While only three-fourths of the way through 2021, the year has already been a fantastic one for many music genres, and electronic is no exception.
Even though there have been few studio album releases from mainstream artists, shorter extended releases, EPs, have been abundant. Here are the top five:
“Ambivalent” by Kessler
While house artists such as Bicep and Four Tet have millions of listeners on streaming services such as Spotify, most of this comes from European countries due to house music being beaten out by newer electronic subgenres. Northern Ireland’s rising artist, Kessler, is a breath of fresh air and a hopeful catalyst in revitalizing the popularity of house music in the states.
“Ambivalent” takes all of the well known traits of house music such as fast RPM bass hits and extended five-to-seven minute cuts, but turns the familiar traits on its head with glitches and breakbeats reminiscent of experimental artists such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher.
If you’re looking for an out of the ordinary and heady listening experience, there is no other EP on this list that can top “Ambivalent.”
“To You EP” by CRi
Before he was making alternative and groovy house music, Canadian native Christophe Dubé was a beatboxer for the Quebec hip-hop group Feuilles et Racines.
After releasing his first electronic project under the CRi name back in 2013, he has since risen in the electronic music ranks with his 2018 and 2020 albums, earning nominations for electronic album of the year in the Canadian Juno Awards.
Though only three tracks, none miss the target on “To You EP,” which blends fantastic vocal samples and punchy drums for songs you can’t help but bob your head to.
“Never Enough” by Disclosure
After the fantastic 2020 record “Energy,” featuring artists such as Aminé, slowthai and Channel Tres, British electronic duo Disclosure return to their instrumental roots with a stellar follow up that is filled with more bumping garage and house grooves.
If there’s one EP on this list you can blast at a party or imagine hearing at a dance club, it is easily “Never Enough.” Each song features a distinct beats per minute and textures that drastically differentiate with angelic vocal samples featured on tracks such as “In My Arms” and “Another Level,” while a song like “Happening” gives off a sampling style akin to the likes of Daft Punk.
“Cookie Clicker” by C418
You may not have heard of the artist Daniel Rosenfeld, but you have almost certainly heard his music in passing. The German born electronic producer who performs under the pseudonym C418 is famously known for his solo work on the Minecraft original soundtrack.
It has been three years since Rosenfeld released his 2018 full length project “Excursions,” and his return was a surprise with the EP “Cookie Cutter.”
“Cookie Cutter” is the most minimal and ambient project on this list, yet it is far from being a snoozer. A prime example is the second track, “click,” which features luscious piano chords mixed with stretched synth layers that mingle in harmony with lo-fi drum patterns.
Then there’s “grandmapocalypse,” which follows “click” and even continues the same rhythm and drums, but adds ominous synths making you feel like you’re in the middle of a cyberpunk horror film.
“Psyconia” by Machinedrum
North Carolina electronic producer Travis Stewart, also known as Machinedrum, has slowly evolved his style of electronic music after producing for over two decades, with early records consisting of very few vocal features and collaboration with other artists.
Both his latest EP “Psyconia” and 2020 record “A View of U” have been breaking this previous mold. Hip-hop mainstays such as Freddie Gibbs and Father appeared on standalone songs from the 2020 record and Deniro Farrar is featured on the latest EP’s second track, “Stone Age.”
“Psyconia” takes the odd breakbeats that Machinedrum is known for and interweaves them seamlessly with genres such as soul, R&B and even hip-hop, as previously mentioned.
The back end of this six track project features two stellar instrumental cuts in “Figueroa” and “Stairzzzzzz,” which reminds listeners that Stewart can still go back to his instrumental roots and deliver some of the best glitches and grooves in the business.
Though 2021 hasn’t had an excess of electronic projects, the finger food that is an EP is serving as an excellent way to subtly entice listeners until an artist decides to drop their next full length project.