As 2016 draws to a close, we've been reflecting on the talent that has put all the great hi-tech music-making gear to good use, asking you to vote for the electronic music artists who have contributed most to the world over the past 12 months.
With each passing year, the list of electronic artists releasing great music grows ever longer. However, with your help, we have managed to single out the artists, producers, DJs and bands that have smashed it this year.
Over the next 10 slides, we’ll be revealing who you’ve decided are the 10 best electronic music artists of 2016, counting down to your number one. We’ll start with Trentemøller...
Denmark’s premier purveyor of brooding electronica, Anders Trentemøller honed his songwriting craft to perfection on excellent new album, Fixion. Songs such as the sublime River of Me, and the icy electronic pulse of Redefine, showcase his continued growth and technical prowess.
After spending a decade refining his craft and reconceptualising dance music, Burnski’s career is now ready for take off.
The most talented producers tend to have a solid recognition of their musical heritage. For James Burnham (aka Burnski), Detroit techno and Chicago house form the bedrock of his debut album's DNA, where classic traits are blended to create minimalist, yet deeply addictive dance music.
Listening to the self-titled debut album from Weval, aka Merijn Scholte Albers and Harm Coolen, it's hard to believe that it's barely three years since the Amsterdam-based duo put out their first EP.
Blending grandiose synth hooks with Krautrock-tinged drum lines, the album balances creativity and accessibility in a way that demonstrates a level of songwriting maturity that belies the relative infancy of the outfit behind it.
Ed Rush & Optical
Fascinated by London’s rave scene, Ben Settle (aka Ed Rush) entered the world of production alongside infamous No U Turn label owner Nico Sykes to produce the 1993 drum ‘n’ bass classic Bludclot Artattack. Bidding to become part of the drum ‘n’ bass elite, Settle then teamed up with DJ Trace to help formulate the shifting, sci-fi moods of the genre known as techstep.
In close proximity, Matt Quinn (aka Optical) was recording alongside his brother Jamie (Matrix & Futurebound) while engineering tracks for Grooverider’s Prototype imprint and Goldie’s Metalheadz label. Merging their talents, the duo formed Virus Recordings, dropping the drum ‘n’ bass classic Wormhole in 1998, followed by The Creeps (2000) and their third album, The Original Doctor Shade (2003).
As EDM slowly infiltrated an unsuspecting drum ‘n’ bass scene, Ed Rush and Optical have been well served by their knowledgeable production background, which has enabled them to cross genre borders effortlessly, both in the studio and on the DJ circuit.
When the disparate electronic talents of Berlin's Modeselektor (aka Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) first combined with those of Apparat (Sascha Ring) 12 years ago, the protagonists might have been forgiven for not fully foreseeing the rich creative playground that Moderat would become. New album, Moderat III, is a tour de force of intricate electronic components and beautifully-crafted songs topped with Ring's heartfelt vocals.
From the sublime downtempo beats of album opener, Eating Hooks, Moderat took the spellbound faithful on a mesmeric electric trip. They really are a band at the top of their electronic game.
Earlier this year, Thijs de Vlieger, Nik Roos and Martijn van Sonderen - aka Noisia - dropped what was, until then, the closely-guarded secret of masterful new album Outer Edges.
From album opener, The Approach, through Into Dust and the sublime adrenaline-rush of Mantra, Outer Edges showcases three producers/sound designers pushing the envelope of bass music and sound design to the next level… and beyond! It really is that good.
Daan Romers (aka Dannic) is one of the most prodigious and technically gifted DJs on today’s progressive house scene. His phenomenal rise has seen him eclipse many of his DJ contemporaries, with the DJ/producer residing at No 26 in DJ Mag’s latest Top 100 DJs poll and now ranking high in our own 'Best of 2016' list.
There’s something about the town of Breda; it has given rise to some of the hottest DJ acts in recent years, from Tiësto and Hardwell to its latest export, Dannic. Forging his reputation over a 10-year period, he honed his craft playing in bars and small clubs before winning the top prize at the Netherlands' multi-venue music festival Dancetour in 2009.
Demonstrating a natural acclimation to audio production, Dannic has set himself apart from many of his peers. With his unrelenting DJ schedule, which has seen him blow away capacity crowds across the globe, and a slew of potent releases on his own FonkRecordings, Dannic looks set to remain a driving force in dance music for years to come.
After the release of 2014’s Syro, you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that it would be a while until we saw Richard D James resurface with more material, after the eight-year hiatus that preceded his sixth studio album.
However, we were in luck, as 2015’s Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 was quickly followed up by the Cheetah EP at the beginning of the summer, releasedon good ol’ cassette tape.
Mr James also helped out on Korg’s latest monosynth, the Monologue. He served as an advisor on the microtuning implementation and assisted in the creation of some of the preset scales.
Anyone who was around in the early ’90s will remember the hypnotic grooves that typified Stereo MCs’ portfolio of Top 20 hit singles, which included Connected, Step It Up and Ground Level.
Struggling to deal with the demands that success placed upon them, the band retreated at their peak to set up their own label and publishing company, and remixed the likes of Madonna, U2, Electronic and PM Dawn under the pseudonym Ultimatum.
Headed by founder members Rob Birch and Nick Hallam, Stereo MCs returned eight years later with a mix album in association with Studio !K7’s DJ-Kicks series. The release triggered a full return to action for the band, with several albums following, the latest being the self-assured Emperor’s Nightingale in 2011.
More recently, Birch and Hallam have re-established their relationship with Fetisch of German electronic band Terranova. The collective put out tracks on Stereo MCs’ Gee Street label in the ’90s and have continued their lengthy association by forming their own Connected label. Two collaborative releases have showcased Stereo MCs’ still recognisable sound, moving deeper into the techno sphere - but there’s more to come.
Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, is nothing if not prolific, and this year has been no different. He's just released Scanni, a collaborative album with British composer Anni Hogan, and Rimbaud thinks it might be his 70th full-length album!
He has also busied himself with various soundtrack projects, another solo album, scoring for the Ballet Rambert, festival shows with acclaimed audio-visual experimentalists The Light Surgeons, and even a gig at Google's London headquarters.
No wonder Scanner has taken top spot on this year's reader poll: he's well and truly earned it.