VIBE Presents: Top 50 Electronic Music Albums of 2012
December 11, 2012 - 1:00 pm
From the mainstream pop-crossovers to the underground minimalists; from tranced-out euphorias to bass-thumping bangers and beyond; here’s VIBE's list of “EDM” albums that made the most noise in 2012. - compiled by Sarah Polonsky & Angus Paterson
50. Porter Robinson - Spitfire (Bonus Remixes)
Landing major hits before the age of 21, fans worldwide waited in anticipation for the youngblood’s first full-length EP. Fusing a plethora of different styles, Spitfire showcased the young DJ/producer’s elite production skills, as well as an ability to crash Beatport’s servers (that’s what happened on release day!). This year he treated us to a high-octane remix package.
49. Paul van Dyk – Evolution
Take a journey through sound and life via PvD's sixth studio album, with an epic selection of 15 tracks that will appease any electronic generation. Evolution demonstrates the work of a producer who manages to stay in his lane while always sonically evolving.
48. John Digweed - Live In London
A live recording from the Bedrock Anniversary Party at Fire & Lightbox in London by John Digweed delivers five hours of epic house and techno in the form of a four-disc set. If you weren't there, recreate it with dim lighting, close buddies and a serious bass sound system.
47. Purity Ring - Shrines
Purity Ring’s debut is a lyrically driven, dubbed out indie-pop concoction, their vocal melodies deeply gut-wrenching.
46. Seven Lions - Days To Come
Trance and dubstep come together flawlessly in this four-track EP, which weaves sounds seamlessly like an intricate quilt of genres.
45. Morgan Page - In The Air
The title says it all. It's easy to lose yourself in the ethereal, yet heartfelt progressive and deep tracks that lace Page's third studio album.
44. Felix Cartal - Different Faces
Cartal’s second album for Dim Mak sees him getting versatile and showing plenty of swag with a sonic selection that crosses house, electro, techno, rock, dubstep and plenty more.
43. Funk D'Void - Balance 22
The Glasgow veteran steps up to the challenge of fronting one of the world’s finest mix CD series, throwing down an immaculately prepared selection of deep, melodic house tunes that puts the focus firmly on the timeless, in place of the disposable.
42. Datsik - Vitamin D
The Dim Mak released dubstep album hit the EDM world like an uppercut, leaving a serious dent on the scene that won't be healing anytime soon.
41. Orbital - Wonky
One of the first (and most adored) rave-era acts ever, Orbital, proved they haven't lost their touch with a stunningly blended album of dreamy electronica; a perfect soundtrack for wonking out.
40. Armin van Buuren - A State of Trance 2012
Reclaiming his DJ Mag ‘Top 100’ crown from Guetta this year, Armin also put forth his ninth compilation album in the "A State of Trance" compilation series, named after his renowned radio show. All the exhilarating hands-in-the-air trance you’d expect.
39. Infected Mushroom - Army of Mushrooms
A tricked out set that sends the mind on a psychedelic journey via warped synths and low bass beats, making the duo’s 2012 album more potent than anything you may have dropped at a concert.
38. Scuba - Personality
Scuba was one of the driving forces of the darker UK spectrum of dubstep; until Personality saw him considerably amping up the melody and the euphoria. More hands-in-the-air and exhilarating than anyone could have predicted.
37. Nina Kraviz – Nina Kraviz
Russian deep house star Nina takes her lush, sensuous sounds and transitions them into the album format; resulting in one of the underground’s most talked about releases of the year.
36. Zeds Dead and Omar Linx - Living Dead
Experimentation is the name of the game when it comes to DC and Hooks, aka, Zeds Dead. Living Dead sees the pair hooking up with rapper Omar Linx, who brings his unmistakable hip hop attitude to their typical collection of bass-heavy dubstep bangers. A smash of aural sensations.
35. SMOG CITY
There's a pioneering troupe for American dubstep and bass music that brings new meaning to the smog situation in Los Angeles. Fronted by bass maestro John Dadzie (12th Planet), the SMOG record label's 2012 album SMOG CITY fills the Hills with hardcore danceable beats that are far thicker (and way better for the planet) than the West Coast’s sooty air.
34. Dash Berlin - Music Is Life
Trance and lyric lovers are dosed with a serious sweet shot from the album, featuring electronic music's queen vocalist Emma Hewitt combined with breakdowns from Dash Berlin that don't beat you to a pulp, but instead lift listeners up to euphoric new heights
33. Erol Alkan - I <3 Techno
The UK DJ stalwart shows once again why he’s considered among the world’s finest selectors. You might not have heard of the Belgium festival the mix is promoting, but if you <3 quality underground tunes then you can’t go wrong here.
32. Markus Schulz - Scream
When Miami trance master Markus Schulz says "scream" you better get on your feet and shake it till dawn. With an equilibrium of steady chord progressions, ambient and vocal interludes, as well as bursting bass explosions, this music is the only motivation you'll need to get up and dance.
31. Jody Wisternoff - Trails We Blaze
The progressive house maestro casts a wide net on his debut solo album for Anjunadeep, with an assortment of luscious melodies, deep house grooves and disco nostalgia.
30. Andy Moor - Zero Point One
Andy Moor has always been an innovator, and his creative approach is on display across the lengthy 85-minutes of Zero Point One. Pumping club trance with a distinctly progressive sensibility, Moor shows why in every sense he’s considered one of the genre’s elite producers.
29. Steve Aoki - Wonderland
The cameo-heavy album (Will.i.am, Travis Barker, Rivers Cuomo and Lil Jon, to name a few!) is custom built for the clubs, as is the stage-diving, champagne-throwing Aoki himself.
28. Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes
Los Angeles’ experimental dubstep specialist explored even deeper platitudes on his latest studio album this year.
27. Dada Life - The Rules of Dada
The Swedish electronic duo introduces to the world their faux-cult craze centering on bananas and champagne. We don’t get it and we don’t care, which is the point of the big-room claps and sing-along vocals that are enough to keep fans wanting more good-time nonsense.
26. Robert Hood - Motor: Nighttime World 3
Hood is one of the pioneers of both minimal techno, and America’s dance music scene, and sets himself an ambitious task when he confronts the mythology around dance music’s birthplace of Detroit. Not surprisingly, he succeeds with the swiftness of a revved-up motor.
25. Proxy - Music From The Eastblock Jungles
Part one of his double-album electro spectacular, with the second set to drop next year, it saw Proxy retreating to his Russian motherland to deliver one of the finest slices of noisy EDM hostility we heard all year.
24. Above & Beyond - Cream Ibiza
Arriving just in time for a new season of Cream’s enduring residency in Ibiza, Above & Beyond take the reigns to throw down their winning mix of trance and progressive over two discs. An A-grade dose of Ibiza excess.
23. Maya Jane Coles - DJ-Kicks
House music’s hot new thing delivers a mix of deep, funky cuts that shows she’s every bit worthy of the ‘hype’ tag.
22. Tiësto - Club Life, Vol. 2 Miami
A definitive slice of Tiësto, including plenty of studio magic from the man himself, Club Life Vol. 2 represents exactly what you could expect if you saw him behind the decks this year.
21. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
That dorky bunch of guys from the UK, who are just so damn good at crafting quirky pop excellence, deliver arguably their best album yet. Crammed to overflowing with catchy synth melodies and infectious vocal hooks.
20. Ferry Corsten - WKND
When it comes to Mr. Corsten's fourth full-length release, everyday feels like the weekend. The veteran producer, whose signature style is "rules or genres need not apply," crafts a veritable symphony of harmonious arias, massive dance anthems, funkadellic, trancey, bouncy and dirty-grinding tracks all packaged into one impeccable album.
19. Diplo - Express Yourself EP
Express himself is exactly what Diplo did in this "shut up and have fun" album with a party-hard sensibility that makes not-thinking, the sensible thing to do.
18. Bassnectar - Va Va Voom
The Bass-Head revolutionary uses Va Va Voom as a foray into genre-blending with the frenetic album that drives in all directions sonically. Bonus: The hard copy includes a note from Lorin Ashton himself, proving he is as poetic in prose as production.
17. Boys Noize - Out Of The Black
The third album for remixer genius, Boys Noize is a bundle of raucous, raging hits.
16. Jaytech & James Grant Anjunadeep: 04
A stunning progressive house offering that sees James Grant exploring a deeper side of the Anjunadeep label, while Jaytech goes for a euphoric sugar rush. The mix made it to #1 on the iTunes dance chart this year - proof that not everyone wants bubble-gum dance music.
15. David Guetta - Nothing But The Beat 2.0
The French R&B-house anthems revolutionary who helped catapult America into an EDM frenzy stayed true to the method that earned him the crossover crown on Nothing But The Beat. This year he treated us to an expanded version that boasted even more collabs, more star appeal, and more je ne sais quois.
14. Axtone Presents Thomas Gold
A 33-track, two-disc compilation mixed by the prolific Thomas Gold, and released under Axwell's imprint Axtone. It proved what most critics and fans alike already knew - this German producer is a player in the house music game who is here to stay.
13. Nic Fanciulli - Balance 21
Fanciulli stepped up to the lofty expectations attached to the ‘Balance’ series here, weaving 40+ tech house cuts across two discs. The first disc is an immaculately crafted journey through house, while the second is a slammin’ excursion into peak-time clubbing fun.
12. Rusko - Songs
Sound thrill-seekers take heed for dubstep demi-god of Great Britain, Rusko, who has changed the landscape of electronic music in the States. The brazen album, complete with maximum bass juxtaposed with intricate synth-slices, quick snare beats and some hip-hop flava in your ear, is the epitome of fun.
11. Foreign Beggars - The Uprising
The British bass tastemakers (or shall we say, BassMakers?) trio dropped, The Uprising, on mau5trap making big yet skillful noise. The album (their sixth), proves Orifice Vulgatron, Metropolis and DJ Nonames always "rise" to the occasion when it comes to producing some of the dopest rappity trap bass music out there.
10. Calvin Harris - 18 Months
Some critics called it "popified," while others went wild over the new breed R&B-danceable offering from Calvin Harris. He's got Roc Nation to back him, so yes, the album made a splash and like the sound or not, Harris is untouchable.
9. Jamie Jones - Tracks from the Crypt
Jamie Jones returned to Crosstown Rebels from his own Hot Creations imprint for the release of Tracks from the Crypt, a collection of some of the classics and staples from his lauded DJ sets over the years. Jones certainly made noise this year across the (sound)board.
8. Guy Gerber - Fabric 66
Gerber surprised everyone when he turned in his mix for revered London nightclub Fabric, delivering an entirely self-produced deep, melodic techno opus that effectively counted as an artist album. What a guy.
7. Zedd - Clarity
Skillfully produced by a perfectionist of sound, Zedd poured blood, sweat and tears into his masterpiece album.
6. deadmau5 - >album title goes here<-
Like it or not, deadmau5 is a demon in the studio, and has an unholy gift for concocting bangers that are custom-built for maximum detonation.
5. Knife Party - Rage Valley
Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen from drum n' bass pioneering act Pendulum live a second life as Knife Party, crafting dubstep mayhem that’s righteous enough to give even Skrillex a run for his money.
4. Tiga - Tiga Non Stop
Tiga made his name with 80s-tinged dance-pop smashes like 'Pleasure From The Bass', but this year he's enjoyed a techno-heavy reinvention; and he's emerged with an A-class grab of excellence on 'Tiga Non Stop'. Best of all, though he might have revamped his sound - here the producer proves he’s still Tiga.
3. AN21 & Max Vangeli - People of the Night
The debut album as an EDM duo, released on Steve Angello's SIZE Records, was eagerly anticipated by Max & AN's already global club-going community of fans. With tracks featuring the haunting vocals of Example to bass-laden elements lent by Congorock to progressive tracks that climax in electro drops, the album is versatile in genres and arrangements; custom-built for Gen Now.
2. Eric Prydz - Eric Prydz present Pryda
After 20 years in the biz and five since releasing new material, electronic music fans were waiting with bated breath for this one. The three-disc anthology album is filled with mixes that are both retrospective and futuristic, resulting in Prydz's finest offering of all time.
1. Swedish House Mafia - Until Now
Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell use the 22-track mix to propel their own ever-growing list of EDM artists in this final offering as the super-group, Swedish House Mafia. The trio turns it up as loud as EDM can possibly get... until for now.