Junior Boys, Bibio and Neon Indian Lead Exclaim!'s Top Electronic and Dance Albums of 2009

Junior Boys, Bibio and Neon Indian Lead Exclaim!'s Top Electronic and Dance Albums of 2009
These past 12 months in the land of electronic and dance music have perhaps been best characterized by the continuing fragmentation of sub-genres vying for an ever-narrowing spotlight. Dubstep brilliantly broke apart and evolved into funky, wonky, wobble, and any number of descriptives used to get a handle on its maddening pace growth, giving the UK one of its strongest new-music years in recent memory. Disco and deep house found a foothold in clubs on this side of the Atlantic and grew back into regional hotbeds, all while the latest techno burrowed itself deeper in the European circuit and for the most part grew further alienated from its global aspirations.

Here in Canada, where the singer-songwriter is still held in highest regard, the electronic hybrid took centre stage, and acts who most expertly blended old and new rose to the top. It comes as little surprise then that Exclaim! Frequencies writers voted Junior Boys' Begone Dull Care to the top of our 2009 critics' poll.

You can hear the record right now, right here at Exclaim.ca, where it will be streaming all week.

The Canadian duo's third full-lengther features all the hallmarks of what it takes to strike a perfect balance between pulling in the ever-growing audiences of the indie world, while cherry-picking the best trends from the ever-shifting underground of global dance culture. And Junior Boys are certainly not alone (anymore) in using dance music to push the boundaries of pop.

Those hybrid sensibilities have filtered into an increasing number of newer acts that make this year's list, such as Neon Indian and Memory Tapes. Several other names that made our critics' list, like Bibio, Fever Ray and Fuck Buttons, have evolved in this direction over the course of several albums.

Among those underground trends that point unapologetically toward the new terrain, our writers gave out a ringing endorsement of the incredibly hot and most indefinable bass music that came out in 2009, much of which grew out of the husks of the dubstep and dub techno that have come to the fore in the last two years. Buraka Som Sistema's fusion of afro-futurism and rave redux was cushioned deeply in UK bass. Meanwhile, 2562 and Martyn have risen to essential status on the back of pushing dubstep's limits into the outer core of global rhythms.

Arguably, none of these accomplishments in bass music would have even been possible without the inroads first dug by Moritz Von Oswald since the mid-'90s, when his Chain Reaction and Basic Channel labels rewrote the handbook on electronic minimalism by pushing dub music into the rhythmic underpinnings of the dance floor. Oswald's influence is still found everywhere today, and his own excursions with the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, who this year pushed techno's envelope into free-jazz territory with Vertical Ascent, which made our list as well.

To see all Exclaim!'s top Frequencies albums of 2009, click here.

Junior Boys' Begone Dull Care will be streaming on Exclaim.ca until January 11.