Pocket SymphonyAir - Pocket Symphony
Ever since Moon Safari was hailed as an instant classic, Air has swung back and forth between the experimental and accessible sides that Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel united so perfectly on their debut. 10,000 Hz Legend might have been too grandiose and aggressively experimental for some Air fans, but Talkie Walkie sometimes felt as if the duo was presenting the most widely palatable version of their music possible. On Pocket Symphony, Dunckel and Godin find a balance between pretty and inventive that they haven't struck since, well, Moon Safari, even though it isn't nearly as immediate -- even by Air's standards, this is an extremely introspective and atmospheric album. Read more >>

Alive 2007Daft Punk - Alive 2007
Timed to perfection, Daft Punk's second live album landed exactly ten years after the first, and provides a fitting complement to Alive 1997, easily the best live non-DJ electronica record ever released. While the original featured only a handful of tracks (but found them transformed and tweaked ad infinitum), Alive 2007 is packed with productions, most of them short and many of them getting a big crowd response (all recorded at one show in Paris in June of 2007). As on their first two classic full-lengths, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo display excellent crowd control, pacing the record well, spacing the hits, and building the mood like the good crowd-pleasers they are. Read more >>

The Coldest SeasonEchospace - The Coldest Season
The Coldest Season compiles and fuses the eight tracks from a four-part 12" series released during mid 2007 on England's Modern Love label, adding one beat-less/bass-less piece to help assemble a steadily flowing, discreetly stimulating, 80-minute whole. This is breathing ambient dub techno, just as exemplary of the form as anything made by Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald (Basic Channel), Andy Mellwig and Thomas Köner (Porter Ricks), René Löwe (Vainqueur), and Stefan Betke (Pole). Rod Modell, who has been producing ambient electronic music for over ten years -- with well-regarded solo releases on the Silentes label, as well as feverishly collected singles as half of Deepchord -- came up with the raw source material, including loops made from Detroit field recordings, while partner Stephen Hitchell made point-perfect sense of it all. Read more >>

HonigpumpeThomas Fehlmann - Honigpumpe
After Visions of Blah was released, Thomas Fehlmann went nearly two years without issuing any solo material on Kompakt. However, he was as occupied as ever during this period, working with the Orb, producing the excellent downtempo/abstract hip-hop album Lowflow for Plug Research, and continuing to cross the planet with his laptop sets. Less reliant on previously released 12" material than Visions of Blah, Honigpumpe -- or "Honeypump," an homage to German artist Joseph Beuys, who used honey to symbolize social force and the transfer of thoughts and ideas -- nonetheless uses the 12" releases Little Big Horn (2004) and Emo Pack (2006) as its foundation. Like Visions of Blah, this album supplies a combination of dubby techno, slightly gnarled shuffle-tech, and open-sky ambient. Read more >>

Computer IncarnationsJazzanova & Gerd Janson - Computer Incarnations for World Peace
Jazzanova's reputation for quality control is virtually insurmountable, and the mix album Computer Incarnations for World Peace doesn't disappoint. It's an unmixed set, curated by Jazzanova's Alex Barck plus Gerd Janson of the Running Back label, focusing on post-disco of several stripes, Italo- or new wave or jazz or even Latin. (Unlike most Sonar Kollektiv compilations, it has nothing from the label's catalogue.) Virtually every track is a CD debut, and for anyone with an interest in Arthur Russell or Giorgio Moroder or My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (i.e. '80s disco or new wave experimentalism), this is one of the more necessary extravagances available. Read more >>

CrossJustice - Cross
French boys Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé originally got their start in the music scene playing in bad Metallica and Nirvana cover bands, and the album art of Cross makes it look like a doomy metalcore release, but the record is anything but metal. In fact, it's almost everything but metal. It's a grimy mix of dancehall, techno, '80s R&B, and lounge with Clockwork Orange synths, deadly static crunches, hard-hitting kicks, grinding groans, and a spliced slap-popping bass that recalls Michael Jackson's disco classic, Off the Wall. The songs are scattered and chopped to all hell, but they often feel revolutionary. This is partially due to the duo's "anything goes" attitude. It's as if Justice is reacting to complacency in latter-day electronic music and seeing how far they can take their slicing and dicing before the chopped up compositions fall apart. Read more >>

Sound of SilverLCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Compared to the first LCD Soundsystem album, Sound of Silver is less silly, funnier, less messy, sleeker, less rowdy, more fun, less distanced, more touching. It is just as linked to James Murphy's record collection, with traces of post-punk, disco, Krautrock, and singer/songwriter schlubs, but the references are evidently harder to pin down; the number of names dropped in the reviews published before its release must triple the amount mentioned throughout "Losing My Edge." There's even some confusion as to which version of David Bowie is lurking around. One clearly evident aspect of the album is that Murphy has streamlined his sound. All the jagged frays have been removed, replaced by a slightly tidier approach that is more direct and packs more punch. Read more >>

The Magnetic Wave of SoundMax Rouen - The Magnetic Wave of Sound
Max Rouen describes the collage of music that he's created on Magnetic Wave of Sound as an audio take on Belgian Surrealism, which isn't too far off. Just as Rene Magritte challenged boundaries in his paintings by placing common objects in unfamiliar surroundings, Rouen uses a similar juxtaposition to cut and paste reverberated vocals that sound like they're from the '60s with modern breakbeats. By using analog tape and digital manipulation, he mixes a turn of the century electro style reminiscent of Massive Attack's Mezzanine or Air's 10,000 Hz Legend with moody old blues and jazz singers to concoct songs that sound simultaneously futuristic and timeless. Dark basslines intersect with distorted drum patterns and dirty synths in slow motion and hammer down cavernous slide guitar and imitation Serge Gainsbourg spoken vocals. Read more >>

Please Please PleaseTobias Thomas - Please Please Please
Please Please Please follows 2000's Für Dich and 2003's Smallville, closing out a trilogy of Tobias Thomas mixes for Kompakt. Listeners familiar with the first two chapters might not be surprised that Please Please Please also diverges from the expected path of a customary dance mix. Again, Thomas uses the format not as an attempt to condense an ahead-of-the-curve, three-hour set into 80 minutes of nonstop intensity; instead, he challenges the ears of the most open-minded techno fans, designing a set that plays out more like Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation or Wire's 154 than Jeff Mills' Live at the Liquid Room or even Michael Mayer's Immer 2. Having previously used a monologue from one of Blumfeld's albums, nearly half of Vladislav Delay's 22-minute "Huone," and 12 minutes of beat-less ambience, Thomas evidently couldn't care less about doing the expected. Read more >>

Tromatic ReflexxionsVon Südenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions
Mouse on Mars and Mark E. Smith enjoyed working together on the 12" version of "Wipe That Sound" so much that they decided to give their collaboration its own full-fledged identity, Von Südenfed (a witty mash-up of Germany's süden -- that is, southern -- region and the decongestant Sudafed). Though much has been made of how strange this pairing of artists is, it's really not that unpredictable: Smith, Andi Toma, and Jan St. Werner all like to defy expectations. More to the point, Smith has made a career of breaking and re-forming language in his own image, and in much the same way, Toma and St. Werner keep reconfiguring their music. Besides, getting hung up on the "quirkiness" of Von Südenfed's origins overlooks just how enjoyable Tromatic Reflexxions really is. Read more >>