While it can be tough to create the realism of a symphony hall in your home with a Hi-Fi system, if your amplifier has enough power and you’ve got big enough woofers in your speakers, you can at least transform your living room into your favorite club.
Here are 10 of the very best EDM albums you need to own on vinyl. Make sure your turntable is isolated from the floor so you can crank up the bass!
For many EDM fans, this two-disc CD collection of remixed tracks is considered ground zero in terms of the feel and seamlessness it achieves. Now that you can buy it as a four-album set on vinyl, things are taken up a notch. The tracks from Bomb the Bass, Sofa Surfers, Roni Size and more (along with two original tunes) will either keep you glued to your chair taking a major trip inside your mind or bouncing around the room with a glow stick. These beats hit hard.
In this musical alternate universe to Kruder & Dorfmeister, Richard Dorfmeister partners up with pal Rupert Huber as the duo Tosca. Bass is in abundance — as it should be — but this record is very downtempo and ambient, almost symphonic at times. When I think of EDM, I usually think of a room full of people in close proximity. But this record always makes me want to take a road trip.
When you first set the stylus down, 4×4=12 starts off slow and trancelike, but about a minute and a half in, the bass starts pumping and doesn’t stop till the end of the album. If you listen closely, you’ll swear some of your favorite disco tunes are sampled, yet ever so slightly in the way that has made Deadmau5 a living legend and an incredible curator of sound. But just when you think Mr. Mau5 has gone back to the ’70s, he slows things down with “Raise Your Weapon” and then backs you up against the wall with “One Trick Pony,” which feels a lot like a Rage Against the Machine track. This album offers some of the deepest bass you’ll ever feel, so get those subwoofers hooked up and ready to rumble!
It’s nearly impossible to talk about Deadmau5 without making Skrillex part of the conversation. Stalwarts of each may claim their guy is the best, but Skrillex brings his metalhead past to the forefront with faster beats and heavier hooks; as a result, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites has a very different feel than 4×14=12. (Students of irony will enjoy learning that Scary was released a day after 4×4.) This is a bigger, more densely packed record that will have you looking for that last can of Red Bull in the fridge when you’re done listening. If you can take the whole thing in at once.
If you thought you knew the Pet Shop Boys as a synth/dance pop band, this album will get you rethinking. Electric kicks up PSB’s sound with harder-driving rhythms, the bpm meter cranked up, and so many layers of synthesizers, you might mistake this for a collection of Daft Punk outtakes. They even do a Springsteen song on this record (“The Last to Die”) and it succeeds brilliantly! Warning: This album may get you wanting to install a disco ball on your ceiling.
Speaking of Daft Punk, if your appreciation for the helmet-clad French duo began with Random Access Memories — and that’s not a bad place to start — spin the clock back. Way back to the duo’s debut. This one’s as sparse as EDM gets; there’s barely more than a bass line on some of the tracks. Pure genius, or an uncut gem? You be the judge.
With the help of well-known techno producer William Orbit, Madonna puts together a record that’s equal parts pop, dance and techno. The sonic textures created here feel like they could almost be part of a David Lynch soundtrack, albeit not quite as dreamy. If you have a high resolution audio system, you’ll be hearing ear candy everywhere. Madonna keeps her smoky voice much more subdued here, building a sonic landscape that makes you want to get off the dance floor, sit at the table, take it in and chill.
20 has a more coherent sound, and is somewhat more lyrical than some of the other choices here, yet there’s no skimping on the bottom end: these tracks thump. The killer mix of samples and ambient effects give 20 a Fashion Week catwalk kind of groove at times, and when they aren’t doing that, they feel like something you might hear as the backdrop of a ’90s video game. As a bonus, thanks to a high level of ambience, the tracks on this album will show off your audio system to great effect.
Where some subsets of electronica rely more heavily on beats and samples, Air’s debut album was much more of a textural exercise (as are their subsequent releases), and an incredibly intriguing one at that. Where Skrillex sometimes feels Andy Warhol, think of Air more as the Ansel Adams of techno, painting audible images in broad, sweeping forms. There’s a delicacy here that coddles you, where some of the others pummel you into compliance. Gentle drums and synth bits blend in with the solid bass lines; even a vocoder makes an appearance on “New Star in the Sky.” It’s far and away the dreamiest record on this list.
Claimed to be the most successful electronica album of all time — and not only in terms of total record sales — every one of the tracks on this record have been licensed to the max. But the bluesy, backbeat texture of this record still stands up 20 years later. It starts out fairly raw but becomes diffuse at the end, as the beats and textures dissolve into your room. Even if you were there back in the day when it was released, revisit this one.
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