14. Actress, 'AZD'
The fifth album from Actress, a thought leader and trend-setter in experimental techno, is sleek, shiny and sometimes aggressively cold. Like the album cover of a metal hand nestled into a human one, AZD plays like mechanical ambient eventually giving way to more natural vibes. Sequenced like an interesting DJ set, tracks slowly build up in texture and pace, from the opening plinks and plonks of negative-space opuses like "Untitled 7," before dance tracks like "X22RME" and "Runner." Those are the closest things here to crunchy, spare tech-house for 2 a.m., AZD's two winking nods to the main room before dragging listeners into the warren of quieter, creepier passages beyond. A.C.