5 has returned to his sweet spot and we are ok with that, more than ok in fact. When you look back on the careers of artists like Moby, The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and many others they all have one thing in common, a definitive sound that kept fans coming back. deadmau5 will hopefully just push that sound in new directions, until then we will be thoroughly enjoying W:/2016ALBUM/.
21. The Avalanches - Wildflower - Modular Recordings
After a VERY long absence, The Avalanches suddenly reappeared with a full-length album their first in ten years, and we're more than glad that they're back. Working with the likes of Danny Brown, and sampling Paul and Linda McCartney, this album proved why the Melbourne-based group has been beloved by so many for the last ten years and has us clamoring for more. Let's just hope the next album doesn't take a decade to complete.
20. Louie Vega - Starring...XXVIII - Vega Records
What can be said about Louie Vega that hasn't been said before? The production and remix whiz has been making us dance since the 90's, and Starring...XXVII is no different. Working with a whole host of different artists on this record, he once again proves to the listeners everywhere why he's such an acclaimed figure in the dance music scene. His sound is classic deep house and has helped define an entire era of dance music. If you are looking for a true representation of what deep house really is then look no further, this record sums it up perfectly.
19. Dusky - Outer - Polydor Records
From the moment this record starts, Dusky takes the listener into a cinematic journey of lush and emotionally driven contemporary house music. We've had our eye (and our ear) on this duo for a while now with their nostalgic nods to the roots of house and their complex and ever evolving sound. Outer takes things one step further and brings together a true album, which is not an easy task in dance music. This long player is lush, it's emotional, it's dreamy and it reminds us why we love them so much. More please!
18. Michael Mayer - & - K7
The latest work by electronic music legend Michael Mayer is just what you would expect a masterful exercise in forward thinking yet backwards compatible house music. The co-founder of the highly influential Kompakt Records may call himself a "hobby producer," but we can see right through his modesty and this record proves why he is so essential to electronic dance music as both a producer and a label boss. If you haven't experienced his work or the label, then may we suggest diving in at the deep end immediately. You are welcome!
17. Underworld - Barbara, Barbara, we face a shining future - NA
Nine studio albums in and Underworld are still making some of the most critically acclaimed music in the genre. This is no easy task, but once you become intimate with Underworld it will come as no surprise. They are one of the true heavy weights of electronic music and still stand as beacon of excellence in what has become a very foggy and saturated scene. With a 2017 Grammy nomination under their belt, they are one thing the official music committee and we agree on.
16. The Orb - COW / Chill Out, World! - Kompakt
It's been a great year from electronic music veterans returning with a full-length album, and The Orb is no different. COW/Chill Out, World is their most exciting yet, and the two prove exactly why they are pioneers in the ambient world.
15. Shapeshifter - Stars - Hospital Records
Shapeshifter bring their New Zealand attitude to their drum-work and the resulting album, Stars, is a bold return from the Drum and Bass favorites. Complex and catchy, this has rightly been approved by critics and fans alike and their production prowess lands them as #15 on our list. If you are looking for a D&B record that has listentability, danceablity and "sing in your car like a total lunatic ability", then by all means pop this on immediately!
14. M83 - Junk - Mute Records
M83 has been in the game for years, and with lush synths, pop-influenced capabilities, and intricate progressions, this album is a standout among M83's already deep discography. Junk is what you might call weird in a good way, it may be a slight departure from his other albums but in a way that keeps you blown away not shrugging your shoulders in confusion. This album demands repeat listening!
13. Bon Iver - 22, A Million - Jajjaguwar
Bon Iver has been an indie darling for a while now and his latest work continues to keep us inspired and dialed in. The latest album might be alienating for some fans with its heavy reliance on electronic production but that's what makes it so fresh and inspiring. Bon Iver is moving forward in a way that few artists dare to do and it works out for him.
12. Moderat - III - Monkeytown
Moderat haven't made a wrong move, and their album III is a continuation of the legacy they've been paving for themselves. Indie at times, experimental, and electronic, and even traces of hip hop at others. This is electronic music at its finest and most inspiring.
11. Sasha - LNT: Scene Delete - Night Time Stories
It takes a lot to make a great album, and not everyone can do it. Luckily Sasha is one of those that managed to master all of that and more. Traditionally known for his music more in line with the dance side of things, he's brought forth a deep and sentimental album that shows his maturity and depth as an artist. Each song blends into the other like a puzzle piece sliding into place. Scene Delete demands your attention with every sonic detail, so put on the headphones and find a dark quite space for what is truly an epic journey in sound.
10. DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall - Mass Appeal Records
DJ Shadow's addicting album lands in our top ten for obvious reasons. His experimental take that sits at the crossroads of electronic and hip-hop music highlight just how much talent the producer has. He's been in the game for over 20 years now, and his progressive style is always one step above the rest. The Mountain Will Fall will last much longer than just 2016.
9. Zeds Dead - Northern Lights - Deadbeatz
Zeds Dead have secured their name as one of the best duos to come out of Toronto's vibrant music scene and with an album like Northern Lights, It's not hard to see why they've had so much success.
They teamed up with the likes of Rivers Cuomo, Jadakiss, Pusha T, Twin Shadow, and many more to create an album that pushes far past any pigeon holes they might have been shoved into. Their intricate style and bass-heavy production prove that they know how to have a great time and put creative genius into an album.
8. Nils Frahm - Solo Remains - Erased Tapes
Solo Remains is a project that started a long time ago, considering Solo, the album which the remains landed on this album, was crafted a little while back. Despite that, who cold say no to more Nils Frahm? We certainly couldn't, and considering how much our staff loved the extra cuts that made this album, we knew this would be in our top 5. It's haunting, magnetic energy draws everyone in, and the delicate nature of the piece makes this one of the best albums we've heard all year.
7. Kaytranada - 99.9% - XL Recordings
No one has made a funkier album on this list than Kaytranada. Balancing between disco, funk, soul, and hip hop influences, this album simultaneously sounds one step in the future and one step in the past. Working with some of today's most exciting singers, Syd the Kyd and Anderson .Paak just to name two, Kay has been changing what it means to be a soundcloud producer in more ways than one. Intimate to a fault and yet almost too funky for today's dancefloor, the Canadian producer might have a hard time ever topping this debut project (but we sure hope not!).
6. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool - Capitol
Radiohead have done it yet again, and this time, their album has landed them nominations for both a Mercury Prize and Grammy Awards. Thom Yorke and co. are always ever-changing, and their creative genius shows no bounds. A Moon Shaped Pool is challenging and vulnerable, and while it's hard to ever say one piece of work is the best, especially in the case of Radiohead, this one is sure to stand out in their long discography.
5. Black Coffee - Pieces Of Me - Ultra
Black Coffee, in general, has had a massive year, but the album is certainly a standout. The South African artist is minimal and yet complex, with layers upon layers of bleeps and bloops that come together to become something truly greater than their parts. The talented DJ and producer has truly mastered the ability to captivate a crowd, and Pieces of Me prove all of that and more.
4. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens - Other People
Where do we start with Nicolas Jaar? It seems like everything he touches turns to music gold, and since his days with DARKSIDE, he seems to have gone further in experimenting his style and sound. Sirens is truly highbrow music, influenced by Jaar's creative writing past and citing religious philosophers and poets. This album in pure brilliance and demands your full attention, headphones are highly recommended for the full impact.
3. James Blake - The Colour In Anything - Polydor Ltd.
For most people, having such solid debut work makes the second and third LP a massive challenge, but when you're James Blake, things are a little different. With vocals that strike the heart and minimal background, Blake has managed to craft something melodic and intricate, despite keeping the minimally electronic background in check. He's never sacrificed his style and sound, and yet the growth that transcends from his first and second album come together in this third. It's hard to know where Blake will go next - but we are sure it will be excellent.
2. Flume - Skin - Future Classic
Future Classic has been leading the way in their style of music, and Flume is yet a standout among even their insanely talented roster. With an easy Australian style weaved in-between his carefully detailed music, Skin was undoubtedly set to be a classic since the moment the world started hearing previews. The record is simply brilliant. It feels good, passionate, and transformative and proves that bass music can have a deeper and more complicated side. We will continue to expect big things from this artist and cannot wait for the next offering.
1. Weval - Weval - Kompakt
Our number 1 spot goes to Weval for a myriad of reasons. They've brought forth something truly special in their style and sound, and the duo have a little something for anyone in their self-titled release. A bit electro, a bit indie, a bit dance, a bit experimental, the album is a gradient of various influences and sounds that come together to be a cohesive, beautiful whole. It's clear they started in the film industry, their album plays like one, telling a story that works for whoever is listening. Weval displays a metamorphosis-like change throughout the album, and by the time you are finished listening you are left scratching your head in disbelief. Then your hand reaches out for the play button, and off you go again and again and again.