Our guide to the best new electronic albums, EPs, compilations, and mixes released in 2020 - techno, house, dnb, electro, ambient, hardcore, and more.
If there’s one thing we miss more than anything it’s the release of the dancefloor and we hope some of these selections can help you find that, and hopefully in 2021 we can get back to dancing in dark rooms.
London based producer Fiesta Soundsystem debut LP, featuring ten cuts of broken beat bass music. 90's energy for 2020.
Kelly Lee Owens find a delicate balance between art pop and emotionally charged techno. Inner Song is an atmospheric journey of celestial techno that floats between KLO's ethereal vocals and sonically rick dance tracks.
Avery shares, “This record has been a real positive force of energy in my life, to the point where it almost formed itself in front of me. In that same spirit, I wanted to share it with you now, as soon as it was finished.
This collection of early EPs by rave legends Foul Play tracks an astonishing evolution across barely more than a year. Some of the top tunes to come out of the hardcore > jungle > drum & bass journey? Yes, but also some of the most thrilling and gorgeous music of the entire ‘90s.
Ultraclub4k, is a collaborative effort of Døves and GothBoiClique co-founder Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. The 60 minute DJ Set/Album is a beautifully crafted combination of genres you never thought would play as well together as they do. A relentless blend of trance, cloud rap, hard dance, and trap feels at the same time fresh and incredibly nostalgic.
Zoom, upsammy’s first official album, dropped on Dekmantel in June. The Dutch producer and DJ has been evolving her sound over the years with releases on Nous’klaer Audio, Die Orakel and Whities (now AD 93). upsammy is known to deliver variable sets without any genre tying down her sound. Zoom holds a similar weight, a cumulation of sounds captured in field recordings, some hardware kit and Ableton, the album is full of lush tracks that are equitably set for daydreaming or deep listening. An intricate record with many layers that maintains elements of simplicity and light-heartedness.
“I feel that not knowing what you’re doing is better than mastering a piece of gear,” Beatrice Dillon stated to Music Radar earlier this year. Workaround is full of playful bits, syncopated rhythms and jittered melodies. A fusion of many sounds and genres, the album sticks out in the fact that there’s always something new. Dillon creates a base for dub techno, breakbeat and rolling grooves. One of the most forward-thinking albums to come out this year.
Anetha’s label Mama Told Ya has failed to make a release that has been disappointing so far. With French producer UFO95 being responisble for the tracklist, he creates a cohesive theme by combining the sounds of experimental, idm, techno and trance to create a listening experience that is riveting to say the least.
The Dutch producer, nthng, returns to Lobster Theramin for his second album, Hypnotherapy. The record is well balanced between spaced out techno and ambient textures. The production is encapsulating switching from driving club rhythms to lofty, vocal samples. A fantastic album that flew under the radar for many this year.
E-Sagglia’s Corporate Cross delivers a truly unique electronic listening experience, one that is able to meander between both a dance floor or for personal listening. This project is layered with tracks that hit upon a variety of elements including noise, industrial, break core and ambient. E-Sagglia defines the album as one that, ‘requires introspection with its wide spectrum of emotion, coldness and light that defines definition.’
Roza Terenzi returns to Planet Euphorique and releases the first full length LP on the label, Modern Bliss. Delicate melodies and hard-pressed drums fill this LP that spans across house, techno and electro. The record is distinct, but maintains the dreamy sound that is home at Planet Euphorique.
Channeling an eerily affecting cyborg tenderness, the Austrian producer and digital nomad writes post-club anthems that sound like pop hits from a parallel universe. Experience the entire album with accompanying intreractive audiovisual at the Fractal Fantasy site.
Old Dreams and Memories is a rich symphony of luxurious sound, with transportive rhythms and hugely evocative layers of melody, the human voice and cinematic sampling all showing a further evolution in the art of this standalone producer.
Nídia is an artist whose name has come to be synonymous with Lisbon label Príncipe's brand of kuduro and tarraxo club music, following her first release with them in 2015. Any way we approach it, it's a rich and emotive take on much loved afro styles, blended with Life guiding the producer's hand and a resolute sense of direction in a career already full of high points.
LP2 continues Earth Trax' exploration of emotive, dreamy atmospheres, soaked with rich pads and otherworldly arpeggios, juxtaposing it with hectic drum machines, deep bass lines and unusual sampling - evoking industrial music.
Mas Amable as a whole may be dreamy and easygoing on the surface, a chill album to set the vibe of a room. But it's filled with deep moods, careful details and weird, intensly hypnotic rhythms.
Hudson Mohawke released 3 full length LPs this year contrived of primarily archives in his signature wonky blown out style, and they all slap.
A collage of tracks that spans all ends of electronic music. LA based Wylie Cable combines drum & bass with trap music, ambient, hip-hop before spinning back to jungle. The album is deeply layered, no track sounds remotely the same and there is something for everyone here. Relentless and sporadic, let this one take you on a journey.
Landing far from the first Against All Logic album, the second edition steers in the direction of more experimental and varied. While 2012 - 2017 neared closer to sampled disco and buzzing house, 2017 - 2019 lends ear to the darker sides of IDM and techno.
The debut album finally arrives from Minor Science on AD 93 and it’s a treat. Eclectic, jumpy, and variable - this album is without a standout this year. A wide array of tempos can be heard, as the record unveils itself in both light and dark. Each track is woven together with complex production and diligent layering. Bouncy drums, quick pans and fantastic samples - Second Language is rewarding on each listen.
A unique blend of hard-hitting breakcore beats, dense ambient passages and haunting spoken word samples. The deep basslines and thick walls of synth ambience give this album an enveloping atmosphere unlike any other drum and bass album I've heard.
"Filled with warm pads and club rhythms washed over in a low-bit mastering, Naked Flames' unique production style resembles that of a photo in an unplanned but powerful moment.
But the low-res and imperfect sound of these dance tunes is what makes them so special, as Naked Flames reminds the listener that the most precious moments of our lives are never perfect; they're usually quite murky and filled with noise."
Techno demon D.Dan kicks off 2020 with big dystopian energy. Raw grooves, slippery psychedelia, and slammin’ low end.
Berghain Fünfzehn sees Luke Slater creating new compositions from the Ostgut Ton back catalogue, chopping, looping tweaking and deploying sounds into a mix that is both a playful retrospective of the label and future-facing vision for mixing and dance music.
Techno demon D.Dan kicks off 2020 with big dystopian energy. Raw grooves, slippery psychedelia, and slammin’ low end.
The Avalanches return for their hotly anticipated third album, expectedly burning with catchy retro samples and astonishing number of high profile features including dev Hynes, MGMT, Denzel Curry and more.
Kareem Ali delievered 33 releases this year. Black Liberty is one of many LPS to drop via the artist's Bandcamp in 2020. This album, released on July 4, is an album of empowerment and resistence. A story in the world of racial injustice.
A reflection into forlorn feelings and the distant days of clubbing. Skin is a deep listen that is scattered with samples that have been bent and broken. Aleksandir hints towards the moody theme of 2020, while maintaing enough optimism to make each track shine bright.
Nicolas Jaar has certainly been busy this year. Cenizas, translating to ashes in English, is an introspective journey to parts unknown. A dark, melancholic album that experiments with simple piano, noise, vocal samples, string arrangements, drone and sequencers. The tracks are avant garde without being inaccessible.
Rhythmanalyst DeForrest Brown Jr.’s second release for Planet Mu as Speaker Music channels the modernist Black tradition of rhythm and soul music as an intellectual site and sound of generational trauma, bursting through the frames of Western music and thought.
Quick cuts and bouncy tracks, MoMa Ready & AceMo return with a stellar 4 track EP.
Munich’s very own, Skee Mask, returned to Ilian Tape with two EPs in mid-June. ISS005 is club-focused, quick and highly rhythmic. While tracks draw influence from breakbeat and dubstep, all 5 tracks retain peak-time energy with deep layers and jumbled percussive elements.
Mama told ya is a record label based out of Paris created by French producer Anetha. The label’s second EP offers a set of techno tracks that are dark yet hypnotic. The powerful and rolling sound of Copenhagen techno proves to be a good pairing with melody and groove that Anetha and Hadone bring to create one charming tracklist.
Following a successful string of seemingly effortless dance cuts and extended plays, UK producer India Jordan returns with their most refined effort yet. These fast-paced, woozy house tracks are constructed as one part pure euphoria, one part thoughtful introspection. Being the titular “You” India brings to the table a daring combination of careful cogitation and care-free movement. We must think everything and nothing all at once.
Speed kills and DJ SWISHA & Kush Jones just lapped you. Expect quick hits melded with funky bass and vocals. The EP is influenced by juke and footwork, with a splash of acid to top it off. The percussion is fantastic and this project is a must listen from two great producers in the New York scene.
At its brightest, Fluids Of Emotion feels transcendent, an experience only the most gifted artists can offer.
Living up to the title, this EP is full of burning 160 bangers. The title track is elusive and relentless, while “KOOVER IN ‘92” delivers with dub punches and quick hits. A release that went beyond my expectations off NAINA & SHERELLE’s Hooversound Recordings.
VIPER DIVA is a project formed by Shlømo and Hadone, who are arguably two of the hottest techno producers working in the genre. With this release, the French duo highlights some of the most notable sounds taking over the dance floor. What you’ll hear in this EP is forward-thrusting club music which features dark and hard kicks, rolling rhythms, and fresh melodic sounds.
Special Request turns out tracks like no one else, and this EP is special. Coming out on R&S Records, the title track is blazing with a seemingly never-ending peak. The rest of the EP is outfitted by an inverse of the first track and the remaining two show the true assortment and range of Paul Woolford.
Lo-fi outsider house underpinned by the contrasts of subtle nostalgia running alongside rumbling grooves, crackling percussive and glorious melodies, with spring-tingling emotional gestures being the glue that holds it all together.
Surgeon’s Europa Code is a dark, heavy hitting yet melodical techno EP. Released on Skee’s Mask’s Illan Tape label it’s not surprising this one doesn’t disappoint.
The French based party collective Possession has been busy this year releasing some of the best techno podcasts and ep releases of the year. EP 5 is our favorite of the batch of EPs they released late this year - featuring tracks from some of techno’s best Antigone, OTTA, Rikhter and Mayeul.
Skin on Skin’s ‘Get Some Understanding!’ brings you a tracklist that full of heavy hitting dancefloor anthems that feature his unique Australian sound.
Emotional jungle filled with sub-breaking bass lines and quick jab drum fills. Vicious breaks lay compliment to harmonic strings and well balanced textures.
UK hip-hop with wobbling bass and quick rhymes, Shygirl creates a sinister atmosphere that you can dance to.
While tracks vary in tone and speed, the atmosphere is consistent throughout. An EP stuck in a day-dream with a mesemerized glow.
DJ Seinfeld releases yet another colorful EP as Mezcalita features sultry vocals, Italo-house and synthy elements that land him on another ‘best of’ list.
Nothing but driving club rhythms from Hessle Audio co-founder, Pearson Sound. The 3 track EP is highlighted with sub rattling bass and peak-time drum programming. Dark tunes for dark times.
The only thing you need to know about this Adryiano project is that, "It's been made for people who wear wide ass brim fedora hats and go to tulum in order to experience some sort of spiritual enlightenment, or people who get caught stealing drinks in VIP areas and always ask for guest list even though they won't attend the party."
Landing on Livity Sound, this 4 track EP from Lack is equally colorful and haunting. Jittered rhythms, off kilter sounds and a whole lot of layers.
Caveat is the debut release from South London artist Severin Glance. It is a pulsating and vital distillation of club movements, at once euphoric and dystopian. Opener "Caveat" is especially enjoyable. It's the kind of tune you'd hope might greet you upon your arrival to a club, its commanding vocal sample and impactful drum work signalling your entry into something or somewhere exhilarating.
Ciel and D. Tiffany unite as new collaboration Psychedelic Budz. Dense, psychedelic tracks that chug along with mesmerizing textures with two mixes and two remixes.
Hailing from Brisbane, StecEmp comes to Steel City Dance Discs with four thumping tracks. Big tracks with rattling basslines.
Everything U Need is fundamentally straightforward—no strange time signatures here, no bait-and-switch drops, no glitchy stunts. In one sense, that feels like a cop-out given current conditions of prolonged boredom and insular listening. But if we’re doomed to stay in our corona bubbles for a whole winter, any record that revives the MDMA-zing after-party techno-glow of the mid-’00s might as well be labelled “functional.” No one can stop us staying up to watch the sunrise, anyway. [Chal Ravens]
Released on Shall Not Fade, Ejeca delivers 5 tracks spanning from tech house to electro with splashes of breaks and techno. Expect catchy vocal samples that will keep you moving.
Heavy techno suited for the warehouse or in 2020, your living room. Piano laden and rave heavy, these 4 set Asquith apart in 2020.
Dark and heavy techno from 999999999 and Parallx. Gabber kicks and squirming synths are layered into disorted productions.
A club ready EP that's packed with 4/4 techno and heavy electro.
Planet Die recently released a revitalized sound into the electronic scene with his self-titled release I Want To Breathe. The four-track EP edges into avant electronic incorporating busy synthetic arrangements while maintaining charismatic melodies. It combines the sharpened and accentuated elements of post PC music with authentic rave edits that result in a cohesive but unique sound.
Another pristine transmission from Sofia Kourtesis via Studio Barnhus, with the Berlin-based Peruvian dj/producer following up her instant hit debut EP released a year ago, once again treating us with four forward-thinking dance tracks chock-full of intricate rhythms and next-level audio wizardry.