Last year was an astonishingly good one for electronic music, and 2011 is looking like it's no slouch either. House music and dubstep are set to be the principal poles around which everything revolves this year, but don't expect that to mean that things will stay the same. The blogosphere is already agog over James Blake, a young U.K. producer who started off making experimental beats, amplified his buzz via an unexpected Feist cover, and will soon drop a lush, vocal-centric album with huge crossover potential. Find out what's in store for Blake plus new material from Isolee, Boys Noize, Siriusmo, Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, and Kode 9 with the Space Ape plus an unexpected reissue on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label.
James Blake, TBA (February 7)
The debut album from England's young singer/producer James Blake promises to resonate far beyond the edges of the "electronic music" world. Pitchfork obsessively covered the dubstep upstart's every move in 2010, and his unexpectedly emotive cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love" blazed like wildfire across the blogosphere. His debut album may polarize, but you can expect it to be huge, with a mixture of minimalist drum programming, taut synthesizers and, at the center of it all, that voice.
Wolf + Lamb / Soul Clap, DJ Kicks (March)
As American dance music digs into the recession-era spirit of house parties and local pride spiced with a little bit of Easyjet-set Ibiza/Berlin techno tourism Brooklyn's Wolf + Lamb and Boston's Soul Clap have emerged as leading figures on the scene, building a fan base that spreads from Brooklyn loft parties to Burning Man raves. For their eight-handed take on the DJ Kicks series, they pull tracks mainly from their extended circle, with the likes of Lee Curtiss, Nicolas Jaar and No Regular Play offering a bleary-eyed, after-hours disco vibe. (See the track listing here.)
Mr. Oizo, Half a Mustache (Half a Scissor) (January 10)
Among the criminally underrated artists of the last decade, France's Mr. Oizo is certainly near the top of the list. The missing link between Daft Punk and Justice, he came closest to the big time with his 1999 song "Flat Beat," made famous as the soundtrack to a Levi's Sta-Prest ad. (A headbanging hand puppet helped.) Originally released on Laurent Garnier's F Communications label, Half a Mustache is a neck-snapping ride through lo-fi electronic funk. Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint is behind the reissue, which might be even more surprising than the music itself.
Isolee, Well Spent Youth (February 7)
Germany's Isolee (Rajko Müller) had a bona fide crossover hit with his 1998 song "Beau Mot Plage," a track that found equal favor in Berlin basement raves, New York's soulful house clubs, and Ibiza foam parties. But that fluke success didn't turn out the way you might have expected. Rest, released in 2000, was a nervous, detuned take on house music, and 2005's brilliant We Are Monster went to opposite extremes of overstuffed funk. Both of them were too weird to reach the masses who had found "Beau Mot Plage" via some Ministry of Sound comp, the rare example of a dance artist blithely turning his back on a short-term sure thing. Six years after his last album, Isolee prepares to prove that he's in it for the long haul with Well Spent Youth, an idiosyncratic collection of scuffed house grooves for DJ Koze's fledgling Pampa label.
Boys Noize, Super Acid (February 14)
The shine may have gone off electro-house, but that hasn't stopped Germany's Boys Noize, who spent last year turning out steely, '90s-inspired techno anthems -- that is, when he wasn't working with the likes of Kelis, the Black Eyed Peas and the indie-chess-rap savant Gonzales. Super Acid may not be Boys Noize's breakout smash; it's a lovingly overdriven tribute to acid house at its heaviest. But you can bet that his crossover moment is coming. (Check out a preview medley of the album here.)
Siriusmo, Mosaik (March 1)
Berlin's (http://www.napster.com/modeselektor)[Modeselektor] have been mixing up techno and dubstep (plus hip-hop, dancehall and more) since long before that fusion was a viable strategy. Now that a scene has grown up around them, they're devoting their energies to furthering cross-channel developments via their Monkeytown imprint. The label's inaugural artist album comes from their citymate Siriusmo, a longtime cohort whose discography runs from Sonar Kollektiv to Boysnoize Records; Mosaik is a sprawling ode to analog hijinks and cheekily tweaked electronic funk.
Kode9 and the Spaceape, Black Sun (April)
Hyperdub label founder Kode9 -- the man who signed Burial and created a platform for an entire wave of restless producers dissatisfied with the strictures of dubstep as it was conventionally known -- teams up once again with London emcee the Spaceape for their second album. No previews have been made available yet, but if recent singles are anything to go by, expect shuddering rhythms, soca influences and plenty of penetrating, low-end throb.