2020 Best Albums

Continuing our past year briefing, after the readers top 3 and best giveaways, we present a list of our 20 favorite albums from 2020.

We have four albums more on the electro side coming from DMX Krew, Men With Secrets (Donato Dozzy and Retina.it), Nullptr and The Exaltics & Heinrich Mueller, while on the industrial/EBM side we have albums by A Civil Terror, La luna sotto il ponte and LBEEZE and impressive works from Black Meteoric Star, Ian Martin and Trenton Chase.
On the synthier side of music we have four albums coming from Das Ding, Linea Aspera, Newclear Waves and Jake Schrock, while for the Detroit lovers we have two Detroit influenced album by The Beneficiaries (Jeff Mills, Eddie Fowlkes and Jessica Care Moore) and The Nightstalker (Dan Piu and Martin Akeret).
Closing the list are the debut album of disco-don Franz Scala on Slow Motion, Obergman‘s acid album on Furthur Electronix, Anthony Collins with his album on Lobster Theremin under the Grant alias and Shifted with his first album on Avian.
The list is compiled in chronological order.

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2020 Best Albums

400PPM – Fit For Purpose [AVNLP004]

New York native Shawn O’Sullivan returns to Avian as 400PPM with debut LP, ‘Fit for Purpose’. As an artist, O’Sullivan has long since explored the juncture between hard-hitting, functional dance floor material and more lofty, conceptual work. From a purely structural standpoint, the artist’s return to Avian bears all the hallmarks of previous output under the alias, utilising the same palette found on early EP’s for Guy Brewer’s label. Stripped back and driven, the music marries caustic drum-machine polyrhythms with warping, pitch bent leads and characteristically atmospheric use of reverb. It’s a decidedly dance floor offering, but the music comes refracted through O’Sullivan’s own lens, with plenty of elegant references to a career spent exploring much of the Techno genre’s periphery, from Noise to New Wave. Crushed vox bubble up from beneath wrought-iron percussion and the artist takes time to step away from high energy 4×4 workouts to explore more complex rhythmic structures and harsh, low tempo grooves. While O’Sullivan’s music as 400PPM might eschew the colour and vibrance of some of the unabashed hedonists that made up the Club Kids scene – who reinvented the DIY spirit of punk rock and incorporated Sci-Fi and the circus, there is on the one hand an undeniable sense of both the rising hysteria that comes with the pervasive and unbridled drug use for which the group were as infamous as their outfits and rejection of then societal norms, and on the other, a further anxiety regarding the notion of machine-made music in a contemporary society swiftly approaching a new and daunting technological age.

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400PPM – Fit For Purpose [AVNLP004]

Kilner – Walk Type [AVN027]

Kilner aka Blawan with a new double EP for Avian. Jamie Roberts is no stranger to the more experimental tenets of the Techno genre, and much of the British artist’s output of late has hinted at more leftfield leanings. It’s this same willingness to break down perceptions regarding his own music that marks Walk Type – Roberts’ debut on the Avian label, as a notable chapter in the artist’s discography. In terms of aesthetic finish, AVN027 might be Roberts’ most comprehensive and well articulated ode to the culture of machine music – but it’s also his most organic offering. Corroded drones provide the basis for much of the material, pitching & bending at will – shifting & warping in and amongst furtive drum work, that by and large sits uncharacteristically deep in the mix.

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Kilner – Walk Type [AVN027]

SHXCXCHCXSH – SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs [AVNLP003]

The Swedish Techno experimentalists SHXCXCHCXSH return to AVIAN with ‘’SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs’’ album. This album is wedded to the Avian aesthetic : monochromatic & wrought with tension. It’s powerfully dynamic and thoroughly organic in execution. An unbound, rolling matrix of white noise & wrought iron percussion, replete with disembodied choirs that pan uncomfortably in and out of the sonic hinterland.

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SHXCXCHCXSH – SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs [AVNLP003]

Grace – Grace [AVN024]

Originally released via Ascetic House in 2015, Vereker’s Grace tape owes much to the canon of vintage anti-music, exploring catharsis via a transgression of traditional compositional & technical values. Working with the same thematic concerns of much of the more leftfield additions to the Avian catalogue – in it’s more subdued moments, anxiety & dissafection; in it’s more high energy – pure hysteria – the recording pairs basic synthesis with warped vocals in the same manner as Industrial progenitors Throbbing Gristle and Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound).

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Grace – Grace [AVN024]

Lituus – 19805. -_ 19905, [AVN021]

Chicago based musician Connor Camburn under the alias Lituus, with an entirely beatless collection that well establishes Avian as the home for the kind of searching electronic experimentation that would have been found on the ten-inch focused imprint that Shifted recently announced would merge with its parent label. Shorn of percussive elements yet not without their own rhythmic structures, Camburn’s six compositions are free of immediate electronic genre influences and instead draw primarily on non-musical inspiration in addition to various other contextual reference points, as he sought to express ideas of the unraveling or ”de-composition” of musical or architectural spaces through musical forms imagined as inverted contours and negative spaces.

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Lituus – 19805. -_ 19905, [AVN021]

SHXCXCHCXSH – Linear S Decoded [AVNLP002]

Rich sounding dark techno from this swedisch duo delivering their second album. Despite their impenetrable name and previous releases, SHXCXCHCXSH’s second album is strangely accessible. It seems that the Swedish duo has learnt the value of subtlety, but without losing their edge. From the eerie ambience of “Entering The S-Cloud” through the distorted, noisy electro of “Elo-cution”, the atmospheric techno sounds of “The Roots” and the snapping percussion and repetitive machine riffs of “Drain the Lord”, Linear S Decoded is one of 2014’s best techno albums.

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SHXCXCHCXSH – Linear S Decoded [AVNLP002]

Faugust – Devotions (1984 – 2006) [MIRA009]

Spellbinding new side project from Sigha. Following his latest Avian release, James Shaw now unveils his Faugust project with a 10” title on the Avian sublabel Mira. Emotive and highly personal, Devotions (1984 – 2006) shows a side of Shaw’s sound that has been largely buried since 2004, combining his experience as a guitarist with many of the sonic approaches that characterise his best known music today. Over the course of four tracks it layers pulsating bass and synth lines with melodic flourishes and a pop sensibility not seen in his other work.

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Faugust – Devotions (1984 – 2006) [MIRA009]

Covered In Sand – Crescent Shapes Scars [MIRA008]

The release features three abrasive noise workouts. Thud of drums and ritualistic rhythms define the opener Luarica on the A-side alongside a near-melodic whine that stays present throughout the tracks. Orapa (An Interview) on the flip swallows and evokes scuffed voices of a conversation, striving into isolation, while Venetia resumes the haunting rhythm and layers of distortion.

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Covered In Sand – Crescent Shapes Scars [MIRA008]

Shxcxchcxsh – Strgths [AVNLP001]

Cover art - Shxcxchcxsh: Strgths

The enigmatic SHXCXCHCXSH introduced their unique understanding of industrial-leaning techno to Avian with last year’s 12-inch Rjrjrffrjrj. Now Avian announce the Swedish duo’s first full-length album. STRGTHS features 7 scuffed, throbbing industrial tracks. Initiated by the drones of SLVRBBL, the openers’ atmospherics soon give way to the more direct, beat-driven LTTLWLF. RSRRCTN brings dubbier elements into play before leading into LVNGWTR’s searing melody and acidic dynamics. PCTSTSS accelerates up to the record’s zenith, before descending back into the darkness for the cold steel rhythms of WHTLGHT. Closer LLDTMPS evolves over the course of its near-12 minute running time to move from unsettling, disorienting tension to a warmer, contemplative climax.

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Shxcxchcxsh – Strgths [AVNLP001]

A Vision Of Love – Lessons In Hate (Part One) [AVN010]

https://i0.wp.com/imagescdn.juno.co.uk/300/CS488445-01A-MED.jpg

Avian010 sees the first installment in a series of SM techno tools from London based archivist and profligate ‘A Vision Of Love’. Fusing analogue gear and a passion for classic, second wave Detroit music, with found sounds and degraded film & radio excerpts, the series leans on contemporary culture as much as the current techno landscape.

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A Vision Of Love – Lessons In Hate (Part One) [AVN010]

Covered In Sand – Heaven’s Gate Suicides [MIRA003]

Shifted unveils yet another cloaked figure with his Covered in Sand project, the first release on the Avian sub-label Mira following two impressive turns from the mysterious Bleaching Agent. The title track to Heavens Gates Suicides is saturated in overdrive with cloudy Regis and BMB influences evident. Vatican Shadow remixes “Heavens Gates Suicides” adding subtle musicality to his version, almost throwing the track out of sync with it’s awkward snare hits – if you can call them that. “Russian Gold & Blood Diamonds” is like a beatless Severed Heads piece pulling desperately at your heartstrings while “Pale Skin” is another electronically shambled scuzz of hollowed hisses and jittery sound design.

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Covered In Sand – Heaven’s Gate Suicides [MIRA003]

Shifted – The Cold Light (Part 1/2) [AVN008]

Expert attention to detail across all visual and sonic elements is present and correct once again on this sick new release from the Avian nest, with the label opting for a cardboard sleeve this time. Label co-founder Shifted is at the helm, presenting the first of a two part Cold Light series; “Cold Light Sektor A” is all about the contrast between elements as the near incandescent lightness of those dubby chords battles with the growing weight of Shifted’s sludgy rhythmic arrangements. Complementing this, “Sektor B” opts to burrow down a plinking locked groove making it a perfect DJ tool.

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Shifted – The Cold Light (Part 1/2) [AVN008]