ITM's 30 Albums Of 2012

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In 2012, when so much of our daily music fix is streamed on Soundcloud or consumed in Beatport-sized samples, it can be easy to forget about albums. But you’d do so at your own peril, because this has been a first-rate year for long players. In revisiting some of our favourite albums of 2012, there’s been head-nodding, table-tapping, leg-jiggling and occasional fist-pumping at the inthemix Editorial desk. In pulling together just 30 standouts from the hundreds of local and international releases, it’s inevitable we’ve missed a few you loved. That’s what the comments section is for.


#30 Deadmau5 – > album title goes here <

Like all things Deadmau5 does, > album title goes here < cleaved opinion right down the middle. First, there were the reviews that went to town on it, such as Alexis Petridis’s widely-shared critique in The Guardian. “It’s derivative, clichéd and gives the impression of having been made by someone who’s never danced in their life, but in a purely technical sense, it’s extremely well produced, punchy, powerful, with a strong grasp of dynamics and occasional flashes of a deft melodic touch.” The team at FACT Mag took it far further into all-out assassination: “Joel Zimmerman is awful – one of music’s anti-Christs, to be filed with Fred Durst, Pendulum and whoever wrote the song about the dogs being let out.”

For our reviewer, who didn’t come in as “a Deadmau5 fanboy”, > album title goes here < impressed. “I don’t think there’s enough of a consistent sonic identity on here to make > album title goes here < worthy of total classic status, but at the same time, there isn’t a single dull moment,” summarised ITM’s Ed Montano. With the distance of a few months, this feels less like the definitive Deadmau5 LP fans had wanted, and more like a stop-gap. That’s not to say it’s half-done, but we’re left again with the feeling of a compilation of tracks rather than a whole album.

“Hopefully next time, and I know I say this every fucking time, I’ll have this year off touring and put together something that tells a story,” Zimmerman said after the release of > album title goes here <. Now, that is an event worth holding out for.

Words: Jack Tregoning


#29 Zedd – Clarity

Each year, Stereosonic has a breakout star. From the first stop in Sydney to the Brisbane finale, Zedd was that guy in 2012. His sets on the Hard L.A. stage were masterclasses in crowd-pleasing, all slick highs and high-impact drops. DJing in front of thousands is something 23-year-old Anton Zaslavski has had to learn on the job, but in the studio he’s assured beyond his years. Listening to Zedd’s debut album Clarity, you can hear why Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry have tapped his production talents. In moulding himself as a pop star gun-for-hire, he hasn’t aped the Calvin Harris formula. For someone working in highly-polished dance-pop, Zedd has edge.

Clarity is led by three missives that tap directly into America’s ‘EDM’ awakening: Shave It Up (previously Shave It, but now buffed up with some swelling strings), the title track and Spectrum. Like Porter Robinson, Zedd has a canny way of working syrupy vocals into anthems that make you want to climb onto the nearest pair of shoulders. With Clarity, Zedd has made a real abum, not just a resumé to present to the Biebers. He wears his influences openly – case in point: the Justice homage Stache – but forges his own melodic sensibility on standouts like Codec and Epos. Downtempo moments are given short shrift: this is an album built for peaktime. And it works.

Words: Jack Tregoning


#28 The 2 Bears – Be Strong

When Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard formed side-project The 2 Bears with Raf Rundell around 2009, little would he have expected their output to be ridiculously described as ‘pop-hip-house’ or ‘rave-garage’. Listen to The 2 Bears’ debut album Be Strong a few times over, however, and you can – to a certain extent – understand how listeners might have dreamed up such descriptions of their sound. For the most part, uplifting house is the order of the day here, but delve a little deeper on Be Strong and you’re likely be charmed by an array of downtempo electronica, hip-hop and disco influences, as well as leftfield and ever-so-slightly pop-tinged sounds, contributing to a pretty slick package overall.

What’s on offer is eminently enjoyable: feel-good music, expertly produced by two likeable British chaps who don’t take themselves too seriously. While it’s not quite ‘pop-hip-house’ or ‘rave garage’, there are sufficient pop access points throughout that make it an accessible, and altogether fun, release. It’s hard not to get swept up in it all.

Words: Tim McNamara


#27 The Gaslamp Killer – Breakthrough

While the full frenetically-paced 47-minutes of The Gaslamp Killer’s debut isn’t perfect, Breakthrough is nothing if not an ambitious release. The Brainfeeder-signee’s own press described the album “a manic and mystic trip through the mind of a madman” and sure enough, this is a full-on listening experience. With tracks often coming and going in the space of two minutes, different sounds (strings, 8-bit bleeps and psychedelic crescendos, to name a few) clocking by at warp-speed and a dark, often sinister mood throughout, the soundscape The Gaslamp Killer’s crafted is almost overwhelming. For the casual listener, Breakthrough might feel all a bit much. But when you’re in the right headspace, it’s precisely that sprawling insanity that makes you feel you’re listening to the work of a genius.

Words: Katie Cunningham


#26 Guy Gerber – Fabric 64

While in previous years, inthemix has featured mix-compilations in this list, in 2012 we decided to hone it to just albums. By this criteria, Guy Gerber’s Fabric 64 might look like an outlier. However, while most recruits for Fabric’s illustrious series present their volume like a DJ mix, Gerber went the production route, creating 16 tracks to work as a full composition. (He’s of course not the first Fabric name to treat his instalment as an artist album-of-sorts: Shackleton, Omar-S, and Ricardo Villalobos all took a similar approach.) In the producer’s own words, the mix is “a collection of moments and 70 minutes inside my mind and heart”. It was an audacious move, but it pays off in an effort that’s as seductive as it is seamless.

Words: Jack Tregoning


#25 Michael Mayer – Mantasy

Michael Mayer did not set out to reinvent his sound on Mantasy, his first album in eight years. For a few months at the beginning of 2012, Mayer turned his mind exclusively towards production, working nocturnal shifts in the sub-basement under the Kompakt office. While his previous long-player Touch was something of a rush-job, Mantasy took time. The result is a sleek, slow-burning album that coaxes you gradually to the dancefloor. It’s got that wry Michael Mayer signature too; melancholy mingled with a streak of humour.

It’s all brought together by a killer closing anthem, Good Times, sung by Jeppe Kjellberg of WhoMadeWho. As Mayer put it to inthemix, it’s about “that feeling of being freshly in love and wanting to leave everything behind, just running together towards the light. On the other hand, of course, it’s an allegory of being in a club, the party’s great, and people are standing there with their smart-phones in their hands, Twittering, taking pictures, whatever, instead of dancing. It drives me nuts sometimes.” It’s a bittersweet end to an album that shouldn’t fly under your radar.

Words: Jack Tregoning

Comments

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SiNKA

SiNKA said on the 12th Dec, 2012

Wait... Your own reviewer said the Deadmau5 album was rubbish, yet you still put it in the top 30?

JackT

JackT said on the 12th Dec, 2012

^ Nope, that paragraph says our reviewer was impressed (he gave it an 8/10), while some other publications weren't.

SiNKA

SiNKA said on the 12th Dec, 2012

My apologies Jack, all the strange punctuation in the album title threw me off.

However I completely disagree with an 8/10... I'm more inclined to agree with Alexis Petridis%u2019s assessment - "It%u2019s derivative, clichd and gives the impression of having been made by someone who%u2019s never danced in their life..."

I also think that this is exactly the wrong sort of artist to be promoting on ITM, especially when at the same time you're asking the EDM community to consider 'button pushing' and 'ghost writers'. Sure, Deadmou5 can produce well, I think few would argue that, but he simply doesn't make music that positively inspires. I completely agree with Laidback Luke's analogy %u201CIt%u2019s basically like saying that sex is just an up and down motion without actually naming the magic of it...%u201D

Moko

Moko said on the 12th Dec, 2012

YES YES YES for that Hot Chip record. It's SO bloody good!

i_have_ADD

i_have_ADD said on the 12th Dec, 2012

flume is such a worthy #1

jamesyo

jamesyo said on the 13th Dec, 2012

WASTEMAN LIST (bar a few entries)

djgooglemaps

djgooglemaps said on the 13th Dec, 2012

0MG 2 MUCH STRANG3 PUNCTUAT10N L0L0L0L0L0L0L0L0L

tmanto02

tmanto02 said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Couldn't have said it better my self..

TimmyB01

TimmyB01 said on the 13th Dec, 2012

I was expecting Amirali's "In Time" to make this list. Otherwise, I agree with a lot of what is here... except Deadmau5

lawlietskyy

lawlietskyy said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Great example that trance is on the decline, not a single trance album made the cut.

Kiron

Kiron said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Surprised that BT's Morceau Subrosa or If These Stars Are Eternal So Are You And I didn't make the cut. Both albums were pretty goddamn amazing (and that music video for 13 Angels On My Broken Windowsill is probably the best of the year imo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rrj74AZ0l5Q )

dirtyepic

dirtyepic said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Some fabulous selections in here - great job, guys!

FLIP3051

FLIP3051 said on the 13th Dec, 2012

No Justin Martin - WTF?

Nathan Explosion

Nathan Explosion said on the 13th Dec, 2012

No Eric Prydz presents PRYDA ? #listisincorrect

JackT

JackT said on the 13th Dec, 2012

^^^ An awesome release for sure that we reviewed really highly, but figured it was more of an anthology.

walkdogz

walkdogz said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Misses: Chromatics - Kill for love. Clark - Iradelphic. Holy Other - Held. Joey Badass - 1999. Teebs - Collections 01. Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist. Yppah - Eight One. Shigeto - Lineage.

JackT

JackT said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Nice suggestions walkdogz! There were bound to be some misses.

katiecunningham

katiecunningham said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Yeah Chromatics narrowly missed out.

pitchbreaks

pitchbreaks said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Yay for TEED. It's just so good. Well said Katie.

walkdogz

walkdogz said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Katie the Chromatics will be seeing the light of day many years longer than Deadmau5's because it's a proper album which is what this list is about. Pitchfork is putting it near the top of the year and ITM can't even find a place in it's top 30.

andosound

andosound said on the 13th Dec, 2012

No way Flume is number 1. Actress and Scuba are both way better. Flume's album is boring.

dn-ul

dn-ul said on the 13th Dec, 2012



Agreed, maybe top 20. Disappointed there's no villalobos - happy and dependent, andy stott - luxury problems, recondite - on acid, death grips - money store.

Deepchild

Deepchild said on the 13th Dec, 2012

Andy Stott - Luxury Problems....soo soo good...

mliro

mliro said on the 13th Dec, 2012

bending the rules for guy gerber was a smart move, however shocked miguel campbell - back in flight school didnt get even a special mention?

Timmac

Timmac said on the 14th Dec, 2012

Some great selections there; Steve Bug's 'Noir' was also a standout, as was Prins Thomas' recently-released "II'.

flopp

flopp said on the 14th Dec, 2012

voices from the lake???

LavyP

LavyP said on the 17th Dec, 2012

inthemix maybe a site which is quite anti-commercial or mainstream music but this is too much. There is way too much indie stuff in it, and honestly based on this, 2012 was not a good year for albums.

The deadmau5 album was one of the worst I have ever heard, it was complete of dull moments, it was so boring.

Honestly, the only one album I agree on this list are The Presets.
Way too much indie, but then again people has different tastes, reviewers have different tastes, and maybe you are just catering too much to the majority of inthemix members which are completely anti-mainstream (not all of them, but majority for sure)

WHY ISNT THE FOLLOWING IN THE LIST::???

Calvin Harris - 18 months (Sure its still a compilation of all the songs he released individually this year, but its still an album filled with great tracks)

Netsky - 2 (Yes its DnB, but its a fantastic album and it has great great sounding tracks with a mixture of very suitable no headache dubstep, it was very well done)


I believe it was also a relatively good year for trance, perhaps the reviewers are just not that big on the genre anymore but I would definitely have these 3 albums in the list instead of some of the above:

Paul Van Dyke - Evolution
Ferry Corsten - W.K.N.D
Ashley Wallbridge - The Inner Me

and finally.. the one I am COMPLETELY BAFFLED ABOUT, which one ITM reviewer mentioned this was one of the best albums.. WHY IS:

ERIC PRYDZ presents PRYDA NOT ON THE LIST?? AND NOT NO.1 ON THE LIST?

I think this was the best album of 2012 hands down, a 3 CD epic journey and wonderful tunes.

Poor list, my opinion. No offence whatsoever. Just an opinion.

LavyP

LavyP said on the 17th Dec, 2012

Hit and a miss.. poor list, all indie and hybrid weird stuff.

May I ask what happened to:

CALVIN HARRIS - 18 MONTHS
NETSKY - 2
PAUL VAN DYKE - EVOLUTION
FERRY CORSTEN - W.K.N.D
ASHLEY WALLBRIDGE - THE INNER ME
KYAU & ALBERT - 15 YEARS

and my goodness.. how could you skip... ERIC PRYDZ PRESENTS PRYDA?? That should have been no.1

And a reviewer also mentioned that Zedd - Clarity was average, it was a hit and miss in a couple of tracks, i personally thought it was ok, above average, but not worthy of the list.

Elliot G

Elliot G said on the 18th Dec, 2012

Great list guys, thoroughly enjoyed it. Also made me realise I hadn't heard enough of them. Have gone out and picked up Gerber's Fabric 64. Blown away.

lawlietskyy

lawlietskyy said on the 24th Dec, 2012

LavyP ... Ferry Corsten WKND - Are you f*cking serious? calvin harris ? LOL

dechamp3181

dechamp3181 said on the 26th Dec, 2012

GUY GERBER- FABRIC 64
Very impressive album, for all the wannabe producers out there.

webgott

webgott said on the 28th Dec, 2012

Not a bad list.
Still like this one a bit better:
http://www.xlr8r.com/features/2012/12/xlr8rs-best-2012-releases-part-t

Crystal Castles > Lindstrom? How can that be? Smalhans is inspirational and great, III is nothing innovative, just the same as II

Good to see Talabot getting some much deserved love

jkk45

jkk45 said on the 30th Dec, 2012

I'm primarily a trance fan too (Mainly progressivey stuff)

I totally agree that in the mix seems to neglect any mainstream artists. Why does everything have to be so indie and alternative?. In my mind the Pyrda album should be at least in the top 10. The deamau5 album was complete rubbish, and didn't have a single good track. Although the T.E.E.D album was completely kick ass, as was the presets album and the zedd album

I think that they should have maybe included evolution by paul van dyk and also the new jaytech album too