With just a few days from the current year left, I’ve compiled a list of 20 albums from 2018 that I enjoyed this year. Among these I have to highlight the much anticipated Mutant Beat Dance debut album, the first ever album from Gerard Hanson under the E.R.P. project, a new Gerald Donald project and a compilation of unreleased Heinrich Mueller remixes, a Silent Servant follow-up on Hospital Productions, a very interesting Fred Ventura compilation of unreleased house tracks, a new Lebanon Hanover, the beautiful debut album of Curses, the impressive Eindkrak album and the debut album of the Romanian producer Șerb.
The list is compiled in chronological order.
Eindkrak – Brullend Staal [Unknown Precept]
Eindkrak’s long player debut echoes the distant sound of steel being crushed and cars pressed into cubes. A leisurely stroll on crumpled metal sheets, the acidic hints of oxidized metal and the smell of gasoline. Inaudible and distorted vocals as if smothered by the clatter and smokestacks of steel factories. Eindkrak’s first full-length is all about this disquietude made of melted and straightened scrap metal.
Fred Ventura – Future Unknown: The Lost House Trax 1988-1992 [Mannequin]
Conceived along the space of a few years and part of a big collection of unfinished experiments stored on cassette tapes, this eight tracks selection well represents Fred Ventura’s late 80s and early 90s infatuation with Chicago House, Detroit Techno, early Warp records and even a secret passion for EBM. Using a basic set up made of Roland Juno 106, Roland JX-8p, Oberheim DX, Roland TR909 and an Akai sampler, these tracks were never officially mixed and meant to be released until today. Minimal and hypnotic, dry and direct, both sides of the record show an instinctive approach to rhythms and basslines, typical of those days where computer didn’t have a predominant role in the creative process.
Jeff Mills – And Then There Was Light [Axis]
Jeff Mills provided the soundtrack for a Japanese film by Tatsushi Omori called ‘And Then There Was Light’. The movie focuses on a teenager who kills his girlfriend’s other lover while mistaking their affair for sexual assault. The dark tone of both novel and film naturally shines through in Mills’ refreshingly electronic score, which flits between moments of quietly spacey ambience, creepy intensity, Reichian minimalism, icy soundscapes, industrial strength intensity and full-throttle Detroit techno.
Franz Falckenhaus – Tupolev System [Giallo Disco]
Danny Wolfers AKA Legowelt AKA the maestro Franz Falckenhaus with an album on Giallo Disco. Shades of Fabio Frizzi, Minimal Synth and Aphex Twin, all combine for this cinematic masterpiece. This obscure, previously CDR only side project Franz Falckenhaus has stood out as one of Danny Wolfer’s most accomplished works.
XOR Gate – Conic Sections [Tresor]
XOR Gate is the brainchild of Heinrich Mueller aka Gerald Donald, one half of Drexciya and Dopplereffekt. ‘Conic Sections’ composed of eight themes, or shapes, over which waveform and synthesis entirely merge with human emotions. These eight themes are intertwined, forming one long musical string.
Nu Guinea – Nuova Napoli [NG]
Nu Guinea aka Massimo Di Lena and Lucio Aquilina watched their home city, Napoli, from a distance reconstructing its energy from their studio in Berlin. ‘Nuova Napoli’ is the result of a long musical research that has become a historical investigation on the sound that shaped Napoli during the ‘70s and ‘80s, starting from the contamination of genres (disco, jazz-funk, African rhythms) which ended up in Nu Guinea’s DNA. In this album the synthesizers fill the spaces between the past and the future, tightening in a single body acoustic instruments, electronics and voices in Neapolitan dialect.
Vive La Void – Vive La Void [Sacred Bones]
Vive la Void is the new solo project of Sanae Yamada. The dense, shape-shifting atmospheres of the seven songs grew out of late-night basement experiments in the layering of synthesizer tracks, a process that also led to meditations on the changeable nature of memory and perception. The result is an undulating blend of ethereal swirl, low end thrumming, and electric crackle, buoyed by Yamada’s understated but captivating vocal melodies and her striking lyrics.
Șerb – A12 Proceedings [Night Defined]
‘A12 Proceedings’ is the first full-length album by Romanian producer and DJ, Șerb. A record made in sparse moments while living between the crooked walls of an old apartment building in Bucharest.
Gavin Guthrie – The Totality [Medical]
The 2nd full length album by Gavin Guthrie AKA TX Connect. Influenced by a diverse background of Italo, acid, horror soundtracks, industrial and EBM, Gavin crafts dance floor stompers using analog tools and tape.
Lebanon Hanover – Let Them Be Alien [Fabrika]
‘Let Them Be Alien’ is Lebanon Hanover’s 5th album. Exploring the sonic and emotional range that you would expect from Lebanon Hanover, ‘Let Them Be Alien’ is built up in emotional vocals, liquid chords, dramatic keys and distorted digital waves where the duo recalls the eerie clouds of industrial and goth 1980’s. The album depicts the dark honesty and profound feelings of two alienated personas with true romantic hearts yet feeling socially unrest.
Mutant Beat Dance – Mutant Beat Dance [Rush Hour]
The debut album from renegade trio Mutant Beat Dance (Traxx, Beau Wanzer and Steve Summers) takes the wild and free sound of Chicago’s Music Box era into the 21st Century. Over 25 tracks the album mines an oft cited but rarely understood ground at the intersection of Post-Punk, Minimal Wave, Industrial, Disco Dub, EBM and proto-House / early-House. Unique in its musical range and content from obscure electronics with subliminal messages to funk laden machine grooves, industrial soundscapes, Detroit dirge, cryptic ankle bitter anthems and beyond this is a genre-bending challenging epic of an album.
Heinrich Mueller – False Vacuum [WeMe]
This is the first time any of Heinrich Mueller’s highly sought after remodels/reworks have been compiled together. Many have been previously available only on limited releases and have patiently been awaiting discovery by a wider audience. These 9 specially selected examples embrace all facets of his approach.
Le Syndicat Électronique – Le Syndicat Électronique [Mannequin]
This is the retrospective compilation of the french electro/wave pioneer Le Syndicat Électronique, the historical electro/wave project by Alaxis Andreas G., founder of the seminal Invasion Planète Recordings.
Curses – Romantic Fiction [Dischi Autunno]
‘Romantic Fiction’ is the debut LP from Curses, an honest musical expression drawing influences from his youth growing up in NYC in the 80s. References to new wave, post-punk, synth music and early EBM are skillfully merged with the DIY approach of punk and rock n roll angst. Brandishing an immersive sonic palette, all instruments throughout the album were played and recorded by the artist.
Djedjotronic – R.U.R. [Boysnoize]
On his debut album “R.U.R.” the Berlin producer Djedjotronic lets the cold machines have warm heartbeats, and vice versa. It’s a collection of techno-futuristic themes on modern isolation, robotics, simulation and cyborgs.
Dan Piu – Tru Time And Ages [Childhood Intelligence]
Dan Piu is releasing his first full album with unreleased tracks since 1999. This release is a cross section of styles showcasing the talents of Dan Piu, touching on Techno, House and beyond, a collection of beautiful Chicago & Detroit sounding pieces that he created throughout the last centuries.
Giuliano Sorgini – Africa Oscura [Four Flies]
Recorded by composer and multi-instrumentalist Giuliano Sorgini between 1974 and 1976, ‘Africa Oscura’ is a set of tracks inspired by the wildest and most obscure secrets of those lands, intended to be the background of some TV documentaries. All tracks are entirely played by composer himself, with drums, percussions and all sorts of analog synths overlaps, to create an afro-ambient soundscape, something halfway between electronic and minimalism, with a vibrant prog flavour.
Heinrich Dressel – Lost in the Woodland [Bordello A Parigi]
From the whimsical resonance of the title piece, a sonic pathway through a verdant soundscape is laid. Gentle melodies caress and embrace before the road bends into shadows filled with dramatic twists and unseen dangers. Romantic moments are juxtaposed by triumphal chords and daring drums signalling immediate panic or outright victory. This is a woodland of divergent emotions, one where sounds give way to feelings and where Heinrich Dressel is the piper leading his followers through what can only be described as an unforgettable journey.
Silent Servant – Shadows Of Death and Desire [Hospital Productions]
Juan Mendez has evolved to more aggressive and stripped-down acid punk electro dance attacks on the latest Silent Servant album, ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’. While many would stall after the success of a now contemporary cult classic, Mendez took his time to deliver a more raw–yet refined–brutalism in his second album.
E.R.P. – Afterimage [Forgotten Future]
Gerard Hanson is releasing spacey and atmospheric electro EPs as E.R.P. since 1996, but ‘Afterimage’ is the project’s first full-length outing. Few can make this kind of deep, emotive and melodious electro quite as well as Hanson, and “Afterimage” arguably includes some of his finest material in this style.