Yup, 2017 was the year of the underground….even though it kinda always is. While Rolling Stone Magazine decided to go full Resident Advisor and release a list of obscure, avant-garde, and borderline unlistenable albums as their annual top electronic albums, we have kept note of some of the best records that few seemed to notice. The following albums are as fresh as can be and will remain so even well into 2018.
Crooked Colours – Vera (Sweat It Out!)
This Australian trio isn't brand new but their latest album is definitely turning heads. Vera‘s tropical electronica vibe has enough future bassy and indie pop elements to satisfy the majority of music fanatics. The soft vocals are very reminiscent to other electronica hybrid acts like Glass Animals and are often just as catchy. There's plenty of surprises and variety to make multiple re-listens feel fresh. I highly recommend.
Darius – Utopia (Roche Musique)
Darius is a producer's producer and Utopia is a major showcase for him. Think Flume if he was stuck in a k-hole. Darius injects a surplus of soul into the dark, downtempo, future bass beats and works splendid with the handful of fantastic vocals. While at first glance the album may seem a bit slow, it's charm grows fast. The deep bass demands a high quality headset or sound system to get the true impact of Darius's dreamlike sound and the result's almost disney-ish with how magical and other worldly this album came out. Don't miss this one.
Nu:Logic – Somewhere Between The Light (Hospital Records)
You can always count of Hospital Records to keep the flame of dnb burning strong and this year the British super duo of Nu-Tone and Logistics return with their 2nd collaboration album. Somewhere Between The Light doesn't rewrite the book on liquid but it may be one of the best collection of mellow, dreamy, and well done tracks the genre has to offer this year. Even if you're not an enthusiast, I can guarantee you'll find pleasure in the loose and catchy percussion and the deep yet bright atmosphere that encapsulates the record.
Along with Bonobo's incredible Migration album, Ninja Tune has also given us the self titled debut studio release of Irish duo Bicep. They've released nothing but quality house and techno tracks for the better part of a decade and the album shows their maturity and attention to detail. It definitely leans on the minimal end of the spectrum but manages to captivate with it's rich, organically textured, and tribal dance music. The pacing is also phenomenal as there's a perfect ratio of chill to driving tunes. A must for anyone with a deeper palette.
Kolsch – 1989 (Kompakt)
Kolsch is one of the most intriguing producers in the game today. 1989 is the sequel to 2015's 1983 and continues the same melodic, symphonic techno trend that Kolsch has built his name off of. Noticeably more clubby, with the inclusion of one of the years biggest techno hits “Grey”, 1989 delivers once again with a deep and thought provoking experience that highlights emotions rather than pure energy and rhythm. It's Kompakt's strongest entry of 2017 and all undergrounders should hear it.
Maya Jane Coles – Take Flight (I/AM/ME)
One of the best albums of the year, period. Maya Jane Coles makes a statement as not just a leader of the underground dance scene but one of the best electronic acts currently in music. Take Flight capitalizes on the sound she broke into with her Nocturnal Sunshine project by devoting half the album to dark, funky, incredibly sexy trip hop and downtempo tracks to go along with her trademark deep house and techno sound. At 24 tracks long with not a single weak link among them, Take Flight is one of the most satisfying and complete releases this year that you'll still be listening to way into 2018.