Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Dance & Electronic Albums

10. James Holden
The Inheritors
(Border Community)

Over the course of the last decade, Border Community has fallen deeper into obscurity and further from the spotlight, and imprint boss James Holden wouldn't have it any other way. A hectic DJ schedule and label roster too big to manage forced Holden's company to trim the fat in a desperate effort to get back to basics. Seven years is a long time between full-length efforts, so it's no surprise The Inheritors was such an unpredictable statement. The album is as much about Holden's present compositional psyche as it is about what he's left behind: a desire to produce dance music. Holden has been vocal about his disdain for the cookie-cutter, carbon copy processes that permeate today's dance music landscape, and his latest album could easily be taken as a direct rebellion.

Indeed, "rebellious" might be the easiest way to describe these 15 disorienting live modular recordings, but there is plenty of substance behind each performance. The radically distorting, twisting and turning tracks have little to offer if taken out of context, but this is an album-lover's album, conceptualized from the ground up and standing righteously on its own. Inspired by William Golding's 1950's novel fictionally depicting humanity's evolutionary ascent into a new-found consciousness, ritualistic undertones and tribal sentiments are sprinkled throughout the album's challenging duration. And just when you're feeling Holden has completely checked out, the record concludes in fragmented harmony, demonstrating a fleeting sense of instinctual optimism. (Dustin Morris)