The best of EM:
Aphex Twin (Selected Ambient Works): While it can be said RDJ's stuff is always cutting-edge, I think the SAW albums stand far and away as some of the best art to spawn from electronic music. While SAW Vol. 2 can't compare to the sheer beauty and sparse, alien loneliness of the original, it's still an amazing experiment in sound.
The Books (Lemon of Pink/Food For Thought): Anything The Books put out is compelling, but their first two LPs are definitely their strongest. Amazing musicianship, definitely the ultimate in collage.
Brian Eno: The man. This is all. (But seriously, can't go wrong with Another Green World or any of his Ambient Work, particularly Music for Airports).
The Buddha Machine: A little plastic piece of junk that makes beautiful ambient noise. I listen to it every single day while working.
City of Heroes Soundtrack: Yup, the PC game. Never listened to the soundtrack on its own, only while playing the game, and it's reason in itself to play the game. Selected Works-lite.
Game & Watch games: Remember the old Game & Watch LCD handhelds from Nintendo that spawned the shit Tiger games? I collect these. They're worth a lot now, especially in Japan, because they're the ultimate kitsch art as consumer good. Each one has a spectator mode in which you can let a CPU run through the game. I often turn this on, close my eyes and just listen to it. While some people might find these bleeps and bloops annoying, I find it the ultimate low-fi symphony. An awesome melding of imagination, sound and visuals. I'm weird.
Grime genre (Streets/Sway/Dizzee): Any beat that comes out of the grime scene sounds so harsh and raw, it can't help but be seen as progressive. A lot of nay-sayers focus on the stoic delivery and miss the entire point: the beats that sound like absolutely nothing before it. I can't get enough of this stuff. Anyone who wants a great primer for the scene should pick up Run the Road.
Keith Fullerton Whitman: The current master of electronic, his brilliance floors me. Pick up Multiples (recorded using Harvard's instrument library in exchange for some teaching) or Playthroughs. If you think someone can make a compelling and affecting song out of, on occasion, a mere few notes, pick up some Keith. His new Lisbon live album is also great, and incredibly accessible for such an experimental live set.
Shining: Their debut last year was far and away the best effort put out on the Rune Grammofon label yet, and that's saying a lot. Jazz meets tech-core meets metal. Might have been my favorite album of last year if not for His Sufjan-ness.
I see a lot of you are more traditional in your electronic choices, so I left off a lot of amazing stuff that straddles the line between tangibly instrumented and electronically produced music (TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Sigur Ros circa 2001, Xiu Xiu, Junior Boys, M83, etc.). Also left off a lot of hip hop in which I think the production carries its own (Def Jux label, anything MF Doom touches, J Dilla, etc.). Also, the stuff that I thought was trite and pointless to list, as it's since been driven into the ground by soooo many imitators: Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, DJ Shadow, Massive Attack, etc.
There's been some amazing electronic music this year also: at this very moment I'm listening to Chihei Hatakeyama's Minima Moralia, some of the best ambient music I've heard in years and years. Really beautiful, minimalist stuff.
Can't beat The Knife for haunted house (yeah, since they invented the genre, or something).
Booka Shade and Ellen Allien & Apparat have both put out the best "dance" (that term does not suffice as a description) albums since Vitalic. Barbara
Morgenstern is perfect electro-pop.
Everyone needs to go buy Talkdemonic's album. I saw them open for The Go! Team at The Black Cat and they are far and away the best opener I've ever seen. About as emotional as electronically based music can get.
And I can't forget to mention the other awesome electronic acts that have put out class-A albums this year: Matmos, Mylo's stateside release, Isolee, Herbert's best album, Girl Talk (best mash-up ever) and the million and one electronically-tinged shoegaze albums that have been released this year (year's been awesome for a shoegaze fanatic such as myself) from Belong, Asobi Seksu, Jesu, Gregor Samsa, Serena Maneesh, etc. Great stuff.
Oh, and my EP definitely has a lot of electronic trappings. I'll be sure to inform everyone when it's out, though it's obvious many of you are pretty bleeding edge and it's coming out on one of the indie "big three" so, yeah, I'm sure I'll get some comments.
As a side note, after I publish my book I'm going to start working on something I've wanted to do for over ten years now (I'm 21): create a two-disc, EM soundtrack to Maus: A Survivor's Tale. I'm going to contact Pantheon about it but most likely it will remain a pet project.
Music is a big part of my life: I'm a fanatical fan, journalist and artist, so if you have any questions about electronic music (or music in general, for that matter; I love Patsy Cline, Sunn o))) and The Beatles (Best. Band. Ever.) the same as the electronic acts listed above), feel free to PM me.