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Album of the year 2021

A glance back through the best dance LPs from the year.

Despite the obvious challenges that faced electronic music in 2021, on the music front, we enjoyed a stellar year of releases.

With touring forcibly stopped for much of the year, DJs had little choice but to return to the studio and work on their productions. The flip-side to that, was that we were inundated with a near constant flow of top albums.

Throughout the year, we've shone a light on our favourites, but as the end of year looms, we're revisiting the very best.

Many of these entries will already be familiar to you, we're sure, so look at this as our essential round-up of 2021. If we take anything from this list, it's that the very best dance music albums rarely limit themselves to a single genre, instead covering wider terrain on the audio spectrum.


Album of the year 2021

Seb Zito | Truth In My Steps | Edible

Artist: Seb Zito
Title: Truth In My Steps
Label: Edible
Released: April

Sounds like: A handbook for the inner city sounds of Greater London

A retro record in many ways, crucially, Truth In My Steps never drifts into cookie-cutter minimal House. It's the Garage-flavoured pickings that excel the most, as the veteran producer pools his influences.

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PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP / JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Close runner-up

Louisahhh | The Practice Of Freedom | HE.SHE.THEY.

Artist: Louisahhh
Title: The Practice Of Freedom
Label: HE.SHE.THEY.
Released: March

Sounds like: An unorthodox artist baring her teeth and scars in an ultimate act of defiance

A deeply raw account from punk's heroine, The Practice Of Freedom is an unapologetic statement of identity. It is, at times, brutal in execution, covering themes that elicit an uncomfortable flinch, yet continually empower the artist.

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PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP / JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


More 2021 highlights

Bicep | Isles | Ninja Tune

Artist: Bicep
Title: Isles
Label: Ninja Tune
Released: January

Sounds like: The wave of euphoria and breaks a dying world so desperately needs

"A further exploration of melodic breaks the duo helped popularise, suited to home listening..."
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PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP / JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Black Coffee | Subconsciously | Ultra

Artist: Black Coffee
Title: Subconsciously
Label: Ultra
Released: February

Sounds like: The distinct aroma of Deep House, smoothed for mass consumption

"The Afro House guru embraces a lighter sound, opening him up to a wider audience..." READ MORE

PURCHASE:
JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Solomun | Nobody Is Not Loved | NINL

Artist: Solomun
Title: Nobody Is Not Loved
Label: NINL
Released: May

Sounds like: A masterful producer consciously stepping away from the comfort zone of the club

"Nobody Is Not Loved asks for patience, undivided attention and multiple listen throughs. The stand-out moments don't necessarily jump out at you, but like all good loves, reward comes through commitment..." READ MORE

PURCHASE:
JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Monolink | Under Darkening Skies | Embassy One

Artist: Monolink
Title: Under Darkening Skies
Label: Embassy One
Released: June

Sounds like: A lone musician embracing the oncoming storm

"The German musician probes deep into the ego, covering animism, psychoactive enlightenment, habitual and self-destructive behaviour..." READ MORE

PURCHASE:
BEATPORT


Maxinne | Red Alert | Toolroom Records

Artist: Maxinne
Title: Red Alert
Label: Toolroom Records
Released: July

Sounds like: One of House music's most talented young producers hitting her stride

"The Toolroom graduate sounds the alarm on her debut album. The project explores the sounds that have inspired her and draws on the relationships she has built so far..." READ MORE

PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP / JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Mano Le Tough | At The Moment | Pampa

Artist: Mano Le Tough
Title: At The Moment
Label: Pampa Records
Released: August

Sounds like: A continuation of the themes found on earlier work, by a producer reveling in artistic freedom

"The understated Irishman balances ambivalence with unguarded optimism on Pampa..."
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PURCHASE:
JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Hannah Holland | Tectonic | PRAH

Artist: Hannah Holland
Title: Tectonic
Label: PRAH
Released: September

Sounds like: Crisscrossing a dancefloor buffet with cinematic expanse

A mainstay of London's queer and alternative club scene, Hannah Holland follows up her maiden voyage soundtracking television, by distilling her career into one diverse body of work.

PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP


Eris Drew | Quivering In Time | T4T LUV NRG

Artist: Eris Drew
Title: Quivering In Time
Label: T4T LUV NRG
Released: October

Sounds like: A singular artist refusing to conform to societal banality

Hedonism, freedom and self-actualisation coalesce, as Eris Drew conveys the message of Motherbeat.

PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP/ JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


keinemusik | Send Return | Keinemusik

Artists: keinemusik
Title: Send Return
Label: Keinemusik
Released: November

Sounds like: The gang going beyond the limits of House & Techno with help from their friends

"Individually, their musical output as producers is nothing short of exceptional. Yet when the three friends come together under the keinemusik banner, magic is never far away..." READ MORE

PURCHASE:
BEATPORT


Marco Bailey | Surreal Stage LP | MATERIA

Artist: Marco Bailey
Title: Surreal Stage LP
Label: MATERIA
Released: December

Sounds like: The relentless kick-drum of one of Techno's most consistent producers

Marco Bailey's sixth studio album materialises in the purest form of Techno, with 15 foundation-shaking tracks that arrive right in time for party season.

PURCHASE:
BANDCAMP / JUNODOWNLOAD / BEATPORT


Honourable mentions

Argy | The Interior Journey | Renaissance Records | May

Recorded during the first 2020 lockdown in Argy's Ibiza studio, The Interior Journey seeks to capture the true essence of the island. Coming on the revitalised Renaissance Records, it's a further evolution of the Greek producer's sound. PURCHASE HERE

Mark Knight | Untold Business | Toolroom Records | June

Decorated Toolroom boss, Mark Knight, goes back to his roots on his criminally overdue debut artist album. Injecting a much needed dose of longevity, Untold Business serves as a homage to the Funk, Soul, Disco and House that Mark fell in love with in the '90s. PURCHASE HERE

Posthuman | Requiem For A Rave | I <3 Acid | October

Brothers Josh and Rich, AKA Posthuman, present an ode to their teenage selves. Requiem For A Rave is a broken timeline that blurs the boundaries of Techno, Trance, Jungle and Ambient, reminiscent of hazy weekends from a more innocent era. PURCHASE HERE

Dusky | JOY | 17 Steps | November

Built on the pleasure principle, JOY is Dusky's communal celebration of ecstasy on the dancefloor. Hardcore, Garage, Prog, Euro-Techno plus the influences of Chicago and Detroit; in all, it's a joyous assortment of cascading pianos and strayfield bleeps. PURCHASE HERE


Upcoming albums landing in 2022 from...

Sven Väth, Maceo Plex, Satori, Bonobo and many more.

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