The first two months of 2017 are behind us and despite the loads of social and political discourse sweeping the planet, there are plenty of reasons to stay optimistic. With a possible Daft Punk tour in the works and upcoming albums from Gorillaz, Madeon, Pretty Lights, Odesza and many more already announced, one could easily hype this year up to be one of the very best. So far its panning out to be exactly that as we've already been gifted some fantastic pieces of work during what is usually the slowest point of the year for big releases. Below are six great albums to dive into and start 2017 off right.
Bonobo – Migration (Ninja Tune)
Brighton's Bonobo has a reputation that isn't merely based in high quality beats but thought-provoking, innovative journeys that utilize the best aspects of chill out, techno, and tribal music. Migration will sound instantly familiar to Bonobo fans as he maintains the same mood as his previous release The North Borders, including an array of unique and awkward drum patterns, that work very well, specifically in the title track and “Outlier”, as well as some terrific vocals in tracks like “Grains” and “No Reason”. It's a dark and ominous ride that'll leave you curious and wanting more.
The M Machine – Glare (Mad Zoo)
It's hard not to like The M Machine. The duo that gained popularity through their very acclaimed Metropolis EPs were always thinking outside the box. This year they brought us a debut album that not only satisfies longtime fans but is extremely accessible to any listener. Glare features all the swelling, electric beats you'd expect from a…you know…electronica act, but they've packaged it in the form of futuristic pop music that has just the ideal amount of bubbly, lightheartedness without coming off too commercial. A extremely fun album whose appeal should last the whole year.
Eric Sneo – Sound Traveler (Tronic)
Eric Sneo has been a member of household techno legend Christian Smith's Tronic family since 2013. His first full length serves up more than enough dark, driving techno but sprinkles some treats throughout, like the moody, downtempo tune “Change” and the spacey, almost IDM inspired title track to close out the album. Make no mistake however, the meat and potatoes is the techno, and each tune falls within a wide spectrum of driving and mechanical, deep and smooth, or a mixture of each. Mr. Sneo makes a statement with this record that his techno game is truly on par with all the greats. This could be 2017's answer to last years phenomenal Ructions album from Matador.
Fjaak – Fjaak (Monkeytown)
While Eric Sneo's Sound Traveler shows off the best in polished, modern techno, German trio Fjaak brings the raw, garagy style back in their self titled debut. Every sound and sample on this album is a little rough around the edges, but in a good way, giving off an authentic, oldschool, underground feel. Garage songs like “Sixteen Levels” and “Offline” transition well into unfiltered techno tunes such as “Wolves” and “Gewerbe 15” , which one could easily label as hardcore tracks. The retro aesthetics of the album bring the listener back to the early 90's and still pulls it off over two decades later.
Ill.Gates – Terminally Ill (Multi Music)
As one of the godfathers of the alternative bass movement, Ill.Gates has a high standard of psychedelic, other dimensional beats that few artists in the genre come close to. His long awaited Terminally Ill album is his first full length release since 2011 and the heavy, outer worldly glitch hop and dubby bangers are in full effect without conforming too much to the likes of trap or modern dubstep. The song selection does however incorporate familiar sounds that you'd hear from Snails or Zomboy, but it doesn't define the entire record. In addition, collabs from fellow burner-bass stars G Jones, Minnesota, and Stephen Jacobs make the release all the more wild and a must listen. Read our full review here.
Justin Martin – Hello Clouds Remixed ( DIRTYBIRD)
Justin Martin has always been Dirtybird's MVP (in my opinion) and his debut album Hello Clouds really solidified that. He transcended the label's trademark goofy, wompy, tech house and turned it into a bright, atmospheric, spacey form of electronica that almost had a therapeutic feel to it. The remix album translates Justin's tracks into more dance friendly selections but avoid any dip in quality and never feel cheap or rushed. Notably, DJ Marky's DnB remake of the “Back To The Jungle” is all too appropriate and Low Steppa's version of “The Feels” takes the energy of multiple notches. Simply put, I wish more remix albums were like this one.