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20 Best EDM and Electronic Albums of 2015

Jack Ü, Disclosure, Jlin and more

EDM

Illustration by Ryan Casey

2015 bounced to bass from Britain, shangaan electro and gqom from South Africa, footwork from Chicago and Japan, house from Hamburg and pretty much any groove that Jack Ü felt like pursuing. Here's the year's best in electronics and beats. 

JLIN, 'Dark Energy'
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Jlin, ‘Dark Energy’

Footwork's exhilarating frenzy — now gourmet grist for international DJ aesthetes — emerged from the reality of chaotic, fleeting African-American life on Chicago's South Side; death lingered in its scampering, dislocated rhythms. Hailing from Gary, Indiana, a depleted black-majority industrial heap less than an hour removed from Chicago, Jlin constructs footwork tracks like a clinician re-engineering the genre to address a wider, oppressed world (one song is titled "Guantanamo"). Her spectacular debut moves as if under surveillance, deftly programmed to evade capture via triplet rolls, palpitating synths, finger snaps, hand claps, and flickering percussive clicks. Ominous voices — Samara from the The Ring, Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest — crop up to intensify a mood. Simon Reynolds once wrote of the "eroticization of anxiety" to describe drum and bass subgenre "neurofunk"; Jlin sparks that erotic anxiety into political fire. C.A.

Jack Ü, 'Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü'
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Jack Ü, ‘Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü’

Skrillex and Diplo have achieved total saturation — not to mention their first legit Top Ten hit. Their collaborative Jack Ü yielded festival and radio banger after banger, reviving careers of their associates and silencing naysayers. For those who thought Diplo might be too big for dance-world britches, or had pegged Skrillex as only a purveyor of wubs, here was an album that flitted between low-end fun, more mature sounds and pure unadulterated pop. Sure, "Febreze," featuring 2 Chainz featured the kind of festival-main-stage bass grinds and buzzes that one might expect, but it worked as a visceral, gut-churning mix of pop, reggae and hip-hop. Things get sexier and slinkier on other tracks with vocal contributions from AlunaGeorge and Kiesza. And then, of course, there's "Where Are Ü Now" – the garage-inflected, R&B-coated outing featuring, yes, Justin Bieber, that had grumpy non-Beliebers ready to accept the puckish pop star. A.C.

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